Monday, August 08, 2011

America in Decline

A few words from the legendary Noam Chomsky, via Truth Out, courtesy of Digg:

The self-inflicted blows, while increasingly powerful, are not a recent innovation. They trace back to the 1970s, when the national political economy underwent major transformations, ending what is commonly called “the Golden Age” of (state) capitalism.

Two major elements were financialization (the shift of investor preference from industrial production to so-called FIRE: finance, insurance, real estate) and the offshoring of production. The ideological triumph of “free market doctrines,” highly selective as always, administered further blows, as they were translated into deregulation, rules of corporate governance linking huge CEO rewards to short-term profit, and other such policy decisions.

The resulting concentration of wealth yielded greater political power, accelerating a vicious cycle that has led to extraordinary wealth for a fraction of 1 percent of the population, mainly CEOs of major corporations, hedge fund managers and the like, while for the large majority real incomes have virtually stagnated.

More here.

And that's just about as succinct as you can get when describing the massive Gordian Knot that our politics have become: the freeing up of capital controls resulting in the primacy of financial institutions, coupled with relentless, but bogus, "free market" propaganda have resulted in a governmental system that, by and large, now exists solely for the purpose of enriching and empowering the already fabulously wealthy--"the general welfare," which is what our government is Constitutionally bound to regard as an agenda, no longer matters; only the rich matter, not infrastructure, not employment, not public safety or health, not freedom, none of the things that most of us believe the government ought to be doing, just padding the pockets of the wealthy.

If you want to understand the seeming chaos in which Washington appears to operate these days, the words above are something of a Rosetta Stone. Sure, politicians go on and on about all kinds of bullshit, the debt, spending, the wars, all kinds of policy minutia. It can be overwhelming, but that's only because none of it makes any sense when you consider it at face value. Only when you look at it all in terms of who's getting rich and who's getting fucked does any of it become rational. And what you come to see is that politicians' words are almost totally irrelevant: what matters are actual deeds. So when Obama says he's making health care better, but the plan he signed allows insurance companies to make billions more than they're making now because the government is forcing everybody to do business with them, whether they want to or not, it becomes crystal clear that the whole thing is just a scheme to enrich the already wealthy.

Really it's not so much that politicians' words are irrelevant as much as that they often mean the exact opposite of their dictionary definitions. There's a word for that: Orwellian. We really are a nation in decline.