We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up
Friday, June 12, 2015
The Geopolitics of American Global Decline
This post represents another example in a recent trend by observers of world events, usually referred to as geopolitical analysts, to report on a global shift of power, this time from the US Empire to a Chinese-Russian dominated world. The former is always seen as a classic imperial power whereas the latter are more vaguely framed as an emerging power that will unseat the reigning hegemon. I would like to offer my take on this kind of perspective, weltanschauung, or way of thinking.
This way of thinking is quintessentially elitist, and frequently has the appearance of a kind of game that armchair imperialists like to pass the time with as they play with the people of the world and economies, markets, resources, etc, using instruments of violence as they, or their nations, seek to impose by force their will on the rest of the world. Obviously it is very important for us powerless people to understand these game-like exercises because the outcomes have always entailed disasters that we--not elites--suffer through. However, I think in this period of human history the outcomes are of a such a magnitude that such thinking must always be presented in another very ominous context--a catastrophic threat to human existence. And this I argue is not being done by today's more critical geopolitical analysts. McCoy's perspective and Engelhardt's introduction are no exception.
In this period of human history the weapons these elites have under their control are so destructive that if they are able to keep playing these power games, we powerless people along with most of them will suffer a disaster of a much greater magnitude than what we have previously seen. Indeed, it is questionable whether humans as a species can survive another global war. Yet, we see pollsters calmly going about asking people if we ordinary Americans should attack these other players under certain conditions (wars can always be arranged with a false flag attack or some mostly covert provocative NATO action), and most of these ordinary Americans and Canadians are answering in the affirmative.
Thus we see elites, liberal geopolitical analysts, and most ordinary people engaging in archaic thinking about wars between nuclear armed nations. Even in alternative liberal media such as TomDispatch which advertises as presenting a "regular antidote to mainstream media", we find the same kind of treatment of issues of imperialism. No concern is expressed about another global conflict in this nuclear age--it's all just like a game.
As long as we ordinary, powerless people tolerate the existence of elites and their control of weapons of mass destruction, we will continue along this dangerous precipice of catastrophe. The only real solution to this critical state of affairs is to eliminate ruling classes altogether, and institute radical egalitarian societies organized on the basis of bottom-up authority. Until such time we the 99.9% of humanity will be flirting with mass, if not total, extinction.