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Issue #1618      November 13, 2013

Culture & Life

Capitalism in trouble, fascism next?

I have written in these pages many times now about the calamitous state of the US economy and with it the US standard of living. The USA may be the richest country in the world but its image of itself as the envy of the world has seldom been less true. For most of the last 100 years or so the US has been viewed with either admiration or fear, depending on whether the viewer was trying to emigrate there or was being bombarded by US warships.

Today, however, the US is more commonly viewed with a mixture of fear and contempt. Why? Let an American journalist answer that: “America is a mess – and Republicans are to blame.

“In fact, Republican policies and actions have tarnished America so much that the leader of the strongest country in the world is no longer the most powerful. At least that’s according to Forbes’ new list of the most powerful people in the world. President Obama has fallen to number two on their list, while Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken over the number one spot.

“As Forbes puts it, ‘Putin has solidified his control over Russia while Obama’s lame duck period has seemingly set in earlier than usual for a two-term president ...’ That ‘lame duck period’ that Forbes is referring to is thanks in large part to the constant Republican obstructionism that we’re seeing on Capitol Hill.

“Instead of focusing on moving our country forward, Republicans have voted a staggering 47 times to defund or repeal Obamacare. Meanwhile, Republicans in the Senate have staged 400 filibusters to delay votes on bills or Obama administration confirmations.

“To put that in comparison, I met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid last year in Las Vegas, and he told me that when Lyndon Johnson was Senate Majority Leader for the same six-year period as he has been the Senate Majority Leader, he faced just one filibuster. One. But it’s not just Republican obstructionism that’s caused our nation’s monumental decline; it’s Republican policies too.

“Thanks to Republicans and their money-first democracy-second mentality, Wall Street executives are making millions of dollars each year, while honest hard-working Americans are struggling to survive day-to-day.

“Giant transnational corporations are making billion dollar windfalls and paying next to nothing in taxes, while working-class Americans are making less than ever before, a terrible symptom of the state of the American economy after 32 years of Reaganomics.

“And it’s these policies that are driving America’s income inequality epidemic too. Today, the 400 wealthiest Americans own more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans combined, and over the past 15 years, the annual income of the typical American household has fallen 9% ... .

“Meanwhile, Republican war hawks lied America into over a decade of unjust wars, which claimed the lives of thousands of American soldiers and civilians and cost us six trillion dollars. If you need even more proof that our country is a mess, and that Republicans are to blame, look no further than the number of Americans who rely on federal food stamps to survive: 50 million.

“Right now, 50 million Americans, including 7 million children, rely on food stamps for survival. We are the richest country on the planet – and yet 50 million Americans need federal help just to eat ... .

“Republicans would rather pad the wallets of the wealthy elite than put food on the tables of America’s most needy and vulnerable. And in their rush to condemn and slash funding to the food stamps program, Republicans constantly fail to put a human face on the staggering cuts that they’re fighting for ... .

“It’s a disgrace that any American, veteran, child, or otherwise, doesn’t have enough to eat in the richest nation on the planet. And now Republicans want to take what little access they have to food away from them.

“It’s time to put an end to the devastating Republican policies that are causing this nation’s rapid and historic decline.

“It’s time to get back to the values that our founders fought and died for, and that George Washington had three horses shot out from under him to help create.

“Call Congress right now and tell them to stop the devastating cuts to food stamps and to start looking out for the needs and well-being of all Americans.” – The Daily Take, The Thom Hartmann Program 31 October 2013 first published on Truthout.

The publishers of Truthout of course are what people in the US call “liberals”, supporters of an ill-defined Left, people who know that capitalism itself is the problem but are unsure what to do about it. American communists, who do know what to do about it, have been isolated by six decades of strident anti-communist propaganda and a simultaneous campaign against the Left in the trade union movement.

However, with industry (once the key to US prosperity) closing down or moving to low wage countries resulting in joblessness rising and tens of millions reduced to poverty, with not just the economy but also the country’s culture and society increasingly militarised, with African-Americans increasingly criminalised and forced to work in industrial prisons, and with the US populace constantly spooked by alleged discoveries of terrorist threats, is it any wonder that the country is also wracked by crazed outbursts of insane violence and mass murder by US citizens who cannot tolerate the insanity of capitalist life any longer?

Capitalism is in its death throes. Less than a century ago people thought those death throes would be of short duration. Historically, of course, they are in fact passing in an instant, but it is still painful – and painfully slow – to have to live through it. Meanwhile capitalism is fighting desperately to postpone its demise, to stay on top, in fact to crush those who would remove its foot from our collective neck.

And as a wise man once said, the last resort of capitalism in decline is fascism. Capitalist governments everywhere – including here in Australia – have been introducing laws and increasing police powers to facilitate the introduction of fascism if they feel it necessary.

The threat is there. We must be ready.   

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