The news this week, so far, has focused on Saudi Arabia and the oil market.
Somebody launched an assault on a refinery. Immediately, a group called the ‘Houthis’ claimed responsibility. And immediately, too, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that it was the fault of Iran…and US President Trump said he was locked and loaded for a retaliation against someone.
We bring this up only to show why democracy can’t work. And we mention it only to show why we are doomed…to which we will return in a minute.
In the meantime, we pause for an update on the economy. Bloomberg:
‘The last time the US logged two consecutive contractions in quarterly industrial production before this year was the first half of 2016. The country lost almost 30,000 manufacturing jobs that year as a collapse in oil prices hit the energy sector and filtered through manufacturing. Industrial regions such as western Pennsylvania saw a slowdown in shale oil projects and in sectors supplying them, such as steel. Yet none of those 2016 quarters saw as large a slump as the 3.1% fall in output recorded in the second quarter of this year.’
Many parts of America are already in recession. As for the country as a whole, the geriatric expansion is still dangerously tottering along – like a senile man with a valid driver’s license. We don’t know what ditch it will end up in…or when…but readers are cautioned to stay off the road.
Back to our subject…
The average American has too much sense to worry much about the politics of the Levant or the shifting sands of Mesopotamia. He knows he could devote his whole life to them and still have only a faint idea of what was going on.
He knows, too, that it’s none of his concern.
So he naturally defers to his elites, believing that they are on his team.
Alas, they are not. They are playing their own game…
In the case of foreign policy, the elites pretend that almost everything is a matter of grave national security…and that the credibility, power, and safety of the USA are at stake in every dustup in every godforsaken corner of the earth.
This leads to trillions in appropriations, contracts, and consulting gigs…medals and ‘thank you for your service’…and the glory of empire and the raw pleasure of just being able to boss other people around.
Tit for tat
Ever since Sargon the Great set the pace in 2300 BC, no group has been able to resist. When they get big enough and powerful enough, they overflow their borders and become a threat and a nuisance to everyone. Getting along and going along, tit for tat, is okay for everyone else, but not for the hegemon.
By the end of the 19th century, the US had the world’s biggest economy and had already begun sticking its nose where it didn’t belong.
And today, no sparrow can fall anywhere in the world without setting off alarms in the Pentagon and appeals for more money in the Capitol.
The public, the voters, the lumpen-citizens have no defence.
How do they know the Houthis aren’t aiming drones at Sacramento or Savannah? And when the wise men on TV claim that ‘something must be done’…or that ignoring the threat would be like Chamberlain’s ‘peace in our time’…what are they to think? They have no way of knowing they’re being played by the Deep State.
The Deep State, along with its hangers-on, profiteers, and enablers, has goals of its own. It wants more power and wealth for itself, so it must take them from the people it claims to serve.
This is the fatal deceit of the democratic system; once it gets so big that the people can no longer know what’s going on, the Deep State elite takes over. And it is soon corrupted by power and money…and becomes predatory.
This point of view, however, is not widely shared. The more popular view was expressed by Hillary Clinton: ‘The government is all of us.’ And the reigning myth is that it is controlled by the voters, who may be deceived from time to time, but who always come to their senses eventually and ‘throw the bums out.’
But there are always more bums. And as the insiders gain control – over the press, the universities, Congress, political parties, Wall Street, the courts, and major corporations – it is hard to know who they are.
Then the elite inevitably becomes more corrupt, more degenerate, and more parasitical.
We the People
Even a few political ‘scientists’ are starting to notice. Politico…
‘We’re to blame, said [Shawn] Rosenberg [a professor at UC Irvine]. As in “we the people.”
‘Democracy is hard work and requires a lot from those who participate in it. It requires people to respect those with different views from theirs and people who don’t look like them. It asks citizens to be able to sift through large amounts of information and process the good from the bad, the true from the false. It requires thoughtfulness, discipline and logic.
‘Unfortunately, evolution did not favour the exercise of these qualities in the context of a modern mass democracy. Citing reams of psychological research, findings that by now have become more or less familiar, Rosenberg makes his case that human beings don’t think straight. Biases of various kinds skew our brains at the most fundamental level. For example, racism is easily triggered unconsciously in whites by a picture of a black man wearing a hoodie. We discount evidence when it doesn’t square up with our goals while we embrace information that confirms our biases. Sometimes hearing we’re wrong makes us double down. And so on and so forth.
‘Our brains, says Rosenberg, are proving fatal to modern democracy…Citizens have proved ill equipped cognitively and emotionally to run a well-functioning democracy. As a consequence, the centre has collapsed and millions of frustrated and angst-filled voters have turned in desperation to right-wing populists.
‘His prediction? “In well-established democracies like the United States, democratic governance will continue its inexorable decline and will eventually fail.”’
Yes, Dear Reader, American democracy will fail.
But Professor Rosenberg has it backwards. It’s not that we are badly designed for democracy; why should we be? Democracy was badly designed for us…and sure to fail sooner or later.
More important, from our point of view, is how the scam of democracy dooms the financial system…