Monday, February 15, 2010

Because Empire Is The Methamphetamine Of Nations

Greer's generally quite good, but this week, you should definitely go read his entire post.

It may never have occurred to you to wonder why it is that the 5% of the world’s population who live in the US get to use around a third of the world’s production of natural resources and industrial products – certainly it never seems to occur to most Americans to wonder about that – but the economics of empire are the reason.

A century ago, in 1910, it was Britain that had the global empire, the worldwide garrisons, and the torrents of wealth flowing from around the world to boost the British standard of living at the expense of everyone else’s. A century from now, in 2110, if the technology to maintain any kind of worldwide empire still exists – and it can be done with wooden sailing ships and crude cannon, remember; Spain managed that feat very effectively in its day – somebody else will be in that position. It won’t be America, because empire is the methamphetamine of nations; in the short term, the effects feel great, but in the long term they’re very often lethal. Britain managed to walk away from its empire without total catastrophe because the United States was ready, willing, and able to take over, and give Britain a place in the inner circle of US allies into the bargain; most other nations have paid for their imperial overshoot with a century or two of economic collapse, political chaos, and social disintegration.

That’s the corner into which the United States is backing itself right now. The flood of lightly disguised tribute from overseas, while it made Americans fantastically wealthy by the standards of the rest of the world, also gutted America’s domestic economy – the same economic imbalances that funnel wealth here also make it nearly impossible to produce goods or provide services at home at a cost that can compete with overseas producers – and created a culture of entitlement that includes all classes from the bottom of the social pyramid right up to the top. As always happens, in turn, the benefits of empire are failing to keep pace with its rapidly rising costs, and in addition, rising demands for imperial largesse from all parts of society are drawing down an increasingly straitened supply of wealth. Meanwhile other nations with imperial ambitions are circling like sharks; the wisest among them know that time is on their side, and that any additional burden that can be loaded onto a drowning empire will hasten the day when it goes under for the third time and they can close for the kill.

Meanwhile, our media distract us with missing white women, whether Angelina and Brad are splitting up, and "reality" tv. Maybe we should bomb Iran.

I will say that I differ with Greer only concerning his optimism that various states, such as China, will win out over large multi-national corporations. I suspect that things may work out in quite the opposite direction, but the overall difference may be rather less important than we suppose.

Picture found here.


Teacats said...

I believe that corporations will win globally -- and that wrangling over politics, parties etc. is just an illusion. Money Rules the World. Period. More and more I see the "Wal-Mart Effect" in action -- where corporations (or political parties) no longer co-exist or compete -- they simply eliminate or destroy any competition at all. By hook or By crook. They are ruled by Money.

Jan at Rosemary Cottage

Thalia Took said...

Forgive the randomness of this, as this is nothing at all to do with your post, but I am about to strangle Anthony McC over at Echidne's. He is having the usual problem and making the usual excuses for not capitalizing 'Paganism' (while specifically referencing the modern religion, even, not the ancient stuff) all while claiming to be 'radically egalitarian.' Oh my fucking Christ I'm gonna kill him.


I know YOU get it that capitalizing 'Pagan' and 'Paganism' is the goddamn bare minimum of respect.

Blue in the face, is what I am. It just kills me, still, though I suppose I should get it by now. These are people who call themselves progressive? And they can't fucking manage a capital 'P', even after it's been explained with small words? What hope can we have that the rest of the world will ever treat us decently?

ARGH, again.

Sorry. REALLY needed to vent.