Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Peeling back the layers

A couple of days ago, a colleague reminded me that I haven't posted anything in a long time. I do this more for my own personal satisfaction than to actually attract a following, and there are many excellent writers and thinkers out there who really deserve an audience, so I don't really feel all that compelled to write something every day since I usually just come across as a whining librul. I just write when I find something I feel passionate about or when I find something that isn't widely discussed. Ever since the Democrats wrote Dubya another huge check to allow him to continue to play army with real people and real weapons, I've been angry, frustrated, and feeling more than a bit betrayed. So I decided to lay off writing for a while and just listen to what some of the smarter and wiser voices have to say.

Along that vein, I was just reading Arthur Silber's latest post, "Cui Bono? -- and Bush's Monstrous, Deadly Dare" and realized that the more I read and learn about politics, the more I realize I know nothing about it. Arthur's post is long, but well worth the time and effort to read in its entirety. His central premise is that all of us who think that the Bushies are a bunch of idiots who can't tie their own shoes have been tooled. He is probably right:

The Bush administration has "turned the Defense Department over to private contractors" -- thus enriching certain huge and hugely influential nominally private companies in amounts of many billions of dollars. Not so coincidentally, the same private companies have numerous and intricate connections to many of those in government. The privatization of national defense also means that certain individuals in government have the ability to deploy not just one private army, but an entire series of private armies, to do their bidding, as may be required and for purposes those individuals will determine.

Turning our national debt over to foreign creditors may indeed be a cause for grave concern and an indicator of possible future economic collapse. But such eventualities hopefully lie some years in the future. Carpe diem, and all that. In the meantime, the top one or two percent of Americans -- including many of these same governmental players and their fellow gang members -- are amassing wealth in colossal amounts. All the rest of America, together with large parts of the world, may be going to hell. What's that to them?

In brief: the major actors in the Bush administration are achieving exactly what they want. They may well be about to launch the start of World War III, which will further enrich their corporate friends by many additional billions of dollars. As the favored few continue to amass vast wealth, the government continues to consolidate political power to an extent that makes a future dictatorship fully realizable. They are well on the road to the achievement of wealth and power on a scale rarely if ever equalled in the history of civilization.

To describe such an achievement as the result of "Monumental Stupidity" is, well, stupid. The problem is one of analysis and method, and it is very widespread. Most major commentators (and almost all bloggers) fall into the same error. The aims I have noted -- the amassing of wealth and power, and the drive to regional (and worldwide) hegemony -- are nothing remotely akin to a conspiracy, unless you view aims stated openly and repeatedly, and pursued over a period of decades in front of the entire world, as a "conspiracy."

The key to the nature of the error lies in this phrase: "while leading a party whose single most basic belief is supposed to be that individuals must take personal responsibility for their actions." Both commentators appear to have taken Republican marketing slogans seriously in the precise manner the Republicans hoped they would. And even though these commentators now view the slogans with suspicion and cynicism, it seems the dynamics involved -- and the vast gulf between marketing techniques and the reality of what is transpiring -- still escape them.

I return once again to these critically important observations from Robert Higgs:
As a general rule for understanding public policies, I insist that there are no persistent "failed" policies. Policies that do not achieve their desired outcomes for the actual powers-that-be are quickly changed. If you want to know why the U.S. policies have been what they have been for the past sixty years, you need only comply with that invaluable rule of inquiry in politics: follow the money.

When you do so, I believe you will find U.S. policies in the Middle East to have been wildly successful, so successful that the gains they have produced for the movers and shakers in the petrochemical, financial, and weapons industries (which is approximately to say, for those who have the greatest influence in determining U.S. foreign policies) must surely be counted in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

So U.S. soldiers get killed, so Palestinians get insulted, robbed, and confined to a set of squalid concentration areas, so the "peace process" never gets far from square one, etc., etc. – none of this makes the policies failures; these things are all surface froth, costs not borne by the policy makers themselves but by the cannon-fodder masses, the bovine taxpayers at large, and foreigners who count for nothing.

I would really like to believe that we're all not just pawns in some sick game of global domination, but after reading this, I think that's like believing in the Tooth Fairy. All of the issues that we care so deeply about just don't matter to the ruling class. They just use them as smoke screens so they can maintain their grip on the power levers. We're all just puppets on strings to them responding exactly as they want us to respond. I suddenly feel like Neo freshly awakened from the Matrix.

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