Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Salvage, guilt, and prophecy
Andrew J. Bacevich:
The Age of Triumphalism is over
When Bush entered office in 2001, America's status as sole superpower was self-evident and seemingly irrefutable. As the indispensable nation, the United States presided over a unipolar order. The emery board of globalization was sanding away the world's rough edges and gradually remaking it in America's own image. Commentators vied to find the appropriate historical analogy. The consensus: America was the new Rome, only more so... The central theme of the 2008 presidential election is change... In a real sense, however, change has already occurred. Even before the people have voted, they have spoken. The Age of Triumphalism has ended. The Age of Salvaging What's Left is upon us.
The question I ask myself is what will protect our country from collapsing under the burden of this enormous guilt of having systematically wrecked and destroyed another nation with such impunity? What will protect us from the awareness of being complicit in such unlawful and willful destruction? As the truth becomes impossible to ignore, are we to be transformed from a nation of sleepwalkers into a nation of insomniacs?... We much each ask ourselves, this week before the election, what, precisely, we will be willing to do to bring about the change necessary to end all the illegalities carried out in our name. For this question shall, of course, persist long after November 4.
The old assumptions and paradigms about capitalism and free markets are dead... This collapse is hard for us to fathom. We are still in shock and denial. We cling to old structures of meaning and outdated words... We have yet to realize that all our political science and economic textbooks have become junk... The flagrant corruption of our political system will become clearer as our initial shock wears off. The new America will be about the basics -- jobs, food, health care and a place to live...
We will discard the old vocabulary and learn to speak in the fiery language of populism... The populist conflict will be a battle between a frightened and dispossessed majority and the corporations and elites who seek to ruthlessly cling to power and wealth... The elite will probably be forced to make an uncomfortable alliance with right-wing populists if they want to survive... We have begun a socialist experiment... The question is not whether we will build state socialism. That process has already begun. The only question left is whether this will be right-wing or left-wing socialism.
Image source here.