Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for June 24th, 2013

The loss of our national influence is nothing to cheer

Posted by Charles II on June 24, 2013

Crossposted from a comment on DK

The US has made serious policy blunders under two administrations, leading to a decline in influence. For several reasons, this should trouble and alarm us all.

1. A decline in one power means that power vacuums open up and the likelihood of armed conflict rises. This is most dangerous in Asia, where rising nationalist sentiments in Japan and China, coupled with declining American power, have led to skirmishes. In Latin America, the risk of armed conflict between states is lower, but in Honduras, a narcostate seems to be emerging, Mexico is suffering internal conflict, and there have been confrontations between, e.g. Colombia and Venezuela.

2. All hegemons suck, but some suck worse than others. So far, the U.S. has not been as oppressive as many Great Powers. China, notably, is unlikely to be a benevolent ruler if U.S. power is displaced.

3. A decline in influence means a decline in national efficacy. There are big problems that need to be dealt with urgently (climate change, declining productivity of the oceans, etc.) and on an international level. If the U.S. ceases to be a world leader, it’s difficult to see which nation will replace it. At a time when we need to work together, there could well be anarchy.

The Snowden story is an iconic tragedy. Written large, it is the story of America’s decline. A young, intelligent, idealistic American exercises the greatest of the fundamental freedoms: the freedom to say no, the freedom to speak out in witness against wrongdoing, the freedom to leave a system that he feels has become unjust. The system, instead of taking stock of how the revelations look to the world, behaves in a manner that simply confirms what he has said by failing to explain or perhaps apologize for the alleged abuses, by shouting traitor rather than vowing to end any abuses, and by trying to strongarm other nations into handing him over.

There are many other Americans who have stood up for what they felt was right and have been trampled by the power of corporations and the state. (Based on the literature on whistleblowing) Probably over 1 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed because they have been punished for doing the right thing. Reporters like Bob Parry and Gary Webb tried to stand up against the decline in our media and were trampled. Wal-Mart workers trying to take a stand against unfair labor practices are fired. And so on.

Cumulatively, the uncorrected wrongs they couldn’t stop add up to our national illness.

Punishing Snowden will not cure anything. Our national treatment of him is, rather, exacerbating our national decline.
Added: The witch hunt atmosphere could also induce Snowden to flip and to divulge everything he knows to the Russians, the Chinese, or whoever, in exchange for asylum. So, what the US is doing is stupid and counterproductive even from the narrow vantage point of achieving what the elites want, namely to arrest Snowden and make an example of him. A successful strategy would have been to low key it to try to keep Snowden silent until he was in custody. No better example of the rampant incompetence at top leadership levels could be adduced.

Posted in abuse of power, NSA eavesdropping, wiretapping | 7 Comments »

The Death Spiral Of Futile Leftism

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 24, 2013

This is a few months old, but it resonates strongly with me:

The biggest challenge facing the left or any minority movement is convincing people to spend their time, energy, and other resources working with them. Most people, especially those people you should want to attract to your side, do not want to waste their time doing things that will achieve nothing. It is hard enough convincing someone that a minority movement can win, but that difficulty is compounded many times over when the movement itself is full of the type of people who do not actually care about winning. A person who remarks that they do not want to get involved because it looks like a bunch of self-congratulating actions that never lead to anything has a totally accurate assessment of the state of things.

What you get when the futile purity cultists take hold is a death spiral of increasing incompetence and futility. Those interested in futile nonsense are basically the only people attracted to thing: so their numbers hold steady or swell. Those opposed to futile nonsense flood out or never join to begin with. Futile leftism just begets more futile leftism because anyone halfway sensible would never bother to waste their time with it.

Let’s go back to something Professor Richard Wolff said over two years ago:

Organisation is what the US left lacks. Not issues, not members, not a wide public audience: the US left now has all of them in abundance. Indeed, the economic crisis that exploded in 2008 – now becoming a social crisis because the “recovery” bypassed the majority that needed it most – has only enhanced that abundance. Yet, a deeply rooted and continuously nurtured aversion to unified organisation undermines the US left’s social influence and collective action at every turn. The decline of past left organisations – the socialist and communist parties, student groups such as SDS, SNCC, major segments of organised labor – has fostered a sense of the futility of organisation. The demonisation of those and other left organisations, by liberal as well as conservative voices, renders individual left thought and action sometimes acceptable but collective criticism and activity always deeply suspect.

Or what he said more recently: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

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