Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

June 23, 2007

Failed States: A Retrospective

Filed under: books, politics — codesmithy @ 8:28 am

I finished up “Failed States” by Noam Chomsky have moved onto “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger.  The impression that Chomsky left on me is similar to Chalmers Johnson (which maybe shouldn’t come as a surprise).  The United States, in order to achieve true peace, must work diplomatically instead of militarily, utilize the U.N. and set the standard of adhering to International Law, and live up to terms in the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Surprisingly, Chomsky argues that this is a similar view held by the majority of Americans.  I’m a tad bit more cynical, in that I don’t think people necessarily communicate coherent public policy in a poll, and if care isn’t taken, responses can be biased by phrasing of the question and the what the person who is taking the poll thinks is the “correct” answer to the question is.   I remember a politician remarking that he never trusted a poll he didn’t pay for.

So, I don’t think that the public is as cheery to accept socialized health care as one might assume based on the polls.  Even if people agree in principle that health care should be socialized, I don’t know if the practical questions of how much the taxes would be raised, and some of the perceived drawbacks would affect the public support negatively.  But any move to socialized health care would have to overcome powerful lobbying by entrenched interests, and a remarkable propaganda campaign against it.  Not an enviable aspect of American democracy, but a realistic one, parallel to belling the cat.

The adoption of neo-liberal economic policies abroad, along with intervention in the internal affairs of sovereign countries has without a doubt, jeopardized American security in the name of business profits, along with the worsening of the general socio-economic conditions of the populations subjected to IMF and World Bank policies.  Chomsky’s notion that observed properties of American democracy promotion abroad can now be seen domestically provides a believable account of where the USA is heading socially and economically.  The fact that the media utterly fails the American public about whether or not Bloomberg, Gore and the like, might or might not run for President, instead of focusing on the of the policies of numerous candidates who have announced (even possibly 3rd party nominees)  gives credence to his argument that electing Presidents is more of marketing than of substance.

The ultimate frustration coming away from the book is that such a radical social revolution needs to take place to replace those currently in power, that I have a hard time imagining it happening unless there is a catalyst (such as the Great Depression was for the New Deal).  The obvious fear is that new catalysts might be too strong causing a collapse.  An evolution is preferable, but we seem to be headed in the opposite direction from the needed course.  Is there a spark that will turn things around for the better, and what is it?

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