Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

When Do We Reach the Limits? How Do We Know? What Is Our Responsibility Then?

Upgraded and Adapted from the Moot:

It is actually wrong to assume that America can weather infinitely many pointless blows to its legitimacy, credit, and ecology. There really are limits beyond which it is no longer possible to function. There really are consequences to the things we do.

Americans just think we can always start over, clean the slate, re-invent ourselves, because of our comparative geographical isolation historically, our richness in resources and the resilient resourceful diversity of our population -- not to mention the fact that we've stolen and wasted so much of the treasure of the planet with our military might that we live in bubbles of utter inconsequence and unreality: The futurology I rail against here is of course an amplification often bordering on transcendentalization of this mainstream American complacent-progressive magical thinking.

I am honestly not sure that America could have pulled out of a McCain/Palin presidency intact, and I am not even sure the mid-term recapture of the House by the GOP is something we can pull out from either. America is very much at the end of the road in my opinion as a going concern if we cannot change course. Obama seems to me to represent a last chance at something resembling American sanity, and in a way very redolent of too little too late at that.

Soon intelligent people of good will have to shift from our present struggle to wrest from the US status quo a sane sustainable secular social democracy, to an acceptance that this outcome isn't possible enough to justify the harm we are doing to ourselves and the world that shifts the struggle to bringing this evil empire down in earnest.

Some of the anti-Obama and party-equivalence performance artists who like to handwave their superior radicalism and deride my hopelessly compromised assimilation here in my comments section may fancy they have already made this very shift ahead of me, but this shift would not be for me as it appears to be for them a matter of posturing as more radical than thou on blogs -- but of actual revolutionary agitation and organizing. I'm still not there myself, as this blog attests to regularly, and I frankly don't hold out much hope for the results should I be brought there, but a sober contemplation of our circumstances and their stakes says we're too close for comfort to precisely such a juncture.


jollyspaniard said...

America hasn't weathered the Bush presidency to be frank. It stands greatly diminished as a nation in many respects. Obama's presidency may be viewed in retrospect as a band aid on a sucking chest wound.

Another blow like that could plunge the United States into a USSR style imperial collapse quite quickly. A contraction seems likely anyways but there are good and bad ways to manage that contraction. How that contraction is handled will be very important, perhaps more important than trying to prevent it from happening in the first place.

jimf said...

> Another blow like that could plunge the United States into
> a USSR style imperial collapse quite quickly. A contraction
> seems likely anyways. . .

There's an article in the latest _Time_ magazine --
"How to Save a Trillion Dollars" by Mark Thompson
(,8599,2065108,00.html )
that has some interesting figures. According to the author, the
U.S. military budget increased 81% from 2001 to 2011
(from $379 billion/yr to $687 billion/yr). During the
same period, according to the article, China's military budget
increased 189%, from $40 billion/yr to $140 billion/yr.

The point of the piece is that reduction in military spending,
or even serious talk about it, is powerfully taboo despite
some of it having the flavor of going through the motions
of tradition without sufficient strategic justification.
The author says aircraft carriers (which cost $15 billion
a pop) fall into this category, "yet the Navy, backed by
the Pentagon and Congress, continues to churn them out as
if it were 1942. 'It's just tradition, the industrial base
and some old and musty arguments' that keep the shipyards
building them,' says Thomas Barnett. . . chief strategist
at Wikistrat, a geopolitical-analysis firm."

A follow-on remark which made me smile was: ". . . Which points to
an almost tragic irony of Washington's $700 billion
annual appetite for military stores: we are borrowing
cash from China to pay for weapons that we would presumably
use against it."

Ah, the wonders of capitalism. ;->

jollyspaniard said...

War with China is unthinkable but there may be an emerging rivalry between the US and asian countries for military preminence of the Indian Ocean and parts of the Pacific Ocean.

The good news for the US is that it can cut government spending quite dramaticaly without much pain because so much of it is wasted on the military anyways.