Why we can’t have nice stuff

We’ve been talking a lot about foreign policy lately, but why does US foreign policy matter to the American public?

It matters because our elite are committed to empire. Empire is their political economy.  Empire benefits them. Us, not so much.

Most Americans don’t want to be part of an empire and they also don’t want the hyper-militarized surveillance state that goes with empire. The American people, by and large, haven’t benefited by the enormous wealth generated by this arrangement of global hegemony, but have been terrorized by events and threats and red-alerts into thinking that a political decision was a historical necessity–or destiny.

But, as we have discussed previously, the US is largely controlled by a “deep state” composed of finance, energy and a military, industrial complex (MIC).

And, empire is very good for the bottom line of the MIC, as writer Tim Shorrock relates.

“70 percent of the U.S. intelligence budget is spent on private contractors. Much of this spending – estimated at around $70 billion a year – winds up at the NSA, where SIGINT operations, particularly for collection and analysis, were heavily outsourced at the turn of the century.”

This article by Shorrock, reveals a window into the world of the MIC and how it is that empire is so profitable for a small group of corporations and individuals. Government spending that could benefit the vast majority of Americans, things like infrastructure refurbishment, or creating new “green jobs,” goes instead to empire.

That’s why we can’t have nice things.

If we want to have nice things, we need to dismantle empire.

Writer Chris Hedges, who has long warned of the dangers of our present arrangement, discusses what happens to empires that wage endless war.

“But endless war is not sustainable. States that wage endless war inevitably collapse. They drain their treasuries, are hated by the wretched of the earth, and militarize and strangle their political, social and cultural life while impoverishing and repressing their populations.” 

And, it’s not just about the economic aspects of empire. It’s also about raw power. We can’t have nice things in this country anymore because our elite have taken us back to a sort of neo-feudal milieu, where they are the lords and we the serfs. Here is Noam Chomsky describing the way the US is being dumbed down to bring this about.

“People must come to believe that suffering and deprivation result from the failure of individuals, not the reigning socioeconomic system. There are huge industries devoted to this task. About one-sixth of the entire US economy is devoted to what’s called “marketing,” which is mostly propaganda. Advertising is described by analysts and the business literature as a process of fabricating wants – a campaign to drive people to the superficial things in life, like fashionable consumption, so that they will remain passive and obedient.”

Chris Hedges rages against this neo-feudalistic turn and describes what needs to happen.

“We too are powerless. We have undergone a corporate coup d’état in slow motion. It is over. They have won. If we want to wrest power back, to make the consent of the governed more than an empty cliché, we will have to mobilize, to carry out sustained acts of civil disobedience to overthrow—let me repeat that word for the members of Homeland Security who may be visiting us this afternoon—overthrow the corporate state.”

Let’s get started.

Update: Way more from Ian Welsh–

Why We Live In a Shitty Economy for Most People



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