A crisis of ideologies

 

I find it darkly amusing that neoliberalism and neoconservatism are losing legitimacy by the day, while political leaders and the corporate media warn of the disintegration of the “western-liberal-order.” That these two ruling ideologies are imploding says a lot about short-sightedness of our ruling elite, who are panicking as the damage becomes harder to ignore.

The best example of this serial failure is Trump’s trade war with China.

Neoliberals imagined that they could outsource American manufacturing to China and take full advantage of this labor-arbitrage scheme to maximize their stock portfolios while American workers could pound sand.

Didn’t work out that way, did it?

Trump’s election seems to be in part due to the blow-back from these neglected workers, who’ve watched as both parties encouraged the corporate off-shoring of their middle-class jobs and accompanying destruction of their town and cities.

And Apple betting the store on China for their supply chain and for sales, and then having both bets explode at the same time, seems like a well-deserved fuck-you to forty years of deindustrialization and neoliberal triumphalism.

Meanwhile, neoconservatives thought that they could create a cadre of comprador millionaires they could control, never imagining that the Chinese had other ideas. And, recently their non-stop hostility towards Russia, perversely, drove Russia and China into an anti-US alliance, violating centuries of realpolitik guidelines about keeping enemies divided.

Since the end of the Cold War the neocons have squandered all the good will that the US enjoyed with their never-ending series of conflicts. Despite a nearly sixfold increase in the frequency of its use of force, the US has clinched few, if any, decisive military victories in recent decades. Instead, US neocon instituted regime-change operations have aggravated the pathology of broken, corrupt, and dysfunctional politics across the region, from Afghanistan, to Iraq, to Libya, to Syria, where successive Republican and Democratic administrations have created ongoing quagmires.

Trump’s election seemed to signify a defeat for neoconservatism, as he rebuked decades of Republican foreign policy orthodoxy with his criticism of the invasion of Iraq. The neocons were exposed as charlatans, who lacked a clear constituency outside the rarified world of right-wing think-tanks.

However, the neocons are anything if not resilient, with a corporate media fan-club that has allowed them to remain relevant in the face of Trump’s foreign policy apostasy, as the latest flip-flopping on US troop withdrawal from Syria demonstrates.

This poses an interesting question. Why would Republican politicians respond by once again seeking out the neocons’ counsel? Why, far less, would Democrats? And why would much of the news media, grappling with historic levels of public distrust, accept neoconservatives and neoconservatism as the baseline for foreign policy analysis?

Why indeed?

Back in March 2016, as Hillary Clinton’s campaign geared up to woo Republicans, one observer raised doubts: “Now that the neocons [have] been revealed as having no real grassroots to deliver, and that their actual constituency consists almost entirely of a handful of donors subsidizing a few dozen think tankers, journalists, and letterheads, why would Democrats want them back?” This insight might have benefitted the Clinton campaign, which lost the pivotal states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin where communities suffered high casualties in Middle East wars criticized by Trump.

I firmly believe that the reason the neocon enjoy such oversized influence, despite a long track record of failure, is because both parties and the corporate media are always pro-war.

Thus, the Washington Post admonishes Trump not to listen to Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, and warns that–“In the run-up to 2020, Trump should realize that most Republicans—and most Americans—favor a robust U.S. foreign policy.”

Yeah, right. That’s why Trump was elected. Because Americans want more forever wars.

What’s the definition of insanity?

It won’t surprise you to learn that our elite have a response to their crisis of legitimacy.

The Russians did it.

Don’t laugh, there’s a method to the madness–to get us all scared about Russia–to deflect from real issues that the same elites who are sounding the alarm about Russia are responsible for. That goes double for the Democratic elites who lost an election to Donald Trump, got totally discredited and embarrassed, and had their agenda rejected by a sizeable amount of voters in the Rust Belt which has suffered from neoliberal policies.

Unfortunately, we can expect our elite to cling stubbornly to their ruling ideologies of neoliberalism and neoconservatism even as they stand in tatters. The problem is that this is the behavior of elites in fading empires, where societies schism into two unequal parts: a dominant minority that monopolizes the political system and its payoffs; and an internal “proletariat” that carries most of the costs of the existing order of things and is denied access to most of its benefits.

Unless something drastic happens in 2019, I expect both parties to offer the same policies that have devastated the country: more government largesse for the corporations and the rich, more austerity for everyone else, more malign neglect for the US infrastructure and our environment, more wars in the Middle-East, and more of a dangerous new Cold War against Russia.

 

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