The Country without a Future
By Marc Batko
In the country without a future, elite democracy has long supplanted political participation. Life alternates between self-absorption and escapism, infantilism and dementia. There is no interest, passion or curiosity in a country leveled by neoliberal myths and the irrationality of profit maximization at any price. Critics are demeaned as troublemakers and philosophy, sharing and alternative economics are relegated to the realms of fantasy and the distant past. How should the state, market and neoliberal myths be understood and reconstructed? Should education, health care, housing, energy, banking, the Internet, communication, and transportation be public enterprises? Should health, education, and housing be human rights or privileges dependent on one’s descent?
In a country without a future, the leader cannot complete a sentence without drifting off into irrelevance or distraction. Money abounds for “space programs” and all-time record military budgets for weapons that don’t work against enemies that don’t exist with money we don’t have (Joseph Stiglitz). The Congress consists of “errand boys for the banks” (Bill Moyers). Education has long mutated into profit centers where critical learning and intercultural learning have been replaced by sycophancy and corporate double speak. Corporate profits are mistaken for community health. The social state is held to be the result of trickle-down surplus profit production. Concentration and contempt for anti-trust legislation lead to four firms controlling Internet access and four airlines dominating nearly all airline service.
In a country called thankless, the corporate media divides its boundless time into lies, vulgarities, scapegoating and fear-mongering. In Trump’s budget, everything is cut except for the military. The GOP tax bill pushed through without hearings, compromises, concessions, countermeasures, and testimony gave over $5 trillion to households with over a million dollars income. The attacks on the poor, seniors, students and children included “third-rails” like social security, Medicare, Medicaid, Pell college grants, Meals on Wheels, food stamps, after-school programs, legal aid, the departments of education and environmental protection. Public policy is worlds away from sledgehammers and wrecking balls. The November election will be a chance to throw the scoundrels out along with their corporate profit-maximization strategies. In the 2008 bank bailout, $18 trillion was lavished on the “too-big-to-fail” banks. Private risks became public risks. The banking crisis became a state revenue crisis. The real cause of the state revenue crisis is tax avoidance. Tax havens like the Cayman Islands, Switzerland, Bermuda, Panama, and Delaware hide between $22 and $33 trillion. Corporations spent more than $460 billion in the first eight months of 2018 buying back their own stock.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the martyr, leader of the underground Confessing Church and highest name in Germany, said the ultimate is the hope and goal of the penultimate. The language of proclamation runs crossway to the language of time. One act of obedience can be more important than a thousand sermons. The state exists to fulfill public responsibilities and not to be the plaything of special or private interests. The state exists to reduce inequality, to create meaningful work when there is hardly any private investment and to overcome poverty by tackling the scandal at its roots. People want to be encouraged and supported in their self-determined work and to live in a multi-layered life with desires, interests, projects, and achievements.
Reducing working hours is the only way to create full meaningful employment. The economy is a part of life and self-determination and creativity should be encouraged. The goal is the embedding of the economy in society and not vice versa (Karl Polanyi and Peter Ulrich). Education is the “great transformer” (John Kenneth Galbraith). Technology and the computer are ways to make us both subjects and students, commenting and correcting ideas that can either widen or narrow future possibilities. How could the Internet lead to a liberating and evocative future where everyone could be authors, editors, translators, aggregators, explorers and admonishing prophets? The 26 community centers in Vancouver Canada have a cushioning and a multiplying effect. Before 1980, they were bursting with activity, game rooms, casserole dinners, gyms, theaters, libraries, surrogate classrooms and counseling opportunities.
If the people are not supported in their need for peaceful revolution, they will be mired in violence revolution (John F. Kennedy). The GDP measures everything except what makes life worthwhile (Robert Kennedy).
In German, the future is represented by three words Futurum, Zukunkt, and Advent. The future is at once chronological, transformational and eschatologically anticipatory.
Beware of those drowning in self-admiration and pathological narcissism! Separation of powers and checks and balances have been slowly enervated under the cries of efficiency and competition. Life is complex and uncertain and cannot be reduced to buying cars or manufacturing blackjack tables. Life is not longevity, sickness is not sin and success is more than car ownership.
The future could be protected and anticipated in the present, not extrapolated from the present. We can go beyond everything past and present in the power of the coming, the power of the promise (Jurgen Moltmann). Faith in the infinite God means the death of the ego and the celebration of the selfless transcendent God (Soren Kierkegaard).
The only disability is attitude and a country slavishly engrossed by a vulgar, uneducated, uncultivated, racist, xenophobic, misogynist, narcissist, paranoid, sadistic and victimized misanthrope! Liars seek to manipulate us and live in their own reality without recognizing their lies. Malignant narcissists start wars and seek to fulfill grandiose and paranoid delusions instead of reality. JFK found face-saving solutions through empathy and recognizing the humanity of others (John Gartner). Impeachment or encouraging resignation can save the system from self-destruction. Fear-mongering, scapegoating and narcissism can end like illiteracy and prejudice since they are all home-made curses that make life into a seemingly manageable 2-inch world!
NOTE from August 23
Russians in your cornflakes?
Trump is promoting the “Uncle Sucker” myth, that the US carelessly let itself be exploited by everyone! (cf. Michael Hudson).
7 and a half million tons of bombs were dropped on little Vietnam. The system of finance capitalism has allowed the richest 85 persons to have more wealth than 3.5 billion people. It’s time to see the log in our own eye and not only the speck in the other’s eye!
What are the antidotes to exploding inequality and precarious work, to concentrated wealth and to the nefarious effect of money in politics?