The United States of America–Heading Where?

EDITORIAL, 9 Dec 2013

#303 | Johan Galtung, 9 Dec 2013 - TRANSCEND Media Service

Washington-DC

In the shorter run, till around 2020, not good; in the longer run, from 2030, not bad at all.  Short-run possibilities:

  • Politically: post-democracy, Congress more accountable to business than to people for election; the top executive power possibly sliding from the president to the supreme court justice, with money steering politics, protected as “freedom of expression”; Snowden-type revelations coming from once a year to once a month, once a week.
  • Economically: runaway inflation; accelerating inequality; deep misery affecting one third to a half of the population; depression.
  • Militarily: coup by evangelical fundamentalists to “give us our country back”/”give our, empire, our world”; using war to restore the economy; a temporary strong hand “to get things going”.
  • Culturally: declining faith in a covenant with a universal God as the Exceptional Chosen People; anomie, absence of compelling norms.
  • Socially: atomie, lacking social tissue, leading to collective and individual depression; increase in suicide and homicide (some by veterans back from meaningless wars); increasing “accidents”–cars, trains, planes–due to sloppiness, “don’t care”; school etc. massacres from once a year to once a week by suicidals taking others with them; general social malfunctioning; Jews used as scapegoats for the ills with rampant anti-Semitism, seeing Israel increasingly as a liability.

The former South Chicago community coordinator/social worker currently president–rhetorically gifted but devoid of vision beyond affordable health care–stands for eight wasted years: betraying those who elected him–non-whites, women, youth, working class, non-WASP (White, Anglo Saxon, Protestant)–to become bipartisan, getting the Republicans on board.  The USA was punished at midterm (2010) for his political sins into massive political paralysis.  Hilary Clinton, Christian Zionist, is anchored in the past and will probably not even be nominated; her time is gone.

Sounds bad, and USA has come far down this slippery slope.  The Occupy Movement, a rejuvenating potential, faced FBI infiltration, arresting 8,000 of them, and no top politicians dialoguing with them.

Where would renewal, counter-forces that might get the country on another course come from?  Short answer: anywhere but Washington-DC, and the forces are already budding but need time to become compelling:

  • Politically: local authorities and states taking power in their own hands without seceding–this would wake up Washington.  They would be wise to create third, fourth political parties–Europe might advise pink social democrat and green parties–marginalizing the two right-wing parties that monopolize US politics.  Women-youth-the aged-the non-whites taking power in their own hands while middle-aged-white-males are busy with the short term agenda above.  Non-WASP immigrants taking power in their own hands to realize the American dream betrayed by the inhabitants.  An overwhelming majority against a small Tea Party.
  • Economically: cannot be said often enough: lifting the bottom up, giving them hope and dignity, bringing them into the economy and above all changing the ethos of the economy from enriching the rich to empowering the poor.  As a national policy this is blocked partly by bought politicians; as state and local policies not necessarily so.
  • Militarily: reducing US military presence abroad as wars-bases- drones-SEALs is already underway, and must be carried out centrally.  But states and locals can move from victory-orientation to solution-orientation by inviting parties held to be in irreconcilable, violent conflict with the USA to dialogues, and then do foreign policy, like recognizing Palestine.  And Pashtunistan and Kurdistan as communities of autonomies in the–two, four–states where the nations are located.
  • Culturally: a normalization of USA, not a country predestined to playing the leading role but to playing a normal, constructive, creative role, like most other countries in the world.

This is all bound to happen: by demographic change in the USA and the emancipation underway for a long time of the US marginalized.  From the outside come immigrants with a mix of cultural baggage and dreams, but without the Puritan mystique from early 17th century of being parties to Abraham’s covenant with God.  They can be taught allegiance to a country (directly) “under God”, but that works better when the country is upfront, upbeat, not like today, down, and getting worse.  Victory-orientation also works better with victories than a record of defeats.  As Graham Fuller, Christian Science Monitor (15 Nov 2013) puts it:

We are caught in a major global transition of power relationships we cannot control.  We have abandoned two wars we could not win, at tremendous costs to ourselves in blood, treasure and opportunity costs, while killing hundreds of thousands of Muslims in foreign countries, creating hatred and ensuring–a permanent Al-Qaeda“.

But Fuller offers no alternative, and they do not come easily, having been suppressed as utopian, unrealistic, un-American.  However, fresh ideas will easily blossom on the fertile soil of US hard, cooperative work; when it makes sense.  Hundreds, thousands of small initiatives from below are worth more than one more tired uninspired “compromise”.

US withdrawal into isolation?  Not at all, a false dichotomy. How about a North American Community, MEXUSCAN?  A major Mexican paper La Jornada (19 Nov 2013): “USA declares the end of the Monroe Doctrine”. Kerry’s speech at OAS-Organization of American States urging equality in the Americas; this is the way forward, US time is not yet ripe, but it will be coming.  The US has the best car drivers in the world, respectful of traffic rules and equal rights: transfer that habit to international relations, please!

As young officers, Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant were in the 1846-48 war conquering 53 percent of Mexican territory.  The Civil War’s 1865 “peace” reunited US North and South in such pursuits.  That period is over, and the sparsely populated USA and Canada could welcome 53 percent of the Mexican population on its soil in a blossoming MEXUSCAN; Mexico being the bridge to Latin America-Caribbean; to equity in the Americas.

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Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. He is author of over 150 books on peace and related issues, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.

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