In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

A bewildering conjuncture

Posted by seumasach on August 11, 2011

Cailean Bochanan

11th August, 2011

Although everyday life seems to go on as normal, looting and burning notwithstanding, the worlds events are hurtling towards their denouement. Never has one flashpoint succeeded another with such breakneck speed and the prevailing feeling can only be one of bewilderment. This year has seen, so far, the Arab Spring, a new war against an Arab nation which has gone disastrously wrong for “the scourge of the world”, the new Tamberlaine, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a new stock market collapse, unpredented post-modern rioting ,the Norwegian terror attacks and the implosion of the Murdoch empire, amongst other prodigies. The question is: how are these events connected?

I think we should be quite clear, first of all, that any thinking person could have seen at the beginning of the year that nothing had been resolved with regard to the economic turmoil which has engulfed the world since 2007. Any honest economist would also have had to admit that the core of the problem resided in the heartlands of the US/UK. Here was where the greatest, most unimaginable debt lay, where productive forces were most depleted and where imperial overstretch recalled the Late Roman Empire, notably the emperor Julian’s disastrous foray into Mesopotamia which marked according to some historians the beginning of the final fall. With failure staring Obama in the face the world’s eyes were focused on the fate of America’s wars, it’s accounts and closely related fate of the US dollar. However, apart from that week or two of stand-off in Congress the US has not been the main focus. This is our first clue to the logic of these events: despite US decline it is still off-loading its crisis onto the rest of the world turning the crisis of America into the crisis of humanity. At the heart of this is the conflict over Europe and a new strategy for the Middle East.

This week’s falls on the markets would seem to be a logical consequence of the bad news concerning the US economy, but the media are presenting them as the next stage in an existential crisis of the Eurozone. The rating agencies have conceded a downgrade of US debt only to return with a vengeance to attack the Eurozone. This time it is France which finds itself in the line of fire with a completely unfounded claim made in the UK’s Daily Mail, for which the paper has since apologised, that Societe General is on the verge of bankruptcy, creating panic. The agencies have of course waded in, threatening to downgrade France’s debt. All is doom and gloom, apparently, in the Eurozone even though they have, as many commentators admit, gone some way to resolve their fundamental problem, namely, an insufficient degree of central economic governance. The European Monetary Fund is on the way with the ECB holding the line meantime and, no doubt, the Eurobond will soon make its appearance forcing the speculators to take on the whole zone rather than just keep picking off the weaker links. That the Euro crisis is largely an imaginary one relative to the apocalipse awaiting us in the anglosphere is the ultimate heresy. From a survey of the English language press  you would think we are at war with Europe. We are. It’s a currency war, an attempt to sustain the dollar/pound reserve currency system by knocking out the only immediate alternative. China is putting it’s weight as the world’s leading economy behind Europe. We are throwing the full force of our residual global  pre-eminence against it.

At the same time as fighting to undermine Europe we are fighting alongside Europe in a bold new imperial strategy to remodel the Middle East and to open the gate to Africa. The realization that this strategy is a fundamental miscalculation is giving European participants cold feet. They may also see that, like the NATO-led Kosovo war, this is an own goal for Europe drawing them into the embrace of their newest and greatest enemy, the USA. Although the Libya campaign looked, to begin with, to be a response to the Arab Spring it now appears that the overthrow of Gaddafi, as well as Assad, is at the heart of these events with the rest, replete with unintended consequences, being designed as the backdrop. Certainly, plans to attack Libya were in the pipeline at the end of last year and the accompanying PR looked remarkably well-prepared, especially on the left. Mind you, the left had reason to enthuse: Obama had finally laid to rest the war of terror of the Bush years, the wars  against “Al-Qaida” , by launching wars supportive of those CIA jihadist milieu. Strikingly, the terror attacks in Norway didn’t lead to the usual demonising of muslims but of anti-muslim right-wing extremism. It’s a topsy-turvy world with the right leading opposition to the empire’s wars and the left rerunning their Kosovo treachery. Obama’s left turn also coincides with the Guardian newspaper leading the charge against the ubiquitous Murdoch networks, after, no doubt, getting the green light to do so from above. We’ve never seen such a fissure in the British elite: only real power players can challenge Murdoch- who are they? There even seems to be a bit of orange revolution fun hitting Israel even though everyone, of course,  knows that Israel is already a democracy: is Obama going to stand four square behind Israel against this threat to its security?

But even the best laid plans go amiss and this one has done so quite remarkably. This must be a most puzzling war for the average person even if Gaddafi does look the part as leading Arab villain. I would guess it to be extremely unpopular were people given to volunteering their opinions on such things: an open door for the antiwar movement but not one they want to walk through. Is this just one of the fruits of Obamism or does the standing down of the antiwar left augur a dangerous turn of events? Whatever the case it is, presumably,  the end of them but it could also be the end of quite a lot else. The defeat of the “rebels”, for defeat it is, leaves NATO facing humiliation. Their victory would have brought new dangers to the whole African people, but their defeat leaves  also the danger of the the wounded beast lashing out. NATO don’t do defeat and the attentions of Obama towards Syria look ominous. The West supported by none less than those House of Saud progressives are convinced that Assad is very bad indeed. Their campaign against the new evil of secular, Arab nationalism through the agency of Salafist groups and the Muslim Brotherhood is floundering and therefore might require the assistance of NATO. This would pit the West against the rest of the world and lead us into global war. When madness like this is in the air the Anglo-Americans are never far behind: war is as timely for them as it is timeless, as their system implodes.

This implosion has taken a spectacular and shocking form in the UK in the form of rioting teenagers laying bare the reality of what British society, rotten from top to bottom, has become. The actions of the authorities themselves provoked these events just as they duly brought them to an end but not before preparing the ground for returning hero David Cameron to take on allcomers, any who might try to resist the looting of their last meagre possessions by the City of London gang through bailout and quantitative easing. The eye of the world though is now on Britain, the  West’s first failed state or  the Leviathan presiding over “the struggle of everyone against everyone else”- the macabre death of Britain’s facade of liberal civilization.

We are living through total crisis: economic, political, social, cultural and existential. If it leaves most of us bewildered and paralysed we must not make the mistake of attributing that frame of mind the the Anglo-American ruling elite. “L’audace, toujours de l’andace’ could well be their motto. They don’t wait for things to happen but always seek to set the agenda and drive events. They, and their hidden hand,  continue to be the unifying factor behind seemingly disparate developments. If these events appear a disjointed mess it is that their power is ebbing away and that a shadow now falls between conception and realization. Dangerous though these times are we can hope that the fundamental geopolitical shifts away from empire to a more balanced, equitable and just world are simply too deep to be trumped by the empire’s sinister realpolitik.

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