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Final countdown to extermination… or salvation


It would be shortsighted if not utterly foolish to overlook the geopolitical dimension, as well as the existing social and economic fundamentals that feed plethora of doomsday scenarios. Words have consequences. It is an axiom. Deeds have consequences too. This is even more apparent since deeds are visible, palpable and affect straightforwardly our lives.


“End of Neoliberalism” (not a quote from Putin)

The 2008 economic and financial meltdown in the USA went viral and intoxicated the rest of the world. It is a Fact. Not fiction. More than a decade afterwards, it has become apparent that the global crunch could not be attributed to the textbook model of cyclic development of the market economy (capitalism, in another parlance). The roots of the malfunction, with wounds not yet fully healed, are deeper and of a profound nature.

On 4 November 2019, an impeccable authority on market economy, the former Chief Economist of the World Bank who recently authored a book titled “People, Power, and Profits: Progressive Capitalism for an Age of Discontent”, passed his verdict on what is going on. As already guessed, I am referring to Joseph E. Stiglitz, University Professor at Columbia University, and the man whose pinpointing forecasts cum more broad predictions could be floated on the stock exchange.

First, let us assess the quote from his article “The End of Neoliberalism and the Rebirth of History”: “In rich and poor countries alike, elites promised that neoliberal policies would lead to faster economic growth, and that the benefits would trickle down so that everyone, including the poorest, would be better off. To get there, though, workers would have to accept lower wages, and all citizens would have to accept cutbacks in important government programs.”

Here is more food for thought: “If a leading presidential candidate in an emerging market lost favor with Wall Street, the banks would pull their money out of the country. Voters then faced a stark choice: Give in to Wall Street or face a severe financial crisis. It was as if Wall Street had more political power than the country's citizens.”

The biting criticism aimed at Wall Street (coming from a former top manager of the World Bank) is telling in itself. Yet, it pales in comparison with the ensuing dethroning of neoliberalism, which was “far from liberal. It imposed an intellectual orthodoxy whose guardians were utterly intolerant of dissent.” Then, the unanticipated iconoclast Stiglitz passes an unambiguous verdict by proclaiming: “The simultaneous waning of confidence in neoliberalism and in democracy is no coincidence or mere correlation. Neoliberalism has undermined democracy for 40 years.”

Now, take stock of the final line: “… neoliberalism will literally bring an end to our civilization.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin in the interview in the Financial Times declared that “Liberalism is dead”, referring to the socio-economic model of “neo-liberalism” that consistently crippled the welfare state and introduced additional restrictions on workers' rights.

This sentiment and conclusion must ring a bell with Andrew Dobbs, activist, organizer, and writer based in Austin, Texas. Here his viewpoint on the state of affairs in the USA: “Now that there is no need to distribute the surplus because the masses can't do anything about it the question is what do we blame for their continued stagnation and decline – outsiders or backwardness? What sort of illiberal rule will we have in the future – chauvinism or a tyranny of experts and machines?

One more dissenting voice in the realm of neo-liberals belongs to Rob Jones, observer for Socialist Alternative website, who admitted, “To some degree, Putin is correct to say that the ‘liberal' economic model based on the Pinochet-Reagan-Thatcher model of ‘neoliberalism' (initially termed ‘monetarism') introduced at the end of the 1970s has failed.”

The surprising invective against neoliberalism by Joseph E. Stiglitz, the co-winner of the 2001 Nobel Memorial Prize, is another testimony that the current model of market economy is flawed. What is more worrying is the assertion that “neoliberalism will literally bring an end to our civilization.”

The apocalyptic overtones of this extrapolation need to be taken seriously. Emmett Rensin, the American essayist and political commentator, shares this gloomy outlook by Stiglitz. In the Los Angeles Review of Books, he claimed that complacency was a natural extension of the liberal self-image.


In an essay titled “The Blathering Superego at the End of History”, Rensin asserts, “Liberal consensus achieved the status of near-global orthodoxy precisely because it subordinated the political imperative to reform society to a kind of dispassionate managerialism that deferred to facts and expertise.”

In sum, the unsustainable mode of “dispassionate managerialism” promoted and practiced by neoliberal dogmatics, contributed to the spiral of growing inequality. In addition, as formulated by the familiar to many Umar Haque, self-appointed whistle-blower prophet, “dehumanization as an everyday feature of public life, second class citizenship, all the stuff above done by private “subcontractors” for profit and power.”


“Nuke them”

One of the inerasable traumas we all harbour in our memory, no matter whether we realize it and are aware of it or not, is the ever-present risk of becoming direct or indirect victim of a nuclear war followed by the ominous Nuclear Winter. Do we not?

After all, the precedent is duly recorded and leaves no place for a twisted interpretation. It is enough to ask for evidence the last left Hibakusha , the survivors or relatives of those who perished in the 1945 atomic bombings of the two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

14-image003 If the United States did it once, the superpower could, “highly likely”, do it again. If Harry Truman (1884–1972), the 33rd U.S. president, gave the order to “nuke them”, and did not end up in tribunal as a war criminal, why wouldn't his successors dare to carry out a similar abominable deed?

It is no longer a state secret that General William Westmoreland, who commanded American military operations in the Vietnam War from 1964 to 1968, authorized a nuclear weapons transfer to the Southeast Asian nation for an apparent purpose. To “nuke them”, the “nams”.

Even the three-fisted fighter for America's ideological hegemony, the dyed-in-the-wool imperialist Lyndon B. Johnson (1908–1973), the 36rd U.S. president, pulled on the emergency brake on learning the “nukes” have arrived to the scene of hostilities without mercy. Johnson then ordered to pull out the Day of Judgement weapons from Vietnam for understandable fear of triggering off the Third World War.

Nonetheless, toying with the idea of dealing a mortal blow to its ideological foes was an obsession with the “collective West” in the aftermath of the Second World War. In December 1960, Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th U.S. president, authorized the implementation of the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP). The Plan envisaged massive bombing of thousands of military and civilian targets in the then Soviet Union (Russia) and its allies, notably China.

In the book “Command and Control” (published in 2013), Eric Schlosser, an investigative journalist, details the blueprint of extermination:

Within three days of the initial attack the full force of the SIOP would kill about 54% of the Soviet Union's population and about 16 of China's population – roughly 220 million people. Millions more would subsequently die from burns, radiation poisoning, exposure… Once the SIOP was set in motion, it could not be altered, slowed, or stopped.”

14-image004In fact, SIOP was the upgraded option of “Operation Dropshot”, the contingency plan for a possible pre-emptive nuclear and conventional war with the Soviet Union and its allies mapped out by the US Department of Defense in 1949. The scale was immense. The “single stroke” attack stipulated dropping 300 nuclear bombs and 29,000 high-explosive bombs on 200 targets in 100 cities and towns to wipe out 85% of the Soviet Union's industrial potential and murder millions of people.

The early stages of the Cold War were marked by arrogant calls by Winston Churchill on the United States to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the “empire of evil”, as future Hollywood-groomed 40th US President Ronald Reagan (1911–2004) enjoyed to label the USSR. Yet, the American political strategists at that time remained hesitant.

Despite the already on-going at full speed dehumanization of the peoples living behind the Iron Curtain, meticulously maintained by the West, with plenty of negative stereotyping and demonization, only the “top-table military hawks”, as phrased by, a freelance writer and essayist based in London, “agitated for preemptive strikes, seemingly unmoved by the prospect of extinguishing a quarter of a billion lives.”

Likening this pre-planned annihilation of ideological enemies, at that time still weak in the aftermath of WWII and not conceiving any military crusade to conquer new territories, to an “apocalyptic dick-measuring contest ”, Wismayer appeals to the common sense of his readers:

Think of it. There we were, two decades after the war that came after the war that was supposed to end all wars, and our leaders were pondering whether to commit mass murder on a scale hitherto unimaginable.”

14-image005Do the current elites, with no personal first-hand experience of the sufferings of millions of innocent people, have the idiosyncrasy to violence on such a Biblical scale? Doubtful. Once I queried Alexander Rahr, the well-known German historian a politologist of Russian descent, do the coming of a generation of politicians, not personally exposed to the horrors of the previous war, to forefront in decision-making institutions enhance the risk of a repetition of hostilities? Rarh answered affirmatively.

Today, we watch and listen to politicians who treat any kind of bloodshed, provided it happens overseas, in a non-emotional, play-station-formatted, abstract, technical and managerial mode. This is truly worrisome. It is worthwhile to recall the blatant warning of the British scientist and foreteller Steven Hawking about humans facing the mortal menace from two kinds of catastrophes. Devastating impacts for the Earth from adverse climate change. And second, the fallout (not to be confused with the computer games) from nuclear or biological warfare.

* * *

Any consolation? At all? Just some. It comes from an unlikely source, Umar Haque, who strongly believes: “The next three thousand days will choose whether human civilization merely endures and perseveres, or prospers and soars, or declines and quite possibly collapses altogether.”

In other words, there is still time to repent, reform and reinvent one selves. It sure looks like the final countdown to extermination has begun. But if we follow the guidance of Monty Python member Eric Idle, author of the comedy song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”, then maybe, just maybe, it is a countdown to salvation?..

Vladimir MIKHEEV

№11(145), 2019