JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: ON TALK OF LIBERAL ELITES AND “GLOBALISM” – LIBERALISM POOH-POOHED WHEN IN FACT IT HAS NEVER BEEN EMBRACED BY THE WEST – MODERN IMPERIALISM AND A TERRIBLE MILITARISM ARE WHAT AMERICA EMBRACES – THE IMMENSE IMPACT UPON SOCIETY OF CHANGING TECHNOLOGY – DECENTRALIZATION AND LONELINESS AND GLOBALIZATION   Leave a comment

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY JONATHAN COOK IN CONSORTIUM NEWS

 

“Liberal Elite Still Luring Us Towards the Abyss”

 

This is an interesting piece, but as with so much of the journalism concerned with Liberalism, it gets a bit confused and loses its way.

The massive interventions of our era are often referred to as part of Liberalism.

I do not agree.

Genuine Liberalism never espouses interference in the affairs of others and certainly not war.

The truth is that governments like that of the United States and Britain have never embraced Liberalism, no matter what words they and journalists discussing them may use.

They’ve certainly never for a moment in decades hesitated to attack someone they don’t approve of. They also assist in coups and insurrections, and it is just a misuse of language to say it has anything to do with Liberalism.

About sixty years ago, the United States started putting into place the elements of its intervention in Vietnam. Actually, it started earlier than that, in the early 1950s, as French colonialism approached defeat.

That “intervention” became a modern holocaust with about three million killed, many in the most horrible ways. And it had nothing to do with democracy or human rights, the artificially-created rump state of South Vietnam never having experienced democracy and serving only as a pied-a-terre for America in Asia.

Sixty years later, we see the United States having killed or help kill about two million in its Neocon Wars, which countries like Britain supported. Millions more were made into desperate refugees. This reflected considerations similar to those for Vietnam. Israel is in fact an American pied-a-terre in the Middle East, a special kind of colony, and the wars were intended to create a cordon sanitaire around it.

There was no pause or shift between those huge and destructive events for anything that could fairly be called Liberalism. Nothing has really changed. Disregard for the rule of law, belief in national exceptionalism, and accepting that might makes right are, in fact, what characterize much of our American-dominated international environment.

What I see is just a modern form of imperialism, an especially bloody form owing to modern weaponry and the acceptance of killing more civilians than soldiers that has come with them, especially with air power. Where’s the Liberalism?

The author writes: “The loss of traditional social bonds – tribal, sectarian, geographic – has left people today lonelier, more isolated than was true of any previous human society. We may pay lip service to universal values, but in our atomized communities, we feel adrift, abandoned and angry.”

And I agree that that is the case. I don’t agree that it is remotely related to Liberalism.

Two tendencies explain it.

One, technology within a society tends to be decentralizing. People can do more than ever before at home alone. Shop and buy stuff. Be entertained. Have chats without getting dressed. Order food. Some even work from home. This represents a social problem for all advanced societies, and it’s only going to become more intense. Some regard this as liberating, and it is in many ways, but it also has consequences that certainly are not all attractive.

Two, governments which are constantly involved in affairs abroad, such as wars and intervention, have no time or inclination for matters at home. Young up-and-comer leaders know where a career future is to be had in an imperial establishment like the United States, and it definitely is not in domestic social matters. They have almost become the butt of jokes in many circles.

And politicians have no resources left anyway for such matters, the military (plus its related security establishment) being one of most costly and wasteful parts of government. Modern weapons are breathtakingly costly. Billions for a single ship.

Another important aspect of all such discussions is the relentless march of globalization. I do not mean what the Alt-right means when it contemptuously speaks of “globalism.” No, I mean one of the inevitable economic side-effects of advancing technology.

Since the time, five hundred years ago, when most people never travelled outside their local village until now, when much of what is in your stores comes from other countries, the important thing working away and causing the changing arrangements is advancing technology – better roads, better vehicles, better ships, airplanes, better communications, etc. – all lowering the costs of moving more things farther.

[This is a process that is never going to stop, unless we have a catastrophe. Indeed, technological change – always dragging along more economic and social impacts – is only going to intensify. Its graph is a steeply upward one. We may well reach a point when the rates of change in technology and their accompanying impacts upon society literally exceed the ability of most ordinary people to adjust and cope, creating yet another and greater social problem.]

And with globalization, there grows a need for international regulation and law and treaties. Everyone with products or services to sell wants to reach others, and everyone wants to receive from others – all safely and securely. An imperialistic country like the United States enjoys arguing that its military supplies that very security, but that is less than honest. Its military supplies a whole lot else that is not wanted by most people, and, in any case, cannot substitute for negotiated and agreed legal arrangements. It tends, and increasingly, to impose its own national laws and attitudes upon others.

Arguments berating Liberalism tend to diminish the importance of this and, in my view, tend to support American military dominance. We simply cannot have that in our emerging multi-polar world. The need for a whole new set of arrangements is going to be acutely felt.

When I think about contemporary discussions of Liberalism, I can’t help thinking of Gandhi’s wonderful saying, “What do I think of Western civilization? I think it would be a very good idea.”

 

 

Posted January 31, 2019 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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