"American empire" ? superpower?

  1. What's with me? Why, I am afraid for the world and the country I love. Just something to think about.
    Will you get back to normal?

    Published on Friday, July 18, 2003 by Long Island NY Newsday <http://www.newsday.com>
    A Kind of Fascism Is Replacing Our Democracy
    by Sheldon S. Wolin
    Sept. 11, 2001, hastened a significant shift in our nation's self-understanding. It became commonplace to refer to an "American empire" and to the United States as "the world's only superpower."
    Instead of those formulations, try to conceive of ones like "superpower democracy" or "imperial democracy," and they seem not only contradictory but opposed to basic assumptions that Americans hold about their political system and their place within it. Supposedly ours is a government of constitutionally limited powers in which equal citizens can take part in power. But one can no more assume that a superpower welcomes legal limits than believe that an empire finds democratic participation congenial.
    No administration before George W. Bush's ever claimed such sweeping powers for an enterprise as vaguely defined as the "war against terrorism" and the "axis of evil." Nor has one begun to consume such an enormous amount of the nation's resources for a mission whose end would be difficult to recognize even if achieved.
    Like previous forms of totalitarianism, the Bush administration boasts a reckless unilateralism that believes the United States can demand unquestioning support, on terms it dictates; ignores treaties and violates international law at will; invades other countries without provocation; and incarcerates persons indefinitely without charging them with a crime or allowing access to counsel.
    The drive toward total power can take different forms, as Mussolini's Italy, Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union suggest.
    The American system is evolving its own form: "inverted totalitarianism." This has no official doctrine of racism or extermination camps but, as described above, it displays similar contempt for restraints.
    It also has an upside-down character. For instance, the Nazis focused upon mobilizing and unifying the society, maintaining a continuous state of war preparations and demanding enthusiastic participation from the populace. In contrast, inverted totalitarianism exploits political apathy and encourages divisiveness. The turnout for a Nazi plebiscite was typically 90 percent or higher; in a good election year in the United States, participation is about 50 percent.
    Another example: The Nazis abolished the parliamentary system, instituted single-party rule and controlled all forms of public communication. It is possible, however, to reach a similar result without seeming to suppress. An elected legislature is retained but a system of corruption (lobbyists, campaign contributions, payoffs to powerful interests) short-circuits the connection between voters and their representatives. The system responds primarily to corporate interests; voters become cynical, resigned; and opposition seems futile.
    While Nazi control of the media meant that only the "official story" was communicated, that result is approximated by encouraging concentrated ownership of the media and thereby narrowing the range of permissible opinions.
    This can be augmented by having "homeland security" envelop the entire nation with a maze of restrictions and by instilling fear among the general population by periodic alerts raised against a background of economic uncertainty, unemployment, downsizing and cutbacks in basic services.
    Further, instead of outlawing all but one party, transform the two-party system. Have one, the Republican, radically change its identity:
    From a moderately conservative party to a radically conservative one.
    From a party of isolationism, skeptical of foreign adventures and viscerally opposed to deficit spending, to a party zealous for foreign wars.
    From a party skeptical of ideologies and eggheads into an ideologically driven party nurturing its own intellectuals and supporting a network that transforms the national ideology from mildly liberal to predominantly conservative, while forcing the Democrats to the right and and enfeebling opposition.
    From one that maintains space between business and government to one that merges governmental and corporate power and exploits the power-potential of scientific advances and technological innovation. (This would differ from the Nazi warfare organization, which subordinated "big business" to party leadership.)
    The resulting dynamic unfolded spectacularly in the technology unleashed against Iraq and predictably in the corporate feeding frenzy over postwar contracts for Iraq's reconstruction.
    In institutionalizing the "war on terrorism" the Bush administration acquired a rationale for expanding its powers and furthering its domestic agenda. While the nation's resources are directed toward endless war, the White House promoted tax cuts in the midst of recession, leaving scant resources available for domestic programs. The effect is to render the citizenry more dependent on government, and to empty the cash-box in case a reformist administration comes to power.
    Americans are now facing a grim situation with no easy solution. Perhaps the just-passed anniversary of the Declaration of Independence might remind us that "whenever any form of Government becomes destructive ..." it must be challenged.
    Sheldon S. Wolin is emeritus professor of politics at Princeton University and the author of "Politics and Vision: The Presence of the Past" and "Alexis de Tocqueville: Between Two Worlds."
    Copyright 2003, Newsday, Inc.
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  2. 19 Comments

  3. by   roxannekkb
    It's not you, Spacenurse. Most of the nations around the world believe that George Bush is far more dangerous than Saddam Hussein. Anti-American demonstrations aren't just things that people do for the fun of it--there's really a great fear of the US and what it is turning into. "Either you're with us or against us..." that about sums up what we are turning into.
  4. by   maureeno
    I WANT MY COUNTRY BACK
    a representative democracy
    not some Illuminati knockoff
  5. by   gwenith
    Originally posted by roxannekkb
    It's not you, Spacenurse. Most of the nations around the world believe that George Bush is far more dangerous than Saddam Hussein. Anti-American demonstrations aren't just things that people do for the fun of it--there's really a great fear of the US and what it is turning into. "Either you're with us or against us..." that about sums up what we are turning into.
    As a non- American Roxanne I have to say you have hit the nail on the head. I know we are getting very nervous about George Bush and Korea.

    Even the US allies are getting very worried about GWB.
  6. by   OC_An Khe
    The only way to change the direction of this country is to prevent 43 from having a second term. Or failing that have the Democrats gain control of either the House or Senate. It is really that simple.
  7. by   Mkue
    In the USA: The Conservatives are in power and the Liberals are trying to get back in power by saying that the Conservative leader is lying about IRAQ.

    In Great Britain: The Liberals are in power and the Conservatives are trying to get back in power by saying that the Liberal leader is lying about IRAQ.
  8. by   fab4fan
    Where did you read that, marie?
  9. by   roxannekkb
    In the USA: The Conservatives are in power and the Liberals are trying to get back in power by saying that the Conservative leader is lying about IRAQ


    No, in the USA the neo-reactionaries are in power and normal, decent people who care about the people of this nation (aside from the multi-millionaires and billionaires) are saying that the unelected leader is lying about Iraq.
    Even some members of the unelected leader's party are horrifed about what is going on.

    In Great Britain: The Liberals are in power and the Conservatives are trying to get back in power by saying that the Liberal leader is lying about IRAQ.
    :chuckle

    The Labour party is in power, not the liberal party. Tony Blair is not exactly what one would call a liberal. And the quote should read--The Labour party is in power and both members of the Labour party and the Conservative party, and other smaller political parties, are trying to get their leader to step down because he is lying about Iraq. :hatparty:

    Tony's none too popular these days with his own friends. They'd like to be rid of him so he doesn't bring the Labour party down.
  10. by   Mkue
    What We Do Know in Iraq

    http://www.ashbrook.org/publicat/ope...h/03/iraq.html

    Instead of focusing on what we don't know, what we DO know was more than enough intelligence to go to war. IMHO

    One supposedly forged document is not enough evidence for me
  11. by   roxannekkb
    Instead of focusing on what we don't know, what we DO know was more than enough intelligence to go to war. IMHO


    Well then, you seem to know more than everyone else on earth. How come no one else seems to have this incredible trove of information?


    But the bottom line is that you don't go to war, you don't attack another nation, unless there is an imminent threat--and one without question. And that is not what that article says.

    "The Baathist regime used these chemical and biological weapons on at least half a dozen instances. " The US was fully aware of their use, and we didn't say a peep. We just sold him more weapons.

    About his supposed nuclear capabilities--well, the first airstrike destroyed them in 1981--during a US/Saddam friendly time. Why did we let him build again, if that's the case? The US would have been well aware if he was a year away from a nuclear bomb in 1991--remember, we were pals right up to the Gulf War I. So either this is just nonsense, or we thought him trustworthy for having a bomb of his own.

    Much of what is said in that article has not been proved or has been discredited, such as the two mobile laboratories. They have been declared as being used for making weather balloons. There is not a hint of evidence linking them to biological weapons development, even though Bush announced that "WMDs had been found."


    And what is written in that article can be said about half a dozen other countries, and dozens of others over the past decade or two. And no one has seen a need to attack.

    And you also don't go scavenging around for reasons to justify your attack, once you've already started the war. You're supposed to know all this before the war begins. At least, that's the way it usually works in the civilized world, and with countries that are supposed to be civilized, such as ours.
    Last edit by roxannekkb on Jul 20, '03
  12. by   sbic56
    I'm scared, too, spacenurse, for the following reasons:

    I find that, by and large, the Americans that have been lulled into this false sense of confidence in GWB and the assumption that he will do what is best for the country are the same people who are not following what is going on. They aren't interested in politics and rarely read beyond their local news if they pick up a newspaper. They are the same people that think WMD have already been found in Iraq. Ignorance prevails in this country in a most significant way. This is what makes Bush powerful and scares me more than Bush does because it is the ignorant that will keep him in office.

    Furthermore, this prevailing attitude of some Americans not caring that the rest of the world sees the way the US is abusing it's power is even more disheartening. We're losing our grace and the respect of people the world over. How can this not matter??
  13. by   gwenith
    I cannot but think that soem of the American political ills can be traced to voluntary voting. See we HAVE to vote. It is mandatory vote or be fined!

    Makes everyone form some sort of opinion and there are a lot like me who "vote for the guy I dislike least". It has led to the fact that we don't trust any polititians. Little Johnny Howard is only remaining as leader at present because no-one trusts Simon Crean his opposition. Even here we are muttering about a double dilsolution of parliment and an early vote.
  14. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Well here in the USA, the electoral college has a lot to do with our voting issues and people not wanting to vote here, gwenith. They feel like their vote does not matter, often. The common perception is, the electoral college is what brings candidates into office, not the "one man, one vote" concept. It is frustrating to say the least.

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