The Trump Presidency and the Coming Conflict Between Europe and America

Global Research, January 20, 2017
World Socialist Web Site 19 January 2017
Trump-UE

Donald Trump’s inauguration as president of the United States heralds an unprecedented deterioration in post-war relations between the US and Europe, above all between the US and Germany.

The January 20 ceremony was preceded by an interview with Trump in Britain’s Sunday Times and Germany’s Bild newspaper. His remarks were a broadside against the institutions that have constituted the basis of the post-World War II European order.

Trump praised Britain’s exit from the European Union, describing the EU as a vehicle for German domination and predicting that “others will leave.” He added, “Look, the EU was formed, partially, to beat the United States on trade, OK? So, I don’t really care whether it’s separate or together, to me it doesn’t matter.”

Trump threatened Germany’s auto industry with sanctions and attacked Chancellor Angela Merkel, blaming her refugee policy for destabilising Europe. He also opposed sanctions against Russia, while declaring that he believed the NATO alliance was “obsolete.”

Never before has a US president set as his explicit goal the breakup of the EU. Trump made clear in his interview that he was seeking to pit the UK against Germany and he solidarised himself with the UK Independence Party and other right-wing anti-EU parties.

The response from Europe’s political elite was uniformly hostile. In Germany, Merkel replied, “I think we Europeans hold our fate in our own hands.” Sigmar Gabriel of Merkel’s coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party, insisted, “We must not adopt a servile attitude now… In dealing with Trump, we need German self-confidence and a clear stance.”

French President Francois Hollande said that “transatlantic cooperation” will from now on be based on Europe’s own “interests and values.”

Europe’s think tanks and media predicted escalating militarism and an eruption of nationalist tensions. “EU member states will have to consider increasing strategic autonomy by reinforcing collective defence inside the EU,” said Felix Arteaga of the Elcano Royal Institute in Madrid.

Judy Dempsey of Carnegie Europe wrote that Trump “might rekindle old fears of German encirclement” by encouraging a “gang-up on Germany.” She added, “Since that is the new political outlook, Europe and Germany have to respond.”

In the Guardian, Natalie Nougayrède suggested, “Europe may witness a return to spheres of influence… with governments rushing to try to secure their own interests whatever the cost to neighbours and the continent’s future.”

Trump’s “America First” positions represent a seismic shift in US political relations with Europe. The Christian Science Monitor cited John Hulsman, a transatlantic affairs specialist, berating the “European elites” for having “grown accustomed to ‘Wilsonian’ American leaders who left unquestioned America’s leadership of the postwar internationalist system,” and not adjusting quickly enough to “a ‘Jacksonian’ and more nationalist US worldview promoted by Trump.”

Until now, however, such unilateralist tendencies were generally in abeyance. The American ruling class recognised that their unrestrained application would undermine its ability to exercise effective global hegemony. One of the issues animating hostility toward Trump within the US intelligence agencies in connection with his relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin is their belief that a Russian “bogeyman” is essential to preserve the framework through which the US has long exercised its dominance within Europe, via NATO and the EU.

The last time tensions emerged sharply between the US and Europe was in 2003, during the run-up to the Iraq War, when US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld denounced France and Germany for failing to support the US in Iraq. Rumsfeld called the two countries “old Europe” and counterposed to them the states of Eastern Europe.

On January 26 that year, the World Socialist Web Site published a perspective comment by David North titled “How to deal with America? The European dilemma,” which addressed the historic significance of that conflict.

North explained that America’s postwar relationship with Europe between 1945 and 1991 “was determined fundamentally by its appraisal of its own essential economic and geopolitical interests within the specific context of the Cold War.” He continued: “America’s attitude toward Europe was determined by the overriding need to (1) enforce the isolation of the Soviet Union and minimize its influence in Western Europe (“containment”) and (2) prevent social revolution at a time when the European working class was extremely militant and highly politicized.

“The United States’ emphasis during that period on its alliance with Western Europe was, in fact, a departure from the historical norm. The more basic tendency of American capitalism, rooted in its somewhat belated emergence as a major imperialist power, had been to augment its world position at the expense of Europe.”

North then wrote:

“The collapse of the Soviet Union fundamentally altered the international framework upon which postwar diplomatic relations were based. There was no longer any need for the United States to prop up the Western European bourgeoisie as a line of defense against the Soviet Union. Moreover, the demise of the USSR created a vacuum of power that the United States was determined to exploit to its own advantage.”

In this context, he cited the prophetic warning made by Leon Trotsky in 1928:

In the period of crisis the hegemony of the United States will operate more completely, more openly, and more ruthlessly than in the period of boom. The United States will seek to overcome and extricate herself from her difficulties and maladies primarily at the expense of Europe, regardless of whether this occurs in Asia, Canada, South America, Australia, or Europe itself, or whether this takes place peacefully or through war.”

The dilemma anticipated in 2003 now assumes its full significance. Sections of the US bourgeoisie continue to be deeply opposed to Trump’s attacks on the EU and Germany, with outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry describing Merkel as “courageous” and Trump’s remarks as “inappropriate.” But regardless of such disagreements, the US is being objectively driven on a steep trajectory toward trade war and protectionism to counter the threat to its global hegemony due to economic decline, the challenge posed by the rise of China and other rival powers, and a series of military debacles suffered since 2003. This must inevitably provoke conflict with Europe.

No one can predict in detail the consequences of this geostrategic shift by the US—including what alliances Germany, France, the UK and Russia might eventually forge. To this must be added the precise role that may be played by China as a potential counterweight to America.

However, underlying all such developments will be an explosion of national antagonisms in which the corollary of Trump’s “America First” agenda will be demands to put “Germany First,” “Britain First” and “France First,” which can lead only to the fracturing of Europe into competing power blocs.

The project of European integration under capitalism is coming to an end, unleashing all of the political demons it was meant to have contained.

Nothing is left of the promise that closer political union and the Single Market would bring prosperity and peace. Instead, right-wing reaction and the growth of fascistic parties are taking place in every country. The European powers speak constantly of the need to militarise, even as NATO troops mass on Russia’s border, while austerity is the only issue on which they all agree.

The assault on the working class will worsen, as Berlin, Paris and London demand yet greater “national sacrifice” to compete against their rivals and pay the vast sums needed to rearm the continent.

The bourgeoisie has proved incapable of overcoming the fundamental contradiction between the integrated character of the global economy and the division of the world into antagonistic nation states based on private ownership of the means of production, which is once again driving them to a war for the redivision of the world.

The working class of Europe must proceed from an understanding that the post-war period, in which, since 1945, several generations have lived their lives, is over, and a new pre-war period has begun. It must assume responsibility for opposing the drive to austerity, militarism and war by all the imperialist powers.

Above all, it must seek the conscious unification of its struggles with those of workers in the United States and internationally. The explosion of working class opposition that Trump’s government of oligarchs and warmongers must inevitably provoke will provide the most powerful accelerant for the struggles of the European working class.


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Is America Becoming a Third World Country?

Is America Becoming a Third World Country?

EDITOR’S CHOICE | 15.01.2017

Is America Becoming a Third World Country?

Conspiracy theories about Russia suggest that the awful prospect for the USA is of a global superpower with the domestic politics of the Philippines or Argentina

Anatol Lieven is a professor at Georgetown University in Qatar and a member of the New America Foundation in Washington DC. He is author of several books on Russia, the USA and South Asia including (with John Hulsman) Ethical Realism: A Vision for America’s Role in the World

“One of the most pathetic aspects of human history is that every civilization expresses itself most pretentiously, compounds its partial and universal values most convincingly, and claims immortality for its finite existence at the very moment when the decay which leads to death has already begun.” — Reinhold Niebuhr

If the allegations about Russia holding a “sex tape” on President-elect Trump were to be proved true, he would of course have to resign or be impeached. Quite apart from the moral issues involved, a man guilty of such appalling recklessness, stupidity and irresponsibility should not be employed as a janitor or window-cleaner by any government in the world.

But although these allegations have been around behind the scenes ever since Trump first emerged as a serious contender for the Republican nomination, not one shred of verifiable evidence for them has yet been produced. All we have is the word of a conveniently vanished former British intelligence officer (and if anyone thinks that is a reliable source, then there is a dodgy dossier that I would like to sell them) that he had the information from unnamed Russian intelligence sources, backed by suggestions by unnamed US intelligence sources that this information is credible.

In any other context, such a story would be dismissed out of hand as a plot by sections of Western intelligence determined to wreck any attempt at reconciliation with Russia. And indeed, the lack of any actual evidence for the story was why for the best part of a year the media refused to publish it, until BuzzFeed did so a few days ago.

By its very nature, this story cannot be proved or disproved except by the Russian intelligence services, who cannot do so; because if they have such a tape they cannot reveal it without destroying a US president with whom they hope to co-operate and doing appalling permanent damage to US-Russian relations, and when they say that they don’t have it they are automatically disbelieved by all those people in the West determined to think the worst of Trump and of Russia.

So this rancid story will almost certainly never be ended one way or another – as was doubtless the expectation of its manufacturers if, in fact, it was manufactured. It will simply lurk around for years, weakening the Trump administration and blocking attempts at better relations with Russia, until the Trump administration comes to an end, when – like the Whitewater stories about the Clintons – it will retire again to its natural home on the wilder shores of the internet.

But the damage will have been done, and American democracy further poisoned, as it has been over the years by equally irresponsible and unproven conspiracy theories about Democratic presidents assiduously peddled by Republican extremists. Breitbart – to take only one example – should pay attention to this, and learn that all sides can play this miserable game.

The dangers of this for the US political system are especially vivid for me because of my work in Pakistan and other countries where the entire national intellect and public debate is addled and rotted by conspiracy theories which act as a substitute for serious thought about politics and essential but painful reforms. In this way, such conspiracy theories also serve the interests of the political and economic elites, which have the strongest interest in making sure that such reforms never take place. The result is to help hold in place a system of oligarchical rule in which different factions of the oligarchy periodically stir up the population with empty populist rhetoric while adamantly resisting any serious change.

This may be the awful prospect for the USA if present trends continue – a global superpower with the domestic politics of the Philippines or Argentina. As part of the struggle against such a future, all responsible members of the US political system should reach a sort of cultural and ethical agreement to shun unsubstantiated stories of this kind, unless they have been actually proved.

Another dangerous aspect of such political systems is that they are acutely vulnerable to manipulation from outside. This brings me to the other main allegations against Russia, that of helping to fund Trump’s campaign and more importantly hacking the emails of the Democratic Party. The latter accusation does seem to have real evidence behind it. Incidentally, it is worth pointing out however that this was not “misinformation” as it has been called. No one has denied that the information about Hilary Clinton and her campaign was accurate; or that if a US journalist had revealed it, he or she would have been regarded as simply doing their job to give the electorate information that it did in fact have a right to know.

Above all, we need to remember that if the Russian government did in fact engage in these attempts to influence the US election, it was after all only imitating repeated and systematic US attempts to influence elections and undermine governments not just in the former USSR but in many other parts of the world. We need to remember this not just as a matter of fairness, and because we now know that we are vulnerable to retaliation in kind, but because this question goes to the heart of an old and fundamental issue in international relations: that of the legitimacy or illegitimacy of a range of different state forms in the international community. This issue is of crucial importance to the future of US relations with a range of states around the world, chief among them China.

In his famous work on nationalism, Elie Kedourie drew attention to the terrifying innovation of the French Revolution in asserting that only a republican or “national” state enjoys real legitimacy – not just internally but on the world stage. All other forms can legitimately be undermined and destroyed by republican states; and treaties between republican and non-republican states are not fully binding on the legitimate republican ones. This approach recalled the attitude of both sides in the Catholic-Protestant struggles between the Reformation and the Peace of Westphalia, that (in the catholic version), “agreements with heretics are not morally binding”. As Kedourie pointed out, this approach challenged a previous European state order (both in medieval times and the 18th century) in which the continent was composed of a wide range of different state forms, including constitutional monarchies, federal quasi-monarchies, absolute monarchies, confederal republics, and patrician republics, all of them according full legitimacy to each other.

The Soviet Union and Communist China were the direct heirs of the French Revolution in this regard. The ruling Communist parties of these states held as a matter of doctrine that only socialist states were legitimate, and that all others were legitimate targets of subversion and eventually destruction by revolution backed by Moscow or Beijing. Of course, in practice the USSR proceeded much more cautiously than this, and (just as the USA has always cooperated with authoritarian and even totalitarian allies) so Moscow sought alliances with “bourgeois” states like India.

Nonetheless, the Communist principle remained, and the USSR did in fact seek to put it into effect wherever it could do so with reasonable safety. In Western Europe, throughout most of the Cold War Moscow backed Communist parties which sought (though with diminishing real commitment) to overthrow the existing political and economic systems of their countries. Fairly enough, the USA and the West reciprocated in kind, denying the legitimacy of Communist states, supporting individuals and movements aiming at their overthrow, and using Western intelligence services to this end.

With the arrival in power of Deng Xiao-ping in China and Mikhail Gorbachev in Russia, support for global revolution was ended and the full legitimacy of “bourgeois” states recognised; and for 25 years after the end of the Cold War and the end of the USSR, there was no attempt whatsoever by either Russia or China to undermine western states or influence domestic politics. There were of course attempts to influence US and Western international policies and especially policies towards Russia and China, but this was by the wholly legitimate and universally practiced means of encouraging business lobbies and sympathetic commentators.

In the meantime however, interference in the domestic politics of other states to spread democracy and undermine or destroy rivals had become a fixed part of US international strategy; with deep roots in American ideological nationalism, embedded in a range of official and semi-officials institutions, and apparently justified by the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the (as it now appears, perhaps temporary) democratisation of eastern Europe.

With regard to Russian domestic politics, US and western officials have openly encouraged opposition movements and appeared at opposition rallies; the West has provided institutional bases for Western opposition groups in exile and even in the case of some of the Chechens for members of armed separatist rebellions; and the CIA has published alleged details of President Putin’s corrupt personal fortune clearly intended to discredit him and his regime and strengthen their opponents.

In the process, the US and European policy elites forgot, or chose to ignore a number of things. Firstly, that it is never wise to adopt openly hostile approaches to other governments unless this is either really necessary from the point of view of your own interests and those of the world, or you are convinced that they cannot retaliate in kind. Secondly, it was not recognised that US involvement in domestic politics only worked where there was a consensus, at last at the elite level, that the national interests of the country concerned involved siding with the USA (as was true of the East Europeans in their desire to get away from Russia).

Wherever a national consensus – including among opponents of the regime – sees national interests as different from those of the USA, US attempts to influence domestic politics are likely to be suspected and resented as attempts to serve not democracy but the interests and power of the USA. This in turn only serves the regimes concerned, which can portray their domestic opponents as traitorous agents of the USA (a line now being taken by opponents of Trump in the USA). It can indeed be said without exaggeration that the only result of US involvement in domestic politics in Russia, China and Iran has been to strengthen the regimes of the countries concerned.

Finally – even after the catastrophes of Iraq and Libya – there is almost no awareness among US policymakers of the fact that US attempts to change the regimes of other countries are likely to be seen not only by the elites of those countries but also by their populations as leading to – and intended to lead to – the destruction of the state itself, leading to disaster for its society and population. When the Communist regime in the USSR collapsed (though only in part under Western pressure), it took the Soviet state with it. The Russian state came close to following suit in the years that followed, Russia was reduced to impotence on the world stage, and large parts of the Russian and other populations suffered economic and social disaster. Remembering their own past experiences with state collapse, warlordism, famine and foreign invasion, Chinese people looked at this awful spectacle and huddled closer to the Chinese state – one that they may dislike in many ways, but which they certainly trust more than anything America has to offer – especially given the apparent decay of democracy throughout the West.

In other words, US denial of legitimacy to other states, bringing with it the threat of domestic interference and subversion, is seen by those states and much of their populations as implicitly at least an existential threat; and such existential threats by definition make cooperative and peaceful relations much more difficult, if not impossible. This is a point made very cogently by Hugh White in his book The China Choice, in which he argues that a US recognition of the full legitimacy of the Chinese state is an essential part of establishing the US-Chinese relationship on a basis that will end the growing threat of catastrophic war.

Existential threats also of course virtually compel retaliation. This aspect has also been almost completely ignored by Western policy elites, whose entire approach (whether over domestic subversion, unilateral military action, regime change, or international sanctions) has been based on the belief that what is sauce for the goose will never under any circumstances be sauce for the gander. With the apparent involvement of Russia in the US electoral process over the past year, we can adapt the Prophet Isaiah to declare ait enim anser: The goose has spoken.

nationalinterest.org

The Winds of Change in the West

14-01-2017 | 08:23

The Winds of Change in the West

Darko Lazar

The influential liberal elites initially attempted to paint the outcome of last year’s US presidential race as proof of a functioning democratic political system.

Liberal ‘guru’ Francis Fukuyama wrote shortly after the election that, “Donald Trump’s impressive victory over Hillary Clinton on November 8 demonstrates that American democracy is still working in one important sense. Trump brilliantly succeeded in mobilizing a neglected and underrepresented slice of the electorate, the white working class, and pushed its agenda to the top of the country’s priorities.”

But today, the world is beginning to realize that Trump’s “impressive victory”, much like Britain’s decision to turn its back on the European Union, is part of a well-planned strategic shift by the west.

In both cases, the outcome is made to look like the result of ‘ordinary people’ taking to the ballot box and edging-out the competition.

And while this scenario may be possible, it is highly improbable.

The more likely scenario is that the two events – Trump’s victory and Brexit – are very much linked and are the result of deep schisms within the American and British political elites.

The grueling and merciless behind-the-scenes battles that unfolded during the race for the White House best exemplify these divisions. In that respect, Trump is not some lone warrior, but rather the face of one significant portion of the political elite in Washington, which had decided to abandon the liberal utopian agenda embodied by Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Meanwhile, the US is undoubtedly in the process of creating its own Perestroika. As such, both Trump’s win and Britain’s exit from the EU represent a pragmatic and well-planned response to the crippling economic and political crisis plaguing the western world.

The era of global dominance ends

The western political establishment was always divided between the US [in a broader sense, the Anglo-Saxon world, which also includes Canada, Australia, and New Zealand] on one side, and the European Union [which includes European states with Germany playing the role of a hegemonic power] on the other. Although serious cracks between these two poles began to appear during Obama’s second term in office, their so-called unity was guaranteed through the mobilization of ‘western allies’ against ‘Russian imperialism’.

However, deeper schisms existed at the core of each individual pole: in the US, the division between conservatives and liberals, and in the EU, between those favoring and those opposing Atlanticism.

These divisions were further exacerbated by a deepening crisis in the west, resulting in the crumbling of political unity, and the unstoppable decline of western military and economic might.

In his article titled, ‘Toward a Global Realignment’, Zbigniew Brzezinski argues that the US “is no longer the globally imperial power.”

“As its era of global dominance ends, the United States needs to take the lead in realigning the global power architecture,” the former US National Security Adviser writes.

In other words, Brzezinski asserts that the best Washington can hope for is to preserve its advantage over its rivals, but not its position of a global hegemon.

Time is running out

The crises in Ukraine and Syria, which exposed the west’s weaknesses, the financial crisis, which came to the surface in 2008, and the endless wars against ‘terrorism’ are the main contributors to imperial ‘overstrain’.

Under such conditions, the fall of the last modern empire becomes only a question of when, rather than if.

Time is running out for Washington to make a radical policy U-turn and abandon the project of liberal utopianism.

Deep divisions in the US involving politics, class, race and ethnicity became evident even during George W. Bush’s second term. Since then, racially motivated violence has exploded across the country.

During the same period, the crisis deepened on the other side of the Atlantic. The influx of migrants only added fuel to the fire, raising suspicions that it was part of another project of the liberal elite, designed to turn Europe into a ‘multicultural utopian society’.

Thus, the EU has not only seized to be an attractive model, but the future of its very existence has come into question. Today the potential disintegration of this bloc can be predicted with a great deal of certainty.

The opinion columnist for the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer, recently proclaimed that, “the European Union, the largest democratic club on Earth, could itself soon break up as Brexit-like movements spread across the continent.”

In his piece titled, ‘After a mere 25 years, the triumph of the West is over’, Krauthammer writes, “the autocracies are back and rising; democracy is on the defensive; the U.S. is in retreat… The West is turning inward and going home, leaving the field to the rising authoritarians – Russia, China and Iran.”

This is a short but nevertheless accurate description of the geopolitical reality, as Donald Trump prepares to take office on January 20.

America’s Mikhail Gorbachev

During his ascent to the post of president, Trump enjoyed the discrete and firm support from segments of the American political and economic elite, as well as a handful of intelligence agencies.

Faced with the new realities of the 21st century, these are the segments of the American establishment that have decided to survive, salvaging the remnants of the old empire.

Trump’s first and most important assignment is the consolidation of a new and fledgling America.

In the case that he fails, Trump could very well inherit the role played by Mikhail Gorbachev during the demise of the Soviet Union, and be remembered as the ‘administrator’ overseeing the deconstruction of the western empire.

Source: Al-Ahed News

 

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December 29, 2016  /  Gilad Atzmon

In this Manhattan gathering I examine the ideologiesthat were set to divide the  working people and their ability to resist Globalisation. I point at the bond between the New Left and Jewish progressive intelligentsia.

Those who are interested in my work may find this talk very interesting.

https://youtu.be/ewvTPCJl3F8

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Globalization is Over, Brexit is the Biggest Sign: The Guardian

Local Editor

De-globalizationIn an article written by Ruchir Sharma and posted by the British newspaper, The Guardian, Brexit is expected to be contagious to the extent of introducing the era of de-globalization.

What follows is the complete article:

In among the shock from the EU referendum result, the risk of contagion was raised. Analysts asked which EU country might leave next and whether this unraveling could shatter the postwar European order. A month later, it’s clear that Brexit was less a cataclysmic cause than a symptom; a manifestation of global forces unleashed by the 2008 global financial crisis, including slower growth, rising inequality, and a widening backlash against open borders and incumbent leaders.

Inside Europe the political earthquake is receding, with the installation of a new UK prime minister who, ostensibly, did not want to leave the EU. Yet even if Brexit does not herald the unraveling of Europe or of the global economy, it is the most important sign yet that the era of globalization as we have known it is over. De-globalization will be the new buzzword.

The world has entered what I call the AC era – after the crisis of 2008. It is already marked by much more upheaval than prevailed in the era before the crisis, and many of the policies and leaders that nations have embraced, hoping to ease the pain, have only made matters worse.

Worldwide, an anti-establishment revolt has been raging since the crisis. In 30 of the major democracies, the incumbent has been winning in as few as a third of national elections each year since 2008, down from two-thirds before that year. In the 20 top emerging and developed nations, the median approval rating of the incumbent leader has fallen from a high of 54% in the years before 2008, to just 37%.

Anger at incumbent governments is now widely seen as a boon to rightwing populists such as Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, and some of the leaders of the Brexit campaign. This, however, is a revolt against the establishment, not an ideology, left or right.

In Europe and the US rightwing upstarts are exploiting the frustrations of the working class by blaming their woes on immigrants stealing jobs. But there is no such widespread rise of the populist right in Asia or Latin America, where voters have been toppling leftwing governments in favour of mainstream reformers like Mauricio Macri of Argentina, and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski of Peru. A former World Bank economist ,whose first promise to Peruvians was to rebuild “consensus”, Kuczynski is about as far from angry populism as a president can get.

The ballot-box revolts are not isolated, local events. They have sprung from slow growth in the global economy, which has fallen since 2008 from its postwar average of 3.5% to just above 2%, the level that feels like a global recession. This is the weakest recovery of the postwar era, and until recently Europe was the hardest-hit region, having suffered not one but two recessions since 2008. It has thus been fertile ground for popular anger.

The popular frustration is amplified by rising inequality. To fight the global slowdown, central banks have been pumping out easy money. Instead of fuelling wage and job growth in the real economy, as intended, much of that money has found its way into financial assets, including stocks, bonds and housing – pushing prices to record highs. Because the rich own most of these assets, inequality is widening and spreading, and wealth is massing in financial capitals like New York and London. The period since 2008 has seen weak wage growth but spectacular returns for the wealthy: in Britain, wages are up 13%, but the stock market is up 115%.

This story repeats itself in country after country. In a recent study of 46 major economies, Credit Suisse found that prior to 2007, wealth inequality was on the rise in 12 of them; but after 2007, that number more than doubled to 35,.

In that brief span, the world population of billionaires nearly doubled to more than 1,800. More than 70 of them live in London – one of the highest concentrations in the world – making the British capital a ripe target for class resentments. In England proper the Brexit vote was, in large part, a vote against London, its globalised elite, and all they stand for, including free trade and open borders.

Here too, the British revolt is less a turning point than the latest flashpoint for the negative passions of the AC era. In late 2008 the G20 gathered at a summit and vowed not to engage in the kind of trade wars that extended the Great Depression. Then they went back home and have since imposed hundreds of new barriers to trade. This bout of protectionism has helped to slow growth in global trade from better than 8% before the crisis to near zero. Britain has turned inward too, imposing more than 200 new trade barriers after the global financial crisis – third most in the developed world after the US and Germany, according to the Centre for Economic Policy Research.

The hype for globalization that excited the era before the crash has given way now to fears of de-globalization, and the measures governments have taken to buffer economies against another crisis have only deepened this self-destructive trend. Driven in part by new limits on their overseas activities, global banks have pulled back to within their home borders. Global capital flows fell from a peak of 16% of global GDP in 2007 to just 1.6% – a level last seen in the 1980s. This retreat will act as a drag on economic growth, suggesting that every country needs to downsize its ambitions, or face new outbreaks of frustration.

The anti-immigrant movements that have gathered pace are the latest proof, and they come at an inopportune time. In countries rich and poor, women are having fewer and fewer children, a trend that predates the crisis of 2008. Since 1980 the number of countries with a shrinking population of working age people has risen from 2 to 38. And one of the only ways for any country to counter the economic shock of depopulation is by attracting immigrants.

In fact, Britain’s workforce would already be in decline too, were it not for relatively strong net migration, which brought in 900,000 people over the last five years. Though the challenges of assimilating foreign workers are real, so are the economic consequences of barring them: fewer workers will mean less growth.

But perhaps this outcome is unavoidable now. In the decades before 2008, the world economy expanded at it fastest pace in recorded history, thanks in part to greater freedom of movement for goods, capital and people. Unfettered globalization lifted millions of people out of poverty in the emerging world, but it also frayed the social fabric of many western nations. Brexit is just one manifestation of the anti-globalization backlash in the post-2008 era. The champions of that backlash are pushing policies that are likely only to exacerbate the global economic slowdown.

But the message from Brexit and similar movements is clear: economic growth may have to take a back seat while political leaders work to address the anger of those who believe that globalization has left them behind.

Source: Newspapers

29-07-2016 – 14:48 Last updated 29-07-2016 – 15:27

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I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more!

Monday, 17 October 2011 12:51

mad as hellWith these angry words the American people were able to find their voice and rail against whatever they thought were the forces that were oppressing them. Of course these people were just being manipulated by a demented TV talk show host and his network executives to increase sagging ratings. Sound familiar? This was the plot of the 1976 classic film, “Network.” Today this “I’m mad as hell!” mantra is being repeated by groups as diverse as the T-Party and the Occupy of Wall Street movement.
Sadly, manipulation is pretty transparent in the case of the T-Party. The discontent of these disenfranchised Americans is being exploited and funded by the very forces of big government Corporatism they purport to be so vehemently opposed to.
If I despair of the T-Party, I am hardly more sanguine concerning the results of the Occupation, even though, unlike the T-baggers, they represent authentic, grass roots, populist, democratic movement. Isn’t it interesting how many editorials in the media recognize the T-Party and denigrate the Occupation?
Protest and resistance seem limited unless they can result in a true mass movement that will strike the military/industrial complex at its heart. This needs not employ violent sabotage, although things are rapidly reaching that point. Remember Kennedy’s famous quote? About “those who make peaceful revolution impossible…” The movements like those in Madison and Manhattan need to develop plans to provide alternatives to the institutions they oppose—alternatives like community credit unions in place of nationally affiliated banks and the support of local businesses that keep money local.
Massive boycotts need to be staged against such admittedly evil, misogynistic, anti-labor institutions like Wal-Mart. People must stop using credit cards. Such a thing is not as unheard of as those who profit from their use would have us believe.
There need to be mounted massive guerrilla advertising campaigns and teach-ins against the ROTC and High School military recruiters, to reduce the cannon fodder and end our brutal atrocities waged against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and stop Obama’s upcoming war with Iran.
Occupations of Wall Street are encouraging but they are only the first step. The capitalists and the arms manufactures in their suites high above the sweaty streets can easily just wait out the encamped masses below. We need strategies to strike them in their black hearts and their pocketbooks—where it hurts.
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