Modernity is Barbarity

There has been some Kool-Aid drinking at the CFR’s foreign policy magazine and I wanted to respond. I’ve reposted that response here:

Thank you for a great article.

“We are living, so we are told, through an ideological crisis. The United States is trapped in political deadlock and dysfunction, Europe is broke and breaking, authoritarian China is on the rise. ”

This should be a clue that we are living on two extremes and the answer lies between.

When a national government cannot operate the trains and buses, cannot control its own intelligence agencies, cannot use it overwhelming military and economic dominance to establish world peace and unity and cannot predicate domestic and foreign policy on anything other than ignorance and superstition the system can rightly be said to be “dysfunctional”.

“Protesters take to the streets across the advanced industrial democracies; the high and mighty meet in Davos to search for “new models” as sober commentators ponder who and what will shape the future.”

Agreed. Because the capitalist system is fundamentally unjust and there is aborning a “Great Awakening” that forces our attention to it.

“In historical perspective, however, the true narrative of the era is actually the reverse — not ideological upheaval but stability. Today’s troubles are real enough, but they relate more to policies than to principles. The major battles about how to structure modern politics and economics were fought in the first half of the last century, and they ended with the emergence of the most successful system the world has ever seen.”

I disagree. Define “successful”. I’d submit to you that we are speaking in relative terms. By some criteria it may be the most “successful” if we limit our definition to material gain for an elect few. But I would not consider it a successful system when it leaves millions starving around the world, wars continuing globally, international human trafficking, vile and unbound abuse of local populations for the extraction and exploitation of natural resources, elision of global rule of law to protect everyone from the effects of international “terror”; and on and on. You may be right in some sense, but my standard is set higher than yours.

“Nine decades ago, in one of the first issues of this magazine, the political scientist Harold Laski noted that with “the mass of men” having come to political power, the challenge of modern demo­cratic government was providing enough “solid benefit” to ordinary citizens “to make its preservation a matter of urgency to themselves.”

Right, this was before the populist stranglehold on Madisonian Federalism did it in.

“A generation and a half later, with the creation of the postwar order of mutually supporting liberal democracies with mixed economies, that challenge was being met, and as a result, more people in more places have lived longer, richer, freer lives than ever before. In ideological terms, at least, all the rest is commentary.

So-called “neo-liberal” western democracy is a farce and does not work. This has been proven by recent events. I present to you as exhibit A “The Patriot Act”, a medicine more painful and harmful than the disease it was designed to cure.

“It is rather a package of 20 carefully culled selections from our archives, along with three new pieces, which collectively shed light on where the modern world has come from and where it is heading.”

I contend that “Neo-liberal western democracy” is headed to the ash heaps of history.

– kk


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