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Fatwah / February 25, 2009

empire-hiroshima

1945-1960: French and British empires, already weakened competitors of America’s empire, decline and collapse for good, allowing the American empire to expand further by filling the vacuum. America fights Korean War 1950-52; wisely halts it to a draw after just 2 years, meaning little net gain or loss. Communist empire expands — communist countries by nature are uncompetitive against the U.S. economically, except inasmuch as they deny markets to U.S. goods and keep the empire in check. This leads to:

1960-1970: The American economic boom, still riding off the momentum of the World War II wealth transfer, gradually begins to sputter as the decade wears on. This economic decline accelerates in tandem with:

1963-1975: America loses its first war ever in Vietnam. With its first imperial defeat, the American empire is in retreat. Once-compliant countries from Latin America to the Middle East assert themselves; Third World becomes increasingly either socialist or “non-aligned”; America plunders less and less of the world’s wealth. This leads to:

1970s: Economic stagnation, decline in standard of living. This eventually leads to the election of an avowed American imperialist, Ronald Reagan, which is followed by:

1981-1989: American economy ramped up for Cold War against “Evil Empire.” Reagan racks up massive debt and pours enormous state funds into “winning” the Cold War against the “evil empire.” Militarizes the economy and the culture. Imperial decline halted. Latin America reabsorbed into soft American empire, while many Arab states also become more compliant, especially following the bombing of Libya. Fund war against Soviets in Afghanistan, letting them bleed, without any damage to American homeland. This leads to:

1980s: American economy begins to grow again, though still not as fast as in the 60s or 50s, the period after victory in World War II.

1989-1991: American victory in the “Cold War”: the Communist empire collapses. American empire absorbs these new markets without firing a shot or suffering damage in the homefront, opening up massive new opportunities for wealth plunder. America’s biggest economic competitor, Japan, essentially collapses. In 1991, America wins Gulf War 1, its first big war victory since Vietnam. American empire, without rivals, suddenly resurgent again. This leads to:

1990s: Economic boom, which accelerates towards the end of the decade, reaching levels of growth not seen since the 50s and 60s.

2001: Brief recession which many say will spell doom to America’s booming economy. But then:

2001-2: America wins war against Afghanistan, leading to world recognizing for the first time that America is not only an empire, but a “hyperpower.” Economy quickly turns around and begins to boom again, until:

2003-8: America loses only its second war in its history against Iraq. The victory in Afghanistan slowly unwinds and starts morphing into another defeat. That’s two war losses in one decade. Which leads to:

2007-present: The new Great Depression.

So if you follow the Republican right-wing’s own logic, the question isn’t whether or not we should raise or lower taxes, or whether we should fund programs that teach kids about STDs. America’s economic booms and busts have nothing to do with Adam Smith’s three-pointed-hat Calvinist fantasies and everything to do with whether we win or lose wars, and, more importantly, if our competitors commit mass suicide in these wars, allowing us to ride in at the end, after our competitors have bankrupted and bled themselves to death, as we did in World Wars I and II, and again in the Cold War. The more we behave like sly jackals feeding on the steaming, nutrition-rich corpses of other peoples’ collapsed empires, the stronger our economy, and the better we live (the more we can cut our taxes or increase our social spending or both, depending on the amount we’ve plundered). But if we start a war, fight it by ourselves, and lose — as the idiots did in Iraq and in Vietnam and now in Afghanistan — then prepare for the Big Decline. University of Chicago professor Robert Pape recently characterized America’s imperial collapse as: “one of the largest relative declines in modern history. Indeed, in size, it is clearly surpassed by only one other great-power decline, the unexpected internal collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.”

empire-bush-obama

“Sorry, dude.”

Of course, like every economic model bandied about these days, this one has its flaws — and yet, it’s the most obvious model of all. The only difference is that this most obvious model is the one model no one, left or right, has the guts to consider. Maybe because it’s too obvious; more likely because it offends the sensibilities of both liberals and conservatives, whose professed openness for the “hard truth” only refers to “truths that are hard on the other side.” As Paul Krugman recently admitted, “Well, the Great Depression did eventually come to an end, but that was thanks to an enormous war, something we’d rather not emulate.”

The left wants to believe that the economic history of nations has a moral to it, and that moral is that greed inevitably leads to the collapse we’re witnessing today; the right wants to believe the flipside to this morality tale, that a nation’s economic history serves a Calvinist god and his “invisible hand”: individuals must be allowed to prove themselves, freed from the shackles of a secular and therefore evil state, and God rewards the economically pious (i.e. free-marketers who believe in hard work); if the state assumes the role of god and interferes in the wealth-division, then the Calvnist god gets very angry and strikes down that state with stagflation or smites it with nagging low growth. Or something silly like that.

So now I’m wondering: if the right-wing wants to put a giant fence around its new argument against the New Deal, stopping their own line of reasoning at the point where it debunks Keynsian economists, censoring their own line of reasoning before it can go to the next logical step, which is that victorious wars which destroy your competitors are good for the American economy, and are the reason why America had such an unprecedented boom in the post-war period; and its opposite: when you lose a war like the one in Iraq, the right-wing Republicans’ pet project, it leads to the sort of economic collapse we’re witnessing today. By their own logic, they are responsible for screwing us for the next decade because these would-be imperialists are circus monkeys, as useless as AIG’s bosses when it comes to managing their imperial fantasies.

defeat-in-afghanistan-chopper-on-rooftop1

Afghanistan: Lookin’ a lot like Vietnamistan

It also raises the question of what the hell we’re doing ramping up the war in Afghanistan, just as it’s become clear that we’ve lost. It’s the graveyard of empires; what is Obama planning there, two consecutive losses? Has any nation ever screwed up that badly? Moreover, wars are only good for the American economy when there’s something to plunder at the end of it all. What’s there to plunder from Afghanistan, assuming we even win: dirt? Opium? (Well, OK, I’m all for the opium, but even I know that won’t create a nation of happy nuclear families; happy junkies, yes, but not wealthy new homeowners.)

If war is what fuels American prosperity, as the George Wills and others on the right are half-arguing in their sly, cowardly way, then have the guts to say so, and stop lying about private enterprise.

This version was first posted online at Alternet. Mark Ames is the author of Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion from Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine.

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44 Comments

Add your own

  • 1. Plamen Petkov  |  February 25th, 2009 at 8:08 am

    just about anybody with 2 working brain cells knows pretty much all of this already. The whole world history has ALWAYS followed the same exact pattern. For example, England’s (or UK or British Empire or however you wanna call it) wealth was tied to India. Spain’s wealth was tied to South America and so on. Go back to Alexander the Great and continue…
    As I said, this is NOT news to anybody who can think. Problem is, this few facts are NOT taught in schools, people have to come to them via analytical thinking. After all, the “white” European man would NEVER admit all his wealth was stolen from pillaging some faraway land where little brown/black/yellow people got killed.
    I would like to see you present this facts to the average American moron and see how far you will get.

  • 2. avi  |  February 25th, 2009 at 8:10 am

    the reasonable thing to do at this point, it would seem, is to find a country we can invade successfully. palin wanted to go to war with russia over our boy saakashvili and conservatives have been fantasizing about getting into it with the chinese, but nuclear war often comes with negative economic effects. instead we should look at nations in the 2.5th or 3rd world and the resources they have to shore up our middle class’ ballooning sense of entitlement — venezuelan oil, nigerian oil, all sorts of minerals in all sorts of central and west african states. sounds mean, but that’s life. human rights is academic and rhetorical. the right to own a house is, like, in the constitution and shit

  • 3. aggasalk  |  February 25th, 2009 at 8:22 am

    it’s true, it’s true, it’s all true. oh, woe.

    i get so excited every time the DOW ends another day down!

  • 4. Neilius  |  February 25th, 2009 at 8:51 am

    This is all very well and good (well it isn’t actually) but usually when arguing a point one is meant to make a bloody argument. Just saying that “this is so” is not particularly convincing.

    As far as the whole Great Depression debate goes, I think the bottom line is that no one knows or at least can prove what ended it, and that’s that. The rest is so much hot air.

    As for Americas supposed “empire,” I don’t get your point. How is it relevant to anything whether or not America is/has an empire? Countries no longer run the world, nor do empires. I also find it hard to believe that the globe was somehow dumbfounded and filled with awe at America’s successful invasion of Afghanistan. It was basically a glorified war game.

    But all this aside, lets say America is a crumbling empire based on greed and exploitation of the third world. Do you have a better idea? Would Russia be somehow more humane and less “oppressive?” How about China? I think not.

    Another thing you seem on about recently is inequality in American society. While I completely agree that a sort of oligarchy prevails in most places, and particularly in the US thanks to the insane cost of education, if what your agitating for is the bizarre American liberal ideal that all people are or somehow should be equal, then you are just as insane as they are.

    I don’t believe all people are equal, I believe people are different. I think that rather than agitate with pseudo religious fervour for “greater equality” in society, liberals (and everyone else for that matter) should lobby for the destruction of oligarchy, and the establishment of a strict meritocracy. I think this is particularly needed in the university system, as the universities churn out the leaders of all societies. Under a meritocratic system, ah fuck it, what does it matter. It ain’t gonna happen and Im to tired to explain myself.

  • 5. Pablito  |  February 25th, 2009 at 8:52 am

    America had a large industrial advantage after WW2 as you point out, since the rest of the planet was basically devastated. This gave the US a huge advantage, which is leveling out now.

    Free market economics is hardly a Calvinist fairy tale. Compare countries where the “invisible hand” is allowed to work with countries like say Cuba, or Cambodia, where the state runs everything, and I think you’ll see a rather clear difference.

    Republicans, being frothing at the mouth nationalists and in the pocket of the military industrial complex, don’t want to admit that military spending and the war machine is “big government” at its most extreme. But libertarians know the truth. Come to the dark side, ye disenchanted quasi-leftist exileds.

  • 6. LeftiCleese  |  February 25th, 2009 at 8:54 am

    No one wants to see or discuss how the sausage is made, they just want it to show up on their plate. Nice piece.

  • 7. DocAmazing  |  February 25th, 2009 at 9:00 am

    Unfortunately, I can find no holes in your argument. To return to previous levels of obscene money-burning properity, we must trick China into a war with Russia, or something like that. Of course, moving to a more sustainable economy–one that doesn’t need to be fueled with the bodies of dead Indians/Belgians/Koreans might be an idea, but that would require some sacrifice from the rich, and that’s just silly.

  • 8. DocAmazing  |  February 25th, 2009 at 9:01 am

    Of course, sacrifice of the rich, now that’s an idea…

  • 9. Tyler Bass  |  February 25th, 2009 at 10:02 am

    Naturally, just as with Iraq, even keeping a relatively smaller number of military facilitates and legally justifies the operations of the all-important contractors.

    And with respect to the opium, why, yes! The international drug cartels’ support for the invasion aside (you wouldn’t believe the quality of the marijuana floating around Norfolk, Va.), opium has widely-prescribed medicinal/commercial purposes.

  • 10. Allen  |  February 25th, 2009 at 10:20 am

    “2003-8: America loses only its second war in its history against Iraq.”

    I’m surprised no ultra patriots have taken you up on this one yet. Did America lose the war in Iraq? Ask any Republican and they will tell you they won it with their “surge” strategy, which is mostly bullshit. Smart ones will tell you they got lucky that in a double move uppity Shiite shopkeepers and chauvinist old fashioned Sunni tribal crime families got sick of America’s Shiite and Sunni enemies respectively and turned sides … not to say that America didn’t have a role in that, but I digress …

    America can be thought of “losing” the war only in the sense that many or all of their prized geopolitical and economic objectives have been frustrated. They got a “democracy” and an apprently unified country (all of which may collapse any second realistically), but they are going to end up with mixed results with regard to Iraq’s oil wealth and economic philosophy (they wanted Iraq to go ultra “free-market”, meaning U.S. take over essentially). They are also not getting a long term military presence in Iraq like they wanted. These were the real strategic goals of the invasion.

    Worst of all it doesn’t look like a clean win; it looks like resistance to the U.S. is not futile. Thus the image of the hyperpower so recently gained was badly tarnished; and that’s what a lot of the above wars since 1980 are about.

    When you’re a credit card nation living high on the hog by sucking in the manufactured production, and increasingly even services, of others and sending in return nothing but promissory notes … well let’s just say it helps of said vassals think you’re good for it. It’s a confidence game based on the idea that the U.S. economy and USD are solid gold and the U.S. being a “hyperpower” is good back-up for that idea.

  • 11. kingkong  |  February 25th, 2009 at 11:29 am

    WWII did NOT end the depression; it worsened it. People bandy about this claim that the war ended the depression because the numbers mislead. Unemployment fell and GDP rose during the war.

    Unemployment fell because millions were DRAFTED! If this is a good thing then we can end the current unemployment problems by reinstating slavery. GDP rose because of spending on war materiel. But this is meaningless in and of itself. Planes and tanks are useless to the real economy. You can make GDP go up by taking on debt to pay people to dig and fill holes; you don’t need a war. The question becomes Were people getting better off? And the answer is clearly NO! Living standards fell through the war.

    The depression ended because in order to win the war much of the New Deal had to be rolled back. Government needed to end its war on industry and take industry on as a partner. Then when WWII ended, with the much of the New Deal killed off, growth could resume. As the war was wound down there was a scary spike in unemployment and a drop in GDP, giving lie to the notion that the war ended the depression rather than masked its metrics.

  • 12. kingkong  |  February 25th, 2009 at 11:39 am

    Does winning wars boost the economy, or do ascendant economies and peoples win modern wars? You really don’t build a convincing case for the former. You need some actual data and logic. I personally would strongly argue the latter thesis.

    When a country finds itself accumulating more and more relative power to win wars, the political classes use it. This is generally to the detriment of progress, not a cause of it.

  • 13. az  |  February 25th, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Mark, your analysis even though it follows right-wing logic, ignores the economic crisis of 1949 which was caused by the fact that America could not export anything to keep it moving, ending up where it was in the great depression. That was solved with the Marshall Plan and continued economic cooperation with Western Europe which lowered America’s share of global wealth from 49% to ~24% but allowed the economy to grow overall on the economic model of getting resources from the third world, manufacturing things, and selling the surplus elsewhere. The wars were more of an attempt to get past the prospects of economic collapse by securing new gains, just like the case of the Soviets in Afghanistan. If America won in Vietnam, it would open new prospects for expansion in Southeast Asia and show the strength of America’s power can be used as a more active argument, and if the Soviets won in Afghanistan, it would open new prospects in South Asia, and show that Soviet power can be used more widely. However, they did not, but that was caused by their own weakness and inability to deal with the situation they were in. At least after the USSR left Afghanistan, it sent enormous amounts of aid which held Afghanistan up until the winter of 1992 when the USSR collapsed and the central government forces were abandoned by their troops and generals who realized that the fight was hopeless because what they are fighting for has collapsed even though they could continue successfully fighting the Mujihadeen and possible even end up winning, something that’s relevant to our own situation with withdrawing Iraq in the middle of this crisis.

    On the other hand, in the Reagan years, the chickenhawk “imperialism” which consisted of bombing slums in Panama, and doing hardware-intensive operations in Grenada while showing that America is not completely defeated by Vietnam were an enormous step back from the scale of previous conflicts in Korea and Vietnam. On the other hand, Russia after the USSR’s collapse faced the war in Chechnya which ended up being much bloodier (for Russia’s military at least, fewer Chechens ended up dying than Afghanis) but was able to overcome 1999-2003 thanks to rising oil prices which allowed the military to have the funding as well as the rising nationalism that was in no small way thanks to the NATO operation in Yugoslavia. Overall, however, wars show the health of the nation much more than the other way around, they just act as catalysts to the inevitable and WWII provided the US with the reason for centralization of its resources by taking on debt that would be repaid with the goods generated by it, but in the end it changed the balance of power from one of little centralized control to definite control of significant economic regions by America.

  • 14. Fissile  |  February 25th, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    While I agree with most of what you’ve outlined in your theory, you lost me when it devolved into Democrap v Ratpublican. This is the kind of comic book dualism that panders to the average Douche-bagus Americanus, exactly the kind of person you obviously loath. Hypocritical, no? You also seem to miss the point that our “gallant little ally”, a crusader state(sans cross), set up by the US after WWII, to be our bully boy of Gasoline Alley, is now the tail that wags the dog. That’s an example of blow-back right there.

    Your essay gets a B-, a good framework that needs considerable fleshing out.

  • 15. RanDomino  |  February 25th, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Congratulations on discovering the theory of Primitive Capital and its importance to capitalism 150 years after everyone else.

  • 16. Mike Stafford  |  February 25th, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    What poppycock! What did we plunder after WW II – marketshare? War is not unlike going on strike. Both end when enough money is lost to pay for later gains. We need to work against abuse and unfair exploitation in every facet of our lives, business and government. There is no right or left of that.

  • 17. geo8rge  |  February 25th, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    While much of what you say is correct, you forget that until the great depression the US and the world had ‘panics’ regularly that worked themselves out. The depression was different in that a vigorous response by the federal government to maintain high prices for commodities and labor (and especially govenrment salaries) resulted in mass and prolonged unemployement. The labor supply and demand curves were forced into a position where there was high pay and high unemployement. This is also the case today as the pay particularly of government workers and pensioniers is not only higher than private sector workers but is accelerating due to inflation adjustments. The Bush admin won the loyalty of the bureaucratic class by expanding its numbers, pay and beneftis. This all has come home to roost as the private sector economy is no longer able to support its own workers and the public sector. The solution is shutting down private sector businesses. Which is what is happening.

    Another aspect you omit is that the collapse of the European Empires eliminated their monopoly over trade to places like India and Egypt. Once that happened US industry was able to sell into those markets.

    The destruction of European industrial might was only termporary in the case of the former Axis powers. Indicating that their complaint that the British and French were using their status as empire to depress other more competitive nations.

  • 18. Moo  |  February 25th, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Ames is a bit out of date.

    The new pro-free market trope is that the Great Depression ended because World War II coincided with an “easing of monetary policy”. (You can see kingkong relaying the new party line, above.)

  • 19. Baked Dr. Luny  |  February 25th, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    War is only important in so far as it affects international trade. For the United States, the trade benefits we see from our military operations around the world don’t even come close to covering the cost of those operations. Maybe if we hand an efficient military rather than a bloated corpse floating on a sea of cash things would be different. Paying people to destroy things doesn’t help anyone, unless those things belong to your competitors, then it might, but not if you spend more money destroying them than they cost your competitors to make.

  • 20. P.M.Lawrence  |  February 25th, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    “1963-1975: America loses its first war ever in Vietnam… 2003-8: America loses only its second war in its history against Iraq”.

    Oh, rubbish. The USA lost the British-American War in the early 19th century.

    Anyway, many people (like kingkong above) don’t claim that the Second World War itself ended the Great Depression but that it masked it and so marked the end of its suffering, since the end of the war then ended it – quite possibly through the mechanisms described.

    Mike Stafford, after the Second World War the USA ringbarked the efforts of the European maritime empires to recover and consolidate, and yes, the gain showed up as market share.

  • 21. Some Guy  |  February 25th, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    The New Deal, and Hoover’s mistakes that preceded it, turned the crash in the depression. World War II didn’t end it, it was the lifting of all of Roosevelt’s economic controls at the end of the war that ended the depression.

  • 22. Jim T.  |  February 25th, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Wow, we’re replete with revisionist historians here aren’t we? The Depression was coming to an end at the end of the Thirties, although not with a big boom cycle. Most of Europe, Russia, Japan, China and a lot of little nations in the East Pacific were devastated by the second World War, but the US mainland hadn’t been touched. That’s how the Marshall Plan came about, to help Europe rebuild their continent. The Russians and Chinese rebuilt all on their own. This is when the US debt started, when our economy stayed on a war footing and the Military-Industrial complex took on a life of its own. We’re seeing the results of that now, as the time has come to pay the piper.

  • 23. wengler  |  February 26th, 2009 at 1:58 am

    Our economy has been restructured from Reagan to today to make money flow into the hands of the very richest of the rich. We can see this with the income tax cuts, the taxation of investment income at less than half the top marginal rate of earned income(15 versus 35), the stagnation of wages, coupled with the outsourcing of good-paying manufacturing jobs and the automation of many of the products(mostly food) that stay here.

    If you want to look at the bright side we are going to be a super-plus food producing nation for years to come. If you want to look at the downside, we will be exporting it to China for money that they already paid us. We’ve lost our scientific and technological edge to the Far East. The extremely smart and motivated foreigners that have flocked to this country to work on high technology projects will soon be going elsewhere. We will have a brain drain, and all we will be left with is the bible thumpers and left behinders. Everyone take a trip down to Alabama to see how our whole economy and future will be structured.

  • 24. Anonymous  |  February 26th, 2009 at 3:14 am

    Don’t diss the dirt. Afghanistan’s dirt holds oil, gas, coal, and some copper, gold, iron, and other minerals.

    As for opium and hash, we’re already producing perfectly good marijuana domestically and our oxycodone is apparently made from poppies legally grown in India.

  • 25. Tinner  |  February 26th, 2009 at 6:06 am

    Haha, oh wow. The US has lost two wars? The only wars they´ve ever won were against the Messicans and the first Gulf war. And winning is really all that matters.

    – War of independence: won by french capital
    – WW1: so they contributed a few men, hoopty-doo!
    – WW2: mixed results. In Europe they just aided in finishing it off fast before the communists took everything. The pacific war was totally theirs though and they won that no arguement.
    – Korea: they saved the south, but never managed to expel the commies.
    – Vietnam: total loss.
    – Afghanistan: another ‘nam
    – Gulf war 2: zero control over the country. All that was achieved was to destabilise the region.

    I don´t count kind of favourable outcomes or simply participating as “winning”. But nice semantical trick: they have indeed truly lost only two wars, let´s not talk about victory.

  • 26. Baked Dr. Luny is a Nigger  |  February 26th, 2009 at 6:44 am

    I think we’re forgetting the main issue here, which is that Baked Dr. Luny is indeed a nigger.

  • 27. Rick  |  February 26th, 2009 at 8:48 am

    The U.S. wasn’t defeated in Indochina, and in fact achieved a more decisive victory over Vietnam than it achieved over Japan in WWII. This is hardy surprising given the balance of forces in that conflict. The odds of three defenseless peasant societies in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia winning a war against the first and only truly global empire in history is absolutely zero.

    This issue was settled in 1993 when, after 18 years of economic warfare, Vietnam raised the white flag and “agreed” to pay the U.S. the debts it had accumulated supporting the Saigon government during its occupation and destruction of South Vietnam. This is kind of like the victim of an arson being forced to pay an indemnity to the arsonist who destroyed the victim’s home. The savage U.S. attack against the countryside of Indochina was easily the most violent military assault in human history. So here you have what I argue is easily the most odious of odious debt in human history that has been imposed on Vietnam. Try to find some commentary about this outrageous injustice within the anti-war left. Instead what you hear from virtually everybody is that the U.S. “lost” the war.

    On the battlefield the U.S. lost 58,000 lives, while Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia lost up the 5 million lives, with millions more injured and displaced by the savage U.S. assault. It was a U.S. led massacre, not a war.

    Today, the former French Indochina is as integrated into the system of global order the U.S. sought to create after WWII, as the former Soviet Union and China are. The “winners” of the Vietnam War now work as wage slaves in Saigon making shoes for multi-billionaire Phil Knight, who is, you know, the citizen of the nation that “lost” the war. I find it interesting that almost nobody on the left sees this.

  • 28. Average American Moron  |  February 26th, 2009 at 9:07 am

    “this few facts are NOT taught in schools”

    …I’m usually not a comment grammar checker, but under the circumstances I’ll have to point out the irony.

  • 29. Kotek Besar  |  February 26th, 2009 at 9:09 am

    I understand now! The financial crisis is a fiendishly cunning plan to slowdown China’s economic growth – China can’t grow if Americans stop buying stuff.

  • 30. Allen  |  February 26th, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Generally speaking, you -would- do about as good to ask an astrologist as a macroeconomist about something like the depression.

    They sell ideology not science.

  • 31. Kellhus  |  February 26th, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Our brains only weigh three pounds.

    The Great Depression weighed, like, billions of pounds.

    World War II had an ass as big as Queen Latifah’s. Bigger.

    None of us know what the fuck we’re talking about when we mention a word within throwing distance of ‘economy.’ This is the Cartoon Channel, so why pretend to be CNN?

  • 32. Matt Harvey  |  February 26th, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    This was probably on Orwell’s mind when he wrote 1984–his fictional dystopian elites conspire to keep the world in a constant state of phony war to keep the economy running.
    It’s a scary realization.

  • 33. Jack Boot  |  February 27th, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Very thought-provoking, indeed.
    If I may make two qualifications:

    1) Most of the booty plundered by the USA (especially after WWII) was technological – our airliners are descended from the Me-262, and our rockets from the V-2.
    Even Allied technological advances – eg radar, nukes, computers, antibiotics – would have been impossible without unlimited R&D budgets. Indeed, America’s only competitive advantage today is in high-end weapon systems. Which leads us to:

    2) The US sphere of influence is commonly referred to as an Empire. Really?
    America’s top-tier allies – NATO, Japan, South Korea, Australia, NZ and the Gulf States – have a rather sweet deal. (The lower tiers – not so much; but I digress)
    These lucky ones are allowed to run massive trade surpluses with the USA; they need spend only a token sum for their own defence; they may opt out of America’s wars if they so choose, and they may insult the Yankee Pig-Dogs with impunity.
    Their only obligation is to make the right noises about the Drug Menace and the Terrorist Threat.

    For example, the Kuwaitis owe their very existence to America; but they sell it oil at the world price. What sort of Empire doesn’t insist upon an Imperial discount?

    Imagine if, say, Ion Antonescu had politely asked Adolf to pay a fair price for Romanian oil. Even the humour-challenged Hitler would have chuckled: “Ha, ha, ha; you are a fery funny man. Heinrich, shoot him!”

    Nope; what we’re witnessing is the decline of the American Republic. The American Empire is yet to be…

  • 34. em  |  February 27th, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    Vietnam was the first war the U.S. lost? Excuse me, but America lost a war long before Vietnam and not only did they lose, they lost to CANADA.
    Basically in 1812, congress decided it would be a great idea to try some of that economically stimulating imperalism and take over Canada, then a british territory. And they utterly failed at it.

    Now, having your balls handed to you by a country best known for “peacekeaping” and “being polite”, even one backed by a military superpower, is about the most embarrasing thing that can happen to an imperialist empire, so your 5th grade american history teacher probably glossed over the war of 1812 due to shame. But thats no excuse for your ignorance. If you want to point out the obvious and pretend your smarter then a nobel prize winner fine, but at least get your basic facts right.

  • 35. Alex  |  February 28th, 2009 at 4:33 am

    Hi Mark,
    thanks for coming. I’m looking for an authentic american to man a barbeque at my upcoming garden party and since authentic american burger-flippers are the latest scream right now I’ve figured you might just want to jump at the opportunity. Please do not hesitate to contact me, the window of opportunity is still there.
    best regards,
    Alex

  • 36. Starvid  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    This was a funny albeit rather silly text, based on the faulty idea that WW2 ended the depression because it opened markets for the US after the war, while the truth is that the war ended the depression because it was an immense Keynesian stimulus which resulted in full employment and hence eliminated the massive lack of demand, as everyone bolting tanks and planes together suddenly had lots of money in their pockets.

  • 37. Some Guy  |  March 4th, 2009 at 1:07 am

    “the war ended the depression because it was an immense Keynesian stimulus”

    What’s your next guess? The depression didn’t end in 41, it ended in 46.

    What brought us out of the depression was the reduction of federal government spending at the end of the war, together with the removal of all of the wartime economic controls: rationing, etc.

    Wartime production isn’t wealth; you can’t eat bullets and you can’t live in bombers.

  • 38. BlackJackDouble  |  March 4th, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    I agree!

  • 39. Scott  |  March 5th, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    When did American win the war against Afghanistan? It seems to be continuing. The US doesn’t have control of large parts of the country and has failed to install a stable pupet government that can stand on it’s own.

  • 40. Dan  |  March 19th, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    This is exactly right. So the only way for America to get out of this “depression” thing. We have to start a World War 3.

  • 41. Carpenter  |  March 22nd, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    “if it really was the war that pulled America out of the Depression, that is hardly an argument in favor of endless tax cuts and small government.”

    The point made by conservatives, which you are missing, is that the war meant shipping the unemployed overseas in uniform.

    And the fake point made by leftists is that the New Deal ended the Depression. It didn’t. The Depression went on throughout the 1930s, until WWII. Yes, read again: the liberal claim you hear over and over is not, as this article says, that the 1930s Depression would have been worse without the New Deal, but that the New Deal ended the Depression long before WWII.

    No, America’s wealth is not dependent on plunder. Great industrial production, the T-Ford, computers, have not been the result of plunder but the result of the work of a hard-working and intelligent American people. Yes, laugh all you want. Why has Germany been able to prosper without an empire? Why has Switzerland and Sweden? It is because of Western quality. Despite socialist attempts to snuff it out.

  • 42. aleke  |  April 20th, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    ^^^hahahahaha

  • 43. Iskra Bronstein  |  September 18th, 2010 at 9:44 am

    There is a compelling logic to the argument you present, but the analysis you are advancing as a new model is, simply put, a more shallow version of Marxist analyses of imperialism.

    In the Marxist conception, imperialism represents the highest stage of capitalist development – where the national economy of a state reaches a point of productivity (or centrality to world production, e.g. as the primary issuer of financial instruments) where its political and economic weight relative to competing states deforms the relationships of exchange in the world market. This essentially enacts on a given proportion of the world economy the same sort of protectionist infrastructure that characterizes monopolies and trusts in more limited economic spheres of operation.

    Your presentation deals with war as the primary means of enforcing imperial policy, and this is certainly one of its functions – but more central to the economic stability of a victorious imperialist power is the destruction of capital and labor that war causes – destroying competitors and consumers of rival companies alike. Consequently the rate of profit able to be extracted from newly cleared markets is raised, fueling further growth on the imperial economy.

    But in reality, this process is simply a smash-and-grab writ large – an imperialist power exists in order to extract capital from rival nations; this is its essential function.

  • 44. Hoff  |  August 21st, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    “after all economics, despite all of its complex statistical mathematics, has turned out to be little more than glorified astrology”

    That sounds like a statement a libertard would never make. As a libertard, I’m a disappointment, man.


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