Sunday, January 25, 2009

Disaster in the Making: Obama's Grand Empire

The US was not supposed to be like Soviet Russia or North Korea, but that is exactly what it is becoming.
To foreigners, this concentration of power might seem the quintessence of normalcy. As the sociologist E. Digby Baltzell wrote in 1964, elites have dominated and shaped the world's great cosmopolitan centers – from Athens to Rome to Baghdad – throughout history. In modern times, capital cities such as London, Paris, Moscow, Berlin and Tokyo have not only ruled their countries but have also largely defined them. In all these countries (with the exception of Germany, which was divided during the Cold War), publishing, media, the arts and corporate and political power are all concentrated in the same place. Paris is the undisputed global face of France just as London is of Great Britain or Tokyo is of Japan.

Although each had their merchant classes, these cities were strongly hierarchical, governed by those closest by blood or affiliation to the ruling family and populated largely by their servants. In contrast, Baltzell observed, U.S. cities such as New York have been "heterogeneous from top to bottom." Their power came not from the government or the church but from trade, the production of goods and scientific innovations, as well as the peddling of ideas and culture.

But Washington has always occupied a unique and somewhat incongruous niche among U.S. cities. It came into being not because of the economic logic of its location, but because it was a convenient compromise between North and South. It never developed into a center of commerce or manufacturing. Nor was it meant to be a fortress. Instead, it was designed for one specific purpose: to house the business of governance. _NewGeography
Obama's mind was shaped by the third world: a father from Africa, an anthropologist mother who idealized third world primitivism, a formative part of his childhood in Indonesia soaking up the third world realism of his step-father . . . And so on. Obama's early life was a head-long flight from modernism, aided by his mother, a resentful family friend "Frank", and anyone he could find who exuded rebellion, resentment, and revolution. In his later life that group included a black revolutionary pastor and mentor, a white terrorist bomber cum professor of education, and various other revolutionaries and vengeance-minded persons including his wife.

No wonder Obama wants to take America back to the age of primitive Empire, with himself as the third world Emperor controlling centralised powers previously unknown in the history of the entire world.

How will it all work out? Hyper-centralised empires tend not to work out well in the long run. The entire concept is somewhat new for America, and most new power plays of this type do not succeed.

Obama finds his audacity in his naivete and ignorance of how the real world works. He was buoyed to power by tens of millions of similarly ignorant and naive supporters. But they all understand power, at least vaguely. They know that to wield maximum power, you must first take power away from anyone else who may conceivably wield their power against you.

If the next change of power occurs without violence, we will all be very fortunate.

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