by Umair Haque
Let me distill three
little lessons about tomorrow that are already probably becoming
The best way to understand what has gone wrong with the Anglo world, and America in particular, is simply to think of it as a staggeringly ironic repeat of history.
A few short decades ago, the Soviet Union fell, after thirty or so years of stagnation, which its complacent, pampered leaders, utterly divorced from lived reality, vociferously denied could ever be happening to begin with.
That steadfast denial opened up the possibility of sudden collapse, and collapse it did:
That is exactly what is happening to America, from the denial to the pampering to the sudden shock.
Falling life expectancy, flat incomes, a shrinking middle class - short of war, or a giant meteor striking the earth, more severe indicators of collapse simply don't exist.
So. What led to the collapse?
The fall of the Soviet Union was the failure of pure socialism.
Now, ironically, the fall of the Anglo world is it's perfect, almost precise, mirror image:
The simple lesson of the last century is this:
Now, the rest of the world knows this.
Even Rwanda is building public healthcare - Rwanda, which just three decades ago, was the byword for genocide. Even Pakistan is building public transport and hospitals and schools.
The entire rest of the world knows that capitalism is just one tool in the box of building genuinely prosperous societies - and quite often it is precisely the wrong tool.
Yet on the Anglo world
goes, impotent but still monogamously wedded to capitalism, so now
you can get same-day drone delivery of anything at all from Amazon,
your Fakebook 'friends' - but you
can die for lack of basic medicine, you don't have savings, and
you'll never retire, while everyone else knows that trying to use
capitalism alone to build, say, working healthcare or educational or
financial systems is like trying to water a garden with napalm.
Such insensible, unreasonable, thoughtless, inhumane, grotesquely foolish extremism is the precise mirror image of a few decades ago, when, it was forbidden in the Soviet Union to, say, even set up a little dry cleaning shop.
In just this way, the ideological bubble that the Anglo world is in trapped in, like a web holding a fly, condemns it to fall behind the world, and it's future resembles that of Soviet Union's.
We'll discuss that more in a moment...
No one has an incentive to improve anything, so nothing can or will improve
The fine flourishes of an impotent figurehead like an Obama aside, what is the true picture of institutional function - or dysfunction - in the Anglo world?
Let me give you three examples.
Those are just three tiny examples.
The point is this:
The point is not to blame, but to understand.
What does that say? There is no incentive to get it right...
By "it", I simply mean the basics of institutional functioning, for statisticians to predict, pundits and intellectuals to consider and reflect, the media to contextualize and warn, opposition parties to oppose, and so on.
Where there is no incentive to get it right, there is no punishment for getting it wrong - there are in fact rewards for getting it lethally, catastrophically wrong.
Where there are only rewards for getting it badly wrong, then there is the opposite of accountability:
Where there is only ideology without accountability, there is no possibility of even minimally functional institutions, only dysfunctional ones.
And in that dysfunction,
of course, charlatans, buffoons, and con-artists will rise to the
top, which is precisely the story of now, in which every day is a
fresh comedy of horrors.
America's future, and those who follow in its footsteps, is very simple, very straightforward, and now almost inescapable. Like the Soviet Union, it is a fly caught in a web of stagnation, ideology, and perverse incentives.
Thus, it is collapsing, and the end of that collapse resembles the Soviet Union:
All that, only with more
Just as Estonia is
probably a nicer place to be than Russia, so New Zealand and
Australia probably aren't going to end up as badly off as America,
which is going to be Moscow on the Potomac, more or less, if it
The only interesting question is, 'why':
I think it has to do not with politics per se, but with a lack of ontological sophistication, a failure to treat life as an end, only as a means to the end of material riches. One has to be a fly, after all, to be trapped by the web.
But that is for future
And now even if my society, even if the whole world, even if every last city on earth, is stuck fast to a broken way of thinking about life, still, I must grow, stretch, and go on becoming, and so must you, too.
There is more to life than the politics of the obvious...
And so... I encourage you, too, to let the foolish and false not-really-debates-only-masquerades-of-Soviet-ideology ("Wait, Bob. Are Nazis really bad?! Is healthcare good?!! Gee, I don't know. Let's debate!!!!11111") of the Anglo world go.
You were made for better,