2004: A Year of Frightening Regression

by Edward S. Herman


December 13, 2004   


(Swans - December 13, 2004)   The year 2004, not yet over, has been a bad one, and developments this year do not bode well for the future. Among the obvious bads were the reelection of George Bush, the tightened alliance with Israel and more aggressive support of the intensified Israeli ethnic cleansing, and of course, the murderous occupation of Iraq.

The Bush victory, especially in light of the massive failures and crimes of his presidency, is an ominous testimonial to the breakdown of US democracy and the possibility of a range of right wing initiatives that might push it past the point of no return. Gonzalez should be a fine attorney general for providing a legal basis for a genuine police state, and the Democratic leadership has already indicated that he won't be seriously opposed. With any further internal threats to right wing rule, another war could be easily arranged to quell dissent. The next four years will be at best a difficult holding operation. The institutional basis of right wing domination may be enhanced by further corporate and media concentration, a further relative and possibly absolute decline in the strength of organized labor, and some additional right wing court appointments. It will be hard to wrest control of the Democratic Party from the DLC and dominant party bosses, and progressive third parties have experienced crushing blows that make that route unpromising for the foreseeable future. Other electoral reforms are unlikely given right wing political control and the mainstream media's close relationship with the dominant power interests.

The Bush win will serve Israel's ethnic-cleansing program, both directly and indirectly through a more determined and violent "win" policy in Iraq; after all, Bush's Iraq policy came straight from God himself, so we must be prepared to see this noble endeavor to the finish. And if the media can swallow Falluja, what can they, Bush and the Israelis find intolerable short of gas chambers? And maybe gas chambers for "terrorists" wouldn't be out of the question -- wouldn't Gonzalez be able to find this within the powers of the Commander-in-Chief under emergency conditions? Wouldn't Alan Dershowitz find this an exception that proves the rule of law?

It is amusing to see the Bush gang going so quickly after Social Security, willing to add a trillion or more to the national debt for the "transition costs" to a system that will do less than nothing to meet the supposed crisis that will stem from demographic changes. (There is no crisis: there will be financial problems decades in the future, but easily manageable.) Giving workers some discretion over their social security revenues will not add to their long term incomes given the huge administrative costs of privatization, and it will make their future incomes more uncertain. As it won't help produce more revenues, the social security budget crunch many years down the road will still require future adjustments, like tax increases or benefit cuts. Which do you think Bush and his allies will choose? And who will benefit from this privatization program? (Hint: the security industry members who will be charging those enormously enlarged administrative costs for buying, selling and managing the privatized portfolios.) So Bush is staking his electoral victory "capital" first on the mass murder of Iraqis, and secondly on undermining a hugely successful and low cost government program that serves ordinary citizens.

There might eventually be brakes on the Bush killing and upwards-income-redistribution machine, like a collapse of the dollar, social upheavals at home, more resistance and body bags in imperialist adventures, and even a fiscal crisis and broad scale political revolt at home, but these are uncertain, and the onset of a crisis may cause the cabal to embark on further crusades at home or abroad. Hang on to your seats!

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US Elections & Democracy on Swans

America the 'beautiful' on Swans

Israel & Palestine on Swans


Ed Herman on Swans (with bio).

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This Week's Internal Links

2004: A Case Study In Forensic Irony - by Phil Rockstroh

2004: Diary Of A Man In Despair - by Michael Doliner

Empire Of Amnesia, 2004 - by John Steppling

2004: Reality in Perspective - by Jan Baughman

2004: Another Best and Worst Year - by Joe Davison

2004: The Lost Year - by Eli Beckerman

2004: Perspectives And Opportunities - by Louis Proyect

2004: The Insurgent Word - by Gerard Donnelly Smith

Retrospective On 2004, Or Why I Need More Sleep - by Joel Wendland

Beyond The Beyond: Reflections on a November Visited Upon us . . . Again - by Milo Clark

2004: We Could Use Some People Power In The U.S. - by Frank Wycoff

2004: The Superpower Kept Sinking - by Philip Greenspan

The Message Of 2004 - by Charles Marowitz

2004: The Year Of Disillusion - by Manuel García, Jr.

Death Genes: The Second Coming - Book Excerpt by Walker Percy

Libertad Bajo Palabra - Poem by Octavio Paz (also in French and in English)

Plantation Politics? Mimes, Minstrels And Miscalculation - by S. Jeffrey Jones

Blips #8 - From the Editor's desk

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Published December 13, 2004
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