Thursday, September 15, 2005

America as the New South

Fascinating article here:

The opening few graphs:

Since the 1970s the United States has become increasingly captive to consumeristic frenzy and religious zeal at home and to an arrogant and bloody militarism abroad. As we do so, has not the following description come to fit us as a people?

Violence, intolerance, aversion and suspicion toward new ideas, an incapacity for analysis, an inclination to act from feeling rather than from thought, an exaggerated individualism and a too narrow concept of social responsibiity, attachment to fictions and false values..., too great an attachment to racial values and a tendency to justify cruelty and injustice in the name of those values, sentimentality and a lack of realism... .

Not all of us, just yet; but those words were written to describe the people of the eleven states of the "New South" that evolved after 1877. The quotation is from The Mind of the South (1940); its author was the Carolinian journalist W.J. Cash.

Definitely seems to be developing as a truth about America. The author also lists these 8 threats we face -- note how many are internal:

Here a summary listing of the main elements at home and abroad threatening turbulence and disorder; and it needs noting that each feeds upon, is fed by, and aggravates the others in destructive interactions:

1) in the United States especially, an increasing concentration of already excessive economic and political power and pervasive corruption, guided by a White House whose arrogance, heedlessness, ignorance and seeming indifference to realities at home and abroad go well beyond anything earlier;

2) a global economy critically dependent upon the already mountainous household, corporate, national, and foreign debts of the United States, which must keep rising or collapse;

3) a dangerously fragile U.S. economy, whose once matchless but now weakening manufacturing sector (measured by millions of lost good jobs) now takes second place to its financial sector which, in turn is dominated by speculation -- most menacingly in housing, most disgustingly in pension funds;

4) a set of rising and combined economic and political challenges to U.S.-guided globalization, whether in the already substantial and growing dissent from Latin America, the spreading weakness of European economies, and the spectacular rise in the strengths of both China and India;

5) a notable arousal of U.S. militarism, accompanied and supported by intensifying racism and fundamentalist religion and the rising conflicts between "Jihad and McWorld" (Barber)

6) increasing tensions and possibilities of conflict between the U.S. and China regarding Taiwan and, as well, North Korea and Iran, as the "quagmire" in Iraq deepens and, at the same time, tensions both in Israel/Palestine and Saudi Arabia rise, as they do between India and Pakistan;

7) the weakening of already inadequate educational, health care, and housing policies in the U.S., now also eroding the once substantial policies of Western Europe and Japan, with resulting social unrest, uncertainties, and paralysis;

8) the ways in which consumeristic borrowing and buying serve to detract attention and energy from reasoned political activity in the U.S. and, increasingly, in other countries -- all of that and more fed by a "consciousness industry" (Shor; Ensenzberger) that sells attitudes and ideas as easily as goods and services, and in doing "teaches us to want what we don't need and not want what we do" (Baran); just what those in power wish, just when the general public needs to become better informed and politically involved.

Definitely a good read.


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