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The Late, Great, American Republic: 
A Report from Mid-Century -- 2050


By Nigel Doowrite, as told to Ernest Partridge

Co-Editor, "The Crisis Papers."

July 7, 2003 -- November, 2004


A note from the “real” author: The following is an imaginary essay by an Oxford University historian at mid-21st century.   It  assumes a continuation of current political and economic trends set in motion by the Bush Administration. With a sudden and early awakening of sanity amongst the public, the media and the elites, which catalyzes effective dissent, protest and reform, a far different future might be realized.  (Ernest Partridge).

Who could have imagined, at the turn of this century, how quickly and completely the American republic would collapse? Historically, the decline and fall of great empires normally takes place over decades, and in the case of Rome, over several centuries. The disintegration of the United States took place in just a few brief years.

At the close of the twentieth century, the United States was at peace and enjoying one of the most sustained and productive periods of prosperity in its history – a prosperity that favourably affected all segments of society. President Clinton, though mercilessly harassed by his political opponents, was highly esteemed by heads of state and ordinary citizens throughout the world. The United States, despite its manifest faults, was widely admired and envied by free peoples everywhere.

It was, to put it simply, a great time to be an American.

And then, suddenly, it all fell apart. 

The American economy collapsed and the American leadership, unlike the Roosevelt administration during the great depression of the 1930s, lacked the insight and will, and the federal treasury lacked the funds, to effect a rescue. The admirable American system of constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties, of a free and diverse press, of free enterprise and economic opportunity, and of popularly elected government was, by the close of the first decade, replaced by a despotic oligarchy in total control of the permanently ruling Republican party. Finally, the United States, through a unilateral abrogation of its treaty obligations and a series of aggressive wars, was transformed from "the leader of the free world” into a rogue state. As we all know, the community of nations responded to the new threat of American economic imperialism by forming the alliances that are today the dominant world powers: the Eurasian Union and Islamia.

Distrusted and isolated from the global community, the United States withdrew into itself to become the pitiful and impoverished third-world despotism that it is today.

The forces set in motion during the illegitimate Presidency of George W. Bush that led to this decline and fall were plain for all to see, and amazingly, however outrageous and contrary to the most fundamental American political traditions, they were not effectively resisted. When the American public came face-to-face with the dreadful consequences of these regressive and despotic forces, it was too late to resist and turn back. The fate of the American republic was sealed.


The American Economy


Late in the twentieth century, twenty percent of the private wealth in the United States was owned by the top one percent of the population. At the turn of the century, that share had doubled. Then, with abolition of dividend, capital gains and estate taxes, the flow of national wealth to the very few accelerated, so that in 2012, midway through the Jeb Bush administration, eighty percent of the national wealth was in the hands of the top one percent, and sixty percent owned by the top one-tenth of one-percent. 

Of course, by that time, the United States was in the depths of The Great Depression. A full year into George Bush’s second administration, the unemployment rate was above ten percent and rising, eventually to reach one-third of the work force when his younger brother succeeded him in 2009. Compounding that disaster was the retirement of the “baby boom” generation, which found that the Social Security and Medicare funds which they had confidently expected, had been exhausted. Those retirees who could not be cared for by their children often ended up in the streets, for the only remaining social services – “faith-based” agencies supported by federal funds – were overwhelmed and willing only to accept devout members of their various (usually evangelical) denominations.

The primary cause of the depression was compellingly obvious: with the wealth of the nation withdrawn from the population at large, there was little disposable income remaining to feed the cash-flow of commerce. First the “expendable” industries – amusements, recreational vehicles, resorts, automobiles – were bankrupted and their employees discharged, causing the succeeding dominoes to fall and leading to the downward spiral of depression. 

Prominent so-called “conservative” theoreticians in the first decade, such as Grover Norquist, with the full support of the George Bush administration, called for the virtual elimination of all government services and functions, federal, state, and municipal, with the exception of the military and “Homeland Security” which soon evolved into the Federal Police. Of course, the obvious fact that no civilized and industrialised nation has ever functioned without a central government, did not concern these theoreticians. Consumed by dogma, they had no inclination to be “confused by the facts.” And so, their stated objective of “drowning the government in the bathtub” and “bankrupting” state governments was achieved, with disastrous results.

The public schools and universities closed and, unable to afford the tuition of the remaining private schools, most of the children were deprived of an education. Similarly, private college and university enrollments plummeted. Literacy rates fell and the pool of trained and resourceful workers evaporated. Attempts to privatise the infrastructure – roads, bridges, electrical grids, pipelines, etc. – failed dismally, and with the governments bankrupt, no funds were available to bail them out. And so, these facilities fell into useless ruin, which further crippled the national economy.

Due to widespread evictions, single-family homes and apartments became crowded communes when only the combined resources of three and four families could pay the utilities, rents and mortgages. And these were the lucky ones, as millions of Americans were forced to live on the streets or in tent cities.

The United States of America, once the powerhouse of the world economy, was headed hell-bent toward the third-world status that it has today.


The World Economy


When the United States was the predominant economic power in the world, economic policy-makers used to say that when the US sneezes the world gets a cold, and when the US gets a cold, the world gets pneumonia. So when the US economy collapsed in 2006, this had serious global repercussions. And yet, to the amazement of all, the world economy fared far better than expected. By employing the sort of cooperative and collective policy and planning despised by the American “conservatives,” and free of interference by American corporations, the global economy soon recovered and went on to prosper. 

The greatest shock to the world economy was the sudden announcement by President Jeb Bush that the United States would no longer honor its three trillion-dollar foreign debt. A resulting collapse of the world economy was averted when the leading governments of the industrial nations agreed together to absorb the debt – a policy that accelerated the emergence of the Eurasian Union.

With the American credit-rating thus reduced to zero, the United States was effectively isolated from the world economy. The Americans then discovered that they were in desperate need of raw materials that were unavailable within their borders. The world at large, on the other hand, enjoyed resource-independence from the Americans. The Americans suffered most acutely from the severe shortage of petroleum, upon which their once-thriving agricultural industry depended. And so the spectre of famine, unimaginable in the previous century, haunted the unfortunate Americans.  (See “The Oil Trap”)

In the 20th Century, America’s primary contribution to the world economy was its advanced technology, as young students from around the world flocked to its excellent universities to acquire advanced degrees and to engage in cutting-edge research and development. With the closing of the public education system and the end of federal research funding (except, of course, for the military), superior centers of scientific and technological research appeared in Europe and Asia. First to depart was bio-medical research, severely crippled by the United States ban on stem-cell research. But this was only part of the story. The manifest contempt for science by the Bushes and their corporate and fundamentalist supporters accelerated the demise of the scientific and technological pre-eminence of the United States.

Finally, with the United States government in the complete control of the petroleum industry, the Bushes had no inclination whatever to build a bridge to the post-petroleum age – with predictable and disastrous results. In stark contrast, the Eurasian Union clearly foresaw the coming emergency, and made massive preparations for it. Thus, in Eurasia today, the remaining petroleum reserves are being properly utilised for their petrochemicals, while the combination of biomass, solar, nuclear fusion and other sources, and the hydrogen fuels produced thereby, offer abundant energy to the peoples of Eurasia and Islamia. The United States, with no exportable commodities or technologies of any worth, and bankrupted by the tax policies of the George and Jeb Bush Administrations, is unable to enjoy the advantages of these innovations, except, of course, out of the largesse of humanitarian aid from Eurasia.

The New Despotism

The American democracy died with the invention and complete implementation of paper-less computer voting. But this was a coup-de-grace, delivered to a body politic critically injured by the rigging of the 2000 Florida presidential election, engineered by Jeb Bush and his accomplices, and the subsequent vote of five Republican operatives on the Supreme Court in the notorious ruling, Bush v. Gore. The winner of the 2000 election, Al Gore, meekly acceded to this judicial coup d’etat, and the public followed his lead. 

The Republican control of the media and the election procedures was maintained and extended in the election of 2004, when the Democratic candidate, Senator John Kerry, was ruthlessly slandered, and a nationwide conspiracy of voter suppression and computer hacking of election returns once again handed the White House over to manifestly incompetent George Bush.  Once again, the Democratic Party meekly submitted to its victimhood, despite the outrage of the millions of supporters of the defeated candidate.

Encouraged, if astonished, by this passivity of the public and the “opposition” party, the victorious George Bush administration proceeded to snuff out the civil liberties of the American people, until the final lights went out halfway through the Jeb Bush administration. This twilight of the American democracy was accelerated by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 upon New York City and Washington, DC, whereby a stunned public and Congress accepted without protest a draconian attack on the Bill of Rights, cynically named the USA PATRIOT Act. 

Soon after the re-election of George Bush in 2004, and the “uncovering” by the CIA and FBI of an alleged plot by al Qaeda to set off a nuclear device in New York Harbor, “Patriot Act II” was enacted by the Republican Congress. With this, habeas corpus, and the constitutional rights of citizens to open trials by juries, access to counsel, were all suspended. On the assumption that “you are either for us or against us,” as articulated by George Bush soon after the September 2001 attacks, critics of the government were regarded as “traitors.”  Mere hours before their intended arrests, dissenters Noam Chomsky and Paul Krugman escaped to Canada and thence to the faculties of Oxford and Cambridge. Democratic presidential aspirants Howard Dean, Dennis Kusinich and John Edwards, and the defeated candidate, John Kerry, were not so lucky, and have not been heard from since their disappearance in the summer of 2006.

Quite possibly these dissenters joined millions of others in the Alaskan Gulag, perchance to work in the oil fields of ANWR and Prudhoe Bay. Or perhaps they were impressed along with the millions of the unemployed to toil as farm laborers when, due to the acute petroleum shortages, the farm machinery was shut down and it became impossible to transport sufficient food for the starving masses in the inner cities. “You work or you starve,” was the stark choice given to the unfortunate unemployed.  Sadly, many who remained in the cities did, in fact, starve or, weakened by malnutrition, fell victim to the great plagues of the "twenty-teens."  

Despite these catastrophes, the Republicans have been the sole ruling party in the United States throughout the 21st century to this date. Typical Congresses have contained about 80% Republican seats. The Democrats exist at the sufferance of the Republicans, as unpersuasive “window dressing” to preserve at least the appearance of democracy. Republicans congressmen who show any independent tendencies are generally marked by the Party bosses for defeat in primary elections, or in the general elections by designated and compliant Democrats.

Observers from abroad regard American elections with the same contempt as historians show toward “elections” in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Informal polls (conducted with great difficulty and at great risk) show a residual opposition to the Republicans, and often an overwhelming majority preference for the Democrats. But no matter. The official results issuing from the paperless voting machines are uniformly just what the Administration desires. As always, the voting machines are manufactured, and the secret software codes are written, by corporations completely controlled by the Republicans (as, indeed, are all corporations). Exit polling is banned. Advance polling by organisations such as Gallup accurately predict the final results. But, of course, the Gallup organisation was acquired in 2006 by the Murdock corporation.

Ninety percent of the media are owned by the three interlocking corporations of “The First Amendment Consortium.” The remaining ten percent are licensed by the federal government. Independent newspapers or magazines that dare to criticise the government are soon absorbed in “hostile takeovers” by the Consortium. Of course, independent broadcast media no longer exist in the United States.

In late 2005, Rupert Murdock acquired full ownership of the Internet, whereupon dissenting (“unpatriotic”) websites were banished from the Net. 

A tragedy, to be sure, but not unforeseen. As early as 2003, the journey toward this dreadful destination was well-embarked. The stolen 2000 Presidential election, well known to those who cared to study it, was two years in the past. The PATRIOT Act had been enacted and several American citizens were being held incommunicado, in violation of the Constitutional rights. The use of paperless computer ballot machines was widespread and growing. The FCC successfully ruled in favour of media conglomeration, and dissenting liberal opinions were severely restricted on television, and virtually non-existent on the radio.

Finding no resistance, the triumphant Republicans proceeded, and by unopposed increments, destroyed the American democracy.

The New World Order


A fundamental rule of politics, well-known to Aristotle and political philosophers since, asserts that alliances are formed out of the shared perception of a common threat. Thus, in the mid-twentieth century, the United States, England and the Soviet Union joined forces against Nazi Germany. Following the defeat of Germany, that alliance fell apart, as the NATO alliance arose to meet the Soviet threat.

The unification of the Eurasian continent, long assumed to be a fantasy, was brought about by the shared perception of a threat by the “rogue” American imperialists. The American neo- conservatives could not have been clearer in their intention that the United States would go it alone in the world. Following their statement of this intention in such documents as the “Project for the New American Century,” the George Bush administration proceeded to follow this guideline to the letter, abrogating treaties at will, invading defenseless countries on patently false pretenses, and in general earning for itself the fear and contempt of the global community.

In the face of this, the once-inconceivable unification of the nations of Europe and Asia became an inevitability.

Similarly, following the invasion of Iraq in early 2003, and thence of Iran in the spring of 2005, the Islamic nations united to form the Federation of Islamia, which now stretches from the Atlantic, across north Africa, all the way to Indonesia. The unity of Islamia was enhanced by the expulsion of the American forces from Iraq in 2005, followed by the establishment of a Shi’ite Islamic republic. As in neighboring Iran, Iraq suffered through a period of fundamentalist repression, until the fanaticism consumed itself and was replaced by a moderate semi-democratic government. So it has been throughout Islamia, as the member states, faced with a choice between religious fundamentalism and technical-economic development, have chosen the latter option.

The overwhelming American military, the budget for which, at the turn of the century, almost equaled the sum of all other military budgets combined, proved to be of little use to the United States. Nuclear blackmail would not work since, of course, the Eurasia was also a nuclear power. And as Viet Nam and Iraq proved, the strategically astute response to a technologically overwhelming force is to absorb the force and then to bleed it white with a thousand cuts. (The Russians used the strategy successfully against Napoleon and Hitler. The Americans, typically, learned nothing whatever from this history).

Furthermore, the Eurasians and Islamics wisely understood that even if the an opposing nation’s military is invincible, it does not follow that the nation itself is invincible. It might be vanquished non-militarily. And this, of course, is exactly what happened. The United States, starved of resources and credits, weakened internally by the fiscal insanity of the Bush brothers, blinded by dogma to the insights of science and scholarship, collapsed from within. (See “The Vulnerable Giant").

After their military had suffered several defeats in Islamia, the United States withdrew, whereupon the military was put to use by the Department of Homeland Security to put down insurrections, to protect the few oligarchs in their gated communities, and to keep the masses confined to their gated ghettos in the inner cities. In this capacity, aircraft carriers, submarines and ICBMs proved to be of little use. 

And so, the world beyond the shores of the United States has gone on to an era of prosperity and enlightenment which the Americans cannot share – excepting, of course, those fortunate American who manage to escape from the despotic Republican regime and are welcomed immigrants to the Global community. 

The growing community of American expatriates, who have contributed so generously to world science, scholarship, literature, art, industry, and culture, have also brought to our world the vivid memory of the magnificence of the first two centuries of the American Republic – and the undying aspiration for its restoration in that once-blessed land.

In the American Diaspora, the spirit of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln and Roosevelt survives and flourishes.

May it soon return to its home.

Copyright 2003, by Ernest Partridge

 


Ernest Partridge's Internet Publications

Conscience of a Progressive:  A book in progress. 

Partridge's Scholarly Publications. (The Online Gadfly)


Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The Online Gadfly" and co-edits the progressive website, "The Crisis Papers".

 

 

Crisis Papers editors, Partridge & Weiner, are available for public speaking appearances