I always wanted to admire FDR’s New Deal. It had similarities with the Liberal Yellow Book of 1928 and the Liberal Party Manifesto for the 1929 general election. Both were largely the work of Maynard Keynes and Lloyd George working together, for once.
Reading the two manifestos of the Corbyn-led Labour Party I was struck by how closely they resembled the proposals of the Liberal Party in the late twenties. So much for Corbyn the revolutionary salivating at the thought of Madame Guillotine.
What, however, made the New Deal work was war. Suddenly there was full employment and if you were constructing bombs, bullets, tanks, planes and warships your order book was full.
Despite the call of Walter Lippman who, in his book on US Foreign Policy (1944), proposed that if the USA was serious about pursuing its self-interest that self-interest should be rational it was no such thing. From 1945 the US economy was linked to war and to the threat of war. In his last speech as president, Eisenhower, a Republican, warned against this. He too was ignored.
Trump’s slogan, Make America Great Again appeals to those Americans that have convinced themselves that once upon a time John Wayne was the President of the USA. Yes this is nonsense, dangerous nonsense. But for whom is it most dangerous? It is most dangerous for the USA. It may still be the fastest gun in the west but that gun is pointed at its own feet.
I once asked a young relative, “What do you call an intelligent North American?” The immediate response was, “A Canadian”.
I suspect that far too few Americans know how they are perceived in the rest of the world. For some Trump supporters I doubt that they are aware that there is a world beyond its borders.
I thought that with George W we had reached the lowest depths of self-centred ignorance to which any president could sink. He actually believed that the USA was a democracy. The ‘Founding Fathers’ may have stolen the language of Tom Paine when seeking to present the constitution as all about freedom and rights but you only have to ask why there is an Electoral College. It is there because those founders had no belief in democracy. The final decision had to be taken by a small group. Who won the popular vote last time? Not Trump.
Greg Palast chose such a good title for his book, THE BEST DEMOCRACY MONEY CAN BUY.
And now the USA is hit by a virus that attacks it at its weakest point. Its weakest point is its lack of coherent social and health infrastructure. Capitalist values have ensured that profit must come first. And since some of that profit finds its way into the pockets of politicians things are unlikely to change.
The USA places sanctions upon Cuba because it is socialist, worse, even communist. Ask yourself in which country you would prefer to be if you fell unexpectedly ill.
Today Trump, while ignoring expert advice in the interests of self-promotion, has insulted most of the rest of the world. But let us not fall into the trap of believing that he is solely responsible. It is the history of the USA that has brought about this situation.
Finally, Caligula’s horse has become Emperor and the world can no longer even pretend respect.
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