Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Protests, Obama, and the Long Waves of Capitalism

I find this recent trend of people carry guns at anti-Obama rallies disturbing and fascinating. http://tinyurl.com/Obama-rallies When I was growing up in the States during the Vietnam war I always thought the US was just a short trip away from chaos and recent events confirm this belief for me. The problem is that there is very little room for the US governments to maneuver because there is an element in the US that is so far right and so crazy in their beliefs that if any government tries to make significant changes in the US there is a serious risk of generalized violence breaking out. And this group, though relatively small, is so vocal and threatening that the majority of people in the US who do actually support, for example, a single payer healthcare system, are largely bullied into silence. (Note the interesting metaphorical similarity here in Canada of people on the right who bully and red-bait anyone with an opinion that is perceived as slightly left.)

Whether any of these recent events will result in any actual violence against Obama or any of his supporters I do not know.  I certainly hope not. However, what I find strange about all this is that Obama is not really very radical. Outside of the US none of Obama’s policies would be perceived as radical and even within the US Obama has really proposed very little serious changes to how the US government operates. Yet these right-wing extremists are coming out in droves to protest with guns in threatening ways as though Obama were actually the reincarnation of Eugene Debs  or something.

Meanwhile, out of pure necessity the US is consolidating the power of the State to act as an economic force. I read a statistic the other day which if true is amazing: twenty percent of salaries in the US now come in one way or the other from the government. There is no doubt a serious change in formation. The model of capitalism that neo-conservatives ushered in after the long boom is falling apart and a new model of capitalism is forming. Russian economist Nikolai Kondratiev developed a theory in the early 20th century concerning the ‘long-waves’ of capitalist development. I wonder if economists in the US are taking a new look at the work of Kondratiev?  Interesting times….

1 comment:

thwap said...

They're loud, but they can be ignored.

It's also the bought-and-paid-for politicians. There's just too much bribery and corruption to work against.