Tuesday, May 26, 2015

John Feffer — Tomgram: John Feffer, Why the World Is Becoming the Un-Sweden

Today, TomDispatch regular John Feffer, the director of Foreign Policy In Focus, offers a cunning bow to the convergence theorists of the Cold War era, a crew of thinkers who imagined that someday the two superpowers would merge into one conglomerate creature in strangely upbeat ways. In reality, as he points out, “convergence” (even in an era that lacks the Soviet Union) has turned out to be a dismally downbeat process. He does, however, skip the earliest convergence theorist of them all, who happened to be a novelist rather than an economist or a philosopher. I’m talking about George Orwell who, in his novel 1984 (published in 1948 just as the Cold War was ramping up to a low burn), imagined the convergence of the worst of West and East, of capitalist America and communist Russia, in a state so memorably malign that, almost seven decades later, everyone, including Edward Snowden, still remembers Big Brother.

The NSA's global surveillance state, revealed by Snowden, managed to put even the dreams of the totalitarian states of the previous century in the shade (and caused sales of 1984 to spike) -- and it's but one reminder of Orwell’s foresight. So many other details of our moment from black sites and kidnapping schemes to torture and assassination programs remind us that, despite the disappearance of the Soviet Union, convergence of a sort still seems to be in the cards. Here’s the strange thing, though: if a kind of eerie version of convergence is indeed underway, as Feffer so memorably suggests, in the organized precincts of what used to be called the First and Second Worlds -- the U.S., Europe, Russia, and China -- in the former Third World, or at least across vast stretches of the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa, a process that might be called divergence seems to be gaining strength. The power of states is weakening, fragmenting, or simply dissolving amid the growth of extremist organizations, sectarian or sectional militias, and terror groups.

As miraculous as Orwell was -- and in the earliest days of the television age he managed to conjure up a future world in which the screen would be omnipresent and everyone could be surveilled, tracked, and controlled through it -- he had no way of imagining such a strange form of divergence. Its origins seem to lie, at least in part, in a twenty-first-century American urge to take its much-ballyhooed role as the planet’s last remaining superpower to heart and essentially try to rule the world. This desire to create a planetary Pax Americana (and an American Pax Republicana) led the Bush administration to punch a devastating hole in the oil heartlands of the planet, setting off a storm of sectarian chaos within which old systems of control, already frayed, began to collapse and whose endpoint is, at present, beyond our ken.

Convergence and divergence, centralization and fragmentation: it’s a vision of a planet that’s not exactly Orwellian, but certainly represents a nightmare worthy of some still-to-be-discovered Orwell of our moment. In the meantime, while we await the novel 2051, let John Feffer tell you about the dark, converging world of 2015. Tom
Tom Dispatch
Tomgram: John Feffer, Why the World Is Becoming the Un-Sweden
John Feffer


mike norman said...

Even Sweden is becoming the un-Sweden!

Simsalablunder said...

Indeed it has. The banking crisis 1991 and the mess it caused was used to blamed the public sector to cut and slice it up for privatising. Since then Sweden has been on the path to be a new Chile.

Got a bill today for driving over a bridge a few months ago. A camera must have registered me. I've never ever had to pay for it before since it's a public built and owned bridge, but obviously that as so many other things has changed.
If I miss to pay the bill in time they'll charge me an extra 6000 percent. Un-Sweden here we come!

Septeus7 said...

Yup, Sweden is rape capital of the world now and is actively supporting "former" ISIS fighters by kicking out elderly native Swedes to give the the jihadist free housing. Did we forgot about the riots from 4 days ago that western media won't report?

Did we forgot about Sweden’s Multicultural Expert on Islamophobia who joined ISIS in Syria?

Why isn't Sweden on the list of terrorist supporting nations yet? Sweden's official government is crushing austerity on the native population while importing thirdworlders at a rate of 400k every 5 years and remember that Sweden only has a population of 9 million. Sweden won't exist in 20 years or it will be a Fascist State. It is also a member of the Eurozone and the purpose of the Eurozone is to destroy European sovereignty in favor of rule by corporations. Sweden is as Fcked as Greece as its completely insane government has openly declared the goal of destroying the native population. I do give it props for honesty unlike the American government which pretends to be serving us.

Simsalablunder said...

No one is kicking out elderly, and the "thirdworlders" are nowhere near the rate of 400k every 5 years. Numbers of asylum seeker and those who actually get in are together with all other immigration constantly and deliberately conflated and is the former neo-nazi party Sverige Demokraternas best trick to gain momentum. It is a fake argument.

Also, Sweden has its own currency although it has signed agreements aimed to make a transition to the Euro smooth. But there's no support amongst people to join the Euro. Every poll made through out the years shows they think it's a bad idea.

At the same time they are not enlightened about the impact of the agreements, which when implemented creates the slowly but steady pace of austerity, constantly destroying earlier built up real values, for which immigration, taxes, workers not being flexible enough, social benefits, to high wages, unions using their power, public service being inefficient etc gets the blame, depending on what's up for public discussion/debate.

Only when things got really out of hand during 2007-2009 due to the financial crisis, they considered using the power its own currency gives them, to bail out private banks. No problem braking Euro agreements there.

Bad goes down in other ways, much more subtle ways, like construing rules making politicians who get mandate to change thing more or less unable to do so, unless they have support numbers like Putin over years to come.

"There is only one way" as former Prime Minister (a blue blooded right winger) and lately Minister for Foreign Affairs until 2014 -Carl Bildt- said back in the 1990s. Those words has been taken literally ever since meaning it's the neo-liberal way.

Swedes tend to take pride in trying to be "best in class" in what they do, which of course can be really good when creating stuff and doing good, but really really bad when used to destroy good things created.

Simsalablunder said...

Finland on the other hand gave up their Finnish Markka and became a full fledge member of the Eurozone. They had a few good years making them pointing fingers the same way Germans do to the "lazy Greeks". During those good years they also became the poster boy for how excellent the Euro is and why Sweden also should take the step and ditch the Krona and join the Euro. It didn't take off.

Now Finlands haydays are over. Yesterday I read that their new center-right government is going to balance the deficit after pressure from Brussels.
And as always it's said that some tough decisions is a must, meaning cuts are done in government spending on everything that can be recognised going to lower income layers.

More of selling out the public sector to private corporation is probably also going to be the case, since Finland stupidly invited former Swedish die hard neo-liberal Minister for Finance -Anders Borg- to give them advice on how to run a country the best way. Remember Financial Times gave that hack the title the worlds best Minister of Finance. Hopefully Finland somehow canned all hot air that man produced when he verbally release his garbage thinking.

So in a near future Finns are going to get a better feel for what it means being a member of the eurozone. If they'll connect the dots correctly is another matter. They will not be able to blame the "large" immigration since they don't have one, unless they invent some new ways to extrapolate those numbers.