There is this announcement making the rounds across the globe that the American Middle Class Is No Longer the World’s Richest and that after-tax middle-class incomes in Canada — substantially behind in 2000 — now appear to be higher than in the United States. Even the poor in much of Europe earn more than poor Americans.
Oh boo hoo. Dear Me. Just how awful can this be….
Well, don’t believe a word of it. I doubt middle class Canadians are any better off than their American counterparts because, believe me, most mc Canadians pretty much depend on having those mc lifestyles through the vehicle of debt - very heavy debt. If they couldn’t flip their houses every couple of years they would definitely be in the poor house.
Under the regime of neoliberalism, especially in the United States, war has become an extension of politics as almost all aspects of society have been transformed into a combat zone. Americans now live in a society in which almost everyone is spied on, considered a potential terrorist, and subject to a mode of state and corporate lawlessness in which the arrogance of power knows no limits. The state of exception has become normalized. Moreover, as society becomes increasingly militarized and political concessions become relics of a long-abandoned welfare state hollowed out to serve the interest of global markets, the collective sense of ethical imagination and social responsibility toward those who are vulnerable or in need of care is now viewed as a scourge or pathology.
What has emerged in this new historical conjuncture is an intensification of the practice of disposability in which more and more individuals and groups are now considered excess, consigned to zones of abandonment, surveillance and incarceration. Moreover, this politics of disappearance has been strengthened by a fundamental intensification of increasing depoliticization, conducted largely through new modes of spying and the smothering, if not all-embracing, market-driven power of commodification and consumption.
Citizens are now reduced to data, consumers, and commodities and as such inhabit identities in which they increasingly “become unknowables, with no human rights and with no one accountable for their condition.” Within this machinery of social death, not only does moral blindness prevail on the part of the financial elite, but the inner worlds of the oppressed are constantly being remade under the force of economic pressures and a culture of fear.
Neoliberalism and the Machinery of Disposability
Over the Easter week-end I came across two very interesting posts on the internet; one about Russia and one about the U.S. The Russian one is long but worth the read. The American one is shorter but equally interesting.
The Errand Boys of Europe is about the forces that shaped Russia and again I recommend it as a good read. What impressed me most about the Russian story is the part about how Peter the Great saw how backward and how poorly educated his people were compared with the rest of Europe.
"Seeing his country’s backwardness as threatening its security, and the solution as bringing it up to the level of Europe, from which the threat came, he brought all his autocratic power to bear in order to revolutionise the Russian social order, embedding in the process the absolutist model of the state which has been a recurring feature of the Russian polity. Peter’s reforms reached right into the most intimate levels of the society. Using draconian legislation, he forced changes in the most personal realms –beards were forbidden, as was the wearing of caftans. Women had to be included in social gatherings and the use of French was prescribed."
"…he took Russia through a transformation so traumatic that it has reverberated in Russian history ever since."
Now compare what is going on in America, the world’s richest, most powerful nation, in this post: From the War on Poverty to the War on the Poor.
The statistics on poverty in America are quite stunning. There are almost as many poor people now as when the so-called War on Poverty began 50 years ago and any success that war may have had has been sabotaged.
Do the people who are behind this war on the poor not consider that the purposeful impoverishment of a substantially large portion of their population is a dangerous thing to be doing? Pursuing policies that ensure increasing numbers in one’s population live in poverty and destitution seems like a pretty serious security threat to me. Hollowing out the middle classes and plunging the poor ever more deeply into poverty and ignorance seems like an act of national suicide from my perspective and not the actions of a Great nation.