Anomalies, Collapsing Paradigms, and the Courage To Draw Conclusions
“The neoliberal experiment – lower taxes on the rich, deregulation of labor and product markets, financialization, and globalization – has been a spectacular failure.”
—Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate in economics
Less than a year after America’s humiliating retreat from Afghanistan, President Joe Biden, goaded by the neoliberal elites who put him in office, is risking a world war by threatening to send American troops to Ukraine. The last thing the United States needs is yet another war without clear and obtainable policy objectives. Given its complex and tragic history, why would the Biden administration choose Ukraine as the hill to die on?
During the 20th century, Poland, Russia, and Germany all occupied parts of Ukraine. Approximately three million died during Stalin’s collectivization campaign (1932-3), five million more died during World War II, and one million of the region’s Jews were also killed with the help of Ukrainian collaborators. The Soviets reclaimed it after World World II, then the United States backed the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UIA), a guerrilla force that would become a model for CIA counter insurgency operations around the world. In 1997, George Kennan, American diplomat, father of the containment doctrine, backer of the UIA, and one of America’s foremost Russia experts, warned that a decision to expand NATO to include Ukraine would be “the most fateful error in American policy in the entire post-cold war era.” Kennan argued that it would “restore the atmosphere of cold war to east-west relations” and “impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking.”
Ukraine is just one of many anomalies facing the rapidly collapsing neoliberal paradigm. As Thomas Kuhn pointed out in his book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, the greatest resistance to change comes moments before the collapse of the reigning paradigm, when its defenders “devise numerous articulations and ad hoc modifications of their theory in order to eliminate any apparent conflict.” Kuhn’s interpretive model has helped me make sense of some of the things that no longer make sense, like risking world war over Ukraine, and has led me to ask a broader set of questions:
• Why are our ruling elites obsessed with Russia, but ignore America’s greatest geopolitical threat: China?
• Why are our ruling elites ready to go to war over the sanctity of Ukraine’s borders and sovereignty, but reject the sanctity of America’s borders and sovereignty?
• Why are our ruling elites fixated on “white nationalism,” but ignore the national security threat posed by an open southern border largely controlled by the Mexican drug cartels?
• Why did our ruling elites shut down the nation over COVID to save American lives, but continue to ignore the opiate epidemic?
• Why are our ruling elites lowering our nation’s educational standards in the name of “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” but ignoring a failing public education system that can no longer teach students to read and write at their grade levels?
• Why did our ruling elites support the Black Lives Matter and Defund The Police movements during the Corporate Cultural Revolution of 2020, but now ignore the black lives that are disproportionately affected by the anarchic violence that is sweeping the nation?
• Why do our ruling elites allow predatory criminals to run amok in our big cities, but arrest law abiding citizens for speaking out at school board meetings?
• Why do our ruling elites make the needs of homeless drug addicts and illegal migrants a higher priority than those of struggling veterans who served on the front lines in the disastrous Global War on Terror?
• Why do our ruling elites trust Big Tech, Big Pharma, and the Big Banks to regulate themselves, but tax and regulate our small businesses into extinction?
• Why do our ruling elites divide Americans on the basis of the ontological fiction of race, but turn a blind eye to the very real construct of class?
• Why do our ruling elites turn to the inaccurate journalism of incendiary activists like Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ibram X. Kendi for answers to complex questions about America’s troubled racial history, but ignore scholars like Barbara Fields and Adolph L. Reed, Jr. and who have forgotten more about this subject than Jones and Kendi will ever know?
• Why do our ruling elites continue to rely on failed foreign policy mandarins like Robert Kagan, Victoria Nuland, and Samantha Power, but sideline and ignore warrior/scholars like Jim Webb, Anthony Zinni, and Andrew Bacevich, who opposed their disastrous decisions and have actually felt the hard hand of war?
• Why do our ruling elites continue to listen to discredited “forever war” activist/journalists like Max Boot and David Frum, but ignore journalists like Ed Vulliamy and David Rieff who correctly predicted much of what has gone wrong since 9/11?
Former CIA analyst Martin Gurri, author of the prophetic 2014 book Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millenium, best described the “crisis of authority” the neoliberals now face: “They could identify the causes of the public’s anger and work to reconcile the public to the system. This would entail flattening the political pyramid and reducing as much as possible their distance from the public.” This, according to Gurri, is not happening, “Elites currently seem to be more concerned with re-establishing their distance from the public than with restoring their own authority. They equate legitimacy with clinging to the top of the pyramid. They find proximity to the public frightening and distasteful: No elite figure wants to come near ‘the deplorables.’ They prefer to hide behind bodyguards and metal-detecting machines.”
Swedish journalist Sven Lindqvist put it best in his book Exterminate All the Brutes, “You already know enough. So do I. It is not knowledge that we lack. What is missing is the courage to understand what we know and draw conclusions.”
Read Part 2 in Sour Milk’s Ukraine series here.
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