Tuesday, January 08, 2008

We're on the brink of apocalypse! Again!

The title link starts out with:
The Puritanical roots of our fatalism and anxiety over American exceptionalism.

The sky is falling! The end is near!

Just in time for the Christmas season, Pat Buchanan has published yet another jeremiad warning that America is about to go belly up. You'd think that the American public would get tired of the unrelenting gloominess of the far right and left. But you'd be wrong. Already the book is climbing up the bestseller lists, giving us further proof that, despite our collective obsession with living the good life, we Americans love the sweet rush of anxiety. Maybe it's just the antidote for our apathy.
This is just to note that Pat Buchanan was mentioned in this article on the USA naval gazing and that it can occur on the right as easily as the left. I also wanted to note the following passage for thinking that American Exceptionalism is less to do with pride but with a deep sense of obligation to help others.
That meant they had a high standard to live up to. If they pleased the Lord, the Almighty would bless them. But if they did not, Winthrop cautioned, "We shall shame the faces of many of God's worthy servants and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us till we be consumed out of this good land." In other words, when Winthrop spoke of the new colony as "a city upon a hill," he saw its exceptionalism as less a boast than a warning.
And one more passage:
At its best, says Mckenna, the Puritan tradition of anxious providentialism has inspired the likes of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to improve the nation. King proclaimed that African Americans would win their freedom "because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands." But anxious providentialism can also devolve into self-indulgent cynicism, the kind that not only does not inspire but kills the very impulse to make the world better.

The same is true for the jeremiad. From the Puritans on, it has been used to exhort Americans to step up and fulfill their "errand into the wilderness" (in the words of another Puritan preacher). As one scholar put it, we experience a process of "liberation through lamentation." But since the late 1960s and the demoralizing effects of the Vietnam War, too many jeremiads have held out too little hope, abandoning the promise inherent in the Puritans' covenant -- the possibility of redemption. In these works, a new "reverse exceptionalism" has emerged, with critics portraying the United States as exceptionally bad, not exceptionally blessed. Although it's easy to identify the origins of the post-modern jeremiad in the New Left, a generation later, plenty of disgruntled right-wingers employ the same grim, apocalyptic rhetoric.
For myself, I grew up in a strong Christian background that while saying we are all sinners we can get redemption and have an obligation to help others in need. I became interested in politics as the morass of the Carter Administration was winding down and that Ronald Reagan presented a new image of a USA that was fighting for the freedoms of others around the world. Around this time we also learned about the complete failures of the last two tries at the Marxist utopia in China and Cambodia. When you count the victims by millions, then when someone mentions Pinochet, I just laugh to myself. Pinochet was an authoritarian regime and may have caused the death of 10,000 in 17 years. As compared to S21 where 17,000 died in one "re-education" camp where about a dozen that went there lived.

Anyway back to my apocalyptic views by looking at what Pat Buchanan has written recently. As in Is World War III on Hold? While the title is noteworthy, he basically discusses the issues without to much gloom and doom scenarios. As noted earlier he did mention about the sinking currency as in: Sinking Currency, Sinking Country.
Have gold, silver, oil, the euro, the pound and the Canadian dollar all suddenly soared in value in just a few years?

Nope. The dollar has plummeted in value, more so in Bush's term than during any comparable period of U.S. history. Indeed, Bush is presiding over a worldwide abandonment of the American dollar.

Is it all Bush's fault? Nope.
Actually he is wrong, the Dollar fell 40% in two years from 1985-1987 and no one seems to even remember that time. Not abandonment but more of a rewinding of excess reserves by some countries. We let our currency freely float but other countries find it in their interest to 'hoard' US Dollars to stimulate exports to the USA. Who we should blame is them and not some self-flagellation exercise.
A sinking dollar means a poorer nation, and a sinking currency has historically been the mark of a sinking country. And a superpower with a sinking currency is a contradiction in terms.
How can "living with in our means" be such a bad thing? And how can the stimuli we need to balance our trade imbalance is so bad. This will encourage exports and discourage imports. Thus get closer to balancing the trade balance.
The Chinese, whose currency is tied to the dollar, and Japan will continue, as long as they can, to keep their currencies low against the dollar. For the Asians think long term, and their goals are strategic.
Exactly as I stated above, but what solution does Pat provide? The rest of Buchanan's article is along the line of apocalypse.

And what does Pat Buchanan think of Apocalypse Now?
The scaremongers are not always wrong. The Trojans should have listened to Cassandra. But history shows that the scaremongers are usually wrong.

Parson Malthus predicted mass starvation 250 years ago, as the population was growing geometrically, doubling each generation, while agricultural production was going arithmetically, by 2 percent or so a year. But today, with perhaps 1 percent of our population in full-time food production, we are the best-fed and fattest 300 million people on Earth.

Karl Marx was proven dead wrong about the immiseration of the masses under capitalism and the coming revolution in the industrial West, though they still have hopes at Harvard.
All true enough Pat, but then why do you preach the words of apocalypse too? Maybe us Americans can only understand (or even listen) when people talk in apocalyptic mannerisms. As far as myself, I agree with Pat Buchanan, that even when Pat is talking in apocalyptic terms to take him with a grain of salt. LOL...

Links:
We're on the brink of apocalypse! Again!


Cleverly Firing Back at Atheism

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