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Opinion » Columnists

The American Nightmare

30.08.2010
 
Pages: 12
The American Nightmare

By Hans Vogel

There once was the “American Dream.” To be sure, first this dream was American in the true sense of the word, pertaining to the entire continent from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. Before long, however, the adjective “American” was hijacked and applied with appalling single-mindedness to the US exclusively. This operation has been so successful that today to most people in the world, “American” is synonymous with “US”.

Yet one ought to remember that once the American Dream could be chased not only in the US, but in Canada, Brazil, Cuba, Venezuela Argentina and Uruguay as well. Since the mid-1800s the latter, like the US, have also attracted millions upon millions of Europeans in search of a better, freer and more comfortable life. Until quite recently, many of them were indeed rewarded for their efforts. Their labor has forever transformed the face of the New World.

The golden years for the “American Dream” (referring to the US exclusively) began after the end of World War II and lasted for about a half century. Its definitive end came when the New York Twin Towers collapsed. In hindsight, the signs of decay in the US were visible before 9/11, but since then the American Dream is being shattered in ever smaller pieces, with ever diminishing chances of being put together again.

True to the cherished European myths about the New World, everything in the Americas seems beyond the scale of what Europeans are accustomed to: bigger portions on your plate, a faster-paced life, and bigger fortunes when things go well. But when they go sour, the demise also seems faster and its scale bigger.

Curiously enough, US administrations seem intent on accelerating the destruction of the American Dream and the very infrastructure that made it possible in the first place. It now seems eons ago when US presidents only got themselves into wars they could win, or at least wars from which they and their friends could reap handsome profits at minimal cost. For instance during World War II and Korea, the US tried to leave the fighting and dying to others.

It took the Vietnam War for the US to realize that the time of easy war fighting were over. But instead of drawing the right conclusions, the US has rushed headlong into expensive, unwinnable colonial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, due to the rapacious policies of a ruthless ruling class devoid of any sense of responsibility whatsoever, the US middle class is being chased out of its homes, jobs and colleges. And if that weren't enough, it is being robbed of its savings through cleverly masked fraudulent schemes such as Obamacare.

Today, 40 million out of 300 million people in the US are on the dole and many millions more are set to join their ranks. Most of the national wealth is concentrated in the hands of a small percentage of the population. They include banksters pocketing bonuses and salaries running into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

At the same time, the conversion of the US into a single giant prison, has been proceeding apace. Whereas back in the 19th century, Russia was sometimes characterized as the prison of peoples, today the US is truly a prison of individuals. Nowhere in the world are there more people in jail than in the US. Nowhere in the world are so many people under some form of penal surveillance, such as the millions on parole.

The government tries to control every movement by every citizen, subjecting them to humiliating and degrading searches at airports, public buildings and sports events. Just as Tocqueville, the perceptive French observer predicted in the 1830s, the US has now been turned into a panopticum, the perfect prison envisioned by Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. New legislation under way is set to eliminate the remaining aspects of freedom. Laws to make downloading illegal (ACTA), to outlaw the growing of vegetables without a government permit, to make jokes or to call people names illegal. The list is long and defies belief.

One could say the US ruling class is trying to dehumanize life. No doubt the ruling class believes it can continue living a comfortable life while making it miserable for their less fortunate countrymen. Indeed they might, for a while. But eventually the Frankenstein monster they are creating will turn against them.

Now that the US has become one giant prison, its streets patrolled by swaggering, overweight and brutal policemen, it is attempting to impose its dreary way of life (if that is what it can still be called) on the rest of the world.

However, if the world was once willing to adopt the American Dream and accept a change in life style to make it more like life in the US, it is to be doubted the world is willing to be turned into a US style prison, a kind of globalized Guantanamo. The American Dream was once sold to the world by the friendly cigarette smoking, gum chewing, coke-drinking GI. Today's salesmen of the American Nightmare are less friendly. They are often mean, crack smoking, coke-sniffing desperadoes, killing Third-World civilians.

There once was a time when the US produced good salesmen. They found a warm welcome because they sold quality goods made in the US. Today the good salesmen have been replaced by shifty-eyed marketeers with nothing to sell, because the once flourishing US industry has been offshored to China and elsewhere.

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