Another Cover for Michael Hudson's 'Super Imperialism'
(Image by Steven Lesh) Permission Details DMCA
The globe spanning scope of the current American BDSP (see The Big Dick School of American Patriotism, and What We Make of It) is the only thing new under the sun. Just as the feudal nobility used advances in agricultural techniques to make war on each other instead of improving the lives of their peasants, the neo-feudal nobility of the lords of finance, their hired hands in Washington and of course their global police force - the US military, have appropriated for themselves the continuing advances in science and technology that gave birth to the Industrial Revolution. Prior to WWII the aspirations of the neo-feudal nobility in the US and around the world were limited to geographically proximate neighbors.
But advances in communications and transportation technology combined with the disastrous consequences in Europe and around the world of attempted new conquests employing modern military technology convinced the neo-feudal nobility in every country except the US of the futility of this line of endeavor. What they were looking for was something, anything, to do with the 'surpluses' - i.e. anything above the bare minimums required for physical subsistence - produced by their peasants.
They found it in the US market of last resort, the only 'indispensible nation' whose people had undergone a half-century's training in the art of conspicuous consumption and waste (CCW). The US neo-feudal nobility, however, had much grander ambitions. Realizing that the dwindling resources of the continent they 'inherited'(?) would not indefinitely support the American business model, based as it was on CCW and depth-marketing, it decided to focus on military and financial as opposed to commercial domination of the globe.
Despite some grumbling by European bookkeepers and people like France's Charles De Gaulle, the Western world's ruling classes went along with this arrangement because it gave them something to do with these "surpluses" (see The Global Minotaur: America, the True Origins of the Financial Crisis and the Future of the World Economy (Economic Controversies), Yanis Varoufakis). Their only condition was that the money they were piling up in this process be able to 'store value' - an essential function of money for those who have more than they will ever be able to use. But the ambitions of the US ruling class were too large to be constrained by details like financial solvency.
US and Western bankers, financiers and of course 'useful idiots' in the economics profession provided the US ruling class invaluable assistance in transcending the limits of financial solvency by convincing the world's real wealth producers - or rather their masters - that 'debts that can't be repaid' somehow would be. They had a little help from the Saudis who arranged for theirs and other OPEC members' oil to back the US dollar once the gold the US had acquired selling other Western nations the means to destroy each other and promised as backing for the US dollar at Bretton Woods ran out.
But by far the biggest aid for the US ruling class in assembling its "Empire of Debt" was Western civilization's confusion of money with wealth. With the advent of fractional reserve banking and other forms of 'financial engineering', by far the largest portion of the world's money is literally debt. In the half-century since the demise of Bretton Woods the United States and other Western nations following its business model of finance capitalism have become 'debt creators' not 'wealth creators'.
As for the US military, where once its mission was as "a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers", with the U.S. assumption from Britain of the role as the world's banker, i.e. it's money ('reserve currency') creator, that mission has taken on the more cosmopolitan flavor of being the world's policeman. How else to enforce the legal tender status of the ex nihilo money being created not just by its own bankers and financiers but by Europe's as well?
That's what is at stake in Greece, in the US confrontation with Russia and ultimately with China. And that is why the present world situation is so dangerous. The West must go back to real wealth creation. The rest of the world is no longer buying - or rather selling for - its ex nihilo money. Trying to force the issue in an era of mutually assured destruction is still MAD.
* ...a type of field theory that allows all that is usually thought of as fundamental forces and elementary particles to be written in terms of a single field., en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unified_field_theory.