January 30, 2009 (the date of publication in Russian)
PERESTROIKA, AMERICAN STYLE?
From Leonid Ilyich Bush to Mikhail Sergeyevich Obama
The White House has got a new master. While a lonely George W. Bush is circling on his bike around his Texas rancho, crowd-puller Barack Obama is studying a new role. The young actor of the American political scene fascinates crowds with his brilliant speech and romantic promises of change for the nation and "New Thinking" for the rest of the world. Russians have experienced something of that sort in late 1980s.
If we continue the parallel between the last years of the USSR and today's United States, we'll find a lot of similarities. For instance, Bush's eight-year tenure has got much in common with the reign of General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev.
Brezhnev's USSR once became a hostage of an inefficient planned economy which the Politburo was uneager to revise. Similarly, the United States entered Bush's era in a period of relatively prosperous stagnation, preceding a devastating crisis of financial capitalism, or neo-globalism, that the United States had earlier spread across the whole planet – a crisis the establishment failed to foresee and prevent though symptoms of its approach were plenty.
In the USSR, decisions were made by the griping nomenklatura (Communist Party bureaucrats), musty Marxist dogmatists, and bullet-proof hawks. In the United States, the federal fat jobs were grabbed by minions of transnational corporations: avaricious financial tycoons like Henry Paulson, and militant neocons like Dick Cheney, while the globalization paradigm was considered "true and therefore omnipotent".
In the USSR of late 1970s, Politburo corruptionists felt secure under the rule of a senile, half-conscious Leonid Brezhnev who amused collectors of anecdotes with soggy speeches about the progress of the international Communist movement followed with a ritual of "continuous and hearty applause". Twenty years later, the American "nomenklatura" endorsed a similarly comical figure of a straightforward, sentimental and sincerely religious George W. Bush, who viewed the primitive recipe of "colored revolutions" as advanced technology of contemporary crusade.
After the efforts of exporting "true Marxism-Leninism" into a rebellious Czechoslovakia and a factionalized Moslem-dominated Afghanistan, the Soviet Union lost its reputation of the global torch of justice; the fraternal Communist establishment of the Warsaw Pact was losing popularity as well; pro-Western dissidents multiplied across the whole Soviet area of influence. After the efforts of exporting "pluralistic democracy" to Iraq and the same Afghanistan that appeared to be even bloodier and even less efficient, even the closest European allies grew weary of American dictate, while anti-globalist dissidentry flooded the streets of Western cities.
Facing a structural crisis, the late Soviet and present American establishments quite similarly responded to mounting challenges. The Communist nomenklatura eventually initiated a large-scale reform, ostensibly trying to adapt the economy to the international market, and unofficially intending to multiply and legitimate the fortunes it had accumulated. For relevant purposes, they required a new figure with an internationally acceptable image, strikingly different from the senile performance of Brezhnev's generation. Sincerely dreaming of a "burgeoning creativity of masses", a romantic Mikhail Gorbachov inspired the society with the ideas of perestroika and building a new "Socialism with a human face" like that dreamed of by Czech dissidents, and to sacrifice the militant posture for the sake of "trans-civilizational values" (care for an individual; charity; repentance of past atrocities), internationally dubbed "new thinking".
However, the "correction of Socialism" implied an intensified and yet unofficial privatization of potentially lucrative assets of state property, for which the propaganda of new liberties in Soviet Socialist republics seemed to be a great advantage. However, the ensuing clash of ambitions, along with subtly developing criminalization of the establishment, exploded into devastating inter-ethnic wars in the Caucasus and Central Asia, and to unbridled secessionism in the Baltic republics. Thus, the freshening wind of change transformed into a hurricane that eventually blew off Mr. Gorbachov himself from the scene. Quite naturally, a more energetic and power-thirsty brand of the same generation of CPSU bureaucracy, personified by Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kravchuk, got rid of the Communist party machine, thus pleasing the former ideological enemy, and at the same time, hoping to secure and multiply the personal capitals converted into power.
Two decades later, the US corporate establishment got similarly dissatisfied with the rusty political machine, endorsing a young man with a shining charisma, strikingly different from recent predecessors. Like Gorbachov, Barack Obama performs as a sincere idealist, while his motto of "hope" and "change" is fascinating masses in the same way as the slogan of perestroika in the Soviet Union. The new president promises to get rid of the dictate of the Wall Street's globalist financial "nomenklatura", to impose additional taxes on corporate business, to implement affordable medical aid and education – in other words, to "build capitalism with a human face". Trying to improve the battered international image of America, Mr. Obama admits that the intervention in Iraq was a political mistake, and promises to care of the whole humanity.
However, the American engineers of perestroika are hardly committed to implement real changes the population is dreaming of. The attractive young leader serves as a convenient shield for redivision of power. Using their career opportunity, old "apparatchiks" of the Clinton team are controlling the diplomacy and the financial policy. Obama’s dreams of a Roosevelt change are stumbling against liberal dogmatism of globalist mastodons like Paul Volcker, Larry Summers, and Timothy Geithner. The promised change is likely to turn a clash in the establishment, motivated with egoistic ambitions. Meanwhile, the closest allies of Mr. Obama are already foreseeing new large-scale bloodshed. Vice President Joseph Biden forecasts a new version of the Caribbean crisis, while an old "Washington Politburo" member Zbigniew Brzezinski hopes to use his influence in Central Asia and China for the "balkanization" of Eurasia and a new strategy of containing and breaking-up Russia.
Still, the attempts of the US "globalist nomenklatura" to keep the existing order afloat encounters the reality of a developing international financial crisis that may eventually force the establishment to change the decoration of neoliberal capitalism for a "globo-Socialist" label, under rule of a converted faction of financial aristocracy. The new generation of this establishment is likely to use the bankruptcy of transnational corporate assets for a cheap privatization. The ensuing collision, in the atmosphere of instability and turbulence, is fraught with a new series of bloody wars across the globe. The ensuing chaos will induce the engineers of American perestroika to elaborate a new method of control of the planet, possibly under the guise of an ostensible change of paradigm, though methods of manipulation may become more brutal than ever before. In a recent article in The Independent, another old "Washington Politburo" member Henry Kissinger formulated the new crucial dilemma: a global chaos, or construction of a new political center.
This author would be glad to be mistaken in his forecast. Sincerely wishing Mr. Obama to fulfill is promises to change the world to the better, putting an end to colonialist wars and cooperating with other nations in building a multipolar world system. However, in case the romantic young leader really tries to implement the ideas of Lincoln and Kennedy, he might share their hard lot.
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