The Year of the Dead Cat: The End of Globalisation, the Rise of Jefferson
By Bernie Quigley
- for The Hill on 3/19/09
2009 could be the Year of the Dead Cat; Wall St.’s phrase for a market that falls, then bounces back to life. But I don’t think the cat is coming back this time. This time all of Wall Street has failed. If the cat doesn’t come back, it could bring the end of globalization: The end of the globalization of capital and culture as well, as both are hooked up together.
Globalization was always an illusion. It was simply an extension of American influence in the world at a time in our history when circumstances gave us extended influence. Globalization was an extension of Hamilton’s government-sponsored capitalism envisioned to expand across the universe.
Oddly enough, globalization may have been killed off intentionally by the Republicans in the Bush administration which saw only part of the world as its pasture and the rest belonging to The Others.
I first heard of the end of globalization when John Ralston Saul, the Canadian author and essayist and the husband of Canada’s then-Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, made a few public comments on the new Bush administration. He made the point that when Bush signed on to the “preemptive doctrine” it bought an end to globalization and a return to the nation-state. History may prove him right.
The Canadian press got a good laugh out of it (and they are very good at that), but I thought he was right. Because what disappeared when Bush came to office was the illusion that we Americans live in a world without walls and given the choice, everyone in the world would want to be just like us.
We were at the turning point anyway. The Chinese and the Indians were about to seize all the chips and nothing could be done about it by the Adam Smith playbook. Certainly, they would not take second seat under Bush, Obama or anyone else, once they became first in the world. It is no where in human nature to do so. Especially in ancient regimes which were previously occupied and colonized by the English
Enter Dick Cheney, the Republican Party’s answer to Sid Vicious. Cheney, like the medieval torturer in Kafka’s great story, “In the Penal Colony,” was born to play an end-game. He was always the working class day hop pandering to the Old School; the panting and adoring provincial from the heartland, tagging-along with first-class Republicans like Ronald Reagan and gentry like George Bush the Elder.
But what was odd about these new Bush, Jr. Republicans was that they did not seem to care about money any more at all. They cared about church. They passed the dirty work of oil and capital, and the tawdry issues of influence peddling with desert sheiks, over to Dick Cheney. Just as Jimmy Carter passed his peanut farm over to brother Billy when he went to Washington, D.C. You decide, Dick. Whatever. Of course, when President Carter went back to the farm four years later, there wasn’t much left. Like this.
Anyway, most of the big boys were already moving from New York and Texas to Singapore and Shanghai, leaving the ranch to the young ‘uns.
We have lived in two ages since Vietnam: The Age of Leadership and Excellence and the Age of Diversity and Globalization.
James A. Baker, when working as Chief of Staff for Ronald Reagan, is said to have gotten so tired of hearing the expressing, “leadership and excellence” that he rigged the White House computers to fail when someone used the expression.
We love clichés: They bond us. But soon the Age of Leadership and Excellence would yield to another. When the Age of Diversity and Globalization rose at the beginning of the Clinton period, it was difficult for a journalist to go an afternoon without hearing the phrase.
Now we’ve come to the end of that as well and it could bring something entirely different.
I would think there would be potential for a third party or even a regional party, as regionalism may be our destiny if globalization fails. We will have to begin to look at the shape, content and utility of our own package and tool it up to fit the new economic times an circumstances.
In that regard, the stakes today are higher than they have ever been since 1865. It could well be that Jefferson’s vision of a “decentralized” country would be the practical and obvious model after the Hamiltonian vision of an all-powerful Centralized (World) Bank and Government and “one size fits all federalism” had filled the west and filled the world then suddenly turned back.
Once it has run its course different economic groups and types of regional character and community tier economies could begin to develop across the continent out of economic necessity. Especially since the red states are looking to great wealth ahead as some of the best forecasters predict, while the big cities face abandonment.
I grew up in a city of 150 empty factories so it is a reality which is close by, and one which we remain in denial. Part of Obama’s New Great Depression delusion is global; the world is not flat broke as it was in the 1930s; some parts look to gain in the turmoil, others will fail. Part of the delusion is local: The regional economies are not universally flat across the country as they were in the 1930s; the farm and mining states have inherent wealth; they will be punished under the new federal initiatives.
The west is filled. The regions and communities have developed their own souls and characteristics. Possibly federalism, like globalization, is running to the end of its course.
I remember calling the President of a junior college in Florida with a question at the beginning of the Age of Diversity and Globalization. As soon as I identified myself and said I wanted to ask about such and such, she said the answer was, “Diversity and globalization.”
I said, “I haven’t asked the question yet.”
Now the Age of Diversity and Globalization has ended. It will be time to change the buzz words again. Maybe something about gold, devolution of power to regional circles of responsibility and Austrian economics?
How about the Age of Jefferson?