Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Negative effects of ethnic sub-nationalism in the United States

With Donald Trump emerging as the Republican Party front-runner for the US presidential election, issues pertaining to ethnic sub-nationalism have once again come to the fore.

These issues had come forth during the election of President Barack Obama, but gradually subsided after it became clear that President Obama enjoyed the support of a wide array of groups and the entire ethnic sub-nationalism aspect was quietly buried.

In contrast to those times, the present electoral cycle seems to emphasize discord between ethnic sub-national groups and this has implications for global security. As the US is often used by the people of other nations (such as India) to model the behavior of a large multi-cultural multi-ethnic democracy, any visible failure in the US to check divisive forces has indirect consequences for other nations that seek to replicate the "US model".

The main issue of contention in the current US electoral cycle is the declining quality of life for "White" Americans. I put the word "White" in quotes because this is a self identification category and given the extremely diverse groups of people it contains - it is difficult to characterize this as a monolithic block with common cultural and economic purpose. I find this label to be similar to the label "Hindu" in India, it means too many things to too many people and an clear definition is quite impossible.

That being said, we can divide the "White" population into three basic groups of people:

  1. "White" people of traceable ancestry with significant amounts of social and monetary capital and a history of hereditary wealth transfer. These are the equivalents of the Hindu "upper castes".  
  2. "White" people with less than traceable roots which may be co-mingled with other ethnic labels or groupings. These people also possess significant wealth and own property but do not have significant amounts of hereditary wealth transfer. These roughly correspond to the bourgeois in Marxist terms.  
  3. "White" people that mirror the French sans culottes , with no traceable ancestry, little wealth and living in rented homes. 
The American "White" upper-castes are secure in their wealth. There is little that touches their sense of security except perhaps improperly cut heroin or cocaine. Living in gated communities, they remain disconnected from the economic realities of the surrounding countryside. Again nothing terribly different from India or many other countries.

The situation in the countryside is however quite grim. The boom and bust cycle of the last decade has adversely affected the bourgeois and the sans culottes. The bourgeois have seen the value of their investments (especially property and retirement accounts) decline rapidly. The sans culottes have seen their job security disappear and most are finding it hard to support a lifestyle that emphasizes spending over saving. Collectively speaking these groups are finding their upward social mobility restricted.

The US government has been working hard to do what it can to help the bourgeois and the sans culottes. A vast portion of the US budget is devoted to welfare, social security and medicare. The "socialist" programs provide vital safety net for the sans culottes. In addition to this the federal and state budgets support a significant amount of agro-economic activities with subsidies.

For the bourgeois, the government has basically been bleeding money into the financial networks, programs like TARP (started at the height of the 2008 economic crash) basically funnel money to banks, who then funnel it into the stock market, and those stocks effectively funnel money into the IRAs of the bourgeois.

While such measures would have worked to increase productivity in any other economy, in the US these measures are failing. The most likely reason I can think of for this failure is that the bulk of the money spent by the US government is going towards servicing the needs of older citizens. Older US citizens benefit the most from social security, medicare and draw on IRAs for their living expenses. The unfortunate fact is that these older citizens do not work and therefore do not directly contribute to the productivity of the US.

This failure to induce productivity is significantly increasing the anxiety in the bourgeois and the sans culottes. A majority do not understand that the cause for the failure lies in the structure of entitlement spending and suspicion of the government has grown significantly in this section of the population.

The most common fallacy which it paraded as the likely cause of the ineffectiveness of government spending is that the government money is going to less deserving "others" (i.e. non-"White" citizens) or "immigrants" (allegedly "illegal Mexicans") who don't even "pay taxes".  This notion is completely bereft of facts and as it is so completely a lie - a lot of people actually believe it(*) and this is at the root of the identity politics we are seeing play out in the US electoral cycle today.

The picture that often comes to mind when listening to "White"folk talk about misuse of government funds is that of a UN food delivery truck that approaches a crowd of starving people in some god-forsaken country in Africa. That is how the bourgeois and the sans culottes feel these days - there is an air of desperation. The certainty that entitlements like social security and medicare are going have to eventually be cut down is scaring people and making them act in ways unbecoming of good citizens.

The "White" people v/s non-"White" people dynamic is gaining ground and it is unclear what (if anything) will break this wave of negative sentiments. The Donald Trump campaign seeks to exploit these sentiments for personal gain, but The Donald himself seems oblivious to the consequences of unleashing the American social animus like this. The "Make American Great Again" campaign seems totally (perhaps deliberately) ignorant of the deep social costs of their electoral tactics.

There is a reason we keep the national social animus chained in the basement. When it is let loose, all manner of hell comes forth. The animus in general is capable of great things, but it is also capable of terrible things. Perhaps people in the US just don't get that - I suppose it is only fair - they haven't been through what Germany went through in WWII or Cambodia went through during the Rouge period, or what the Rwandans saw in the late 90s or what Afghanistan saw during the Taliban period. In all those places "Great" things were accomplished but at an unacceptably high cost.

The average American mind simply has no comprehension of this and so led by unparalleled levels of buffoonery - the American voter seems quite content to march to certain doom.

* A complete and utter lie is easy to believe because it is compact and has no baggage of proof. The truth however comes with a lot of evidence, so you not only have to remember the truth, you also have to remember the facts that back it up - this makes it an emotionally and mentally unwieldy piece of information - and that makes it easier to reject.


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