By DR FARID A. MALIK
September 2008 proved to be deadly for the financial sector of USA. There was a complete melt down, the icons of the capitalist order (Lehman Brothers, Sachs Goldman etc) fell. The president intervened to save them. A bailout package of $700 billion has been approved by the congress to keep the ‘sharks’ alive. Every US citizen while have to chip-in $2300 so that he can be manipulated and exploited all over gain.
In the nineties the mighty USSR collapsed like a house of cards. Economic mismanagement and the war in Afghanistan were blamed for the debacle. There was no bailout. Despite resources the union could not survive. Mikhail Garbochov was blamed for the fall of the superpower. History will render its final verdict whether the man was a hero or villain.
After dismembering USSR the capitalist onslaught reached China. There was a major show down in the famous Tiananmen Square. The army crushed the uprising and China kept its Socialist order with gradual transition to free market economy. The country is poised to be a superpower of this century with reserves of over a trillion dollars and record growth rates. Like the USSR, USA is bankrupt, its economic order in total disarray. The Soviet’s were fighting next door in Afghanistan while the Americans are involved in two major international conflicts thousand of miles away. It is perhaps the beginning of the end of the might ‘Capitalist Empire’. Economic managers have surrendered while the ‘military commanders’ seek dialogue with the enemy.
The capitalist order is based on competition and survival of the fittest. It does not believe in doles or bailout as it is against the basic principles of free market economy. Exploitation and manipulation has always been a part and parcel of the capitalist order. Financial institutions made huge profits over the years and operated like sharks ruling the waters of the free market. Now they have lost their fins to attack the weak and needy. The US and the International Financial Establishment are trying to protect and preserve these modern day Shylocks by passing the burden on to the common man.
In USA, presidential elections are round the corner. Obama may win but there will be so much mess to deal with that his first term in office will be consumed. Carter faced a similar situation when he became the head of state. He was perhaps the ablest person to occupy the White House but could not win a second term in office due to the establishment onslaught.
Democratic lawmakers voted against the bail out bill but were later convinced of a much larger collapse if the package was not supported. Reluctantly the money was approved by the congress enabling the sharks to sharpen their fins. The stranglehold of the establishment is complete and over-whelming even the elected representatives of the sole superpower are helpless otherwise they risk loosing their seats. The USSR collapsed due to lack of public participation while the US is at the verge due to establishment stranglehold where people’s mandate has lost value.
Pakistan has always been a US ally and has suffered immensely for being unipolar. The two Afghan wars have destroyed the very basic fabric of the nation and a bailout of $100 billion is urgently needed. It is the least that a superpower can do for a friend in need. After all US is responsible for the mess both in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The big question is whether the US will be able to bailout an ally is distress? The president is not taking chances, his visit to China has historic value while the US is receding, China is an emerging superpower. This is the Chinese century and together with Asia the financial prowess is moving east words. Redistribution of power and wealth seems obvious.
Once in collapse the USSR was unable to help any of its allies. Infact it has taken over a decade for Moscow to recover and Russia to emerge form the debris of USSR. According to experts $700 billion are not enough to save the US financial decline. It will take time for US to recover and re-emerge from this crisis; it can hardly be of assistance to a distant ally.
While USSR is history China is the future with US dwindling? As a nation it is in our interests to latch on to the future and let the dwindles dwindle.
A democratic Pakistan has to carve its own niche. With a population of about 164 million and vast potential to produce both food and fuel there is not much to worry once peace comes to this ravaged land. A glorious future awaits the Islamic Republic provided we focus inwards, protect ourselves from establishment fascism and learn from historical superpower collapse. No empire can survive forever both USSR and USA will now join the archives like the British, Roman and Greek Empires that once were dominates global forces.
The writer is ex-chairman of the Pakistan Science Foundation
Source: The Nation, 23/10/2008