- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 11 hours and 59 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
- Audible.com Release Date: February 5, 2007
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B000N6U41G
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic Audiobook – Unabridged
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Chalmers Johnson was one of the first Americans to recognize that our actions will have repercussions and he coined the term "blowback". This book is a good introduction to his thinking and will help broaden the perspective and add to the understanding of those with an open mind. I appreciate that having an open mind is not at all common in the United States where bigotry rules the day. It is far easier for the elites to control a population when they are able to set one faction against another.
Nemesis covers a range of topics to support Johnson's primary thesis and warning.
First, he points out how militarism may contribute to the breakdown of constitutional government. Johnson supplies many examples but history could certainly provide more including the downfall of Napoleon III.
Second, Johnson compares the American Empire with the Roman and British Empires. Actually Johnson's thesis is one of hope and optimism for he relates how Rome was unable to turn from military imperialistic goals and restore a republic yet Great Britian was able to gradually lose an empire but strengthen its democratic and republican political structures. The American people however are not ready for this message from Johnson and therefore it must fall to a few insightful folks to steer America to a stronger committment to democratic republic principles as a series of economic crisis begin to remind Americans that we are not invulnerable.
Third, Johnson offers us a biting criticism of the CIA with its lack of performance and accountability.
Fourth, the expansive network of military bases and the wide claims of our military industrial complex are explored.
Fifth, Johnson offers the most original analysis and critique of the Star Wars program that I have seen in print. This chapter is worth the price of the book.
Finally, Johnson offers hope in that an empowered citizen body in the US must constantly monitor the processes and activities of our government. The issues are tremendously complex and thankfully we have political scientists such as Chalmers Johnson who are willing to do the hard work of putting all the puzzle pieces together to provide us a clear picture of a disturbing future unless we strengthen America's democratic republic roots and decrease the power of an imperial presidency and a government run in secret.
"Keynesianism" is named for the great British economist John Maynard Keynes who wrote "The Economic Consequences of the Peace" (about the disastrous economic consequences of the Versaille Treaty - which would eventually lead to Hitler), "The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money" published in 1936 and other influential books. In his writings and public career he developed a scheme to save captitalist economies from cycles of boom and bust as well as the severe decline of consumer spending that occurs in periods of depression. To prevent the economy from contracting and the social unrest that might ensue, Keynes thought that the government should step in, and, through deficit spending, put people back to work. Conversely, during periods of prosperity, he thought government should cut spending and rebuild the treasury. He called his plan counter-cyclical "pump-priming."
During the New Deal in the 1930s the United States put Keynesianism into practice with great success but they also saw the rudimentary beginnings of a backlash. Conservative capitalists feared that too much government intervention would delegitimate and demystify capitalism as an economic system that works by allegedly "quasi-natural laws." They also feared that too much spending on social welfare might shift the balance of power in society from the capitalist class to the working class and its unions. At first they tried to hold back counter-cyclical spending but World War II intervened and unleashed a torrent of public funds for weapons.
The term "Military Keynesianism" was coined in 1943 by the Polish economist in exile Micha Kalecki to explain Nazi Germany's success in overcoming the Great Depression and achieving full employment. Before World War II Hitler was celebrated around for world for having achieved a "German economic miracle." However, this was accomplished by employing counter cyclical pump-priming for military purposes. The military thus becomes an employer of last resort, like the old Civilian Conservation Corps but on a much larger scale. The negative aspects of Military Keynesianism include its encouragement of militarism and the potential to encourage a military-industrial complex. Such a complex sooner or later short circuits Keynes insistence that government spending be cut back in times of nearly full employment - in other words it becomes a permanent institution whose "pump" must always be primed.
The two most prominent generals in our history have given us warnings of the dangers militarism in a democracy. George Washington, in his farewell address, warns about the threat of standing armies to liberty, and particularly republican liberty. And perhaps the more famous one, Dwight Eisenhower, also in in his farewell address, where he invented the phrase "military-industrial complex" - he wanted to say "military-industrial-congressional complex" but was advised not to go that far. Today, fifty years later, the "miitary-industrial-congressional complex" is a fact of life and has permeated into all but a handful of Congressional districts.
The Pentagon tries to conceal the real cost of the military in various ways. There are numerous military activities not carried on by the Dept. of Defense and are, therefore, not part of the Defense Budget. Adding the non-Defense Deptartment expenditures, the supplemental approriations for whatever wars are being fought at the time, and the military contruction budget to the Defense Appropriations Bill actuallly doubles what the government calls the annual defnse budget. It is an amount larger than all other defense budgets on earth. Still to be covered are interest payments for the cost of past wars going back to 1916!
The combination of huge standing armies, almost continuous wars, and ruinous military expenses have destroyed our republican structure in favor an imperial presidency. Once a nation is started down that path, the dynamics that apply to all empires come into play: isolation, overstretch, the uniting of forces opposed to imperialsim and bankruptcy. Our present policies appear to be unsustainable; we can't go on like this indefinitely. As Herbert Stein, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors during the Nixon Administration, once famously said: "Things that can't go on forever, don't."
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