Wednesday, May 05, 2004

The Clash of Civilizations

The year: 2043. The EU (since admitting Japan, the “Eurasian Union”) has become the world’s only HyperPower. The US, along with China, has been demoted to mere SuperPower status.

Within the EU there is growing concern about America's weapons of mass destruction as well as its ongoing human rights violations. In addition to stubbornly retaining the death penalty and allowing its citizens virtually unrestricted access to fire arms, the US remains one of the last nations on earth to resist the establishment of a socialist-democratic welfare state. While all nations in the EU have achieved 100% adult literacy and fund higher education, through the graduate level, for all citizens who qualify, the US continues to regard effective education as a luxury item for the elite--the majority of children are warehoused and, in the better public schools, entertained.

As a consequence, productivity has steadily declined in the US and the economy remains stagnant while the gap between rich and poor continues to grow. In short, the US has joined the "Third World": a small group of technocrats and families of the hereditary plutocracy enjoy lives of fabulous opulence in gated communities while the greater part of the population, without hereditary wealth or the education to participate in a labor market that requires a high level of technical skills, are locked out. Each year an increasing percentage of the GDP goes to fund security--police, private security guards, increasingly high tech surveillance equipment and prisons.

Sigrid Eriksdottir, Prime Manager of the EU, in consultation with her advisors, has finally made the decision to invade the US in order to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction and initiate regime change. "We're going to disable their nukes, take out that cowboy George Bush III, liberate the American people and make the world safe for Democratic Socialism," she says, in the perfect English which all citizens of EU nations speak as their second language. "Americans will welcome our forces as liberators."

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, George Bush III holds a war council with his advisors in a reinforced, lead-lined bunker a mile underground, fitted with shocks and McPherson struts to absorb the vibration of falling bombs. Bush's staff sociologists have assured him that, contrary to Eriksdottir's predictions, Americans will not welcome EU forces as liberators; indeed, they predict that the majority will fight to the death to preserve the American Way of Life. He has also been advised that the US may get military support from the UK, Canada, Australia and even a number of nations in Anglophone Africa if he plays his cards right.

Above ground, ordinary citizens prepare for war: most have no interest in being "liberated" by the EU and do not understand why Eriksdottir has decided to invade. Stubbornly monoglot, with little interest in the world outside the US, they get all their information about "Old Europe" from the American media, which portrays Europeans as decadent sissies who spend most of their time participating in bi-sexual orgies.

Inflamed by the preaching of fundamentalist Protestant televangelists and Muslim mullahs (Islam has become a major force in the US), the masses vow to resist. Most have little interest in issues or ideologies—they just want to defend their homeland. A sizeable minority however are concerned, with good reason, that an EU invasion and subsequent occupation will undermine their culture and take away what they hold dear: the right to buy guns, to have their kids taught Creationism in the public schools, to eat junk food and to drive SUVs.

By contrast, most members of the elite outside of the President's small coterie are eager for the invasion. They wish the US had joined the EU years ago and established a humane welfare state. They do not own guns or want their children taught Creationism and, privileged though they are, would prefer to live like citizens of other affluent nations, without gates, bars, security guards and beggars in the streets.

Eriksdottir is shocked when her sociological reconnaissance team reports that there will be resistance from the very Americans who would benefit most from liberation--the masses who get least from the conservative economic policies that are locked into place in the US and who are least able to isolate themselves from the violence, crime and public disorder that are pervasive. This isn't the way Marx said it was supposed to be.

Neo-liberals in the US, looking forward to the invasion and occupation, are not surprised. They have known for decades that the real "clash of civilizations" is not between the East and West, as it had been during the Cold war, between the North and South or between Christendom and Islam. It is between the Enlightenment and Traditional Societies, between the educated, cosmopolitan upper middle class around the world and the tribal masses in the US as well as elsewhere.

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