Going supernova

     Going supernova

Blog no. 163.

The brilliant point of light is the explosion of a star that has reached the end of its life, otherwise known as a supernova. Supernovae can briefly outshine entire galaxies and radiate more energy than our sun will in its entire lifetime…..Theoretical studies indicate that most supernovae are triggered by one of two basic mechanisms: the sudden re-ignition of nuclear fusion in a degenerate star or the sudden gravitational collapse of a massive star’s core. In the first instance, a degenerate white dwarf may accumulate sufficient material from a binary companion, either through accretion or via a merger, to raise its core temperature enough to trigger runaway nuclear fusion, completely disrupting the star…..

If you take in the bigger picture through a telescope, you might, if you are lucky, find a supernova during its brief incandescence, as a brilliant point of light in a distant galaxy. However, a more immediately useful study could be made through your PC on planet Earth. Under President Trump’s myopic nationalism, the American empire looks set to enjoy a final burst of radiance. Pessimists might argue that a degenerate white dwarf is accumulating sufficient material from companion nations within its gravitational field…to trigger runaway nuclear fusion. It is certainly a possibility – but maybe, we can get to a point where the degenerate white dwarf divests itself of its binary companion empire before any such nuclear meltdown occurs.

President Trump’s initiatives have resulted in a surge in GDP, the stock-market is booming as never before, unemployment is down to its lowest level in years. His acolyte, Newt Gingrich is writing paeans of praise to the flowering of this spectacular economic success. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/newt-gingrich-trumps-gdp-achieves-mission-impossible-and-shocks-his-critics Economists are foretelling an imminent surge of wealthy foreigners’ ‘flight’ capital that will fill the USA’s cornucopia to overflowing.

The selfishness and apparent unpredictability (to those that, despite the frankness of his utterances, still do not understand what he is about) of Trump’s actions, make the USA an attractive haven of last resort. Even those, who believe they can predict Washington’s next move on the political and economic world stage, still have reason to be unsettled. No one can predict, with any degree of certainty, the possible consequences of introducing such rapid changes to the world script: the whole show could collapse in total disorder. In light of the above, Trump’s America appears ever more attractive as a safe (-ish) haven to capital that no longer has confidence in the security or profitability of its home economy.

But the spectacular florescence that Trump’s presidency has induced, comes at a cost not just to the rest of the world, but also (irrespective of whether or not you are an advocate of empire) to the future of America. The USA is being dragged apart by a no-holds-barred struggle between the neo-con/neo-liberal forces, with their careers and self-regard invested in the maintenance and development of global empire, and the wealthy elite of libertarians, who simply want to make more money and pay fewer taxes. I would recommend anyone reading this blog to take the trouble to read this article by Gareth Porter. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/50373.htm

To understand where the libertarians are coming from, I can recommend no better book than ‘Dark Money’ by Jane Moyer. https://www.amazon.com/Dark-Money-History-Billionaires-Radical/dp/0307947904

Moyer goes into nauseating detail as to how the wealthy elites (Charles Koch and that ilk) conspired to use their fortunes to move the post WWII American consensus, which was overwhelmingly liberal and globalist, into increasingly enthusiastic acceptance of the current libertarian culture. Trump is a typical product of this wealth-implanted value-system: extreme selfishness financially: no helping hands to be offered to others in society (or to other societies): no wasteful involvement in almost inevitably unsuccessful overseas wars: big government shrunk down to little government: environmental and health and safety regulatory obstacles to profit-making removed: and so on and so on.

Humanity is at a juncture when all nations face the twin threats of a nuclear disaster and of climate change, both of which threats can only be avoided through close international cooperation. America has chosen this moment to embark on a campaign to discredit the rule of international law and of those institutions erected to aid cooperation between nations.

Trump’s great-again America has the military and financial muscle to throw its weight around in negotiations with other nations in an uninhibited search for zero-sum win/lose outcomes. Trump’s recent speech to the UN General Assembly (“We reject the ideology of globalism and accept the doctrine of patriotism”) makes no attempt to hide the new America’s obsession with a very short-sighted view of its self-interest – no matter what pain that involves inflicting on other nations and all other forms of life on Earth. https://www.vox.com/2018/9/25/17901082/trump-un-2018-speech-full-text

While the struggle between the super-rich and the global power-hungry factions (Republican and Democrats: neo-liberals and libertarians) works itself out, the rest of the world gets the worst of both policies. On the one hand, the neo-con/neo-liberal establishment, the military and security forces and their business beneficiaries, the intelligence agencies and the hugely influential wonks on the Committee on Foreign Relations, still has the influence to persuade Trump to go against his libertarian, isolationist instincts. The USA’s global network of over 800 overseas military bases and its active interventions on behalf of Israel in the ME and its policy of ensuring continued enmity between the USA and the Russia-China alliance, for the time being, remain in place. So too will the suffering of so many of the American military machine’s victims in places such as Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria.

On the other hand, multiple other nations will find that the libertarian policies of the White House, work to their detriment. As the Trump administration dispenses with altogether, or uses brute muscle and economic blackmail to ‘renegotiate’, international trade, aid and climate agreements, massive uncertainty is engendered. The global rule and continued development of international law and the certainties of the so-called ‘rules-based system’ are under blatant attack by the US administration. When it so suits, it declares itself unbound by the decisions of international bodies such as the International Court of Justice. This is a view from the neo-con faction of the consequences and a useful summary of Trump’s anti-globalist policies. https://www.businessinsider.com.au/united-nations-donald-trump-speech-2018-9?r=US&IR=T

As the conflict rages between the two US factions, the rest of the world, gets the worst of both of America’s world-views. Kinetic interventions and attempts at regime change whenever the neo-cons exercise their influence: economic destabilisation when Trump unilaterally adjusts the economic  status quo to conform with his vision of a great America. In the meantime, Trump’s ‘negotiating successes’ and the implementation of his libertarian policies have won him a significant domestic popularity – most significantly among the moneyed elites, which is where it counts.

Unsurprisingly, as the USA scores repeated ‘victories’ over other nations, resentment builds among those, who had stuck to the rule that the USA rules, because they considered themselves beneficiaries of the US-centric, ‘rules-based system.’ https://moneyandmarkets.com/canada-feelings-hurt-relieved-usmca-done/

These Trump induced changes in international relationships may well produce a brief and magnificent flowering of the American economy. However, the Neo-con faction had already created a world of two polarities, East and West, and a struggle in which America’s success was dependent on its ability to secure the trust and good-will of multiple allied nations.

While America enjoys its magnificent, Trump fertilised flowering, the price it will pay will be the desertion of its allies. Their loss may well be the other pole’s gain. It may also, result in a major gain for those forces and institutions advocating and representative of the rule of international law and cooperation between nations. If it fails to inspire such increased international cooperation, the USA’s impending conflagration is more than likely to engulf and destroy the whole, and already fast disintegrating,  global community. Here is India’s thumbing of its nose at Washington’s new international order. https://www.newsweek.com/india-will-buy-weapons-russia-oil-iran-ignoring-us-warnings-1155433

One can see that the increasing tensions between America’s two opposed factions, as the costs of international isolation become increasingly obvious, cannot help but damage its economy and its leadership’s ability to govern. A house as divided as this one could well crumble before even a relatively minor tremor. Perhaps, under Trump’s successor, the USA will indeed go supernova and finally emerge as yet another of the galaxy’s degenerate white dwarves.

 

 

2 Comments

  • Bill McEwan says:

    White dwarf indeed! Great metaphor Hugh.

  • Colin Maxwell says:

    Hi Hugh
    Another excellent article!

    Just a comment on the “brief and magnificent flowering of the American economy” that you mention…yes, I agree it will indeed be very brief…so brief in fact that it doesn’t exist at all, but is simply smoke, mirrors, fudged figures and plain old bullshite. I will mention just a few reasons below as to why this is the case.

    #1 The plain hard cold fact that since 2008 there has been an unprecedented amount of QE and yet there is still NO growth…actually, it is not ‘no growth’ it is NEGATIVE growth simply because the figures quoted are always nominal…ie they are never adjusted for inflation. True inflation in the US is above 6%, not the magical 2% that the Fed would have you believe.
    http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data/inflation-charts

    #2 Artificially low and NIRP interest rates encourage malinvestment…if you want a prime example of this then look no further than the US fracking industry which is made up of predominantly zombie companies which spend more money than they make and this is even before they include capital expenditures…these costs incidentally do not include the disastrous effect that the industry has on the environment nor the cleanup costs.
    https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-10-27/us-shale-oil-industry-catastrophic-failure-ahead…

    #3 If you took out company buybacks [est by none other than ‘Goldman Sucks’ at $1trillion for 2018 alone, see below link] and the Feds massive trading desk out of the US stock market it would crash overnight…and yet the masses perceive the ‘market’ as healthy and evidence that the US economy is in good form!
    https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/06/companies-set-to-buy-back-1-trillion-worth-of-shares-this-year-to-kee.html

    #4 Two years ago I went through the tedious process of adding up total debt for the US. When I included all debt and unfunded liabilities it came to a staggering $750,000 per US citizen! I would hazard a guess that this figure has not improved since one iota!

    #5 Unemployment figures are complete hogwash since the official figures include all part-time jobs in the total and don’t include people who have given up looking for jobs. If the figures were reported properly they would be more than 20% of the US population!
    https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-06-08/us-depression-how-john-williams-became-americas-most-important-statistician

    #6 2018 federal budget deficit $0.83 trillion…projected 2019 deficit $0.98 trillion…by 2020 the deficit is projected to surpass $1 trillion
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-09/u-s-budget-deficit-to-balloon-to-1-trillion-by-2020-cbo-says
    NB… ignore the predicted unemployment rate of 3.3% for 2019 in this link…it is total fiction…see #5

    #7 There is a $7 trillion funding gap in US Govt pensions. Corporate funds are looking at shortfalls of more than $500 billion. To quote from the below link…” The US pension system has gotten so bad, Congress is actually planning for its failure.”
    https://www.businessinsider.com.au/us-government-7-trillion-pension-shortfall-2016-4?r=US&IR=T

    Cheers and best regards
    Col

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