Tom Englehardt on the economic crisis

Having briefly reviewed the recent carnage on Wall Street, Englehardt concludes with the thought that

If there's a bright side to any of this [the economic crisis], then maybe it's that, after more than 50 years of relative immunity from criticism, Wall Street is again the street Americans love to hate; so Steve Fraser, right now, everyone's expert on Wall Street's grim history and author of the indispensable book, Wall Street: America's Dream Palace, tells us in his latest piece, "The Specter of Wall Street." He writes: "For well more than half a century Wall Street has enjoyed a remarkable political immunity, but matters were not always like that. Now, with history marching forward in seven league boots, we are about to revisit a time when the Street functioned as the country's lightning rod, attracting its deepest animosities and most passionate desires for economic justice and democracy."

Meanwhile, perhaps it's time to remember the catastrophic Argentinean national collapse and bankruptcy of 2001-2002, and to try to imagine what in the world any faintly similar set of events might mean when transposed to the world's "sole superpower." Here's one change to expect from the present financial chaos: When the next president of the United States looks "over the horizon," he's likely to see a world without a reigning superpower and, when he thinks about "the next war" (as they like to say in the Pentagon), the good news is that he may not have the money to pay for it.

The Reagan era — from a conscious and loudly publicized choice of guns over butter to a situation in which Americans will have neither guns nor butter.

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