Umair Haque is a dingbat
Umair Haque lives in the West but, going by his name, is of Pakistani origin. He also seems to see himself as a profound thinker, though he is in reality just another blinkered Leftist, repeating tired old Leftist tropes. As a good Leftist, he is lost in a mental world of his own with only occasional contact with the real world. He gets himself published a lot on the Leftist Medium and Eudaimonia sites, however, and is popular in Leftist circles, so some critique of his lucubrations is perhaps called for.
One of his most recent articles is titled "Why Winning a War for Capitalism Is Losing One to Fascism: The Lesson America Still Hasn’t Learned From Two World Wars"
There is an element of truth in that. The modern-day Left has inherited Fascism's obsession with controlling everything but Umair seems to have missed the conservative pushback against that in the persons of Thatcher, Reagan and Trump. No-one would claim that the pushback has been wholly successful but both Reagan and Trump won tax reductions and other reforms that led to big economic booms and rising prosperity generally
Umair's picture of the average American being ground down is a Leftist staple but it has no contact with the reality under Trump -- with a booming economy creating jobs for everyone, even for generally disadvantaged minorities such as blacks and Hispanics. And while the historically low rates of unemployment are important, even more important is the employment rate. The enthusiasm for business that is abroad in the land has created a huge demand for labor and that has drawn discouraged workers --people over 50, people with poor education etc. -- into the labor force. Businessmen have such a big need for workers that they are hiring in previously neglected categories. When faced with the fact that their only job applicant is over 50, they just say, "Better an old guy than no guy"
And through the combination of big tax cuts and the need to entice workers to work for them, employers are offering higher wages, ending a long period of wage-rate stagnation. So the enthusiasm and dynamism of the Trump economy is a complete answer to Mr Haque's gloom.
Mr Bezos and others might be doing well but so are millions of ordinary Americans. And some of America's richest men -- such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett -- are putting their money to work in charitable causes. The big yachts are primarily a Russian folly. Rich Americans tend to have better taste. Even Bloomberg has just given a large slice of his fortune to Johns Hopkins university, his alma mater. The situation is across the board not as Mr. Haque imagines it.
I am well prepared to believe that the situation in Pakistan is dismal but America is not Pakistan. Those great crowds cheering themselves hoarse at Mr Trump's rallies are not cheering oppression and poverty. Even blacks are smiling at Mr Trump. Mr Haque hasn't got a clue
A few excerpts below from Mr Haque's Jeremiad
World War II, it’s generally agreed, was brought about by a peace whose terms were poisonous. In the aftermath of World War I, the victors demanded reparations from the aggressors, who were the defeated, that were simply too steep to pay. A shattered Germany was therefore left unable to really recover, and as its frail, unstable institutions buckled, in the resultant failure, the chaos and decline, the flames of fascism rose — and soon enough, consumed the nation whole, and then set fire to the world.
The strange thing is all that’s different today is that the roles have been reversed. Peace didn’t cost the losers of the last war too much, and drive them into failure and ruin — oddly enough, victory did. But the result, strangely, is just the same: the flames of fascism rising, authoritarianism triumphant, in the void of chaos left by failure and degeneration.
Which country do I speak of, and which war? America — and the Cold War. Now, the overly simplistic story that Americans are told, by their own intellectuals and thinkers, is this: they won the Cold War, and defeated the evil empire, a nation of pure freedom and bravery and faith and so on. Of course, reality is subtler, grayer, more nuanced. America might have won the Cold War — but it lost a greater battle. The battle for its own soul, its own democracy, which, today, self-evidently, is on the ropes, being fought desperately to remedy and to rescue, with limited, if any real, success.
Capitalism winning also meant its own economy stagnating, as capitalists took all the gains, and poured them into useless, idle pleasures, yachts and mansions, exploiting people harder, better, faster — all of which meant that writing a social contract to cushion people from those very blows became impossible, because money was tied up in yachts wasn’t invested in say, healthcare or education or retirement — and all that meant that democracy was more or less doomed to implode.
Americans were told they were “liberating” people — when in fact, more often than not, they were denying them sovereignty and self-governance. They had confused capitalism with freedom — and still do — because the idea was that anything else was morally intolerable. If you’re on a crusade, you have to save people’s souls — even if they might not want to be saved.
What happened next? Well, it wasn’t just that cost of all these wars for capitalism’s sake mounted — though they did, and inevitably, plunged America deep into debt. A subtler and stranger — yet perfectly predictable thing — happened. War after war was fought. Some hot, some hard, with bullets — some soft and quiet, with whispers. Which side would buckle first — run out of resources, money, ideas, stratagems? The capitalists, or the communists? One day, the game was over. The Soviet Union collapsed. America, it seemed, had won.
By this point — the 1990s — when the Cold War was done, capitalism was about to rule the world. What was the alternative, after all? So just a decade later, China and India were “integrated” into the global capitalist economy, which means they could trade with America at last. Bang! The global economy went into overdrive. It heated up so fast and so hard, awash with so much money in the hands of so many speculators and quick-buck-artists, that soon enough — whoosh!! — a huge, titanic bubble had inflated. And then, inevitably, of course, it popped. Wham! It melted down into the greatest “recession” since the Great Depression — one from which the world has never really recovered.
But what, again, about the average American? Let’s think about him. All these wars were fought to extend the borders of capitalism. Capitalists grew colossally, grotesquely rich — that much is true. Today, Bezos, Brin, and Buffett can buy entire cities without blinking. But that victory had a price. Winning a war for capitalism freed its invisible fist to deliver the average American a fatal blow.
The average American was now expected to be a “consumer” in this new world system — to buy the things that this new capitalist world could offer, cheaper and faster. To buy more of them, year after year, month after month — that is the only way capitalism could grow, after all. But now anyone, anywhere, could compete with Americans for jobs, for labour, for work to do and be done — and usually, they could do it faster and cheaper, if not better and truer. But to consume, one must either also produce — or be subsidized. The average American was running out of chances to produce, and earn that way — even the pension he’d worked for his whole life was made legal to “raid” so that capitalists could get richer. And nobody was subsidizing him, lending him a supporting hand.