During this crisis weak, ineffective and incompetent governmental leadership at all levels with senseless, self-serving infighting has sowed confusion with the American public desperate for a credible message for unification of purpose. These governmental behaviors are corrosive and debilitating to public confidence which compels and even inspires many citizens to take matters into their own hands legally or otherwise. Even that bunker bound “corporal with the funny mustache” could provide superior leadership up until April 30, 1945 than what we’ve witnessed in today’s democracy.
Whether by design or default mass unemployment has greased the skids to anarchy that already has compelled the political leadership to authorize blunt security policies such as the present-day imposition of a de facto period of state of emergency with curfews overlaying lockdowns with full law enforcement supported by the National Guard.
The US is hurtling towards a feudal society featuring economic distancing in the form of a tiny elite, small middle class and the vast majority of lower class and the poor. State of emergency security protocols will be codified and private security firms (whose personnel are often ex-battle-hardened soldiers) will supplement local law enforcement whenever required.
Big Tech | The Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse
The new emerging economic masters and corporate warlords are Amazon, Apple, Alphabet, Facebook and Microsoft – Big Tech. During the pandemic while almost all small and large companies globally have suffered terribly, these five de facto oligopolies have performed exceedingly well as shown in the following chart provided by these companies’ filings and presented by Statista, an online German statistical firm, 4 March 2020 entitled Tech Giants Shrug Off Covid-19 Crisis in Q1.
The influence of these five oligopolies radiate like a Chernobyl mushroom cloud across many industries and disciplines over an economically scorched earth landscape that has either eliminated or at least neutralized their smaller competitors. The surviving firms will be nothing more than corporate serfs technically forced to utilize their technical platforms to operate while providing the illusion of competition and choice.
Emerging from the economic rubble unscathed, Big Tech will be the leading partners in private-governmental collaborations. Although the government can print money, Big Tech has far more influence with lobbying tentacles that reach in every corner to support their objectives through favorable legislation, tax breaks and other required “perks” whether the administration is Republican or Democrat. Big Tech has almost carte blanche authority with a government stamp of approval.
The recent developments in the US are not too far removed from what China is doing to Hong Kong with respect to large demonstrations with violent fringe elements, heavy handed law enforcement with few consequences, erosion of freedom of speech with physical attacks on the media, and legislative gag orders called security laws whose particulars are still being formulated.
Unlike Hong Kong, the most insidious tactic in the US is to “divide & conquer” because of the multi-ethnic population separated by the ever-increasing income inequality and resultant sufferings of being unable to obtain equal quality employment, education and health services.
Sadly these trends go far deeper & beyond whether Trump or Biden wins the November presidential election because like Covid-19, this other unseen socio-economic pandemic has been festering for decades within the system stoked by powerful interests. Regardless how well Democratic candidate Joe Biden performs he’ll still be a one-term president because of his age. Biden would assume office at 78 years old which is one year older than former president Ronald Reagan (77) when he left office. In other words Biden is merely a political placeholder, a de facto lame duck, with the responsibility to hold the fort until the most important presidential year (2024) of the 21st century which will determine America’s destiny.
On the other hand because of his age and unlikelihood to be healthy enough to serve a second term, it would behoove Biden to be far more aggressive in seeking and achieving those objectives that would put America back on the right track to socio-economic responsibility. Unfortunately I believe there are two powerful elements against his efforts:
1. Firstly, there are too many powerful special interest groups, even within his own party, that will allow only cosmetic changes. When it comes to today’s politics, although the GOP are wolves, more Democrats than you can imagine are wolves in sheep’s clothing and together are aligned on many issues.
2. Secondly, Biden is probably too old to forcefully advocate for immediate and necessary radical change and will probably settle for the role of caretaker.
In the meantime Big Tech and other mega-corporations such as the media will solidify their influence in all areas of American life and provide just enough “food & circus” distraction to a dispirited American public with survivor-level wages & employment, and grateful to have any income whatsoever. “Security and stability” will be the new corporate-governmental mantra.
Life in Feudal America | Life Imitating Art
The most disturbingly prescient films about early 21st century life can be found in (pre-9/11) The Siege (1998) and The Matrix (1999) whose dystopian concepts closely match the present-day crisis. The Siege imagined NYC under martial law under a military force and rounding up young Middle Eastern men after a terrorist attack. It is not hard to imagine how similar the martial law public policy announcement by the US general in the movie could be repeated verbatim in today’s volatile environment.
With respect to The Matrix, already government and Big Tech (and other mega-corporations) have brain-washed the public with a clever mix of misinformation, disinformation and fake news making it overwhelmingly challenging to discern the truth.
The development and distribution at scale of a vaccine will solve the public health crisis but not the public welfare dilemma because the structural inequalities will still remain long after everyone is inoculated. The perpetual war on the military battlefield is ending. The perpetual political war is just heating up.
Copyright 2020 Indo-Brazilian Associates LLC.
Indo-Brazilian Associates LLC is a NYC-based think-tank and advisory service that provides beyond-the-horizon contrarian perspectives and risk assessments on energy investments, geopolitical dynamics and global urban security.