Wednesday, December 8, 2021

America: The Empire of Bureaucrats

The history of the twentieth century is generally read as a battle between America and the Soviet Union. But the greatest battle of the twentieth century was between America and Germany. By 1900, it was clear that the British Empire was dying—both America and Germany were in a race to capture the legacy and power of the British. During the Second World War, the American generals delayed the allied advance through Western and Central Europe. This gave the Soviet troops the time to race through Eastern Europe and capture half of Germany. 

With Eastern Germany going under Soviet control, Western Germany was too weak to challenge American hegemony. Thus, America became the sole inheritor of the British Empire—it became the leader of the West and a superpower. 

The Americans claim that they are individualists, that they are capitalists, that they are against big government. But they are the most profoundly bureaucratic people in history. No nation in the last 2500 years has created as much bureaucracy as America. The British Empire was never as good at bureaucracy as the American Empire has been. President Reagan has said: “The nine most terrifying words in English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” This is typical rightwing hypocrisy from Reagan—while he was in power, he made no attempt to reduce the size of the government. The American politicians (even the rightwing populists like Reagan) understand the importance of American bureaucracy.

America’s first official act after gaining global power, towards the end of the Second World War, was to create a bunch of global bureaucratic institutions in the United Nations and at the Bretton Woods Conference which was held from from July 1 to 22, 1944, at Mount Washington Hotel, situated in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. The Bretton Woods Conference led to two outcomes: first, the creation of three American bureaucratic institutions—the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and GATT (which became the WTO in 1995); second, the elevation of the US dollar as the Global Reserve Currency. 

The Americans piously proclaimed that they were not an empire—but they went much further than the British imperialists who had either conquered or traded with other nations. With the creation of the United Nations institutions and the Bretton Woods institutions, the Americans had the power to meddle in the internal politics and economy of every nation. They could influence the foreign policy of other nations and manipulate their currency. With the dollar becoming the Global Reserve Currency, they had the power to transfer their inflation to other nations. They could bribe their allies with unfair trade and currency related privileges. 

American capitalism is not a self-regulating free market system—it needs an army of bureaucrats to keep the American capitalist system going. In whichever country, the Americans gain influence, they create a bloated bureaucracy. The British Empire was an empire of brutal warriors; the American Empire is an empire of shrewd bureaucrats.

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