Thursday, August 16, 2007

America Unleashed? Tinkering With Baudrillard

Jean Baudrillard’s Utopia Achieved puts the United States of America on a very high pedestal vis-à-vis old Europe, particularly France, as the land of the brave has been depicted as concrete expression of utopia in all societal aspects – political, economic and cultural. He distinguishes between the phenomenon of French and American immigration patterns and asserts that the former was simply the transferring of the colonized from their deserts to the centers of trade and commerce in Paris, under the tacit yet continued mercy and liberality of their French oppressors, while the latter’s immigration introduced the dynamics of competition among races in the reproduction of culture and material benefits based on merit and hard work. In the cultural sphere, he laments the backwardness of cultural growth and reproduction due to the monolithic historical process experience by most countries of Europe, notwithstanding Europe’s heavy emphasis on transcendence, ideas and concepts. On the other hand, the world’s only superpower turned such a European concept on its head by realizing concepts and materializing ideas which thereby become the final processes in cultural and scientific reproduction, which has led the United States to such unprecedented growths and developments in all aspects. Moreover, he criticizes the numerous revolutions which Europe experienced in the last two centuries for its failure to become as utopian as America – by linking these revolutions to the ideological ferment of those days since the French revolution vis-à-vis pervasive American pragmatism which traces its roots even prior to the American revolution, bereft of Marxist thought and even the excesses of the revolution in France.

In this context, we shall now problematize how America will be in a decade, a century and half a millennium. The United States of America will continue to be the superpower that it is in the next ten years. The war against terror has not yet stopped and perhaps has even embarked on more wars of aggression against rogue states and covertly supporting the setting-up of democratic regimes friendly to American interests in different parts of the world. All of these are in line with American pragmatism to continue its spread and domination in world politics, economy and culture. The American economy will have recovered from the boom and bust cycle in the world economic system at present by engaging in countless bilateral trade agreements with Third World countries, notwithstanding asserting its leadership and dominance in a fully-established World Trade Organization. US Big Business will also have successfully penetrated the import-export processes of the Chinese mainland which will not only flood the Chinese market with American goods but will also continue transforming China as the main production site of American goods for distribution in all corners of the world, especially now that property rights are already being liberalized by the Communist Party. Culturally, the spread of American pop culture will continue to dominate radio and television sets in all parts of the world, even in areas previously perceived as widely anti-American such as the Middle East. Various cultural reproductions of the Britney and American Idol types shall continue permeating and sometimes even distorting the cultural norms the world over. In the domestic front, the immigration problem shall continue but with increased security policies to curb it but the multi-racial communities will be more consolidated than ever.

America a century hence shall be different from what we know now, especially in the scientific and technological field as our cars might now be run with water for oil has already run out, and computers might not be the same thing we conceptualize and use at present. Better yet, NASA might even have constructed either a small Mars or lunar test colony to determine the probability of large-scale migration to these celestial bodies. But all of these advances would still boil down to greatness of American pragmatism as an ideological foundation in constructing and reproducing society, which old Europe at this point, might not have mastered still. The same dynamics of leadership and domination in world politics, economy and culture are still the basic requisites to ensure that the United States remain as utopia achieved and enjoy all the fruits of its ideological pragmatism. Only the social realities of the world might be different, such as the prediction of China dismantling its nominal socialism and embracing the free market with the US as its main ally. The Middle East might now be different as most of these states might have capitulated already to US interests especially with the imminent total depletion of Arab oil fields. On the domestic front, immigration to the United States will continue, especially now that it has consolidated further its grip on the world, but such immigration will not only be confined to the cities anymore but even to the South and the country, with racial groups creating still their own cultural reproduction and competition. Lastly, the European Union might have eventually lost out in its fight against the US for control of the world economy as it might still be stuck in its forgotten ideology of transcendence, ideas and theory.

In five hundred years, the United States might now be in a state of decay, decadence and violence, unless it is able to further consolidate its political, economic and cultural power in the world through greater means than what was done before. History is replete with examples where even mighty empires collapse not simply due to the failure of their leaders but to the intense internal and external contradictions in their societies. The United States, great as it now and despite its famed pragmatism, might not survive such a historical epoch. Unless it can now gather resources from different planets efficiently, the US will soon crumble under its own weight. Countries, even those left of Old Europe, would definitely and ceaselessly plan and force such an American collapse. Nonetheless, before the fall the United States will have been utopia achieved for hundreds of years, not only to the Americans as we now know but to the peoples of the world who would migrate to the land of the free in pursuit of their American dream. The United States would also have become the total melting pot of the world, where even soft racism does not exist anymore as people would not compete on the basis of race anymore but on merit, hard work and perseverance.

In all of these, the United States will achieve all of these things by completely and continually veering away from the tired and obsolete concepts perpetuated in Europe. Such an ideology is unique in the Unites States and even now the results of such a worldview are evident in all aspects of American life – politics, economy and culture. By repudiating the Europe’s ideology of revolution and keeping the utopian and moral perspectives characteristic of American forefathers, the American people have built a society unlike anything neither at present nor in the future. Truly, America is utopia achieved.

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