Cartoon for January 8, 2009

What would get people to go back into stores? Indeed, shoplifting is up nationwide.

Chronicling the end of the empire is fun.

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18 Responses to “Cartoon for January 8, 2009”

  1. who runs bartertown? Says:

    Chronicling the end of empires on Wikipedia is fun because I didn’t have to live through it and because they take hundreds of years to die. To be honest, I’d probably only get a good laugh out of this one if I had two centuries to spend on this rock. Knowing that I only get to enjoy a tiny, shitty piece of history and then die before I see the climax is like an inflight movie starting with 45 minutes to landing.

    On the plus side, I may be part of the second-to-last generation to have adequate water supplies. Grandkids gon’ be all MASTER BLASTER! and shit

  2. Aggie Dude Says:

    It took me awhile to get what was happening in the second frame, Ted, and without your explanation I might not have gotten it at all.

    On the ‘chronicling the end of an empire’ aspect and the timing of past empires, I think it’s a little absurd to think of Pax Americana as its own thing, rather than an extension of Anglo superiority that was inherited from the European colonial system, and transformed into the neoliberal imperialism of multi-national corporatism.

    That system is not dying the way US domination is, it went transnational and will continue to be alive and well for awhile longer. If one stops obsessing over the differences between a nation-state and a multinational corporation (they are essentially both power structures that wield authority and manipulate societal relationships), they realize that the system of western domination of the economic hierarchy is far from dead. The United States of America is simply the latest in a line of stooges to this system, and others will follow us. We sell our history, cultural soul and livelihoods to capitalism and then act like it was ours to lose when capital flies somewhere more lucrative. Wahhhhhhh!

  3. Anonymous Says:

    There couldn’t be more solid proof that Ted Rall hates America than his assertion that “Chronicling the end of the empire is fun”.

    All those that have criticized Ted Rall as an America hater have been vindicated.

  4. k Says:

    Apparently, Anonymous at 4:42pm 1/8/9 does not understand the use of irony and is to be remanded to a remedial writing class.

  5. phil Says:

    dude!, ted’s not advocating the end of anything, just writing/drawing about it. this ‘toon is right in line with the article from the wall street journal that i’ve referenced before:

    MOSCOW — For a decade, Russian academic Igor Panarin has been predicting the U.S. will fall apart in 2010. For most of that time, he admits, few took his argument — that an economic and moral collapse will trigger a civil war and the eventual breakup of the U.S. — very seriously. Now he’s found an eager audience: Russian state media.

    In recent weeks, he’s been interviewed as much as twice a day about his predictions. “It’s a record,” says Prof. Panarin. “But I think the attention is going to grow even stronger.”

    Prof. Panarin, 50 years old, is not a fringe figure. A former KGB analyst, he is dean of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s academy for future diplomats. He is invited to Kremlin receptions, lectures students, publishes books, and appears in the media as an expert on U.S.-Russia relations.

    But it’s his bleak forecast for the U.S. that is music to the ears of the Kremlin, which in recent years has blamed Washington for everything from instability in the Middle East to the global financial crisis. Mr. Panarin’s views also fit neatly with the Kremlin’s narrative that Russia is returning to its rightful place on the world stage after the weakness of the 1990s, when many feared that the country would go economically and politically bankrupt and break into separate territories.

    A polite and cheerful man with a buzz cut, Mr. Panarin insists he does not dislike Americans. But he warns that the outlook for them is dire.

    “There’s a 55-45% chance right now that disintegration will occur,” he says. “One could rejoice in that process,” he adds, poker-faced. “But if we’re talking reasonably, it’s not the best scenario — for Russia.” Though Russia would become more powerful on the global stage, he says, its economy would suffer because it currently depends heavily on the dollar and on trade with the U.S.

    Mr. Panarin posits, in brief, that mass immigration, economic decline, and moral degradation will trigger a civil war next fall and the collapse of the dollar. Around the end of June 2010, or early July, he says, the U.S. will break into six pieces — with Alaska reverting to Russian control.

    In addition to increasing coverage in state media, which are tightly controlled by the Kremlin, Mr. Panarin’s ideas are now being widely discussed among local experts. He presented his theory at a recent roundtable discussion at the Foreign Ministry. The country’s top international relations school has hosted him as a keynote speaker. During an appearance on the state TV channel Rossiya, the station cut between his comments and TV footage of lines at soup kitchens and crowds of homeless people in the U.S. The professor has also been featured on the Kremlin’s English-language propaganda channel, Russia Today.

    Mr. Panarin’s apocalyptic vision “reflects a very pronounced degree of anti-Americanism in Russia today,” says Vladimir Pozner, a prominent TV journalist in Russia. “It’s much stronger than it was in the Soviet Union.”

    Mr. Pozner and other Russian commentators and experts on the U.S. dismiss Mr. Panarin’s predictions. “Crazy ideas are not usually discussed by serious people,” says Sergei Rogov, director of the government-run Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies, who thinks Mr. Panarin’s theories don’t hold water.

    Mr. Panarin’s résumé includes many years in the Soviet KGB, an experience shared by other top Russian officials. His office, in downtown Moscow, shows his national pride, with pennants on the wall bearing the emblem of the FSB, the KGB’s successor agency. It is also full of statuettes of eagles; a double-headed eagle was the symbol of czarist Russia.

    The professor says he began his career in the KGB in 1976. In post-Soviet Russia, he got a doctorate in political science, studied U.S. economics, and worked for FAPSI, then the Russian equivalent of the U.S. National Security Agency. He says he did strategy forecasts for then-President Boris Yeltsin, adding that the details are “classified.”

    In September 1998, he attended a conference in Linz, Austria, devoted to information warfare, the use of data to get an edge over a rival. It was there, in front of 400 fellow delegates, that he first presented his theory about the collapse of the U.S. in 2010.

    “When I pushed the button on my computer and the map of the United States disintegrated, hundreds of people cried out in surprise,” he remembers. He says most in the audience were skeptical. “They didn’t believe me.”

    At the end of the presentation, he says many delegates asked him to autograph copies of the map showing a dismembered U.S.

    He based the forecast on classified data supplied to him by FAPSI analysts, he says. He predicts that economic, financial and demographic trends will provoke a political and social crisis in the U.S. When the going gets tough, he says, wealthier states will withhold funds from the federal government and effectively secede from the union. Social unrest up to and including a civil war will follow. The U.S. will then split along ethnic lines, and foreign powers will move in.

    California will form the nucleus of what he calls “The Californian Republic,” and will be part of China or under Chinese influence. Texas will be the heart of “The Texas Republic,” a cluster of states that will go to Mexico or fall under Mexican influence. Washington, D.C., and New York will be part of an “Atlantic America” that may join the European Union. Canada will grab a group of Northern states Prof. Panarin calls “The Central North American Republic.” Hawaii, he suggests, will be a protectorate of Japan or China, and Alaska will be subsumed into Russia.

    “It would be reasonable for Russia to lay claim to Alaska; it was part of the Russian Empire for a long time.” A framed satellite image of the Bering Strait that separates Alaska from Russia like a thread hangs from his office wall. “It’s not there for no reason,” he says with a sly grin.

    Interest in his forecast revived this fall when he published an article in Izvestia, one of Russia’s biggest national dailies. In it, he reiterated his theory, called U.S. foreign debt “a pyramid scheme,” and predicted China and Russia would usurp Washington’s role as a global financial regulator.

    Americans hope President-elect Barack Obama “can work miracles,” he wrote. “But when spring comes, it will be clear that there are no miracles.”

    The article prompted a question about the White House’s reaction to Prof. Panarin’s forecast at a December news conference. “I’ll have to decline to comment,” spokeswoman Dana Perino said amid much laughter.

    For Prof. Panarin, Ms. Perino’s response was significant. “The way the answer was phrased was an indication that my views are being listened to very carefully,” he says.

    The professor says he’s convinced that people are taking his theory more seriously. People like him have forecast similar cataclysms before, he says, and been right. He cites French political scientist Emmanuel Todd. Mr. Todd is famous for having rightly forecast the demise of the Soviet Union — 15 years beforehand. “When he forecast the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1976, people laughed at him,” says Prof. Panarin

  6. Anonymous Says:

    I’ll be glad to cheer for the end of this empire if it turns back into the republic it once was.

  7. Aggie Dude Says:

    Hey Phil,

    That’s really interesting to read. Seeing as how I live in Michigan, I wouldn’t mind getting in on some Canadian universal health care. While this guy sounds like an academic tool, he’s got some fairly dignified ideas. The problem with predicting actual events is that history moves slower than we think it does. In hindsight, one may look back at the beginning of a war or revolution as a singular event, because history lessons condense it in our minds to a chapter in a book. Watching it occur in real time, it’s longer.

    Robert Kaplan, who writes for the Atlantic Monthly and is by no means a Russophile, sees a valid argument in the North American continent breaking into six nations. I find this a much more reasonable and plausible theory for several reasons.

    I’m skeptical of any social theory that is limited to assessing what will happen within a specific state. Such arguments are the device of state level propaganda.

  8. Aggie Dude Says:

    Hey Phil,

    That’s really interesting to read. Seeing as how I live in Michigan, I wouldn’t mind getting in on some Canadian universal health care. While this guy sounds like an academic tool, he’s got some fairly dignified ideas. The problem with predicting actual events is that history moves slower than we think it does. In hindsight, one may look back at the beginning of a war or revolution as a singular event, because history lessons condense it in our minds to a chapter in a book. Watching it occur in real time, it’s longer.

    Robert Kaplan, who writes for the Atlantic Monthly and is by no means a Russophile, sees a valid argument in the North American continent breaking into six nations. I find this a much more reasonable and plausible theory for several reasons.

    I’m skeptical of any social theory that is limited to assessing what will happen within a specific state. Such arguments are the device of state level propaganda.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Frank Miller’s “Give Me Liberty” had a pretty good “break up” map of the USA. The story was cartoon-ish yet prescient. Tim Truman’s “Scout” starts with an apocalyptic prediction of how America will fall. SPOILER… We wind up with an ex-wrestler as President. Dorme bene…

  10. Marion Delgado Says:

    Actually, to equate America and the empire and to say that Ted critiquing “the empire” proves he hates America means, objectively, that at least a segment of Ted’s critics are equivalent to the worst sort of post-Republican decadent Romans and despicable Tories.

    The Founding Fathers would have imprisoned, exiled or hanged them during the Revolution, and they imagine themselves patriots.

  11. Russell Says:

    Living in Florida, near the Georgia border, I find the thought of the nation breaking up to be pretty terrifying. I DEFINITELY don’t want to end up in some new Old South confederacy.

  12. Incitatus Says:

    I don’t see why any reasonable person would not welcome the breakup of the US. Only those on the lunatic fringe, at the right (“Country first!”) and at the left (they’d miss their favourite whipping boy) would resent it.

  13. Incitatus Says:

    Now back to some insight on the latest Palestinian-Israeli unpleasantness.

  14. Matthew Says:

    I’d be more credulous if it weren’t for Panarin’s map. Seriously, anyone who thinks that the former United States will divide along those lines clearly doesn’t know jack about this place.

    The entire Deep South under Texas? They may vote the same way in national elections, but I think most of that land would have to be taken the hard way. Utah under California? They’d die first. (I’d go on, but I don’t have the map in front of me)

    There have been multiple, insightful examinations of this, or questions very similar to it. The “Nine Nations of North America,” from twenty or thirty years back; that more recent demographic/political analysis that broke down the US into ten distinct regions; or, as Anonymous 9:52 pointed out, in the pages of a variety of fiction.

    Panarin sounds more like one of those lazy imperial overlords, casually drawing lines on maps of land they’ve never seen.

  15. Maura Says:

    Incitatus, I assume you’re using hyperbole to make a point, but do you really think the break-up of the United States is something that reasonable people would take lightly? It seems to me that the only people who would celebrate it are the lunatic fringe. Forget the societal ramifications. The logistics would be a nightmare: Should the Union of Mid-Atlantic States include Maryland? The Mason/Dixon Line is at the PA/MD border, but how southern is Maryland? And where would Missouri fit in? I always thought it was a mid-western state, but apparently some consider it part of the south, an idea that my southern friends find highly amusing.

    Is NC southern enough to be associated with Alabama and Mississippi? I mean, we have Chapel Hill and Durham, both “hotbeds” of communism, you know? (Although the idea of CH being a hotbed of communism makes me laugh. It’s more a tepid bath of mommy-state armchair liberalism.)Is NJ northern enough to be grouped in with NY and Connecticut? Maybe is should be split into two states. And PA is so big, a lot of PA residents already think of it as two states.

    I’m actually very confused by the suggestion that Obama could be the last President of the United States. Yes, things are awful and will probably get worse. But are we really ready to implode? Is it just more hyperbole? Ted? Someone? Help me out here.

  16. Aggie Dude Says:

    Everybody north of Ocala, Florida is a yankee.

  17. Incitatus Says:

    Aggie, that’d be actually: everybody North of the Rio Grande is a yanqui.

  18. Incitatus Says:

    Maura, I’m definitely not with you: no USofA means no POTUS, no CIA, no Pentagon, no empire. Who could be against that? Hardly anybody, from where I stand.
    The world is not worse off because Colombia, Venezuela and Equador are not under the same caudillo anymore, I can hardly see why the same shouldn’t be true of California, Georgia and New York. It’s not like a split-up US incurs the risk of real deal Balkanization.

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