May 09, 2007

The New Cold War

Two hundred years from now, will there be a global civil war raging across every continent between distinct social groups with names like the "Reds" and the "Blues"? If so, the last five years will certainly mark its inception.

I don't know if my US readers are familiar with the term, but here in Australia the concept of "wedge politics" is deeply entrenched in the national psyche. It's the reason why we have suffered a long, soul-destroying decade of Conservative rule.

PM John Howard is a master of "driving the wedge". Take an issue about which the public is passionate - immigration is a favourite - and then pick a spot somewhere along the fluid spectrum of public opinion. Where do you draw the line? M is OK, but N... well, that's just a little over the top! And P is clearly way too far!

Then you drive home the wedge with a passion! You mark a point on the spectrum and create an either/or dilemma for the public. Either you support me, or you support P,Q,R,S,T,U,V,W,X,Y and Z! Or, as Bush so elegantly put it, you are with us or you are against us. And this is who "us" is right here: there's the wedge.

Only a very cynical politician exploits the wedge tactic to the degree John Howard and Karl Rove have employed. It is, after all, divisive. And divisive politics have serious repercussions. Nasty ones. But that is not stopping rightwing politicians around the globe from exploiting the tactic to the max.

France today is the latest example. Newly elected President Sarkozy has divided the country into red and blue zones just as surely as Bush & Co. did in the USA. Now, while France burns, Sarkozy is calmly cruising the Mediterranean on a yacht. He has left it to the defeated Socialist Party chief, Francois Hollande, to appeal for calm. Some leader!

Meanwhile, in the housing estates and marginal suburbs, neighbour is turned against neighbour. Racist skinheads, elated by their side's victory, taunt the stuggling immigrant families across the street. One thing leads to another...

The old Cold War, which pitted left against right, is dead. And now...?
Long live the New Cold War!
The Old Cold War was mostly international in scope, but the New Cold War is being fought in every country, in every newsroom, on every corner. It pits ordinary working people against the might and power of the global elite: Big Money, Big Oil, Big Media and their government pawns.

On one side stand the billionaires and trillionaires, with their gated communities and their private jets, their thinktanks and their institutions, their manicured lawns and their investment funds. On the other side stand the impoverished masses of the Third World, with their lost dreams and their empty stomachs, their ancient visions and their simmering resentment. The future of the world is at stake.

Where do YOU stand? Where do YOU see the wedge?


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