Alternative Radio on 08/14/12
Gore Vidal on "The Fall of the United States," an interview with David Barsamian
Recorded in Los Angeles, CA on July 22, 2008.
Gore Vidal, over six decades, was a singular figure in the United States. Coming from a background of privilege and power, he nevertheless challenged many of the prevailing notions about Washington's intentions and actions domestically and internationally. He was a student of history and incorporated his vast knowledge into a series of bestselling novels as well as political books. He coined the phrase USA, "the United States of Amnesia." He was deeply troubled by the erosion of democracy and civil liberties at home and the expansion of American imperialism around the world. He saw the two joined at the hip. He was, as they say in cricket, an all arounder, someone who could play many positions with equal skill. He loved the arts, theater, and film and wrote plays and screenplays as well as acted in some. He died on July 31, 2012.
At the end of WWII, the U.S. emerged as a global power with unprecedented wealth and advantages. Most of that has been squandered. We’ve gone from number one creditor nation to number one debtor. As its vast military machine straddles the globe, at home, things fall apart. The mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, need a massive taxpayer bailout. Same too for Wall Street banks. Even “New York Times” columnist Thomas Friedman, a champion of U.S. dominance and empire, mentions the word “decline” and U.S. in the same sentence and points to problems “in infrastructure, basic research and education.” Curious that he doesn’t mention the huge Pentagon budget, hundreds of bases, and the permanent war economy as factors contributing to the decline. The signs of decay are everywhere but Washington politicians from both parties largely avoid talking about it. Imperial fantasies and mendacities continue.