The 737 is a 50-year-old airframe that Boeing is riding, literally, till the doors come off. The Boeing 737 MAX has crashed itself multiple times, had had door-plugs blow out mid-flight, and has a litany of problems waiting to happen. Boeing also makes many US government planes and those, like the US government, are also falling apart. Recently Secretary of State Antony Blinken had to deplane because his 737 had a ‘critical failure related to an oxygen leak.’ On the ground, unfortunately. He lives to bomb another hospital.
If there’s ever a metaphor for the state of America, it’s the Secretary of State’s plane being unable to take off, and the staff having to scurry home on commercial. America’s entire government is in a real and symbolic shambles; they simply can’t hide the rot. The Secretary of War is bombing people from his hospital bed while the Secretary of Lying can’t get off the ground. Meanwhile the obviously senile President is on autopilot, the Boeing sort that flies the plane into the ground.
Boeing is effectively a US government company and its troubles and the US government’s problems are the same root problem. This is your brain on neoliberalism. Boeing is what happens when you let finance run an engineering company, and America is what happens when you let the same idiots run an Empire. These banker wankers and MBAs are no different from any mafia, they’ve busted out the joint and gotten themselves paid all the way down.
As I’ve discussed at length, Boeing’s problems are the direct result of bad decisions. No amount of ‘quality control’ can fix a fish that’s rotting from the head, and which has been left out decades too long. Boeing was lobotomized by McDonnell Douglas and GE men in the 1990s. They went from an engineering company based in Seattle to a financial engineering company based in Chicago. They tried to maximize profits and cut costs everywhere, firing skilled people, outsourcing ‘non-core’ functions like the fucking fuselage, and re-using old airframes like the 737. When new engines didn’t fit under that old plane the MBAs just said, ‘uh, move the engines forward.’ When that caused the planes to stall out, they said ‘uh, do a software fix.’ When that caused the planes to crash into the ground, they got extra time from the corrupted regulators instead of just being shut down. People are still flying around in these Frankenplanes, despite parts literally falling off.
Despite a litany of problems — like door-plugs falling out, and deicers melting the engine, and now ‘oxygen leaks’ — Boeing is too big to fail, despite quite obviously failing. This is not just a problem with Boeing. Boeing is intrinsically linked with the US government, which is actually an oligarchy run for and by big companies like them. It’s hard to see where big business ends and government begins and is, indeed, pointless. America’s real motto is ‘of the profit, by the profit, and for the profit.’ The problem is much deeper and more systemic than Boeing.
America itself has been lobotomized by capital. The government can’t stop the scam because they’re in on it. They are the scam. The whole US economy, especially since it actually crashed in 2008, is a Ponzi scheme. Real estate failed, banks failed, manufacturing failed, the whole thing is just propped up by imperial money printing, but now that Empire is falling apart and the pyramid scheme will come down soon enough. America nationalized all risk without actually nationalizing anything and that risk didn’t just disappear. At some point, it’s going to explode.
Decades before the 2008 crash, America — as a national policy — did exactly what Boeing did on a macro scale. They deindustrialized, sent manufacturing overseas, fired or retired skilled workers, and made education both unaffordable and largely useless for working-class people. Now they have a bunch of people doing spreadsheets and presentations and not actually making things. America is a great place to buy things from China, with correct spelling on the packaging. That’s about the extent of their value addition. America gutted everything but the marketing and finance departments, ie the most useless people. Like Boeing, they carved out the illusory ‘profit centers,’ got rid of actual production, and fucked the environment without even thinking about it. They thought profits were disconnected from production and production was disconnected from the environment and now the whole thing is crashing down.
The only working machinery left in the capital of Capital is the money-printer, and Allah knows that’s whirring. But they can’t print airplanes, artillery shells, or a conscience. Now America has quite publicly lost economic power to China, military power to Russia and Iran and even Yemen, and are losing all ‘soft’ power in Palestine. American Empire is having a catastrophic loss of power mid-flight and is experiencing what engineers called ‘Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly.’ They killed the Golden Goose for giblets, and now they’re well and truly plucked. America can certainly keeping killing for a while — as Boeing seems determined to do — but they can’t live. A dying empire has nothing but death to offer.
In this way, the Boeing 737 is a perfect metaphor for the decline of American power. It was a great airframe in 1967, but they haven’t had an original idea since, and it shows. They’ve just kept cramming more seats and doors into the same contraption, trying to squeeze more and more profit out of last century’s innovations, without doing much. And now the doors are blowing off, the seats are flying out, and the whole software-driven monstrosity is crashing itself into the ground.
This trend is, in fact, endemic throughout American culture. They’re recycling movies, they’re recycling music, they’re even recycling people. Take George Bush II (son of a President), Hillary Clinton (spouse of one), or Joe Biden (surrogate for another). The next election will be just the same people as the last election, with another President’s son as an ‘alternative’. As Margaret Thatcher said, unironically, ‘there is no alternative’. These people are well and truly out of ideas.
The fact is that oligarchs actually run American and always have. The vaunted American Revolution was never about ‘the people’. The vast majority of inhabitants were deemed subhuman, and only a fraction of even white men could vote. You had to have property to have power and everyone else was property, and things haven’t changed much since. Colonization was a centuries long Ponzi scheme that looted Turtle Island, then the whole planet, and now it’s all crashing down.
That’s why Antony Blinken’s 737 being grounded is so poignant. Blinken is a shitty Kissinger reboot, flying in a shitty 737 reboot, now completely unable to get off the ground. Of course he can’t. It’s not just his plane that’s having ‘critical failures’, it’s the company that made it, and the country that made such companies. It’s the whole wretched Empire that has returned to its own vomit one too many times, and is finally choking on it. America’s minister of state can’t move, the minister of war is hospitalized after a failed operation to remove his head from his ass, and the king is visibly dying in front of the people. The mandate of heaven is obviously withdrawn. America can still raise hell, but its age of Empire is gone. Good riddance motherfuckers. You were awful.