Economic Tsunami and the Last Stage of Capitalism
By Les Blough, Editor, Dec 4, 2007, 09:54
“Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed.” – Vladimir Lenin, 1916
Imperialism, The Highest [Last] Stage of Capitalism
Most people in the U.S. have become anesthetized to hearing about the “national debt” for a number of reasons:
* Hearing about the National Debt repetitively over a lifetime, conditions us to believe that the debt has no direct effect on our purse. Repetition conditions the individual to accept the debt as irrelevent to daily life. Repetition numbs.
* Media impressions that national debt is a normal and necessary for all countries to do business
* Illusions of the US as an invinceable superpower.
* The media-spawned belief that there are no alternatives and persistent attacks remove socialism from the discussion.
* The belief that safeguards have been adopted against a repeat of the Great Depression of 1929 (e.g. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) created by the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 to insure the first $100,000 of depositor’s money).
* The belief that the U.S. economy will always be resilient and invinceable based on one’s own, brief personal or family history.
* Feelings of helplessness, i.e. “there is nothing we can do about it anyway”.
* The paralysis of anxiety, rooted in unacknowledged fear causing intellectual, psychological and physical withdrawal from family, community, the true self and the body politic.
* The mind-numbing and values-corrupting influence of one of capitalism’s most powerful drugs: consumerism.
These influences continue for most USers until they experience the repossession of the automobile, losses of the home, health care (especially in a medical crisis), decent education, healthy diets, and/or the loss of a job with few if any alternatives for similar work. The culture of materialism, consumerism, immediate gratification spawned by the news, entertainment and advertising media makes it extremely difficult for most to imagine a total collapse of the “invulnerable” U.S. economy. But it’s coming just as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow. The “when” is not known but immanency has always been in the genetics of capitalism.
The Great Depression of 1929-1933
Consider the process that led to the Great Depression, beginning 78 years ago:
“The Great Depression was not a sudden total collapse. The stock market turned upward in early 1930, returning to early 1929 levels by April, though still almost 30 percent below of peak in September 1929. Together government and business actually spent more in the first half of 1930 than in the corresponding period of the previous year. But consumers, many of whom had suffered severe losses in the stock market the prior year, cut back their expenditures by ten percent, and a severe drought ravaged the agricultural heartland of the USA beginning in the summer of 1930. Compare current conditions in the U.S. economy with those that occurred from October 29, 1929 to March, 1933:
“The Great Depression (also known in the U.K. as the Great Slump) was a dramatic, worldwide economic downturn beginning in some countries as early as 1928. The beginning of the Great Depression in the United States is associated with the stock market crash on October 29, 1929, known as Black Tuesday.
“In the spring of 1930, credit was ample and available at low rates, but people were reluctant to add new debt by borrowing. By May 1930, auto sales had declined to below the levels of 1928. Prices in general began to decline, but wages held steady in 1930, then began to drop in 1931. Conditions were worst in farming areas where commodity prices plunged, and in mining and logging areas where unemployment was high and there were few other jobs. The decline in the American economy was the motor that pulled down most other countries at first, then internal weaknesses or strengths in each country made conditions worse or better. By late in 1930, a steady decline set in which reached bottom by March 1933.” Wikipedia
One of the catalysts cited was a “… a severe drought ravaged the agricultural heartland”. What are or will be our “severe droughts” in these times? Another major natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina or “the Big One” from the San Andreas Fault on the US west coast? Will the belligerant war on Iraq bankrupt the US economy? Will it be the changes in world currencies and the ultimate plummet of the dollar? Or will it simply be the continuing undermining of the fabric of western society?
“The collapse of the global marketplace would be a traumatic event with unimaginable consequences. Yet I find it easier to imagine than the continuation of the present regime.”
– George Soros, Financial
Speculator and Profiteer
Marginalizing the Prophets
We have received ample warnings in recent years, largely via the internet about the inevitability of economic collapse. Many view the “war on terror”, in particular the war on Iraq to be a lurch forward toward total collapse in the process because of the unprecedented burden on the economy. Those who issue these warnings are always marginalized by the corporate media with simple-minded epithets like, “prophets of doom” who “do not understand the complexities” of the economy.
The War on Universal Values
In recent years, those of us who have been around for awhile, have witnessed the media campaign to increase the velocity and frenzy of commercial advertising, the destruction of human values with the normalization of the vulgar and build up of consumer-credit buying power. For decades, Hollywood Film, New York City Sitcoms and Advertising have used sophisticated technology and programming to destroy: the societal fabric of extended family, gender roles, respect for parents, elders and “the other”, the work ethic, human sexuality, self-examination and basic honesty. These persistent attacks almost always target the youth, invading the home and supplanting parental leadership with media control leaving layered cynicism in their wake. This war on the youth is rooted in the philosophical underpinnings of Relativism. Generations have been trained to ridicule any belief that absolute truth can possibly be known and that notions of right and wrong are obscured as they are predicated on the individual’s perceptions, histories and external conditions.
The Cultural Conquest Breeds International Conflict
This war on social and family structure is the threat against which intact cultures in other lands attempt to protect themselves. For example, a few years ago, we visited Morrocco and drove our rented car through the small towns of this predominantly Muslim country. We were somewhat surprised to see hundreds of young Muslim men sitting in tea houses along the road in small towns watching naked women on US shows like “Bay Watch” while their families were at home. For many Muslim fathers and mothers, satellite television has penetrated their public places and ultimately their homes with the filth of Hollywood. It is viewed as a moral and ultimately, political invasion against which defending children, home and traditional ways becomes more and more difficult. On the other hand, the US/British employ their psychological defense of projection when they bill their invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq as a campaign to save Muslims from themselves, to give them “democracy” and “liberty” and generally a better way of life. Then they attribute the angry reaction to, “They are jealous of our freedom and way of life”!
Self Responsibility and Individualism
Individualism is not new to the human species. The story from the Book of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible tells us that after Cain killed his brother, Abel, God asked Cain about his brother’s whereabouts. Cain answered,”Am I my brother’s keeper?” suggesting that he bore no responsibility for his brother. A sense of responsibility for others has been stripped from the culture in most western society. When you find it, you can attribute it to residual influences of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles who have survived the stripping. Individualism has become an effective weapon, destroying the unity of the working class – the enemy of capitalism.
The mental mantra in uncivilized western society is “If it didn’t happen to me, my family, in my town, in my country, it is of no concern to me.” When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, a massive earthquake struck Bam, Iran and the Great Tsunami killed a quarter million people in the Indian Ocean, most people in the west watched the news reports with fascination and salved themselves with a sentimental sympathy but beneath it all was, “That is there and I am here. I and my family are safe”, mouthing self-righteous clichés like “There but for the grace of God go I”. The poor around the world were the exception to this rule because tragedy has often knocked at their doors or the doors of others close to them.
Self-responsibility is lost to individualism in the guise of “competition” where greed is bred. As stated by Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) in the Hollywood movie, Wall Street in 1987:
“The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed — for lack of a better word — is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms — greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge — has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed — you mark my words — will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.”
Consumer Confidence, Darling of the System
We often hear the media cite indices of “consumer confidence”, generally referring to the confidence people have in the system. The rush on the banks to withdraw personal funds appears to be the ultimate threat to capitalism in times of economic crisis. As a result, the economic “experts” try to buoy up “consumer confidence” by reporting strength in the stock market, other portrayals of economic strength and by giving people the ability to buy on credit. These tactics work for a while despite the fact that most people generally make little to no connection between a stock market index and money for rent, clothing, food and healthcare. The alarm clocks of losses in health care, cars, homes, credit cards and inaffordability of a good education sound to wake us up. The poorest of the poor are hit first before it travels upward to erode the middle class, a cancer that is now in advanced stages.
The following article does not come from a “radical internet blog”. It comes from USA Today a capitalist media vanguard. For months the corporate media has been skirting around the “R” word. But yesterday, Bloomberg News, another capitalist media agency, began using the word liberally in a report titled: Recession Hits U.S. Profits; Economy Might Be Next. As we lurch forward on the path toward economic collapse, even the defenders of capitalism can no longer hide the truth. So they begin to report a semblance of the realities as they grab what they can, while they can – to insulate themselves and their own against future miseries. Meanwhile, their fear grows with the knowledge that the anesthetic in the veins of the people is wearing off and that there is nothing anyone can do to stop the economic tsunami that is just offshore. They know that when poverty reaches its critical mass, the people will rise up as they always have risen, “from the bottom”.
Read all of it here.