Thursday, May 13, 2010

Is Globalization Being Questioned, Or Capitalism Itself?

Riots in Greece.

Riots/protests in Thailand.

Chinese peasants resist liberalization to new capitalist ideas.

Russian public thinking back to the days of the "red" Kremlin.

Tea-baggers tea-bagging each other in the USA...

Instability throughout the EU...

African peoples finding appeal in radical versions of Islam as Western philosophies fail them... while the other half embrace a radical Christianity as "servants" of the West...

What's the common thread here (or is there one)? Global economic turmoil is behind most of it. When we fail economically, it is the poor and working classes which feel it the most.

The Tea Partiers may think their "enemy" is the supposed "socialism" of Obama, or higher taxes... but that is just sheer ignorance pushed by the far right Republicans who organize them. They forget that it was years of Reagan/Bush (and even Clinton at times) policy which got them where they are. That globalization and the rampant profit motive "uber alles" of the American multi-nationals which led to their job insecurities. That the new "corporate globalism" is indeed their biggest "enemy". We've seen the results as the Halliburtons, BPs, Worldcoms, Maidoffs, etc. of the world syphon/leech away the fruits of the sweat and toil of the common worker.

It isn't about lower taxes, but about the stupid and infantile practice of minimal taxation practised by the right wing in most nations. The people were used to a lifestyle. As resources get used up, and as jobs migrate, there is less ability to pay for certain "lifestyle things"... You either raise taxes, or go without. Sure, a Trillion dollar military debt bungs things up a bit too... when you're so busy playing policeman (with no respect from the rest of the World to show for it), that you forget about your own populace.

In the EU there is also civil unrest. In Thailand, the common folk and rural denizens are ready to shove pitchforks through their right wing overlords. In Africa - where years of IMF policy has lead to famine, death, pain and starvation - people are diving into tribal conflict, and the promise of radical Islam... (or the extremes of some Christian groups backed by the West). Look at news stories from across the world, and you see the struggle is the same. It used to be Communism vs. Capitalism, but it's still haves vs. have nots... rich vs. poor.

As the roosters come home to roost, we're finding the gaps we left... the people and ideals we left in the wake of an orgy of "me first" idealism. The 1980s Wall St. gang-bang was nothing compared to what the 2000s wrought on even the most frugal of us. With kids demanding and EXPECTING the latest gadget/toy, and parents thinking too, that it is their right... Citizens thinking they have a right to the 4000 sq ft "McMansion" with the requisite granite counters and stainless this and that... Salespeople for everything imaginable, going crazy, lying cheating and stealing to push their product. Subliminal messages on TV commercials, ads aimed at kids, in our schools and libraries - even on government buildings... The age of "me first", "compare with the Joneses" seems to be reaching an angry conclusion...

When the platitudes of the political parties subside (or get brushed away)... as people begin to really see that conservative economic policy has NEVER stood for the common man, we may see some changes... Will it be an end to our capitalist system? Most likely not. There are too many good things about modern liberal democracies operating in such a system to throw it all away now. Still, there will be changes. The world will slowly evolve to a point where "sensible capitalism" will take the place of rabid "Adam Smith" free-enterprise, axe-slash capitalism. No more "scorched earth" policies, as nations will need to respect nature, as well as their limited and dwindling supplies of water, clean air, and food. The mystery of how we intend to feed, clothe, and shelter 10 to 15 Billion people in the near future will dictate how we survive as a species... and which systems of trade and nationhood represent our humanity.

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1 comment:

The Mound of Sound said...

I think it's the rapid spread of corporatism that is the major destabilizing force. Only now are we finding that capitalism and corporatism are only cousins and that neither is particularly fond of messy old democracy with all of its upheavals and uncertainty. Totalitarian states, provided they mind their manners, are by far a better match for corporatism. For corporatists to thrive in democracies requires the establishment of oligarchy and the sharp suppression of middle class economic and political power.

Look at the United States. The rentier class is booming. The top 1% have never had it so good. With increasing concentration of wealth at the very top, social mobility is all but choked off. Social mobility rates are vastly higher in socialist Scandinavia than in the US where the middle class is reeling and the gap between rich and poor races ever wider.

All of these changes are immensely corrosive of society and social cohesion. This is well demonstrated in a book by two leading British research epidemiologists, "The Spirit Level, Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better." It's an amazing eye-opener based on half a century of research and studies in every Western democracy. Very often the paths that we perceive lead to prosperity turn out to be our undoing.