Sunday, January 15, 2006

give or take

clearly, Marx's suggestion as to how we might more equitably distribute the planet's resources amongst its inhabitants (from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs) is so alien to the prevailing global economic and political ideologies that it (the idea) has had to be progressively demonised to the point that it (the idea) is now almost synonymous with that other braindead idea - the invention of our zombie neocon overlords - 'Terror'.

that there is no nation called 'Terror' on any known maps at which we can point our cruise missiles has become entirely ignored - an invisible obstacle to this entirely irrational, ongoing war. in pursuit of this fiction, H C Andersen's invention of a tailor able to con an entire empire into believing that only his invisible materials were sufficiently extravagant, and sufficiently exorbitant, to clothe an emperor was amateurish in comparison to the ongoing industrial smog-machine of lies and disinformation that has been billowing from the collective arses of the Capitol and Westminster for the last four years.

that there might be, in these egregious corridors of power, the tiniest wisp of real concern for or compassion with those desperately trying to survive their impoverishment and dispossession either through forces of nature or forces of arms or market forces or forces merely of accident is so unlikely as to be ludicrous.

millions - possibly billions - of world citizens have been deprived of the information upon which they might make an educated choice about their economic and political futures because of the hysterical - primarily American - paranoia about socialism. just as Soviet Communism (which, in its devolved post-Revolutionary form of Stalinist dictatorship bore as little relation to the revolutionary proposals of those nineteenth-century European socialist thinkers as does American football to English rugby) had erased from the history books all mention of its opponents, so this so-called free market globalism - a system dedicated, supposedly, to the proliferation of choice in the market place - has restricted choice amongst the fundamental economic ideologies to that of one only, all others having been touched by the devil himself.

as is always the case in the field of capitalist economics, there is no rationale to any of this other than the self-interest of the stakeholders. despite all that queasy self-justifying stuff about wealth-generation and trickle-down effects, the laws of capitalist economics are absolutely indistinguishable from the laws of the jungle - the overriding interests of the zealots of acquisition are totally inimical to any inclination to altruism. the kindness displayed by the wealthy towards the poor - the foundations, the scholarships, the bequests - is no more than facile PR masking some heavy-duty fringe-illegal tax evasions. obviously, a nation which was truly concerned with the welfare of its less fortunate citizens would not need to request anything more than a reasonable (and affordable) tax deduction from the earnings of its more fortunate to make provision for their support. in the absence of any such administrational concern, and in the context of the degradation of the semantics of 'left' both in liberal economics and in governance to the point where it means little more than moderating the more extreme manifestations of naked greed in the markets, 'charity' is nothing more than a routine portfolio adjustment.

the age of revolution is long gone - neither the opportunity nor the means nor the intellectual spine remain, despite the fearsome universal weight of mass disaffection with our beloved leaders - and, such was the effectiveness of the lessons drawn from its (historically) momentary rocking of the geopolitical boat by the emergent clusters of reactionary power, so successfully have those agencies insinuated into the collective unconscious their sophistries and their monopolistic vision of economic progress (a vision predicated on the frankly insane assumption that the planet's finite mineral resources are infinitely expoitable) that unforeseen catastrophe would seem to be the only possible foreseeable engine of radical change - just as the KT boundary extinction event did for the dinosaurs of the Jurassic, so only some equally random armageddon analogue will do for the dinosaurs of the city.

the only reason why capitalism has emerged as top dog in the litter of possible scenarios for a global post-industrial economy is because it's the most aggressive - capitalism and the industries of war being co-dependent, locked together, forever, in a macabre dance of death. and aggressive, by definition, is all about winners and losers.

thing is, no-one wants to be a loser, but, under capitalism, ninety-nine percent are. they have to be. that's how it works. that's how the numbers work. that's why something like 3% of the world's population owns something like 95% of the planet's wealth. that's 'own', as in 'mine - fuck off - try taking it off me if you think you're so smart.' that's how we're persuaded to buy lottery tickets, even though the chances of winning are worse than being struck by lightning.

I doubt that more than a handful of people outside the specialist forums of professional economists and students of economics could name as many as three alternative economic systems to capitalism (Wikipedia lists thirty-nine). such options as the gift economy, or potlatch, for instance, which sustained the entire Native American population until it was displaced by the 'take' economy of the white immigrant invasions, are now regarded, if regarded at all, with ridicule and contempt, in much the same way as we have come to consider that other iconic victim of specicide, the dodo.

disastrous as it might be (and it is - it most certainly is) for the health of the planet and for all but a fraction of its citizens, the mixed economy version of capitalism is embedded for the long term. just how long that term proves to be is in neither the hands of the gods nor the politicians nor the insurance companies, none of whose provisions will be worth a can of beans once the real, non-compliant shit hits the fan. tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow.

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