A Hard Look at Rent and Rent Seeking with Michael Hudson & Pepe Escobar

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A Hard Look at Rent and Rent Seeking with Michael Hudson & Pepe Escobar

December 23, 2020

Michael Hudson and Pepe Escobar discuss rent and rent-seeking, i.e., unproductive economic activity, in the US and China mainly but including the Russian, Iranian and Brazilian economies.

In the first 15 minutes, an overview from Michael Hudson explains what happened in the US economy once jobs and manufacturing were offshored to mainly China.  He proposes that even if China did not exist, the US economy has been changed to the extent that it is almost impossible to change back to a productive economy without material changes in the economic model.

Pepe keeps the conversation flowing quickly with incisive questions.  The two esteemed gentlemen take a look at the Chinese view on a possible Biden administration and how the military hawks in Washington could be countered.   Outlining the ‘conflict of systems’ between the US and China, Michael Hudson explains the thinking of the Pentagon and paying ‘protection money’ historically to fund oligarchies.  It is a ‘war between systems’, Hudson explains with the thinking being:  “If only China did not export to us, we could reindustrialize.”

“It’s over”: says Hudson, because “we’ve painted ourselves into such a debt corner.  So much money flows to the top 5% that there is no money for investment, no money for growth.”

Hudson explains the concept of capitalism, how it was conceived to work against neo-liberalism, and how it has changed to systemic support for rentier economics.

A wealth of detail follows, around fictitious debt and wealth creation.   Michael discusses the ‘brainwashing’ of Russia vis a vis economic policy and central bank to end up in a position where Russia was paying 100% interest for years under American advisors and privatized rentiers, “a bunch of gangsters.”   Very interesting is the discussion on how the perpetrators, the leading university of the US in the destruction and looting of Russia, could not be brought to a court.

“You don’t need an army to destroy a country any longer.  All you need to do is to teach it American economics.”  Michael Hudson

A question from Pepe regarding the economies of North East Asia, South East Asia, the Asia Crisis and currently further integration with Russia, resulted in this very cogent quote from Michael Hudson.

“The current mode of warfare is to conquer the brains of a country, to shape how people think.  If you can twist their view into unreality economics, to make them think you are there to help them and not to take money out of them, then you’ve got them hooked.  You need to lend them money, and then crash it.”  Michael Hudson.

The conversation ends with an extensive question from Pepe regarding the biggest myth regarding Belt and Road, the supposed ‘debt trap’.  The difference in systems, non-rentier, and rentier, debt, and neo-liberalism again is illustrated in a crystal clear fashion.

Biden won? 2016-2020 showed what the US does to even mild reformers

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

Friday, 18 December 2020 11:21 AM  [ Last Update: Friday, 18 December 2020 12:07 PM ]

Biden won? 2016-2020 showed what the US does to even mild reformers
Ramin Mazaheri is currently covering the US elections. He is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

by Ramin Mazaheri and cross-posted with PressTV

What the four-year epoch of Donald Trump has made staggeringly clear to non-Americans is that no one – not even a democratically-elected American – will be able to even moderately alter the US capitalist-imperialist foreign policy trajectory without undergoing a no-holds barred attack aimed at bringing that person down.

What the election of Joe Biden (although “installation” is clearly more accurate) shows is that the current American elite is wrongly yet firmly guided by the the self-serving and evangelical ideas which have dominated US foreign policy since the implosion of the USSR in 1991: “the end of history”, unipolar dominance and “humanitarian interventionism”.

Trump’s defeat is still an assumption, but – given that the Supreme Court will likely continue to sidestep the issue of state executive orders for mail-in ballots that bypassed a democratic check and balance by the legislative branch – the staggering burden of proof on those who claim a criminal conspiracy of electoral fraud have a lot of proving to do, and in a very short period of time.

What’s certain is that Trump was undoubtedly the one person who put fear into the all-smothering US establishment in my lifetime, and probably yours. He dared to cast mainstream doubt on the elites’ versions of free trade (neoliberal capitalism) and foreign policy (imperialism), and he progressed the American conversation from Eisenhower’s seemingly technocratic “military-industrial complex” to the far more nefarious yet accurate “Deep State”.

Yes, Trump has weakened America domestically via his policies of deregulation and liberal (not neoliberal) capitalism, but this column talks about the new post-Trump realisations now breaking over the non-American world:

Trump has irrevocably changed foreign perceptions of America – in it’s cultural, social, political and economic totality – because the world witnessed the shocking extremism the US establishment/1%/Deep State/military-industrial-media complex/etc. was willing to use day after day just to take him down.

Trump showed the world who they are really dealing with: forces much stronger than even the US executive

Few Americans wanted to openly admit that what Trump initially suggested to the world was actually a new type of global competition, instead of one predicated on the usual American, “You’re either with us and for goodness and progress, or against us and for the terrorists”. But that was a major change, and it was predicated on Trump’s non-mainstream politician admission that America had fallen so far that people had to actually do some work to “Make America Great Again” – he essentially admitted it was no longer a unipolar world.

Trump openly promised death to Iran, Palestine and Cuba, but in 2016 part of his shock was that he clearly had accepted a multipolar world as he shockingly talked about extending an olive branch to Russia and a purchase order to China.

Trump saw that because of the financial crimes and corruption of the US elite, as well as their failed neoliberal response to the Great Recession, it was undeniable that America (and it’s European allies) had degraded and been equalled, or in some areas surpassed by, China and Russia. Trump admitted this, and thus the businessman wanted to “do business” with America’s two recalcitrant peers while still crushing revolutionary, sovereignty-demanding or just smaller nations with the competitive might the US still had held on to.

Trump – of course – was not just unhindered but applauded by the US Deep State in expanding upon the existing policy of crushing revolutionary countries, but he was clearly forced into antagonising those two American equals when initially he obviously did not want to.

So what does Trump’s ousting now mean for those two major countries? It means normal, peaceful relations with the US are now impossible for at least four years. How can they possibly conclude otherwise?

Why would China, Russia, or the other undoubted enemies of Washington possibly expect any detente with the US from 2021 onwards when the Trump era has unequivocally proven to them that such detente will never be permitted by the US elite at any cost?

It is now crystal clear that the US president does not shape foreign policy – he only implements it. If he doesn’t we see what happens: the US establishment was aghast at his calls to prosecute “crooked Hillary”, but Trump looks like he will be the first ex-president to ever face prosecution.

Who is actually giving the foreign policy orders? Feel free to guess my opinion, but we know it is certainly not public opinion. Trump obviously tried to please public opinion and pull out of Afghanistan, Somalia and elsewhere and we all saw what happened – he was absolutely vilified for it in all the US power circles.

There are countless articles in American mainstream media which prove this analysis right; which confirm that Biden will be even more belligerent to China and Russia; which confirm he will use the same drones and sanctions on all “un-invadable” nations as Trump did. It’s clear from Biden’s statements and cabinet choices that – in policies towards non-Americans – he is going to deploy the worst of Trump’s tools but, crucially, combine them with the worst of phony Clintonian “humanitarian interventionism”.

So why would China or Russia kowtow to Biden when the 2016-2020 era shows that total belligerence is the only possibility Washington permits? Why would China or Russia expect Biden to extend mutually-beneficial cooperation? It’s not going to arrive, and part of Trump’s downfall was that he even tried.

One must look at it from the perspective of non-Americans: 2016-2020 has been incredibly shocking in the way that a political newcomer who seemed to want peace in some places was pulled down by a myriad of rabid and hysterical monkeys. Biden and the US establishment wants the non-American to act as if 2016-2020 never happened, but who could possibly forget what shockingly terrible actions were on display in the US over the past four years to prevent any new policies, especially in foreign relations?

Obama was a successful ‘brand change’, but Biden will not be

In 2016 the US was already so weakened by its Great Recession-inducing financial crimes that Trump came to the fore. In 2020 the US is even more gutted, due to this spectacularly awful year. So why would Russia and China not meet the confrontations which Washington is clearly still intent on posing to them?

Biden has none of Obama’s charisma, youth, acting ability, etc. He behaves like an old grandfather who will do anything to earn the attention and admiration of his grandchildren, not someone who can credibly back up claims of being the competent leader of the self-appointed “leader of the free world”.

That is why China is now showing a shocked Australia who really needs who economically via unprecedented tariffs. It’s why Russia is sending the S-400 defense system to Turkey and is having their ambassador to Israel stick up for Iran no matter who it offends. It’s not a question of America being too “weak” nor realpolitik but common sense – the fall of Trump emphatically proves detente with the US is simply not going to be permitted.

More of these challenges to the US will occur in the next four years because that is all Washington wants. Of course the American people don’t want that: half the American people voted for Trump, after all, and we know that they meant nothing to the American elite for four years; the half-leftist Bernie Sanders supporters were similarly shut out once their vote has been used to push out Trump.

When we consider that 2016-2020 was more an American cultural era of “Trump, the ousting” rather than “Trump, the democratically-elected leader” it’s clear that for non-Americans Trump truly heralded the end of global cultural domination by the US, which started after World War II. Didn’t everybody say that would happen in 2016, after all? They were right, but usually for the wrong reasons. It’s no coincidence that the Iranian term gharbzadegi – or “Westoxification” – goes back to the 1940s.

Yet despite their increased division and overall weakness Washington still expects non-American nations to accept the exact same amount of smothering domination as in 1991, 2001, 2007 and even 2015.

But why?

The US is trending in the right direction economically and culturally? The election of Biden has restored US prestige? The manner in which he won inspires confidence? Biden has a foreign policy agenda which is going to be less belligerent than Trump’s unprecedented call to end America’s endless foreign wars? The US has a Belt and Road Initiative which I don’t know about?

Let’s take this moment to realise that an unprecedented, four-year confusion has come to an end: It’s clear that US reformism lost.

It wasn’t a great reformism, but it was something different and positive in some ways. To stop it the US elite gutted their own nation’s psyche, culture, integrity, friendships, families and communities.

On a visceral level, which is not yet registered intellectually, the world saw that proposing changes away from US unipolar domination inspired shocking, debasing cultural war every day for the last four years – is that a system to have faith in, or a system to give in to?

The weakest nations of the world will be pushed into line with post-Trump US leadership, but the strong nations wouldn’t be strong if they had faith in the restoration of the Washington establishment, which Biden represents. Biden is certain to keep challenging strong nations, no matter how unjust or foolish that is.

However, it’s obviously incredibly unfortunate that the moderate reforms suggested by Trump – especially the peaceful ones in foreign policy – could not even be attempted. Maybe some other American will try, but they should now be prepared to undergo the Trump treatment.

*************************************************************

Dispatches from the United States after the presidential election

Results are in: Americans lose, duopoly wins, Trumpism not merely a cult (1/2) – November 5, 2020

Results are in: Americans lose, duopoly wins, Trumpism not merely a cult (2/2) – November 6, 2020

4 years of anti-Trumpism shaping MSM vote coverage, but expect long fight – November 7, 2020

US partitioned by 2 presidents: worst-case election scenario realized – November 9, 2020

A 2nd term is his if he really wants it, but how deep is Trump’s ‘Trumpism’? – November 10, 2020

CNN’s Jake Tapper: The overseer keeping all journalists in line (1/2) – November 13, 2020

‘Bidenism’ domestically: no free press, no lawyer, one-party state? (2/2) – November 15, 2020

Where’s Donald? When 40% of voters cry ‘fraud’ you’ve got a big problem – November 17, 2020

The 4-year (neoliberal) radicalisation of US media & Bidenites’ ‘unradical radicalism’ – November 22, 2020

80% of US partisan losers think the last 2 elections were stolen – December 3, 2020

Trump declares civil war for voter integrity in breaking (or broken) USA – December 5, 2020

Mess with Texas via mail-in ballot? States secede from presidential vote – December 8, 2020

Ramin Mazaheri is currently covering the US elections. He is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

The Triumph of Mankind Over the Great Reset: Guns, Books, and the Social Contract

Joaquin Flores

November 20, 2020

In The Dystopic Great Reset and the Fight Back: Population Reduction and Hope for the Children of Men , our Part I, we developed on our previous essays on planned obsolescence and the problems of the old paradigm as we enter the 4th Industrial Revolution. We looked at how several science fiction works like ‘The Virus’ and ‘Children of Men’ in culture actually predicted and lent to us an understanding the new reified nightmare being built around us. Finally, we looked at Althusser’s ‘ISA’, Ideological State Apparatus and how this was developed towards a politically correct elite culture which opened the door to the so-called ‘new normal’, where slavery and self-harm are virtue signals.

At the end of ‘The Dystopic Great Reset and the Fight Back […]’ that it would be necessary to trace aspects of the history of the social contract in order to lay the foundation of understanding

In our previous essay ‘Capitalism After Corona Lockdown: Having the Power to Walk Away, we also then posed the question of the social contract itself.

Because the vast majority of us today are born into civilization, we don’t always think about its origins in terms of the agency of individuals who joined or formed the first civilizations. We tend to be taught through our institutions that it was something in between voluntary and natural, and the great 19th century nationalist romanticism promoted a view of self-determination of peoples, a view that would later be taken up by nationalist and leftist movements around the world in the 20th century – later enshrined in the UN.

But much of the story of the first state-building civilizations, understanding that people are a resource when organized and put to work, is that some balance between slavery and half-freedom rests at its foundation.

The mass production of books and guns, which came about within the same historical period, entirely upended the old foundation of class society. The mass production of guns and books may have, at a certain point, been seen as powerful reinforcements for the status quo. Larger armies could be effectively armed at lower cost. The Ideological State Apparatus, as we can infer from Althusser, could be disseminated and internalized more effectively. But as with technology, came its dual-use features. The very technologies developed with an eye at perfecting the control mechanisms within the status quo of oligarchic orders, in keeping up with the technologies that other competing power networks (countries, kingdoms, nations, etc.), can be turned on its head if these technologies were democratized and fell into the hands of the broadest possible numbers of people. Such was the process both in the American Revolution, and also for instance in the Vietnamese resistance to Japanese, French, and American colonialism in the last century.

For the first time in many centuries, knowledge and brute force were no longer an insurmountable near-monopoly held by the state or those it could compromise. The gun – the great equalizer of men, and the book – the great liberator of minds.

Since that epoch of great emancipation and promise, technology has continued with this contradictory path of dual-use. However, the balance of power and the natures of technologies hitherto developed has shifted tremendously, favoring the status quo and disempowering the broad masses. This lamentable condition, however, is upended by the applied technologies which the real 4th Industrial Revolution (not the World Economic Forum’s model) brings into being.

In the last epoch of the 20th century, we had begun a dangerous trajectory to a blind-sighted overspecialization (compartmentalization/fachidiotizmus) which are the hallmarks of technocracy, and away from the liberatory epoch of centuries past which gave rise to constitutional republics.

In the past, before the old liberatory epoch, just as a military class was reliant on exclusive access to armaments, today is characterized by a combination of pharmaceutical and social programming through media which are powers out of the reach of the people. This rise and perfection of what Heidegger would define and what Marcuse would characterize as a permanently stable techno-industrial bureaucratic mode of society, characterizes today’s world of social-media influencing, anti-depressants, mass psychological operations such as virtual or holographic pandemics (HIV, Covid-19, etc.), and the surveillance state.

This part is most important in establishing that for the foreseeable future, escaping the 4th Industrial Revolution is an impossibility. At the same time, the dual-use nature of the technologies still hold some liberatory potential, but the past methods of arriving at these has changed.

This means that the ideology of the ruling class is tremendously important. Unlike revolutionary republican and bolshevist conceptions of power and change which share an insurrectionist presumption premised in the liberatory age of guns and books (which made the ‘political soldier’ a possibility), we have increasingly entered a zenith point in social-control technologies wherein the likelihood of a controlled group winning a contest for power against the controlling group approaches zero, if we imagine this as a contest between armed groups wherein the military acts not in the interests of their extended families, but in the interests of those writing the checks.

Such limitations were already understood by those influenced by bolshevism, such as Antonio Gramsci in his discussion of hegemony in his Quaderni del Carcere. Cultural hegemony is a war of attrition over the entire ideological terrain, a component of what today we might call full-spectrum dominance. This parallels (and must have influenced) the later Althusserian conception of the Ideological State Apparatus (ISA).

The single-most revolutionary legal document to have arisen in the course of the last three-hundred years in the western tradition was the U.S. Constitution. At its foundation rests the assumption that man is born free, and enters into a social contract willingly, a view supported by a view of natural rights, natural law, and an equality of the soul endowed by the creator.

It is a social contract that man enters into every-day, and can exit any-day.

To understand the liberatory potential of a 4th Industrial Revolution is to understand the dual-use nature of technology in the history of liberatory epochs.

Before the rise of computers and robots performing much of the labor in society, societies grew in strength as they grew in people. With automation and roboticization, human beings become a surplus cost of no consequence to production provided that society itself is not anthropocentric.

The new normal being proposed, is one with no freedom of thought, let alone expression. It is one with social credit, tagging people as if they were animals on a wildlife reserve, and the total regimentation of every-day life. The contours of what techno-industrial civilization can lead to, of what scientific tyranny looks like, is not only visible to us now, but has been creeping into our lives for the past century.

The response to this in the U.S. has been an increasing support for Trump and the phenomenon that can really be described as ‘Trumpism’, which despite the media hologram of a Biden victory will most probably result in a second Trump administration. Trumpism has become synonymous with Constitutionalism, despite the revenge-fantasy language and tropes employed by a disconcerting segment of its base. In England, we have seen a parallel movement of the post-left, and a rise in ‘common law’ activism and an activist education campaign surrounding the meaning of the Magna Carta. For these parallel reasons, we had also previously characterized the Trump phenomenon as the child of a frustrated Occupy Wall Street movement after its affair with the Tea Party, but back in numbers and strength by a dispossessed working class long ago betrayed by organized labor, the DNC, and imbalanced trade deals with China.

But while these responses (with their defects and limitations) are a healthy sign, they do not yet have the depth to articulate a countering vision for society which also takes into account the state of technology as it exists today. That is why we have not seen a very thorough public discussion on the reality of technology, and the state of matters which are real and present.

Instead, we see from the conservative reaction to the 4IR – a reaction which raises all of the correct concerns and levies all of the correct criticisms against the banker’s version of it. This historically parallels the Luddites, who saw at the start of the 19th century that mass industry was replacing the work of the skilled trades and craftsmen with machines.

Their solution, to destroy the machines, failed primarily because machines produce more in volume than men. Even if they had won the political battle, it would have only been a matter of time before a competing society fully utilizing industry would over-take theirs. And perhaps this here tells the entire story of the conquest over nomadic and agriculturalist societies at the hands of the state-building, techno-industrial societies even thousands of years ago.

And so we arrive at the stark truth – there is no running or hiding from the future.

It is the task of free citizens to take ahold of the emerging new technologies into their own hands, for their own purposes: to live in society that acts towards human freedom and dignity of the soul. A world where our small children can grow up in a world without unnecessary humility or fear. A world where there is promise and hope, a promise truly justified by a real-existing society around them based upon what is true, what is beautiful, and what is good.

Has the US been chastised into reform, or is 4 more years of Trump needed?

Monday, 26 October 2020 9:25 AM  [ Last Update: Tuesday, 27 October 2020 5:30 AM ]

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US President Donald Trump leaves the polling station after casting his ballot at the Palm Beach County Public Library, during early voting for the November 3 election, in West Palm Beach, Florida, on October 24, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Has the US been chastised into reform, or is 4 more years of Trump needed?

By Ramin Mazaheri

Ramin Mazaheri is currently covering the US elections. He is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

There is a world of difference between “make it stop” and “make it change”, no?

In 2016 we all knew that a Trump victory would undoubtedly be terrible for Iran, Cuba and Palestine – that has been proven true.

However, being a “one-issue voter” is never advisable, but especially for those voting in the country which has more global influence than any other.

The question for those in those three countries is this: why would a victory by Joe Biden herald a major change in US policy – not merely a change from post-2016 policy, but from the United States’ policy since 1979, 1959 or 1948?

Trump-era sanctions are illegal, inhumane and war, indeed, but it would be overreaction to say they were something altogether new. Washington’s policy towards all three of these nations – undoubtedly the martyrs of the international community – has been the unbroken same for many decades: destruction of the patriotic leadership elements in those countries. (However, Palestinians can accurately add that supporting total genocide against all Palestinians is also an undeniably clear policy of Washington.)

Why would Biden reverse these policies? A temporary relenting is not a reversal.

Is not reversal the goal, or is merely “less worse” the democratic majority desire in these three nations as regards their foreign policy with America?

Worryingly, it should be assumed that Biden would certainly be more successful in galvanising Western support for “new” Iranian sections than Trump, who alienated America’s allies, if Biden chose to do so. What if these sanctions are thus even more comprehensive than the Trump era’s “US alone” sanctions?

When it comes to these three anti-imperialism-championing, leftist-inspired nations we must consider the “hope” aspect – Barack Obama won on this idea precisely because it is so critical to consider: is it possible that a Trump finally freed of election concerns could perhaps do what he was elected to do in 2016 – break with the Washington “Swamp” and all of its horrors and murders?

The world notes that Trump is – without question – the least belligerent elected president in the modern era (Gerald Ford was not elected). Considering that prior to WWII the US was still engaged in wars of imperialism in North America and beyond, and also that prior to the Civil War the US was engaged in slavery, it is not an exaggeration to say that Trump has been one of America’s least foreign-warmongering presidents. This sounds preposterous, but American history is an unbroken line of preposterous, imperialist brutality – denying that is inaccurate.

Therefore, it’s reasonable to consider that a Trump freed of election concerns, and also of trying to win over the Washington establishment, could allow his anti-belligerent tendencies to take over. Trump is not a military man, but a business man. The idea that Biden could possibly have a “Nixon moment” with Iran is absolutely out of the question – he is completely an establishment man. Indeed, this reality is the foundation of his presidential campaign – a return to “normalcy”.

But the US establishment is totally anti-Iranian Islamic Revolution, anti-Islamic conceptions of capitalism, and anti-Iranian resistance to Western invasion and imperialism. In a system dominated by lobby interests, there is absolutely no “pro-Iran” lobby and to think there is would be to misunderstand America.

The concern is that those outside of and unfamiliar with America do not understand these realities; that there are still those who think Obama was truly worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize; that think Democrats are lenient towards to the world even though they spearheaded the destruction of Yugoslavia, Libya, Honduras, Haiti, Ukraine etc. and etc. It is like a a household with two very unpleasant daughters: the family always says, “That one is the easy-going one”, when in reality she is still very unpleasant when compared with normal standards of comportment.

There is absolutely no way Biden would engineer a “Nixon moment” of (not rapprochement but) detente with Iran. Therefore, the question to ask is: are the 2016-era sanctions so bad that Iran has to throw in the towel, and not take a chance on the most successful anti-establishment candidate in the US since Andrew Jackson?

Part 2: Why would anyone, anywhere wish for the very unpleasant Washington establishment to remain in complete control?

We have established that Biden may only slightly lessen, but never end, the four decades of sanctions on Iran. About Trump – we simply cannot be so sure.

Trump, thus, is the “hope” candidate. Trump doesn’t have a real ideology, we have learned since 2016 – he’s not a real Zionist, any more than he’s a real Christian, any more than he’s a real Republican – he is a selfish business man, and that is it. These people ruin the world, but can also build great things. 

That’s the same question Americans considering voting for Trump are asking: are things so bad that the only way to advance is via retreat – i.e. four more years of the astoundingly upsetting (the French “bouleversement” is so much more accurate) Trump presidency?

Turning to America’s domestic situation: they are in a catastrophe on top of a catastrophe, i.e. the 2020 coronavirus recession is being added to the 2008 Great Recession.

The election media circus does not focus on this – they instead create nonsense like Iranians posing as “Proud Boys” and mail-in ballot hysteria – but if you are in the US and talking to people you only hear from Americans about how truly bad things are in ways totally unrelated to the election.

Visitors from Iran cannot believe their eyes when they see the US – this country is in disrepair, is technologically behind in many ways, and is in jaw-droppingly bad physical and social health (putting aside more subjective questions of moral and mental health).

How on earth can we explain the 2020 continued success and resonance of Trump, who in the 2nd debate kept reminding voters of why he won in 2016: the staggering corruption of the US political establishment, of which he is not completely a part of?

He knows that the US public has as many reasons to subvert the US political establishment as the Iranian public has: the most basic, and necessary, examination of the situation via this lens of class tells us that – of course – both publics greatly suffer under the brutality of the unwanted capitalism-imperialism foisted by the 1%.

Furthermore, we should expect that the factions thwarted in 2016 would impose even further safeguards to their power to make sure another Trump cannot happen again.

Trump has pushed things to the right, indeed, but nobody more so than the US establishment and 1%: this couldn’t be more in evidence thanks to how even the Democrats have embraced the CIA & FBI, Twitter/Facebook censorship, QE policies which keep their rich donor classes happy, and how this class demands Trump be even more warlike and employ even more policies which many used to only associate with American conservatives. The American Democrat is no leftist.

But the delusion is believing that far-right policies – both at home and abroad regarding places like Iran – started with Trump. American Democrats may believe that nonsense, but it’s vital that the world has a memory which stretches back just a mere five years. A Biden victory would immediately allow the US to sweep under the rug and to scapegoat the nation’s pre-2016 problems on Trump – many American voters will not tolerate that, as they want immediate changes to the long-running status quo.

Who knows what a second Trump presidency would do? This is both hope and risk. And as Biden said in the second election: “You know who I am” – indeed. 

What the world and the US public wants is obvious: mutually-beneficial cooperation, which is not necessarily excluded in capitalism, but it is excluded in “capitalism with Western characteristics”. “Trump term 1” was against free-trade, neoliberal capitalism-imperialism: would “Trump term 2” push aside the New York City financial elite and insist on concluding mutually-beneficial business deals which don’t have to be signed at the barrel-end of a US gun?

It’s so very, very hard to believe, but US Congresspeople spend 70% of their work day fundraising. What a terrible system, no? This explains how Americans get such poor governance – they are not occupied with the business of public service.

I think it’s fair to point out that Trump has done the same since 2016 in order to win re-election: he has spent 70% of his time complying with and being bogged down by establishment nonsense – Russophobia, a useless impeachment drive, a hostile media, etc. What would he do if he was freed from this, and given free rein to use the executive branch powers for actual policy which bypassed the Swamp? We don’t know, because we have never seen such a US president.

The question is this: does a Trump freed from re-election concerns, and confident of his mandate, still continue to turn his back on the patriotic populism which his voters expected, or do we see something even more spectacularly upsetting to the US establishment than what we have seen the past four years?

We do know Biden will re-chart the American course for Obama’s “pivot to Asia” and all the other usual capitalist-imperialist belligerence. Regarding the influence of Bernie Sanders and the fake-leftistm America has recently mustered: please don’t make me laugh at the idea that in 2021 they will be handed top cabinet posts and actual influence.

But a vote for Biden implicitly implies that the US has learned much since 2016 and will reform and correct themselves; that Biden is not an establishment man, as I asserted, but something new. To put it in Trumpian campaign terms: Biden the public servant in year 48 will be different than Biden the public servant years 1-47. Conversion, rebirth, epiphany – these are all real things, certainly, and nowhere more so perhaps than in evangelical Christian-dominated America.

But we must also remember that, as the European Union proves, Western “neo-imperialism” includes the colonisation of the Western public by an unpatriotic, international 1%. Biden is undoubtedly neoliberal and neo-imperial – Trump is… something else, no? (One cannot be anti-free trade and still neoliberal, after all.)

Thus the “hope” choice in this election is not “for” Trump – it is “anti”-US establishment, and that goes for those abroad as well as domestically.

This article does not promote Trump but merely seeks to explain his popularity, as the Western mainstream media cannot do anything but support their establishment, of course. Biden voters are “holding their nose” and voting for a candidate they don’t like – one is wrong to assume that Trump supporters aren’t doing the exact same.


Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

www.presstv.ir

www.presstv.co.uk

www.presstv.tv

October 26, 2020

3 weeks to election: No 2nd household stimulus? No mass protests? No pulse?

3 weeks to election: No 2nd household stimulus? No mass protests? No pulse?

October 14, 2020

By Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog

If you had said back in May that the CARES Act would be the only fiscal stimulus in the world’s richest country surely you would have responded, “But then by October America will certainly be in pandemonium?”

Well… where’s the pandemonium?

I can best explain this American exceptionalism – that they go postal only when they should not, instead of when they should – via this October 3rd report I did for PressTV.

For those of you who don’t want to deal with the “inexplicable” glitches and stops which somehow “magically” afflict every PressTV report I try to watch from inside the US, here’s the recap: in Chicago, which is just a half-million people short of being a megacity, only about 150 people showed up for an anti-unemployment demonstration even though half the country is affected by either joblessness or under-employment.

In urban areas like San Francisco, with a metro area half the size of Chicago’s, you have 11 jobless for every one job opening, and yet… 150 people here?

As a reporter I just give the facts… and then, as I refuse to be a “useful idiot”, I also openly interpret the facts: the fact is, Americans have no idea what they are doing when it comes to politics. If you ask them whether the problem is either ignorance or apathy, they respond, “I don’t know and I don’t care.”

The problem, as I am a staunch believer in (non-Obama-related types of) hope, is not with the average Joe but with the Washington elite, who even if they came from an average Joe quite obviously do not care about the average Joe anymore.

Of course, as the currently-under-confirmation-proceedings Supreme Court Justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett proves, those tapped for the most truly elite spots are rarely from average Joe areas: Barrett would be, incredibly, the first justice who did not spend most of her life on the East Coast. To give an objective point to those in favor of the “Americans are ignorant” theory: mention “East Coast bias” to an American and they will think you are talking about how ESPN keeps talking about the Patriots and Yankees.

But the bewildering lack of any 2nd stimulus for households so emphatically proves that the Democratic leadership does not care about the average Joe (Republicans only care about an average Joe if said Joe is willing to reject all government assistance in every form) that even CNN had to hold Nancy Pelosi’s feet to the fire for the first time since Trump won the Republican primaries in 2016. Pelosi accused Wolf Blitzer and CNN of – now get ready to laugh – being “apologists for Republicans” simply because he pressed her on the bewildering and poverty-fuelling lack of a 2nd household stimulus.

LOL – maybe the Russians have flipped Wolf, eh Nancy? Putin’s power is limitless!

No, it’s just bewildering to even the CNN journalists as to why Democratic leadership refuses to alleviate massive economic suffering. I explained it here: No 2nd stimulus? Time to admit both parties want to destroy the average American, for those in the inexperienced youth class who can’t believe that Democrats could be as merciless and self-interested as those aren’t-they-just-ghastly conservatives.

Is this another boring article of me complaining about the super-failures of the super-capitalist imperialist US in 2020?

No, it’s to point out how wrong I am. Way back on May 28, in an article titled August 1: when the unemployment runs out and a new era of US labor battles begin I correctly opined, “I think there is no chance that the US 1% authorises an extension of the $600 per week extra past August 1 – it was totally out of keeping with US ideology to begin with, and yet another indicator of the hysteria which swept the US regarding coronavirus.” But – as I often can’t keep my mouth shut – I foolishly added, “Buy some popcorn and watch the show – August 1 is going to see public labor-related rage for the first time since the 1930s.”

So it’s less than three weeks until the election – where’s the labor-related rage?

I was in Kenosha, Wisconsin, again yesterday – the place is still totally boarded up, which seems rather much to me: There hasn’t been any widespread social rebellion since the end of August, anywhere. This article asks why that is?

The answer is the super-failures of the super-capitalist imperialist US that the US system produces tremendous political apathy, which has a side effect of increasing political ignorance.

As proof: I cannot express how pleas to “get out and vote” amazingly outnumber the advertisements for McDonalds, Coke and Beyonce combined – that seems like an impossibility, no? But such is the enormous political inertia here.

This apathy results in cases such as the nation’s third-largest city mustering only 150 people, 95% of whom were under 30, as the youth class has not relinquished that unique American optimism which eventually buckles under the reality encountered outside of school of the super-failures of the super-capitalist imperialist US.

If the trend of calm continues, the 2020 record will have to state that it was only Black-related issues which caused public protest despite the massive, massive societal chaos.

We can perhaps explain this by noting that the only truly successful protests in the US since nearly 1917 (the first year of socialist success) have been for Black-related issues. Stick with what works, I guess?

Indeed, the last grassroots, from-the-streets victory by White Americans was in 1920 – the year that anti-alcohol Prohibition was passed, as was women’s suffrage. Ever since socialism became a real thing it should be clear that White Americans are not about to march under anything resembling that successful banner, as it obviously opposes US domination.

Don’t tell me that Baby Boomers stopped Vietnam – the Vietnamese resistance booted out the invaders in 1975, not Western hippies. Americans didn’t flee until 8 full years after the “Summer of Love”.

2020 proves what we have known since those fun, marijuana-fuelled protests of the 1960s: White Americans simply don’t protest.

Republicans don’t protest, period. After all, they are status quo-lovers, and they aren’t about to muck up the system which they believe is the best in the world and always will be.

Democrats aren’t protesting because their elite leadership in 2020 has kept them overflowing with fear (corona), anger (Trump), identity politics (Black Lives Matter (which is not nonsense to Black people, of course, but which is inherently a minority-based movement as opposed to a broad, class-based, majority movement), and – above all – the rabid, competitive, evangelical fervor to win short-term growth via any means necessary in November’s elections.

But the bottom line is: for decades Americans have insisted on the status quo and violently rejected the call for any sort of revolutionary change in the economic and political structures upon which several centuries of Western culture has been based (bourgeois, aristocratic liberalism (for those who can afford it)). They have said to any nation or person – if you are not totally with us in maintaining these structures which preserve the status quo then we are totally against you.

Indeed, this is why I have always thought that “Civil War II is coming” worries are rather nonsense and impossible: Americans, for myriad reasons – ranging from fear of each other to smug complacency to apocalyptic apathy – simply don’t upset the apple cart. They are propagandised to always be selling apples, no matter how rotten they obviously are.

So there are no protests and I am proved wrong. But it is my job to opine, and thus to look foolish because – as a journalist – my learning is done in public.

But hope springs eternal – perhaps in the coming days Americans will indeed harness their widespread inner pandemonium against a leadership class which can’t even suggest that they eat cake amid massive hunger and shortages.

Ramin Mazaheri is currently covering the US elections. He is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

The ’Americanized’ Europe is Crumbling towards Bankruptcy and Chaos

The ’Americanized’ Europe is Crumbling towards Bankruptcy and Chaos

By George Haddad

Sofia – Until World War II, old Colonialism has prevailed in the world [excluding the Soviet Union which was besieged and isolated]. Production [i.e. industry and industry-based agriculture] was the center of the colonial system. The metropolitans [European colonial countries] were the “factory of the world”. As for the colonies and semi-colonies that were once called the “Third World”, they were obliged by force to be:

  1. Sources of raw materials [crude and agricultural] to supply the metropolitan industry.
  2. Markets for metropolitan industrial and agricultural products.

The so-called “price-cutter” was being forcefully imposed on the peoples of the colonial and semi-colonial countries, that is, they were forced to buy the commodities of European countries at high prices [higher than their real value], and to sell their raw materials at low prices [lesser than their real value].

The ruling capitalist classes of the colonials sewed up most of these “surplus” profits resulting from the aforementioned “price cuts” [the price differences]. But it was “waiving” a portion of less or more of those “surplus profits” to increase the living standards of the popular masses in colonial Europe, to anaesthetize them and obtain their support for a colonial policy, and at least make them condone that policy.

The historical consequence of that colonial system was that progress and affluence in the colonial Europe countries happened on the expense of the colonial and semi-colonial peoples of the third world by slaughtering, subduing, humiliating, and starving them.

The Second World War marked a turning point in the previous world order; on the one hand, the former socialist camp emerged, and on the other hand, the old colonial system collapsed due to the revolutions in the colonies and semi-colonies. The former colonial metropolitan countries [which emerged from the war weak and semi-destroyed] could no longer forcefully impose their “production” on the third world. Socialist thought spread like wildfire through the “Third World”. A large group that antagonize communism, especially in its economic and social aspects, embraced many groups that were hostile to or disagree politically, religiously and ideologically with communism. Accordingly, a realistic possibility for the global capitalist system as a whole to collapse saw light. But the American geostrategic intervention, militarily, politically, and economically, had blocked this possibility.

Not only did the United States emerge from the war safe and sound having distanced itself from the battlefields, but rather, it emerged wealthier and literally became the “World Bank” for gold reserves and thousands of billions of capital fleeing its countries due to the wars, revolutions, and the collapse of the old colonial system. This accumulation of global capitals in the US led to the emergence of multinational companies and major global capitalist monopolies alongside their Jewish capital nuclei and the adoption of the dollar as the main international currency, as well as the emergence of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund [IMF] to control the dollar process in the global economy as a whole. This led to a paradigm shift in the global capitalist system, which was to transfer the centre point of the global capitalist economy from “production” to “financing”, represented by loans, employment, and investments, which was the basis for the emergence of the new neoliberal system, American globalization, and the so-called “savage capitalism”. Due to these mechanisms, America worked and is still working to dominate the world.

This “paradigm shift” of the world capitalist-imperialist system resulted in the following:

  1. The insane increase of the financial sector’s share in the global economy from 5% in the aftermath of World War II to 50% today.
  2. Centralizing the global economy around the dollar, i.e. placing it under the mercy of the dollar-printing machine owned by the Jewish financial group that controls the American Central Bank’s “governor” called “Federal Reserve Bank”.
  3. Turning the US, almost completely, into a parasitic state. As American production now represents less than 18% of the American economy, which in turn represents less than 20% of the global economy; whereas – the US – consumes more than 40% of global production.
  4. Europe itself, with its rich history, has turned into a US-influence zone. Consequently, Europe became a producer and the US a consumer of its production [and others production] in exchange for a dollar currency, which is constantly losing its purchasing value. This means that Europe gradually lost all the extra wealth it had looted from colonial and semi-colonial peoples for hundreds of years, in just a few decades in favour of the US. And that is to say, Europe is living day to day on its production, which in turn gradually loses its marketing value due to the peg to the dollar that is gradually losing its purchasing value in favour of the American-Jewish monetary monopoly of the dollar.
  5. And by seeking to obtain profits in any way, the global American-Jewish monopolistic monetary bloc objectively encouraged industrialization and increased production in what was called the “Asian Tigers”: Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc., as it “neglected” and also objectively encouraged the overwhelming industrial revival of China that is governed by the Communist Party, whose population is 50% more than the combined population of Europe and America. These countries produced in huge quantities industrial commodities [with international specifications] that are much cheaper than expensive European ones because their labour remuneration is much lower than the “pampered” labour remuneration in Europe. The production of ex-colonial countries made a fierce and deadly competition for European production, whose proportion has shrunk considerably in the world trade.

Finally, under the same general economic laws of capitalism, the inflated balloon of rentier financial capital [interest – speculative] exploded, and the financial-economic crisis in the US erupted spilling over to Europe in 2008. The main cause behind this continues crisis is the explosive collision between the infinite and senseless rise in profits resulting from the fiscal usurious-speculative policy and the limited purchasing power of consumers. The US has been able to partially and interim deal with the consequences of the crisis, thanks to its capacity to print more dollars, which the world has no choice but to “receive” gratefully [!]. As for Europe, it is impossible to do so. Therefore, its situation is worse than that of the US, and it “is solving” the problems resulting from the crisis by inflation, unemployment and lowering the living standard of the European masses.

Meanwhile, the Coronavirus pandemic hit. Whether this pandemic is a form of biological warfare [as US President Donald Trump suggests in his repeated accusations to China], or a “natural” phenomenon as a result of environmental pollution due to the brutality of the capitalist greed system dealing with nature, the economic crisis is quickly and severely making its way into Europe: production is shrinking at a very high level below zero, unemployment is exacerbating, social services are disastrously diminishing, the educational system is collapsing, and prices are skyrocketing.

And if the US presented the “Marshall Plan” to Europe after World War II, to dominate it, then the US today [which is today embroiled in crisis] cannot and does not want to help Europe; but rather it wants, if possible, to overcome its crisis at the expense of Europe.

News flash: Capitalism has no answer for 50 million jobless people

Source

July 11, 2020

News flash: Capitalism has no answer for 50 million jobless people

by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog

Oh – did you have one?

Well… we’re waiting.

But we will certainly be waiting in vain because the “best” US economic minds, journalists, professors and pundits got nuthin’. Even God’s gift to American society – CEOs and bankers – are hoping nobody calls on them for an answer.

This is an era of not just total economic disaster in the US but also an era of complete intellectual disaster. The chicken’s head has been cut off, yet the body (the American system/ideology, which is undoubtedly based upon capitalism-imperialism) still runs around.

I’ll skip to the end: whatever solution they come up with WILL DEFINITELY be some form of socialist-inspired policy… but the US will, true to form, remain totally untruthful about obvious truths (and thus mired in societal chaos).

The only solution to 50 million unemployed people is the redistribution of wealth downwards (first pillar of socialism) and the redistribution of political power downwards (second pillar of socialism); the latter is achieved via creating governmental institutions – staffed from all levels and sectors of society but especially at the upper management level – which establish the bureaucracy required to actually implement and sustain said redistributions intelligently, efficiently and in an egalitarian manner.

Those aren’t opinions but facts. Capitalists not having any solutions is another fact and not an opinion. These truths are so self-evident that I don’t even feel like arguing about it, so let’s argue about something else.

Why is the US talking about banning the Atlanta Braves and the Cleveland Indians but not the Minnesota Vikings or the Notre Dame Fighting Irish? It’s ok to have ethnic mascots, as long as that ethnicity has white-coloured skin? Seems rather inegalitarian to me, and bound to backfire into resentment and nihilism. And surely some sensitive hillbillies object to the Indiana Hoosiers, while the New York Mets (Metropolitans) clearly venerates urban citizens to an unfair degree. On this subject I constantly read the anti-non-White-mascot view, but nobody seems to analyse the intellectual weakness of their argument from a leftist point of view, and the reason for that is: the US economic and intellectual 1% sure as heck don’t want to talk about their total inability to deal with serious stuff, so they thrilled to talk instead about Cleveland’s smiling Chief Wahoo.

Easy solution: don’t decrease the number of “people” mascots but increase them. As an Iranian I’d love to see the Boston “Baluch” take the field, any field. Even a rink. After all, the Baluch are an ethnic tribe in the southeast who are certainly as tough as any Metropolitan. Truly, this is a socialist-inspired solution: venerate and protect ethnic identities equally one and all, and that’s why Armenians, Jews, Assyrians and Zoroastrians have guaranteed seats in Iranian parliament and affirmative action for the non-Han is all over China. The inequality of this latest identity politics battle is obvious to every American and only increases everyone’s stress level, but the only solution remains either to ban all ethnic mascots or make every ethnic tribe a mascot. Isn’t the latter more interesting and informative – had you ever even head of the Baluch until today? Both me and the kids would much rather see and could possibly learn a lot about Maoris, Zulus & Fighting Bretons than lame cardinals, dolphins and other totally unintimidating mascots (I’m looking at you, Utah Jazz).

What a nice, useless and rather immature diversion that was! Unfortunately for the US 1% I have solved this fake problem, so back to awful July 2020 reality:

France’s new prime minister/Macronian puppet has ruled out a second lockdown even if there is a second wave, saying that the economic and social cost was just too much. If you wouldn’t try something again, doesn’t that mean you rather wish you had never tried it at all? Europe’s economic chaos won’t become clear until they come back from vacation in September and things get back to “normal” – that will be the “economic 2nd wave” for the Western bloc, while the US part of that bloc is taking all their economic lumps in their still-ongoing first wave. Medically, the incredibly overweight, overstressed and governmentally-neglected US is also, predictably, having a longer first wave of Covid-19 than anyone else.

Cases are currently increasing in the entire southern half of the US, but deaths are not. This seems rather important, no? Check the chronometer – it is not April anymore: deaths are about 60% of what they were back then, proving times do change even if hysterical people do not. Check also those spring predictions: the Imperial College of London promised 100,000 deaths in non-Lockdown Sweden by June, but today there are only 5,500; incredibly, we still have London’s Daily Telegraph still quoting that discredited model as late on July 5th as though it was gospel. I would think that these realities – which are not “callous” but actually quite good news – should at least get a bit of discussion, but if you bring it up be prepared to have a single mother throw her shoe at you. Said Karens apparently have total confidence that the US can keep locking down into 2021 and that 75 million unemployed is no problem for the superbly-functioning US system?

Sure….

Again, the problem is that rabidly capitalist places like the US and UK have dismantled/never built the culture & bureaucracy needed to employ a nationwide lockdown – as I have said from the beginning: make the switch to socialism in economics and democracy and you can Lockdown all you want!

What’s that? I’m beating my head against the wall so it’s time for another diversion? Agreed: How about the Confederate flag controversy?

Here’s the thing: No Western nation, no matter how imperialist or fascist, has been asked to give up entirely the symbols of their past. Nobody is tearing down de Gaulle statues even though he was an imperialist who immediately bombed places like the Levant and Algeria after said peoples died en masse to save France from Germany. But the US South is being asked to entirely relinquish their past, and that’s just never going to fly because it’s unparalleled: it’s like asking Mongolia to give up Genghis Khan, whose success mainly rested not so much on fine horsemanship but upon his willingness to murder women and children en masse, and yet they built him the world’s biggest equestrian statue. No matter how big a Non-Mongolian Lives Matter movement gets – that’s not coming down.

While brutality and oppression did exist in 1864 the ideology of fascism simply did not, no matter how loudly a teenager incorrectly insists. The Confederate flag needs a socialist solution which respects the Southern US ethnic minority (which is exactly what they are), because eradicating the historic rebelliousness of the Confederate rebels will never be accepted by them.

It’s quite simple: just add a small Christian cross to differentiate to differentiate this new flag from the previous Confederate flag. Or add a huge cross and color it black to give slavery even more prominence – that gives the rare Black Cross of Texas flag. Christianity unites Southern Whites and Blacks, after all. This also shows that the Confederate flag is not the same as before and has been given a moral updating – that’s progress, not eradication from history, and furthers the goal of modern patriotic unity. Furthermore, from a socialist point of view there simply MUST be a way to separate White Southerners from slavery – poor whites were powerless class victims, of course – because castigating all Southern Whites is patently unfair and obviously fake-leftist identity politics. Of course, denying the primacy of class and claiming instead that skin color/ethnicity is more important is what capitalist-imperialists always do.

Another diversion and faux problem capably solved with a bit of socialist unity and modernity! Well, I admit that adding a Christian cross is a rather Islamic Socialist solution and not an Atheistic Socialist one, but to hell with them.

Ok, capitalism does indeed have a solution to 50 million jobless – massive domestic suffering combined with massive foreign deaths. Let’s examine the latter:

Can we crank up the war machine? Sorry, the US has too many allies now – Germany and Japan are part of a Western bloc that is totally governed by a colluding bankocracy and 1% which is totally united against their socialist-inspired enemies; but those enemies (China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela) have become too strong to fight; they couldn’t beat the Muslims, Vietnamese or Koreans, so they’re no longer candidates for opponents; who in Black Lives Matter will agree to be drafted to go fight some new, fabricated opponent in Africa? Anyway, the Pentagon is already the world’s biggest employer, so you mean crank it up even more? Thus, there is no militaristic solution – no WWIII for their Great Depression II.

Now let’s examine the former:

Can we take any more lands from Indians? Sorry – frontier done run out.

Can we steal any Black people’s wages? Sorry – that’s no longer a thing.

Can we debt enslave the average White Trash? Sorry – they are paying back their credit card debt at record rates, they are so scared about the future.

No, there is no capitalist solution to 50 million unemployed people. The true capitalist solution is massive suffering until things get so very, very bad that said things have no choice but to start to work out again, finally (i.e., following unregulated market forces).

There is, however, the old standby: “socialise the losses of the rich but keep calling it capitalism”. This worked out great for the 1% in 2008 and it’s working out just fine now… but it ain’t capitalism, and you are 1) dumber than a box of rocks, 2) fanatically indoctrinated to hate socialism, or 3) can’t be bothered to learn basic political definitions if you think that bailing out the 1% with taxpayer money/newly-printed money is somehow still capitalism.

But do a Google news search: even though socialism is the only economic and political ideology which can provide a solution to 50 million jobless people there are painfully few news articles discussing socialism, with the majority of them frantically warning against it. You can’t only blame Google’s anti-socialist algorithms for that.

You see now why this article was half stupid diversions? That’s the way America likes it… or, rather, that is what they are forced to like.

I originally planned to have this article’s headline to be, “Hey dummy: Capitalism has no answer for 50 million jobless people”. For those who still have faith that capitalism does have an answer – let’s just end it here.

*********************************

Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis.

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience? – March 22, 2020

Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for? – March 23, 2020

A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire) March 23, 2020

– March 25, 2020

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s? –

March 26, 2020

If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone – March 30,

2020

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution – March 31, 2020

Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions – April 1, 2020

(A Soviet?) Superman: Red Son – the new socialist film to watch on lockdown – April 2, 2020

Corona rewrites capitalist bust-chronology & proves: It’s the nation-state, stupid – April 3, 2020

Condensing the data leaves no doubt: Fear corona-economy more than the virus – April 5, 2020

‘We’re Going Wrong’: The West’s middling, middle-class corona response – April 10, 2020

Why does the UK have an ‘army’ of volunteers but the US has a shortage? – April 12, 2020

No buybacks allowed or dared? Then wave goodbye to Western stock market gains – April 13, 2020

Pity post-corona Millennials… if they don’t openly push socialism – April 14, 2020

No, the dollar will only strengthen post-corona, as usual: it’s a crisis, after all – April 16, 2020

Same 2008 QE playbook, but the Eurozone will kick off Western chaos not the US – April 18, 2020

We’re giving up our civil liberties. Fine, but to which type of state? – April 20,

2020

Coronavirus – Macron’s savior. A ‘united Europe’ – France’s murderer – April 22, 2020

Iran’s ‘resistance economy’: the post-corona wish of the West’s silent majority (1/2) – April 23, 2020

The same 12-year itch: Will banks loan down QE money this time? – April 26,

2020

The end of globalisation won’t be televised, despite the hopes of the Western 99% (2/2) – April 27, 2020

What would it take for proponents to say: ‘The Great Lockdown was wrong’? – April 28, 2020

ZeroHedge, a response to Mr. Littlejohn & the future of dollar dominance – April 30, 2020

Given Western history, is it the ‘Great Segregation’ and not the ‘Great Lockdown’? – May 2, 2020

The Western 1% colluded to start WWI – is the Great Lockdown also a conspiracy? – May 4, 2020

May 17: The date the Great Lockdown must end or Everything Bubble 2 pops – May 6, 2020

Reading Piketty: Does corona delay the Greens’ fake-leftist, sure-to-fail victory? – May 8, 2020

Picturing the media campaign needed to get the US back to work – May 11, 2020

Scarce jobs + revenue desperation = sure Western stagflation post-corona – May 13, 2020

France’s nurses march – are they now deplorable Michiganders to fake-leftists? – May 15, 2020

Why haven’t we called it ‘QE 5’ yet? And why we must call it ‘QE 2.1’ instead – May 16, 2020

‘Take your stinking paws off me, you damned, dirty public servant!’ That’s Orwell? – May 17, 2021

The Great Lockdown: The political apex of US single Moms & Western matriarchy? May 21, 2021

I was wrong on corona – by not pushing for a US Cultural Revolution immediately – May 25, 2021

August 1: when the unemployment runs out and a new era of US labor battles begin – May 28, 2021

Corona proving the loser of the Cold War was both the USSR & the USA – May 30, 2021

Rebellions across the US: Why worry? Just ask Dr. Fauci to tell us what to do – June 2, 2021

Protesting, corona-conscience, a good dole: the US is doing things it can’t & it’s chaos – June 3, 2021

Why do Westerners assume all African-Americans are leftists? – June 5, 2020

The US as Sal’s Pizzeria: When to ‘Do The Right Thing’ is looting – June 6, 2020

The problem with the various ‘Fiat is all the problem!’ (FIATP) crowds – June 9, 2020

Politicisation of Great Lockdown result of ‘TINA’ economic ignorance & censorship – June 14, 2020

Trump’s only hope: buying re-election with populist jobless benefits – June, 16 2020

US national media is useless – so tell me the good local news sources? – July 4, 2020

Hamilton movie: central banker worship & proof the US has no left – July 8, 2020


Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books Ill Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the NEW Socialisms Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.

Economic Cycles and Coronavirus

Economic Cycles and Coronavirus

June 13, 2020

by Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

‘’The years since the 1970s are unprecedented in terms of their volatility in the price of commodities, currencies, real estate, and stocks. There have been 4 waves of financial crises: a large number of banks in three, four or more countries collapsed at about the same time. Each wave was followed by a recession, and the economic slowdown which began in 2008 was the most severe and most global since the great depression of the 1930s … Bubbles always implode, since by definition they always involve non-sustainable increases in the indebtedness of a group of borrowers and/or non-sustainable increases in the price of stocks/shares … Debt can increase much more rapidly than income for an extended period …’’ But ‘’… when eventually the rate of their indebtedness slows the ‘day of reckoning’ occurs, when there isn’t enough cash to pay the interest on outstanding loans the bust is inevitable.’’ (1)

Interestingly enough 1971 was the year when Nixon took the world off the gold standard, which had been in effect since 1944. At a stroke this was probably the most destabilizing event since the Wall Street Crash of 1929. But the full effects didn’t filter through the system until the decades beginning in the 1960s. The problem was the fact that the US economy had undergone a metamorphosis from being a surplus trading nation to being a deficit nation. Earlier, in 1944 to be exact, it was agreed at the Bretton Woods conference that a new trading system needed to be constructed, this in order to overcome the problems of the inter-war trade wars which had led to mutual impoverishment. The new global trade architecture was to be based upon a hierarchy of hard currencies, the British pound, the French Franc, the Italian Lira et cetera all aligned at a fixed rate of exchange with the US dollar which was to be convertible with gold at $35 per ounce.

The system worked for a while but excess US expenditures – namely the imperial expeditions in Korea and Indo-China, as well as a bloated system of some 800 military bases stationed in areas all over the world, and add in the social expenditures of the LBJ administration in the US, all of which meant that abundant US$s were turning up all over the place, particularly in Europe and Japan. Holders of these surplus greenbacks sought conversion into either their own currencies or the universal equivalent – gold. This gave rise to a run on gold since the US was required to honour the arrangement of convertibility. In its turn this led to a serious depletion of US gold reserves which necessitated the US (and by implication involve the rest of the world) to unilaterally suspend the gold standard. Henceforth US trading partners would, whether they liked it or not, take dollars which they were assured were as good as gold (a ridiculous proposition). This was described by the French politician Valery Giscard D’Estaing as an ‘Exorbitant Privilege’ and of course he was perfectly correct. At this point the Triffin Dilemma/Paradox kicked in. But I have covered this elsewhere (See The Rise and Fall of Empires).

It should be understood that booms and busts have always been normal in a capitalist economy. Two eminent political economists have put forward their explanation of this phenomenon as follows.

Karl Marx (1818-1883) explained that capitalists would try to boost their profits in new and more productive technology to save labour costs. In a letter to his close compatriot and friend – Friedrich Engels – he wrote: ‘’All of you note that from reasons I no longer have to explain, that capitalist production moves through certain periodical cycles.’’ He particularly identified the rate of profit to be the independent variable in capitalist production; this variable gave rise to a number of other dependent variables such as employment and unemployment, investment decisions, stock market booms and slumps, and capitalist companies borrowing monies by issuing shares/stocks or borrowing directly from banks. They also began to issue bonds as did governments. Thus the role of finance capital was enormously enhanced.

Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1950) reckoned that when capitalism went into a crisis or slump, it made much of the old equipment or plant obsolete. Other capitalists then began to turn to the new technology to gain advantage, so capitalist slumps led to innovations. Schumpeter called this process ‘creative destruction’. So a cycle of new technology would start after a major slump. But this new technology would not be developed until the profits cycle moved into upswing. Then there would be a take-off of the new technology. The next downward wave would mean a setback to the new technology cycle and an even worse situation for capitalists depending on the old technology. Finally, in another new upswing for profits, the new technology would take over as the dominant force. In the next downswing the new technology would become mature and capitalists would look for new systems and the whole process would restart.

These cycles, however, would very much vary in duration from fairly short-term business restocking, to longer term business cycles, property cycles, profit cycles and into longer and more profound upheavals which may have matured over decades. The Kondratiev cycle being a prototype which has lasted for at least 60 years. Nikolai Kondratiev himself was a Soviet economist who was able to identify such cycles. Four such waves were identified from the late 1700s and four complete waves were identified by Kondratiev. Such waves were occasioned by the usual boom-bust cycle but essentially these cycles were pushed forward by the production and diffusion of new technologies and the operationalization of new modes of production. From water powered, steam powered, electrification, Fordist organized production, and digital communications and computerization of the entire economy. These were the ongoing means of production, although the class nature of the capitalist system did not change.

Unfortunately Kondratiev found himself on the wrong side of the Stalinist nomenklatura and was arrested for suggesting that the US would not necessarily collapse in the great recession of ’29. Heresy! He was arrested and did 8 years in one of those grim Soviet prisons, and finally taken out and was shot by firing squad in 1938. These were grim times.

In recent years, however there has been a new development feature which has been exacerbated during crisis situations involving that part of the economy indicated by the acronym FIRE (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate) and its growing importance in the economy in both qualitative and quantitative terms.

Finance as it is referred to has always been part of the general economy. But it was always in a sense the junior partner to industry and subordinate as such. Its role was to support the productive sector in terms of credit and liquidity, but the relationship has now become almost inverted. Value producing Industry is now relegated to the second tier of the economy and finance now runs the show.

‘’To maintain the semblance of vitality Western capitalism has become increasingly dependent on expanding debt levels and on the expansion of fictitious capital … fictitious capital is made up of financial assets that are only symbols of value, not real values. For example company shares that are traded like goods and services do not in the same way embody value. They are tokens which represent part ownership of a company and the potential of a distribution of future profits in the form of dividends. The paper or electronic certificate itself is not a genuine value that can create more value. Rising share/stock prices are often presented as the evidence of a healthy economy, but the amount of money that a share/stock changes hands says nothing definitive about the value of the company’s assets or about its productive capacity. On the contrary, it is when real capital stagnates that the amount of fictitious capital tends to expand.’’(2)

Turning to financialisation proper and its genesis. This phenomenon was enabled through the holy trinity of privatisation-liberalisation-deregulation. This was a political/economic project which began to take root in the 1970s but came into full fruition in the 1980s led by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. At both the political and economic level radical theorists such as those ensconced at the Chicago University department of Economics became the crucial protagonists in a movement led by Milton Friedman and which was to become known as the Chicago School. Its impact was profound. This insofar as it signalled the end of one epoch and the beginning of another.

‘’The expansion of the financial sector is the most recognisable aspect of financialisation. However a more telling part for how the workings of the economy change is the adoption of financial activities by the non-financial corporate sector, by the wider industrial economy. The core feature of financialisation is the fusion of industry with financial activity. (My emphasis -FL) Troubled financial firms turn to financial activity in order to raise cash and/or shore up profitability.

These activities start with raising debt to fund business operations working at sub-par profitability. They extend into financial engineering where buying and selling shares or acquiring companies take precedence over productive investment and organic growth in the underlying businesses. Financial services companies are often helpful in conducting these activities. The drive-through comes from the non-financial businesses that are obliged to pursue financial activities when their original productive ones are less profitable and remunerative.’’ (3)

The hegemon of deregulated finance had thus assumed a seemingly unstoppable momentum from the late 20th century, through to the 80s and 90s until the early 21st century. It has been a process whereby financial markets, financial institutions, and financial elites gain greater influence over economic policy and economic outcomes. It has impacted on the economy producing deep-going changes, not necessarily for the better. But its principal raison d’etre has been to elevate the significance and practice of rent-seeking activities relative to the real value-producing sector. Economic rent is essentially parasitic involving the tapping into those income streams which are producing real value. These consist inter alia of – banks, credit agencies, investment companies, brokers and dealers of commodities and securities, security and commodity exchanges, insurance agents, buyers, sellers, lessors, lessees and so forth – has now reached such a level that it has become larger, more ubiquitous, and profitable than productive industry.

In contemporary terms financial institutions had been involved in the acquisition of economic rent. This consisted of little more than a parasitic claim on real value as was produced in the production process. To cite a simple example. Parking meters don’t produce any new value, they merely transfer existing value from the motorist to whoever is collecting the meter charges. Other examples are rent from land, patents and copyrights, monopolistic pricing and so forth. This situation was initially outlined by David Ricardo (1772-1823) who argued that ‘’The interest of the landlord is also opposed to the interest of every other class in society – namely, capitalists and workers. Ricardo’s animus toward the land-owning classes was in part based upon this theory of economic rent as outlined in his definitive work, The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation first published in 1817. It was a theme that Keynes took up 2 centuries later with his recommendation of the early ‘euthanasia’ of the ‘rentier’ and the rentier class. The views of Ricardo and Keynes were unfortunately disregarded, and to this day, in the UK at least, the Monarchy, landed aristocracy and rentier class are still very much a power in the land. (The UK never had its bourgeois revolution, or rather it did in the civil war between Parliament and the King – 1642-49. Cromwell and Parliament won, and Charles 1 had his head chopped off in 1649, but there was a restoration whereby his son Charles 2 was brought back from France to claim the throne of England.)

But I digress.

The whole process of financialisation was to divert income from the real value-producing sector of the economy and transferring it through various rental manipulations to the financial sector. Needless to say this would purposely result in inequality and stagnant and/or falling wage levels.

Thus from 1970 onwards this part of the economy has grown from almost nothing to 8% of US Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This means that one dollar in every ten is associated with finance. In terms of corporate profits finance’s contribution now represents around 40% of all corporate profits in the US. This is a significant figure and, moreover, it does not include those overseas earnings of companies whose profits are repatriated to their countries of origin.

Finance operates at different levels in the economy: through changes in the structure and operation of financial markets, changes in the behaviour of nonfinancial corporations, and changes in economic policy

The increasing pervasiveness of finance in the contemporary world economy and its ever-expanding role in overall economic activities, and in addition to its ongoing growth in profitability, are the indicators of growth and spread of financialisation. Given the historical record, however, it seems highly probable that this financial ascendency will not be permanent and the whole house of cards will eventuate into a collapse into debt-deflation and a long period of economic depression.

The template for contemporary financial operations can be described from activities of Investment banks like Goldman Sachs as well as run-of-the-mill commercial banks. Of course, as stated, these venerated institutions do not create value as such; they are purely rent-extractive. Commercial banks can and do make loans out of thin air, debit this loan to the would-be mortgagee who then becomes a source of permanent income flow to the bank for the next 25 years. At a more rarefied level Goldman Sachs is reputed to make year-on-year ‘profits’ by doing – what exactly? Nothing particularly useful. But then Goldman Sachs is part of the cabal of central banks and Treasury departments around the world. It is not unusual to see the interchange of the movers and shakers of the financial world who oscillate between these institutions. Hank Paulson, Mario Draghi, Steve Mnuchin, Robert Rubin, and most recently from the IMF to the ECB, Madame Lagarde … on and on it goes.

This system now moves into ever more vertiginous levels of instability. But this was the logical consequence of deregulation. Regulation involves additional costs, but the last thing financial markets want is an increase in costs: ergo, deregulation. But this was to be wholly expected. As a result the history of regulation is that new types of institutions are developed that exist outside the scope of regulations, e.g., money-market funds were developed as a way to pay interest on demand deposits. The offshore market developed to avoid the costs that domestic banks incur in the form of reserve requirements and deposit insurance premiums; the offshore branches of US banks – i.e., the Eurodollar market – could pay higher interest rates than their domestic branches. The whole institutional structure – its rules, regulations and practises were deregulated, and finance was let off the leash. Thatcher, Reagan, the ‘Big Bang’ had set the scene and there was no going back: neoliberalism and globalization had become the norm. From this point on, however, there followed a litany of crises mostly in the developing world, but these disturbances were in due course to move into the developed world. Serial bubbles began to appear.

Ever mobile speculative capital was to move from one financial debacle to the next leaving a trail of wreckage and destruction in its wake. But, hey, that was someone else’s problem. The Savings and Loans crisis 1980’s and 90’s, Long Term Capital Management, 1998, dot.com bubble 2000/2001 and the property market bust in 2008 where the precursors of the current and even deeper blow-out.

But contrary to popular mythology – ‘this time it’s different’ – any boom and bust has an inflexion point where boom turns to bust. This is when buyers incomes, and borrowers inability to extend their loans could no longer support the rise in the price level. Euphoria turned to panic as borrowers who once clamoured to buy were now desperate to sell. 2008 had arrived. The same financial drama of boom and bust was to repeat itself. In the initial euphoria property prices went up but the market became oversold. At this point house prices and the prices of attendant derivatives – e.g. Mortgaged Backed Securities (MBS) – began to stall. The incomes and borrowing of would-be purchasers could no longer support the ever-rising property asset prices. The cycle had reached its inflexion point, now the whole thing went into reverse. Everyone was frantic to sell, prices collapsed. Some – a few – made money, quite a few lost monies. Investors were wondering what had happened to their gains which they had made during the up phase. Where had all that money gone? In fact the ‘gains’ were purely fictional as were the losses. Such gains/losses which had appeared then simply disappeared like a will ‘o’ the wisp. The gains and losses were never there in the first place given as an accounting identity they were balanced.

One would have thought that past experience would have chastened investors into a more conservative frame of mind. But no. Whenever there was a sniff of something for nothing the mob starts to move like Wildebeest on the plains of the Serengeti, an unstoppable stampede. Even such luminaries as Sir Isaac Newton perhaps one of the greatest scientific minds of his day who lost a cool £20000.00 on the South Sea Bubble lamented in 1720 that ‘’I could calculate the movement of heavenly bodies but not the madness of the people.’’ I suppose you could see this as being yet of another instance of human irrationalism – a recurring theme and instances in human nature, of which sadly there have been many.

And what has all of this to do with Coronavirus? Well everything actually. I take it that we all knew that the grotesquely overleveraged and dangerously poised world economy was heading for a ‘correction’ but that is rather an understated description. Massive downturn would be more accurate. This was already baked into the cake prior to the COVID-19s emergence and warnings were duly given and then routinely ignored. We are now left with a combination of a dangerous pandemic crisis combined with a huge financial and economic correction. The world was a combination of a unprecedently bloated paper money bubble and a rampant and virulent pandemic virus. Anticipated consequences can only be imagined.

NOTES

(1) Manias, Crashes and Panics – Kindelberger and Aliber – P.1/2 – 6th Edition 2011.

(2) Phillip Mullan – Creative Destruction – p.22

(3) Mullan – Ibid, – p.22/23

*A note on fictitious capital:

Fictitious capital is a by-product of capitalist accumulation. It is a concept used by Karl Marx in his critique of political economy. It is introduced in chapter 25 of the third volume of Capital. Fictitious capital contrasts with what Marx calls “real capital”, which is capital actually invested in physical means of production and workers, and “money capital”, which is actual funds being held. The market value of fictitious capital assets (such as stocks and securities) varies according to the expected return or yield of those assets in the future, which Marx felt was only indirectly related to the growth of real production. Effectively, fictitious capital represents “accumulated claims, legal titles, to future production’’ and more specifically claims to the income generated by that production.

The moral of the story is that it is not possible to print wealth or value. Money in its paper representation of the real thing, e.g., gold, is not wealth it is a claim on wealth.

Capitalism and Coercion: Crisis in the Legitimacy of the U.S. State

By Vince Montes

Global Research, June 11, 2020

The U.S. state appears to be facing a crisis of its legitimacy amid the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. The killing of George Floyd, yet another unarmed black man killed by the police, has erupted into popular protest. It is quite possible that the disruption to the routinization of life due to the lockdown to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus may very well have been a factor in creating the conditions for many to form a collective conscious, which translated in the outpour of protest against the racial policing policies in the U.S. and in generating the broad support it is currently receiving.

This crisis in legitimacy appears to be aided by many conditions. With millions displaced from work, people may have had a moment in which they did not blame themselves, their neighbors, or God for their troubles. Instead, people may have looked at the structure of society, as they did in the 1930s and the 1960s. Their outrage transformed into protest and rebellion. We should also consider how there is a significant disruption to the full consumption habits. Furthermore, distractions from the culture industry of Hollywood (Marcuse 1963; Horkheimer et al. 2002) and the interruption in spectator sports (as an opium of the masses, Eitzen et al. 2012) may have possibly played a role in getting people to think and act more critically about the world in which they live.

The U.S.’ political order is not solely based on coercion, but based on a multitude of coercive and facilitative measures that seek to co-opt and manufacture consent; thereby, making rebellion rare (Montes 2009; 2016). There is a crisis in the legitimacy of authority when large sections of the population lose trust in the government. The military, police, the courts, the political system (i.e., government) are all institutions of the U.S. state, so when people lose trust in the police, they have lost confidence in the U.S. state’s ability to govern.

The police are similar to the military because they are necessary arms of the state; they protect and maintain the continuation of the political order: a political order that is rooted in racial, class, and gender hierarchies. It is vital to understand that when a government, as is currently occurring in the U.S., can no longer manufacture enough consent to legitimize its authority, it resorts to increased use of state coercion (the U.S. state coercion is by no means dormant, not even in non-rebellious times). Thus, this is why the state has amassed the militarized-police, National Guard, and the military, as an axillary force across the United States to suppress the protest of the police killing of George Floyd. The U.S. state is reliant on physical violence, and repression has been essential in protecting and maintaining the continuity of the U.S. capitalist system.

The use of racism has been fundamental to the so-called “greatness” of the United States. This “greatness” long preceded the Trump administration and has been and continues to be hidden and a not so hidden hallmark of its economic “success.” One can argue that the very inception of the U.S. has been a nation-state engaged racist state-sponsored policies, as in the case of the genocidal policies against the indigenous peoples of North America and the system of slavery, de jure, and post facto racial segregation. This history also involves the usurpation of Mexican land in the southwest, the conquest and colonialization of Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Guan, and Alaska, which all have required physical violence, leaving carnage and trauma in its wake. This physical violence does not always involve invasions and the suppression of insurgencies. Still, violence can be seen in the societies and neighborhoods of the oppressed, with high rates of unemployment, poverty, police brutality, and incarceration. Often, it is also turned inward in the form of collective and individual destruction (e.g., suicide, high rates of alcoholism, drug abuse, et cetera). The above is but an example of the imperialist side of capitalism. This is what Karl Marx meant when he said that capitalism comes into the world “dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt” (Marx 2017:639).

Coercion and Capitalism and the U.S. State

The U.S. capitalist-state does not only depend on its military to secure resources abroad and to expand its markets and influence, but it simultaneously needs endless pools of disciplined workers that are desperate enough to work for low wages. Now, maintaining a system where few benefit from the misery of the many requires a great deal of force and particular ideologies that can justify such a system. Such a system has no real commitment to eradicate poverty and racism. According to Chris Parenti (1999), what lies at the heart of the matter is a contradiction: capitalism needs the poor (i.e., surplus populations of laborers) and creates poverty. Yet, capitalism is also directly and indirectly threatened by the poor. It is the role of police, prisons, and the criminal justice system to manage this contradiction (Parenti 1999:238).

As the new crime control policies took hold in the aftermath of a very explosive period of protest and rebellion in the 1960s, incarceration rates by the mid-1970s began to peak (Parenti 1999; Wacquant 2005). According to Glenn Tonry, the architects of the so-called “war on drug” were aware that this war would be fought mainly in minority areas of U.S. urban cities, which would result in a disproportionate number of young blacks and Latinos incarcerated (Wacquant 2005:21).  For Wacquant, the ghetto was were much of the “war on drugs” policies were carried out; it is an institution based on closure and power, whereby a population is deemed dishonest and dangerous and is at once secluded and controlled (1998:143). Pamala Oliver, for example, state repression includes mass incarceration, because of the role that prisons played as repressive agents on black males in the U.S. during the Black Power Movement (2004). The extension of state repression beyond “subversives” suggests that the most oppressed not only can disrupt the system (e.g., there were over 300 urban rebellions in the 1960s) but can become revolutionary (Oliver 2004). Parenti (1999), Oliver (2004), and Wacquant (2005) suggest that crime control is a form of state repression.

The system of capitalism is a system based on private ownership and profit, and competition (read: in most cases, corporate-state monopolies). Wealth development is not socially owned; it is individually owned, and for this system to exist, it requires ideologies that can justify why rewards and prestige are so unequally distributed. Where does wealth come from? It comes from the exploitation of labor, and the usurpation of land and resources.

The origins of policing are said to be in England in 1829 when the British state concluded that “what was needed was a force that could both maintain political control and help produce a new economic order of industrial capitalism” (Vitale 2017:36). Therefore, the police role was to manage the disorder from capitalism and to protect the “propertied classes from the rabble” (Vitale 2017:36). This policing was also used to manage the British colonial occupation of Ireland, seen as an innovative way to control insurrections, riots, and political uprisings. For Alex S. Vitale, the police in the U.S. are intimately tied to the management of inequalities of race and class, suppressing workers and surveilling and managing black and brown people have always been at the center of policing (2017).  The role of policing in the U.S. is about the protection of private property, the suppression of rebellions, and putting down strikes and other industrial actions. It had also aided the system of slavery, the colonization of the Philippines, the repression of native populations in Texas, as a means for U.S. state expansion, and represses and neutralizes protest (Vitale 2017:40-50).

The present use of policing has maintained its original goal, which is to manage the surplus populations and contain the poor and racial minority communities whose labor is considered redundant due to automation, deindustrialization, and deregulation.  As Parenti stated, the “war on drugs” has been the trojan horse for these policies (1999:10).

The political neutrality of policing or state coercion has always been questioned. Charles Tilly’s research identified a link between coercion and legitimacy. He wrote that whatever else states do (e.g., the idea of the social contract), “they organize and, wherever possible, monopolize violence” (1985:171). For Tilly, state legitimacy is obtained over time because eventually “the personnel of states purveyed violence on a larger scale, more effectively, more efficiently, with wider assent from their subject populations, and with readier collaboration from neighboring authorities than did the personnel of other organizations” (1985:173). Consequently, states, in part, maintain power by legitimizing themselves by creating ideologies, which socializes individuals to the norms and values of the state. As Tilly makes clear, control over the physical forces of violence is fundamental to nation-state’s authority, and the fact that legitimacy depends on the conformity to abstract principles such as the consent of the governed only helps to rationalize the monopoly of force (1985:171). After all, for Tilly, it is through the concentration and accumulation of capital and coercion and successful inter-state war waging that the present nation-state emerged (1992).

Stephanie Kent and David Jacobs argue that a society based solely on coercion could not survive, not even the most authoritarian use coercion by itself, but is often mixed with other means (2004). Kent and Jacobs’ research provide examples that illustrate what occurs when police suddenly become paralyzed (e.g., on strike) and do not respond; the poor tend not to accept the conditions of inequality and would engage in redistribution of wealth. Robert Cover provides an excellent example of the state’s reliance on force by illustrating how “a convicted defendant may walk to a prolonged confinement, but this seemly voluntary walk is influenced by the use of force. In other words, if he does not walk on his own, he will most certainly be dragged or beaten” (in Green and Ward 2004:3). As pointed out above, coercion a crucial component for the establishment and continuation of the political order. Stability is problematic even in the most democratic societies because resource distribution is so unequal that only a few genuinely benefit and have access to freedom, rights, and security. It is undeniable that race continues to be a significant marker of a person’s social, economic status, as well as the degree in which one is targeted and entangled in the criminal justice system.

Unequal relations are maintained in the U.S. by there being over 12 million members of coercive forces -e.g., policing and military and billions of tax-payer’s dollars allocated to this mission. Coercive forces that range from the police, corrections, national security, to the military. They are conjoined in their various task in upholding domestic and foreign policies designed to maintain the status quo in the U.S. and U.S. hegemony around the globe. As a result, there are approximately 7 million individuals under correctional supervision in the U.S. alone and many populations around the world that live in wretched conditions so that the U.S. state can maintain its global dominance (Montes 2016).

The U.S. population consists of approximately 12% black and 15% Latino; however, some reports illustrate that these two groups represent about 60% of those incarcerated. In 2012, the incarceration rate per 100,000 was 2,841 for blacks, 1,158 for Latinos, and 463 for whites (Carson and Golinelli 2013). The rate of incarceration by race demonstrates racial disparity within the criminal justice system. The U.S. incarceration rate is the highest in the industrial world, but it is even higher when aggregating for race. Yet, Bruce Western illustrates that mass incarceration affects the poorest of blacks, which points to the class element (2006:26). In short, one can argue that mass incarceration involves the containment of the most marginalized, in which blacks, brown people, and Native Americans are disproportionately the poorest. The groups that have the most significant distance from wealth and privilege are perceived as the greatest threats to the political order. This theorizing explains racial profiling and how race is a marker for criminality. As a result, there is more reliance on the policing of the poor and racial minority communities. However, the type of crime that should be the focus is the state crimes of omission; this is when state’s failure to protect the rights and to serve the needs of all people within the territory of a particular nation-state; thereby, creating the conditions for non-state crime (Barak 2011: 35-48). Essentially, when these needs are not met, as mentioned above, they can create a breakdown in the legitimacy of state authority, which creates conditions favorable for protest and rebellion.

Crisis in Legitimacy 

Image on the right: George Floyd Mattered graffiti along 38th St in Minneapolis on Wednesday, after the death of George Floyd on Monday night in Minneapolis, Minnesota (Source: Flickr)

The explosion of widespread protest over the killing of George Floyd has become a flashpoint of anger for all the other unarmed black males killed by the police in the United States. For many of the protesters, this had been yet another senseless and unjustified murder. In which the police would once again not be held accountable. The impunity of law enforcement has long enraged black, Latino, Native Americans, and poor communities across the United States.

Just about every community of color and poor community in the U.S. has a list of victims of police brutality. This tension and frustration have been building up for some time, and more recently, with the high media profile cases of Eric Garder (2014), Michael Brown (2014), and Freddy Grey (2016). For many, this problem could no longer be dismissed. As a result of protest and rebellion, ordinary everyday people had to take notice of the repeated police killing of unarmed black youth and men. According to tracking by the Washington Post, half of the people shot and killed by police are white. However, blacks are shot at a disproportionate rate. They account for less than 13% of the U.S. population but are killed by police at more than twice the rate of whites. Police also kill Latinos at a disproportionate rate. Overall, the police kill more people at a higher rate in the U.S. than do police in similar industrial nations. The circumstances of these killings vary – e.g., from being unarmed to being armed to being in the commission of a crime to being a suspect and racially profiled. However, what appears consistent is that law enforcement is not be trusted to investigate themselves. In many cases, had it not been civilians using their phone cameras and/or protesters forcing an investigation, many people would have accepted the official police and political officials’ narrative. What has been bought to light by afflicted black and communities of color has been the systemic nature of police brutality and how it is not restricted to a few police officers or a few police departments.

The system was confronted with a crisis in its authority once the U.S. state and the corporate media could no longer dismiss the protest as just black protest from marginalized areas. The success of the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM) kept the murder of black men and youth at the center of their organizing efforts. The BLM linked together, the spontaneous protests and rebellion of black and people of color communities when they experienced police brutality, propelling these injustices to national and international levels of attention. The multicultural outpour of support, which has included celebrities and professional athletes, has lent their support. One cannot overlook how suddenly everyone appears now to be antiracist. Nor can one deny how this moment seems to have opened up the opportunity for political opportunism, particularly within the duopoly political party system, and the corporate media. It is at these times that the political elite from both parties and the corporate media attempts to angle their messages in such a way as to restore trust in the political order while being semi-critical of it. When politicians and news anchors of the corporate media -e.g., verbally condemn the killing of George Floyd, but at the same time, uphold the status quo. This angling lends itself to discussions about better training in police procedures, the firing and convictions of the officers involved, more racial sensitivity trainings, and pleas to channel the outrage into voting Democrat. Unfortunately, this negates an understanding of the fundamental role policing plays in the U.S. state and its task in upholding an unequal society.

Also, the conflating the outrage of the killing of George Floyd with the protesters who are not “peaceful,” disobey curfew, and loot and burn is another way in which the state officials and corporate media presenters attempt to restore trust in the U.S. state. So, what is absent is a focus on how the various means of protest, civil disobedience, and the destruction and defacing of the property of corporations, the U.S. flag, and the police are symbols of what many perceive is the problem. The problem is the U.S. state and how it is increasingly not protecting the freedoms, safety, and economic wellbeing of all its people, but is protecting its own interests, which includes the interests of corporations, which are interlocking. And configured in this equation is policing and the military, ensuring that the particular political order is maintained.

Discrediting protesters as thugs, terrorists, or the orchestration of external forces such as Russia, and/or Antifa is to absolve the U.S. state of any culpability. Even in the pre-Covid-19 world, there were millions of people in the U.S. who have long lost trust in the system and felt alienated from the political process because they believed that politicians represent their own interests and those interests are allied with the continuation of the political order. As Emma Goldman, a famous anarchist, stated, “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” As mentioned above, the racialized and exploitative system has long preceded the Trump administration. In fact, the rise of the Occupy Movement in 2011 and the rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement in 2013 was because they had no confidence in the political establishment. There is a reason why these movements were grassroots organizations and struggle to remain as such because the political elite did not act on their behalf. For example, the Obama administration did not use executive orders to step in during the many instances of police killings and protests, such as in Ferguson.  Furthermore, these movements had no interest in being co-opted by the politics of the duopoly political party system.

This crisis in legitimacy can also be seen in how both parties supported the bailout of Wall Street during the Great Recession. Bailouts of corporations are also occurring currently, amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Both parties were responsible for “tough on crime” legislation, such as the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 passed by the Clinton administration. This act, in part, is responsible for furthering mass incarceration and for creating more laws that target racial minorities. Both parties are also responsible for creating more economic insecurity for the poor and people of color by implementing neoliberal policies. The Republican Party and Democratic Party both partake in the gutting of the safety net programs. The Clinton administration – e.g., Welfare Reform Bill of 1996, the repeal of the Glass Stiegel Act in 1999, and NAFTA in 1994. Also, the Obama administration supported the bailout of Wall Street, single-payer health care over universal health care, and the 2014 Farm Bill (that included cuts to food stamps).

Both are different wings of the duopoly political parties, maintaining the status quo of the state. Glen Ford’s astute analysis of what he refers to as the “racist-capitalist state” has remained intact even when political officials are no longer white. For Glen Ford, Obama’s legacy can be seen as protecting corporate power and advancing the imperial agenda, while promoting the myth of a post-racial society (Hedges 2017). During the 1960s, various state strategies were deployed to diffuse urban rebellion, one of them was the incorporation of blacks and other people of color in law enforcement and political office such as mayors to provide the illusion of reform (Katz 2007). The point made is a very sociological one. If the U.S. state does not change from being a capitalist-imperial state and is reliant on coercion to maintain the political order, then no amount of selective incorporation or mimetic reforms (Katz 2007) will change the role of policing.

It is safe to say that this crisis in legitimacy involves the distrust in two wings of the duopoly system (i.e., the government) because the police are but an arm of the state. And this can be seen repeatedly with the endless protest and demonstrations in the streets. A real important indicator of how deep this crisis will be is if the police themselves, from the top brass and the rank and file, find it difficult to hide behind the blue wall of silence. If there is the realization that what separates the people is not the thin blue line or the military mindset of us vs. them, but between equality vs. inequality. Many employed in coercive occupations receive state-sponsored elevated honorific statuses and stable employment with high salaries during insecure economic times. Besides being highly bureaucratic organizations that instill particular self-fulfilling ideologies, the state and other agents of socialization, such as the corporate media and educational institutions, all extend great deference to this institution, making them a difficult group to win over.

*

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Vince Montesis a lecturer in sociology. Earned a Ph.D. at the Graduate Faculty of New School for Social Research.

Sources

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In Admissions and Releases, 1991–2012.” Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics, NCJ 243920

Eitzen, Stanley D. Maxine Baca Zinn, and Kelley Eitzen Smith. 2012. In Conflict and Order. Boston, MA: Ally & Bacon.

Green, Penny and Tony Ward. 2004. State crime: Governments, Violence and Corruption.

Sterling, VA: Pluto Press.

Hedges, Chris. 2017. “President Obama’s Legacy with Glen Ford.” On Contact. Jan. 22. Video, https://www.rt.com/shows/on-contact/374680-obama-wars-corporate-interests/

Horkheimer, Max, Theodor W. Adorno, and Gunzelin Noeri. 2002 [1948] Dialectic of Enlightenment. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Katz, Michael. 2007. “Why Aren’t U.S. Cities Burning?” Dissent, Summer.

Kent, Stephanie and David Jacobs. 2004. “Social Divisions and Coercive Control in Advanced Societies: Law Enforcement Strength in Eleven Nations from 1975 to 1994.” Social Problems, Vol. 51, No. 3: 343–361.

Loury, Glenn C. 2008. Race, Incarceration, and American Values. Cambridge, MA: Boston Review.

Marcuse, Herbert. 1964. One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Marx, Karl. 2017 [1867] Capital (Volume 1: A Critique of Political Economy). Digireads.com.

Montes, Vince. 2016. “Coercive Occupations as State Facilitation: Understanding U.S. State’s Strategy of Control.” Radical Criminology, Issue 6, fall, 71-129. (http://journal.radicalcriminology.org/index.php/rc/issue/view/6/showToc)

__________. 2009. “The Web Approach to the State Strategy in Puerto Rico.” Pp. 99-118 in Bureaucratic Culture and Escalating Problems: Advancing the Sociological Imagination, edited by D. Knottnerus and B. Phillips. Boulder, CO, Paradigm Publishers.

Oliver, Pamela. 2008. “Repression and Crime Control.” Mobilization, 13,1: 1-24.

Parenti, Christian. 2008 [1999]. Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis. New York, NY: Verso.

Piven, Frances Fox and Richard A. Cloward. 1979 [1977]. Poor People’s Movement. New York, NY: Vintage Books.

Tilly, Charles. 1992. Coercion, Capital, and European States, AD 990-1992. Maiden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

__________. 1985. “State Making and War Making as Organized Crime.” Peter Evens, Dietrich Ruechemeyer, and Theda Skocpol, Bringing the State Back In, New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

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Race, Incarceration, and American Values. Cambridge, MA.: Boston Review. The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Vince Montes, Global Research, 2020

ZeroHedge, a response to Mr. Littlejohn & the future of dollar dominance

April 30, 2020

ZeroHedge, a response to Mr. Littlejohn & the future of dollar dominance

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

It was very pleasant and informative to read Mr. Gary Littlejohn’s April 19 article, Strengthening the US Dollar: Comments on Ramin Mazaheri. I am very happy that he agreed with my article No, the dollar will only strengthen post-corona, as usual: it’s a crisis, after all, which sought to temper the eager glee of those whom I call the “dollar demisers” with some historical facts and socialist-based analysis.

What it seems Mr. Littlejohn essentially did was combine my analysis with a very popular article from “high finance dissident” site ZeroHedge, “Down The Rabbit Hole” – The Eurodollar Market Is The Matrix Behind It All, penned by Michael Every of the Netherlands’ Rabobank, and then add his own considerable insights and commentary.

Mr. Littlejohn wrote such a fine article that I am happy to respond to both his and ZeroHedge’s articles.

He began, ”This supportive response aims to provide recent relevant evidence that many of the likely changes Mazaheri describes are already happening very quickly.”

Things are indeed happening very quickly, but they could also be arrested quicker than people think. My article was a counterweight to the idea that the US (and their Western allies, and their client/puppets) is somehow entirely out of control of this process – it is not. I hope that I have overestimated a prediction of 20-30 years more of dollar dominance, but my article demonstrated how from 2008-20 they have more than just weathered a Great Recession they primarily caused. There will be a true anti-dollar revolution, but nobody can accurately predict any revolution – who could have even predicted this Great Lockdown hysteria?

I’m very glad Mr. Littlejohn agrees with the class-based analysis that the 1% is indeed international – it is not some tinfoil-hat conspiracy claim. This fundamental tenet of socialist analysis seems odd in the West only because it is so rarely said – after all, hedge funds, billionaires and wannabe-billionaires decide the editorial policy of Western media.

But, above all, this remains a competition between two ideologies: capitalist-imperialist cultures (and their repressed client states) and socialist-inspired cultures. The latter culture acknowledges this openly – the former hide and denies it, famously declaring an ideological “end of history“. Both of these cultures remain supranational in scope and reach, even if capitalist-imperialists continue to falsely assume their global political dominance and persist with their “clash of civilisations” (which first came for the Muslims) with a book of self-flattering “universal values” at the tip of their spear.

What Westerners have started to realise – 2008 began this process and the looming 2020 crisis will accentuate it – is that the neoliberal empires they cheered on always intended to come for their 99% as well. For proof just look at Greece, the Yellow Vests and the decade-long austerity self-cannibalisation of the Eurozone. There are those who believe the upcoming explosion of this critical mass will cause the revolution implied by the fall of the dollar – this article will pose an alternative view; it’s a view which Westerners cannot even conceive of much less discuss because – of course – they have no enemies, There Is No Alternative, their ideology conquered even before their armies arrived, they are so willing to die for their own rightly-guided governments… right?

Mr. Littlejohn was right to marvel at the primacy of Western/international high finance in his discussion of the enormous consequences of the recent decisions by the Fed & ECB to purchase corporate bonds.

If we care about our nation, then we must ensure corporations and individuals (and in the US corporations are now legally treated as individuals, in a major 1%er victory) are legally and fiscally subservient to not only our nation’s laws but our nation’s moral values (i.e. the spirit of the law). Capitalist-imperialist ideologies do not have this type of patriotism: their patriotism, due to a system predicated on competition and not cooperation, cannot be displayed via this positive defense but only via a very negative attacking – be it Putin, Russia, Muslims, those on the other side of the political aisle, socialists, the Iraqis, the Vietnamese, the Algerians, etc.

Mr. Littlejohn writes of the corporate debt purchases: ”This seems to allow the development of a possible strategy that discriminates against foreign-owned companies (such as Chinese-owned Huawei) to be starved of Fed funds.

Indeed it does. But nations have a right to defend themselves (like with protectionism), after all; contrarily, national aggression (like with blockades) is the cardinal sin of international law. The new Fed-Treasury open alliance, with BlackRock as their bureaucratic arm, is a problem for the American citizen in that the priority is not the elevation of American corporations/individuals, but of Western/international high finance.

This lack of patriotism is rightly offensive to the many Tyler Durdens of ZeroHedge, but because they reject socialist analysis they don’t fully understand it nor can they proffer actual solutions instead of a useless, destructive Fight Club-esque rage.

ZeroHedge: the West does not rule the whole world, try as they might

It’s important to note the very fair criticism often made of “dissidents-but-not-really” like ZeroHedge: they have been wrong for years. They keep saying that capitalism is about to collapse because just look at this excellent data we culled and this fine analysis… and yet it has not collapsed. This doesn’t make ZeroHedge permanently wrong, necessarily – it could make them ahead of the curve. Mr. Littlejohn was quite right in relying on them as he did.

I also wonder if ZeroHedge would do any better if they were put in charge of the Western economy? ZeroHedge’s editorial line is resolutely Austrian/Chicago economics. They do not publish any articles advocating socialist reforms, but they do publish many anti-socialist diatribes which may or may not be reprinted from the 1930s. Indeed, I am always flattered when they do occasionally reprint some of my geopolitical articles, and I definitely find it very amusing because many of the comments are – and this is a direct quote: “This is the worst thing I have ever read on ZeroHedge!” LOL!!! Well, they are based around socialism, not Austrian/Chicago economic brutality, selfishness and egotism. But when it comes to economics ZeroHedge is not about providing balance and objectivity – they are trying to protect their investments.

But in most newspapers the best, objective hard news about foreign countries is actually found in the business section – they need some truth because they are trying to protect their investments. ZeroHedge is indeed indispensable during this economic crisis because of their excellent taste in culling key hard business news from around the world – we can never find such contrarian-yet-factual, everything-is-not-100%-rosy, up-to-the-minute hard news at any of the Mainstream Media business sections or websites. ZeroHedge knows what to look for regarding Western economic problems and it wants them fixed – they are trying to protect their investments.

One of the favourite sources of analysis for ZeroHedge is Rabobank. Perhaps it is because they are Dutch, and their “junior partner” status in the North European strangulation of Latin Europe gives them some pause regarding the ruthlessness of the Germanic-Austrian-Chicagoan mindset? Perhaps because it is a bank based not only around cooperatives but agriculture as well that they have a very un-New York City view on the desirability of empire? Or maybe not… anyway.

As Mr. Littlejohn wrote of their “Rabbit Hole” article: “It treats the global market for Dollars under a single label, namely Eurodollars, but if one adopts that approach then it tends to downplay the historical significance of the rise of the petrodollar….” Indeed to both assertions – calling the eurodollar the “matrix behind it all” is rather magical thinking – it would be nice if the flaws of capitalism-imperialism could be entirely sourced to this one issue but, alas…. I think Mr. Littlejohn may agree with me that Every overrates the exceptionalism and risk of eurodollars. It’s very name is misleading – “globodollars” would be more accurate than “westdollars”, as socialist countries have participated. Eurodollars are a key part of offshore banking money laundering – they are not some new development – and I will discuss later how they are still, in application and spirit, dollars.

Yet the Rabobank analysis of the future of dollar dominance by Every is useful and has great merit. Here is how Every sees the possible outcomes of this QE Infinity post-corona hysteria world:

“Indeed, look at the Eurodollar logically over the long term and there are only three ways such a system can ultimately resolve itself:

  1. The US walks away from the USD reserve currency burden, as Triffin said, or others lose faith in it to stand behind the deficits it needs to run to keep USD flowing appropriately;
  2. The US Federal Reserve takes over the global financial system little by little and/or in bursts; or
  3. The global financial system fragments as the US asserts primacy over parts of it, leaving the rest to make their own arrangements.”

Thus, the first possibility is for the US to abandon dollar dominance via essentially declaring bankruptcy/refusing to pay debts.

The third possibility is for the global financial system to collapse and for the US to assert primacy over parts of it. But this idea is inherently flawed: socialist-inspired systems would NOT fragment, due to the independent, anti-capitalist, anti-Western nature of their systems.

Argue all you want about how China, Iran, Cuba, Vietnam and others would be negatively impacted by the Great Depression II, but I will argue just as long about how all their laws, governmental economic control, and a culture of interventionism will allow socialist-inspired nations to weather this storm EXACTLY as they have weathered Hot War, Cold War and Western blockades. This report for PressTV I did from Havana on “How the Cuban blockade works” opens with a rare sight in Cuba: a billboard. It reads “The blockade: the longest-running genocide in human history.” What is Great Depression 2 compared to that, at least for Cubans?

So I would not be arguing small points, indeed: Cuba exists, Iran exists, China exists – all resist. Every fatally assumes that the West and the entire globe are synonymous – they absolutely are not!

Thus, option three’s critical mistake is seemingly caused by common Western arrogance: It is not “The global financial system fragments” but the “WESTERN financial system fragments”. Again, this is not a small difference between our analyses: the West does not run the entire globe, try as they might and as self-flattering as that has been for them to insist. Here is the new, corrected option #3:

The WESTERN financial system fragments as the US asserts primacy over parts of it, leaving the rest to make their own arrangements.

The West’s incestuous 1% will maintain their primacy over the West and their most-favoured puppets, i.e. no change, except for the obvious, looming degradation of THEIR financial system.

Yet Every seems to believe some clients will perhaps slip away from the US/West – really? When he writes “leaving the rest to make their own arrangements” he is completely vague, probably because he is used to equating “the West” with “the world”: how can a nation leave the world, after all? No wonder he is vague. What Every fails to see is that any nation making “arrangements” outside of the West’s orbit can only go over to a necessarily China-focused – which is to say, a socialist-inspired bloc-focused – arrangement which is indeed already in place.

How can it not be binary in this fashion?

Is Every saying that some nations will soon adopt the 1979 slogan of the Iranian Islamic Revolution – “Neither East nor West but the Islamic Republic of Iran”? That would be quite interesting and I would cheer very loudly… but I do not expect that many nations will reclaim their sovereignty in such an emphatic fashion in 2020. Every is predicting revolutions (and many of them), which is even riskier than predicting a date for a Covid-19 vaccine.

And why should we be optimistic, when all it takes is some bribes and just a couple thousand soldiers to hold a nation’s capital, transportation hubs and sources of natural wealth (as in all over West Africa with France) – why would the Western 1% just “leave the rest” alone? That would be terrible for the capitalist bottom line: if France stops getting African uranium for peanuts then the consumer costs of their nuclear-dependent energy system will skyrocket, to give a single example among many. Thus, any nation which says to the West that they want to “make their own arrangements” will either need strong patrons (i.e., the anti-Western socialist-inspired bloc), or 1979-Iran style determination for true independence.

Anyway, no nation is a (geopolitical) island – Iran’s turn away form the West necessarily implied a turn to the East, and today they are China’s most trusted non-Oriental ally. Every, in a historical nihilist fashion, negates the existence and reality that There Is An Alternative… sorry Westerners, this IS real and is not some mere fad.

While the US (which leads the Western 1%) may say, “You want your money? Come get it,” (option 1) they will definitely not abandon neo-colonialism (option 3), which is so very, very profitable.

Thus, we appear to be stuck with option 2 – “The US Federal Reserve takes over the global financial system little by little and/or in bursts;”.

But we are not: Every is entirely mistaken to present that as some sort of new development!

The Western central banker collusion which was the “solution” to the 2008 crisis was based around following the diktat of top US bankers regarding when to issue QE and when to enact ZIRP (Zero Interest Rate Policies). Discussing this evidence that the Fed has colluded with the central banks of their allies was the basis of my 10-part series on the Western “bankocracy” from last winter, but the idea that bankers collude is not at all a new development in socialist thought.

Therefore what will happen is his third option, but accurately modified: The global Western financial system fragments, as the West asserts primacy over as many puppets/clients as possible, but the persistent economic success of the socialist-inspired camp attracts fresh allies.”

Such a development is entirely in keeping with my original article’s thesis of continued, but not endless, dollar dominance. The competition between two ideologies has never ended: the fallout from the corona hysteria may indeed bust out capitalism-imperialism but it cannot & will not cause the socialist-inspired camp to suddenly quit just as their popularity and relative strength is about to peak; just as after 2008 China peaked so high that they were able to end the (allegedly) “unipolar” world.

So where do we go from here? Answer: a slow decline for the West, which – again – is NOT the entire globe

I will keep saying it because it is true: Even if we judge via their own capitalist metrics, China, Vietnam, Iran – these countries have soared over the past four decades while the real economy of the West has been trashed. Iran only began to have postwar hardship when the inhuman Western blockade ramped up with the EU, US, UN triple sanctions of 2011. Even Cuba has had more economic growth and stability since the end of the Special Period (the fall of the USSR) than the West! ZeroHedgers will protest, “But we said not THIS capitalism (the neoliberal form)”, but it’s not like they have remained anywhere but the powerless fringe and, anyway, that is not my problem.

So a “slow decline” is imprecise journalism – it is a continued decline. Maybe a drastic plummeting in dollar dominance is indeed around the corner, but anyone in April 2020 who says they can predict the future is lying.

So what was Every’s take on the most certain scenario? We should learn it because despite its flaws, caused by its unbalanced and blinkered pro-“capitalism with Western characteristics”, it’s a very fine article.

“In other words, the BIS (Bank for International Settlements) is making clear that somebody (i.e., the Fed) must ensure that Eurodollars are made available on [a] massive scale, not just to foreign central banks, but right down global USD supply chains. As they note, there are many practical issues associated with doing that – and huge downsides if we do not do so. Yet they overlook that there are huge geopolitical problems linked to this step too.

Notably, if the Fed does so then we move rapidly towards logical end-game #2 of the three possible Eurodollar outcomes we have listed previously, where the Fed de facto takes over the global financial system. Yet if the Fed does not do so then we move towards end-game #3, a partial Eurodollar collapse.”

Again it’s a fine analysis but hobbled by the same two flaws: Every does not realise that #2 (“where the Fed de facto takes over the global financial system Western financial system”) has already happened, although it certainly must increase in order to forestall #3; and he does not realise that the Fed will NOT take over the financial systems of the “socialist-inspired bloc” with any amount of QE due to the laws, culture and modern history of said bloc. I hope it’s clear where Every goes astray and why.

This is also not my problem, but: To preserve the Western system we should assume that the long, LONG-awaited downloaning of Western QE “right down global USD supply chains” has finally come. However, it has come too late, and it has only finally arrived on top of the economic disaster which is the suicidal (for the West’s lower classes) Great Lockdown, and it will be expressly designed to be just enough downloaning to forestall mass domestic revolt yet not enough to prohibit the endless increasing of the 1%’s market concentration.

QE Infinity (barring an absurd amount of downloaning, which is politically impossible and would amount to a debt jubilee) cannot forever forestall a dollar collapse, but the “dollar demisers” falsely believe that fiscal policy/money issuance is the only tool the Western elite has. The end-of-the-dollar-revolution will not occur after, as I wrote in my first article, rounds of QE are rotated among different allies, and – as needed – massive Western propaganda campaigns, very watered-down but socialist-inspired concessions to the 99%, debt moratoriums, military distractions and maybe even World War III. Maybe even World War IV, too, and this is why I don’t exaggerate against a culture which believes deeply in their “clash of civilisations”:

The Western 1% simply cannot get “in” the socialist-inspired bloc or the yuan – after all, the aristocratic class in Iran, Cuba, China and elsewhere was totally expelled (to the West) – think they won’t make the dollar their “last stand” and use all their tools? As always, the West underrates the totalitarian nature of their most successful sons and daughters, but Iranians, Cubans and others do not. Yes, the economic scale of the crisis in 2020 is (potentially) revolutionary, but anyone who says it has already gone beyond the capacity of the Western 1% to rein it in and keep profiting… all this accuracy-driven journalist can say is, “Maybe, it’s still early.”

At the heart of Every’s argument, ZeroHedge’s complaints, Austrian/Chicagoan indignation that a national economy is indeed the same as a household, and also the West’s many “dissidents but not really” is a common theme that capitalism will implode because they cannot keep “rolling the debt over”. This is essentially echoed by Trotskyism, which holds that capitalism will eventually crumble under the weight of its own contradictions. (It is also notable that all these Westerners also think that the West – which has no enemies, which has no competition, to which no credible alternative exists – can never be defeated, only implode. More arrogance, but I have digressed.)

But they can keep rolling it over.

Again, they can keep rolling it over.

Every believes that the “eurodollar” is so very risky and exceptional because, “They (are dollars which) are not under the US’ legal jurisdiction, nor are they subject to US rules and regulations.” What he has ignored is that the high-finance holders of these dollars and markers are still very, very much informal upholders of the US-led Western system: Every has ignored culture, psychology and history in favor of a purely legal view of these eurodollars, instead of how the owners of these eurodollars operate in practice.

The Caymans, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Singapore (all in the top 13 for eurodollar-dependant nations) – we should be worried that these tax havens will disobey the US and jeopardise the system? We should believe that they are even being honest about their claimed dollar reserves? We should be worried that the 1% is going to start sending their dollars to the average person instead of into these tax havens, creating a liquidity crisis? Anyone who has their money in the Caymans is certainly a parasite on society – we should worry for them, or fear them creating a “moral hazard” reckoning-implosion of the Western financial system? If all these eurodollars in the Caymans disappeared the real global economy would be fine – some rich people would be forced to get by on what’s in their Swiss bank accounts. Eurodollars are a problem – they are often the imaginary credit used by the elite who manipulate the West’s imaginary FIRE/QE economy – but there are bigger fish to fry in April 2020.

However, at root the Eurodollar system is based on using the national currency of just one country, the US, as the global reserve currency. This means the world is beholden to a currency that it cannot create as needed,” – exactly: a large percentage of these tax-haven eurodollars are hoarded, immorally stolen dollars, but they are still dollars. Again, they are not being held by the types of people who can be called “revolutionaries” or “patriots” or “moralists”, LOL – they will not be used in international warfare against the West because they are part of a truly supranational 1% Western financial system. They are held by people who are very over-leveraged, true, but these are not people whom repo men visit, eh? Again – it’s still the dollar which is in charge, and the dollar is on the 1%’s side, not America’s side.

Every’s “nationalist” view – that the Caymans are about to make a geopolitical power play – lacks the wider, better perspective provided by the socialist lens: the Western 1% can indeed collude to create more dollars as they need, and they have since 2008. This group can, “keep USD flowing out or else a global Eurodollar liquidity crisis will inevitably occur”, which Every mistakenly fears. They can indeed keep “rolling it over” via QE Infinity – the fact that QE Infinity is a term which journalists finally devised came up after years of foolish waiting for QE to end shows that the Western 1% has a very sound, but immoral, grasp on reality.

Fundamental question: Why would the West stop rolling it over?

If you ask ZeroHedge they might say – with an oxymoronic “capitalist idealism”: because we can’t reward excessive greed nor failure. LOL….

But who among the West’s high-finance 0.01% will be the class traitor who calls in the marker which implodes the system? He or she would implode his or herself, as well. The West is so big it is not just one person who can implode it, anyway: there is no single marker with a “quadrillion” after the number.

And forget mass domestic protests (which will be banned for months and months in the few Western countries which actually have a protesting culture) because whoever heard of mass protests for “reformism” (which is all Western semi-dissidents propose)? That is nonsensical – mass protests either lead to revolution or they fizzle quickly in the “can’t we all just get along”, middle-class, political status quo-ism which defines the West’s eternally anti-socialist culture.

Thus there is no saviour – individual or national – to be had – there is only long, hard opposition via socialism, which is an entirely new system that has fixed the errors of the old capitalism-imperialism system. Therefore the only entity which could cause the system to explode – if we are being pragmatic – is a bloc led by China. Only they have they weight, combined with their allies, to ever break the dollar’s dominance. But they are not going to do that next Tuesday:

They are not economically strong enough, nor are their few allies, nor do they have enough allies, nor could they be aided within a Western society which has nearly no “5th columnists” but merely “semi-dissidents” whose greatest minor achievement is to not want more war/blockades with the socialist-inspired bloc (because it could blow up the planet, negatively affect the rainforest, trigger negative emotions, disrupt the avocado-toast supply chain, etc.). Look at where we are in April 2020: it is a radical, unheard of idea to be reading of any “socialist-inspired bloc” – how can we say that China today is anywhere as omnipresent and dominant as the USSR-led bloc was in, say, 1945, ’55, ’65, ’75 or ‘85? Many of you right now are denying this idea that in 2020 there is any possible “socialist-inspired bloc” – remember that your (likely) reactionary grandfathers and grandmothers had no such illusions of their total victory.

This relative weakness, this inability to provide an alternative to dollar dominance, is why Iranians will tell you: China is not going to “save” anyone except for China, because they are not strong enough. Iran was the first non-Oriental country to learn this fact, even if some in Iran haven’t learned it yet.

However, what China will do is work with you – they will create long-term plans with you (as China and Iran have done on the Belt and Road Initiative) if you prove your socialist and anti-imperialist bonafides. They will work with you even if you are imperialist-capitalists – it is the only way to gain strength and ultimately beat them.

Every, ZeroHedge, the countless Western Rabobanks – they believed the socialist-inspired bloc had been crushed; they are incredibly upset that the 2008 Great Recession and the phony QE “solution” has permitted China to rise and have the temerity to question their neoliberal, neo-imperial, greedy “universal values”. China is indeed now a threat to the West but it is not yet what the USSR was for decades – a concrete alternative which was willing to foot your bills (the USSR was the only empire where the centre bled for the periphery) while your national culture reforms itself away from imperialist ideals in order to (don’t you get this yet?) break the grip of international high finance on your people.

Thus, the dollar will not be beaten next Tuesday.

This is why corona hysteria will ultimately be manipulated by the Western 1% to strengthen the dollar, i.e. – their dollar and not America’s dollar. Barring reforms – and I have seen none which hyper-financialisation did not take advantage of since 2008 – 2008 will only largely repeat itself.

Indeed, it would take a revolution for a Western crisis to be unsuccessfully manipulated… but “semi-dissidents”, i.e. liberal reformists, hold out that mere false hope. They don’t see – like China, Iran, Cuba and others – that the Western 1% will do, like Mario Draghi of the ECB, whatever it takes to maintain their neoliberal empire.

The proof that this analysis is correct could not be more clearly illustrated than by World War I: a war started by international high finance to forestall the victory of socialism and to defend capitalism-imperialism despite its failure for their 99%.

Mr. Littlejohn grasps these historical concepts, and their political-moral implications, far more than the rabidly capitalist ZeroHedge and their preferred analysts.

Mr. Littlejohn and the dream of Eurasia, a concept which strikes down European exceptionalism

I disagree with Mr. Littlejohn where he gives his extension of Every’s three-outcome analysis:

Even a partial Eurodollar collapse would do serious damage to those countries (more than half) which have sought emergency IMF support, and so this new power gives the Fed enormous political leverage over most major economies and over multilateral agencies such as the IMF, the World Bank or even the European Union [EU]. Given that Trump sees the EU as a potential competitor to the USA, and given the low proportion of US Dollars that its major economies have in relation to their trading needs, the EU is very vulnerable to US economic pressure in the present circumstances.”

Indeed, the developing world who are Western clients and not socialist-inspired clients will have huge problems very shortly. The impact of the Great Lockdown hysteria on the developing world is another article I have been meaning to write, but it will be an extension of Part 3 from the “bankocracy” series: QE paid for a foreign buying spree: developing countries hurt the most.

However, while Trump (who looks even riskier post-corona to the 1% free-trade globalists than he did in November 2016, when they did all the could to prevent his election and his protectionist ideas) may personally see the EU as a competitor, the many people richer than him know that this is not the case – the US and EU will continue to collude. Ergo, not only does the Fed want that “enormous political leverage” but the European 1% wants the Fed to have it, too. The dollar needs to remain in charge for the Western financial system to profitably continue for Europe’s 1% – the structure of the Eurozone was penned by the US for precisely this reason, as was the Plaza Accord for the yen. (As I wrote in the final part of a 7-part series in 2017, which socialistically examined the QE crisis in the Eurozone, “With the Plaza Accord of 1985, Japan adopted the US-orchestrated neoliberal changes that were designed to suck the surpluses from Japan back into the United States.”)

Thus the Fed’s sidelining (outspending) of the IMF and World Bank (but not the ECB, as they can print money) should be viewed as what it is – increased market concentration which will profit the Western 1%, as predicted by Marx. Every’s analysis is so unblinkered-capitalist that he likely cannot see this Eurogroup-Fed alliance, but the fine analyst Alastair Crooke alludes to it; however, Crooke still fails to use the socialist class analysis lens and instead fundamentally looks at such global political changes via a slightly-wider but still outdated nationalist lens.

Europe’s 1% may publicly gripe against the Fed’s decisions but they cannot go against them without effectively declaring war on the dollar. The US, Eurozone, Japan, and Saudi economies, plus their clients, are all intertwined – happily, for their 1%. If they did declare war on the dollar they would only have two options:

  1. Join the socialist-inspired bloc – this means renouncing capitalist-imperialist culture, and that will never happen.
  2. Europe carves out a “Third Way”, in a drastic revolution to the binary ideological system which has raged for over a century. This revolution has been so very often discussed in Europe but it has never, ever happened precisely because Europeans are so very devoted to their capitalist-imperialist culture. They have proven that they don’t want a Third Way, should one even exist. Talk of a “Third Way” has proven to be merely a way for Europeans to arrogantly assert their alleged exceptionalism/chauvinism. At some point they will give up and embrace “Eurasia”, but that is a ways away.

I think Mr. Littlejohn need not worry about “if the Euro collapses as a currency in the coming depression” – the euro, the yen and the dollar will all strengthen in a crisis because that is when investors seek safe havens and these are three of the four biggest global economies in what is soon to be an increasingly economically-depressed global market. All three also collude to fix their currencies relative to each other, due to the interconnected nature of the Western 1%, so while they will jockey for position for export power it is only within agreed-upon limits as it is as a fundamentally-united trio, and also fundamentally (as of 2008) united against the yuan, the champion currency of the socialist-inspired bloc.

So, overall, I think perhaps Mr. Littlejohn underestimates the way the euro/EU can burst free of these bonds to become a sovereign counterweight to the dollar/US, and also that Europe will embrace a culturally-unwanted idea of Eurasia anytime soon. Crooke does a good job in his article of linking the actions of the Fed with what I wrote about in Part 3 of the 2017 series, The hopelessly corrupt structure of the Eurozone & the Eurogroup. I think we simply have to look at how then-Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron organised the takeover of national giant Alstom Energy for GE in 2015 to show that Europe’s leaders will prioritise the US 1% (who are richer and thus have more influence ) than the EU’s 1%. It’s not a “new” or “slow” decline for Europe, but a “continued” decline as well.

Europe does not want sovereignty, which is a modern concept; sovereignty has become “modern” because it has been wiped out by Western-led globalisation. The neoliberal (and thus also neo-imperial) empire which is the EU does not respect sovereignty but suppresses it, as Europe is obviously NOT modern.

It’s difficult to change the matrix which modern Western commentators place the world upon – nationalism, imperialism-as-inevitable, chauvinism against non-Western cultures, existentialism (the feeling of being trapped due to not perceiving any alternative) and the historical & political nihilism which is the legacy of WWII.

It’s thus a radical, unheard of concept which still easily upends Every’s analysis – the West is NOT the entire world. New York, London, Paris and Tokyo will grow even more powerful post-corona due to even-greater wealth/market concentration, but their Greeces, “Flyover Country” and their developing world clients will continue to be bled. And as Western inequality, dominance, militarism and market concentration re-doubles amid their supranational financial system chaos, a whole other bloc is poised to not just weather the storm but thrive amid the post-corona chaos precisely because they rejected the Western legal and cultural system.

It’s not that as if these entities didn’t all collude to try and stop China’s rise – WWII was only more murderous to the Soviets, after all – it’s that they could not. It’s not as if they didn’t beg the CCP to change their laws to allow foreign control of Chinese industries – it’s that China would not. The West finally gave up because the CCP made the Western 1% too much money while still retaining control and serving the Chinese people. It’s not as if the West hasn’t tried to get Iran to go “neoliberal” (LOL) and sell off the 90% of the non-Black Market, non-carpet economy which the Iranian government controls – it’s that they could not. It’s not as if the West hasn’t tried to break Cuba, North Korea and others – it’s that they could not.

You cannot stop an idea, especially a superior idea.

My original article was aimed at the hasty, gleeful “dollar demises” and sought to, as the French say, “put some water in your wine”. The West’s “double bubble economy + Great Lockdown hysteria” crisis now is indeed enormous, but it cannot possibly ruin the socialist-inspired bloc – only themselves because that is THEIR economy, not ours.

That is a very sober – and not immoderately gleeful – analysis from the socialist-inspired bloc.

Mr. Littlejohn is on the right track and hopeful that Europe will come around – who would argue with hope in right action? I would remind Mr. Every that there IS an alternative and that it is not new. I would remind ZeroHedge that socialism does not ban competition and that socialism WILL win the binary ideological struggle, as they have been doing since 1980 (as ZeroHedge keeps pointing out via their fine documenting of the West’s continued economic failures).

I thank Mr. Littlejohn for his time, consideration and efforts.

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Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience? – March 22, 2020

Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for? – March 23, 2020

A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire) March 23, 2020

MSNBC: Chicago price gouging up 9,000% & the sports-journalization of US media – March 25, 2020

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s? – March 26, 2020

If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone – March 30, 2020

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution – March 31, 2020

Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions – April 1, 2020

(A Soviet?) Superman: Red Son – the new socialist film to watch on lockdown – April 2, 2020

Corona rewrites capitalist bust-chronology & proves: It’s the nation-state, stupid – April 3, 2020

Condensing the data leaves no doubt: Fear corona-economy more than the virus – April 5, 2020

‘We’re Going Wrong’: The West’s middling, middle-class corona response – April 10, 2020

Why does the UK have an ‘army’ of volunteers but the US has a shortage? – April 12, 2020

No buybacks allowed or dared? Then wave goodbye to Western stock market gains – April 13, 2020

Pity post-corona Millennials… if they don’t openly push socialism – April 14, 2020

No, the dollar will only strengthen post-corona, as usual: it’s a crisis, after all – April 16, 2020

Same 2008 QE playbook, but the Eurozone will kick off Western chaos not the US – April 18, 2020

We’re giving up our civil liberties. Fine, but to which type of state? – April 20, 2020

Coronavirus – Macron’s savior. A ‘united Europe’ – France’s murderer – April 22, 2020

Iran’s ‘resistance economy’: the post-corona wish of the West’s silent majority (1/2) – April 23, 2020

The same 12-year itch: Will banks loan down QE money this time? – April 26, 2020

The end of globalisation won’t be televised, despite the hopes of the Western 99% (2/2) – April 27, 2020

What would it take for proponents to say: ‘The Great Lockdown was wrong’? – April 28, 2020

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.

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