August 1: when the unemployment runs out and a new era of US labor battles begin

August 1: when the unemployment runs out and a new era of US labor battles begin

May 28, 2020

by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog

TITANIC LARGEST SHIP IN THE WORLD SINKING

personally I am not sure that the twelvehour day is bad for employees especially when they insist on working that long in order to make more money

— John Dos Passos, The 42nd Parallel, part one of the U.S.A. trilogy

What if the bailouts actually work?

Naturally, socialists aren’t inclined to explore this question, but what’s so interesting is that the Western Mainstream Media doesn’t want to admit the truth: the US bailouts for the lower classes have been hugely effective.

Too effective, they fear, and their fears are entirely correct. Make sure to circle August 1 on your calendar because that will be something of a US class war D-Day.

The Mainstream Media does not want to touch this issue with a 10-foot pole, so we cannot find much coverage of the reality that the Great Lockdown payouts to the lower classes have been – by US standards – incredibly generous. (Note: this article was written last week. The latest Fed Beige Book came out yesterday and addressed this issue, so I bumped this column up in the queue.)

2020 saw the very first “People’s QE”, with $1,200 in direct payments and a $600 increase per week in unemployment insurance until July 31.

Even if the bureaucracy sometimes moved too slowly and there were inevitable issues with this enormous and unprecedented redistribution, the verdict was in immediately: this was a hugely popular success with the lower classes. And why wouldn’t it be? It’s the most generous unemployment payout since the 1930s. For the first time in recent memory governmental policy favoured the lower class worker instead of the upper-middle and upper classes.

The average worker went from $378 per week in state unemployment benefits to $978 per week – a jump of 160%. You ever get a 160% raise before? I haven’t. Indeed, a socialist had to have gotten a lump in their throats when this was announced. One study showed that a whopping 68 percent of unemployed workers who can receive benefits are eligible for payments that are greater than their lost earnings. That number seems a bit high, but the massive desire to support the stay-at-home orders was surely a reflection of a desire to support this radically different approach to poverty prevention.

For the incredibly stingy US system the payout was unexpectedly generous and even based on good sense: the payout was $978 per week because the national average salary for unemployment recipients is $970 per week. It passed the smell test, too: $4,000 per month is a pretty good salary in the US… if you have no kids. However, if you have a very good upper-middle class job then it’s a pay cut, but democratically orienting policy to the needs of the lower classes and not the upper and upper-middle classes in the US? Since when?!

This is when socialists had to think – maybe these bailouts will actually work?

But it’s not as if they pulled the plug on capitalist-imperialist culture, so I think the US 1% made a major mistake in suddenly growing a conscience – they have unwittingly done more to raise class consciousness than any union or socialist party has done for many decades.

Buy some popcorn and watch the show – August 1 is going to see public labor-related rage for the first time since the 1930s.

Big, big problems in almost too many ways to count starting August 1

Michiganders demanding their constitutional right to fish was interesting, courageous and an example of ancestor worship any East Asian would be proud of, but let’s talk turkey about why in May – when it became clear that comparisons of coronavirus with the Spanish Flu of 1918 were obviously tabloid journalism – polls showed so many people refused to go back to work:

The early reopening of the economy was shot in the foot by this “unemployment bailout” – why on earth would the lower classes want to return to their low-paid jobs, where they could contract huge corona-related health care costs, when they can be totally safe and paid better to boot?

Don’t get it twisted for even a moment: the problem was NOT an excessive government handout but the TERRIBLE wages lower class workers have to endure since 1980. What “shot the recovery in the foot”, therefore, was capitalist greed and decades of stagnant wages, not “overly-generous government programs”. If the US had paid proper wages, and had shown proper skepticism to the now-unproven claims of corona hysterics, then they wouldn’t have so many employees telling bosses to take their job and shove it.

And the anger will seethe long-term, because the long, long, LONG overdue payout only sowed the seeds of future class discontent: it took a deadly pandemic for America’s most abused workers to finally get a living wage of above $15/hour. How can the lower classes – who are totally denied class consciousness by the US education system and pop culture – now ever forget that money for them really is there, but it is unfairly redistributed?

The US already has 41 million unemployed officially – given that the median weekly income in the US is $865, we are conservatively talking about 20 million workers who will only go back to work grudgingly on August 1.

The long-term cultural ramifications of that should not be underestimated.

Equally necessary to not underestimate: after August 1 many millions of workers won’t have these proper unemployment benefits nor a job either – at least 25% to up to over 40% of jobs aren’t coming back. So, conservatively, 20-30 million workers are going to get a huge pay cut as they have to survive on the “normal” benefit of just $378 per week.

Again, the cultural ramifications add up to massive discontent.

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. If unemployment benefits remained that high the only choice would be for bosses to raise wages to attract workers, and 40 years of recent shows that simply won’t be allowed to happen in the US.

Congress will, however, likely extend the number of weeks workers can live on the inadequate $378 wage (usually around 6 months in the US) but that will hardly be viewed as sufficient. They are talking about giving a $450 back to work bonus to get workers to accept jobs, and this only shows what a huge mistake the US 1% made amid the corona hysteria (thankfully!) and how they are now scrambling to erase it by offering crumbs.

The Democratic leadership has proposed extending the $600/week until 2021, but that’s typically-empty Democratic electioneering: if they really wanted to protect the lower classes and not corporations then they would have included that proposal in the first bailout package. Democrats waited until they knew extending $600 plus had no chance of getting passed

The cultural discontent will also be amplified and extended by the upcoming US elections in November.

Should we expect on August 1st the media to “play ball” with the 1%, like they normally do, and shepherd the masses to go back to work? Not hardly. I think it’s staggeringly unpatriotic to have “played politics” during this pandemic but nobody would doubt that many journalists, politicians and governors have done and are doing exactly that – why would they stop just a few months prior to Trump’s re-election vote?

(Indeed, whereas pre-corona I viewed Trump as a near-lock to be re-elected the odds of him winning amid such economic depression now seems rather illogical. As he is an extreme narcissist Trump views absolutely everything as being all about him, but I can see why he said back in February that corona was being overhyped to damage him politically.)

Will the fake-leftist MSM agitate in favor of labor/the unemployed army, thus against the 1%? That would be rather amazing, and something not seen since the 1970s, but it actually seems likely because they want to better Democratic election chances. It is only a temporary change caused by the corona hysteria and won’t stick long-term, of course.

Countering the fake-leftist MSM will be the always unwanted presence of Austrians/Chicagoans/Republicans who sanctimoniously rail about the “moral hazard” of “incentivising sloth” – people who never knew working hard at a lousy job yet still being unable to pay the most basic bills – will be equating extending the $600/week with the arrival of Satan, whom they are sure is also a Stalinist socialist. These greedy toads had effectively kept a lid on class consciousness for four decades, but no longer.

By August 1 all will be reminded: the problem remains unequal distribution

The term “working class” is so distorted in US culture that the term has no meaning anymore – I prefer the Iranian term “the lower classes” because everybody instinctively knows if they are in the “upper class” or one of all those “lower classes”. And, far more importantly, is that everyone knows whom they politically support: Mao came from a wealthy family but lived his motto of “Serve the People”, whereas plenty of New York City rappers would set an urban housing project on fire just to get on MTV. Many in the US are aware of Eugene “Daddy Socialist” V. Debs’ saying “while there is a soul in prison, I am not free,” but they are not told what preceded it: “while there is a lower class, I am in it”.

So support/opposition to $600 extra per week is going to go a long way in showing who supports which class.

Ultimately, the bailouts will not work – in terms of aiding society – for the three other major components of the US economy: the small- and medium-sized business, corporations and high finance. Addressing “Will the bailouts work?” for those sectors requires another article, but this column democratically addressed the bailouts’ effect on the largest sector of society – the lower classes.

August 1 will mark a critical new era in which domestic disenchantment with the American system reaches an all-time peak, and then only increase from there. Mark your calendars.

It’s not as if American socialism doesn’t have a history to draw upon for strength and guidance, such as John Dos Passos. The U.S.A. trilogy was ranked 23rd on Modern Library’s 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century, but today Dos Passos has been banished from schools, academia and public consciousness – he chronicled the early years of American socialism.

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

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

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

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


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.

Scarce jobs + revenue desperation = sure Western stagflation post-corona

Scarce jobs + revenue desperation = sure Western stagflation post-corona

May 13, 2020

Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog

Among capitalist economists stagflation is the worst possible outcome, excepting a Great Depression.

They even admit they cannot explain it (especially Keynesians), or rather they choose not to – this is why the word has barely been broached during this very depressing coronavirus era. In exactly the same vein, the West’s intellectuals claim they cannot explain the causes of World War I (as I discussed last week here).

There is clearly something in stagflation which, like the banker collusion which orchestrated World War I, strikes at the moral heart of the Western liberal project.

They don’t know what caused the 1970s stagflation, but what’s certain is that the solution – the highest prime interest rates (20% in 1981) in US history, which provoked two recessions and a disaster for the housing market – is not available today in this age of Western ZIRP (Zero Interest Rate Policies) and Quantitative Easing. A total reversal to that type of a contractionary monetary policy would lead to bankers starting World War III; negative interest rates could reach the US as soon as this winter.

The West wants to ignore stagflation because fixing it is so very, very hard. If Weimar Germany represents the most dynamic pole of Western capitalist-imperialist socio-economic breakdown, then stagflation is its equally destructive passive pole. Stagflation was indeed put to music via the punk movement, with its trumpeting of what everyone knows: the Western capitalist dream does not work without imperialist wars, the liberal democratic neo-aristocrats are phony hypocrites, and anarchy in the UK (and the rest of the West) is needed in order to overthrow the status-quo loving “keep calm and carry on-ers”.

Cover your ears – the West is about to get punk again.

“Stagflation” is a portmanteau of “stagnation” and “inflation”: it is the combination of slow economic growth, high unemployment and price inflation. Stagnant wages is a fourth component but it is often left out because the capitalist West doesn’t want to talk about lifting wages at home, in their factories in Haiti, or even on Mars.

Astute readers should be re-reading that sentence and thinking: “Well, since the Great Lockdown started the West certainly now has all four.”

Indeed, but let’s quickly recap:

Slow economic growth – YES: This existed pre-corona in the West’s “Great Recession”: a Lost Decade for the Eurozone, while US economic growth was only in the asset classes of the 1%. As a result of their hysterical overreaction to corona Western GDP growth is going to drop probably around 5%, which is a total catastrophe for a Western system that relies on constant growth and wage-earning instead of central planning and government intervention to prevent economic catastrophe for their lower classes.

We know there will be a corona-related demand shock: the expectation of continued economic chaos will increase the desire to save and not spend. There is also the demand shock caused by their generalised consumer terror – i.e., people who remain too scared of corona to even shop or travel, which will affect businesses from luxury goods to tourism to restaurants to the mall.

High unemployment – YESThis is just as obviously another catastrophic but entirely foreseeable consequence of the Great Lockdown. Estimates range from 25-42% of all lost jobs in the US are never, ever coming back. The Eurozone already had persistently high unemployment since 2008, whereas Germany and the US falsified/degraded their unemployment rate with part-time work/minijobs/gig economy jobs.

Price inflation: YES – Just talk to any small businessman: their first goal upon reopening will be to recoup months of zero revenue – they are desperate to do so because they still had to pay costs like rent, debt servicing, utilities, wages and more during the Great Lockdown. Thus, they will raise prices and cut costs (i.e. fire workers) to not be a part of the mass bankruptcies which will arrive once the West actually gets back to work and sees how bad things are now.

Consider the effects on prices of these new Great Lockdown-inspired obstacles for business such as social distancing: If restaurants, for example, are only allowed to run at half-capacity, they have to either sell twice as much food or raise prices. Talk of supply chains moving back to the US are far-fetched, given that US corporate law requires that stockholders not lose a penny just to aid the nation, but supply chain disruptions will raise prices.

How can the price of the few remaining Western government social services go down when government tax revenue has plummeted?

This is all why nobody is expecting prices to go down in 2020, but many are predicting crashes in asset classes like homes, stocks, bonds, luxury goods, etc.

Low wages: YES – This is never discussed in the West because the outlook is so perpetually depressing in a neoliberal-capitalist system which both refuses wage controls and guts stable civil service jobs in order to hand them to the unstable, profit-oriented private sector in the name of so-called “efficiency”: When the Great Lockdown ends there will be an enormous oversupply in the labor market, thus driving down wages – the Western MSM dares not discuss this inevitability. For those who kept their job: if you thought you didn’t ask for a raise from 2008-2020 because you were too shy, fear of joining the jobless ranks will keep you even quieter in 2020.

So we see that all the components are there – were already there – for Western stagflation.

A solution to stagflation would be either increased wages or increased “People’s QE”. Given that wages represent a long-term drain on the bosses’ profits, we should thus expect the Western 1% to prefer another round of direct, but one-time, government payments to individuals and households – but this would be only a temporary staving off of stagflation. However, the preference of this band-aid solution will be resolutely opposed by anti-socialist neoliberals who view government intervention as the work of Satan, as well as the existence of Austrian/Chicago/“immoral competition is normal”-capitalists who are licking their chops at the prospect of buying up the bankrupted at low prices.

From the outset I warned that the West was fooling themselves into thinking they had the same strengths and capabilities as socialist-inspired nations like China, Iran, Vietnam and others – they employed quarantining, control methods and collective-over-individualist concepts used by Asian nations, but without having similar cultures of government economic intervention nor widespread trust in their governments, and amid their economic Great Recession on top of it all.

But you hear that analysis about as often as you have heard about stagflation.

The West will continue to avoid stagflation discussions by continuing to distort the data

The West won’t discuss what it can’t explain or what threatens their cultural chauvinism, whether that is World War I, or stagflation, or how Trump doing the exact same thing Obama did is somehow only evil when Trump does it.

Slow economic growth – the excuse of Western liberal exceptionalism: “2021 economic growth rates can only go up from 2020, thus the definition of stagflation is not met.” This is a purely technical and pedantic reply – there will be both stagnation and inflation, but by taking as narrow and as uncritical a view as possible of what stagflation truly is, then Western journalists can say “claiming stagflation is wrong”. But this response can’t endlessly hold up any more than the “confidence fairy” justification for Eurozone austerity did.

High unemployment – the excuse of Western liberal exceptionalism: This will be the toughest to hide, so they will likely do something similar to what Emmanuel Macron did: stop reporting the embarrassing unemployment data every month and only give it quarterly. Perhaps they will do what the US and Germany do – pretend as if “underemployment” does not exist (even though it is the defining feature of their young adult class for over a decade) and act as if working one hour per week makes one “employed”.

Price inflation – the excuse of Western liberal exceptionalismTheir inflation gauges already exclude the biggest expenses for the average person: food & energy (too volatile to include, they say), housing, health care and education costs. Ask a German politician and they will tell you that they are watching inflation like a hawk and that it is certainly staying in their “acceptable 2% range”. But ask a normal worker – who keeps paying more for the metro, beef, fruit, housing and all those other crucial things which inflation gauges exclude – and you’ll understand why “decreased purchasing power” has been the number one French voter concern for the 11 years I’ve lived here.

Low wages – the excuse of Western liberal exceptionalismHistory is clear: It took a pandemic for Americans to finally get a barely liveable wage of $15/hour… but only via government welfare and only until July 31. What many Republicans have already ruled out is extending these benefits – which are better than the low wages their lower classes get – because that would increase unemployment and thus only worsen stagflation. Permanently increasing wages should not be expected, as that would represent a sea-change in Western economics in favor of the bottom 90%, and that hasn’t been seen in 40 years.

Increased wages would, however, increase demand for goods and thus raise revenue and demand, and thus increase employment. It would also theoretically causes prices to rise, but the more worrying near-term reason for the price rises are the hysterical restrictions imposed by new social distancing rules and corona fears which have been overblown to bits across the West.

The West can write off 2020 as a recession or a depression, but stagflation will occur after that

Among the West’s Mainstream Media the general editorial line is denialism: “How can there ever be a catastrophe in the West when There Is No Alternative?” Among the West’s fringe/alternative websites the general editorial line is, “Armageddon/a Brave New World starts tomorrow due to the Mainstream Media’s cover-ups of catastrophe!”

However, the post-Great Lockdown truth is likely a very un-Confucian middle path: 1970s-style stagnation, which is Chinese water torture for the bottom 90%, certainly, but not revolution. They say that revolutions can never be predicted and certainly nothing at all can truly be predicted until their Great Lockdown ends – but if the West’s 1% and their toadies successfully resist the call for change from capitalism-imperialism, then stagflation is the West’s future.

The Western 1% profited from the stagflation era, of course: it proved to be a perfect antidote to their political involvement of the 1960s – creating mass precariousness is a very easy way to shut workers and citizens up. The 1970s were a “long national nightmare” for the US and their Western allies – how could their 1%-controlled Mainstream Media demand a Great Lockdown so very strenuously if they honestly warned that a return of that degraded era would be the result?

The causes of the West’s stagflation era (the “Nixon shock”, going off the gold standard, colluding with the House of Saud to create the Petrodollar system, the lack of imperialist war to keep factories from Detroit to Gary, Indiana, humming, the desire to break the record-level power of organised labor, the increased capitalist fanaticism resulting from the continued refusal of peaceful coexistence with socialist-inspired nations which oppose capitalism-imperialism) and its solutions (the breaking of the housing market in order to gut the primary asset of the bottom 90%, a vast anti-union campaign, purposeful governmental ineptitude in order to provoke the rabid anti-government component of neoliberalism, the hyper-financialisation of the economy, the demand for neoliberal “free markets” in order to send good manufacturing jobs out and weaken labor further, the promotion in the US of Reaganesque jingoism in order to give lower class Whites a feeling of pride to replace their socioeconomic degradation) will require much more analysis in the coming months and years because that lousy past is the capitalist-imperialist West’s post-corona future.

See why they don’t want to talk about stagflation?

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

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

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

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


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 upcoming Socialisms Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.

هل هناك صراع روسيّ – إيرانيّ؟

د. وفيق إبراهيم

تستقي هذه الفرضية، مشروعيتها من الاهتمام الإعلامي الكبير بوجهات نظر تبدو متضاربة بين الفريقين في الميدان السوري حصراً.

فهذه هي النقطة الوحيدة التي يتلاقى فيها الفريقان الروسي والإيراني بشكل مباشر الى جانب وجود تاريخي متهادن في بحر قزوين وجهات اذربيجان، إلا أن مصالحهما متقاطعة في مناطق كثيرة من الشرق الأوسط وآسيا الوسطى.

لا شك إذاً في أن سورية والعلاقة مع الأميركيين هما ما أوحيا الى الإعلام الغربي – الخليجي وجود صراع روسي – إيراني على سورية، يلعب فيه الطرف الأميركيّ «وبوسائل متعددة» دور مؤيد لطرد إيران من سورية وتجذير الوجود العسكري – السياسي الروسي فيها.

بداية يجب الإقرار بأن سورية أولاً وقبل أيّ نقاش آخر هي لأهلها السوريين الذين دفعوا مئات آلاف الشهداء مواصلين القتال من اجل استقلال بلدهم، وهؤلاء السوريون يعرفون أنهم مستهدفون من حلف أميركي يضم الخليج وتركيا وبعض اوروبا و»إسرائيل» والتنظيمات الإرهابية، بما يبيح لهم حق التحالف مع قوى دولية تمتلك المصلحة في منع سقوط سورية؟ ولولا وجود هذه المصلحة فلماذا يأتي الروس والإيرانيون للقتال الى جانب الجيش العربي السوري في سورية؟

إن استثناء حزب الله الذي يقاتل في سورية من مبدأ الجهاد من أجل المصالح ضروري جداً، لأنه يؤمن بوحدة الجبهة السورية – اللبنانية في وجه «اسرائيل» والأميركيين. هذا بالاضافة الى الجغرافيا الواحدة بينهما التي ترتقي من مجرد جوار لتصل الى مستوى البلد الواحد والشعب الواحد.

فهل هناك صراع دولي بين الروس والإيرانيين يبرر تنافسهما في سورية؟ هذا إذا كان موجوداً؟

هناك تجانس بين البلدين بدعم فنزويلا كدولة في أميركا الجنوبية تتمرّد على النفوذ الأميركي، وهناك تطابق في حركتيهما في بحر قزوين المشترك بينهما مع عديد من دول آسيا الوسطى، بما يجعل هذا البحر المغلق ميداناً لنفوذ ثلاثي روسي أميركي إيراني يمتد الى كامل منطقة آسيا الوسطى، مع تقدم فيها للأدوار الأميركية – الروسية.

لذلك تقتصر العلاقات الروسية – الإيرانية على تنسيق في وجه العدوانية الأميركية الدولية، بما فيها إيران التي تتعرّض لحصار أميركي – غربي خليجي يستهدفها منذ 1980، وتقف روسيا والصين فيه إلى جانب الجمهورية الإسلامية، لكنهما لا تمارسان دوراً كبيراً في تصديع الحصار.

أما نقطة الالتقاء الأساسية بين البلدين فهي سورية التي هبت إيران الى نجدتها منذ ست سنوات وسبقها حزب الله لارتباطه المباشر بالحرب ضد الإرهاب و»اسرائيل».

لقد كانت طبيعية ولادة تأييد إيراني لدعم الدولة السورية في دعوة روسيا الى مجابهة اكبر حلف صنعته أميركا للقضاء على سورية على مستوى الكيان السياسي والدولة، وبالفعل استجاب الروس بسرعة لأنهم متأكدون أن سورية هي الإطلالة الوحيدة لهم على البحر المتوسط والشرق والأوسط.

هنا تكاملت مصلحتا إيران وروسيا، فالجمهورية الاسلامية خرجت من الحصار المضروب عليها، لتقاتله في كامل الإقليم من خلال الساحة السورية، بالاضافة الى تطبيق عقيدتها المعادية للكيان الإسرائيلي غير القابلة لأي مساومة وبشكل جذري.

بالنسبة للروس، اعتبروا القتال في سورية فرصة لتوثيق العلاقة مع بلد صديق لهم منذ بدايات مورثهم الاتحاد السوفياتي أواخر خمسينيات القرن الماضي.

كما شكلت بالنسبة اليهم المكان الاستراتيجي الملائم للعودة التدريجية الى الفضاءات السوفياتية السابقة في العالم العربي.

هناك اذاً تطابق في الأهداف لجهة مجابهة النفوذ الأميركي لتخفيف العرقلة الأميركية للدور الروسي وتعطيل الحصار المضروب على إيران وذلك عبر تحرير سورية.

في إطار هذا المفهوم أنجز الطرفان ومعهما حزب الله بقيادة الجيش العربي السوري ودولته انتصارات نوعية حررت نحو 70 في المئة منها.

اما الباقي في الحدود الجنوبية وشرقي البلاد والشمال الغربي فتتصارع عليه قوات أميركية مباشرة والأكراد والأتراك وتنظيمات إرهابية مع وجود عسكري اوروبي تحت راية التحالف الدولي المزعوم.

بذلك وجد الأميركيون ان وضعهم في سورية لم يعد مشروعاً متكاملاً كما كان قبل نصف عقد تقريباً بل أصبح مصدراً للعرقلة والإزعاج وليس لإسقاط الدولة السورية.

فاندفعوا لاستعمال كامل اوراقهم العسكرية والسياسية، من الغارات الاسرائيلية المتواصلة التي تضرب من قبرص ولبنان وتركيا والأردن والجولان المحتل، الى إعادة تحريك داعش في مناطق درعا والجهات الريفية في حماة وحلب، والعبث بالقبائل العربية في الشرق عبر السعودية والإمارات.

هناك جانب آخر مخفيّ، بدا فيه الأميركيون وكأنهم فضلوا الدور الروسي في سورية، على الدور الإيراني متعمّدين الابتعاد عن استهداف روسيا سياسياً او عسكرياً مقابل تركيز نوعي من «اسرائيل» والإرهاب على قواعد ومراكز فيها مستشارون إيرانيون او مقاتلون لحزب الله.

اما الاسباب فواضحة، فإيران على عداء جذريّ لا يقبل بالكيان الإسرائيلي المحتل ذاهباً الى رفض اي مشروع آخر غير فلسطين بكاملها. هذا بالإضافة الى ان الجمهورية الاسلامية بنت نفوذاً كبيراً حاضراً منذ الآن في الشرق الاوسط وآسيا الوسطى، فلديها علاقات مع الهزارة في أفغانستان وثلث الباكستانيين وقسم كبير من مسلمي الهند واليمن والعراق وسورية ولبنان.

وهذه علاقات ثابتة، لها أساسات في الايديولوجيا الاسلامية غير قابلة للتغيير.

اما روسيا فهي قوة واعدة تبني أدوارها في الشرق الاوسط على اساس علاقات اقتصادية كالاتفاق الذي جمعها بالسعودية لتنظيم اسواق النفط او دورها في سورية، لكنها لم تتمكن بعد من بناء تحالفات استراتيجية راسخة في الشرق الأوسط.

هذا هو الميزان الذي اعتبر فيه الأميركيون ان روسيا أقل خطراً على نفوذها في الشرق الأوسط من إيران التي تستطيع بسرعة إعادة التوازن الى علاقاتها بالإسلام السني من خلال دورها الفلسطيني.

فكان الحل في الاستراتيجية الأميركية، محاولات تمرير رسائل الى الروس بأن طرد إيران من سورية لا يشملهم، بل يعزّز من دورهم فيها بموافقة أميركية خليجية وإسرائيلية.

وبالطبع لا تنطلي هذه الترهات على الروس الذين يعرفون أن الهدف الأميركي هو نسف الاتفاق الروسي الإيراني أولاً وطرد إيران ثانياً واخيراً طرد روسيا في مراحل لاحقة او تحقيق اتفاق معها على مبدأ التحاصص.

مع كامل الاعتقاد بأن الروس لم يوافقوا على هذا المخطط لا باتفاق مع الأميركيين او الإسرائيليين.

وتجب قراءة موقف الدولة السورية التي تعتبر بصرامة أن سورية لأهلها. وهذا لا يلغي ضرورة التحالف مع روسيا وإيران في آن واحد.

يتبين أن تصعيد الهجمات الأميركيّة المباشرة او بواسطة الإسرائيليين والإرهاب والأكراد، هو محاولة أخيرة لإنقاذ الدور الأميركي من الانهيار مع محاولة جذب روسيا الى اتفاقات تحاصص مع الأميركيين، لن يكتب لها النجاح لسببين: الدولة السورية القوية، وإيمان روسيا بهذا الأمر، هذا الى جانب الرعاية الإيرانية الداعمة لدولة سورية متمكنة في وجه «اسرائيل».

Putin Didn’t Disappear: Russia’s Ongoing Decentralization Process

By Andrew Korybko

Global Research, May 05, 2020

The Western Mainstream Media’s aggressively propagated infowar narrative that President Putin “disappeared” and is “paralyzed” in the face of World War C is factually false because it ignores the Russian leader’s regular video conferences with various officials that are widely reported on by his country’s domestic media, which actually prove that he’s decentralizing state affairs to a degree by delegating important tasks to relevant decision makers, as all responsible leaders should do during times of crisis such as this one.

Yet Another Infowar Product From The Fake News Factory

The Western Mainstream Media never tires when it comes to disparaging President Putin even if their latest infowar narrative contradicts everything that they’ve spent over the last decade trying to indoctrinate their audience into believing. The so-called “Fourth Estate” previously invested much of its efforts into wrongly depicting the Russian leader as a “dictator” who’s supposedly “obsessed with controlling everything” in his country, which is why it’s so surprising that they’re now aggressively propagating the notion that he’s “disappeared” and is “paralyzed” in the face of World War C. This claim is factually false since it’s refuted by his country’s domestic media consistently reporting on his regular videoconferences with various officials, but it’s likely being pushed upon the public anyhow in order to artificially manufacture a sense of uncertainty about Russia’s long-term political stability, which could then be used as another angle from which to attack the progress that he and Trump have recently made in pursuit of their hoped-for “New Detente“.

Russia’s Ongoing Decentralization Process Should Be Celebrated, Not Condemned

Far from shirking his duties, President Putin is embracing them like never before, albeit in a manner which admittedly caught his critics unaware. They’ve invested so much time, money, and effort into portraying him as a “power-hungry dictator” that they’re simply unable to adapt their weaponized narrative to the reality that he’s now decided to decentralize state affairs to a degree by delegating important tasks to relevant decision makers, as all responsible leaders should do during times of crisis such as this one. No single individual, let alone of the world’s geographically largest state, can deal entirely on their own with such a situation as World War C, hence why President Putin made the wise choice to share the burden of leadership with other officials. It would have been egocentric to the extreme as well as highly dangerous if he believed that he could single-handedly manage Russia’s response to COVID-19, which is impossible for any one person to do. Nobody has the knowledge, time, and management capabilities to take full “dictatorial” control over such a crisis.

Russia Isn’t A One-Man Show

President Putin is aware of his limitations as a human being, and he also has an eye on his eventual retirement from public life, whether that’s as early as 2024 or perhaps even as late as 2036 if the public approves constitutional amendments to allow him to run for two additional terms during a forthcoming referendum, the date of which is presently unknown since the it’s been indefinitely postponed because of World War C. Whatever one’s criticisms of the Russian leader might be, few would ever assert that he isn’t a skilled manager, for better or for worse depending on their perspective. With this in mind, it’s completely within his character to gradually prepare for the country’s inevitable transfer of power whenever that moment arrives, hence why he understands the importance of delegating responsibilities to relevant officials in the context of the current crisis in order to reduce the country’s dependence on him personally. This is also in line with the proposed constitutional amendments that aim to reduce the power of the presidency in favor of parliament.

Russia’s Decentralization Is Over A Decade In The Making

There’s some truth to the claims that President Putin previously concentrated a lot of power in his hands, but that was entirely legal within the framework of the Russian Constitution and was mostly exercised in response to the federal intervention in Chechnya that characterized the country’s most pressing domestic challenge at the beginning of the century. Under powerful presidential systems such as Russia’s, the elected head of state has the final say in deciding the country’s course of action in crisis situations, which enables it to more rapidly respond to challenges as they develop. Seeing as how that particular one has been completely resolved, it was fitting for President Putin to begin gradually loosening the reins of control over the country as it returned to normalcy, which explains the expansion of his United Russia party throughout the land and its embedding of influence into practically all public state structures. This initial phase of pragmatic decentralization was followed by the “technocracy” that former President Medvedev encouraged during his time in office.

Constructive Criticism Of Russia Should Be Fact-Based & Fair

The third phase is the present one that’s currently unfolding before the world’s eyes whereby President Putin has sought to constitutionally reform the state legislature in order to grant it more responsibilities by the time he leaves office. The unexpected onset of World War C simply accelerated these plans that were already in progress since the official end of the second federal intervention in Chechnya in April 2009. Therefore, it’s not out of the ordinary whatsoever for President Putin to take advantage of these circumstances by “leading from behind” while tasking relevant officials to “lead from the front” in his stead, which they’ll eventually have to do once he inevitably leaves office. As the author wrote in March 2018, “It’s Okay To Constructively Criticize Russia, Even President Putin Does It!“, and even RT published an usually scathing op-ed the other day about the Russian government titled “Once he recovers from Covid-19, PM Mishustin faces new ordeal – reviving economy & Kremlin’s popularity with thinning oil kitty“. Such criticisms, however, should be fact-based and fair, but that isn’t the case with the Mainstream Media’s latest infowar attack, which therefore makes it propaganda.

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This article was originally published on OneWorld.

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from OneWorldThe World Cup Has Political Dimensions, and They’re All to Russia’s BenefitThe original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Andrew Korybko, Global Research, 2020

The Saker interviews Michael Hudson about the current economic crisis

May 01, 2020

Source

The Saker interviews Michael Hudson about the current economic crisis

Dear friends,

I have always held Michael Hudson in the greatest esteem.  Not only do I consider him my favorite US economist out there, I also know that he is a kind human being.  He manifested this kindness again when he agreed to reply to some very basic questions which a non-economist like myself would ask.  I am deeply grateful to Michael for taking the time to reply to them!

The Saker
——-

The Saker: I suppose that like any system, the economy and financial system in the USA and, more generally, in the West can take some punishment, but there has to be a “point of no return” after which the entire systems comes tumbling down like a house of card.  My first question is double: a) what would be this “point of no return” and do you think that we have (or will soon) reach it? b)  What would be the signs that this “point of no return” has been reached (or is about to be reached)?

Michael Hudson: The point of no return would arrive when the Federal Reserve and government stop bailing out the bankers and the stock and bond markets and let real “free market” asset prices collapse to reflect the “real” economy’s shrinkage. There would be a sell-off without the Fed’s promise to be the buyer of last resort.

The problem is that the economy can never recover from the Obama Depression (resulting from his refusal to write down the junk-mortgage debts and the other debts to the leading financial institutions) as long as it keeps the present debt overhead on the books. But Sheila Bair’s comment still applies: “It’s all about the bondholders.”

So I don’t expect a soon “point of no return.” But when it finally does occur, it will be sudden – as all crashes are. It may be triggered by a bank or speculator making a bad trade and being unable to pay, as AIG’s London office was unable to do so in 2008.

That said, who would have believed that the stock market would continue to go up while the underlying “real” economy is shrinking drastically. Obviously, there has been a decoupling of the economy’s two sectors: the Financial, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) sector from the production-and-consumption economy.

I think that the Fed will let the large insiders sell out (and even make a fortune on selling stocks and bonds short) before they pull the plug. The key is that the collapse of the economy must be managed as a financial gain-seeking opportunity for the big banks and financial speculators.

The Saker: There is a lot of talk about the big corporations out there, but I want to ask you about the “little guy” (like myself and most of our readers): what can we do to prepare for a possible economic and financial collapse?  For example, do you consider that our money is safe in US FDIC insured deposits banks?  Or there be a “bank holiday” or even a full scale “run on banks” like what happened in Argentina?  Should we pull our saving and keep cash?  Or even get gold/silver?  What do you recommend for the “little guy”?

Michael Hudson: FDIC-insured deposits are safe. They won’t let that go, because that would end the banking system.

There won’t be an Argentina-style run, because its foreign debt is owed in U.S. dollars, which it can’t print. But US debt is owed in its own currency, which the Fed and Treasury can create at will.

The stock market will zig-zag in approximately the current range, until the plunge is permitted to occur. The safest investment is in U.S. Treasury securities. Gold is fine also, but the problem is how to keep it free from theft. Like currency, it can be robbed.

For your small investors, the best aim to protect themselves is to get (and stay) out of debt, secure their home and livelihood from what may be a Third-World type austerity plan, IMF style resulting from state and local bankruptcy. (Avoid buying tax-exempt state and local bonds.)

The Saker: How bad is, in your opinion, the current crisis in financial/economic terms?  Some say that this will (or, already is) worse than 2008, 9/11 or even the Great Depression.  Do you agree and, if not, why?

Michael Hudson: The current depression is the worst since the 1930s. There will be a new wave of foreclosures, on commercial real estate as well as residential homes. The problem will not be merely junk mortgages, but the loss of income by rent-paying stores and other commercial property and residential housing.

We are at the end of the 75-year upswing that began in 1945 when the war ended with few private-sector debts and abundant savings. Now, the situation has been reversed: a heavy debt overhead, with little savings by most of the population. The growth in the economic surplus is now spent almost entirely on debt service and other financial charges and rentier payments to the FIRE sector. Rentier capitalism has replaced industrial capitalism.

The Saker: a lot of people (and corporations) out there are loosing millions and even billions. But others are making a killing (Amazon?).  Who in your opinion benefits most from this crisis and how?

Michael Hudson: Financial and political insiders will benefit from the crisis, along with monopolists. The rest of the economy will lose – but the quickest fortunes often are made in a crisis. As Adam Smith noted, profits often are highest in countries going fastest to ruin. But this time it is not profits that are the key to fortunes, but “capital gains” from bank-inflated asset prices.

In a nutshell, the financial game has been rigged by political insiders and their financial backers. Their time frame is short-run.

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

Thursday, 23 April 2020 8:01 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)
Iranians shop at the Grand Bazaar market in the capital Tehran on April 20, 2020, as the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic lingers ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. (Photo by AFP)

By Ramin Mazaheri 

So it took a pandemic-plus-lockdown for some in the West to realize that classic economic liberalism on a global scale – i.e. the narrow hyper-specialization of Adam Smith’s division of labor and David Ricardo’s caste-forging theory of competitive advantage – makes a nation economically vulnerable? This epiphany is not novel for those countries which imperialists forced to precariously rely on a single cash crop/cow. 

It is interesting to watch American television these days: almost never openly discussed is the financial impact of the Great Lockdown on the lower classes. What the average American is bludgeoned with instead is a constant stream of doctor-worship, technocrats, electioneering politicians who cannot stop sniping despite such a crisis, and high-class analysts telling them to stay home at all costs – the financial condition of those who don’t even have $500 to cover in an emergency are ignored, even though they compose 63% of the US.

Even pre-corona, US TV is a realm where lower-class Whites who speak with a twang, poor-but-not-hustlin’ Blacks, and Latinos who don’t sing/dance/clean simply cannot be found. American Indians are so entirely absent they may as well not even exist.

If we had to define Iran’s economy in one brief sentence it would be: All are considered, but the needs of the lower classes must come first.

No Iranian would deny this has been the case since 1979, and it really became eye-openingly apparent after the end of the War of Sacred Defense (Iran-Iraq War): there has been a constant decrease of slums and absolute poverty, and a constant increase of infrastructure, education and production and diversification. Not only does this explain the country’s huge jump in seemingly all economic metrics since 1989, it also explains why Iran could rally 300,000 volunteers (propaganda alert: The Wall Street Journal’s “water cannons” were actually “disinfection cannons”) to go door-to-door to inform, help and prevent the spread of coronavirus – there is support, trust, unity and two-way dialogue.

When corona first hit many Iran-ignorant commentators assumed it would devastate a backwards nation governed by an unfeeling totalitarian state: while over 5,000 have died, Iran’s proportional death rate is better than almost every Western nation.

Of course, I know you’ll say “Iran is lying” – you have been indoctrinated to say that in response to any claim made by any Iranian. Ever since the 2011 triple sanctions (US, EU, UN) were deployed the Western Mainstream Media has added doubt indicators such as, “Iran says….” to every headline stemming from Iran. I used to get annoyed by it, but it’s old news now – if the government said the sun came up today the headline would be, “Iran says sun rises in East”.

So the skeptics/Iranophobes will remain eternally unconvinced, and I respond with habeas corpus – produce the body. Indeed, this is a demand for proof which Western epidemiologists – and their technocrat-worshipping promoters – are scrambling to come up with: It turns out their direst forecasts were far less accurate than modern weather reports (usually because they underestimated the influence of personal responsibility initiatives), and perhaps shouldn’t have been hysterically and uncritically relayed by Western corporate media.

As the Iranophobes scour satellite photos for secret mass graves (How many people do you think Iran is hiding – 50,000, 100,000 dead people? How many more would have to be silenced, and in a nation full of personal media devices? The idea that such a thing is possible is absurd….), and while the West employs more draconian measures than Iran ever did (due to worse health care, lack of volunteers due to fears of expensive health care, a stressed/unhealthy/obese population, the lack of existing lines of national coordination, an acclimation to “states of emergency” and other factors), Iran is ending curbs and going back to work. And they are also back to work being honest political truth-tellers: US imperialism is indeed a worse virus than the coronavirus, per President Rouhani. No body count comparison required on that one because it’s not even close – Western epidemiologists can relax.

Iran is returning to work slowly: many are working from home, women with young children are given priority to decide who works remotely, the government is asking everyone to use common sense, but the resumption of normal activity comes after many in the government openly displayed common sense by saying that an economic crisis simply should not be added to a heath crisis.

Undoubtedly, if Iran had not been so harshly attacked with such an inhuman blockade they would have had more oil-money savings to pay people to stay at home like in some nations, but they were cruelly denied this chance by the West, along with medicine, justice, peace, etc. The West’s governments are demanding that their lower classes commit economic suicide over corona fears, but Iran’s lower classes know that the biggest, most reliable patrons they have are the Iranian government – that’s why after taking sensible measures they are encouraging a sensible, safe return to work.

Everybody must use common sense, and a recent fatwa from the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei only reminds us how revolutionary Iran has decisively chosen to be inspired by Islam and is NOT a fundamentalist/Salafist/Wahhabi Islamic nation: it is OK to abstain from fasting during Ramadan (which starts April 23) if you rationally believe it may cause a sickness. As wonderful as Ramadan is, and while the science is not 100% clear, long-term fasting appears to lower one’s immune system – that does seem rational, to me.

Ramadan will simply not be typical this year, sadly. I hope many Iranians (and Muslims everywhere) use common sense this year to protect the vulnerable and reduce the number of second-wave infections. Anyone living with vulnerable and elderly people should remember that Muslims have a full year to make up missed Ramadan days.

Part 2 will explain why the necessary reversal of globalization is impossible in a West which is dominated by their 1%, and why Iran’s “Resistance Economy” is the perfect vaccine to corona & lockdown-related economic chaos.

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 upcoming Socialisms Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.


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

www.presstv.ir

www.presstv.co.uk

www.presstv.tv

Pity post-corona Millennials… if they don’t openly push socialism

April 14, 2020

Pity post-corona Millennials… if they don’t openly push socialism

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker blog

I’m only three years from being a Millennial myself but, wow! They sure have had a much rougher go of it:

Most of them were teenagers when the “victory” of the “leader of the free world” came crashing down on 9/11. Jingoistic hysteria against (fictitious, always Pentagon-supported) Islamic radicalism was followed by the Great Recession. The alleged “economic recovery” was always limited to the 1%, and now we have the coronavirus panic. Ever since 2008, when my elders start to decry the alleged character flaws of the Millennial generation I always point out how they were handed so many handicaps.

“The only Millennials with a decent job and no debt were those selected in the first round of the NBA draft,” is my usual attempt at pithiness. It’s surprising that the phrase “Ok, boomer” took so long to develop, frankly?

So what’s going to happen to this beleaguered bunch post-corona? It seems like even more burdens will be heaped on them, and I can think of five important ones:

First, there will be no growth-rebuilding “corona reconstruction” because infrastructure is not destroyed in a pandemic. When the corona craziness dies down the neoliberals in the US and the austerity-evangelicals in the Eurozone are going to be just as resistant to taxing the rich in order to give useful jobs to the poor as they have been for the past four decades.

Second, there are many fearful Mainstream Media articles detailing how after the Black Plague workers in Europe were emboldened to demand more wages and rights. This is merely an interesting historical vignette – there are no mass deaths in 2020. Therefore, once the corona hysteria ends you will have a flood of workers competing with each other for jobs. In a parallel, compounding development, good jobs will also be even more scarce than in 2008 (although maybe the NBA will expand?) because the corona overreaction is creating such enormous economic devastation with mass bankruptcies, closures and reduced government tax revenue sure to result. Due to a lack of socialist controls and planning, the law of supply and demand will rule unfettered – wages are sure to drop.

Third, the very sectors where Millennials can be most often found – restaurants, retail, tourism, hospitality and creative – will be the most decimated by corona lockdowns. What’s more, this age group has – necessarily – the least seniority, experience and skills and thus they will be the first to be fired in every sector. Labor participation rate for Millennials had only just returned to pre-2008 levels, but – as I stressed to my often-dismissive elders – levels “returned” only via terrible part-time jobs, gig economy work and short-term contracts in Europe. How long will it take to return to (these fundamentally inferior) pre-2020 levels?

Fourth, in these lousy, poorly-paid pieces of under-employment “benefits” like health care, pension contributions and unemployment insurance were often non-existent. The US bailouts have thrown them some unemployment insurance for a few months, but will it be enough? Not to pay the overhead for the moderate-to-successful Millennial classes – that is absolutely certain. Dirt-poor Millennials will, at best, not stop being dirt-poor, and certainly will return after these modest “bailouts” quickly finish. Millennials were already worse off in every major economic indicator compared to their Generation X, Baby Boomer and Silent Generation counterparts.

Fifth, if you thought Millennials were too sensitive before, then imagine how they will be after the corona trauma? There is no “victory” to be had here for the survivors – all they did was cower at home, sometimes snitch on their neighbors, and often couldn’t even risk trying to volunteer to help the elderly and vulnerable. This is going to create guilt and shame personally, mistrust and resentment socially, and a desire to save, hoard and not take risks economically.

And, please note, this is the bad situation for the White youth class in the West – imagine being non-White, or Muslim, or (gasp!) both non-White and Muslim?

To summarise briefly, the same logic will hold true for individuals as for businesses: anyone without savings or stable access to credit NOW is about to be dragged under. Millennials have the least amount of savings, social credit or economic credit.

So what is to be done?

There is a lot of fear among the corporate MSM, conservatives and corporate neo-fascists that the economic downturn caused by the corona lockdown will cause the Millennials and younger to embrace socialism.

To this I respond: Well, it would be about time.

A hugely common Western misconception during the 1950s and 60s was that the youth class would carry the day and float the elderly off on icebergs to the North Pole. We now know much more about modern Western capitalism: this was undoubtedly misguided, because in the West it is the elder classes which dominate the economic assets and political power, and are just as weighty arbiters of cultural power.

As I have repeatedly discussed, only in China and Iran did the upheavals of the 1960s translate into actual political and economic power for the youth class, and thanks to (the world’s only two) state-sponsored Cultural Revolutions. Contrarily, in the West their victory was limited to the pop culture sphere – their Cultural Revolution was repressed and halted, yes, because the real failure lay within the populace: they simply weren’t real, class-warfare, anti-imperialist leftists, apparently.

Maybe this will change now?

However, (truly) fake-leftist Bernie Sanders just bowed out (hilarious timing from a reliable Democratic Party toady); Jeremy Corbyn’s (fake-leftist) anti-Brexit stance failed (of course) and his replacement is far more conservative; France’s (fake-)left wants four things: wine, pornography, no religion whatsoever and to smash the superb Yellow Vest movement’s call for a French Cultural Revolution by any means necessary.

So what is to be done?

The political nihilists – who are stupid, wrong, lazy and cowardly – insist that leftism has failed everywhere in 2020, but there are a dozen or so examples which prove them wrong (simply look to the countries the US organises Western sanctions against). The West, being evangelical, chauvinistic and used to leading for two centuries, ignores and/or denigrates all of these examples.

Now one thing I always try to do is to shoot myself in the foot – as far as getting my articles rebroadcast, retweeted and the like – by praising Iran when deserved. I mean, what surer way is there today to terrify fake-leftist, rabidly-secularist Anglophones and Westerners than to stick up for not just Iran but also (and I’m not sure which is worse to them) Islamic Socialism?

But I feel compelled to point out that the corona-situation of Iranian Millennials (i.e. their youth class) is not anywhere as dire as for their Western counterparts, and I need only one reason to prove why: most of them live at home until they are married or around 30.

Iranian young adults who aren’t working now – at least they aren’t racking up rent/mortgage debt, eh?

What’s more: there are no Western credit card companies in Iran due to the Western blockade, and formal interest rates are constrained by the morals of Islamic finance, so what credit card debt? University eduction is widespread and cheap, so what university debt? The medical system is the best in the region and, while absolute poverty has not been totally eradicated anywhere, it is undoubtedly within the reach of Iran’s lower class, so what medical debt? Europeans usually enjoy the latter two realities, at least, so you can’t say I am talking about impossibilities. Corona quarantines are hardest on the lower class everywhere, but Iran is a socialist-inspired society so political policy actually addresses their needs first and has done so since 1979.

Unlike Europeans (especially Anglo-Saxons), Iran’s entire (allegedly) “failed to launch” youth class also have far more emotional support than in atomised Western households. This is not a small thing for some people during the corona crisis, but also post-corona.

However Iran is not the only example of success amid the post-1980 neoliberal era: it’s grounds for calls of “traitor” in the US, but is not Russia’s amazing rebound after the tragedy of the USSR’s implosion not worthy of interest? How did they do that? They are a socialist-inspired culture to some degree, but what about the continent of China and tiny Cuba as well? The point here is: the primary obstacle Millennials have to overcome are lifetimes of Gen X, Boomer and Silent Generation TINA (There Is No Alternative (to neoliberalism)) to realise that socialism is an actual, still-viable, never-going-away source of solutions.

Without openly promoting socialism all the complaints and public disavowals of Western imperialism-capitalism ultimately reach a dead end, after all. Millennials need to learn that class warfare exists, but in the West only the 1% is cognisant of this reality.

Unfortunately, to see how wide the political-intellectual gap is simply consider: US imperialism more dangerous than coronavirus for international community: Iran president. What other national leaders would say such thing in 2020?

How many actually did say it in 1918 amid the Spanish Flu pandemic? In 2020 you would be crucified for saying that – despite its obvious accuracy – and certainly not retweeted.

But Western Millennials are free to ignore existing examples, and also to go on hating God, Mom, Dad, socialism, central planning, strong social safety nets, all governments etc.; they are perfectly free to stay focused on the current corona “War on Dying” and to not immediately demand socialist-inspired policies for a youth class which keeps being forced to bear the domestic brunt of Western neoliberalism and (never even broached domestic) neo-imperialism.

They’re still young – maybe they’ll get drafted by the NBA?

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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 – April 13, 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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