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

Monday, 27 April 2020 5:46 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)
The end of globalisation won’t be televised, despite the hopes of the Western 99% (2/2)

By Ramin Mazaheri


Part 1 
discussed how the West’s coronavirus response totally ignored the needs of their lower classes, and also how Iran’s “Resistance Economy” rejects Western economic liberalism (and neoliberalism) which has always sought to relegate non-Westerners to second-class economic partners.

As I have written previously, the West’s corona response is not just murderously mediocre but middle-class – it assumes everyone has a comfortable home, savings and a stable job. The West is employing 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. It is not hysteria to suggest that this could prove fatal to their bubble-filled, high-finance dominated economies.

There is a lot of foolish talk from Westerners, who are effectively forbidden to learn about and discuss how capitalism-imperialism truly operates, regarding how corona will cause supply chains to move back home. This has produced a lot of soon-to-be-forgotten agreement from their politicians, who are desperate to show that – all of a sudden – they care about their lower classes. Recall that the “end of irony” was proclaimed after 9/11 – will we see the “end of globalisation” because of coronavirus?

That’s funny.

The state of Delaware is where most US corporations are located and buy their charters – if it is not the world’s biggest corporate tax haven, according to The New York Times and The Japan Times, the state is certainly among the world’s top five. (Indeed, it should now be no surprise why Delaware senator Joe Biden was chosen to be Barack Obama’s running mate amid the 2008 economic crisis.) It could not be more crystal clear, even though neoliberals in the US often try to sow confusion about this fact: “Delaware corporate law requires corporate directors to manage firms for the benefit of shareholders, and not for any other constituency.” So anyone thinking corporations will sacrifice a mere fraction of their stock price in order to move supply chains back home are absolutely deluded about the possibility of patriotism, much less humanity, in “Capitalism with American characteristics”: their laws explicitly forbid it.

The post-corona persistence of neoliberalism – an ideology predicated on reducing government programs and expenditures for the 99% with ruthless efficiency – means that Western governments both national and local will be so strapped for cash in a post-Lockdown climate that they will be forced to try and save every nickel they can to maximise ever-more inadequate tax revenues and income. They will forced to buy from China, Haiti or whoever can save them pennies, because this is exactly what neoliberalism demands – it fundamentally neuters economic patriotism.

Urban hipsters who perhaps previously would pay premiums to “eat local” (because it is tastier) will soon find that unemployment (or a worsening of the seemingly never-ending underemployment for the West’s youth class) drastically alters one’s menu options. They would like to “eat local”, but many will be forced to forego the local farmers’ market to buy their food as cheaply as possible, and regardless of provenance.

So such talk from Esquire magazine bout how corona will usher in a new economy based around “resilience preparedness” is totally absurd: the very basis of globalisation is hyper-specialisation (Adam Smith) and turning every nation into a single cash crop/cow (David Ricardo’s comparative advantage) writ large, and these two concepts are the very opposite pole of resilience. Hyper-specialisation is hyper-resistant… but in one single area; if classic liberalism or modern neoliberalism or the “free market” selected your country to produce hygienic masks, congratulations! According to them you should jack up the price and the rest of us should not try to domestically produce our own.

Contrarily, we can say that Iran has tried to create “specialisation” in the normal way – within a single national economy’s different regions instead of all over the world, messianically and arrogantly. This is why they have employed a “resistance economy” (with many egalitarian principles held over from the “command/war economy” era), which is based around self-sufficiency, protectionism, government intervention to stimulate innovation in vital sectors, and government ownership in essentially every sector with medium or large importance. This, even more than the insistence that Islam is compatible with democracy, is why the West wages war on Iran.

The good news for Iranians: these economic principles are what promote resilience and preparedness, they curtail the indebtedness/poverty of the lower classes, and they will make Iran far more capable of weathering the economic turmoil of the coming months.

It is amusing that some in the West are now clamouring for sensible, humane, patriotic, efficient measures which Iran has employed for decades. Is Iran’s economic idea more exportable to Esquire if we call it a “resilience economy”, perhaps?

The Iranian economy in opposition to the West’s seemingly certain post-Great Lockdown economic chaos

At the root of this economic program is not anti-capitalism but anti-the-type-of-capitalism which today’s Iranians are violently confronted by: neoliberalism and globalisation. This form of capitalism is the most-geared towards maximising the profits and market concentration of the 1%, whereas a “resistance economy” is fundamentally-geared towards satisfying the needs of the Iranian 99%. The Koran sanctions capitalism, after all, but it bans usury and has clear exhortations to equality and the economic redistribution of massively-ordered charity. (If the West would simply follow the ban on usury – exorbitant interest and debilitating compound interest – they would be so much better off….)

If the Iranian Revolution did not satisfy the needs of their 99%… how can we possibly explain its endurance amid all the growth-sabotaging Cold War from the West? The question never was growth, after all, but re-distribution. The same logical argument stands for anti-imperialist Cuba and North Korea – caricaturing these nations as totalitarian oligarchies will continue to lose its false power for as long as these countries continue to not just endure but thrive (considering Western blockades), and for as long as the West’s post-1980 inequality entrenchment continues. Despite the looming economic crisis, does anyone really believe the West is culturally capable of reversing these inequality trends?

Undoubtedly, the West’s corona overreaction will make their economies – which were already in a Great Recession – even weaker.

Yes, this will force more Western domestic criticism of neoliberalism and globalisation, but will it really? How can it when France’s Muslims, US so-called “White Trash” and their lower-class counterparts across the “West + client” world cannot even be seen on their televisions? We are logical to believe that open criticism of the ideology of globalisation will be muted very shortly, because all these nations have airwaves which are dominated by a handful of corporations; contrarily, the Iranian government owns all the radio and TV waves – to get the outlook of not-always-selfless private media one can turn to Iran’s extremely critical, thriving print press.

Yes, the West’s reduced economies will necessarily reduce the influence and local reach of governments, but this reduced reach can easily be counter-balanced by the drastic quasi-martial laws which have already been employed. France almost certainly has the most over-policed corona lockdown (800,000 citations already), mais bien sûr: they just had an Islamophobia-based two-year state of emergency, which President Emmanuel Macron legalised into normal police practice.

Yes, the gut-wrenching reduction in wealth for the West’s lower classes may provoke “Western-style populism”, but this ideology is intrinsically reformist and not revolutionary. Look at the Five-Star Movement in Italy – it took them eight years to win significant power, but they have not been able to make significant changes. In their last national election the superb Yellow Vests gained merely half the votes of the (ugh) Animal Rights Party.

Yes, Westerners can see that all the evidence points to the necessity that they must change, but we must recall how very culturally chauvinistic they are: The West is hysterically convinced that their system is supreme – even among their “dissidents”, who are usually just “semi-dissidents” at best – despite all the evidence of failure and their perennial disregard of their own lower classes.

So combine this inherent conservativeness (liberal reformism), with neoliberal cultural saturation, with laws that forbid leavening neoliberalism, with “it’s not totalitarian when the West does it”, and it’s hard to compute a conclusion where the Great Lockdown produces a drastic reform of the Western economy, no? They have to overcome all of these trends, laws and false beliefs simultaneously and in great measure.

That would be a revolution. The West, the great thwarter of progressive revolutions, is supposedly now on the cusp of having one?

The only thing more idiotic than such talk are the commentators who accuse Iranian Reformists of being “neoliberals”, which is as stupid as calling Biden-backing Bernie Sanders or the French “socialists”. The Iranians most associated with the “resistance economy” are indeed Ayatollah Khamenei, ex-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Principlist Party, but the idea that Reformists aren’t hugely, hugely on board with countless resistance economy principles is just eye-rollingly wrong.

The reality – well-known in Iran – is that there is absolutely no room in Iranian politics for any political group which pushes ending the pro-99%, government-interventionist, fundamentally anti-neoliberal direction of the economy for this simple fact: they would never get re-elected by the 99%, and thus such a movement is necessarily finished before it could ever even could get started in Iranian democracy. Capitalism is sanctioned by the Qur’an, so it will always have a place, but neoliberal capitalism (again, all capitalism is not “neoliberalism” just as all socialism is not “violently atheistic Russian Soviet socialism”)? Not hardly.

Smith and Ricardo’s liberal ideas that each region should produce only that which it was perfectly suited to producing had one fatal flaw: such perfect harmony cannot possibly ever exist in a capitalist-imperialist system, because such a system is predicated upon competition. This is not a small flaw in their ivory-tower thinking, nor am I resorting to a mere humbug attack on “human nature” – competition, instead of cooperation, is a poor foundation for human stability and peace.

Such harmony and mutually-beneficial arrangements (and on a global scale, no less!) could only possibly ever be achieved in a world that has a basis which is definitely not neoliberal, which is very wary of capitalism’s excesses and constant exhortations to battles both big and small, and which tacitly accepts resolutely anti-imperialist and thus essentially socialist economics as the foundation.

You may not want Iran’s culture – that’s natural, they don’t want yours.

But across the West their lower classes are clamouring for an economy with many of Iran’s motivations and practices – they will be ignored, sadly.

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’.

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

How is it possible that the Right Wing Fox News asks all the right questions?

The answer is devastatingly simple: truth often interferes with the Left and Progressive’s worldview. It is then suppressed so it fits with a vision of correctness.

I delved into this question at length in my latest book: Being in Time – a Post Political Manifesto:

Traditional Left Ideology sets out a vision of how the world ought to be. The ‘Left’ view can be summed up as the belief that social justice is the primary requirement for improving the world, and this better future entails the pursuit of equality in various forms. The Left ideologist believes that it is universally both ethical and moral to attempt to approach equality in terms of civil rights and material wealth.

But if the Left focuses on ‘what could be,’ the Right focuses on ‘what is.’ If the Left operates where people could be, the Right operates where people ‘are’ or at least, where they believe themselves to be. The Right does not aim to change human social reality but rather to celebrate, and to even maximize it. The Right is also concerned with rootedness that is often nostalgic and even romanticised.

The Left yearns for equality, but for the Right, the human landscape is diverse and multi-layered, with inequality not just tolerated but accepted as part of the human condition, a natural part of our social, spiritual and material world. Accordingly, Right ideology encompasses a certain degree of biological determination and even Social Darwinism. It is enthralled by the powerful, and cruel, evolutionary principle of the ‘survival of the fittest.’ For the Right ideologue, it is the ‘will to survive’ and even to attain power that makes social interactions exciting. It is that very struggle that brings humanity and humanism to life.

So, the traditional debate between Right and Left can loosely be summarized as the tension between equality and reality. The Right ideologue argues that, while the Left’s attempt to flatten the curve of human social reality in the name of equality may be ethically genuine and noble, it is nonetheless naive and erroneous.

Illusion vs Insomnia

Left ideology is like a dream. Aiming for what ‘ought to be’ rather than ‘what is’, it induces a level of utopian illusory detachment and depicts a phantasmal egalitarian world far removed from our abusive, oppressive and doomed reality. In this phantasmic future, people will just drift away from greed and gluttony, they will work less and learn to share, even to share that which they may not possess to start with.

This imaginary ‘dream’ helps explain why the (Western) Left ideology rarely appealed to the struggling classes, the masses who, consumed by the pursuit of bread and butter, were hardly going to be interested in utopian ‘dreams’ or futuristic social experiments. Bitten by the daily struggle and chased by existence, working people have never really subscribed to ‘the revolution’ usually because often they were just too busy working. This perhaps explains why so often it was the middle class agitators and bourgeois who became revolutionary icons. It was they who had access to that little bit extra to fund their revolutionary adventures.

The ‘Left dream’ is certainly appealing, perhaps a bit too appealing. Social justice, equality and even revolution may really be nothing but the addictive rush of effecting change and this is perhaps why hard-core Leftist agitators often find it impossible to wake from their social fantasy. They simply refuse to admit that reality has slipped from their grasp, preferring to remain in their cosy phantasmal universe, shielded by ghetto walls built of archaic terminology and political correctness.

In fact, the more appealing and convincing the revolutionary fantasy is, the less its supporters are willing to face reality, assuming they’re capable of doing so. This blindness helps explain why the Western ideological Left has failed on so many fronts. It was day-dreaming when the service economy was introduced, and it did not awaken when production and manufacturing were eviscerated. It yawned when it should have combatted corporate culture, big money and its worship, and it dozed when higher education became a luxury. The Left was certainly snoring noisily when, one after the other, its institutions were conquered by New Left Identitarian politics. So, rather than being a unifying force that could have made us all – workers, Black, women, Jews, gays etc. – into an unstoppable force in the battle against big capital, the Left became a divisionary factor, fighting amongst itself. But it wasn’t really the ideologues’ and activists’ fault; the failure to adapt to reality is a flaw tragically embedded in the Left’s very fantasised nature.

If I am right, it is these intrinsically idealistic and illusory characteristics that doom Left politics to failure. In short, that which makes the Left dream so appealing is also responsible for the Left being delusional and ineffectual. But how else could it be? How could such a utopian dream be sustained? I suspect that for Left politics to prevail, humanity would have to fly in the face of the human condition.

And what of the Right? If the Left appears doomed to failure, has the Right succeeded at all? As opposed to the ‘dreamy’ Left, the Right is consumed by reality and ‘concretisation.’ In the light of the globalized, brutal, hard capitalist world in which we live, traditionally conservative laissez-faire seems a naive, nostalgic, peaceful and even poetic thought.

While the Left sleeps, Right-wing insomnia has become a universal disease which has fuelled the new world order with its self-indulgence and greed. How can anyone sleep when there’s money to be made? This was well understood by Martin Scorsese who, in his The Wolf of Wall Street, depicts an abusive culture of sex, cocaine and amphetamine consumption at the very heart of the American capitalist engine. Maybe such persistent greed can be only maintained by addled, drug-induced and over-stimulated brains.

Rejection of fantasy, commitment to the concrete (or shall we say, the search for ‘being’ or ‘essence,’) positions the Right alongside German philosophy. The German idealists’ philosophical endeavour attempts to figure out the essence of things. From a German philosophical perspective, the question ‘what is (the essence of) beauty?’ is addressed by aesthetics. The question ‘what is (the essence of) being?’ is addressed by metaphysics. The questions: ‘what are people, what is their true nature, root and destiny?’ are often dealt with by Right-wing ideologists. It is possible that the deep affinity between Right ideology and German philosophy explains the spiritual and intellectual continuum between

German philosophy and German Fascism. It may also explain why Martin Heidegger, one of the most important philosophers in the last millennium, was, for a while at least, a National Socialist enthusiast.

The Right’s obsession with the true nature of things may explain its inclination towards nostalgia on one hand and Darwinist ideologies on the other. Right ideology can be used to support expansionism and imperialism at one time, and isolationism and pacifism at another. Right ideology is occasionally in favour of immigration as good for business, yet can also take the opposite position, calling for protection of its own interests by sealing the borders. The Right can provide war with logos and can give oppression a dialectical as well as ‘scientific’ foundation. Sometimes, a conflict may be justified by ‘growing demand’ and ‘expanding markets.’ Other times, one race is chosen to need living space at the expense of another.

The Right is sceptical about the prospects for social mobility. For the Right thinker, the slave* is a slave because his subservient nature is determined biologically, psychologically or culturally. In the eyes of the Left, such views are ‘anti-humanist’ and unacceptable. The Left would counter this essentialist determinism with a wide range of environmental, materialist, cultural criticism and post- colonial studies that produce evidence that slaves do liberate themselves eventually. And the Right would challenge this belief by asking ‘do they really?’ ( Being in Time – a Post Political Manifesto pg. 13-17)

* I refer here to the slave in an Hegelian metaphorical way rather than literally.

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