The Long Goodbye of Social-Democracy

The Long Goodbye of  Social-Democracy

November 17, 2020

by Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

The ongoing process of political degeneration which has been happening in the UK Labour Party is basically part of a deep-going movement which has been taking place in all left-of-centre parties in Europe. In political/ideological terms, they have been swept away by the rampaging neo-liberal globalist forces – circa 1980 onwards and have, like good little boys and girls, trimmed their sails to the globalist agenda. This, straight betrayal has been justified by the usual TINA cliche. The roll-call of the sell-outs has included the SPD (Germany) the PS (France) Pasok/Syriza (Greece) the old ex-communist party of Italy, (now rebranded as the Democratic Party) PSOE (Spain) not forgetting the Democratic Party in the US. This historical betrayal has given the militant right a chance to attack the very real sell-out of the centre-left parties and publications which includes the Guardian, New York Times, Economist, Washington Post, . L’Express, La Figaro, Der Spiegel – the list is extensive.

THE BRITISH LABOUR PARTY

The Guardian newspaper had long been a supporter of the Labour Party but more recently has been the trend-setter in this ‘liberal turn’ if we may call it such. There has taken place an unseemly metamorphosis from centre-left to the Blairite right. Going back to earlier days the Manchester Guardian, as it was then called, steered an honest social-democratic course under the leadership of C.P.Scott famous for his catchphrase, ‘’Comment is free but facts are sacred.’’ was the ultimate statement of values for a free press and continued to under-pin the traditions of good newspapers throughout the western world, (but sadly of course this is no longer the case, not by a long shot).  Looking back, Scott and the then Manchester Guardian resolutely opposed the British war against the Dutch settlers (Boers) in South Africa (1899-1902). For his pains Scott’s home was physically attacked by jingoistic mobs and he required police protection, as did the property of the Manchester Guardian which was also attacked.

That was then, this is now.

The rot in the current Guardian newspaper began with the conversion of what was once a campaigning left-of-centre political publication into a straightforward business journal with a centre-right political orientation; this happened earlier in this century when the Scott Trust was rebranded as the Scott Trust Limited, along with the Guardian Media Group – GMG – both of whom became registered as a commercial company by decamping to the tax haven of the Cayman Islands British Overseas Territory, for tax reasons – i.e. tax avoidance.

THE CORBYN AFFAIR

As for the whole ‘anti-semitic’ brouhaha surrounding ex-leader of the Party, Jeremy Corbyn, and the Labour Party itself, this was engineered from both internal and external sources. It should be understood that anyone who is anyone in the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) and who entertains political and occupational preferment in the PLP is a member of the ‘Labour Friends of Israel’ – this is mandatory. The same is true of the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats. So we have here a situation where an ostensibly sovereign state, the UK, has been penetrated by another sovereign state, Israel which in effect is selecting who and who shall not be members of the Labour Party’s policy and decision-making processes. This blatant process was caught by a mole planted by the Kuwaiti TV Station Al Jazeera and televised under the name of ‘The Lobby’ where the mole in question interviewed a member of the London Israeli embassy – Shai Masot – about the ‘taking down’ of pro-Palestinian politicians and spreading Zionist influence inside independent political groups active in the UK. This TV interview showed Mr Masot – who was blissfully unaware of being televised – discussing with his interlocutor how to cause embarrassment to pro-Palestinian politicians deemed to be detrimental to Israeli interests.

Students and campaigners told a reporter posing as a pro-Israel activist they had been given funding and support from Israel’s embassy in London to counter the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. When asked whether he had ever “built a group”, Mr Masot replied: “Yeah, I did several things like that, yeah…in Israel and here. Nothing I can share but yeah.’’

“It’s good to leave those organisations independent, but we help them actually.”

The UK National Union of Students said it was investigating alleged attempts to influence last year’s leadership election, which saw its first black, Muslim, female president Malia Bouattia voted in.

Following claims that opposing NUS members held “secret meetings” with activists supported by the Israeli embassy, a spokesperson for the union said: “The NUS takes these allegations seriously. We are looking into them and, when we have all the information available, the behaviour of NUS officers will be reviewed, and appropriate action taken.” (1)

This seemed outrageous, but such is the influence of extra-national political configurations in British politics. This was instanced in the manner in which the now ex-leader of the Labour party – Jeremy Corbyn – was subject to a relentless but bogus assault internally from the Blairites, the media and also Britain’s Jewish opponents on the basis of his ongoing support for Palestinian rights. Of course anyone who in Zionist terms is a supporter of Palestinian rights is ipso facto an anti-Semite. On absolutely no evidence Corbyn was suspended from the leadership of the party which was now under the leadership of one (Sir) Keir Starmer QC, who doesn’t seem to have any political views at all, apart from his unconditional support of Israel, which of course befits yet another political carpet bagger on the make. ‘What are my politics?’ What would you like them to be?’

Of course the same scenario also applies to the United States – a fortiori. This latter case of organized Jewish influence both internal and from outside (Israel) is so open, widespread and obvious that it barely needs mentioning. (2) Moreover, socialism in the United States, or even social-democracy, has, never, since the days of Eugene Debs been anything other than a minor curiosity and led by a leadership so venal that it collapses at the first serious challenge. Such was the fate of Bernie Sanders, who managed to capitulate to the DNC powers-that-be not once but twice.

But to return to the Labour Party, this political hollowing-out of what was once a mass and proud reformist party has by now been pretty much neutered and in keeping with centre-left conditions just about everywhere. The list does not make pretty reading. Currently there is no centre-left party, in western Europe at least, worthy of the name, the capitulation seems complete. As follows:

GREECE. THE RISE AND FALL OF SYRIZA

On its accession to power Syriza laid great emphasis on trying to convince their opponents that their proposals were financially sound and of benefit to all in the long-run. This is one of the characteristics of social-democracy. It is an approach based upon ‘the truth’, as they understood it, and rationality of their approach and compared favourably to the mistaken beliefs of their political opponents. What Syriza did not understand, however, was that the social virtues and heritage of social democratic reform was now history, buried deep under the refuse pile of new neoliberal values.

The political imperatives of SYRIZA’s position consisted of an adamantly committed policy to stay in the eurozone and the euro regime; but this was a regime of structural flaws which only benefitted the elites rather than ordinary folk. Concurrent with this the Greek people were consistently indicating in various polls taken that they did not want to leave the eurozone either. Like Syriza they wanted to end austerity and stay in Europe and keep the euro. Neither thus understood that the root of austerity lay in the neoliberal euro regime that they wanted to keep. One would have thought that following the crowd in this instance was a dereliction of duty on the part of the Syriza leadership who should have known better, but it is so much easier to take the easy way out than actually lead.

Syriza wanted a European version of the US 1930’s New Deal, but there was no FDR on the horizon, and, moreover, this was 70 years later, and history was not about to repeat itself.

The upshot of this sad historical nemesis was when Syriza took the road of least resistance. The European base of neoliberalism required the arrangement of goods and services and free movement of labour and capital which had indebted Greece (and other peripheral economies) and ensured some form of perpetual austerity. But this was precisely how the system was designed to work.

‘’Over the course of the third debt restructuring negotiations in 2015, Syriza would at first deny and then resist this reality, then concede in steps as it retreated from its positions and its Thessaloniki programme. In August 2015, it capitulated. Like its political predecessors, New Democracy in 2012, and PASOK in 2010, Syriza would also eventually settle into the ‘caretaker’ role for the neoliberal Troika.’’ (3)

FRANCE – LE PARTI SOCIALISTE – ABJECT FAILURE.

In late 2016, French President Francois Hollande became the first leader of the 5th Republic to announce that he would not seek re-election leaving his Parti Socialiste to find another candidate for the April 2017 presidential election. The five years of Hollande’s presidency had not been kind to the ruling party. Terrorist attacks, a shift to the right on domestic matters, persistent unemployment, internal party divisions, and even an illicit love affair, eroded confidence in Hollande’s government and left the Socialists with little in their playbook that remained popular with voters.

Hollande’s choice for economy minister, Emmanuel Macron, created new problems for the president right from the start. Just 36 when he was appointed in 2014, Macron was a former investment banker at a firm owned by the Rothschild family – an unusual choice for a president who once declared that the world of finance was his “enemy”.

Macron soon angered the Socialist’s left wing with his criticism  of the 35-hour work-week and by calling for the deregulation of the French economy. Socialist deputy Yann Galut spoke for many in his party when he accused Macron of “disowning all the values of the left”. But then what else from an investment banker did the party expect?

The pro-business reforms, known as the “Macron laws”, included allowing stores to remain open  on Sundays and late in the evenings. A more wide-ranging labour code 5, made it easier for firms to hire or fire and to extend employee working hours, soon followed suit. The proposed reforms prompted months of sometimes violent protests  over the summer from students and unions who were angry over diminished labour protections. Yes it was all straight from the neoliberal policy manual. Hollande’s government controversially pushed the bill  through parliament in June 2016 without holding a vote, igniting a new burst of outrage.

Macron was not the only member of Hollande’s cabinet to anger the party’s leftist base. Manuel Valls, 54 – the French Tony Blair – who served as interior minister and then prime minister before resigning to announce his own presidential run, has proved that even a Socialist Party can have a right wing.

As protests against labour reforms spread across France last summer, Valls once again took a hard line, moving to ban further demonstrations in Paris after sporadic outbreaks of violence. It was the first time since the 1960s that union demonstrations had been banned in France and it sparked outrage across the political spectrum, including within the already divided Socialist Party. After a weeklong stand-off, the unions were eventually allowed to hold a protest march via a different route.

Valls has said he wanted to ‘modernise’ the Socialist Party, even suggesting that it rename itself because the term “Socialist” is too “old-fashioned”. He says that a revitalised party could unite all of the country’s “progressive forces” into one movement. Valls’ brand of ‘right-wing Socialism’ (i.e., a neoliberal party) highlighted the quandary the party faced. If Hollande is seen as representing the traditional yet ineffectual left, its more dynamic members now look like the centre-right.

As unemployment continued to hit record highs, Valls infuriated many by saying more needed to be done to encourage the unemployed to get back to work. Macron, for his part, had said that the costly system of unemployment benefits needed to be revised, blaming the unions for deadlocking negotiations.

Statements such as these, coming as record numbers of French citizens struggled with a lack of job opportunities, have heightened resentment among much of the public and divided those within the Socialist party. And they seem more like admonishments that would come from the right-wing Les Républicains party than from the fresh new faces of France’s left. But after the erratic Hollande years, the party now faced the task of reinventing itself as a movement that combines traditional leftist values with a fresh dynamism that is ready to meet the challenges of the future. In short, the PS had to change into a neoliberal outfit. After all – TINA!

Humiliated, unloved, and threatened to be plundered by Macron’s movement, the French socialists stood shivering at a crossroad. Hardly unexpected of course. France was, after all, being corralled into the neoliberal sheep-pen.

France has predictably followed the universal neoliberal economic prescriptions and rewarded with the wholly expected failed outcomes. After growing at an estimated rate of 1.7% in 2018, GDP grew by an abysmal estimated 1.3% in 2019. Minimal growth rates needed to overcome this economic standstill needed to be at least 2% to make any impact on what has become a secular stagnation. This has had political ramifications.

The European elections of May 2019 saw the victory of the National Rally of Marine Le Pen (far right), gathering 23% of the vote, compared to 22% for the Republic in March of Emmanuel Macron. On the international scene, the president intends to strengthen the integration of the euro zone by revitalizing the Franco-German partnership. But Macron’s delusions of grandeur are simply swimming against the stream here with unemployment at 10%, trade figures all negative, private debt to GDP at 227% and Sovereign debt at 98%. Unquestionably France is in a deep structural political/economic crisis.

From Gaullism in 1945 consisting of independence and distrust of the Anglo-Saxon bloc, to the current force feeding of neoliberalism and an unquestioning loyalty to NATO. Mission accomplished? Not quite. And then comes the emergence of the Gilet Jaunes. What next for France?

GERMANY: THE SPD

The oldest, Social Democratic Party in Europe, the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, can be traced back to the 1860s, and for much of the 20th and 21st centuries it has represented the centre-left in German politics, although not the far left politics of the pre-war KPD (Communists) and SAP (Socialist Workers’ Party’ where Willie Brandt was once a member). Nevertheless from 1891 to 1959 the Party at least theoretically espoused Marxism. Of course this all changed in the main due to Cold War but more importantly for the need for political deals and coalition governments which were made the sine qua non for the formation of governments in Germany. At the present time, the SPD is in a fragile coalition government together with the conservative CDU/CSU and the SPD, the Grand Coalition as it is called.

THE EUROPEAN POWER-HOUSE:

In economic terms Germany had always been the economic powerhouse of Europe and possibly even the world. It’s dynamism came from a globally competitive industrial base, pivoting on automobiles, chemicals, and machine tools. Its exports enabled it to command vast surpluses on current account thus providing the wherewithal to lend globally.

Whether this Teutonic pre-eminence was a conscious policy choice on the part of Germany, or merely a policy-drift due to the internal structure of Germany’s post-war policy configuration seems debatable. Germany had certainly bucked the Anglo-American trend of de-industrialisation and financialization which had become de rigueur internationally as a result of the putative ‘efficiency’ of the Anglo-American model. Germany had not deindustrialised, had a smallish stock market compared with other developed states, eschewed as far as possible a system of equity funding and maintained a traditional reliance on bank funding for industry since long term relations were easier to develop among corporations and banks and the internal structure of corporations is not driven by the desire to placate stock markets. Moreover, the German banking system had a multitiered and competitively structured organization which included a raft of smaller and medium sized banks, the Sparkassen, which operated with a local focus. This stood in stark opposition to the oligopolistic banking monoliths of the Atlantic world.

Additionally, there were further reasons why Germany emerged as the EU hegemon. Primarily, Germany did not sacrifice its world class industrial-export sector on the altar of deindustrialisation. But instead adopted and adapted its own variant of financialization while at the same time protected its industrial sector by manipulating its exchange rate to protect exports. The German manufacturing sector is highly productive, export-oriented and has maintained relatively strong union representation in the wage formation process compared to the rest of the private (domestic) sector which has modest productivity and relatively weak unions in comparison with other EU countries.

In the domestic economy, however, Germany was able to restructure (i.e., lower) wage costs and working conditions with the imposition of the Hartz reforms – a set of policies arrayed against German labour which pushed down costs through the implementation of ‘flexible’ labour markets. This gave Germany a competitive first-mover, edge in intra-European trade resulting in an ongoing surplus on its current account. And when one state achieves a (recurring) surplus on current account other states must record a deficit on current account. In this instance this was the southern periphery. If this smacked of neoliberalism –that’s because it was.

In sharp contrast to the southern periphery the eastern periphery of central Europe was not part of the eurozone which means that they were not ensnared in the Iron Cage of EMU and enabled to keep their own currencies. But heavy German investment in this area produced a core-periphery relationship where low-wage, semi-skilled assembly work was farmed out to Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland. That is the usual pattern of FDI supply chains. High-end production, including R&D was kept at Home Base.

Additionally, Central European peripheries have come to depend heavily on Germany for technology and markets. If Germany faced a severe recession so would probably be the whole of Central Europe.

Thus, Germany was to become the overseer of an increasingly neo-liberal order precisely at the time when the 2008 blow-out was to cross the Atlantic and usher in a quasi-permanent period of instability for the whole EU project. The main actors in the future development of the EU were the ECB the EC and the IMF, the infamous Troika. The ECB in particular was the paragon of Banking, monetary and fiscal rectitude. This was underlined insofar as it was domiciled in Frankfurt as was the Bundesbank and was heavily influenced in policy terms by this particular institution.

Then came the 2020 derailment. Prior to this, however, growth rates had been zero to miniscule at less than 1% per quarter since 2018. Then came the yo-yo bounce in 2020. Ten Year Bunds Yields were at -0.53 (that’s a minus sign BTW), unemployment was beginning to rise, inflation was at -0.2% which means that it was actually deflation, interest rates were at zero, consumer confidence was at -3.1, retail sales at -2.2%, Sovereign Debt-to-GDP 68%, Private Debt-to-GDP at 154% (but these latter private figures were based upon 2018 statistics).

THE SPD VANISHING TRICK:

And where was the SPD during all this time? It was following the trend of course. The then party leader and Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, defended his counter-reformist ‘Agenda 2010’ and praised Tony Blair’s ‘New Labour’ as a successful example of ‘modern’ social democracy. At the same time, up and down the country, some 90,000 workers responded to a call by the Trade Union Federation, the DGB, and demonstrated against attempts to dismantle the welfare state. In East Germany, 84% of all steel workers organised in the IG Metall voted in favour of industrial action for the 35-hour week which had been introduced in the West back in the 1990s.

Horrified by high unemployment (4) and fear of recession and even depression, Schroder and his think tanks were doing what they had always accused the previous Helmut Kohl government of doing: they were attacking the unemployed and not unemployment. They claimed that dismantling the welfare state and massive tax reductions were to the benefit of the employers and the rich but in general would open the path towards economic growth and a new jobs miracle. In doing this, they could count on the applause of the bourgeois media and politicians who kept pushing them further and further down that road.

But later developments in 2019 have led to a new inward turn of the SPD which will give the already rapidly changing party system a further push. Both the CDU and SPD have lost dramatically during recent European and regional elections. The winners have been the ‘woke’ Green party and the far-right Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD). The Green party, also led by a new team since January 2018, has been a clear beneficiary of the rise of the urban middle-class and the weakness of the two governing parties. The Green party is now solidly number two in the party system and highly likely to join the next government, either with the CDU or the two parties on the ‘left’, the SPD left centrist and Der Linke the old East German Communist Party.

CONCLUSION

Throughout Europe the Social-Democratic tradition has been in crisis since the 1980s onwards and is heading rapidly toward marginalization and oblivion. Having prostrated itself before the deities of neo-liberalism and globalization, and swallowed the holy dogmas whole there seems no way back. And if anything the situation in the southern and eastern peripheries are even more dire than those in Western Europe. The political structures in Europe now range from outright fascist, right and centre right, and an allegedly centre-left that acts like a centre-right, a Guardian-style liberal woke party. That’s it folks. Europe seems to be heading to a turbulent and ugly future

NOTES

(1) The Lobby – Al Jazeera – The Independent newspaper – London 12-January-2017

(2) The Israel Lobby – John J Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt – passim.

(3) Looting Greece: A New Financial Imperialism Emerges – Jack Rasmus – passim.

(4) The story of the German jobs miracle is misleading. It is true that the number of people in employment increased by more than 10 percent between 2003 and the end of 2016 from 39 to 43 million. But this was achieved mainly by replacing full-time jobs by part-time and mini jobs. In fact, actual working time did not increase at all up to 2010; the work was just spread over more people.” And also since the economic climate improved in 2011, the volume of work has been growing much more slowly than employment and is still below the levels of the early 1990s. And that is why in 2016, 4.8 million people in Germany were living entirely from mini jobs. A further 1.5 million are working against their will in part-time jobs. And then there are around 1 million contract workers and more than 2 million self-employed without employees, and most of them do not have enough work.

The “industrial reserve army“ of the unemployed, as Karl Marx once called them, “was reduced in size at the price of a growth in the reserve army of the under-employed in part-time work and the over-employed who have to do several jobs to get by.”

Western Bankocracy: Banks loaned 0.2% of $600 billion in Main Street lending plan

Western Bankocracy: Banks loaned 0.2% of $600 billion in Main Street lending plan

September 18, 2020

By Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog

Bloomberg reported that the Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending Program (MSLP) has left 99.8% of its $600 billion loan pool untapped. So if you work for one of the just 118 medium-sized businesses who have acquired a loan – congrats, you might just make it through 2020.

Just as the Eurozone was emphatically reminded during its pre-Covid “Austerity Decade”, government-issued Quantitative Easing will never flow down (much less trickle) in the endemically low growth Western bankocracies unless strings are attached. However, the defining feature of the Western neoliberal bankocracy is that there are never any strings to free money for the 1%.

The failure of the MSLP proves yet again that QE is wasted on the rich and their fake FIRE economies.

Or, in this case, QE is not even used because in the Western system governments are only permitted to throw money at the banks and hope that banks use it – they are not permitted to give directly to the people nor to compel banks to loan, unlike in socialist-inspired economies like China, Iran, etc.

Why is MSLP not being used? Short answer: even though the government is backing 95% of the loans, multinational corporate banks refuse to participate with just a 5% risk.

Longer answers: They obviously cannot see the forest for the trees; their shareholders would sue them for acting patriotically; foreign banks are quite happy to foreclose on US assets; major domestic banks are quite happy to foreclose on US assets.

The only people in the Western financial world who even decry the bankocracy I so often describe don’t want to change it – these are the vultures who are quite upset that they can’t happily (but patriotically, they insist) foreclose on assets themselves. This “pure capitalism” they Salafistically aspire to would lead to a vast reduction in inequality to the point where we would talk about the “2%” instead of the current “1%”.

As I wrote from the start and ad infinitum (50 articles in 4 months/1 Groundhog Day), this was an easily-foreseeable disaster because their Great Lockdown attempted to (poorly and hysterically) emulate countries like China even though the West has none of the systemic socioeconomic safeguards socialist-inspired countries use in order to weather these types of disruptive events.

Personally, I’ve been so focused on covering the US election – and reporting on genuinely leftist parties like Party for Socialism and Liberation (Total 2016 presidential votes which were denied to the duopoly and made in favor of a rather spectacular campaign platform: 74,401 (0.05% of the total, and counting!)) – that I’ve neglected to keep documenting what a total catastrophe the Western coronavirus response still is.

The MSLP failure is rather a douse of cold water.

The program was designed to fail’ because Western bankocracy is designed to fail the average citizen

While the Paycheck Protection Program was aimed at small businesses (less than 500 employees) which were in total desperation due to the impeccable logic of quarantining healthy people continent-wide, MSLP was aimed at medium-sized businesses (less than 15,000 employees), which represent 1/3rd of private sector GDP and which employ 50 million Americans.

After being announced in April but not starting until mid-June, it’s now clear that small community banks, who actually may care about their Main Street not collapsing the entire community, are the only ones doing any lending.

Major banks like JPMorgan are sabotaging MSLP by refusing to participate by – per Bloomberg – doing things like asking applicants for terms which go beyond onerous, such as to “pledge real estate it doesn’t have”. JPMorgan reportedly had 2,000 applicants for MSLP – after finding out what JPMorgan demanded in return for a merely 5% risk only around 100 applicants still applied.

This is a doubly big problem, as MSLP was expressly intended for companies who cannot get loans during even normal times. Triply big problem: we should give JPMorgan some credit, I guess, because Wells Fargo, Citigroup and US Bank are refusing to take new customers.

This why applicants lamented MSLP is “designed to fail” – or in socialist terms, designed to increase market concentration and inequality. Governments can take risks, as they can print money, but in Western neoliberalism they cannot force private banks to take risks. The only choice, obviously, is for direct government control over at least some parts of banking but that is verboten in the US.

MSLP is such a catastrophe – and one surely colluded upon beforehand in a smoky backroom “filled” with the heads of the mere handful of top US banks – that one Florida lender accounts for half of all the loans.

The failure of MSLP shows that without lobbying and/or corporate power the “We the people” US government cannot help you. The “people” in a bankocracy is, of course, corporations and shareholders only – the US Supreme Court formally codified this in the 2010 Citizens United case.

For companies which cannot benefit from the Fed-backstopped corporate bond-buying craze ($1.2 trillion since March) and who needed more than just the Paycheck Protection Program, the failure to secure loans will mean more bankruptcies and social disaster.

Given that US culture is so very German-influenced – in the composition of its citizenry, in its evangelical and supremacist fascism, in its anti-socialism, in the original neoliberalism (ordoliberalism) – it’s ironic that the US cannot preserve these medium-sized Mittlestand businesses which are the backbone of German economic strength. Germany, of course, relies much more on local banks than international corporate ones. And, thanks to the money neoliberally/neo-imperialistically (the two are synonymous, of course) bloodsucked from their Eurozone “allies”, their $1.5 trillion coronavirus fiscal stimulus package – the biggest in the West compared to national GDP and a stunningly hypocritical 52% of all coronavirus aid approved by the European Commission – will allow them to only increase their European supremacy amid the Eurozone’s endless stagnation.

From the individual to the medium-big business, those without lobby influence and without credit at the start of the crisis aren’t getting influence or credit now (and this was widely predicted by capitalist-cynics like myself) even with MSLP. The US government has made a show of being independent from high finance, but MSLP is yet another proof that in the Western bankocracy it is banks who decide on socio-economic policy, even amid unprecedented crisis.

In a crisis you have to dance with the girl that brung ya: That is why I wrote so much about the certain suicide of a Great Lockdown in the capitalist-imperialist West. Contrarily, China, due to their very different economic inspirations, will be the only G20 country with positive economic growth – they’ve even doubled their annual projection from (back in only June) 1.8% for 2020 to 3.7%.

MSLP’s failure will only add to US economic woes, and even if they make changes it will be too late to save so very many jobs, assets, companies, households, etc.

I do not get much pleasure to write in September that my prediction that socialist-inspired countries would economically and socially weather the coronavirus better than Western capitalist-inspired ones has been proven correct. The only thing I can say is that Westerners often do not understand the underpinnings of their own system. That helps explain why they delusionally believed a “V-shaped” recovery was not only possible but certain, when an inequality-increasing “K-shaped” has been the clear result of their Great Lockdown. (Get the Nation of Islam’s take on that economy reality here. Interviewing Black Muslim leaders on national, not identity, issues – what a concept! Interviewing Black Muslims at all in the US – what a concept, LOL.)

The West thinks they are a walking, talking “universal value” but it is not like them everywhere. Just call up someone from Party for Socialism and Liberation to learn how There Is No An Alternative.

If the West still insists on not massively switching to the socialist alternative, then they should dance with the girl that brung them – i.e., start sending coronavirus-infected blankets to places rich in natural resources, and then claim it was more advanced intellectual ideas which increased the bottom line.

The problem with that is that the coronavirus has been somewhat serious but not anywhere equal to the hysteria evinced in Western nations, so it won’t really decimate populations like in the good old days.


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.

Covid Candide: Isn’t this the best of all possible worlds… and pandemic responses?

Covid Candide: Isn’t this the best of all possible worlds… and pandemic responses?

August 08, 2020

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

Eight months into the modern, digitised world’s first-ever global pandemic the results are in: Every government has failed miserably.

Despite the vast differences between socialist-inspired nations and capitalist nations every single government in 2020 has forfeited the chance at the possibility of maybe perhaps having something like a little bit of a rightly-guided mandate of heaven.

Our 2019 taxes must be refunded everywhere. What a waste voting has been, to say nothing of those few countries which have sustained modern revolutions.

Those in the know are hunkering down and bunkering up because the pandemic is proving that “government” (social organisation and collective unity) is an outdated concept in our modern, digitised, disease-ridden world.

Thus, the way you certainly are – wherever you are – being egged into hating your local, rather-poorly paid bureaucrat is something of a major propaganda coup for government-slashing neoliberalism, is it not?

Neoliberalism, per its tenets, cannot congratulate any government for anything other than self-immolation, so how can Western corporate media – owned by a handful of neoliberals – publicly congratulate any government for their handling of this unprecedented corona crisis? They cannot, so neoliberals are publicly shining in glorious vindication that all government is bad, unless and inept, period: the pandemic has decisively proven There Is No Alternative to neoliberalism.

Who knew a virus had enough innate intelligence to contain a political ideology, and despite not even being a life form with a cellular structure? This only proves that God – in His wisdom – is an American neoliberal.

Preposterous, faith-based radicalism, of course….

But firstly: Call me contrarian if you must, but don’t call this “Leibnizian optimism”: I think every nation has done spectacularly well in dealing with Covid, regardless of their guiding ideology.

The West got what they hysterically demanded, yet government is still a Satanic beast?

I think countries like China, Iran, Cuba and Vietnam had a fantastic response to Covid. People died, but not anywhere as many as we initially feared. Tons of radical measures were taken designed to protect the public good, armies of volunteers answered the call, hardships were attempted to be standardised, their peoples showed huge amounts of bravery, self-sacrifice and patience.

However, I see nearly all of these same virtues in the peoples of Western nations as well – don’t you?

Sweden succeeded without a Great Lockdown because their people – who also compose their government – acted so correctly and courageously. The idea that the exact same self-sacrificing virtues aren’t evident all over the place in the US as well is contradicted by countless individual testimonies. The first article I wrote on corona was a backhanded compliment to the West, after all: Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience? The West FINALLY issued some “People’s QE” – that was a huge improvement over the West’s previous decade of fiscal policies, certainly.

Indeed, the global pandemic response was the best of all possible worlds, worldwide: incredible concern for public health, a rollback to rabidly right-wing economic policies, and not anywhere close to the number of deaths we all had wild-eyed fears about.

Some systems had more limitations than others – be they cultural, political, financial or whatever – but every government tried to limit the pandemic amid these differing limitations. And they did it democratically, in the broadest sense of that term: Which government truly defied the will of their own majority? I can’t think of any.

The West got exactly what they wanted according to all the polls back then – a Great Lockdown – amid total hysteria, and in total disregard for the political and socio-economic laws which govern their societies and… they are still not happy with their government?!

Clearly, those in their media are shaping public perceptions in order to foment unrest and dissatisfaction instead of urging clarity and stoic realism – this article praising governments should not be such an outlier, but it certainly is.

To be clear, the problem was not necessarily the Great Lockdown but what will come after such a drastic move in certain countries. The West has capitalist-imperialist ideologies which ensure that a Great Lockdowning cannot be coped with – in the US the Republican Party, which is refusing to extend unemployment insurance, is currently insisting this be proven emphatically.

I insisted from the start that when a natural disaster hits – you have no choice but to dance with the girl that brung ya. Mid-crisis is not at all the time to reinvent the wheel, but the time to trust the defences you have been building (or in the case of neoliberalism: not building). The West, of course, has very poor political defences thanks to four decades of anti-government neoliberalism and an even longer history of deranged frontier libertarianism. All the West can do is throw their tons of money at the problem – too bad that can’t buy a modern political infrastructure, culture, perspective, etc.

Building that modern, post-1917 political infrastructure is what the West now has to do, or collapse. Thus, covid is going to drag the West kicking and screaming into political modernity.

Voltaire never lived in the digitised world, much less a truly democratic one

I wouldn’t take down his statue but I would reject the bitter and individualistic (and thus very French) outlook he presented in Candide, where optimism is only for fools. For Voltaire the mantra of the character Pangloss – that “this is the best of all possible worlds”, despite his encountering one misfortune after another – is something to be derided: Pangloss is an idiot for not giving in to black resentfulness.

Well, that’s one view – a mighty cynical one. For those of us lucky to still be alive and fully healthy in August 2020 – that seems like a rather ungrateful perspective, no?

Voltaire’s final moral of “tend your own garden” sounds like Taoist individualism from a guy who was supposed to admire Confucianism, which is active, social and judgemental. We are all stuck at home tending our garden and, guess what: a monkish existence is a lonely, self-centered, unsatisfying and even unproductive life – it is unsurprising that the extremely social and active religion of Islam forbids monasticism and demands charitable social works.

I don’t know what people expected from our modern digitised world in our first-ever response to a pandemic, but judging from the criticism of civil servants it’s clear that many people were expecting way too much. No state worker could make unfat all the Americans who have perished prematurely; no state worker had a fountain of youth for the over-80s who compose the bulk of Sweden’s dearly departed. The Western “Karen’s” babyish “war on dying” was always setting up governments to fail and for faith in political institutions – any institution – to be incorrectly lessened.

Those who read the paper regularly know that the world was not paradise back in December 2019. When we consider how badly things were supposed to get back in spring, pondering the possibility that this is the best of all possible worlds is truly worth more than a moment’s reflection.

And then you can explain to me how this pandemic could have possibly been better handled with less government? This is the impossible task of the deranged American libertarian, the European technocrat, and the neoliberal aristocrat/comprador around the world.

If there is one thing I know for certain it’s this: Covid has definitively proved that big government is our ONLY defense against an often-cruel natural world.

Duh…. Countries who have endured an actual war – not a pandemic war – already knew this.

The US and Eurozone governments have done well in spite of the limitations presented by their elitist and reckless neoliberalism, but the “anti-all government crowd” will eventually be forced to admit that – when compared with socialist-style governments, with their central planning and authority to lead in a crisis – their neoliberal ideals have failed everyone, will continue to fail everyone, and are expressly designed to fail everyone and leave people at the mercy of that often-cruel natural world.

Honest critics of neoliberal capitalism saw all that long ago.

Covid will ultimately be seen as the killer of neoliberalism, not its vindicator.

That’s why it’s not surprising to see so many anti-socialist commentators trying to declare the opposite: they are the ones saying 2+2=5, not any “Big Brother” central government. Again, this pro-government article shouldn’t be so rare – this went pretty well for the first modern, digitised global pandemic. But what do we do now?

Answer: no way we go back to anti-government neoliberalism. This exact light is being switched on in minds around the world.

So, for socialists: it came at a very heavy cost, but this is the best of all possible worlds!

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

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

News flash: Capitalism has no answer for 50 million jobless people – July 11, 2020

Naive Millennials: it’s the man (Trump) & not ‘The Man’ (the US system) – July 18, 2020

Ramin Mazaheri 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 the books I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the NEW Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.

Hamilton movie: central banker worship & proof the US has no left

Source

July 08, 2020

Hamilton movie: central banker worship & proof the US has no left

by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog

I wonder if Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda will ever understand the real truth about why his play is so popular…?

Miranda probably believes that if he had written a play about Eugene V. Debs (America’s greatest socialist) his talents, approach and techniques would have produced a spectacle of similarly spectacular success, LOL….

The believers of Broadway are nothing if not wilfully naive (i.e. stupid), unsinkably optimistic and totally oblivious to the jingoistic propaganda which is self-centeredly, brayingly warbled at the top of everyone-on-the-stage’s lungs in the vast majority of Broadway musicals, Hamilton included. Non-Americans often roll their eyes at the inevitably absurd “Hollywood ending” of many US movies, but what can a viewer do when confronted by the endless fake cheer and perpetual smiling of Broadway besides beg for temporary blindness?

Indeed, one of the great results of the coronavirus is the shuttering of Broadway’s lights – may it always be dark inside that incredibly empty-headed art. I find very few things as physically disagreeable as all musical theatre (Bertolt Brecht and Monty Python are exceptions which proves the rule). Opera is just as atrocious, and may I give you a news flash: nobody cares about opera. It is a totally outdated art, and yet the vast majority of public arts funding in much of the West is directed towards opera. Why? The answer is also linked to the success of Hamilton – elitism and 1%-er domination of Western governance.

Musicals are not so very elitist as opera, but the average American man only sees a Broadway play after constant arm-twisting from the missus. And yet… we have had this broad success of Hamilton. How can we explain it? Why must we endure it? When will the American musical finally die, ending their assault on our ears and especially the ears of those poor, suffering parents of high school drama club members?

The answer is clear: the US is a bankocracy, and Hamilton is its unparalleled propaganda

I have not seen Hamilton and I never will – if I hate musicals already, why would I like one which is built around mythologising, propagandising and lying about the greatest central banker in American history?

The popularity of Hamilton is completely attributable to the total domination of corporate media in the 21st century. My last articleUS national media is useless – so tell me the good local news sources?, thus had to be published before this one: it discusses how ever since the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which allowed the rise of monopolistic media conglomerates, to watch one national US media is to watch them all – there is total uniformity. I also discussed how in music there used to be such a thing as a “local hit” within different US regions, but since 1996 a banal song can be a #1 for as long as 5 months because the conglomerates decide to support it and replay it, replay it, replay it, replay it.

The same goes for Hamilton: advertising works, and the conglomerate media saw a “pro-central banker” play, squealed with delight, and decided it should be bigger than The Bible.

So five years of corporate-ordered omnipresence of Hamilton coverage was not just in the pro-Broadway New York Times (Five Years and 100-Plus Stories: What It’s Like Covering ‘Hamilton’ – that’s 100-plus stories from just one Times journalist, mind you!), but across the nation: “It goes unspoken that ‘Hamilton’ is now available everywhere, for a $6.99 monthly Disney Plus subscription”. It “goes unspoken” precisely because in the US the corporate media has obviously ordered Hamilton to be atop the cultural agenda for years. It is now available as a movie for this Fourth of July weekend, thus the “news peg” for this article.

This omnipresence explains why I truly do not need to see Hamilton to write about it intelligently (though I did interview people who have seen it – hey, I’m not a bad journalist who doesn’t do homework) – the US has been OBSESSED with it for years.

But nobody seems to realise why because in all of the drooling, gushing reviews nobody gets at the economic aspects inherent in a play about a central banker. Nobody seems to make the link between the economic program of Western central banker collusion (Quantitative Easing), the reality of a US & Western “bankocracy” (a 10-part series I wrote on this issue can be found here) which has been crystal-clear since 2008 to anyone with half a brain, the elevation of central bank policy over democratic votes in the Eurozone, and then this absurd adoration of Hamilton?

How can it be a mere coincidence that at a time when central bankers have become more powerful than ever we also cannot – still – turn anywhere without being exhorted to love Hamilton? Just as rap music is the musical propaganda of modern Western capitalism, Hamilton is clearly its musical propaganda.

The pro-central bank propaganda is apparently overt during this 3+ hour show: a large part of the show is dedicated to showing how the US central bank was created, and of Alexander Hamilton persuading them of the worth and necessity of a central bank. Hamilton may not use the phrase “QE”, but how can anyone fail to see the link between inequality-creating, 1%er enriching, 99%er impoverishing QE and this stupid play? Like all great art Hamilton apparently does indeed capture the moment – too bad it is the “moment” of ravenous, society-destroying elite bankers.

Since 2015 I have said that the proof that there is no true left in the US is that I have not read of even one stink-bombing of a Hamilton performance. That the US left has not been able to mount any counter-attack on this neoliberal propaganda shows how appallingly clueless they are. Ishmael Reed Tries to Undo the Damage ‘Hamilton’ Has Wrought from The Nation was so notable because it stuck out so very much – it’s the exception which proves the rule.

The US left has been steamrolled by Hamilton and provided (as usual) so very, very little resistance, but Hamilton is a perfect example of just how easy it is to propagandise the US public – such is the extent of the dominance of their corporate media. Media concentration in the US is so absolute that if they decide something or someone or some concept should be promoted – one simply cannot escape it. And, I am sure, talking about Hamilton in this way at a US dinner party is to ensure that you are not invited back, LOL.

How was this central banker propaganda so effectively repackaged into suitable American jingoism?

In July 2020 even the World Socialist Web Site is decrying the attacks on statues of Lincoln and Jefferson; after decades of trying, corporate sponsors are going to force the rabidly anti-American Indian Washington D.C. to finally give up their “Redskins” football mascot/slur – so why on earth aren’t they coming for Hamilton?!

Alexander Hamilton bought and sold slaves, he married into a wealthy slave-owning family – it’s a no-brainer. If you support Hamilton and have some stupid liberal sign up in your front yard YOU are part of the problem (as much for liking awful Broadway as for being an obvious fake-leftist).

However, when we actually consider the economic ideology all over Hamilton we should easily grasp that the corporate-dominated US media is not about to permit sustained attacks on this spectacularly successful pro-central banker propaganda piece. What they are going to do is what places like The Washington Post just did, print lies about how Hamilton “despised slavery”.

Why would Miranda care – he did the same whitewashing. Of course he wasn’t going to talk about how the central banker Hamilton was all about debt slavery (no corporate media gushing in that case), but it’s pretty artistically opportunistic and cynical to make Hamilton some sort of abolitionist just to sell out his stupid musical. Tellingly, Miranda was forced to publicly admit he was wrong to be silent for so long regarding the George Floyd protests, but the guy adores Alexander Hamilton in the QE era – did you really think he was anti-establishment, LOL?

Reading drama reviews always produces plenty of eye-rolls – they are full of hyperbole and purple prose worthy of the biggest off-off-off-Broadway ham; everybody is just so very, very, VERY SPECTACULAR and AMAZING and TALENTED – but The New York Times lead movie critic writing that he “can’t escape tears” when watching Hamilton… how can we explain that?

Like I said, I’m not going to watch Hamilton to find out. I’m not even going to read its plot summary on Wikipedia. I have been unwillingly forced to acquire adequate Hamilton knowledge via cultural osmosis, but I also did ask around.

Part of its appeal, per reports, is undoubtedly based on jingoism and revisionist history – we’re all just so proud to be American (and to be led by heroic bankers in our wonderful bankocracy).

However, what is more shocking is how the play apparently significantly plays up the anti-monarchical, republican roots of the American Revolution for Independence by… upholding the pro-monarchy Alexander Hamilton? Jefferson said of Hamilton: “Hamilton was not only a monarchist, but for a monarchy bottomed on corruption.” I hear Miranda’s next play is about the great abolitionist Robert E. Lee.

So the apparently underlying theme of Hamilton is how revolutionary and cool the anti-monarchy stance was (way back in the late 18th century), and it is these ancestor worship-heartstrings which produce tears in fake-leftist pseudo-intelligensia like A.O. Scott. How could they possibly pick Alexander Hamilton as a leader of the fight against aristocratic privilege? Answer: in a bankocracy bankers are the vanguard party, so they simply must be whitewashed as spotless leaders.

Thus we can refer to Scott’s headline – ‘Hamilton’ Review: You Say You Want a Revolution – to get at the heart of what helped draw in so many American males to willingly watch Hamilton: make being conservative “revolutionary”. The play does what Westerners always do – try to end history long before 1917 by perpetuating the false belief that Western liberal democracy is somehow still “progressive” and not fundamentally aristocratic (bourgeois); the play obviously perpetuates the false Western belief that the summit of democracy’s reach is Western liberal democracy and not 20th century socialist democracy. However, with every passing corona hysteria day it’s more and more obvious that in the 21st century the latter is vastly outperforming the former, which did nothing but replace monarchy with bankocracy (thus it was merely a bourgeois/aristocratic revolution).

There are secondary propaganda bases for the success of Hamilton, mainly how it successfully espouses 21st century US liberal (fake-leftist) identity politics. But a huge part of this is merely technical and based entirely on what I can easily prove is the fundamentally reactionary nature of Broadway itself, because absolutely nothing is “Whiter” than Broadway in US culture.

Musicals like Our Town, Oklahoma, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, The Sound of Music, Music Man, Carousel – these are all whiter than Wonder Bread on a styrofoam plate in a snowstorm in themes, composition and musical styles. How can The Unsinkable Molly Brown be played by a Latina, after all? There are no Hindus in Our Town. Finding a young Black girl who can sing, act, AND has red hair is going to make staging a production of Annie difficult, but making Depression-era Daddy Warbucks Black is historically impossible. This is why playgoers have remarked how they have been thrilled by the mere presence of non-White actors in this type of a musical, but also in any musical. All of this supports my assertion of what a fundamentally reactionary institution Broadway is.

The use of rap was also another mere technical – and not intellectual or artistic – pseudo-achievement of Hamilton; that fundamentally reactionary Broadway required 40 years to finally use rap music and Hamilton was the first – big deal? The good news is: nobody over 50 can keep up with such rapid-fire spoken word poetry, and thus many of the elder showgoers surely missed out on the undoubtedly fascinating rap lyrics about the meetings to build the US Treasury.

(Of course, does every rapper think his or her every word is totally fascinating and worthy of your complete concentration and attention? Rappers dominate whatever music they sit in on – in jazz this is the sin of “overplaying” and overplayers are not invited to the next jam session. Sadly, US corporate media rams rap down our throats and refuses to broadcast jazz music literally anywhere, probably because jazz cannot proselytise for individualism and capitalism like rap does with seemingly every breath.)

Western democracy does indeed have two classes: Bankers and everyone else

Making central bankers “cool” – which seems impossible – is the greatest achievement of Hamilton in its effort to propagandise the American public into accepting QE, ZIRP and the post-2008 policies which have gutted the US and left it poised to plummet into prolonged socio-economic chaos following the hysterical corona overreaction.

By portraying Alexander Hamilton as an outsider who worked his way to the top the play undoubtedly allows viewers to maintain a certainly outdated belief in the fiction that the US is a “classless” society; this is just as the election of Barack Obama allowed the creation of the myth that the US had progressed to a “post-racial society”. If that was true – why the George Floyd protests? Miranda thinks Hamilton is a hero mainly because he knows nothing about QE, economics, the class struggle, and because he obviously admires the gangster/bankster values of rap.

If Miranda knew any of those crucial leftist analyses he would have known that in order to maintain this fiction of a “classless” American society absolutely everything must be burned before it: What is identity politics but an endless assertion that absolutely anything – from race to religion to gender to sexual to preference to party affiliation to ___ – is more important than class? Anything to not focus on class!

This explains the reactionary, divisive words of Hamilton as found in the play’s popular song, “Immigrants— we get the job done”. I’m not going to listen to it because when is Broadway very truly funky or cool? However, it surely seems to be an insult to the hard-working capabilities of White Americans – are how is that leftist or progressive? Due to Miranda’s political ignorance and obviously reactionary beliefs he was only too happy to write a song which seeks to divide the worker class based on their country of birth. What’s his next divisive attack, one wonders? May I suggest: “Left-handers do the job a bit differently but still get’er dun”. A pro-immigrant song can be a fine thing, but not coming in the context of banker worship, LOL – it’s an obvious contradiction, and obviously an attempt to distract from Hamilton’s overall capitalist-imperialist ideology with divisive identity politics.

So… not a single stink bomb at a Hamilton performance? Not a single call to take slave-dealer Hamilton off the $10 bill amid these rebellious times? Idiots will deface a statue of Cervantes (the Arab-loving “Multicultural Dreamer”), and steal a Frederick Douglass statue, but the Alexander Hamilton statues outside the US Treasury, in NYC, in Chicago and elsewhere remain standing because he’s apparently “that cool leftist guy from the cool leftist play”?

Alexander Hamilton – cool? Broadway – cool?!?! Hamilton – a leftist play?!

Clearly, the US left has no idea what they are doing, and that’s why we still don’t hear any leftist demands for media discussion about the links between QE, central banker dominance over Western liberal democracies, and the endless corporate promotion of Hamilton.

For all the wrong reasons Hamilton is popular – but they’re dead wrong, I know they are, as the song goes.

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

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


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.

Paradigm Shifts

source

by Francis Lee for The Saker Blog

Paradigm Shifts

INTRODUCTION:

I first wrote this article in 2012 and have had to make a number of minor alterations. Of course a great deal has happened since that time, most of it bad. We now seem to stand on the threshold of an even bigger and deeper crisis than in 2008, plus additional worrying features, viz. the pandemic and possible future pandemics as well as increasing and widespread economic and geopolitical instability. The crisis portents were always there but both the PTB and the populations at large did not seem unduly concerned about these developments which were taking place and maturing through the post-2008 period.

Paradigm Shifts

Some years ago I reviewed a book – State Building – by one Francis Fukuyama. This was one of Mr Fukuyama’s lesser known works, he is more famous for being the theorist of the ‘end of history’ – a view promulgated during the halcyon days of the neo-liberal counter-revolution circa the 1980s. After the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, and with social-democracy effectively throwing in the towel in Western Europe, Mr F postulated that liberal, deregulated, market capitalism was now the historical norm, and if countries had not arrived at this terminal point in their history, then in the fullness of time they surely would. In short this is when one paradigm or epoch ends and another one begins. Certainly, the world underwent a both quantitative and qualitative paradigm shift in 1980s an historical shift which has lasted for at least 4 decades.

This current view was to become the received wisdom in official circles, and I would argue that in a contingent sense still is, at least among the political, financial and media elites. But it could be plausibly argued that this current paradigm is in secular decline and a new paradigm seems to be emerging. That is why we study history. Epochs come and go. Whether this will be for good or ill is an open question. Paradoxically, the established paradigm – let’s call it the Thatcher/Reagan settlement – represented almost a theoretical mirror image of the cruder types of Marxist historical materialism. Of course, both were extremely contestable since the human agency was excised from the historical process; a process apparently beyond human volition and control; almost a force of nature. It followed from this, therefore, that politics was no longer about choice, according to the post-modernist fraternity, the grand political narratives were at an end; henceforth politics was to be simply about administration: the relevant question being who could run the system more efficiently. How simplistic and facile these notions now seem.

To be fair Fukuyama has now admitted that he was wrong, and the more humanistic interpretation of Marxism – as espoused by inter alia Georgy Lukacs and Antonio Gramsci – does allow for human intervention in the historical process, in fact it insists upon this. Marx also, at least in his early years, put forward the famous dialectic. ‘Men make history, but they do not do it as they please.’ This is to say that they were creatures of their time and made political choices, but these choices were historically conditioned and constrained.

However, it seems commonplace among the journalistic types and other jobbing mediocrities to think that history is something in the past and that the present is the point of arrival; a tendency to take the empirically given as somehow natural and inevitable; its permanence taken for granted. And of course those who have most to gain from the present dispensation will fight tooth and nail against any attempt to change this state of affairs. Reforms are possible – even though these will be generally opposed by these same entrenched interests – but the fundamental structures and institutions of the system will be left broadly unchanged. This is true at all times and in all places, including our own.

We can say, therefore, that the world crisis of 2008 and its various explanations were thus all based upon the notion that the neo-liberal capitalist order is inevitable and permanent. Even erstwhile radicals like Will Hutton of the Guardian and Paul Krugman of the New York Times believed this to be the case. These are essentially mainstream Keynesians, who argue for a more regulated capitalism which they regard as viable, whilst their opponents the free-market Hayekians – Peter Schiff and US libertarian Ron Paul – believe in less or even no regulation. But of course both schools are committed to the capitalist system so the argument has been something of an in-house debate between the two establishment viewpoints.

That the system is in a protracted and long-term crisis is self-evident. But the contending viewpoints above are posited in a rather narrow and orthodox spectrum of economic theories which I think fail to address the depth of the predicament.

The Hayekian/Von Mises Austrian school

For a long time after the Second World War these particular theorists were exiled to a virtual leper colony of macro-economic theory. This was a period of the Roosevelt/Attlee settlement, the spread of communism over Eastern Europe, China and Indo-China. The catastrophe of depression/fascism/war, all emanating from uncontrolled markets and market crashes, followed by trade wars of the 1930s and then the shooting wars, was rejected absolutely by the electorates of the western world as well as by their leaders. But Von Mises, Hayek, et al. bided their time until their moment came. This moment came in the 1970s when the post-war boom petered out. They found a populariser of their beliefs – albeit in crude form – in Milton Friedman of the Chicago School and what was called monetarism. These ideas then migrated from academe via the broadsheet press and finally to the right-wing political parties at the time headed by Thatcher and Reagan.

The Austrian school believe that attempts to control capitalism through state intervention will fail and will in fact be positively counter-productive. This is because such interventions distort the price mechanism leading to misallocation of resources, inflation, and asset price bubbles. A good example of this would be the credit/property boom (2008) which was enabled by the accommodative actions of the Central Banks and Treasuries around the world, but particularly by the Bank of England and the US Federal Reserve Board. Interest rates were kept low and both heads of the two respective central banks as well as Treasury officials, in the UK’s Labour government, Gordon Brown and Edward ‘light touch regulation’ Balls in the UK, and the Fed boss Alan Greenspan in the US. Thus the natural cyclical tendencies immanent in the capitalist system were given an additional push by government monetary policy. Why? The answer is disarmingly simple: booms and bubbles (at least during the up-phase) are popular with the masses and are therefore good politics. Who can ever forget ‘the-end-of-boom-and-bust’ triumphalism of the period? However, the Austrians continued to argue that booms and busts are intrinsic to the system. One cannot exist without the other. During the boom phase of the cycle investors and consumers tend to become overconfident and make foolish investment and purchasing decisions. Prices start to rise due to the continual demand for factor inputs, growth becomes more and more febrile, banks make foolish loans and acquisitions (Northern Rock and the Royal Bank of Scotland come to mind), and then, when rises in income can no longer support rises in asset prices, the whole thing collapses. This is what happened in 2008; the bust part of the cycle then begins. All the bad investments and overspending now come to light. Companies go bust, unemployment mounts, debts are written down simply because debtors cannot pay, and all the misallocations of resources can clearly be seen with half-finished empty houses standing as the self-evident physical symbols of the manic bubble period which preceded them. Here Andrew Gamble explains:

‘’For the Austrians, the business cycle had a necessary and important function within capitalism. The crisis phase of the cycle was crucial if capitalism were to renew itself and purge itself of the false values and the misallocation of productive resources which had grown up during the boom phase. The crisis was a moment of truth, when suddenly the plans, the claims and the expectations which had been formed during the upswing were put to the test. Many of them would be found wanting, and those responsible for them would have to face the consequences. The process was not just to keep capitalism efficient; it was also necessary to keep capitalism moral. Only if agents bore full responsibility for their actions would the values of prudence, reliability and sound judgement and trust, on which capitalism relied, be upheld. The crisis purged capitalism in a double sense: both practically and morally. To many of its defenders the two were equally important. It was what gave capitalism its moral legitimacy and its practical dynamism.’’ (1)

It was argued that full recovery would not be achieved by bail-outs, Keynesian deficit spending, or by rescuing companies which were simply inefficient or did not supply consumers or investors with their preferences as demonstrated by the market price mechanism. Such policies would simply create ‘moral hazard’ a tendency for investors and consumers to carry on as usual with their losses being underwritten by the state; in this situation there was no intention or incentive for improving their business efficiency. These bailed-out entities were the economy’s living dead, kept alive on state support – zombie banks as in Europe and Japan and zombie auto companies like Fiat, Kia, and GM, or insurance companies like AIG, all of which should have been allowed to fail. With their failure more competitive efficient companies would arise in their place.

Recovery could only get underway when, as during classical depressions, prices fell, which meant that if wages and interest rates fell more slowly – if at all – then disposable income would start to increase. This being the case consumers would start to spend again and businesses start to invest. Similarly bankrupted and distressed firms would be bought out at fire–damage prices by the more efficient and larger firms with more up to date equipment. Growth now resumes given the destruction of existing capital values. The process of accumulation can restart.

What is striking about this (Austrian) theory is its similarity to Marx’s view of trade cycles, and also to those views espoused by Schumpeter. But much of both theories were formulated in an earlier phase of capitalism. But for all that the Austrian theory’s analysis of the bust is quite plausible and sophisticated.

‘’The anti-deflation policies which have been adopted (i.e., Keynesian demand management) is largely a policy of price-fixing, a policy of preventing the market from exposing capital misallocations and then liquidating them. The root causes of the crisis remain in place and the underlying problems unaddressed … The economy cannot realistically be expected to rectify itself if the market is not allowed to liquidate capital misallocations. The state has erected a protective fence around the most dislocated sectors of the economy (house prices for example) trying to keep market forces outside. As long as it lasts no true recovery is possible.’’ (2)

Summing up the Austrian view, capitalism is intrinsically cyclical. The Growth periods tend to run out of control resulting in bad investments and resource misallocation. This process is fed by easy credit and excess liquidity. Asset price inflation rises to a level which can no longer be sustained by rises in income or further borrowing. The boom turns into a bubble and the bubble bursts. Then the whole process swings into reverse – the bust has arrived. However, the bust rectifies the situation by liquidating all the mal-investments and making way for a reconfiguration of the system on a more sustainable and efficient basis. Capitalism restructures itself through these types of crises.

Prescriptions

Although the Austrian (and indeed Marxist) analysis of the bust is, I would argue broadly speaking correct, but the future policy prescriptions of the Hayekians seem frankly alarming. The scope and interdependence of the system is such that the notion of simply letting the bust take its course would lead to quite massive economic, political, and social dislocations on a global scale – as would have been the case had world governments simply let the coronavirus pandemic rampage through societies and run its course in 2020 – such a policy would dwarf the depression of the 1930s and 2008. In a strictly logical sense the reasonings of the Austrian school are correct, but their policy prescriptions are simply too terrible to contemplate.

‘’The Libertarians are actively promoting policies sure to bring about immediate economic hell, in the faith that punishment and suffering are the prerequisites to an economic afterlife in a better world. While in the end their philosophy of economic karma may ultimately prove correct, before accepting the remedy through collapse, other approaches should be put to the test. Economic reincarnation could take a lot longer than the Libertarians anticipate. The Renaissance did follow the fall of Rome – but only after 10 centuries.’’ (3)

So what about the alternatives?

John Maynard Keynes and his followers

Well I think we need to clear up one or two things about Lord Keynes before we start. Keynes was emphatically not a socialist, if anything he was actively hostile to socialism. He opined that: ‘’The class struggle will find me on the side of the educated bourgeoisie.’’ (4) We might legitimately enquire who, apart from Keynes himself, might be the ‘educated bourgeoisie’ exactly! Further, The Labour party is a class party, and that class is not my class. Again, How can I adopt a creed – Socialism – which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeois and intelligentsia who, with whatever faults, are the quality in life and surely carry the seeds of all human advancement. It seems necessary to state this because of the widespread belief on the left that Lord Keynes was indeed some sort of (closet)-socialist. This could not be further from the truth: Keynes main aim in life was to save capitalism from itself.

His magnum opus, ‘’The General Theory of Employment Interest and Money’’ first published in 1936, represented the culmination of his earlier writings in which he elaborated what he believed to be the problem situation which had arisen in the world economy during the 1930s, and what he believed to be the solutions. But Keynesianism is not really a theory of the trade cycle, nor is it a general theory (more of which later) it is more a theory of boom/bust and possible ways out of economic depressions. The bust period in a capitalist economy generally follows a period of excess credit and hence debt-fuelled growth. This was the case during the roaring 20s with runaway credit (debt) fuelling growth until – pop went the weasel! Credit duly contracted as the defaults multiplied, and so the Roaring 20s transmuted into the depressed 30s.

‘’In 1930 the US money supply comprised currency held by the public (9%) and deposits held at commercial banks (91%). Banks used these deposits to fund their loans. When the credit that fuelled the Roaring 20s could not be repaid, the banks began to fail. When a borrower defaults it not only destroys credit, it also destroys the deposits which funded the credit. Between 1930 and 1933, 9,000 US banks failed. The corresponding destruction of deposits caused the country’s money supply to contract by a third from $46 billion in 1928 to $31 billion in 1933. As the money supply shrank the happy economic dynamic that expanding credit had made possible, went into reverse, and the global economy spiralled into catastrophe.’’ (5)

Post-crash, the problem was not excess demand but insufficient demand. This became known as debt-deflation. This is where Keynes and his co-thinkers entered the scene. With consumers and investors not spending, aggregate demand in deflationary conditions is flat, or even falling. Therefore the solution could only be increased spending by the government. This to be carried out by a mixture of monetary policy (lowering interest rates and Open Market Operations, and now Quantitative Easing – QE) and/or fiscal policy (taxation and public spending). This is of course something of an oversimplification of Keynes’ theories which were somewhat more radical than most of his enthusiasts found to their taste, but it broadly captures the gist of what he said. The increase in aggregate demand would feed through to the rest of the economy and so induce an increase in output which would be eventually self-sustaining. Governments would find it necessary therefore to run budget deficits during this period. Q.E.D.

This approach was taken up by the Roosevelt administration when it came to office in 1933. At that time unemployment in the US stood at the alarming figure of 25%. A raft of policy measures including the Works Programme Administration (WPA), National Recovery Act (NRA), Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Civilian Conservation Corps, were implemented. Unemployment fell to 14% by 1936, but then rose again during a new recession in 1937/38 to 20%. So the track record of Keynes policies seems patchy to say the least.

The Long Boom and its collapse 1980-2008

In our own time we have seen almost a repeat of the 1930s debacle. The long boom of 1980-2007 was floated on a sea of debt. But even this period was punctuated by blow-outs, first in the Savings and Loans episode of the 80s and 90s, then the Long-Term Capital Management collapse in the 90s, and finally the dot.com bubble in 2001. The 2008 crisis was, however, seemingly worse than these events and more global than that of the 1930s. In 2008 the whole credit/property induced boom came to a shuddering halt when the sub-prime borrowers in the US defaulted. House prices, which, had been rising by double digit percentages since the early 90s collapsed in 2006 and have been falling, apart from one or two transient minor upturns, ever since.

The same was to also happen in Iceland, Ireland the UK and Spain who had also built their policies around house-price inflation. Mortgage backed derivatives – i.e., those financial products which were based upon these repackaged dubious mortgages were parcelled up and sold as new financial products to brain-dead investors around the world after being given the triple AAA seal of approval by the ratings agencies. These derivatives were only producing a stream of income so long has the mortgagees continued to pay their instalments – when they defaulted the derivatives became worthless, the banks, who among others such as pension funds who had been purchasing these debt instruments, then found that their newly acquired ‘assets’ had turned into liabilities overnight. Many banks were effectively insolvent, and the great bank panic of 2008 spread around the world.

Governments found it necessary to bail-out these institutions in order to avoid a global meltdown. So the banks happily transferred their junk ‘assets’ onto the sovereign nations’ balance sheets courtesy of the Central Banks. Needless to say this was only the opening of the great recession of 2008/09 which in spite of its putative ‘recovery’ still drags on. The crisis was to cross the pond from the US – whose fundamental problems still seem unresolved – to Europe where the problem became more acute.

Stabilisation and low growth 2009-onwards

Since the nadir of 2008/09 there has been a stabilisation rather than what we might meaningfully call a recovery in the global economy. Growth is flat or falling in Europe, although there are very marked regional disparities, and very weak (and as I write, beginning to actually stall) in the USA, again with regional disparities. Interestingly, perhaps with all the clamour regarding austerity in the eurozone, no mention was made in the 40 or so US states – some effectively insolvent – which oversaw swingeing austerity programmes, California and Wisconsin come to mind, as does Detroit, famous for Tamla Motown and auto-vehicle production. A one time industrial city of 2 million people became a ghost town of 700,000.

Concomitant with this there were high levels of unemployment on both sides of the pond. Official figures for US unemployment, as found in the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) are completely fraudulent and always have been since whole swathes of de facto unemployed have been disappeared off the register simply by definition. (The same disappearing trick was used with the core inflation figures.) The BLS gives three levels of unemployment according to how the word is defined. In fact there are six definitions ranging from U1-U6. The BLS uses U3 but the figure for U6 is double. And if the same definition were applied as used to be the case then unemployment would be almost 4 times the official account. The same jiggery-pokery is used when defining inflation. Each redefinition gives a lower figure.

Regarding this universal practise, it was the late Conservative Member of Parliament and at one time member of Mrs. Thatcher’s Cabinet, Lord Gilmour, who once said of his government’s unemployment reduction programme: ‘’Now we have reduced the unemployment figures, perhaps we can make a start on reducing unemployment.’’ I am afraid the pollution of statistics is the same for inflation, GDP growth and various other economic statistics. These statistics are not some measurements of objective facts, but simply political constructions. (6)

In passing we should become aware of a new economic development which came into being after 2008 and persists to this day. This was the genesis of the so-called ‘gig’ sometimes called ‘sharing’ economy. It should be made clear that this sector of the economy is generally very much ’off the books.’ The modern workforce has become increasingly stratified. There are well-paid jobs for a small portion with the requisite skills, but the vast majority of new employment is in the low-paid service sector, such as retail, leisure, hospitality, age-care and health-care. The sharing-economy is generally part of the informal sector but requires abundant cheap contract labourers to be available at the touch of a smartphone screen. Fulltime employees with normal benefits would make the model unworkable. This ‘gig’ or sharing economy exploits low-wage workers in a weak economic environment. This new ‘eke-onomy’ consists of individuals renting out their houses, cars, or labour make only a fraction of what they would receive in traditional full-time jobs, without any employment benefits. This is what Marx/Engels termed the industrial reserve army consisting of the unemployed and under-employed. Moreover, in the UK at least most of the workforce engaged in this low-paid, insecure drudgery are for the most part, immigrant labour, often illegal, from Romania, Spain, Portugal, Poland, the English-speaking part of Africa and even as far as China. Welcome to the ‘smart’ economy.

Keynesian policies … and debt levels

The general Keynesian response to the downturn has been a hue and cry for stimulus at all costs. Keynesian counter-cyclical policies traditionally consisted of 1. Monetary policy. This comes under the remit of the Central Bank and consists of control of interest rates and money supply. 2. Fiscal policy, which is the remit of the Treasury consisting of taxation and public expenditure. Sotto Voce It should be noted at this point that the Central Banks became the source of economic policy. This was a new departure since it meant that fiscal policy was relegated to a secondary role in economic planning. Monetary – i.e., central bank – policy now ruled the roost. The rigidly orthodox European Central Bank (ECB) – more catholic than the Pope – adopted hard-nosed monetary policies in the eurozone with alacrity, whilst the Anglo-American approach involving monetary and second-tier fiscal policies were partially adopted in the UK and more rigorously in the US.* The ECB put the weaker economies in the eurozone – Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Latvia – through the wringer of a grinding depression. No stimulus policies were undertaken, since it is argued this would pile more debt onto unprecedented levels already extant. Results have to say the least, not been exactly encouraging, particularly in the southern European periphery. This situation has received press coverage ad infinitum much of it justified, but much incredibly biased and ignorant, but hey, this is the white noise of democracy in action.

Given that the eurozone crisis has received saturation coverage we will move on to the UK. Here we have a bizarre mismatch of policies: a loose monetary policy with the Bank of England lowering the base rate to 0.5% and engaging in money printing – otherwise known as Quantitative Easing – and a tight fiscal policy with the Treasury cutting back on public spending. The result? The worst of both worlds, inflation, and – good old 1970s stagflation.

The poster child for the Keynesians was the United States which threw everything but the kitchen sink at the problem in both fiscal and monetary terms. This produced some low growth and a slight fall in unemployment, albeit from an extremely high level, and recently reversed, but each additional stimulus has had less of an impact than the one preceding it. A sort of diminishing returns was to set in, whereby more and more of the ‘fix’ is needed to get any sort of result.

‘’ … in the 1970s the increase in GDP was about 60 cents for every dollar of increased debt. By the early 2000s this had decreased to close to 20% of GDP growth for every new dollar of debt.’’ (7)

The Federal Reserve had already initiated 2 rounds of QE injecting literally trillions of $s into the economy. In addition it lowered interest rates to 0.25% – zero to all intents and purposes. The Fed’s purchase of paper assets was facilitated with the printing of paper monies. These paper assets consisted of US Treasury bonds and junk securities from government sponsored enterprises such as Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae, the two government agencies whose remit was to issue mortgages to prospective US homebuyers. This meant that the assets purchased by the Fed were nothing more than debt, unredeemable debt at that. This is a weird situation where the Fed was buying US bonds issued by the Treasury department so that the US Federal government could pay its current bills. And where did the Fed get its money from? Out of thin air apparently, it simply printed the stuff! When the stage is reached where governments have to pay their current expenditures by printing money then the alarm bells should start ringing. An idea of the monies involved was described as follows:

‘’Before the first round of QE began, the Fed held roughly $900 billion of assets. When it ended on March 31, 2010 the Fed’s balance sheet had more than doubled to $2.3 trillion. There is no precedent for fiat money creation on this scale in the US during peacetime.’’(8)

Suffice it to say that money printing has continued and massively expanded to the present day 2020. Increasing the supply of paper money in the economy in the absence of demand for it can only produce one result – inflation, albeit after a time lag. (But this works on the assumption that the velocity of circulation of such monies remains constant. If the circulation falls to zero, then there will be no inflation. Deflation is more likely if the money supply does not reach the real economy. If the rate of money circulation does not alter, we can expect inflation to appear.) It will be objected, however, that the US rate of inflation was at the time of the 2008 episode only 2.3%. True. But bear in mind that both food and fuel price increases are left out of the calculation in what is termed US ‘core inflation’; another egregious example of officialdom’s statistical sleight of hand. Were those price rises added in then at the very least the US inflation figures would almost certainly double. Moreover, the global effects of the Fed’s policies has been to export this inflation around the world as a mass of greenbacks flew out of the US looking for more favourable investment outlets. The global supply of these Eurodollars (i.e., US$s circulating outside of the US) had ballooned, and this led to an inflationary impact globally as food and commodity prices (notably oil) had spiked. This in turn led to food riots and political disturbances throughout the world, particularly in the Middle East. A sort of unforeseen justice was done, however, when higher oil prices hit the price of gasoline in the US – a boomerang effect. The inflationary effect of the Fed’s money printing also meant that local currencies were put under pressure. When the $ tsunami entered a country their own currency was subject to an upward revaluation, which meant a higher exchange rate. They were therefore faced with two choices: one, do nothing and let their export markets contract since their currency was now more expensive, or two, maintain the value of their currency against the US$ by purchases of more of these dollars with their own currency. This would mean that their own money supply would expand and become inflated. Thus US inflation had become global inflation. Yes, devaluation is a great way to start a currency war.

As far as fiscal policy goes the US has consistently run budget deficits since the 1990s when it actually recorded a small surplus. The cost of the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the cost of ongoing wars in the middle east, the cost of bailouts to various financial institutions, the cost of fiscal transfers to cash-strapped states and various stimulus programmes has raised the US budget deficit (2008 figures) to $15.5 trillion, which given that the Gross Domestic Product of the US as of May 2012 was $15.6 trillion, makes the ratio close to 100%. Even before the economic crisis, the U.S. debt grew 50% between 2000-2007, ballooning from $6-$9 trillion. Now the implications of this are indeed sobering.

According to the authors Reinhart and Rogoff when debt to GDP ratio reaches 90% this will constitute a drag on future growth. And bear in mind that this figure of debt-to-GDP has risen to 107% in 2020. Longer term implications of America’s chronic debt problem are manifest. Sure the Fed can print unlimited monies, but it can’t guarantee that these greenbacks will have any value.

Over the next 20 years, the Social Security Trust Fund won’t have enough funds to cover the retirement benefits promised to Baby Boomers. That means higher taxes since the high U.S. debt rules out further loans from other countries. Unfortunately, it’s most likely that these benefits will be curtailed, either to retirees younger than 70, or to those who are high income and therefore aren’t as dependent on Social Security payments to fund their retirement.

Second, many of the foreign holders of U.S. debt are investing more in their own economies. Over time, diminished demand for U.S. Treasuries could increase interest rates, thus slowing the economy. Furthermore, anticipation of this lower demand puts downward pressure on the dollar. That’s because dollars, and dollar-denominated Treasury Securities, may become less desirable, so their value declines. As the dollar declines, foreign holders get paid back in currency that is worth less, which further decreases demand.

The bottom line is that the large Federal debt is like driving with the emergency brake on, further slowing the U.S. economy.

Now if we add in private debt to the equation – i.e., the debts of household sector corporate sector, business sector, non-corporate businesses, State, and local government – then the debt soars to something like $50 trillion, or 363% of GDP. Then of course there is the chronic deficit on current account which adds a further dimension to the problem, and all of these seemingly intractable processes are still ongoing but hey, let’s not labour the point.

The seriousness of the situation is only matched by the complacency of the US authorities who seem to think they can go on raising the budget borrowing ceiling and that overseas investors will simply keep on buying their Treasury bonds forever. If ever there was a definition of unsustainable this is it.

In fact the structural problems in the US economy could well be fatal if these colossal debt levels are not reined in or simply stabilised. The US is being kept afloat by their ownership of the global reserve currency and the willingness (for now) of investors, mainly China, Japan and the oil-rich states in the middle-east to keep purchasing US Treasury paper – paper assets of dubious value and paltry yields. Overseas investors are aware of this situation and have begun to lower their exposure to the US$s and dollar denominated assets by diversifying into other assets and have also started to trade in their own currencies rather than the dollar. Straws in the wind perhaps, but indicative of future trends.

Taken by themselves Keynesian demand-side policies of stimulating the economy hardly begin to grapple with the problem. This is because deeper problems are on the supply-side not the demand-side of the economy. They can be classified as follows. Deindustrialisation as the manufacturing base is hollowed out or emigrates to cheaper venues; ageing populations; rising energy costs and scarcity; saturation of markets; lack of leadership at the political level; finance running amok; the ability to create paper money and assets without limit; an inadequately trained workforce; skills and investment deficit; and structural unemployment brought about by new technologies. And to crown it all there is the dreaded ‘Triffin Paradox’ to be factored into the equation, but this would take another article. Moreover, I could also have added in the issue of climate change but didn’t want to depress my readers unduly.

Keynesianism is fixated on the demand-side. But in a world beset by the sort of supply-side problems listed above traditional demand-management policies used since the war will not be effective. It is also worth adding that both Germany and Japan, where the wartime devastation was manifest both recovered strongly without Keynesian demand management. This actually serves to validate the Austrian and Marxist theory that upturns and booms in a capitalist economy are the result of the destruction of existing capital values. Japan and Germany roared ahead because their own industries and infrastructure was decimated, and they had to install the most modern up to date capital equipment and technologies and again start from scratch. Economies which start from a low base tend to have extremely high rates of growth.

I did mention earlier that Keynes’ General Theory is in fact not a general theory at all but a special theory. Such policies may have been appropriate for the post-war period with the usual cyclical movements of the trade cycle, but dare I say, this time it’s different. What we are now confronted with is a systemic global crisis of capitalism. In the present situation Keynesian policies – which are commonly understood and promulgated by his epigones – are unlikely to have the desired effect for the following reasons.

‘’Keynes’ theory that government spending could stimulate aggregate demand turns out to be one that works in limited conditions only, making it more of a special theory than a general theory which he had claimed. Stimulus programmes work better in the short run than in the long run. Stimulus works better in a liquidity crisis than in an insolvency crisis, and better in a mild recession than a severe oneStimulus also works better for economies that have entered recessions with relatively low levels of debt at the outset … None of these favourable conditions for Keynesian stimulus was present in the United States in 2009.’’ (9)

It has been calculated that growth would have to be at the rate of 6% per annum which when inflation is factored in reduces to actual growth of 2% to make any inroads into the huge debts. This seems very, very unlikely, although this is what the US authorities will attempt to do.

One final point with regard to Keynesian policies: They are often thought of as an alternative to austerity, when in fact they are simply austerity by other means. It is an open secret, though never admitted, that both the Fed and the Bank of England are attempting to monetize the debt levels in both countries. This entails keeping inflation one or more jumps ahead of wages, pensions, benefits, and interest rates. This inflation is engineered by the Central Bank which devalues the currency – supposedly to make exports more ‘competitive’ and printing money through QE. Devaluation leads to an increase in import prices which will tend to feed through the rest of the economy causing domestic inflation. The time-honoured claim made by the then British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, in 1967 that the proposed 17% devaluation of the £ ‘would not affect the pound in your pocket’ was simply a barefaced lie. When a country devalues its currency it makes itself poorer (‘competitive’ is of course the preferred description). That is its whole raison d’être, and in this respect, it is no different from a policy of deflation.

Thus the disposable income of the mass of the population is effectively pushed down as prices rise, and the most acutely affected will be the poorer sections of the community or anyone who keeps their assets in cash. The more opulent, however, will be able to switch into stronger currencies, and physical assets such as precious metals, property, L’Objets d’Art which will appreciate in price. Inflation will help debtors since their debts will be effectively amortized, i.e. grow less as inflation lowers the magnitude of the debt. Of course the principal debtor is the government.

Forcing down interest rates to near zero in an inflationary environment gives savers two options. Do nothing and watch their savings melt away, or just go out and blow the lot. Similarly investors will be forced into more risky investments as they see the paltry return to safer bolt holes such as gilts being eaten away by inflation. It all rather sounds like a re-run of 2002-2007 credit-fuelled growth madness. And paradoxically, because disposable income is crimped by such a policy, aggregate demand falls, and this gives another push to deflation – the law of unintended consequences.

Keynesians see the problems of past and present capitalism as purely technical. They apparently believe that capitalism can be ‘fixed’ using appropriate tools and that it would therefore be possible to have permanent semi-boom conditions. This is clearly expounded by economists such as the American Keynesian, Paul Krugman in his book Peddling Prosperity, first published in 1994. Having spent most of his life during the post-war boom, he is apparently dumbfounded that it suddenly ended in the early 1970s. He intoned that … In 1973 the magic went away. Well ‘magic’ had nothing to do with it. Capitalism was beginning to enter into a periodic systemic convulsion which is now reaching its climax.

After Keynes – What to Do?

‘’Can Capitalism survive? No I do not think it can … Can Socialism work? Of course it can.’’ (10)

On the first point Schumpeter was at that time wrong, but it is now a question which needs to be raised again. On the second point, he has to be right. But this is a political rather than a purely technical question. The present crisis will be solved sooner or later (preferably sooner) but the question is how, by whom, and for whom?

The question for socialists, or for that matter any oppositionists to the present regime, is what should the strategy be for the coming struggles with this system – a system which cannot go on in its present form for the simple reason that it needs to grow at a compound rate of 3% forever – this is not possible for both political, economic and environmental reasons. (My emphasis) Socialism or a collapse into semi-barbarism seems to be on the agenda once again. But we shouldn’t be surprised by this; it is surely what we have been expecting since the trouble started brewing in the late 60s. After all capitalism moves in huge cyclical convulsions, and this is one of them.

This is a colossal question and I can only allude to possible areas of political action. The first thing to realise is that the historical window for a social-democratic Keynesian solution to the crisis is now closed. It was only made possible by a specific conjuncture of political and economic circumstances. The Thatcher-Reagan settlement and globalization marked the death-knell of the Keynes/Beveridge consensus. (11) Does this mean that socialists should not support a policy of reform within the system? Not at all. But this support must perforce have in view the objective of forcing a paradigm shift away from what has been a trade unionist approach of simply gaining and defending reforms – to a struggle for real political and economic power. (My emphasis).

The programme of the liberal-left – the type of journalism which we see in the Guardian and Independent and Labour party publications – actually advocates reform of a system which is beyond reformIt should also be clearly understood that such reforms as advocated by most of the liberal-left such as public spending on work creation programmes, investment in green technology, a national investment bank will only provide a temporary fix, and may well have negative downsides, such as inflation.

‘’A short-run revival of growth, as opposed to proliferating distress, can … buy time for longer term solutions to the transition to be worked out. But bought time is only useful if it is put to good use.’’ (My Emphasis – FL)(12)

Keynesian reform will not be a long-term solution, but it can alter the political balance of power and shift the argument in favour of the 99%. The politicisation of the mass of ordinary folk can begin with such an approach. Socialists, however, need to go much further than the type of Keynesian stimulus programme as advocated by Hutton, Krugman, Elliott, et al. Such a programme might consist of the following set of workable policies.

  1. Public works programmes to reduce unemployment. Or full maintenance for the unemployed.
  2. Nationalization of all deposit taking institutions and the setting up of a national bank.
  3. Strict rules on credit creation and the Shadow banking system.
  4. More transparency and an end to over-the-counter (OTC) trading.
  5. Closure of tax havens. Stop tax avoidance scams such as Transfer Pricing.
  6. Withdrawal from overseas conflicts and NATO.
  7. Harmonisation of corporate tax rates within the EU.
  8. End of the global reserve status of the US dollar.
  9. Indexation of wages, pensions, benefits, interest rates to inflation
  10. A move away from indirect to direct taxation, and higher tax rates for the upper quintile of the population.
  11. Tax harmonisation in Europe to prevent tax competition and the race to the bottom.

These represent the economic demands. But capitalism also works at a political micro-level. The power relations in the work-place are such that employees and consumers have no say in how the business is run, by whom and for whom. Shareholder value is all that matters. This should be replaced by a stakeholder approach were all the interest groups have a say in the running of the organization.

Of course there is no possibility that such demands as these will be met, there is a war going on after all, and at the moment the class enemy have the power and the veto, notwithstanding the democratic will of the people. Moreover, some of these questions can only be raised at regional and/or global levels. This opens up several additional cans of worms. There is the seemingly intractable issue of Europe and the euro? Reversion to national currencies (as advocated by the Guardian’s economics team) may only lead to devaluation and trade and currency wars. Then there are global currency and trade issues: What replaces the dollar as the basis for a global currency? The IMFs Special Drawing Rights? A new gold standard? Or Keynes’ idea of a global currency – Bancor – to replace national currencies, in international trade. Then there is the massive question of climate change and the massive ecological damage and negative externalities which is the corollary of consumer capitalism. The problem we face is that politics are national, but capitalism and economics are global. But reforms of this type can obviously only be carried out at international level (13) but the starting place must be national. Co-ordinated global action is not going to happen any time soon, but regional action, whether in Europe, North and Latin America as well as the ASEAN bloc is a possibility – in fact it is the only option for supra-national policy making at the present time.

The task seems truly Herculean, the point is, however, that these issues must sooner or later (preferably sooner) be raised. They cannot be evaded. We do not choose history, history chooses us. And this is the labour of Hercules which history has bequeathed.

‘’An alternative (to capitalism – FL) will have to be found. And it is here that the emergence of a global co-revolutionary movement becomes critical not only to stemming the tide of self-destructive capitalistic behaviour … but also to our re-organizing ourselves and beginning to build new collective organizational forms, knowledge banks and mental conceptions, new technologies and systems of production and consumption, all the while experimenting with new institutional arrangements, new forms of social and natural relations, and with the redesign of an increasingly urbanized daily life …

While capital has provided us with an abundant means with which to approach the task of anti-capitalist transition, the capitalists, and their hangers on will do all in their power to prevent such a transition no matter how imperative the circumstances may be. But the task of transition lies with us not the plutocrats. As Shakespeare once advised: ‘’The fault … is not in our stars, that in ourselves that we are underlings.’ Right now, as Warren Buffet (the famous American investor – FL) asserts his class is winning (the class war) our immediate task is to prove him wrong.’’ (14).

NOTES

(1) Andrew Gamble – The Spectre at the Feast.

(2) Detlev Schlichter – Paper Money Collapse.

(3) Richard Duncan – The New Depression p.105

( 4) JMK – Essays in Persuasion – 1925 – Am I a Liberal, A short view of Russia. Ibid

(5) Richard Duncan -The New Depression – p.121

(6) In this connection see ChrisMartenson.com Crash Course, Fuzzy Numbers and John Williams Shadow Government Statistics – passim.

(7) Foster and Magdoff – The Great Financial Crisis – p.49

(8) Richard Duncan Ibid.

(9) James Rickards – Currency Wars –pp.186/187 – My emphasis FL

(10) Joseph Alois Schumpeter – Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy – 1943

(11) William Henry Beveridge, 1st Baron Beveridge, KCB was a British economist and Liberal politician who was a progressive and social reformer. His 1942 report Social Insurance and Allied Services served as the basis for the

post-World War II welfare state put in place by the Labour government elected in 1945

(12) David Harvey -The Enigma of Capital– p.278

(13) I have since revised this view and would argue that that starting place for the sweeping reforms which are necessary at the global world system must include and start at the national level. This is not the EU we signed up to in 1976, and there comes a time in politics where it is judicious to give up flogging a dead horse. A progressive Labour government under Corbyn would not have been allowed by EU law to implement its economic reforms, cancel Trident, leave, or even modify its NATO membership. Democracy is impossible without some measure of sovereignty, and nations must get control of their own foreign and economic policies since if they don’t the globalisers and Bilderbergers will and have done

(14) David Harvey, op.cit

*The Federal Reserve Act of 1977 modified the original act establishing the Federal Reserve in 1913 and clarified the roles of the Board of Governors. The Federal Reserve has two mandates: maintaining maximum employment and maintaining stable prices and moderate long-term interest rates. Congress explicitly stated the Fed’s goals should be “maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates. It is these goals that have come to be known as the Fed’s “dual mandate’’. All of which was enabled to act in both monetary and stimulus capacities.

Francis Lee

Updated from 2012 to 2020

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.

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

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

May 15, 2020

By Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog

(Hey hey, my new book is out today! Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism. Buy a copy for yourself and 50 of your closest friends and Iranophobic/Islamophobic/socialism-phobic enemies.)

On May 14 France’s nurses held a protest march in Paris despite ongoing fears about coronavirus — so are they no longer rightly-guided heroes but far-right neo-fascists now?

For several months we’ve been banging pots in gratitude and watching corporations praise them in TV ads but – there they are: gathering in public, not really keeping 2 meters between each other, demanding economic policy changes, defying the advice of their well-paid bosses and generally being very, very bad children who should go straight to bed after dinner.

France’s medical staff won’t be infantilised and have no time for jokes – they are tired of enduring economic hardship and poor working conditions.

Those with overprotective parents claimed the Great Lockdown was to save just one life, but the most common justification among mature adults was to avoid overwhelming medical systems – in France they failed to heed years of public protests saying exactly that.

Excepting the Yellow Vests, nobody in France has protested more in the past couple years than medical staff – austerity has gutted a medical system which in 2000 was ranked number one in the world. I got tired of covering them. My Sputnik Français colleagues hid the tedium of our job as far as the second paragraph: “… protested in order to denounce a lack of resources. It’s a demand which is far from new.” But, you know, people gotta listen to the protesters, so work has us back on the streets again….

Had people listened earlier, France would have far fewer dead grandparents today.

In the US people were explicitly told by Western journalists to not listen to the first anti-Great Lockdown protests, in Michigan. I immediately supported the protesters (in We’re giving up our civil liberties. Fine, but to which type of state?) because, you know – we’re trying to have a democracy here. However, the fake-leftist media looked on them with loathing and terror – calling them irresponsible, science-stupid, selfish, death-crazed, martyrdom-seeking, dangerous curmudgeons and neighbors who would not loan you a cup of sugar.

So the same applies to these French nurses, right?

You would accuse them of being nonchalant about corona? (Or is their crime that they aren’t single-mindedly obsessed with corona enough?)

We can’t really say, because there is no mention of the protesting nurses in Western media, or even in French state foreign-language media. From a mixed economy model to these nurses – more of “the French bad example”.

The widespread insulting of Michiganders refused to take into account their economic situation and the fact that their type of state put them in such a vulnerable position. A stunning 25% of their workers had just become jobless, so why wouldn’t they be demonstrating to get the government’s attention? On top of that their governor imposed an extremely harsh stay-at-home order, as though this was something routine for Michiganders instead of being a (hysterical, economically-suicidal overreaction) shocking, unprecedented first which is undoubtedly more restrictive on movement than being sentenced to house arrest for having committed a serious crime.

Do I think France’s nurses are heroes? Not really – I never asked them to do my job and stand at the front lines during the Yellow Vest protests and do live interviews, giving a big target for the rubber bullets. But, then again, my local garbagemen never asked me to heroically hoist refuse cans for decades even though it’s hardly fun and statistically likely to lead to an early death. And no housewife ever asked me to take care of the kids for even one month, and that seems harder than being a garbageman. Am I a curmudgeon or conceited? No, when one accepts socialism one can’t help but view all workers are equal (capitalists never enjoy this feeling). We all deserve our 15 minutes of fame, I suppose, but caring about fame is decidedly not heroism.

But the kiddies do need heroes, so should the West start cheering: “Nurses are our heroes – except French nurses!”

There is a very worrying outcome of the recent hero worship of medical practitioners: more doctors are now entering politics. The problem with this is simple: you can’t tell a doctor anything – they are the world’s worst-know-it-alls/sufferers from God complexes. They march into a room, quite late, hand down a diagnosis with absolute certainty, which then turns out to be wrong and kills you later (CNBC: The third-leading cause of death in US most doctors don’t want you to know about), but not before you are debt-yoked to a hugely inflated bill, and then doctors imperiously march into the next room and do the same thing all over again. This is NOT a mentality conducive to the consensus-building demanded by democracy.

Well, that’s in socialist-inspired democracy. In liberal democracy technocrats rule with executive decrees, so look for more doctors in office – they can afford to campaign, after all. Thus, “the recent hero worship of medical practitioners” isn’t going to lead to sensible, humble, hard-working nurses to get into office in the West – liberal democracy systematically puts the rich into office.

‘Liberty or boogaloo’? God bless America!

The coronavirus has really laid bare how dictatorial and anti-democratic their executive-dominated system really is, no? What checks and balances, much less public opinion reflected in public policy?

Across the country governors (the presidents of states) have imposed lockdowns without a single legislative vote of approval (at least that I can find). Michigan’s governor, a front-runner to be Biden’s vice-president, seems disturbingly rankled by the existence of other elected officials: Gov. Whitmer blasts Michigan Legislature for meeting during stay-at-home order, says she will veto power-limiting bills. Historically, this trend towards executive decree “began” with Dubya Bush and the Patriot Act, but that’s an inaccurate and sentimental reading of Western liberal democratic history. However, it clearly has become de rigeur across the West, and especially in Hollande/Macron France.

Wisconsin has become the first state, finally, whose judicial branch finally got involved and struck down their governor’s unilateral decree. (What’s amazing is how the Mainstream Media coverage of this was nothing but political sniping – Republicans undermining Democrats – from the very lede sentence.)

If there really are checks and balances in Western liberal democracy they are non-existent or move too slow. The reality is that judges in general are overwhelmingly hyper-conservative and in a non-revolutionary nation do nothing but defend the status quo – why has no judge interceded to prevent the weekly mauling of the Yellow Vests, for example?

(The Vesters will be out there this Saturday, of course, but we already knew what naughty children they are. I wonder if the media will cover it? If they do I doubt they will cover them two weeks in a row.)

It was historically predictable that Michigan and Wisconsin are the first to demand their rights – the Midwest has historically been the hotbed of American “progressivism” (but they still can’t say socialist over there). The state of Missouri was the first to sue China which, LOL, is misguided but at least they are sticking up for residents of the “Show-Me State”. Texas is semi-Midwestern, and non-Americans would expect them to be the first to resist for their sovereign rights, but Texans mostly just talk a lot – like Dubya Bush: all (cowboy) hat and no cattle.

By far the most delightful, “only in America” news item actually comes from the incredibly unfunky state of New Hampshire – “armed demonstrators passed out ‘Liberty or Boogaloo’ fliers at a statehouse protest”. You must be a fake-leftist if you can’t support that, LOL!

I know that when my liberty feels too infringed I immediately break out my best boogaloo dance – it works surprisingly well. I have a “Where’s My Bailout?” t-shirt from 2008 – I need a “Liberty or Boogaloo” t-shirt to sartorially commemorate the Great Lockdown. I really have to question the alleged superiority of the American entrepreneur when I cannot yet find such a t-shirt for sale?

Western journalists have thrown away skepticism during corona, except towards protesters

French nurses go against the script and thus they get ignored, but most often anti-corona hysteria protesters just get discredited.

The reality back in April was that the Michigan gun-wavers were just a small fringe group – the overwhelming majority of protesters stayed in their car as it was primarily an “auto protest”. The Mainstream Media focused on a tiny portion of overall demonstrators in order to totally discredit the anti-establishment message.

In today’s New York Times lead economics columnist, Paul Krugman (who surely cannot boogaloo his way out of a wet paper bag) also discredits the protesters, opposes ending the Great Lockdown (“never mind what the experts say”, he condescendingly pouts) and even fails to bring up a single word about the obvious economic justification for American discontent in his article Covid-19 Reality has a liberal bias:

Indeed, the antilockdown demonstrations of recent weeks appear to have been organized in part by the same people and groups that have spent decades denying climate change.

Virus trutherism is also reminiscent of the various kinds of trutherism that ran rampant during the Obama years. Inflation truthers insisted that the government was hiding the truth about rampant inflation; unemployment truthers, including a guy named Donald Trump, insisted that the steadily improving job numbers were fake.

In my last article (which elicited no happy dancing) Scarce jobs + revenue desperation = sure Western stagflation post-corona, I noted how Western inflation gauges exclude food, energy, housing, medical care and education costs – call me a “conspiracy theorist” for saying some hiding is going on, Paul. US unemployment data counts working just one hour per week as being employed, which allows part-time work and underemployment to pad their (pre-Great Lockdown ) alleged “full employment” rate – Paul must know this, but reporting that doesn’t keep in you in New York Times clover.

The Guardian’s anti-Michigander piece (yes, I enjoy writing the word “Michigander”) I linked to from April 17 used this same “discredit-via-the-organiser” tactic – as if participants were sheep and not humans with free will – in the 5th paragraph of their story.

This is the same tactic we saw against the Yellow Vests. In the 21st century West being lower class and making economic demands automatically makes one a far-right, anti-Semitic, anti-Black, deplorable neo-fascist. Unfortunately, political understanding will progress not one millimeter with such an unfactual position, yet there is huge popular Western support for such a political interpretation.

People also think I eccentrically enjoy writing the term “fake-leftist”, but it’s really quite necessary: in the US the term “leftist” is refused by Democrats as too radical, so they prefer what Krugman used in his headline – “liberals”. US liberals have only the scantest leftist economic component to their ideology – when you press them to be honest they are resolutely anti-socialist and inevitably support not just neo-imperialism but even many aspects of far-right neoliberalism. Yes, they do not openly claim to be “leftist”, but they certainly falsely and opportunistically present themselves that way. This is why “fake-leftist” can and should be used synonymously with “liberal”.

Liberals, fake-leftists and corona hysterics have two things in common: they are now hissing and booing at the French nurses, and they cannot boogaloo.

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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


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.

Picturing the media campaign needed to get the US back to work

May 11, 2020

Picturing the media campaign needed to get the US back to work

Ramin Mazaheri and Jeff J Brown – for The Saker Blog

We can’t always find it but there is always a tipping point. Last week I crunched the data and suggested it’s May 17: The date the Great Lockdown must end or Everything Bubble 2 pops.

Maybe I’m a few days off, but not many more: This bubble-popping is precisely why Trump is not wearing a mask, planned to end the corona task force and keeps talking about reopening; this is why 300 US CEOs and the Department of Defense sent Mexico’s president a letter threatening that they better reopen now and not screw up corporate supply chains.

But what is absolutely certain is that getting the West back to work requires some sort of propaganda campaign to do so – what will that media effort look like?

When I recently asked What would it take for proponents to say: ‘The Great Lockdown was wrong’? readers pointed that many politicians are dug in way too deep to climb out. Yet, whether they claim to be “wrong” or “right” – climb out they must:

There has never been a vaccine for a coronavirus; neoliberalism is predicated on constant growth and wage-earning; The New York Times’ irresponsible rebroadcasting of 1.1 million US deaths in “a best-case scenario wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on – the West has to end the Great Lockdown.

But Americans aren’t going to go back to work until their media stops scaremongering, as their scaremongering line is slavishly followed by European and Western media: polls show more Americans fear getting sick from the virus than economic hardship, and despite all the data showing only the elderly and medically-vulnerable are at risk (thus they are the healthy ones who should be quarantined).

The New York Times now despises Sweden for their corona-sovereignty, but even they can’t help but admit Sweden shows the only way out of the Great Lockdown: “But what about the economy? The choice is not between indefinite shutdown and Russian roulette. A transition needs to occur that balances the risks at play. From that perspective, Sweden is the future.”

The first step is talking about it – how will the West do that?

I have said from the beginning that the West’s arrogance is that whatever China can do, they can surely do: 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, and amid their economic Great Recession on top of it all.

But can the West use the same media persuasion techniques as China?

To find out what worked for China I posed the question to Jeff J. Brown, author of the most important book on China in decades, China is Communist, Dammit! Brown lived in China for many years and realised he had to refute with data and analysis the Western absurdity that China’s rise has come via capitalist methods.

“There is always lots of debate in China, especially facilitated today with all the electronic social media platforms. There was a lot of discussion in China about citizens having more say in the mainstream media, to increase the flow of useful information during the lockdown. There were forums of every stripe, airing grievances about rules being too strict to measures being too lax, to forums on using TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and old fashioned remedies to prevent/treat Covid.”

This is quite a contrast from what I dubbed The West’s middling, middle-class corona response, which inherently assumed that everyone has a comfortable home, job and savings, even though since 1980 the West’s middle-class has been blown apart. This response was designed by well-paid doctors, professors and epidemiologists, and trumpeted by well-paid Mainstream Media mouthpieces.

In Brown’s book he relates how the Chinese Communist Party is essentially the world’s largest polling agency, constantly querying public opinion on matters big and small. Frankly, if I was forced to select a single trait which separates China’s government from the West’s it would be this one, as it explains their government’s success & efficiency, the obvious & justified basis for the CCP’s popular support, and the bottom-up nature of socialist democracy as opposed to the top-down, technocratic & aristocratic model of Western liberalism.

“There were lots of differing opinions aired in neighborhood, village and town meetings. The red line to not cross is suggesting the overthrow of China’s communist-socialist system of governance, which is no different than the West, where it is verboten to demand an end to capitalism.

(FYI, when I asked Why does the UK have an ‘army’ of volunteers but the US has a shortage? I related how right up there with Iran’s “Down with England, America and Israel” chants is, “Down with those who oppose (the political principle of) the guardianship of the Islamic jurist.” Socialist-inspired revolutionary nations make it crystal clear that a return to capitalism-imperialism or a tolerance of Western-style fascist speech will never be permitted.)

Mao’s mass line continues to this day in the form of millions of surveys conducted among the people, to air concerns and catch the popular zeitgeist. It is all about learning from the bottom up. Then and now, you grab a banner and protest publicly, when all these other avenues of communication have failed. There are an estimated 300-500 public protests a day in this country of 1.4 billion citizens. China haters take this as a sign of weakness. Baba (Father) Beijing sees it as a source of strength.”

The 21st century Western reality is that taking to the streets usually makes one a far-right neo-fascist or an irresponsible anarchist: we see that in the treatment of the Yellow Vests or the recent anti-Lockdown protests in Michigan, which I immediately supported – of course, as I support democracy – in, We’re giving up our civil liberties. Fine, but to which type of state? Brown relates how China’s state is far superior in perhaps the most important thing in politics: incorporating public opinion into public policy.

If anything will be an argument for centralisation over federalism – and central planning over neoliberalism’s “invisible hand… guiding us all towards corporate fascism & neo-imperialism” – it will be the corona-return: it’s clear that the US is wasting a tremendous amount of time, energy and efficiency by having a central government whose suggestions can be and are being totally ignored at the state level.

“Public campaigns like this are done at the neighborhood and private/public employer level. These entities would get their instructions from city/town/village government units, which in turn, working up the hierarchy, got theirs from county, provincial and national level bodies. As is true in socialist countries, the national government may set the tone, but democracy devolves down to the local level, allowing for reasonable adaptation, according to needs on the ground.”

Imagine the amount of discussion – which could have gone to relating the needs of the lower classes and the Mom and Pop shopkeeper/proletariat – which the US wastes daily in political sniping and Trump Derangement Syndrome? The Eurozone common currency will be similarly hindered by disunity, which is the last thing needed in a crisis.

China was stunningly running at 75% economic capacity around February 10 because they are coordinated and united. Some US governors may even, unthinkably, play politics and delay their reopening with November election goals in mind. Americans haven’t had a war on their soil for 150 years – they just don’t know what a crisis is, and that helps explain their lack of unity in this crisis. They think that their preferred politician not taking office in November constitutes a crisis – the building historic economic catastrophe should recalibrate their realities.

Socialist-inspired nations already made the necessary changes, but the Western liberal & economic model cannot

So Brown has surprisingly shown how – as a result of their model of socialist democracy, and not liberal democracy – China really didn’t need a multi-week media campaign like I envision the West needing because there is so much communication between the people and their pubic officials, as well as such an awareness of what is going on, what is needed and what is to be done.

That makes perfect sense when we realise that socialist democracy is based around discussion-based consensus and not the unilateral decree of Western “liberal strongmen” like Emmanuel Macron nor the individualist “great man-ism” personified by Ayn Rand’s blowhard protagonists. In places like Iran and China everything is done by committee (and the CCP and Basij are essentially two huge committees, after all) because these are not only two new systems, but also systems which have inspired massive Western sabotage campaigns: these bureaucrats know that they cannot be high-handed and aloof, but instead must be receptive, responsive and always trying to keep as large a proportion of the population on the side of their socialist-inspired revolution as possible. In short: they cannot risk wasteful mistakes, but why would they even want the system the West has, especially in a few more months?

Of course, there will still be huge health concerns on May 17, especially in the US, but Condensing the data leaves no doubt: Fear corona-economy more than the virus. Of course, the “Western economy” is not at all synonymous with “global economy”, a rather vital point to Iranians, Chinese, Cubans, etc.

Western politicians, none more than state of emergency-loving France, keep reminding us that this is a war: a war necessarily needs heroes, and the West now needs ones other than nurses and rich doctors. A media campaign of, “Go back to work to save grandma’s social security (and our consumer, unplanned economy)”, is thus logical but would obviously be a complete 180 from the editorial policies and public stances of countless Western media and politicians. Such a campaign is probably only feasible for socialist-inspired nations, where collective and not individual action is lauded.

Trump says he views Americans as ‘warriors’ amid coronavirus and he got roundly mocked for it… but I don’t know what the top US public servant can do otherwise, really? America’s bureaucrats thus know the obvious truth of this article – Westerners will need some sort of inspirational campaign to get them back to work. Westerners are culturally prone to fearing others and wanting to stay at home alone even in good times: Given Western history, is it the ‘Great Segregation’ and not the ‘Great Lockdown’?

Westerners will thus likely stay hunkered down, as for months their private media has been ravenously gobbling up the higher ratings they have gotten via pounding fear into their viewers.

You can say I am underestimating the virulence of corona, but about this I am sure: in the Western Mainstream Media there has been basically zero space given to objectively giving so-called “contrarian” views which could possibly calm people’s fears. It as if I am a bad journalist because I am not scaring people?!

I am a bad journalist for immediately waving the red flag that a Great Lockdown is actually a forced suicide march for the West’s abandoned lower classes? It is not my fault that the neoliberal & neo-imperial system of the West refuses to take care of their elder class, and Pity post-corona Millennials… if they don’t openly push socialism actually contains an immediate answer to the economic chaos caused by the Great Lockdown.

Only time will tell if the Great Segregation/Lockdown was necessary, but we definitely know much more about how to handle coronavirus than on January 1 or even March 1: protect the vulnerable, isolate the sick, take personal responsibility actions in public, population-dense regions need extra precautions, and… get back to normal before the Western double-bubble economy pops.

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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

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


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’.

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

May 09, 2020

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

By Ramin Mazaheri – for the Saker Blog

A party built around climate change is a luxury only the West can afford, and like most luxuries it is a corrupting influence.

While covering a protest in France several years ago a union member told me how she hoped Iran would stop selling its oil in order to protect the environment.

“Sure,” I told her, “how many billions of euros can we expect France to send us so we can buy food?” I assume she is still ignoring this inconvenient truth and enormous flaw in climate change demands on non-Western countries.

Nobody knows how things will shake out in May 2020 – just how bad the West’s Double Bubble + Great Lockdown economy will soon be – but prior to coronavirus green parties were poised to become a top two party across the West for the first time. In 2019 European Parliament elections they shockingly won 10% of seats and 13% of France’s.

That’s not a majority, but the up-to-the-minute reality is that everybody else has been discredited across the Eurozone: the conservatives, the fake-leftists/pseudo-socialists, the nouveau centrists like Emmanuel Macron, the real-but-disliked leftists. Voters who don’t go far-right have only one choice, and that’s a Green party.

The corona overreaction is throwing a spanner into the works, but are we really predicting a revolution in the Western political trajectory?

It’s certain that the neoliberal response cannot possibly satisfy the lower classes, thus incumbents aren’t going to survive their next election: the next five years should be the same as pre-corona – green parties will play the role of ineffectual opposition/status quo-enforcers to far-right corporate fascists who are more jingoistic than patriotic. That’s what politics will be in much of the West, though not in the two-party Anglophone world.

And yet greens will do what fake-leftists always do: screw up, sell out and falsely claim total ownership of the moral high ground.

Given that greens are the political force most poised to profit in the post-corona profit we should ask: Why are the greens such fake-leftists and so unable to provide adequate solutions for the Western lower classes?

Thomas Piketty and why we have to remind hippies that humans have feelings too, just like crystals do

On a moral level greens are human-hating Malthusians at heart – who could deny that? They put rocks and squirrels ahead of people.

On a political level the problem with handing the greens power amid an economic crisis is how very neoliberal their economics are: capitalism-imperialism fringed with a green garland is still rapacious capitalism-imperialism, after all. Perhaps because they are such animal and nature worshippers greens have totally swallowed the idea that “animal spirits” are the only thing which can possibly guide the economy. Which totem animal corresponds to the spirt of compound debt, I wonder?

We can now understand how very easy it will be for the Western 1% to pivot and embrace green parties as a “solution” to pacify the masses post-corona, much like Barry Obama rebranded the US in 2008.

To prove my point: take this extended interview from April 27 with economist-of-the-decade Thomas Piketty by The Intelligencer, which is part of the fake-leftist New York Media digital empire: here we can witness fake-leftist Westerners have it dawn on them that… oh yeah, it seems politics actually can shape economic outcomes?

Piketty is known as the “scholar of inequality”, and while such issues are the focus of leftists it does not mean he automatically is a socialist and not a capitalist. In the interview he discusses his new book and its solution to the Great Recession-cum-Great Depression 2: “participatory socialism”.

Much like Bernie Sanders (the Democratic Party chiefs he repeatedly bows to surely think: “Thank God we have a donkey like him!”) and his “democratic socialism”, Piketty also misunderstands socialism so very much that he thinks he needs a modifying adjective. At best, we can say that these fake-leftists only grasp the primary aspect of socialism (economic redistribution), but not its second, twin pillar (political power redistribution).

The idea that socialism is not “participatory” is easily and overwhelmingly disproven:

Last year Cuba approved a new constitution: “Some 133,680 meetings were held in neighborhoods and places of work and study. There were 8,945,521 participants, with an estimated two million attending more than one, so that the participation rate was approximately three-quarters of the population. There were 1,706,872 commentaries by the people, with 783,174 proposed modifications, additions, or eliminations.  On the basis of the opinions and proposals of the people, the Constitutional Commission revised the draft.  More than 50% of the proposals of the people were included in the modifications; nearly 60% of the articles were modified in some form.

Is that not “participatory” enough?

Piketty seems to have swallowed the lie that socialism has no second pillar which upholds political empowerment of the humble citizen? We see how millions of Cuban hands wrote their constitution in a bottom-up manner, as opposed to the top-down technocracy/aristocracy of Western liberalism.

Fake-leftists fear socialism because they made no personal effort to understand it, thus their conception of socialism is based on ignorance, propaganda and self-interest, and not logic or history. We see all of these things on display from the otherwise estimable Piketty in this interview.

The West gives Piketty a chance: if he doesn’t seize the moment now then he is an idol in an ivory tower

What can we expect New York Media to say when confronted with the rapacity of neoliberalism anything but, “We had no idea?!”

We should expect more from Piketty – we can judge here if he is more than just a detached theoretician who poses no threat to status quo capitalism-imperialism.

The Intelligencer: One of the main responses to the last book, at least among the American audience, was to treat r > g (Piketty’s shorthand for the fact that the returns to capital have been greater than the growth of the economy as a whole) as though it were a law of nature that could be modified only very occasionally through exceptional political change. But actually, the fact that a rich person’s bank account grows faster than the national GDP, that’s just a phenomenon created by a particular political structure too. It’s a creation of politics.

This illustrates my point: Western fake-leftists – from those approved by investor banker scions to write for New York Media group to the greens – have no idea about how politics shapes economics even though this is the very stuff which socialism’s first pillar is made of. Yes, of course economics are created by a political structure! We see that the neoliberally-indoctrinated never question their core beliefs and “animal spirits” until it is too late.

Piketty’s mildest-of-responses – apologetic and inexplicably guilty – shows why he is so appealing to fake-leftist Westerners: the West’s favourite “leftist economist” shows how his values are not based around socialist critiques but the values of diversity drawn from cosmopolitanism, and culminating in a relativistic moral nihilism which is absolutely unacceptable in the black and white field of economics, with its measurable outcomes.

Piketty: It is.

Probably I was not sufficiently clear about that.

I must say in general I have learned a lot from all the discussion from my previous book. I have learned a lot by traveling to many countries to which I had not traveled sufficiently before. I think by broadening the scope of countries and historical trajectories I look at, it also made me realize this incredible diversity of human ideologies and human imagination to restructure all the time the societies. And that’s probably the main lesson of history, that the idea that there is only one way and there is no alternative is just wrong. 

The Intelligencer: You heard that a lot starting in the 1990s and all through 2008: There’s only one way. (The standard formation of this is ‘TINA: There Is No Alternative (to neoliberalism and neo-imperialism)’.)

PikettyIt’s wrong.

We “heard that a lot” from Westerners – everywhere else people who were not aspiring to being Western clients/puppets were disagreeing… and getting bombed/blockaded for it.

Being “wrong” on this issue merits a lot of public admission of shame and guilt, but Piketty is content to allow decades of deadly mismanagement to be summarised with two words! I wish my teachers had been so leniently brief when I was wrong.

He doesn’t have to be a political firebrand or a raging poet, but we need more than just two words here: Piketty’s reticence is both culturally self-serving (Piketty is French) and also dangerous because the West’s refusal to let anyone go their own way has had such deadly and impoverishing results. Their conversation continues:

The Intelligencer: Since the crash, there has been a sort of acknowledgment from places like the IMF, World Bank, Financial Times, The Economist, all these voices of elite globalized neoliberalism saying, “Okay, there are some real problems here.” But they still aren’t thinking much about alternative models.

PikettyIf you look at how things happen, you’ll see a potential for political mobilization and historical change through social and economic and political processes, which always happen much faster than what the dominant discourse tends to imagine.

The journalist is essentially saying to Piketty: give us an alternative model, please! But Piketty backs away and exonerates those entities by saying, “Well, life moves fast.”

That’s his whole answer – it isn’t much. It’s as if Piketty wants to stay on the good side of these institutions and media – to keep getting book reviews, praise and invites to speak.

Today is the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day – do you know the socialist version of what happened?

It only takes a few paragraphs…

What Piketty does not say is that we need to learn from the history of socialism, which is an alternative model that has been in practice for over a century but which neoliberalism violently opposes.

Western fake-leftists know what waits for them if they say that history openly: blacklisting, de facto censorship, no more invites to speak, no more fawning reviews – it’s the same glass ceiling/first-to-be-fired which vocal union members face in their jobs. This is partially why Piketty wants to invent a “new” socialist model and thus erase a century of global history – he doesn’t want to risk his position.

Another component is that for Westerners socialism in any form is not an “alternative model” but a dead model, even though – gasp! – it clearly is a victorious model. This historical revisionism/ignorance goes back to the millions-murdering formative years of industrial capitalism (the last third of the 19th century), as I wrote about last week in The Western 1% colluded to start WWI – is the Great Lockdown also a conspiracy?

Crucially, Piketty’s generation – and the one before it and the one after it – was taught that US-led “freedom” defeated fascism. Please note neither has an economic component – it is good versus evil, liberty versus repression – whereas socialism always has a loaded economic component; the pity is that its political component (democracy both direct and indirect, like in Western democracies) was caricatured into a totalitarian dictatorship by a capitalist-imperialist 1% waging perpetual war.

Thus, 75 years later the West still does not realise that WWII saw corporate fascism defeat other corporate fascists – the US, full of Jim Crow and a military-industry complex, was indeed a corporate fascist state which defeated the German and Japanese corporate fascists.

However, even that view is false propaganda! It is the Soviet and Chinese socialists who bore the brunt of the effort to topple corporate fascism in Europe and East Asia. Western ideology rejects the obviously exponentially-larger WWII sacrifices of socialist- inspired nations, and thus for them socialism is a tragic experiment instead of a victorious concept. US corporate fascism continued unabated – it began regrowing corporate fascism (now rebranded as “neoliberalism”) in Japan, Germany and the Eurozone.

This socialist analyst crucially shows how “Corporate fascism with American characteristics” was thus never discredited, until 2008.

This illogical historical analysis is why the West is so at a loss to deal with their problems caused by modern corporate fascism (neoliberalism), and why they scratch their head say “Gee, maybe politics can influence economic outcomes?” “Of course!” is what I would have said if I only was given two words, but Piketty says, almost lamenting, “It’s true.”

We can pick up directly with the interview, continuing with the journalist’s intellectual ignorance/faux-shock with Piketty’s academic detachment/indifference. They were discussing the failure of neoliberalism’s leading lights and the possibility of “thinking” about – not discussing nor implementing – alternative models.

Piketty is not about to stand up for human, suffering Yellow Vests, but he will for Mother Nature

The Intelligencer: But of course it’s also true that those people can help design the system and how it evolves, especially in the case of something like the Great Recession. How much did that recovery worsen inequality, in your view? A layman might look at the history and say, “It’s those who have access to capital who can buy distressed assets, and, as a result, unless there is really dramatic intervention, it will always be the forces of capital that benefit from the crisis.” Is that a fair read of how we emerged from the recession?

The journalist suggested the truth – capitalism is always collusion – but Piketty does not rise to the occasion.

PikettyYou’re right that the people at the top have done better once again than average. How do you explain this? I think it’s because if you take the whole compact of fiscal, social, legal, competition policy, there has been insufficient change. In the end, probably the only lesson from the 1929 crisis both from the right and the left, if you look at economist Milton Friedman, monetary economists, everybody agreed that the Federal Reserve and the central banks in Europe made a huge mistake in the 1930s by letting banks fall one after the other. The only lesson from history in a way was “We are going to do whatever it takes, we are going to print whatever money needs to be printed, in order to save the financial sector.” Indeed, it allowed us to avoid the worst, which is a complete fall in economic activity of the kind we had in the 1930s. It’s good news in a way. We have learned something from history.

The problem, of course, is that we are not going to solve everything with central banks. There was nothing else, really, in store. What I’m a bit concerned with today is that even though there’s a lot of motivation to address structural problems, in particular the climate crisis or today’s pandemic crisis, I think there’s insufficient thinking about how to change the economic rules, the organization of property relations in particular, how much private property we want. We need to take seriously the fact that the distribution of the burden has to be discussed from a democratic viewpoint, has to be distributed across income groups. Sometimes, the climate activists, environmental activists, are so convinced that the No. 1 problem is the climate that they don’t want to hear about anything that sounds like income or wages.

Piketty does, however, agree with the thesis of my 10-part series last winter: that Western bankers are the West’s vanguard, enlightened party which is tasked to “solve everything”. But Infinity QE proves that the Western “bankocracy” model cannot promote anything new – there is “nothing else, really, in store”. We should not expect any vanguard party to admit otherwise either, including the Chinese Communist Party or the Iranian Basij, because all three groups view themselves as their system’s champions and saviors. The latter two, of course, have the advantages of being grassroots in composition, thus embodying political power redistribution, who are then tasked with enforcing economic redistribution, which goes a very long way in explaining their enduring popular support. Bankocrats… not so much.

Right after “central banks” was when Piketty could have proposed a “Western, secular Basij” or a “Party for Socialism with European Characteristics”, but not only does he totally ignore these examples – he thinks he has to reinvent the wheel, which is far worse: Piketty dismissed as insufficient the century of theory and practice socialists have already given “about how to change the economic rules, the organization of property relations in particular, how much private property we want.”

If this is what this academic is teaching his 18-year old students he is letting them believe that something called “socialism” never even existed. But, for Piketty, socialism is both a dead idea and one that may make his own career dead. The interview continues:

The Intelligencer: Some climate activists think the solution is to shrink our economies. They call it “degrowth.”

And now we see clearly the reason for this article – the danger of letting greens run the corona recovery. Piketty just hinted at this when he discussed the “climate crisis or today’s pandemic crisis” (clearly, in terms of urgency the latter is the bigger crisis, yet it is secondary for Piketty) – the open Malthusianism of the Greens, which can never satisfy the 99%.

What is posited by The Intelligencer is that humans are the problems – not the tools they use nor choice of systems. It’s a fake-leftist tack which says the problem is not unfair distribution of economic and political power, but the mere act of production. Rather then perfecting socialism – let’s choose de-progress? Piketty knows he is treading on revolutionary ground with such a (dumb) idea:

PikettyWhich has to be discussed very precisely because then you need to be very careful about what exactly you are proposing to the bottom 50 percent in societies. I think it’s possible to design a plan, but we have to be very careful. In France, we had the yellow-vest movement. The government said that it was going to raise the energy tax and carbon tax for the good of the climate….

Piketty then reaches back to a Sarkozy-era initiative of carbon pricing – he has only brought up the Yellow Vests as a cautionary tale, not to relate their socioeconomic views. That is even though – despite the constant propaganda campaigns which glorified the weekly repression of them – (the rarely commissioned) polls showed the Yellow Vests have always been supported by at least 50% of the country. Piketty believes the Yellow Vests exist not as equals, peers and co-leaders but as a wild force who exist to menace the status quo as a sort of way to keep the Western elite honest.

Piketty knows, though would never say it, that if he regularly marched among the Yellow Vests he’d no longer be invited for interviews by New York Media, The Economist, the World Bank, etc. Piketty gets these calls because even as he calls for change he supports the status quo – he is as much an “EU patriot” as Emmanuel Macron and so many of their elite peers. Piketty admits later that EU patriotism is a fundamentally-elitist waste of time:

PikettyWhat this shows is that we should all be concerned about how we rewrite the system. Many people find this very boring, and I can tell you when you try to talk about the transformation and the democratization of European institutions, most people stop listening after five minutes. 

We can now elucidate the main problem of the Western left: they cannot galvanise anybody. They have no ideas and no language to excite people to support this status quo that arrived via unbloody “velvet revolutions” and which have continued via an apathy and anti-democratic disconnect built into the US-written pan-European project.

In Iran, for example, they created a new language: people like Ali Shariati combined the revolutionary language of socialism with the revolutionary language, symbols and heroes of Islam (with an emphasis on Shia heroes) to inspire the masses. Forty years later the staunchest Zionist must concede that the ability of “Revolutionary Shi’ism” to galvanise is succeeding in a broad enough manner so as to thwart any neoliberal “velvet (counter) revolution” in Iran. Contrarily, if they’d actually honor democratic votes the EU might be dissolved this very day.

Semi-pantheistic, human-hating Western greens are not about to die for change, nor are they about to inspire anyone in the lower classes (or the Yellow Vests, who expertly dissect French and EU politics).

Therefore what is interesting is not the upcoming multiyear battle between green parties and far-right parties as the new “two mainstream parties” in the West, but what comes after this: What does Europe do when their fake-leftists prove to be the same old neoliberals who sell out the masses, but this time give you more flowers?

Do they finally turn to socialism, or return to corporate fascism & neo-imperialism? Even with corona, we may need another five years to find that out.

The times make the man – who is left and who is not will be crystal clear post-corona

Piketty is not a fake-leftist on the level of the New York Media group, but he is certainly not a socialist: he supports MMT (modern monetary theory) and its notion that QE can actually be given without banker middlemen directly to the people, but not nationalising banks; he supports a basic universal income which hardly sounds like the massive redistributions enacted in the USSR, China, Iran, etc.; he laments that to pay for that “you have to have progressive taxation” instead calling for taxing only capital and the rich (in Iran, because of this fundamental socialist principle, half the country pays no taxes and no farmer does).

Piketty should be lauded for documenting inequality and some of his ideas go left of the mainstream, but he doesn’t go much further than that. The upcoming months of chaos will tell if he is an “objective” intellectual, just as journalists are supposed to be in the West – stuck in an ivory tower, where they have no social responsibility; despite their greater awareness of a problem, they are told not to feel any personal responsibility as well. The same goes for Western pop culture stars – any political involvement contrary to the 1%’s stances means no fawning airtime.

Yes, Piketty cares about inequality and changing economic structures – “Over the past ten years, we’ve been saving banks, but have we solved our problem with rising inequality, with global warming?” – but he also cares about saving the planet a tremendous, tremendous amount. He cares about it so much that he has apparently not had time to actually examine socialism and become persuaded that class warfare is continuously waged by the capitalist-imperialist 1% against the 99%.

Bottom line: In the 21st century there is no major issue which is so class-neutered as ecology.

Thus, I refuse to play along: a global ecological solution obviously requires global cooperation, which is something only socialism can offer and which is impossible under a capitalist system, as it is based instead on competition.

Talk about the environment is thus just empty talk until capitalism-imperialism is eradicated – this is why a Green party takeover will be welcomed by the Western 1% as a brand change as effective as Barack Obama was in 2008.

It’s not hard for a neo-pantheist to grasp: The West could profit from Iranian oil for decades, but once we get it – oh, the time for oil is over? Either fork over many, MANY scores of billions or: Pump away, Iran!

The reality is that if Piketty ever consistently marched with the Yellow Vests he’d realise they also care deeply about the environment. But Earth will not be destroyed before “la fin du mois” (“the end of the month” – the primary slogan of the Vesters, which illustrates how they struggle to pay their most basic bills at the end of each month) whereas the lives of millions of Frenchmen will be destroyed amid this corona hysteria. Mother Nature is not the problem – Western politics are.

It should be clear: green parties are a useless distraction – they should not be accepted as a substitute for true leftism. Maybe the Double Bubble + Great Lockdown will set off a revolution, but for now neoliberal, Malthusian, pantheistic, fake-leftist green parties remain the West’s political trajectory.

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

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

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


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’.

May 17: The date the Great Lockdown must end or Everything Bubble 2 pops

May 17: The date the Great Lockdown must end or Everything Bubble 2 pops

May 07, 2020

By Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog

The 2008 crisis was top-down – the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers came out of the blue to the average person. Contrarily, a result of the Western coronavirus overreaction, the 2020 economic implosion is building from the bottom-up: it will occur from the result of millions of tiny Lehmans throwing in the towel.

Reality was ignored for 12 years: small- and medium-sized businesses need as many rounds of QE as their corporate & high finance counterparts. Fatally for the West’s “real” economy, QE was hoarded instead of downloaned. They still aren’t getting loans: In the US only three million small businesses are getting federal aid out of 30 million – 90% remain frozen out of public policy.

There is a very important difference between the relative ease big companies can get back to work, and the enormous inertia faced by small businesses. Corporations can reportedly get back to normal in 5 to 8 weeks – this is why a corporate-focused media talked with such certainty about a “V-shaped” recovery when the Great Lockdown began. They ignored the outlook of the small businessperson, who often doesn’t have the savings to get back to work and, more crucially, maybe not even the desire.

Me, I never wanted to be a small-business owner – it seems like a LOT of stress for usually very little profit. And owning a restaurant, just so I can freak out twice a week over the possibility of being stuck with unsold fish? Pills are a much easier way to cause my early death. But only an inexperienced and judgmental teenage Che Guevara would not realise that these “humble capitalists” often display global values like hard work, thrift, diligence, etc.

Because of a dogmatic hatred towards capitalism and a disinterest in how economics works, many modern leftists foolishly do not include small proprietors in the proletariat (modern far-rightists do not dismiss their importance, however); and yet they do include craftsman, essentially entrepreneurs who can be even more overcharging, prone to bribery and lordly (nowhere more so than in Paris, in my experience). In France the precarious small shopkeeper is very often an ardent supporter of the Yellow Vests, for example.

The reality is that socialism is mostly a worldview, mindset and acceptance of an idealistic and never-ending task: to assume something about somebody because they are in a certain class or group is stupid prejudice. Deng Xiaoping rightly declared that journalists are in the working-class, and we are… but should we really include all those journalists who get paid an Uber-like/freelancer pittance and yet slavishly champion the upper class and their faux-values to class-jump as soon as possible?

The Western economy hinges on the loneliness of Mom and Pop – give them QE (and a phone call)

One one hand, all Westerners need to do is to get back to work (to satisfy their creditors even more than their Protestant workaholism) – who cares if nobody buys a car as long as cars are being made: Over-supply would be a temporary problem, but it would provide a solution to the problem of the lack of wages being paid. Once people have wages, then they can buy and reduce that oversupply.

On the other hand, many jobs are expressly about getting people to buy – retail, restaurants and many Mom and Pop shops, for example. But how can they put their Confucian values in practice when they aren’t allowed to open up their stores? To me it’s extremist and absurd: After all these weeks we really can’t arrange ANY safe way for Mom and Pop to sell some goods for even ONE hour a day?

There’s another problem just as big – the long-term depression of consumer demand which seems like a certain outcome of the Great Lockdown: what’s the point of opening up when finally allowed if consumers are so scared of making purchases that nobody shows up to buy? The compounding parallel problem of not having any wages to buy with also applies here.

The prospect of multi-month loneliness and poverty for the small business owner is thus a huge variable in the determining the severity of the upcoming economic chaos.

Furthermore, a lot of what small businesses sell isn’t actually necessary – you can, in fact, just eat at home. Yet most Western economies are consumer economies heavily predicated on consumption; why anybody needed a yearly iPhone upgrade was only explained by the University of Missouri’s Thorstein Veblen and his theory of conspicuous consumption, but how will you know if you are impressing the opposite sex when they’re all wearing masks? (LOL, this is not a good era to be single!)

Many business owners are going to have a light flipped on – they don’t need the hassle anymore. They’re going to shut the lights before the bank repossesses the light bulbs, and live off the public dole while they brainstorm and query contacts for a new job. So not only will they be added to the unemployment ranks but – even worse – their employees as well. Corporate layoffs make the headlines but small businesses provide half of all jobs in the US.

Another thing is certain – this can only happen once: a second Great Lockdown is a financial impossibility for the Mom and Pop shop, and likely stroke-inducing as well.

Yet many nations are planning exactly that: staggering and dragging out lockdowns through the summer, like France’s insane (but still tentative) plan to shut down both international and domestic tourism even though it’s at least 10% of their economy. The Eurozone has a huge competitive advantage upon reopening because they actually cared about protecting jobs and supply chains – he who restarts first, and better, captures market share – but their policy-making idiots are poised to squander it via prolonged lockdowns.

If we extend “the greatest economic shock in our lifetimes” then it is no longer just a “shock” but a long-term policy; this policy is not something which small businesspeople can withstand without QE injections similar to what big banks have been given to prevent their own bankruptcies.

What’s certain is that half of all US small business owners said they could only last two months under Great Lockdown conditions – 80% of Americans were on lockdown on April 1.

Hubei was locked down for 76 days, with CCP members bringing people food thanks to a modern, 99%-focused, socialist-inspired democracy (with both direct and indirect aspects, just like West democracy) which actually listens to the needs of their people. That’s a “good” lockdown, which the West cannot/will not do for their 99%. Anybody who said in January, “The neoliberal Western economy has safeguards which would allow it to survive two months of no profit-making/wage-making,” would surely have been laughed at, after all.

I have crunched the data and May 17 should be circled on your calendars as the “tipping point”. If the Great Lockdown is not rolled back by then, there is no going back – the West’s Everything Bubble 2 economy will have been popped by the corona hysteria.

Western policymakers only understand corporate psychology, not Mom and Pop’s, nor that of (working, single) Mom

The stories from the US lower classes are just staggering: The Chicago Tribune’s Feeling hopeless? Worried? Chicago-area pandemic survey shows you’re not alone was not a emotion-focused piece – its poll found that a stunning 42% of locals think it’s unlikely they will have a job by the end of May, and that 23% had run out of food in the last month and had no money to buy more. That portends economic catastrophe.

Such a study of the general public is not an outlier: Over half of poor US households say someone has already been fired or taken a paycut, and that study was from two weeks ago.

I could not be more sympathetic to US workers, who are basically third-world in their instability: Eighty percent of Americans live from paycheck to paycheck, which is a very tiny step above daily hand-to-mouth. From the beginning I have said that they should not go back to work in unsafe conditions but… it is America! What else can they do in a system geared towards the aristocrat/landlord/massa like in the 18th century? Leftists say that the needs of the average worker must be considered by Western policy and I agree, but back in March I was realistic that this type of a “cultural revolution” would not be taking place by the end of April – it has not.

Anybody advocating a three-month Great Lockdown until July 1 simply isn’t working within realistic paradigms: by then supply chains will break down, goods will be in short supply and thus prices will increase amid the “liquidity issues” of the lower class masses. Corporations will join their small-business counterparts with bankruptcies and layoffs. Dogmatic leftists insist that factory workers are oh so very much more rightly-guided and politically knowledgable than Mom and Pop Shopkeeper – so then why are US autoworkers planning to reopen on May 18?

Considering how many Western invasions and blockades are launched to control it, we’d be remiss not to mention oil: storage will run out as early as May 18. Capping and restarting wells is extremely difficult, with no guarantee a restarted well will return to the same production level. Can we imagine the world’s oil producers shutting down and what long-term effects that could have on the “lifeblood of the modern economy”? This alone seems to make a May restart vital.

But in the Western system it’s all about the banks:

After three months of Great Lockdown the stresses on their banking system will be unprecedented and well-beyond the designs of any post-2008 government-regulated “stress tests”. At what point do they say – and corporate banks have essentially already said this, even if community banks realise their viability is tied to their local Main Street: “We don’t have the ability, the bureaucratic size and efficiency, the will, nor the profit motive to work through round after necessary round of small loans,”? What Mom and Pop needed was direct government loans, but in the Western anti-socialist/anti-government “bankocracies” they are forced to go through these parasitic middlemen first, last and always.

The fatal flaw of this very Western system should now be totally exposed: Bankers can very easily quit and say, “I didn’t sign up to save the Western economy,” but that is exactly what neoliberals expect them to do, because they refuse to – sensibly – hand this task to government. Bankers became bankers to get rich, of course. Small businesses held out hope (and held back on layoffs) of government assistance only to be reminded that they have no influence in a Western system dominated by very high-priced “free speech” (and lobbyists).

Perhaps the good news is that we shouldn’t care about stock prices anymore: they will go up, always. Even though there is no way that corporate profitability will return until 2022 or 2023, the past couple months have merely seen a “bull-market pause”, LOL. This is due to the official confirmation of what everybody already knew: central banks will print money to enable stock buying and now also corporate debt – capitalist fundamentals no longer matter.

Western media focuses on the stock market, and the needs of corporations, and only rarely can even see as far as protecting supply chains, but they do not care about Mom and Pop – focusing on them are mere “human interest” stories. However, ignoring the lower classes is the hallmark of the Western aristocratic/bourgeois liberal system – making the lower classes the priority has only ever been documented in socialist-inspired systems.

At heart we have three main issues driving this bottom-up implosion: 1) policymakers who only do anything as a result of high finance, 2) policymakers who don’t understand the needs and psychology of the lower classes, and 3) policymakers who underestimate the enormous economic importance of the lower classes. There is a solution to push back my fail-by date: Massive, rapid and new rounds of People’s QE (i.e. to workers and small businesses) – merely extending the extra $600 unemployment benefits until July 31 won’t be nearly enough, but anyway those Unemployment benefits will be reduced after July 31.

Why my May 17 assessment is so very rightly-guided

Readers know this is a historic era: We are currently in the middle of the worst Ramadan month ever. It’s like the Christmas season has been cancelled.

The 23rd night of Ramadan for Shia is known as the last of the “Night of Destiny” (27th for Sunni, but the night must be “searched for” among the odd-numbered nights of last 10 days as the exact date was never revealed) – this is when it is believed that Mohammad received the Koran’s first verses. Many stay up the whole night worshipping and meditating because the rewards of prayer on the Night of Destiny are better than those of a thousand months combined. It is also the night when God issues his annual decree for what will happen over the next year, thus “Night of Decree” is actually a better translation of Laylat al-Qadr.

This year the 23rd night likely falls on May 16, and – while you will surely allege that I am biased – I think it is very appropriate to say that this is the night upon which the fate of Western neoliberal economics hinges. Thus, if Western leaders do not start acting correctly – which many would view as a Ramadan miracle – it seems certain that their economic fate will be determined by the morning of May 17.

Perhaps what the West’s leaders may have needed was a culture which regularly allows for times of humility and reflection, and for putting a temporary stop to ambition and worldly grasping? Not necessarily an Islamic culture – as Islam is forbidden to be imposed, which is why there are no missionaries – but something which allows space for these ideals, and the neoliberal form of capitalism decidedly does not.

Going until June 17 and still avoiding bottom-up economic catastrophe? You must be out of touch with the lower classes. Until July 17? You must be a lab-bound epidemiologist with a very comfortable salary, savings and home. Until August 17? You are either hysterical, or plan to profit from human suffering, or plan to have your guns blazing amid the West’s World War III.

Still scoffing at my Islamic socialist analysis, eh? FYI: if you didn’t have usury (compound/excessive interest) you probably wouldn’t be in such a huge mess in the first place. But fine, let’s use capitalist competition as our gauge: Do you really think the West’s Great Recession/anti-interventionist economy is even 75% as capable as China’s 76-day Hubei lockdown? That would equate to a May 28 opening.

No, by May 16 most of us will be praying for divine help and for a very, very different calendar year to come – they can give this year back to the Indians, as far as I am concerned. On May 17 that year will be permanently set in motion.

Please note that my date is just a prediction and educated guess – I am certainly not the decree-issuer! And, full disclosure: many have said for many years that I am obviously not even rightly-guided.

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

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

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


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’.

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.

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

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’.

Same 2008 QE playbook, but the Eurozone will kick off Western chaos not the US

April 18, 2020

Same 2008 QE playbook, but the Eurozone will kick off Western chaos not the US

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

US bankers caused the Great Recession, and thus the US was the first to suffer economic turmoil. The coronavirus is a novel malady: we now know that it only severely attacks infirm and unstable bodies – it’s not overly facile to graft this idea onto the global economy.

Therefore, among Western nations and their client states it is the Eurozone (the weakest link in the global macro-economy, despite being also the biggest link) which will see the worst economic effects of the “Great Lockdown” stupidity.

(It is “stupid” because the West is employing quarantining and control methods used by Asian nations, but without having similar cultures of governmental economic intervention nor widespread trust in their governments.)

Because reality is multilayered we must not become immune – even though many want to focus only on the medical/tabloid/political sniping/fear aspects of corona – to the enormity of the Great Lockdown’s economic consequences. So it’s wake-up call time:

Hey! It is now really bad, economically!

Double hey!! Europe was already bad, economically!!

Triple hey!!! Europe was already intellectually paralysed when it came to fixing their bad political-economics!!!

We all get the first point, but regarding the second: Sadly, I am a rare Europe-based journalist who has publicly discussed how the Eurozone has already had a Lost Decade worse than either of Japan’s two – here is the data, which was quite easy to crunch but nobody in the Mainstream Media wanted to crunch it (or publish it).

So I tear you away from your corona-fear porn to point out: the Eurozone already had severe underlying morbidity. (Japan’s ailments – such as an obese debt-to-GDP ratio – are of an entirely different order for so many obvious political-structural reasons.)

I keep asking myself: “Maybe it’s not so bad, economically?” After all, the Eurozone has one competitive advantage over their US partners: their governments often chose to protect employment by assuming wage payments. This will prove vital psychologically (which influences consumer activity) and logistically (keeping supply chains normal) upon reopening.

But it is not the “Socialist Republic of the Eurozone” but rather the “Neoliberal Empire of the Eurozone”: some nations have suspended rents and debt repayments, but these are temporary suspensions and not total forgiveness of 1%er rentier parasitical activities. The state orders you to cease economic activity but will not fully cover the costs of doing so – cui bono? The Eurozone, after all, does not want socialist equality but capitalist inequality and wealth/market concentration – it’s the “birthplace of human rights (for aristocrats)”.

But the Eurozone’s wage assumptions and its larger social safety net – funded by the stolen wages of over two centuries of imperialism – cannot mask its fundamental weakness relative to other currencies.

Not much EU QE yet, but what else could they do – go socialist? Or perhaps fix the pan-European project?

Round after round until today’s “well past the point of ‘QE Infinity’” has proven that modern neoliberalism has only one play in its playbook. So we should not be surprised that 2008 is repeating itself.

The US has once again been the first to announce the biggest bailout. Currency swaps to debt-entrap client states were immediately opened in a series of hugely successful moves to buttress the dollar, yet again. In order to diffuse and stagger the effects of money-printing from threatening the dollar’s global dominance – just like a decade ago – we should expect the European Central Bank to hold off their major bailout once again.

The multinational 1% works in tandem, not competition, much to the consternation of analysts who can’t analyse in terms of class warfare. This Western “bankocracy” is something which I described in a 10-part series from last winter: Western central bankers: they’re God, they trust – a 10-part series on the QE economy.

Accordingly, the ECB has only announced a €750 billion rescue package, which is dwarfed by the $6 trillion of the US and even – in a rather significant development – the €1.1 trillion of Germany. France’s bailout is just 10% that of Germany’s, despite being 70% its economic size, because Emmanuel Macron is – of course – 100% supportive of the international 1%’s long-running goal of crushing the French model.

(“Fiscally responsible”, “debt fearing”, “Weimar-scarred” Germany has also additionally announced a “limitless” aid program for small- and medium-sized businesses: this was made possible due to the collateral appropriated from a decade of heartless strangulation of small- and medium-sized businesses in weaker areas of the Eurozone. Disgusting, how the rich get richer and how hypocritically Germany turns socialist just when the heat is turned on. As I point out over and over, because it is a fact: for over a century the obstacle to European stability remains Germany.)

So the ECB is obviously laying back, waiting for US QE to wend its way through the Western economy, but it’ll be the same playbook: G20 central banker + corporate banker collusion to keep QE going across the West.

But how long can infinity last?

Which is to say: how long can European nations keep borrowing from middlemen banks instead of using the ECB as it ought to be used – directly and with sovereignty, and not with national debt-increasing loans, as in this rescue package but outright purchases? The ECB directly funding national governments is against EU law.

The ECB wants to end these rules for this rescue package, but they could be challenged legally. However, they seem to have already thrown out this rulebook and are buying Italian bonds disproportionately – we are in the middle of a crisis, after all, and the wheels of justice move slow. But we don’t know that for sure because – in the lack of transparency which repeatedly plagues pan-European institutions – the ECB does not have to publish details of what it is buying under its emergency bond purchases

How long can this nonsense go on, both legally and politically, as well as historically and culturally?

I assume we’ll only find out for sure when the bond crisis fully hits the Eurozone.

It’s the bond market, stupid

As I wrote in Part 5, How QE has radically changed the nature of the West’s financial system:

“(Nomi) Prins (author of Collusion) quotes Bank of England leader Mark Carney in 2015 to illustrate this point: ‘As I wrote to G20 Leaders, the structure of (the) financial system has changed significantly since the crisis. Virtually all of the net credit since the crisis has been from the bond markets and the size of assets under management has increased by 60% to $74 trillion.’

Those numbers are staggering. The 2017 estimate for worldwide total GDP was around $75 trillion. Global QE had reached $12 trillion in 2016.”

Both the US and Eurozone now have huge corporate debt problems due to QE-funded stock buybacks, but while the biggest problem in the US in 2008 was mortgage debt in the Eurozone it was government debt. If a government – the largest economic player in any nation – cannot pay its bills (and in the Eurozone individual nations have no power to print money to pay their bills) said nation necessarily collapses. This is why government debt problems in the US and Japan are not at all comparable to the government debt problems of Greece, Belgium, France, etc.

Government debt is thus a fundamentally more troubling issue than subprime mortgage or corporate debt, and this is why their Sovereign Debt Crisis lasts four years and was not contained until 2012, years after the US “solved” their issue.

So the key question revolves around lending to sustain the Eurozone’s governments (at what interest rates), and the difference (spreads) between bond rates of different members of the Eurozone (because the failure of one major member could imperil the 19-member euro currency).

Wars increase interest rates, as there is demand caused by the activity of reconstruction, but epidemics historically produce lower interest rates, because nothing needs to be rebuilt and everyone is still peering through a crack in their front door and finding even that risky. This is significant given that European banks were greatly weakened by the 2008 and 2012 crises, to the point where only one European investment bank is now among the world’s 10 biggest (long-wobbly Deutsche Bank); and also that banks play a more vital role than in the US – European companies eschew selling bonds and shares to procure two-thirds of their credit from banks, a rate double that of the US.

We also know that the ECB has already been in negative-interest rate territory since 2014, so they cannot go lower than stealing your savings (and thus gutting their banks profits and making them weaker, and also forcing them to search for risker investments); we also know that nations such as Spain and Italy have had panic-inducing borrowing problems relatively recently; and we also know that their collective currency essentially refuses to be a political collective other than agreeing to all use the same bits of coloured paper.

Europe was supposed to be “forged in crisis”, and what has 12 years of fire revealed? The “pan-European project” essentially comes down to sharing the same bits of coloured paper and free (border, capital) movement. The lack of true international solidarity (which only exists in socialism, and never in competition-based capitalism) makes this a national project with no nation. That sounds paradoxical and nonsensical, but hey – I didn’t pen the Eurozone’s corrupt and unaccountable structure: the teachers of the Chicago Boys did.

A project of international solidarity based on the furthest-right capitalist and most rabidly anti-socialist principles has proven to be as stupid a concept as that sounds. In this crisis Eurozone nations are outbidding each other for personal protective pandemic gear (nor sharing it among themselves, in a public relations campaign the average Eurozoner is galled by), but also the favors of international high finance.

It is the latter which which will kill far more than corona via poverty.

But how has the ECB responded thus far? Typical: steal from others and claim they invented it

What we can certainly count on from the stagnant Eurozone is to expect zero creativity – since 1980 that is only found in Japan and the US, and all the Europeans can do is trail in their wake and try to look smugly stylish.

The European Central Bank’s key April 7 announcement reads like a bunch of concessions to common sense born of desperation, because that’s exactly what they are.

Here is the very start and bullet points of their press announcement – the key here is to note how very much they are willingly degrading the quality of their collateral/financial instruments:

  • ECB adopts an unprecedented set of collateral measures to mitigate the tightening of financial conditions across the euro area
  • Temporary increase in the Eurosystem’s risk tolerance in order to support credit to the economy
  • ECB eases the conditions for the use of credit claims as collateral
  • ECB adopts a general reduction of collateral valuation haircuts
  • Waiver to accept Greek sovereign debt instruments as collateral in Eurosystem credit operations
  • ECB will assess further measures to temporarily mitigate the effect on counterparties’ collateral availability from rating downgrade.

“Mitigate”, “increase in… risk tolerance”, “eases”, “reduction of collateral valuation” – everything is about making banking/fiscal standards lower, and thus riskier. In a monetary bloc which stared into the abyss in 2012, and which has had only growth rate stagnation and internally-weakening austerity ever since… does allowing more risk sound like a good solution?

Perhaps the easiest way to understand the Eurozone’s intrinsic dysfunction is that Greek national bonds, which were formerly considered to be too risky to be part of the ECB’s bond-buying program, will now be bought. This measure should have been implemented immediately in 2012 to help collectively mitigate bad Greek collateral, but richer Eurozone members wanted to force their products into Greece and buy up Greek assets. But what they are saying now is that collateral which was bad in 2012 is acceptable in 2020 even though said collateral is fundamentally even weaker, due to the failed solutions of austerity and upcoming post-corona economic prospects.

In a neoliberal bankocracy with a normal, united currency the ECB would socialise this bad collateral directly, but they cannot; they cannot bypass the banking middlemen (because they have never created “more Europe”), who can indeed refuse to buy Eurozone national bonds and send borrowing costs to unsustainable 7% levels.

The last one is the kicker, “rating downgrade”: for reasons only “capitalist conspiracy” can probably explain, word on the street is that ratings agencies feel that their credibility is on the line this time and so they will not be lenient like in 2008. Thus, the corona lockdown will produce a ton of corporate and banking downgrades, which will increase their borrowing costs, thus provoke bank bankruptcies in a currency bloc heavily dependent on their banks. The ECB is thus acknowledging to these groups that it knows this is coming and that it will do “whatever it takes”, a la ECB chief Mario Draghi in 2012… but this time for weak corporations that deserve to go bust (in capitalism). This is an immediate echo of the unprecedented, historic, unexpected Fed decision last week to start buying corporate junk debt.

This is the bond pin on which the Eurozone will turn

The Eurozone’s atrocious neoliberal underpinnings fundamentally leaves themselves more wide-open to the machinations of high finance than any other currency. The Eurozone and the pan-European project can be conceived of as a US/German federal system, where the states have a lot of power to gain or fail based on their own policies, but with only a tiny amount of federal support available in case of emergency.

Here is the crux of the biscuit for the Eurozone in a post-corona world: QE is not going to finally create economic growth unless strings are FINALLY attached. Not down-loaning this round(s) of QE means total, prolonged economic chaos combined with rapid governmental insolvency in the awful neoliberal-empire structure which is the Eurozone.

But it’s the same rub, yet on a wound which is even more raw than in 2012: any such formal strings will cause bankers to shy away from loaning to these ever-riskier national Eurozone economies; at the same time, successfully attaching said strings would enrage the populace because why are these banker-middlemen needed at all?

High finance pre-corona has been pacified with no-strings QE in order to keep them from attacking the Eurozone’s national bond markets – but if strings get attached then high finance can’t hoard the QE, get it? This is the ultimate height of neoliberal capitalism’s parasitical rapaciousness, and which is never reported.

So either Europe cuts out the middlemen and lends directly – and investors pounce upon the national bond markets in retaliation, as they did in 2009 or after Mitterrand’s anti-austerity victory in 1981 – or the Eurozone formally admits the middlemen are indeed the government in Western bankocracy, and national populaces revolt. A good place to read about this historical trend and economic inevitability is part 2 from my 7-part series from 2017, back when I foolishly assumed QE Infinity was an impossibility: Why no Petroeuro? or France’s historic effort for an anti-austerity Eurozone.

Insolvency in a Eurozone nation is thus the biggest, most likely threat to the Western-dominated global order. The Eurozone remains a disunited currency, which is an unsustainable paradox.

The long-running historical reality is that Germany preferred to join a neo-imperial project led by the US rather than the one led by Paris and Brussels, and this is why collective aid to nations has never been done in the Eurozone. Macron warns of EU unravelling unless it embraces financial solidarity – France has said this for so many decades that it no longer has any effect. Germany and their true partners – the US – simply don’t believe in European solidarity, only dominance of Europe.

The US can get away with making BlackRock the new private bureaucracy of the Fed & the financial strong-arm of the executive branch – Europe isn’t as dumb. The Yellow Vest and national strike marches hung effigies to BlackRock. Europeans are different, special, more intelligent, the global catalyst for modernity, the intellectual leaders of the West, etc.

Or so they keep telling us.

Time to show off that European finesse they’re so self-satisfied with… or throw it out altogether and join the Yellow Vests.

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

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

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’.

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

April 16, 2020

by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog

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

There is a lot of chatter about how the coronavirus economic overreaction and subsequent US bailouts will end the dollar’s reign as the global reserve currency – such wishful thinking is shortsighted and ignores even recent Western capitalist history.

Last November, in a then-boring but now-prescient 10-part series (I socialistically re-interpreted ex-Wall Streeter Nomi Prins’ book Collusion, which chronologically detailed the QE-spreading collusion between G20 central banks since 2008), I wrote the following in Part 3: QE paid for a foreign buying spree: developing countries hurt the most:

“Yet by flooding the world with trillions of dollars via QE the US was able to, paradoxically, maintain dollar dependence despite their crimes. The US dollar share of global reserves today is 62%, almost exactly what it was in 2008. Combined with the other source of the crisis – the euro – the two combine for 82% of global reserves. By comparison, the yuan – which so many predict is about to dethrone the dollar – is at below 2%; I wouldn’t hold my breath.”

But corona is different, right? Two percent and 62% will suddenly change places, right?

No, more QE is more of the same thing, and this is a “thing” which has worked exactly as designed; it is also a “thing” which is never broached in the Mainstream Media: “A way to create debt traps which increase Western control over their neo-imperial subjects. … Neoliberal-capitalism financial policies must be viewed as a neo-imperial tool, of course.”

People are acting as if Western neoliberalism hasn’t worked, LOL? It has worked spectacularly well… but only for their 1% and not for “the nation”, exactly as designed.

Many fine semi-dissident commentators apparently do not follow high finance, nor can they interpret their actions, even though high finance is the West’s vanguard party (thus the theme of my recent series – “bankocracy”); they often incorrectly focus on an easier-to-grasp storyline of nationalist competition, which (like racism, sexism or tribalism) simply cannot ultimately take precedence over class warfare.

I’m not being dogmatic – this simply provides the fullest explanation of economic events. Reject what socialists could call the “conspiracy” of the 1% via class warfare? Then you likely move on to absurd, unprovable “conspiracy theories” involving secret cults, elaborate handshakes, ritual sacrifice, etc.

This is the bottom line which (whom I will call) “dollar-demisers” simply do not understand: For better or for worse (certainly worse), the US and their greenback are still the gold standard when it comes to 1%er perceptions of a safe harbour in a crisis.

This will hold true in 2020 just as it did in 2008.

Many semi-dissident analysts unwittingly take a rather Trotskyist view that capitalism will eventually implode under the weight of its own contradictions. It won’t – some rats always find a way to survive a sinking ship, eh? Thus, open socialist combat is the only way to defeat modern Western capitalism, and also to satisfyingly explain what is going on in the Western Great Recession/Depression 2.

So maybe the yuan will become the dominant currency… but not in two months, nor two years – maybe two decades? That’s a big “maybe”. In my lifetime, I think.…

Until then, please believe me: Western globalisation/neoliberalism has a LOT of ammo, clout, clients, banks, real money, real gold, fake money and paper gold to keep their mighty dollar on top. Socialism teaches us: it is NOT just Americans who will deploy these weapons.

Just look at what high finance did when the corona crisis hit – journalism is just recent history

As soon as the lockdowns hit Western Europe you couldn’t buy a dollar from high finance. Why? Because people were panicking and wanted a safe haven (and had huge bills to pay) – they did not run to the yuan, but the greenback. The yuans ran to the greenback!

(Some Western commentators often act as if China doesn’t know what they are doing by being the second-biggest holder of US Treasuries – as if Beijing is somehow being suckered or something? Similarly, but from the other side of misunderstanding, Trotskyism faults China for playing along with capitalist-imperialists in order to strengthen Chinese socialism. Both views are absurd.)

As the corona overreaction progressed, and even as it became clear that a country with third-world inequality and gaping structural flaws was about to go on lockdown and impoverish half its populace within a season, this country’s currency did not drop in value as it should have – I am speaking of the US.

Fair? No. Reality? Proven. Predictable? Entirely.

Equally unprecedented during these March days was a historic run on physical gold, history’s nostalgic (not current) safe haven, which I would have bought if I could have found any (I actually did not even look, as I have no money). This was a major step in a vital historical trend – let’s call it “fiat regoldification” – but please note: here we are, still using fiat (paper) money. Please note #2: individual 1%ers are still buying (parking their assets) way more in dollars than they are in bars of gold, even if central banks have edged more towards gold than dollars only recently.

What also happened in March? Just like in 2008, the US immediately opened more “currency swaps” – loaning scores of billions of dollars to their main client states to satisfy dollar demand… and make them even more beholden to maintaining dollar supremacy.

And by the end of March the US announced (effectively) $6 trillion in new bailout money. Yet no dollar devaluation, still? Return back to that 62% figure: yes, dollar dominance didn’t increase significantly since 2008, but there was no stagnation because the total reserves held by all central banks has expanded by more than half since 2008.

The “dollar-demisers” just don’t get it – they must live in nationalist vacuums? Germany just announced $1 trillion, after all, right? (France finally announced theirs – just $120 billion… because the global 1%’s plan continues to be “strangle the French model”.) Many nations have announced a similar “devaluation” as well, and they didn’t benefit from the dollar’s perception of unrivalled stability to begin with. The US $6 trillion comes within this critical context. But now extend out your timeframe to 2008 – how much new money has been printed across the G20? In this global context of recent history $6 trillion isn’t much, certainly not enough to ruin the dollar.

But beyond the unshakable perception of stability, the dependance entrapment, and the global money printing bonanza, what’s the biggest reason why everyone is rushing to the dollar? Simple – everyone else’s debt and collateral sucks even harder than it did in 2008: Eurozone bonds, corporate bonds, mortgage/credit card/auto loan-backed securities, overinflated stocks, overinflated real estate, overinflated Da Vincis, Third World investments about to go bust, any-World investments about to go bust post-global corona lockdown – US bonds are still the best, safest place for the 1% to park their savings.

So – don’t get it twisted – the dollar is now stronger than ever in 2020.

Just check the dollar index – it’s up over 20% since 2008, even though they were the cause of the crisis, and for the reasons I listed. The dollar will only strengthen post-corona, as usual: it’s a crisis, after all.

You’re underestimating people, and you underestimate how much room the US has

Here’s the thing about people not understanding high finance – they also are too dismissive of them (like with China’s treasury-holding bankers): People mistakenly assume that US bankers are a bunch of rich-kid idiots, and that they do not realise that being viewed so positively by the rabid capitalists of the global 1% undoubtedly gives them unparalleled leverage. No – the US is well-aware that its money machine can go brrrrrr, to use the top meme on this subject, and the dollar will not crater.

So when Neel Kashkari goes on TV and says the Fed has an “infinite amount of cash” it is wrong to make fun of him – the focus should be on the fact that he is taken SOMEWHAT seriously despite making such an economically-illogical claim. He is taken seriously because that is HOW VERY much money the US can print before they imperil the dollar’s reserve currency dominance.

The dollar is used in 40% of the world’s debt, 80% of global payments and nearly 100% of its oil sales – again: the world’s rich want to use dollars. Again, China doesn’t even want to use their own currency – in the past two decades dollar-denominated debt has exploded, and this trend was led by China. And yet we should assume the yuan is on the cusp of replacing the dollar? This unwind will not, I’m sorry to say, happen at corona-speed.

How much room does the Fed have to inject? A lot, depressingly.

(So we’re clear: What is this injecting doing? It is assuming the bad debts/failed investments of multinational high finance dominated by NYC. That total is not some infinite, abstract, undefined mathematical variable. This is what the phrase “picking the winners” means. Nobody is holding a marker with “quadrillion” after the number. )

From $2 trillion in 2008, in late March it was suggested it could hit $10 trillion to stem the corona craziness. That won’t be enough – and the hidden “10-to-1” lever in the $450 billion section of the $2.2 trillion bailout implies that already – but the US probably has $20-30 trillion worth of room before difficulty sets in.

People will fly off the handle at that (mainly Austrians and Chicagoans), but they don’t seem to comprehend reality: the unparalleled demand, the importance of competitive context in currency wars, as well as the political reality that the US as well as their allies (capitalism is collusion) will use all their political and probably military tools to postpone the monetary/political/historical revolution which is fundamentally implied by the end of dollar dominance.

And there’s even more advantages, because bankers are not as dumb as you think.

First of all: duh, they aren’t going to inject it overnight. Did they inject their $4 (or $8) trillion since 2008 overnight? Of course not – the US colluded with other G20 nations for over a decade so that the QE machine could keep going “brrrrrrr” – just at different nodes, as Prins’ books an my series related. The Fed works with other G20 central banks, it must be recognised – nationalism does not supersede a class analysis.

Secondly, it’s crucial to recall that the global 1% forced first Japan then the Eurozone (the biggest competitors of the US, at least until the 2008 crisis & response allowed China to rise so high) to take on austerity, bailouts and multiple Lost Decades which made their debt-to-GDP ratios explode. So this bringing down of the competition is only giving US Treasuries more leeway and power. Modern capitalism IS always international collusion – this didn’t start in 2008.

Of all the major Western economies only Germany and South Korea have good debt-to-GDP ratios, but Washington the global 1% have simple solutions to force them to increase their debt in order to protect THEIR dollar: Korean reunification, and an end to German strangulation of the Eurozone. If you don’t think they would force to protect THEIR dollar, then you fatally overrate the power of nationalism.

This 1%er collusion is what so many good commentators just can’t see because they reject the class struggle. This is why they are rather absurdly expecting to use only yuan – or maybe euro or yen or loonies – by next Tuesday. The reality is that a socialist victory against predatory capitalists is long, hard and unyielding – this provides great inspiration and creativity when accepted. It does hurt your job opportunities in journalism, though. But many journalists and analysts are happy with just complaining.

So the corona bailouts are NOT going to end global dollar dominance, for all the reasons I’ve listed.

QE provokes inflation, but do you understand inflation? I mean, REALLY?

Corona’s “Great Lockdown” is sure to provoke falls in subservient currencies, but it won’t cause the dollar to double in value, either. That won’t be permitted:

A weak dollar hurts the average American but it certainly helps the sectors of society supported by the 1%: export-driven corporations, debtors (banks) and landlords (rentier exploiters). I explained this in my “bankocracy” series – Part 5: Understanding the West’s obsession with inflation. The 1% only cares about inflation which hurts their investments – they could not care less about rises in the price of bread, metro tokens, rent, etc. This is precisely why the MSM keeps saying how inflation is low… when 99% of their readers think, “No it isn’t.”

Due to this widespread misunderstanding/misinformation regarding inflation, many commentators confuse a rise in domestic prices for key goods with the international strength of the dollar. The former is a domestic concern – domestic inflation will be a result of money-printing. Domestically the dollar has lost an estimated 80% of purchasing power since Nixon went off the gold standard. However, the latter is an international concern and – while no one stays at the top of the hill forever – the US dollar is (of course!) protecting and re-protecting itself via international 1%er collusion to stay there as long as possible regardless of the effect on the average US consumer. What “1%er patriotism” are you talking about, and in the age of globalisation, too?!

Yes, rents and food will go up: No, the dollar will not stop being the international reserve currency. Yes, because you won’t openly support socialism you suffer under a bundle of unjust contradictions and cognitive dissonances.

Again, a class analysis provides a fuller explanation of corona-related high finance machinations than does an analysis based around mere nationalism.

But many of you older readers can, sadly, take this to your graves: the dollar’s dominance is unquestioned and will be defended by the international 1%, just as it has been since 2008, and just as it has been since it ascended the bloody capitalist heap. The 1% has never known eras, epochs, patriotisms, etc., and certainly not since the rise of industrial capitalism.

The problem is not QE, nor is it the “dollar system” – it is the entire system of values encapsulated by “capitalism-imperialism” and undoubtedly in “capitalism with Western characteristics”.

You can find the odd article like Pandemic proves there is only one world reserve currency, but this article gave the real reasons why; only a socialist microscope can reveal the core economic truth.

I could be wrong – and so could that article – about 20-30 more years of dollar dominance. Maybe the corona overreaction will set off a Great Depression so unmanageable that a socialist revolution occurs quite soon? That’s the only possible way the dollar is dethroned earlier.

(Of course, according to logic, any uprising which is not openly pro-socialist – and is thus pro-capitalist – cannot be a “revolution” at all. The development of post-corona “coups” would produce regimes which would – at best – still certainly collaborate with the dollar for national benefit.)

The West has no solution – wants no solution – wants only more of all this capitalist-imperialist chaos for the 99%… and thus corona immediately kicked off the “solution” of QE Infinity. No Western nation’s 1% is going to stop colluding to make that continue.

So keep your yuan under your mattress – infinity won’t end next Tuesday. I hope you find this article useful in your leftist struggle!

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

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 the lives of post-corona Millennials… if they don’t openly push socialism – April 14, 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’.

A view from Russia – Well-coordinated teamwork always gives the best results

A view from Russia – Well-coordinated teamwork always gives the best results

April 15, 2020

translated by VG and edited by EG for the Saker blog

By way of foreword, I want to point out how much attention the Deputy Prime Minister pays to the issues of coherence and mutual understanding of all employees of the state agencies working towards a single goal – the prosperity of the people of Russia. Despite the devastation that the collapse of the Soviet Union brought, despite the unjustified sanctions of the United States and its Western acolytes, Russia has risen like a Phoenix from the ashes over the past two decades. I would like the US politicians and statesmen to put aside mutual reproaches and meaningless accusations and focus on solving the country’s economic and social problems. Squabbles and quarrels of politicians affect the morale of the people. The confrontation of politicians divides people; disbelief or complete apathy grip the society. It shouldn’t be like this. After all, we are one people; nobody except us can build the present and future of our country.

Vladimir Solovyov in his TV show April 9, 2020 spoke with Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Viktoriya Abramchenko. Here is his full transcript:

V. S. – In the middle of March, Russia experienced high demand for certain types of products. People succumbed to the panic mood associated with the coronavirus, bought buckwheat, rice and other grains. There are no pseudo-empty shelves in stores today. The situation is stable. The Ministry of Industry and Trade informs that we have created a food supply for two months. It is constantly replenished. But there are other issues that have been complicated by the epidemic: the beginning of planting season, support for farmers, the needs of the Agro-industrial complex (AIC). Viruses cannot change the Doctrine of food secuRussia SITREP:rity. This evening in the Studio is the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Viktoriya Abramchenko.

V.S. Victoria Valeryevna, when was the last time you slept?

V. A. – A Good question. The government is now working really intensively to ensure that our citizens have food.

V. S. – So, you rarely manage to go home?

V. A. – I follow all recommendations. The family is isolated. Accordingly, I come home quite late, and only see my child on Sundays.

V. S. – This is not the usual mode of work, that is, I don’t remember the government working at such a pace at all. The main thing is that there should be such mutual understanding and cooperation, when the Deputy Prime Ministers, who ostensibly working in parallel areas, should put aside all possible bureaucratic friction and resolve issues directly, when the Ministers no longer have to wait long for the Deputy Prime Minister to listen to them. When all the issues must be solved within hours, not days, as it used to be. When papers don’t walk, but fly at such a speed that they don’t seem to be papers anymore. When several hours pass from the moment of making a decision to the release of regulatory documentation, instead of days, weeks or months, as it was before. All this in order to solve pressing problems.

Recently we encountered that bizarre problem of excessive demand at the beginning of March. How was it solved?

V. A. – Indeed, we had two days in March, March 14, 15, when there was a rush of demand, primarily for groceries. It included grains, buckwheat, first of all, as well as pasta and canned meat. This happened because the people moved from large metropolitan areas to their dacha (summer house) to sit out the first week, to self-isolate. And bought up virtually all of these products. During this period…

V. S. – Which happened in stores at the time…?

V. A. – Absolutely. During this time, you immediately started monitoring. We had several goals:

First, we needed to make sure that there was necessary supply of food in retail chains, so that this supply would be in distribution centers and so that our producers, who provide food, distribution centers and eventually retail chains, would be ready for the increased demand for certain products. And we did that. Next, there was the problem of monitoring prices.

V. S. – You say that you did it. How was it done? After all, it was necessary to call the cities…?

V. A. – Absolutely.

V.S. – To allow heavy trucks to run during the day, and not just at night? That is, the Deputy Prime Minister had to delve into the question of how, who and where packs sugar?

V. A. – We didn’t think about positions and we don’t think today, we do the job as a team.

V. S. – Using the example of sugar, what did it lead to?

V.A. – This has led to the stabilization of supplies, which kept the prices down. We came to an agreement with the Ministry of Agriculture. I want to thank our manufacturers. They have a very socially responsible position. To ensure that the selling price of sugar does not exceed 30 rubles (for 1 kg) and today we fix the price lower in relation to April 2019. It was sold in retail for 46 rubles per kg in April 2019, today it is sold for 35.

V. S. – But at the same time, as people always say, this is nice and good. How about the other product groups, the rest of the products? Here now is my friend is talking about ginger and lemon. Famous Russian folk ginger and lemon. Because someone thought they were supposed to help against the coronavirus. I’m waiting when you get to oregano and Rugby. And do you even care when something happens with ginger and lemon? Do you have to keep track of everything?

V. A. – Indeed, we have been tracking the growth of demand for ginger recently. I don’t know what this is about. There are some online claims of people that this somehow affects the fight against infection, viral diseases…

V. S. – And the doctors don’t know?

V. A. – We know the opinion of experts on this issue, but we are recording a really high demand. Increased demand leads to a spike of prices for this group of products. Here it is important to note that we in the Russian Federation do not grow any lemons or ginger. This is the product group that we import. Given the fact that the ruble has weakened over the past two months, we are buying it for a currency, and it costs different amount of money.

V. S. – How much does this affect the consumer basket?

V. A.- They do not affect. Neither lemons nor ginger are included in the consumer basket. We can definitely reassure all Russians that ginger and lemons will be on the shelves in retail chains. It is important now that there is no excessive demand, so that the price of these products does not increase.

V. S. – What are the main products that Russians consume? After all, it so happened that we always imported. As long as I can remember, even in Soviet times, there were all these nasty jokes, the “Voice of America”, the “Bush thighs”, when we did not have our own production, when we could talk about Vologodskoe butter (high quality Russian butter), but in fact everything and everyone knew that when he bought meat, we could only hope that it was not cut together with a loaf of bread. Since 2014, when the sanctions were imposed, it became clear that this was a very positive thing. Our food security reached a completely different level today.

V.A.- We have The Food Security Doctrine and the provisions of the Doctrine have been revised this year. There are new indicators. According to the Doctrine, I can report confidently that the domestic production of the main group of foodstuffs included in the consumer basket has exceeded our goals, since the Western sanctions were imposed. As far as meat is concerned, we exceeded the goals by 12%. This includes beef, pork, and poultry.

V. S. – Are we fully provided for now?

V. A. – Absolutely. We are fully self-sufficient in fat and butter products, in vegetable oil. We are fully self-sufficient in grain, and we are fully self-sufficient in sugar. There are slightly behind in salt, but there is no shortage of salt in our country. If there arises a need to deliver the required amount, we would do it.

V. S. – So, there is no threat of starvation?

V. A. – Absolutely none.

V. A. -.This was also done. In Moscow, to give an example, we agreed with 180 manufacturers directly, excluding distribution centers, that these producers should deliver food directly to shopping centers. We even solved the problem with sugar, when there was not enough time to pack sugar from bags of 50 kg in a kilogram package, and this was also done.

V. S. – If there is bread, there is a song.

V. A.- Vladimir, there is another positive news: on March 25, Mikhail Mishustin (the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation) signed the agreements to export beef to the People’s Republic of China, and on April 7 first eight containers of our Russian beef were delivered to the Chinese market. This is also due to the implementation of the Food Security Doctrine. We are able to feed ourselves and are now ready for export.

V.S – That is, we will earn currency?

V. A. – Absolutely.

V. S. – In this case, the yuan. We can feed ourselves. That’s good. Are the people in this market socially responsible? Is there a longing to agree to play on the increased demand, and enter into a cartel?

V. A.- Just in March, when we recorded an increased demand for the groceries, the traditional product that Russians love and buy at times when there is some instability is buckwheat.

V. S. – I can never understand it. I myself love buckwheat, but I can never understand why buckwheat is treated as an absolute strategic reserve? I don’t know.

V. A. – Still, we have enough buckwheat. I would like to take this opportunity to say that the Altai territory has 360,000 tons of reserves. And that’s in the Altai territory alone. So, we have sufficient reserves for this agricultural year, which ends in June.

V. S. – Were there those who wanted to play on high demand?

V. A.- Yes, we have fixed this situation, this dishonest behavior in the food market. We engaged with the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) in this situation, which specifically deals with cartel agreements in the markets, as you said.
Russia SITREP:
V. S. – I talked this morning with farmers, young girls – they are great –they decided to take up farming near Moscow. I talked to the guys who produce turkey. All of them said they feel social responsibility, and won’t raise prices. We will not raise prices! We will keep the prices down. Is there any hope that the Russian consumer basket will remain within the limits of the prices that we are used to and consider fair?

V. A.- It’s not just hope. We are working on it. And we are constantly monitoring the situation on the regular basis. But I want to warn you that the agriculture depends on some imported goods. For example, veterinary drugs, we import them in large quantities. Thus, the currency component in the final prices of the Agro-industrial complex will be present. But what does the government do in this regard? We are providing additional support for the agricultural sector and are currently working on the support measures for the new agricultural year. We will finish this sowing campaign, which, by the way, is proceeding at an increased pace compared to the previous year.

V. S. – So, the pandemic doesn’t bother us?

V. A. – Does not interfere absolutely.

V. S. – Does the agricultural sector work full blast?

V. A. – The growers are working steadily. The sowing is done on about 4 million hectares. This is almost 3 times more than at this day in 2019. The warm weather played into our hands, and I hope we will continue to move at this pace. So, next agricultural year, we will provide additional support, to prevent the impact of the weak ruble, so that the consumer does not feel an increase in prices.

V.S. – But on the other hand, a weak ruble is good for those who work for export.

V. A.- Yes.

V. S. – This means that we have more and more opportunities. The country is fed; now we can earn currency for the Motherland?

V. A. My colleagues and I in the Ministry of Agriculture and the Foreign Ministry are working in this area. There is a separate national project, the international export cooperation, and it works on a target that the President once set for us to increase the export of agricultural products by 2024 to 45 billion dollars a year.

V. S. – How much do we export now?

V. A. – Now about 28 billion rubles.

V.S. – That is, almost 70%?

V. A. – Yes. We work in this direction by the product groups; as I have already said, this is the meat group; this is fish; this is butter and fat products and, surprisingly and gratifyingly, our confectionery products. In other words, Russian sweets are in demand in Russia and abroad.

V. S. – So, I’m not the only one who eats them?

V. A. – No, you are not.

V. S. – I am listen to you and I disagree. No offense. I remember when you headed a very, very complex structure – the Federal Register. When you took it over, it was a mess. Just a mess. And you made it perfect. Well, now you have moved on. However, you have no experience in the Ministry of Agriculture and you are telling me: “We are working on it, We will do it now…” You mention for example “fish”, but I understand how there was a tangle from the 90’s of the most difficult, unresolved issues. I understand how when the fish was caught, there was a problem where to go with it, because we did not have the infrastructure, and now we cannot go to Norway. It’s not easy in the Far East, either. It turns out that you have the same Augeas stables to clean. You’d have to start working the regulatory guillotine essentially in the war conditions, i.e. – the fight against the coronavirus. This will be a great confrontation. There are someone’s interests at stake everywhere; everything is so cunningly designed. You are talking about agriculture. Yes, on the one hand, it is necessary to buy genetic materials – this issue has been discussed for a long time – and often a variety of things related to fertilizers, but why not make them yourself? And as soon as you start digging here, someone will interfere there. How many wars do you have to fight at the same time, on how many fronts?

V.A. – Well, first, there is such a thing as experience. Second – there are like-minded people and there is an understanding of where we are going.

I would like to remind you that in the Duma we had a very difficult issue of restricting the import of GMO products and seeds to the territory of the Russian Federation. Now you are saying that there are many opponents. Indeed, there were many opponents of this ban. We could not understand why, but then we realized that everything simply depends on the economic impact of individual groups of influence.

V. S. – Lobbying or something? Or, to express it simply, bribes?

V. A. – Lobbying, let’s call it that. They resisted, and yet this restriction was introduced. Now, as I have already said, the current Doctrine of Food Security includes the position on domestic seeds and domestic breeders, a which is a great victory of our colleagues in the Ministry of Agriculture. Today, together with the colleagues from the Ministry of Science, the Ministry of Agriculture is already working on this. There are already, I don’t want to announce it yet, there are certain achievements in poultry farming. There are indeed our domestic developments that are currently being tested.

V.S. – Well, look, oil turns into ordinary raw material and, as Mikhail Vladimirovich (Mishustin) said, we must understand that there will be a drop associated with oil price. This means that something must fill in this gap. Where do I get my money from? This is in your sphere of influence. Where is an opportunity to increase the revenue coming from exports, but what can we offer, where can we go ourselves? Where can we generate more, more, and more?

V. A. – Renewable resources. First of all, it is the forest. Today it is Russian…

V. S. – I didn’t hear you just now. You mentioned a three-letter word that I didn’t hear. What forest? Do we have a forest in our country?

V. A. – We have 67% of the country’s territory covered with forests

V. S. – And what income do we have from the forest?

V. A. – Very modest.

V. S. – Not exactly, only the state income is very modest!

V. A. – You mentioned the Federal Registration Service. Here, the Federal Register of state fees for accounting and registration actions gives the Federal budget about 36 billion rubles. The forest complex gives less.

V. S. – But this is impossible, isn’t it? Oh yes, we do understand.

V. A. – It shouldn’t be like this. But this is a fact. That’s why I’m here now…

V. S. – So, You decided to put another burden onto your shoulders?

V. A. – That was before me. I just asked my colleagues to take a different look at the forest complex. It should not consist of disparate elements. Separately – reforestation, separately – forest accounting, separately – processing of what has been harvested from the Russian forest and separately the export component. Now it is necessary to stitch everything together into a single complex, to look at the forest complex as an industry. And I very much hope that in a month’s time we will defend this strategy at a government meeting.

V. S. – Have you estimated potential income from the forest industry?

V. A. – Let me give you an example that the Prosecutor General’s office has voiced. These figures can already be publicized. On the territory of only one subject of the Russian Federation – the Irkutsk region – the damage to the forest complex and the loss to the budget of the Russian Federation resulted from the illegal activities amounted to 44 billion rubles.

V. S. – That is, our budget has not received enough.

V. A. – Yes. And that’s from the territory of only one subject of the Russian Federation.

V. S. – That is, what was supposed to come?

V. A. – Absolutely.

V. S. – Did you receive less than 36 billion rubles from the entire forest complex?

V. A. – From the whole country. Yes.

V. S. – From the whole country. And here in just one subject 44 billions were stolen. So, it turns out that we can make up for the falling oil revenues, not completely, perhaps. But for Finland, the forest is oil? For the Finnish economy. So, we’re going this way now?

V. A. – Yes. Another way – this is a modern, very popular topic – is the use of secondary resources. There’s a lot of talk about it, but we haven’t really done it yet.

V. S. – That is, it will closely link up with ecology?

V. A. – Yes. A green economy is what we need to achieve as part of the reform of solid municipal waste management. Such components as glass, plastic, cardboard, paper and aluminum should serve as secondary resources for our industry. This is also what we are doing now.

Another area that we started with is the Agro-industrial complex. The reserve in the agro-industrial complex is very large. We also have a large reserve of agricultural land. Which does not work in the Agricultural complex today. To achieve the goal set by the President to increase the export of agricultural products to 45 billion dollars a year, we must involve these lands in the turnover.

V. S. – But when you will return the land into production, you will also need to attract people there?

V. A. – We need to attract people, and we are working on this. There is a program for integrated rural development approved in 2019. Within this program, there is a very popular, measure enjoying strong support – rural mortgages. For rural mortgages today, loans are issued at a maximum of 3% per annum. We have a waiting list for several years for these loans. This year, this started working. One billion of Federal funds invested into these mortgages allows to attract about 18 billions of credit resources to help people improve their living conditions in rural areas.

V. S. – Seriously. So, it turns out, although now there is coronavirus and everything associated with it, we are already looking at how we will get out of this crisis. In other words, we are already putting in place all the necessary engines, which are not idle even now, but will start working at full capacity as soon as we have the opportunity. The countryside works tirelessly. What you said surprised me. I didn’t know that we are so much ahead of the previous year’s results. But there is always this eternal scourge – fires. Because while on the one hand, this is a plus that we were able to start sowing earlier, but on the other hand it means that we are entering the forest fire season a little earlier, too. What should we do with this?

V.A. – We have this situation now, because the climate is changing, because there is little snow in the winter, and the average annual temperature is quite high. We inspect the situation with forest fires almost year-round. In this 2020 year, forests started burning on January 8. They started to burn, surprisingly, in the North Caucasus. I would like to take this opportunity to address all Russians. We already have evidence that all forest fires are caused by humans. These are hunters, tourists, and those who are engaged in logging and prefer to burn the remains of their activities, not wanting to use them as required by regulations. Therefore, I want to appeal to our citizens to take care of the forest, take care of nature. Because, ultimately, that’s the air we breathe in cities. As it happened last year in the Krasnoyarsk region.

I would like to appeal to people and ask them to take a more responsible attitude to nature, to the environment, and to themselves, as well.

V.S. – How much do you know the real situation in the country, how much can monitor in real time? The country is huge, different time zones; it often happens that local authorities try to hide a little. All the media start shouting: Problem, problem! Then you get there and look for yourself, and it turns out that there is a problem, but it is a completely different one. You know what they said – give me a lot of money to build a subway. And then it turns out that they are burning coal and at a certain wind direction the city is submerged in smog. How do you manage to monitor and ascertain that you are dealing with real facts?

V.A. – Everything is online now. Everything happens very quickly. We get the picture from the volunteers, from environmentalists, from our active people. An alternative picture, by the way, because there are lots of speculations about the operational environmental situation. There are lots and lots of speculation.

V. S. – Can we say that now the work is going on in a completely different way? That now the time from idea to implementation is shrinking, that we will see the result of the activities of your colleagues quickly, very quickly. Not like the promised communism under Khrushchev, but real changes will take place in the lives of Russians living today.

V.A. – We will do everything we can for this. Over the past few years, we have proved that even in the absence of federal funding, it is possible to do good useful projects. And we did that, too. But about getting information quickly, I would also like to tell you one thing about forest fires. Surprisingly, thanks to modern digital technologies, getting fast data from the ground and remote algorithms, monitoring, decrypting images, analyzing the information that we get from the gas stations data, we can now distinguish little fires from forest fires. As my colleagues from the air guard unit report – we were in Irkutsk recently – we can distinguish a cigarette from a fire that was left in the forest. And by processing such big data, working with real-time remote sensing data, we can very quickly start extinguishing fires. And if a forest fire was detected on this day and measures were taken to localize and extinguish it on the same day, we cope with the situation and extinguish the forest fire on the first day. Several regions have already worked this way in 2019. This is the Kemerovo region, the Republic of Buryatia, and the Amur region, where our colleagues learned how to quickly get going based on the monitoring data , how to quickly extinguish and not have the same huge problems as in the Krasnoyarsk region last year.

The host of this interview Vladimir Solovyov expressed confidence that despite the huge amount of work yet to be done, the government will ensure that the country’s economy will grow so much that Russians will be able to say that we live in the best country in the world.

He thanked the guest and noted that members of the Russian government, along with the medical workers, work 24/7 for the future and prosperity of Russia.

P.S.

Watching the pace of change in the lives of ordinary Russians, having visited Russia twice in the past 5 years, while traveling around dozens of cities and towns, I was struck by the transformation not only of Moscow, and they are simply amazing, but also of other cities. In the twenty years that I have lived in America, Russia has gone from an untidy and unkempt country to the most beautiful place on Earth. Everywhere, there are new neighborhoods, highways, dozens of metro stations sparkling with cleanliness, a wide network of Supermarkets and specialty stores, cafes, restaurants, repair shops, and consumer service establishments. Can US grocery stores compete with Russian stores in terms of variety of foods? There are a large number of new high-tech enterprises, free 10-channel TV in all, even the most remote, areas of the country, and universal Wi-Fi. Most importantly, people have changed – they are better dressed than in Europe, their faces are lit up with smiles, they are liberated. They have become completely different; these people are strikingly different from those I saw 20 years ago. The same is true in many republics of the former Soviet Union. I think that the traits of collectivism and selfless mutual assistance, the sense of common goals of their vast country, which socialism has instilled in them, will soon allow them to reach the greatest heights of prosperity for all segments of the population.
The translator

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?

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

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’.

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

April 03, 2020

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

By Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

It’s an unusual prediction, but the coronavirus may kill the “neoliberal Trotskyist” projects of the Eurozone and the European Union because the pan-European project has, sadly, always cared more for itself than for the well-being of its constituents.

Briefly: the major theoretical contribution of “Daddy Stalin” (to quote Che) to socialism was to insist that nations can indeed go their own way and implement “socialism in one country”; Trotskyism insists that socialism must sweep universally in a perfectly-coordinated movement. It’s clear who has prevailed – the Trotskyists remain winless. While Stalinists just roll their eyes at the bitter Trotskyist refusal to cooperate with them, the latter attempt to denigrate everyone else’s socialist victories as a victory of “Stalinism”… which is no denigration at all, but it does give fodder to socialism-ignorant capitalist-imperialists. Anyway….

The EU and Eurozone run on both the secular, earthly fervor of Trotskyism as well as the religious fanaticism that neoliberalism actually does work (despite all the lack of factual proof).

Both projects also run on capitalism of course, but the corona shutdown has destroyed modern capitalist ideology: there is no demand-side economics possible (how can there be normal demand in a shutdown?), and there is no supply-side economic solution (deregulation and tax cuts are going to work, LOL?). There is now – as socialists already knew – only the government.

This reality is what the corona crisis is laying bare (and does not logically automatically translate into totalitarianism), and this is also why “capitalism with Western characteristics” is recklessly charging towards Great Depression 2 – their ideology is fundamentally incapable of addressing such a situation.

Europe’s safety net means that they won’t be charging into astronomical unemployment, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t already a hot mess: The Eurozone is into an underreported second Lost Decade; the Yellow Vests were proving weekly that anti-European sentiment is not proof of a far-right ideology; the European Union’s handling of Brexit was showing – as they openly intended – that it was more vengeful and punitive than a wronged woman.

The mega-bailouts which will be required due to the corona economic shutdown: once these are finished the only logical fiscal remedy, per neoliberalism, will be “mega-austerity”, right? But that’s another column….

When a crisis hits and nobody can help, a nation-state can only reap what it has sown; nobody is coming to your lockdowned house to help… except if you are in a socialist-inspired nation. Thus, the corona crisis is going to not just end messianic neoliberal projects but also reveal the dignity, and superior performance of the existing socialist-inspired projects.

However, the West will continue to do all they can to obfuscate this via their propaganda. The New York Times just published Australia Says Goodbye to the World’s Longest Boom, but that is inaccurate: socialist Vietnam has had the world’s best economic growth rate since 1981. Not only has their growth rate been double that of Australia’s, but Vietnam has never had a year of negative growth whereas Australia has had three. Knowing this about Vietnam is about as basic a global, objective economic fact as it gets, but since when did capitalists and their shills ever report honestly about economics?

If the Great Recession does become the Great Depression 2 then government isn’t going to disappear nor became hyper-localised – it will become even more prevalent: it will force the return of the nation-state.

Why on earth should we suppose that Europeans will accept “more Europe” when their big, (neoliberal empire) pan-European government has been so inequality-inducing? Socialists, however, are all on board with this, but with a key twist – big government, not big neoliberal capital.

My upcoming book is called Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism and I explained why it is first Iranian, second Islamic, third socialist and in that precise order. After much public debate, and signed off on by then-Supreme Leader Khomeini, Iran decided that the needs of the nation must come before the dictates of Islam. Don’t like it? Move to Saudi Arabia. Iran’s government controls, according to many estimates, about 90% of the non-Black Market economy – more than Cuba’s government. Don’t like it? Move to the US. I am not being aggressive nor xenophobic – I am pointing out that none of this is going to change without a huge fight from the majority of Iranians.

Maybe the West won’t veer from neoliberalism and capitalism-imperialism without a huge fight either?

If so, that will only ensure ever-deepening inequality: the West’s post-corona economic future looks too bleak to put into words yet, but history shows Westerners should expect years of economic hardship for those nations who continue to sacrifice their well-being at the altar of the free market.

How many busts will it take before capitalists are as market-disillusioned as socialists?

Marx proved that capitalism is an endless cycle of boom to bust; central planning, central ownership of key industries, a vanguard party and repression of fascist speech is what socialist-inspired nations use to provide stability during the tough times and to increase mass prosperity during good times.

The corona economic hysteria – which I recently paralleled with the Y2K and 9/11 panics – is only giving us even more data about “capitalism with Western characteristics”. In short: because inflating Everything Bubble 2 was the West’s solution to Everything Bubble 1 (which popped during the 2008 crisis), we can bookend a new Western economic era without accusations of being overly premature.

Boom 1: 1865-1914 – The formative years of modern capitalism, which included covered-up, denied, and unknown holocausts of famine, epidemics and poverty in non-Western countries/colonial subjects. These were all wilfully created: historians know that “we must allow the rules of the free-market to reign no matter how many die in a famine or epidemic” was the open official justification time after time by ruling colonialists. Socialism had difficulties during its formative years, as well; however, the Late Victorian Holocausts and the Making of the Third World were not provoked by Cold War, and its highest ideal was “the White rich should have the freedoms required to rule unopposed”. Booms for the West during this era, but busts for everyone else that were so terrible that many nations have still not recovered.

Bust 1: 1914-1921 – WWI and aftermath: A war started by Western bankers & imperialists to forestall anti-banker socialism.

Boom 2: 1921-1929 – the “Roaring Twenties”

Bust 2: 1929-1945 – the Great Depression and WWII

Boom 3: 1945 – 1975 -The “30 glorious years” for the West, but not for their imperial-turned-neo-imperial (ending direct rule to replace with local puppets) subjects.

Bust 3: 1976-1991 – Widespread recession: blame the Arabs for finally exerting some control over their natural resources; blame the Japanese for increasing expectations of better quality.

Boom 4: 1991-2001 – Dot.com boom; banker entrapment of Eastern Bloc boom; stupid actions/investments caused by alleged “death of socialism”/TINA; Iranian Islamic Socialists defeat Western puppet Iraq and say, “Hey, where did everyone go?”

Bust 4 – 2001-2008 – War on Terror good for Pentagon’s contractors, not for anyone else. For the 99% this Bust era has continued until 2020.

Boom 5 – 2009-2019 – This boom was limited to the Western 1%. They got “socialising the losses” bailouts, QE Infinity and ZIRP; the 99% got minijobs, austerity and stagnant wages.

Bust 5 – 2020-? – Corona crisis and incredible overreaction by countries which believe in “Capitalism with Western characteristics” launches Great Depression 2. 1% and 99% now on same cycle together. News flash: there will be no quick ‘V’ recovery (see “Boom 5”).

Pretty, pretty bad record for the 99%, eh?

Now compare this with socialist-inspired countries:

China: “Century of Humiliation” ends in 1949: Seventy years later they are the undisputed #2 superpower.

Vietnam: Since the end of the French & American Wars and the victory of socialism: Says Hello to the World’s Longest Boom.

Iran: Since end of Western-forced war with Iraq: second-highest increase in UN Human Development Index from 1990-2014. Inhuman triple sanctions in 2012 (UN, US, EU) go unopposed by fake Western leftists; Washington’s attempt at “$0 in oil sales” force Iran to rely on 25 years of gains as Great Depression 2 starts (although that war-era command economy experience will surely come in handy now).

Cuba: Since 1994 (the “Special Period” – caused by the Soviet elite’s wilful, undemocratic implosion of global socialism) Cuba’s annual growth rate has never been negative and almost always superior to that of US ally Mexico. Cuba is perhaps the most solidly-united socialist nation despite a decades-long, genocidal Western blockade.

North Korea: No nation was more decimated by the West, so they had nowhere to go but up. And they did – up until the late 1960s the West was embarrassed by how much smaller North Korea outshined their southern brothers and sisters. Solid growth continued until the Special Period disaster, which lasted a full decade. Despite the endless and enormous war games, (semi-)genocidal blockade, efforts at provoking starvation (North Korea isn’t Cuba, with its well-organised, lush agricultural fields outside of Havana — it’s 80% mountains and only 17% arable land) North Korea has almost always posted solid economic growth prior to ruthless Trump.

The data couldn’t be clearer: the faith-based system of neoliberalism has obviously been led by false messiahs, whereas despite disasters both natural (corona) and unnatural (sanctions, blockades, Cold War, Hot War) socialism has provided more stable economic growth.

Want stability and progress? It’s the socialist-inspired nation-state, stupid.

Trotskyists, of course, are not a huge problem like neoliberal-neoimperial capitalists but a minor part of the obvious solutions.

China was blockaded for decades, but they are a continent – just imagine what the smaller nations could do if the West called off their Cold Wars and didn’t need so spend so much preparing/cleaning up Hot Wars? The answer is obvious: widespread emulation would ensue, spelling the end of Western capitalism-imperialism.

Many smart (semi-)dissidents in the West just can’t break free to get to that point above, sadly – they insist that reformism of capitalism-imperialism is all that is necessary. Nonsense, and unproven.

Similarly: In my lifetime I will wait for the revealing of the Mahdi before I wait for the arrival of Trotskyism’s universal victory – the needs of the nation-state simply cannot wait.

What socialist-inspired politics has always concluded is that a drastic change to the perpetually-busted system I briefly outlined is needed, not yet another bailout for that system’s rich profiteers.

The West’s corona panic led to an immediate rush to bail out their parasitic class with the money of the victims of economic parasitism, yet again. Will the corona bailouts permanently bust the Western system?

Or will the West actually sufficiently bail out their debt-slave citizenry this time? To use a lazy journalistic phrase which I detest: it remains to be seen.

Socialists (of all the different varieties) however, have seen enough.

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

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?

Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for?

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

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

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

If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution

Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions

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


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’.

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

April 02, 2020

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

By Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

It’s the film which captures what 2020’s zeitgeist should become, given that the rabidly anti-socialist West has chosen to economically self-implode Everything Bubble 2 into a possible Great Depression 2 over the coronavirus. It’s based on a great idea: what if Superman’s spaceship had not crashed in rural Kansas but in the rural USSR? His catchphrase would have surely changed to, “Truth, justice and the American socialist way!”

Ten million new unemployed in the span of 8 days… in the coming months Americans won’t be considered aliens to have similarly changed their motto.

Superman: Red Son (2020) is not about an evil Superman, just a socialist one. What movie viewer is going to root against Superman and for the kryptonite?

But rooting for a socialist? That’s not only radical art but a desperately-needed message during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Pepe Escobar, a must-read of the few must-reads, has reviewed the song of the corona zeitgeist – Midnight on Planet Lockdown: Dylan strikes again – because not only is he journalistically impeccable but his musical taste is incredibly hip. Lucky for us, Superman has just been reimagined to show not only that he, too, is still culturally relevant, but also that those about to clamor that we must save neoliberalism are Positively 4th Street.

It’s a fascinating new movie, and for the same reason I raved about following the ending of the often-proclaimed “best TV show of its era”, The AmericansIn my 2018 review, Religion saves ‘The Americans’ – the superb (semi) pro-socialist TV show, I got right to the point regarding the portrayal of two Soviet spies embedded in the US:

“What has gone unappreciated, and of course rarely commented-upon among the fake-leftist cultural gurus of the US, is that ‘The Americans’ was the first show to ever sympathetically portray committed socialists in US history. For leftists, it was truly ground-breaking and long-awaited television.

Watching the show I was happily astounded to see – time and time again – that the spies were portrayed as truly devoted, impassioned, intelligent socialists. Throughout the show’s 6 seasons there were socialist critiques of American culture; of capitalism, imperialism, militarism, racism, individualism, etc., and all delivered without a hint of irony or doubt. Never before have Americans been so capably presented with a socialist critique of their society on the TV in their own home.”

It took 25 years after the fall of the USSR for such a show to be permitted into the US mainstream. Nothing could be worth such a long wait – we need socialist solutions right now, and especially in 2020 – but with The Americans for the first time Americans could at least visualise what true socialists looked like. Prior to that it was mainly stereotypes like Ivan Drago(n) from Rocky IV, a cold and inhuman Frankenstein, cheating with steroids yet still losing, rejecting socialism in the end, and losing to scrappy boy-next-door and Reagan-era icon Sylvester Stallone.

I wonder if in 25 years there will finally be a sympathetic portrayal of Iranian Islamic Socialism on US televisions? LOL… I’d be happy if it arrives in 50 years.

Don’t worry – no spoilers

I thought about doing a part two which would contain an in-depth analysis and spoilers – something like ‘The Death of Stalin’ & ‘sweet’ Hitler? Comparing postwar European cinema – but these crazy times push my natural proclivity towards producing hard news.

The basic plot is: Superman crashes in a land of anti-fascism, anti-racism, anti-tribalism, anti-sexism and which actually fought daily for genuine equality. Of course, for acknowledging this publicly Superman earns the enmity of the corporate fascist United States, which is headed by President Lex Luthor, Superman’s longtime evil-genius rival. Pity poor Americans who will be flummoxed: Are they supposed to root for President Luthor or this unAmerican Superman who is talking about the necessity of socialism with Stalin?

Wonder Woman plays a role that obviously is designed to promote homosexual tolerance (I never knew she was a lesbian?) as well as enraged #MeToo feminism because – after all – this is an American movie, and these are their dominant (fake-leftist, tribalist) political obsessions. I find the former quite boring – I atypically re-interpreted her character as being representative of polytheism. Socialism, after all, did deliver a fatal, banishing blow to polytheism/folk religion in places like China (Confucianism is not folk religion), and the writers of this movie appear to perceive that; socialism did not deliver any such fatal blow to monotheism in Russia, much less in the Muslim World. Wonder Woman’s official title is “Princess Diana of Themyscira”. Of course, Diana/Artemis, the huntress and the god of the moon, is one of the 12 major gods of the Greco-Roman pantheon, and is even more prominent in the neopagan (“the old ways are the best ways, but I’m not a reactionary!”) pantheon. Interpreting this character – and her destiny in the film – as a symbol of polytheistic thought and its socio-historical destiny makes for a much more global, historical, political (to Islamic socialists, at least) and philosophical film analysis.

(This would be the most interesting part of an expanded review, at least to me, because the West is totally oblivious on this score. The modern West is full of closet neopagans (and I’m not including those who believe in a non-monotheistic Holy Trinity) – people who have rejected Christianity and whose “spirituality” is full of pagan-origin, illogical notions and self-entered sensations. Anybody notice that the uber-evil Jeffrey Epstein constructed an elaborate Greek polytheistic temple on his island hideaway? I would have commented on it – why are no MSM columnists talking about “polytheistic fascists” yet we can still read them talk about “Islamo-fascists?” – but I was on vacation back then. And also: Muslims are instructed in the Koran not to insult polytheists as that could push them away from the one God, and isn’t that compassionate and logical?

But polytheism is still actually a real thing – not to fight against physically but to debate intellectually. To quote Ali Shariati, the Iranian Islamic Revolution’s top thinker, “… throughout history, religion has always fought against religion and never in the sense that we understand today, religion against non-religion.” Indeed – historically atheists have been tiny in number, almost always politically powerless and rarely willing to be martyred for their faith in no God. This is why Socialist Superman versus Polytheistic Diana represents an intellectual confrontation as vital as the one between Socialist Superman and corporate fascist Luthor. Watch the movie and you can see for yourself if Wonder Woman/Diana fights with or against Socialist Superman.)

Batman also makes an appearance: he serves as another enemy to Socialist Superman precisely because he is an obvious symbol of always anti-socialist, Make America Great Again-style jingoism. He is the “Dark Knight”, after all. Many may incorrectly interpret Luthor as a Trump-style character, but they should ask themselves: since when did Hollywood become pro-Trump? Also, Luthor (and this is no spoiler) is dating the MSM reporter Lois Lane!

It should be clear that there’s a lot going on in intellectually in this exceptional movie. Socialism, corporate fascism, Trumpian neo-fascism, #MeToo feminism, never-say-die polytheism – this movie takes on many issues which will burn in 2020 and beyond. No spoilers, but which will prevail: A classic “Hollywood ending” or an anti-American Socialist Superman?

Red Son is widely available yet CNN is the only major media to have reviewed it, per Rotten Tomatoes. Obviously, the Western MSM would like this to die a quiet death because they hate any leftist movie. I discuss this phenomenon, and rank the greatest leftist movies, in this article: ‘The Death of Yazdgerd’: The greatest political movie ever explains Iran’s revolution. I would definitely put Superman: Red Son in that conversation, but better than the Shakespeare-in-real-time ‘Death of Yazdgerd’?! You can watch it here on YouTube for free and with subtitles – see for yourself.

CNN wrote a pretty weak review, raising only one intellectual observation to discuss: “What ‘Red Son’ does, in an effective and perhaps unexpectedly timely way, is consider the extent the flag to which one pledges allegiance defines and shapes the man.”

This is the typical “cultural relativism”/Politically Correct lens, the only tool in a Western fake-leftist’s toolkit: Superman is a committed socialist only because he has crashed in the USSR; because everybody is a rabid jingoist/nationalist, and this excuses centuries of Western chauvinism. Clearly, the critic did not accept Superman’s constant, lucid attacks on American capitalism-imperialism, nor his numerous sincere pleas that the West accept socialism (on their own timeframe) to avoid more war and suffering. It is as if the critic does not realise this fundamental truth: many Soviets were committed anti-socialists – merely growing up under a certain flag does not automatically mean one thinks and feels a certain way.

But not in the West: all values are equal (relative), which nihilistically makes them all nonsense. This also permits the secret upholding of every lazy, divisive stereotype: all Soviets were surely fanatical socialists, all Muslims are radical theocrats and all Americans believe in truth and justice. The idea of “us versus them” is an American creed which did not begin during the recent “War on Terror”, nor even with their “War on communism”, but truly begins – though this is never admitted – upon their first footfall in American and their “War on Indians”.

Of course, CNN cannot broach the idea that Superman genuinely believed in the ideals of socialism any more than they can admit that Fidel, Khamenei, much of the Red Army, Xi, and probably half of Xi’s relatives genuinely believe in the ideals of socialism. Such belief is impossible in the moral-relativity West and its many nihilistic corollaries: all open leftists are liars, deluded, childish and/or phonies just waiting to be unmasked. All the billions of leftists in human history can do is roll their eyes… but also to openly reject Western political and moral nihilism.

The movie is “must-see TV” because 2020 seems certain to witness the latest inevitable bust (see my next article) in Western capitalism-imperialism. The wilful explosion of Everything Bubble 2 – which was re-inflated by a QE and ZIRP which did not benefit the “real economy” but the elite asset classes of the 1% – as an allegedly-necessary solution to the coronavirus will put socialist ideas back in the rightful place: in the daily conversation. 2008 saw the Occupy Movement and the idea of the “99%” – why would a 2020 (inevitable) capitalist bust not see an even greater interest and demand for anti-capitalist ideas?

Certainly Superman’s constant espousing of socialist ideals will raise many “deviant” political ideas in the heads of young children, LOL, but cartoons are for all age types now.

Watch Superman: Red Son with your kids and then try to explain that Superman was actually a fraud and a liar and that his pro-socialist speeches, defenses and motivations are as nonsensical in 2020 as they were in 1917, 1941 and 1979. What is certain is that ardent defenders of capitalism-imperialism will watch this movie and scream exactly that at the TV: something like, “Listen to the nonsense they have Superman spouting. It’s unAmerican I tells ya!” Socialists, however, will take Socialist Superman as a man of his honourable words.

Silly socialists, not coming up with this idea back in 1938, when Superman first debuted! Of course, nearly 30 million Soviets were about to be martyred to stop an idea which had swept the Western zeitgeist for decades – the idea of an “Aryan superman”. So we can understand why Soviets were laser-focused on art which emphasised equality and not exceptionalism.

These are crazy times, but are they so crazy that you can’t root for Superman if he’s a socialist and not a defender of “capitalism-imperialism with American characteristics”? Are you even following the times?

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

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?

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

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

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

If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution

Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions


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’.

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution

March 31, 2020

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution

By Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

While the concept of class warfare is verboten and greeted with expressions of bewilderment and fear in the West, at least now everyone is familiar with the 99% versus the 1%. However, this is really too facile an analysis.

It would be more accurate to talk of the “not-so-talented, toadying” 10% versus the 90%. But while this can prove quite accurate for neo-imperial clients, a genuine rise of the middle class in the West renders it less accurate than this distinction:

Today’s “proletariat” is Mao’s “property-less class”. This is easily understood – the propertied class has lives which are more stable by orders of magnitude.

I am a socialist and I want property – this is not a contradiction. In fact, the lack of property is making me crazy – fortunately, it turns out that I am not alone.

In my 2019 book Ending Western Propaganda on Red China (Part 5: The Cultural Revolution’s solving of the urban-rural divide) I relayed a fascinating transnational study which found that Paris and London had the highest rates of social psychosis; more importantly, they concluded that owning your home – or not – was found to be the single biggest predictor of mental and emotional stability.

Of course: being forced to hand over one-third of our pay checks every month to a rich, two-home owning landlord (which he or she probably just inherited from their parents) is a huge stress. I estimate my current landlord has received about €130,000 of my money over the past 8 years.

All that sweat of mine down the drain simply because I need a roof to live yet I can’t possibly qualify for a loan in Paris, where last year the real estate crossed the €10,000 per square meter mark.

As I summed up: “‘Bread, peace, land’ can be translated to ‘Bread, peace, a decent apartment’ in modern times. But it’s not only China and not only Maoism which has solved this issue, proven by their 90% home ownership rate: 80% of Cubans own their own home and thus pay no rent or mortgage.”

Please believe me: when I think about all that money in my landlord’s pocket I get pretty stressed, to put it mildly. I’m not edging into social psychosis, but the recalcitrant capitalists will probably want me locked up for making the following demand/social service announcement.

Now is the time for the landlord class to show who they are as individuals

Across the world there has been an incredible overreaction to the Corona crisis – in my estimation – as the global economy is shutting down. Places like the US, India and many other areas simply do not have the social safety net to accommodate such a move… but they have done it anyway.

Landlords across the world must do the following:

  • Talk to their renters to gauge their economic situation.
  • Admit that a poor economic outlook for their renters is an undeserved injustice.
  • Admit that their renters must be aided, and that landlords have already profited enough.
  • Waive this month’s rent – and perhaps for months to come. Give some profits back.
  • Or, at the VERY LEAST: reduce rent charges in order to only cover the landlord’s monthly mortgage payment on the property/property taxes/building assessments, etc.
  • If their renter has a good economic situation, landlords must donate their rent-profits to charity, because they have already profited enough and their nation almost certainly does not have the social safety net to take care of other poor renters.

This is all simple justice, and it is in the hands of individual landlords to do so.

I am not asking landlords to ruin their credit rating by refusing to pay the mortgage on their properties (though they should demand such an agreement with their lending bank, in order to force banks to consent to widespread debt furloughs), merely to forego gaining profits on their properties.

Can they not afford do that for one month? Perhaps three?

Of course they can.

If they cannot, then they have proven themselves to be the true “(rent) welfare queens”, because they must be living such unaffordable, extravagant lifestyles; they have proven themselves to be as bad as the most ruthless venture capitalist and job-moving globalist; they have proven themselves to be traitors.

Is traitor too harsh a word?

No – failure to do so means that your landlord is only looking out for himself and his nuclear family, so of course he has necessarily betrayed every other larger group: neighborhood, town, metro area, province, region, nation and earthlings. Furthermore, there is constant public and media shaming of “welfare queens”, poor people and non-college educated workers. Have you ever read somebody calling out the landlord class like this? Not in any Mainstream Media and probably not even in Anglophone world, where the landed petit-entrepreneur is supposed to be the rightly-guided class of moral heroes.

This is the best I can do: if not “traitors”, then “deserters”. Feel better?

Won’t do it? Then fear the revolution

Last spring I wrote an 8-part series about China’s Cultural Revolution precisely because I witnessed that France’s Yellow Vests were essentially demanding a French Cultural Revolution: a near-total shutdown of society in order to have huge discussions about their society’s most contentious socioeconomic and cultural issues and their current trajectories. Of course, such trajectories are quite, quite unpopular, and this was before the Great Recession threatened to turn into the Great Depression 2.

The West has now shut down, but still appear far from joining China and Iran as the only two nations with state-protected Cultural Revolutions. However, the horrendous economic impact – which will create such widespread poverty, unemployment, homelessness and death precisely because they do not have the big government of socialist-inspired nations like China, Iran, Cuba and others – seems certain to eventually push the entire world towards the leftism and cooperation of socialism rather than the continued greed, selfishness and competition of “capitalism with Western characteristics”.

From the the very beginning of China’s Cultural Revolution landlords were openly vilified, along with the “four olds”, unrepentant capitalists and known-to-be-corrupt party members. The bad ones were paraded around in dunce caps, or sent to (finally) work for a living instead of living off of parasitic rent-seeking, and – if we listen to balanced Chinese sources and not Western ones – abused physically pretty rarely for an event I refer to as the “Chinese Socialist Civil War” (here, Red Guards ain’t all red: Who fought whom in China’s Cultural Revolution?).

So landlords can either double down and grab as much cash as they can, or when the Cultural Revolution comes to their town people can testify that during this crisis they were true human patriots. It’s an individual choice landlords must make now, and they may not ever be judged harshly by their society for their choices… but they might be. Asian societies know this: Fear and shame are perfectly acceptable motivations for good deeds, after all – but why not just go socialist?

For the people reading this in huge housing developments with corporations for landlords, there are easy ways to resist:

  • Organise on a building-by-building level to refuse collectively to pay your rent as normal, or at least to collectively demand some reduction.
  • Follow the Chinese, if only because what they did worked: outside your buildings put up dàzìbào, or big-character reports/posters to publicly shame your corporate landlords.
  • Contact your local newspaper media and insist they cover your actions against unfair landlords.
  • If your local media won’t side with the People, then resort to social media. Social media can be quite effective, but it is easily overestimated – apply pressure on your local journalists and publishers.
  • The youth class has had it bad enough since 2008, eh? The average age of the Yellow Vests is, in my estimation, 50 years old because, in my estimation, people that age and older have comparatively little to lose. So be an elder leader and risk your credit score, blacklisting, harassing phone class from bill collectors, etc., so the youth can resist in other ways and not live so very long under Western capitalist-style stigmatisation.

Many medium and large businesses are reportedly already telling their creditors – banks – that they are stopping parasitic rent payments for the time being; they have to keep their savings for the long, slow Corona recovery which will surely eat through their cash. (Again, do the doctors, helicopter Moms and Western politicians have any understanding of economics on a micro- or macro-level? I wonder….)

The non-propertied class doesn’t have these types of levers but social shaming is one – I suggest you use it with your landlord.


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’.

If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone

March 30, 2020

If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone

By Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

Germany and their moral poses… a century of Europe cries, “Enough!”

It’s hard for those living outside of Europe to understand the resentment towards Germany; Germans themselves often seem totally oblivious – the “German professor” only ever sees bad, unruly students, after all.

When I first moved to Paris in 2009 I remarked how all the Germans I met were so very nice. I was told, “They have to be, after what they’ve done.”

Low blow?

Hardly. Ignoring history is not politeness or PC progress or evidence of forward-thinking: it’s denial, hysteria and illusory thinking.

To paraphrase Henny Youngman: Take my Mutti – please. Angela Merkel is my generation’s Margaret Thatcher. When Thatcher died there were street parties in the UK, which were brutally repressed by cops, but the billionaire-directed Western Mainstream Media ordered paeans to be penned instead.

For Merkel there has similarly never been anything but fawning coverage, as evidenced – aggravatingly – by this recent story from the Associated Press: Merkel shines in handling of Germany’s coronavirus crisis.

Why such love for an abusive mother? Because she certainly hasn’t abused the German 1%: under Merkel German corporations have re-colonised much of Central Europe, they have extracted as much wealth as possible from weaker Eurozone nations like Greece, and downward pressure on wages was maintained on the German post-Hartz Re(De)forms workforce via the importation of hundreds of thousands of skilled Syrians and detested “minijobs”.

On a pan-European level ever since 2008, and even in the heat of the 2012 European Sovereign Debt Crisis, we have Germany’s constant refusal for “more Europe”, which is the only possible way to save this (atrocious, anti-democratic, unaccountable, corrupt, American-penned, socialism-detesting) version of the pan-European project. Germany refuses to collateralise Eurozone debt, even though it is Germany who would collect as they are the debtors, because Germany doesn’t want mere dead gold but living debt slaves.

The Eurozone is simply so riddled with contradictions and stupidities it just defies journalistic explanation:

Germany just doesn’t get it – for every country with an export surplus, there simply has to be a country with a corresponding deficit. It was German (and French) banks who signed off on the bad loans to the “immoral” Greeks which precipitated the biggest Eurozone problems, and yet it is German banks who got bailed out, despite their errors; and yet it is German banks who got QE to loan; and yet it is German banks which didn’t loan a dime of QE, and certainly not to Greeks. Germany is the biggest recipient of the ECB bond-buying, even though they don’t need it, whereas Greece was excluded even though they need it?

Crazy, but let’s look at Germany’s explanation for all these selfish actions action: moral hazard. They simply cannot perpetuate immorality, and deficits (even if to pay for the elderly, the poor, health care, education, etc.) are immoral. Haven’t you read your Kant, and his OCD-morality? German absolutism is absolute; their personal conscience must be clean no matter how many murderers must be let in the door to commit murder.

So… explain your €822 billion bailout, Germany?

Wait – what? A bailout worth 22% of annual German GDP?

What happened to budget rigour and the moral imperative of balanced budgets? What happened to the total, facile nonsense that a national economy is simply a household writ large? What happened to Yanis Varoufakis recycling absurd stereotypes like “Teutonic discipline” (has he never seen an Oktoberfest?)?

Oh, I get it… Germany is in a crisis – EU deficit rules need to be relaxed.

However: Greece and others were in a crisis for years – why didn’t their crises matter?

(Millions starving in Yemen, millions dying of bad water globally, deaths from natural disasters – indeed, why does the Corona crisis matter so very, VERY much more than those crises? I just can’t comprehend the West’s crisis criterion.)

But it gets worse with Germany: Bailouts for Greece and other crisis-hit nations were contingent on forcing open their economies. German and Dutch companies gleefully bought up assets and market share, and forced in their products but now Germany Will Block Foreign Takeovers to Avoid Economy Sell-Out?

It’s disgusting, German hypocrisy.

But Europeans have been dealing with this for quite some time. In January I wrote this article to explain Europe’s perpetual stagnation and unrest: 1941, 1981, 2017 or today – it’s still Germany’s fault.

Need more? In 2017, foolishly assuming that QE would actually end, I wrote France’s historic effort for an anti-austerity Eurozone, which detailed the self-harming, wooing efforts from De Gaulle to Mitterrand to Hollande aimed at ending this historical trend: “France wanted to not be conquered by the US-German alliance, so they kept proposing a Franco-German (capitalist) alliance.”

Ramin, you seem rather anti-German. Are you a tribalist-racist?

No. What I am is a daily hard news journalist in the heart of Europe and I am fed up with reading lecture after lecture from Germany; hypocrisy after hypocrisy; duplicity upon duplicity.

Just tell me this: where is the “moral hazard” in the Corona crisis, Germany?

Shine a light on that for me, Mutti Merkel.

She cannot. There is none.

There are healthy companies – who have as much Teutonic economic discipline, intelligence and good DNA as a pure and spotless German – in places like Italy which are going to go under without something like Corona-bonds to provide financing wrought by the Marxist logic-defying Western shutdown.

Forget it – shot down already by Germany and their Dutch toadies. Same old story….

The corona overreaction defies Marxist logic and is economic suicide (socialist-inspired nations like China and Iran control their economies, so they can do things which the corporate-dominated West cannot) but yet another German refusal to help, to pool debt and risk, to show solidarity means Germany must leave the Eurozone.

Hell, we KNOW they have the money – while they have had their boots on the throats of people like the Greeks the Germans have also been assiduously picking their pockets. Germany can afford such a staggeringly huge bailout because of these incredibly immoral profits! Oh no Ramin, you’re wrong – they got those profits simply because German capitalists are so very moral. Sure, sure….

German bankers entrapped poorer Eurozone countries into debt slavery, and now that their slaves are sick Germany wants a quarantine?

You’ll never read such analyses in the West, that’s for sure, but what is absolutely, absolutely certain is that the average Eurozone citizen knows what I am talking about already. Anti-German sentiment is going to absolutely explode if Germany’s historical pattern – pro-US imperialism, anti-European project, self-interest above solidarity – continues.

Everybody in Europe (and the whole world) has seen how China, and not Germany, is the one sending supplies to corona-hit Italy. Yes, the Eurozone’s terrible structure means it is always fiddling while Rome burns, but I truly believe that German (capitalist-imperialist) leadership simply doesn’t care.

Of course there are good Germans who want Corona bonds, but the simplest solution to the Eurozone’s crisis has always been to expel Germany.

If Germany is unwilling to take the basic steps needed to improve the currency union, it should do the next best thing: Leave the eurozone.” That’s an assessment from Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. Yes, I did write ‘The Euro’ by Stiglitz: Even fake leftists say ‘exit’, but the point is that only far-right neoliberals don’t see that a “Deutsch-parture” can painlessly end the Eurozone’s near-constant stagnation and dissension. The Netherlands can similarly be invited to leave as well.

Unless naked, would-be German emperors can finally get off their high horses and on board with morality and unity – via something like Corona bonds – a huge explosion of jingoism and neo-fascism in the Eurozone is around the corner.

Fine by me I guess – history shows that this is the last step before socialism because: how can fascism ever possibly succeed for the lower classes? It seems some Western nations need to go through this step (yet again) before accepting that the needs of workers, not bankers, and the poor must always be predominant in political policy.


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’.

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

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

by Ramin Mazaheri exclusive for The Saker log

So when did you become an epidemiologist? You seem quite willing to shame anyone not sterilising every square inch of every square inch.

And when did you become an economist? “The economy is not important now” must have been a pretty unusual PhD thesis.

We have likely all heard of “internet tough guys” – people who make bold claims or threats online, yet would flee at the sight of conflict – but who knew social media had so many people qualified to tell entire nations what to do regarding Corona?

How much of the Corona crisis has been caused by social media virtue-signallers, hypochondriacs, communications degree-holding intellectuals, helicopter Dads, bossy cows, and sheep who generally follow whatever the herd, management or pop stars tell them to do? That’s an interesting question: would we all be in lockdown prior to the internet and Facebook?

A practical follow-up question is: which nations have leadership which are perhaps even steered by social media, and which nations have leaders who can steer the national boat through choppy waters?

As socialists know and accept, a vanguard party is essential precisely because there are so many choppy waters in life. Choppy waters are doubled for socialist-inspired countries due to imposed wars, sanctions, blockades and endless cold war.

Capitalists and libertarians once again use Orwell against us – the same old, facile “some pigs are more equal than others” of Animal Farm – conflating totalitarianism with socialism, even though the two have entirely different ends and means.

Despite their absurd claims, the vanguard party concept is not anti-democratic. Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel had truly universal support from every Cuban (in Cuba) I asked because he rose level by level by repeatedly showing his competence as a civil servant. The same goes for Xi of China (as I will soon remind). Nobody expected a low-ranking cleric like Khamenei to take over for Khomeini, but he has repeatedly showed his competence and abilities; go tell the tens of millions shouting “Khamenei rahbar” (Khamenei the leader) that socialist-inspired democracy, with both direct and indirect, hasn’t worked out well. In post-1917 countries one rises to the 1% via actual competence, and not just by buying elections, as in the West.

Conversely, Hillary Clinton married the governor of Arkansas, who became president, and then America was stuck with her. Emmanuel Macron did… I don’t even know how he got so far so fast, and I really don’t want to know what went on behind closed doors with him.

Regardless, are some pigs more equal than others, to pose their question?

Certainly, what you won’t hear from such socialist detractors is that China’s President Xi spent years doing hard rural work during the days of the Cultural Revolution, and then teaching illiterate farmers how to read during his Cultural Revolution nights. Now, I suppose it is technically a possibility: none of that was earnestly heartfelt on Xi’s part, and he is secretly amassing a personal fortune because the recesses of his heart are nothing but pure bitterness and hate for the socialist ideal of equality which he was forced to display and teach; he has also spent decades duping everyone in China that he is a competent public servant; Xi has zero warm sentiment for those rural citizens he worked with, and wants only revenge; any moment now Xi will launch a surprise attack of totalitarianism designed solely for his personal benefit and revenge.

These are the very real – yet ALWAYS unsaid – logical extensions of Western arguments made against vanguard parties in general, as well as against Xi. Westerners insist that socialist vanguard parties are corrupt not just at the core but all the way to the periphery.

Another unsaid logical extension is that no vanguard parties informally exist in the West. If, however, there are, it is because such people have risen to the 1% solely on merit. Xi’s supposed “merit”, is not merit at all… unlike theirs. Don’t push Westerners to explain these points – they have no answers.

Much of this applies to Iran as well – their system is based on the idea of the “guardianship of the Islamic jurist”. “Down with those opposed to the guardianship of the Islamic jurist” is always included in the “down withs”, and even before “down with the MKO, England, the US and Israel”. The vanguard party in Iran is obviously the clergy; I have written extensively and objectively about how I believe this is being bureaucratically formalised into the “Basij”, and I have discussed how the structure of the Basij has been clearly modelled on the Chinese Communist Party.

How can that be, Ramin, when Communists are atheists? Firstly, they are not. Maybe Marx was, but to hell with him on this point. Cuba is full of Catholics, but even more prevalent are those who practice Santeria; Vietnam has always constitutionally protected religion; Confucianism and Taoism, it is rarely recognised, are two sides of the same East Asian cosmological coin, and China’s intolerance on this point is being remedied. The USSR never reconciled religion and socialism, and this is a huge reason explaining why they are no more; a reason as big as Krushchevian corruption and capitalist-roading.

However, the structural and political similarities between the Basij and the CCP arise not from cosmological agreement but from the natural similarities of two countries who have had post-1917, socialist-inspired revolutions. The similarities are not “coincidental” at all, though those who misunderstand and reject socialism would surely explain away my comparisons with such sweeping, facile, pseudo-explanations. I’m not sure that you can have a vanguard party without the structures, policies and protections – as well as many of the aims and demands – which are greatly dissimilar from the CCP and the Basij? Few examples exist, sadly, for me to study and compare. Never say never, I suppose.

The idea of a formalised vanguard party – as in Iranian Islamic Socialism and other forms of socialism – does not mean totalitarianism. I suppose it could, but why can it not also mean elite governance performance? Why must we look only at the negative aspects, and not the positive? What are we – capitalist-imperialists?

The Corona crisis is not going to validate the support of formal, socialist-inspired vanguard parties in China, Iran, Cuba and elsewhere – they need no validation among their people; their bones are made.

What it will certainly do is discredit the Western model of “non-vanguardism”, “hidden-vanguardism”, “technocratic vanguardism”, “1%er-vanguardism” or whatever else you want to term their bankocratic, aristocratic, bourgeois oligarchies which govern.

The incredible spanner Western politicians have suicidally thrown into their economies will prove this: they have none of the unity, foresight, determination and especially the political modernity of countries like China and Iran, yet they are adopting similar Corona responses. It simply can’t be done without causing Great Depressions in the Lost Decade II-embarking Eurozone for certain, and also for the US economy, which disastrously combines a finance & service & consumer-based economy with non-Trumpian evangelism for self-harming globalisation.

It will take great pain, but this is what humans often require to make serious change, sadly. It will split apart families, but that is what civil war does.

I don’t know which nation will be the first to see their lower class starting to attack their neoliberal/neoliberal-client systems – and attacking as well the reactionary selfishness of the “first responders” whom they are repeatedly told to adulate – but they will all reach the same place as China and Iran: who is in charge? Who is the vanguard party to lead and staff the bureaucracy, which organises and decides on the logistics, and who needs to spread the night soil so we all can eat?

All workers are valid and equal, of course, but a vanguard party is needed to run a government. The alleged path goes capitalism, socialism, communism, anarchism – the idea that no vanguard parties are needed is anarchism, and Cubans will also correct you when you call them communist: they know they are not that far. The amount of self-empowerment espoused in anarchism may not even be possible on a billions-level? These are questions for a later date….

Allow me to disqualify myself from the vanguard party: I have been passed up for management over and over (of course everyone claims this), so maybe they are right? I am used to being a powerless cog in a machine, and I quite like it now!

The people who deserve to be in vanguard parties are those who evince both the capability for selflessness as well as the capability for superior political thought. After all, some have capabilities for great artistic thought, or great engineering thought, or have great social skills – political policy certainly requires input from all sectors and classes but their bureaucrats do need to have a masterful grasp of modern political ideology, as well as a grasp of what not to do: i.e., the ideologies held by the enemies of modern political ideologies. These qualifications are evinced by people like Xi, Khamenei, Diaz-Canel and France’s Yellow Vests.

The roar that the Yellow Vests will make when France’s lockdown in over… that’s another article.

I don’t think you can find a journalist writing in any Western language who has stood shoulder to shoulder with them more often, and I can promise France: put the Yellow Vests in charge and you’ll have exceptional national governance immediately. Unlike the Iranian clergy, Chinese commies and Cuban socialist-Santeriaists, the Yellow Vests’ actual support is hard to gauge: polls constantly showed over 50% support, yet the Animal Rights Party won 2.2% in the 2019 European Parliament elections, double the Yellow Vests parties combined.

Who is the vanguard party in the US? That I cannot say – I do not think one is apparent. I think Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders and their few public comrades are interesting given the limitations of the US political context, but they are still far from what’s necessary now, and especially far from what will be necessary given the trajectory of Great Depression 2.

The times make the man, as they say.

The West’s vanguard parties seem intent on making times as difficult for the lower classes as they possibly can. Time well spent would be turning of Western MSM, as well as social media, and reflecting on who you think should really be in charge.

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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