Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

The reason for the draconian neoliberal ideology

May 26, 2014

Many poor people don’t bother to vote, and those ones at least are clear-headed about what’s in their best interest. Poor people are easily exploited in any number of ways, which is frustrating but difficult to blame them for. A lot of middle-class people make the mistake of believing that because they have agency in their own lives, then poor people must have agency in their lives.

It’s relatively easy to understand modern political reality if we examine the expected future reality. By the end of the 21st century the world will only be able to support half a billion people (best case scenario, assuming the existing power structures continue). So something needs to kill 6.5 billion people between now and then. Some of that will happen “naturally”, from poor people being unable to migrate (ala the Congo or New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina) when either military or climate change devastation reaches them. But a lot of it will have to happen in some more direct way.
This is the fundamental reason for the draconian neoliberal ideology. The rulers understand that the only system they are capable of ruling is destroying the world, and that as the world dies it will support fewer and fewer people – therefore the logic is to devalue humanity because they are going to die soon anyway – and to build walls, gated communiities, and surveillance systems to maximize the security and well-being of the people who will be the last to die.
Running concurrently with this is technology as a religion – since technology has the very real possibility (not high possibility though) of allowing the rulers to live even longer, through medical science, genetic modification, and advances in colonization of other planets. It’s very difficult to see this extending the life of the species much beyond a few decades, at least if the ruling structures remain in place.
There’s a phrase to deeply consider the meaning of – “facts on the ground”. In principle this means that if the ruling structures remain in place long enough to make human catastrophe a certainty, then the ideology of the rulers will triumph – it’s difficult for ordinary people to stand against the rulers selecting which people will be left alive if the world simply can’t support additional people. In the Mad Max movies for example it’s “dog eat dog”, not because poor people had suddenly lost their morality but because the world had been made into a place where nothing more is functional.

Apocalypse and the neoliberal global economy

August 15, 2013
Prior to the understanding of the upcoming death of the world, the liberal idea of expanding the middle class in order for there to be more buyers for capitalist production worked, and was embraced by many capitalists. But once there was no longer a long-term future for the world, there’s no long-term buyers. So the logic shifted to hoarding, wealth accumulation and control, the siege mentality of the gated-community set amid the global surveillance high-tech security state.
It’s shameful that the apocalyptic social and psychological reality is not being dealt with by the intelligentsia, supporting my theory that the intelligentsia are the least intelligent people while “regular people” in the world actually know what’s going on.
Progressive commentators, far more influential than anyone who knows what’s going on, continue to talk about the neoliberal global economy as if it’s just a phase of capitalism, it’s just backlash against the New Deal, so it’s a “return to the pre-Great Depression” times. The word apocalypse never gets mentioned, except perhaps as a possible outcome of such terrible economic policy, not a CAUSE of it.
In progressive circles “apocalypse” is reserved for what happens if global warming is not dealt with, which is entirely correct as scientists understand.
This is nothing new, unfortunately. The Age of Anxiety began with the advent of nuclear weapons and the perpetual possibility of imminent human annihilation. But instead of talking about reality, humans who ideologically ally themselves with those who benefit in the global power arrangement from having nuclear weapons decide that their psychological troubles are entirely personal in nature and are a matter for soul-searching and lots of pharmaceuticals to deal with. Because they don’t address the real issues, those in power expand their power and create even more anxiety for people to neglect in favor of phantom ideas.
The dragon gets fatter and fatter and more and more brazen if noone wants to stop him. The dragon flays the skin from the human bones while the human is busy saying the dragon doesn’t exist. The human then looks down at the scarred remains of his body, blames himself, and proudly calls it taking personal responsibility.

The state of the world

June 24, 2013
Once the real world becomes poisonous it’s “pick your poison”, and then the process begins of abandoning the real world in favor of improving the choice alternative. Consider the development of video games, which are alternate realities – video games were fueled by the haze of despair the West experienced during the Vietnam War. 80% of mainstream video games feature murder as the primary form of gameplay. Video game murder can be viewed as YOLO – a final thrill before death – and not just as military propaganda as some have argued.
The real world is ultimately all we have, and all other worlds, however real they seem, are wholly dependent on the condition of the real world. But think about a game of poker played in a crumbling building – does one repair the building, flee the building, or try to win the last game? Once one gives up on repair, only two options remain.
Trace back the history of game theory, and we find that it only became popular with the Cold War, which was the first war in human history where total human annihilation was a constant threat. The psychological reality behind the world accepting such a thing was accepting a last game of poker in a crumbling building. In other words, the entire world lost their dignity and humanity merely by engaging in the Cold War. The war itself was a terribly wrong choice. Or in the words of the movie “War Games”, sometimes the best move is not to play.
The ongoing and always increasing global ecological disaster is fascinating psychologically. Because again, the worse the world gets the more logic there is in abandoning it – in giving up. Once one gives up on life itself, there’s no such thing as true morality. Once the choice becomes flight or winning the last game, there’s no longer anything at stake. Or as Freddie Mercury puts it – “Nothing really matters”. This very despair fueled the “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” lifestyle of the popular musicians of the time.
The outcome for normal people of all of this is sheer terror, of course. And the outcome of that is a kind of fearful huddling together, being currently exploited by Facebook and Google. Logically, churches and other religious congregating places should be huddle centers for the non-tech crowd, and that they haven’t been more popular is a curious topic in itself – it perhaps shows just how atomized and de-civilized Western societies have become.
Austerity is an apocalyptic political program, which hollows out human societies in favor of enriching the draconian gated community crowd – the idea being that the real world is abandoned, there’s no long-term future for the world, so the best move in the game is to grab all the loot, fly to the highest mountain, and maximize the time left before the world drowns, either in despair, in torturous war, disease or general decay, or possibly literally in water.
During this process of grabbing the loot the dragons need to keep the unruly masses in their place, so of course a massive surveillance, detention and military apparatus are necessary – therefore the high tech, prison, security, weapons, and surveillance industries are doing very well for the forseeable future.
The way out of this nightmare is quite simple, of course – there’s only one solution – to repair, recondition, improve if possible, and sustain the real world. The real world is all we have, the best other worlds can possibly do is help us deal with the real one.

Modern Monetary Theory

March 16, 2012

John McMurtry’s “Value Wars: The Global Market Versus the Life Economy”

March 22, 2010

Highly recommended.

Addressing the issue of “In today’s world are there any good investments?”

January 11, 2010

Long-term, lets say 50+ years or maybe even 30+ years, there’s no such thing as a good investment, since the world (with respect to human habitation) is dying and no, capital won’t be able to escape to outer space, at least in that time frame.

Disastrous garbage mega-banks are “too big to fail”, yet during the Copenhagen sham the US was only willing to give $10 Billion to help save the planet. Apparently the planet is NOT “too big to fail”. Wrap your head around that logic and continue to tell me that the elite are “rational”.

In the short to medium term, I completely disagree with those who say there’s no such thing as a good investment. Right now there is a massive India/US alliance and with US power backing India, investments look good in India. Investments are also strong in areas with positive near-future expectations, like the Western-allied Pakistan. China is a strong economy right now and with the exception of their stock market bubble which could crash this year there are many good investment opportunities.

Green technologies which are successful would be tremendous investments, at or exceeding the value of early investments in Microsoft. Much of the elite, barring big oil, big coal, etc. of course, are behind green technologies.

What’s a more pertinent question perhaps is the issue of whether one’s primary focus should be on power calculations, which is what investment is all about, versus a focus on saving the world. Power calculations are amoral. Power calculations can lead one to believe mega-banks are “too big to fail” while the planet is worth, well, $10 Billion.

The roots of existentialism and psychoanalysis

July 24, 2009

Existentialism and psychoanalysis were invented by the West in order to turn Western society’s attention inward, toward “it’s problems” rather than the problems it was causing in the world through world capitalism of which it was (and is) the imperial center. Existentialism is the leading cultural cause of Western global destruction. The neurotic is not waging a battle for his soul between wealthy dominator and compassionate decency, but endlessly self-absorbed, with ongoing “issues”, which serve as a perpetual bubble keeping the world at bay. The neurotic wants one of two things – either endless attempts at reconciliation, whereby he visits psychoanalysts, takes pills which don’t work, talks about his “feelings” over and over, or he’s “cured”, where he feels “peace of mind” with no substantial change in his identity.

Far from radicals, Nietzsche, Kafka and others are servants of imperial power, turning the West’s attention inward at the very time it was exerting increasing control through global capital networks. Existentialism fully succeeded in it’s tasks, and global capital reigned throughout the 20th century and so far into the 21st. Only the covert socialist Neoconservatives have thus far threatened global capital, and they’ve been shut down.

On the Economy

May 21, 2009

Credit Where Credit is Due: We’re Not Out of the Woods Yet

Road to Ruin: Mortgage scandal brewing

May 18, 2009

Link

A Haunting Presence: Pirates, Then and Now

February 9, 2009

Link

Global crisis fuels protests

February 8, 2009

Link

Requiem for An Overweight

February 6, 2009

Link

The end of free-market fundamentalism

October 2, 2008

Link

Markets slammed by Lehman collapse

September 16, 2008

Link

The Three Trillion Dollar War

September 16, 2008

Link

In the Land of the Master Chess Player

June 21, 2008

Link

Little Waste in Shantytown

June 21, 2008

Link

On Obama and the American economy – with Aijaz Ahmad

June 16, 2008

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Leftist Campaign Issues

June 8, 2008

Link

The World After Bush

May 19, 2008

Link

The IMF’s Dwindling Fortunes

April 28, 2008

Link

The Lords of Capital Decree Mass Death by Starvation

April 17, 2008

Link

When the Fed Goes into the Investment Business

April 13, 2008

Link

Corporations – Command Economies

April 12, 2008

It’s extremely illogical if nothing else that the same people who fervently defend corporations are those who deride communism. In communism a small localized elite establish policy for an economy (that of a nation). This policy is then handed down and expected to be carried out, with punishments for those who do not do so.

In a corporation a small localized elite establish policy for that corporation. This policy is then handed down and expected to be carried out, with punishments for those who do not do so.

Alright then, so what are the *differences* between corporations and communism, which lead some people to celebrations of the former and demonizations of the latter?

Argument #1: Corporations are less powerful than communist states and therefore less threatening.

This is true in the case of many corporations, but not all. Many corporations now have a higher GDP than that of most nations. And given the tremendous privileges given to corporations under the law, their size and power are very much unchecked, unlike that of nations. No rational human being can say that in today’s world communism is more threatening than corporations (and corporatism, the political system of power than corporations wield).

Argument #2: Corporations compete against each other which leads to gains in productivity, unlike communist nations.

That’s false on both sides. Communist nations do compete against other nations in terms of economic performance. The Soviet Union for example was a failure of economics. Most giant corporations do not so much compete against other corporations as compete against local governments, with respect to repressing any laws that favor workers and allowing low costs for resource extraction. Having defeated the local government, profit naturally ensues, in the same sense that if I was to go to a neighbor’s house, extort him into giving me his family’s money in exchange for a kickback, profit to me would necessarily ensue. This would then be described as a “free market transaction”. That is to say, I am free to extort and run a “successful corporation” which is “more productive” than the competition. If others go out of business as a result that’s merely “competition” which weeds out companies that are “inefficient”.

But to be fair, corporations also compete against other corporations. They mainly do so through marketing and advertising, since their products are tremendously uniform (not that they are beyond hyping any minor difference in the product). This marketing and advertising establishes utterly irrational links, having nothing to do with the product. Hence the “Be Like Mike” campaign that helped Nike sell shoes. While Michael Jordan would probably have performed considerably worse if wearing sandals instead of shoes, the type of shoe he wore had more to do with who was paying him more money (and most improving his image and marketability) than anything else. Hence Michael Jordan himself would have “Been Like Mike” had he been wearing Adidas’s.

So, obviously, this competition does not result in gains in productivity, unless you consider irrational advertising to be in some way productive. It certainly doesn’t help Nike produce more shoes at a lower cost, and the price of Nike shoes reflects that.

Great Book – Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism

April 11, 2008

Ha-Joon Chang’s book is excellent – a must read for everyone.