Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Financialization of Society and the Fiscal Cliff "Crisis"


Note: The endnote sources are important to review. They provide the needed context for this essay.

 

The Financialization[1][2] of Society and the Fiscal Cliff "Crisis"[3]

 

Network - Money speech (1976)

 


 

Another day, another "crisis" diverted...and created. Politicians and media both promote the art of illusion (idealism) over reality. But for good reason...to maintain hegemonic power. Public Enemy said it best: "Don't believe the hype."

 

The Winner of the Fiscal Cliff "Crisis" = Corporations (1%)[4][5]

...as always. The "narrowly avoided crisis" had the same winner as most other "shock doctrine" created crises: corporations. The corporatization of society basically guarantees that all decisions politicians make, and all crises created and/or averted will be to the benefit of big business. For those that understand this reality, this "crisis" was never real. In a globalized economy where corporate capitalism rules the day, the question that one must always keep in mind = "What benefits multinational corporations?" 

For that reason, don't expect too much turmoil from the next "crisis"…i.e. the debt ceiling debate. Yes, it is true that the Republican party is now split between those that really hate government and want to leave everyone to their own demise (in the libertarian, Ayn Rand vein where even disaster relief is frowned upon), and the corporate shills that answer to Wall Street (think corporate welfare, loop holes, tax breaks etc). But when you include the other side of the political aisle (bought Democrats), advantage tips to Wall Street and big donors will be taken care of first and foremost. The fa├žade has already started to fade as recent reports indicate Republicans will increase the debt ceiling and not use it as leverage in budget negotiations.[6] So, what we get and should expect from business (i.e. our government) is business…as usual.


The Loser of the Fiscal Cliff "Crisis" = The In-Debt Public (99%)[7]

16 trillion and growing. The U.S. debt basically is a function of public money being transferred to private entities (corporations), but what we are being told (sold) is that government programs we support through OUR tax dollars are no longer sustainable (remember, there are no government resources, there is only OUR resources we give to so called governments to distribute). In this narrative, they leave out the reason these programs are becoming unsustainable: governments supposedly representing the people have siphoned OUR resources, out of the hands of the MANY to give to the FEW...in 2008 it was specifically bailing out the financial sector (socialism for the rich; i.e. privatizing profits, socializing losses)...but to better label this process, think PRIVATIZATION, the ultimate goal of corporate capitalism.

In a perfect world for corporate capitalists, institutions and systems where profit can be gained will no longer be publically funded AT ALL (education, defense, healthcare, criminal justice, etc.) ...This process started long ago (Blackwater, private prisons, HMOs, for-profit schools) but complete corporate privatization is the ultimate goal. Small business, mom and pop stores, and true ''free market" capitalism is so 1950s. Globalization and multinational corporations ended that form of capitalism a long time ago. Public education (from K-12 to affordable public universities) is now the target of privatization, from charter schools to expensive $1000 per unit for-profit "universities" popping up all over. And with the debt "crisis" debate, pension and entitlement programs that we pay into like Social Security and Medicare will be put on the table in the name of "debt reduction" which really is just a move to solidify a society where everything is privately owned...by corporations. As bleak as the economic future looks under these present circumstances, the future can always be re-written by the actions we take in the present.


The Silver Lining(s):

1. As long as humans breathe, humanity exists

While it often takes a tragedy or natural disaster to see the true depths of people's compassion for others, it never fails to be revealed. From the many around the globe that see themselves as their brothers' keepers, to the raw politics of disaster relief, or gun control after a mass shooting tragedy, opportunities arise to promote humanism. We must continue to seize our power. #Occupy provides a model.

 

2. Checks & Balances 2.0

Checks and balances were supposedly built in to the branches of government, but with all branches now corporate bought, checks and balances within government have become null and void. But checks and balances exist in other forms to fill the void.

Anonymous

Whether you believe Anonymous to be an organized group or an obscure idea, the possibilities of technology as a tool to fight hegemonic power are as limitless as cyberspace. Anonymous provides the technological strategy in this battle for freedom.


China, a new global power

While the U.S. becomes weaker as a nation state by its own embrace of financialization (bailing out banks and selling out American workers), China makes moves to solidify its economic power, by working its way into Africa and South America for natural resources and being the world’s largest creditor nation.[8]

 

3. Dialectical Materialism[9]

 
"The ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought." —Karl Marx, Das Kapital, Vol. 1.

 

Despite framing to the contrary, Marx was right. It is no surprise that the biggest proponents of the corporatization of society and privatization find it necessary to malign Karl Marx and his work whenever possible. Think about it, unless you are in a social science course in academia, who else spends more time discussing Marx? The average person just living and working and raising a family probably spends little time contemplating his ideas...unless they watch Fox news or listen to conservative radio and absorb that side's anti-communism talking points. For a theorist of a day long gone, he still strokes many fears....why is that? Because he understood the illusion of capitalism and many other “ideas” that are represented as independent of the material world from which they derived.


Capitalism and Idealism

Such an approach means accepting, or at least leaving open the possibility, that the material world we live in is ultimately shaped by forces from outside it, and that consciousness or ideas come first, in the sense that they can exist independently of the real world. This approach, which is the philosophical opposite of materialism, we call 'idealism'.

According to this approach, the development of mankind and of society - of art, science, etc. - is dictated not by material processes but by the development of ideas, by the perfection or degeneration of human thought. And it is no accident that this general approach, whether spoken or unspoken, pervades all the philosophies of capitalism (Dialectical Materialism).

Although Romney was dismissed and ridiculed for the statement, Romney revealed a real truth when he said the following: "Corporations are people, my friend."

The reason that is not believed is because corporations have PURPOSELY been mystified, and outside of the CEOs and shareholders, the people that actually make them possible have PURPOSELY been alienated. Much of the wealth in the globalized economy comes from consumer capitalism.


Case Study: Walmart

1. Fact #1: Walmart is richer than most nation states in the world.

2. Fact #2: Six Waltons (family members of Walmart dynasty) have more wealth than millions of Americans combined (49 million families) ...and when looked at globally, the inequality in wealth becomes even more pronounced.

3. Fact #3 Walmart can't exist without 1) the labor of those that manufacture the goods, 2) the labor of the workers that sell the goods in their stores worldwide, and 3) the consumers that buy the goods in their stores worldwide. In other words, without the people that work for and buy from Walmart, there is no Walmart and Facts #1 and #2 cease to exist.

 

Capitalism is nothing more than an idea where few benefit from the labor and consumerism of the many...and from goods we already make and use for ourselves. It basically comes down to understanding who are the REAL makers and who are the REAL takers. As Marx understood, as soon as the many understand this reality, capitalism as we have created and allowed to exist ...will end. Our material reality is constantly changing, and with it, our understanding of it. Yes, another world is possible…but more than that…it is inevitable.[10]


Never forget...we blame society...but we are society.

 

 
Essays to revisit:

1. Rise Up Hip Hop Nation: 2012: A Year of Reckoning, Awakening, or Both?


2.The Burden and Freedom of Reality


3. Dis'United States of America: The Red, White, Blue...and above all Green




[1] Financialization – Summary; link = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financialization
[2] Financial Capitalism v. Industrial Capitalism (September 1998)
[3] America’s Deceptive 2012 Fiscal Cliff (December 2012); Link = http://michael-hudson.com/2012/12/americas-deceptive-2012-fiscal-cliff/
[4] The Finance Industry Has Pried into Every Sector of the Economy, and Has Ended Up Running the Whole Show
[5] Bernie Sanders says six bank companies have assets equaling 60 percent of U.S. GDP
[7] 2013 – the stage is set (January 2013); link = http://michael-hudson.com/2013/01/2013-the-stage-is-set/

[8] US Black Debt Hole: 'We want you all bankrupt!'; Link = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8P1fihT5B7o

4 comments:

Solzhenitsyn said...

Believing in a Marxist utopia is a lot like believing in 'The Great Pumpkin.' If only you're sincere enough it will appear.

Sorry, it's been tried again, and again, and again. The result is always the same: poverty, murder, tyranny. No thank you.

You're welcome to start your Marxist experiment, of course. In fact if you do I hope it works. Just do it somewhere else, please. I don't want to be a part of it.

Jonathan said...

The distinction that is given to banality in all socialist discourse, its fascination with failure—true failure, not a grandiloquent attempt at success that has failed . . . , but a worship of inadequacy in and of itself . . . was the extent to which Marxism, without realising it, was the triumph of empty materialism over spiritual pretensions. Even though it took on the spirit of a warrior psychology in terms of class, it always remained debased. It was always shallow, manufactured, drossy—the doctrine of 'psychologised' matter, the materiality of the fart and belch, the self-satisfaction of the belly. In short, it was a blasphemy against God, against the prospect of deliverance—hence, its great hatred for all forms of religion—and its desire to reduce humanity, despite its mock-heroic demeanor, to a meaningless absurdity. Where man would reduce itself to a mere lumpen; an average or quotidian element, a Massenmensch—the mass man—huddled together, middling and stupid, without culture and bereft of dignity.

Tina said...

Solzhenitsyn - I appreciate you taking the time to post a comment. I could make a strong argument that "The result is always the same: poverty, murder, tyranny." has little to do with the economic philosophy of cooperative economics and much more to do with political power dynamics ...i see that same result manifest in many a so called democratic, capitalist systems. It seems to just prove the point that there is a great historical misunderstanding of Marxist ECONOMIC philosophy and it has been convoluted with communist political empires. On the other hand, while many find it easy to see the "poverty, murder, tyranny" in other systems, I see little reflection on how globalization (global capitalism) offers different results for 95% of the world population.

Tina said...

Jonathan - I appreciate you taking the time to post a comment. I would have to say that I see the most spiritual base to material determinism - humanism. And in humanism unlike man created doctrine (religion, culture etc), we see the thread that ties all creation together - universal (natural) law. We are all (from the smallest plant to human beings) bound by the laws of nature..and when properly understood and not conflated with political constructions, Marxism promotes this basic understanding.