April 29, 2009

Can Anything Be Done?

Filed under: Bailouts Only Propped Up Zombies, Corporatism — Tags: — Russ @ 2:08 am

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in several days. I’ve been struggling with both computer problems and a fugue of doubt over the general historical situation. I guess there’s no point griping about the computer, so I’ll move on to history.

It seems like the situation is bad enough. The economic fundamentals present a grim aspect, yet thanks to the even more grim political situation we’re now sustaining insanity on top of insult on top of injury. It wasn’t bad enough that a gang of criminals brought down the economy and have so far been rewarded with, in the form of the Bailout War, an even more expeditious conveyance of plunder from the people to the treasure hoards of the banksters.

Now we must endure the indignity of a new propaganda campaign which claims the big banks have been restored to profitability. These are ficticious “profits”, possible only through accounting tricks like pretending losses don’t exist and Goldman’s causing December to magically disappear from its books.

Even these bogus pseudo-profits are postable only because the insolvent banks have been propped up completely with taxpayer money. Now we have the so-called stress tests. These are also propaganda exercises, meant to propagate the two lies that the bailouts so far have worked to reconstitute bank solvency, but that we must stay the course and continue handing over the cash.

So the banks and the administration are coming together with a basic lying political narrative to justify this waging of class war from above. The administration continues to uphold the interest of a handful of gangsters over and against that of the people and the country. Amazingly, in spite of all the talk about how we’re going to have a regulatory resurgence, what we’ve had so far instead is a continued successful assault on regulation. Backed by their congressional flunkies, the banks achieved another victory in getting mark-to-market accounting gutted. Now they can claim the worthless toxic paper they hold is worth anything they want, for purposes of their books. This is one of the accounting tricks which has helped produce Potemkin solvency and profitability figures.

While the victory of “mark-to-management” accounting, as one would-be regulator caustically called it, is in itself just one smelly ingredient in a truly rancid stew, it’s more important as a signifier of the continued, indeed resurgent political power of the bank cabal.

Incredibly, even after having been caught red-handed perpetrating one of history’s monumental robberies, not only are these criminals still alive and at large, not only do they still retain all that they’ve stolen, not only do they still have their jobs, and not only are they, with the connivance of the government, continuing the robbery, now in plain sight, and at an accelerated pace; after all this, they so completely remain the darlings of the political elite that not only do they feel existentially secure, they feel strong enough to mount a political counterattack.

Thus we’ve been subjected to the most disgusting round of self-justification and loutishness from this scum. First it was self-pity and playing the innocent, and now increasingly it’s a return of arrogance and aggressive, entitled “attitude”. Wall street cadres feel emboldened by their assurance that Too Big To Fail guarantees them long lifetimes as obscenely paid professional criminals at best, well-paid welfare parasites at worst. So far all the evidence is that so long as Bush/Obama, and by extension the existing Washington system, is in charge the operating concept of the American economy will be that astronomical bank welfare is the overriding priority. The entire economy, and by extension all of society, are to be reconfigured around this principle.

That’s the essence of corporatism, the modern feudalism. Secure in this political guarantee, personally vouched for by Obama (who has promised to focus his presidency above all on protecting the bankers from the pitchforks, by which he meant help them impale us all on their pikes), Wall Street is now at the cutting edge of reaction, a feudal retrenchment which gathers strength and confidence with every passing day. If they momentarily feared for their profits*, let alone their safety, those brief moments are past.

Their focus is now on restoring business as usual, and stepping up the assault. But Peak Oil dictates that from here on “business as usual” (i.e. the usual business of wealth and power concentration) will be conducted in a somewhat different way.

From here on I intend to analyze the new forms of the historical struggle, and how humanity can fight back even as we must adapt to energy descent.

I started out titling this post “Can Anything Be Done” yet I see I’ve only begun to formulate the problem. Well, while I won’t bother calling this “part one of two” (or three of however many…), that’s the way I’ll look at it for now.

In the next post I’ll have more to say on how Peak Oil, in addition to its physical and economic implications, has an important historical, philosophical, even spiritual implication for all we’re now seeing.

[*I imagine that when I refer to “profits” on this blog it’ll more often than not be the kind of bogus gangster profits I wrote about today: a gain for the criminal or welfare parasite, but a loss to society, and therefore not a legitimate profit. Corporatist/feudal profit rather than real capitalist, real social-value profit.

So I hope to avoid confusion in using the word “profit” without always having to prefix it with “pseudo-” or “alleged” (though I’ll probably sometimes still do that too), while I hope the times I do mean legitimate, real profit, the context will provide the distinction.]


  1. I watched a great interview on Bill Moyers the other day that speaks to why oligarchs in 1933 got it handed to them while we are still acting like an obliging mistress with ours. Basically, these guys say we haven’t suffered long enough to foment the kind of rage necessary to kick these assholes to the curb. I tend to agree with this. I don’t think folks will get serious about alt energy until the lights start to go out.
    have a look:




    Comment by Juliet — April 29, 2009 @ 3:40 pm

  2. Thanks for the link, Juliet.

    I’m sorry to say it’s probably true that the lessons so far haven’t yet been rigorous enough. I think part of it is that people today have far more of a sense of entitlement than back then, and therefore will be gullible for far longer in the face of lies like that if we only bail out the big banks, the party will be back on in no time. On some level people want to believe it, since they’re entitled to it, right?

    (It’s just like how Americans have a god-given right to infinite cheap gasoline and electricity.)

    Also, people today are simply soft and have no real class consciousness, so they’ll let themselves be stomped on a lot longer.


    Comment by Russ — April 29, 2009 @ 4:10 pm

  3. It’s amazing how such massive cultural shifts can happen in less than one lifetime. I agree that most people are just waiting for all this unpleasantness to pass so they can get back on the same train. With this level of debt it is simply unattainable. I read a bit of Micheal Hudson today. Maybe once it’s clear that we can’t go back, someone will pick up on his tax policy ideas.

    Comment by Juliet — April 29, 2009 @ 7:39 pm

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