Volatility

February 12, 2017

Ambivalence

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We see how Trump has made hay out of xenophobia. His appeal is only a more overt form of the standard bipartisan xenophobia. Obama/Clinton and the Democrats similarly comprise a xenophobic party. Trump has done nothing and proposes nothing qualitatively different from the status quo embraced by the Democrat Party and its voters.
 
Mass migration, of course, is driven by the corporate globalization forced upon the world by the US government. No other power would have been strong enough to force the World Bank, IMF, WTO upon the world. No other power could have forced NAFTA upon itself and its continent, none could have forced CAFTA upon its hemisphere, none could force the same pattern across both oceans in the form of the TPP and TTIP. Again, this is the policy of what’s objectively a one-party system, the Corporate One-Party. “Republicans” and “Democrats” are nothing but two identical gangs within this monolithic system, and they share consensus on always escalating corporate and technocratic domination, always destroying all they can of humanity and the Earth.
 
Forcing people off their lands, out of their home economies, rendering them homeless and stateless, forcing them into regional and global mass migrations, has always been a primary intent and goal of globalization. The corporations force this migration to drive down wages in some places and to clear others completely of human beings. This was a core purpose of NAFTA, to drive Mexican farmers off their land to clear it for industrial plantations, and to drive them into the US to drive down wages there.
 
The xenophobia of US conservatives and liberals reflects their ambivalence toward globalization and corporate rule. They want to believe the corporate system will continue to maintain them as a parasite class and for this reason they support the crimes of globalization. But at the same time they sense how they too are being liquidated, how the same bell tolls for them. If more gradually, nevertheless just as surely the shantytown and hunger are their ultimate destination as well. They struggle to relieve these fears through such expedients as xenophobia.
 
Similarly, they believe “Islamists” are aliens who are obstructing the full boons of globalization. The Middle East is the geopolitical center of global war, so Islamophobia and “war on terror” fantasies become proxies of ambivalence. The US middle class wants to continue to enjoy the parasitism afforded them by cheap oil, but they sense the fact that the cheap oil is just about spent, only the far more expensive (in every way) remains, the massive subsidies aren’t sustainable, and most fearful of all, the hype touting substitutes for cheap fossil fuels is nothing but a mirage, nothing but a scam.
 
This in turn is an example of the broadest ambivalence, the fantasies of technophilia and scientism bound up with the rising subconscious realism of skepticism about all this. The political parallel is the fantasy of total control over people and earth through technocracy, vs. the sure knowledge that this system is trying to destroy humanity and the earth once and for all.
 
We come full circle. The “civilized” hate the earth, hate the human body, hate that we’re physically forced to eat food which comes from the soil, hate every part of physical reality. The most perfect, most distilled example of this is the American combination of promiscuity and puritanism about sex. This extreme ambivalence is the perfect symbol of Americanism, and of the civilized mindset as such.
 
So it goes for all of reality. That’s the psychological basis of the scientism religion, the technocracy cult. They worship the idea of what they call “high-tech”. They worship only this idea, no matter how much high-tech really means nothing but high-maintenance, no matter how shoddy, inefficient, malfunctioning, wasteful, and destructive this technology really is in practice.
 
This religious ambivalence is how corporations have gained so much power. On a subconscious level the civilized literally worship this corporate person they created, as a kind of demon-worship. This is the objective character of the actions of the Western masses. (In the mass media this corporate worship often becomes nearly overt and self-aware.)
 
But at the same time they hate these fantasies. They know it’s all impossible, they know it’s all lies. They know there’s no way out – the Earth’s patience is at an end. They know the corporations mean to crush them once and for all. They know the STEM establishment is a collective Mengele viewing them literally as a mass of captive test subjects to be manipulated, tormented, controlled, and killed. They know technocracy exalts nothing but the most extreme anti-human, anti-ecological evil.
 
But like the monkey who stuck his arm into the jar to try to pull out the banana, they can’t bring themselves to let go, even though the ground around them is covered with fruit for the taking. That’s how deep the indoctrinated horror of physical life has gone. Today’s “civilized” Babylonian captives would rather starve to death than pack up and return to their Jerusalem, return to the Earth.
 
 
 
 

March 7, 2015

The TTIP and Corporate Rule

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1. The name “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership” expresses what the globalization process sees as the only real sovereign group and political constituency – corporate “investors”. (Under the term “stakeholders”, these are explicitly considered to be the only legitimate citizens of the corporate-dominated society envisioned by the TTIP and similar pacts. These pacts comprise a new Corporate Constitution to effectively crush existing human constitutions and institutions.) Meanwhile the term “trade” is purely Orwellian, since globalization is not about legitimate demand-based trade, but the extreme opposite: Forcing supply upon markets which don’t demand it at all, or don’t demand it in the form corporatism wants to supply it.
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The system takes it for granted that the goal of the TTIP and of all globalization policy (and government policy as such) is “market liberalization”, i.e. a command economy based on overproduction, corporate welfare, dumping, coerced markets, and the total gutting of all public interest regulation. Note well that only public interest regulation and demand-side policy like local buying requirements are targeted for “equivalence” and “coordination”. Corporate welfare, such as Big Ag crop insurance, is not considered a “regulation” which needs to be “equalized” among the parties to the compact.
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We need rigorous discipline regarding the propaganda term “free trade”. We should never let this term pass unnoticed in our thoughts and words. We must reject in thought and words any concession to the Big Lie that globalization has anything to do with legitimate trade. Globalization is all about maximizing the imperatives and prerogatives of supply-driven corporate “markets”, toward the corporate concentration of all economic and political power. Real trade is demand-based and develops naturally and organically from human economies. Globalization, so-called “free trade”, is a top-down planned economy based on intentional overproduction and the subsequent forced creation of “markets” for this overproduction. To be anti-globalization is therefore to be pro-trade in the real economic sense, and vice versa.
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Europe proves that the supply-driven export dictatorship which globalization pacts seek to impose aren’t necessary for the general prosperity. For example, Europe’s overwhelmingly conventional agriculture is superior in every way, quantitatively and qualitatively, to the GMO-based agriculture dominant in the US and Canada. This proves at least that a fully modern Western society is better off without GMOs. But one of the core goals of the TTIP is to impose the US GMO model upon Europe, thus eradicating Europe’s great qualitative advantage, for the domestic economy and for trade.
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This leads us to the specific case of GMOs and their structural importance. Obviously the US government and the GMO cartel see Europe as a massive, relatively untapped market. But beyond this, they have a structural imperative to force all economies to come under GMO domination. They also loathe the current state of European agriculture as a real world alternative which has proven superior in every way to GMO domination. Europe proves every day that even given the parameters of industrial agriculture, GMOs are unnecessary and inferior. Europe proves every day that conventional agriculture performs better and less expensively without them. This is an ongoing embarrassment and affront to US corporatism. The US corporate system tries to deny this in the same way that during the Cold War the US and USSR would deny the very existence of ways in which one outperformed the other.
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They would have destroyed these embarrassing facts if they could. Today the US government is trying to use the TTIP to wipe out the embarrassing fact of Europe’s superior agriculture and its far healthier food system. The EC bureaucracy is coordinated with this goal, since by its nature it sees things in terms of corporate one-world government rather than as a power struggle with the US-corporatist bloc.
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2. The explicit goal of the TTIP is to coordinate all regulation which has anything to do with “any planned and existing trade”. That means all regulation, law, court decisions, etc. It’s the same principle as with the totalitarian expansion of the commerce clause in US constitutional jurisprudence, since it can encompass literally anything power wants it to. The coordination is also to be extended by whatever means necessary to EU member countries and US states. Sector-specific provisions will supersede “cross-cutting horizontal” coordination, which sets a floor. Corporate-dictated “commerce” assaults and supply-driven “trade” are already taken in the US to encompass all production/consumption activity including the informal economy, including production purely for personal use and including even pure inertness. That is, the imposition of corporate poll taxes is said by the system to be part of the Commerce power. The TTIP will enforce this for Europe as well, and far more intensely for both zones. Note well that as usual this only goes one way. Domestic economic activity, the informal economy, production for personal use, and any other kind of activity which doesn’t formally seek profit across national borders will not have access to the World Bank tribunals or to any court to litigate any harm arising out of this “trade” aggression. As always with this criminal system, it’s heads the elites win, tails the people lose.
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The process gives oligopoly corporations based in any country which is party to a compact special privileges over the rights of the people or of any legitimate business within any country which is also a party. It exalts the “right” to corporate profit and supply-driven “trade” as the supreme imperatives of society, lofting these far above all other values, rights, goals of policy and law. This includes the suppression of domestic economic activity, since the supply-driven export imperative favors the big corporations, the oligopoly sectors. NAFTA’s Chapter 11, upon which the TTIP and TPP ISDS provisions are modeled, lets corporations complain about any policy, law, regulation, court decision, which in any way allegedly infringes on any hypothetical profit the corporations can conceive. This has nothing to do with uneven treatment between foreign and domestic businesses. Even where the provision applies equally to all, it’s held to strict liability as far as how it impacts any corporation’s alleged ability to profit.
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This is proof that globalization compacts are not about trade, but about power. If they were about trade, then a law which applied to everyone equally wouldn’t be a problem.
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Profit, meanwhile, is purely a measure of power, indeed an artifice of the mysticism of power. Especially in the time of quantitative easing and mark-to-make believe accounting for the finance sector and “austerity” for humanity, corporate “profit” is self-evidently a reflection not of actual productivity and wealth but on the contrary of destruction and robbery.
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3. In being formally totalitarian, dedicated only to profit in principle, corporate bureaucracies are explicitly established as the direct exercise and rule of power (Might Makes Right), mediated only by government regulatory action. Strictly speaking, corporations are not supposed to be restrained directly by law. On the contrary, part of the purpose of the corporate form is to place legal barriers between the actions of corporate cadres and those actions’ having any actionable legal character, civil or criminal. The purpose is to legalize crimes when committed by representatives of “the corporation”.
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Government bureaucracy, meanwhile, is supposed to be restrained by law and by respect for democracy. But here too individuals are often formally absolved of personal responsibility for actions. This kind of absolution goes to the core of the evil of any such hierarchies, since nothing is so firmly proven as that if you give individuals power and freedom from consequences for their actions, they’ll take their actions to bad extremes. That’s why humans should never allow power to concentrate, and should never grant individuals a blank check, and most of all should never combine the two. Meanwhile it’s laughable to expect any bureaucrat to respect democracy. By its nature bureaucracy respects only administrative power and process, and despises law and democracy. (Meanwhile, the “Law and Economics” ideology and jurisprudence seeks to impose radical responsibility upon regular workers for their actions, even where coerced by bosses into dangerous or illegal actions. There’s the Heads I Win Tails You Lose again.)
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With this Gleichschaltung plan, a more complete formalization and rationalization of government bureaucracy’s subordination to corporate bureaucracy, the nominally “legal” bureaucracy is to be subsumed under the direct power bureaucracy. The government regulators are then to use their nominal fig leaf of legality, not as a restraint on power, but as propaganda on power’s behalf (and, where appropriate, as a weapon against rivals). This is the most institutionalized and rationalized form of the neoliberal scam.
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So EC bureaucrats and similar bureaucracies (e.g. the EPA, FDA, and USDA) exemplify the mindset and role of the bureaucrat, which is to carry out the dictates of power in an automated way. As corporate power increases, these government bureaucracies will naturally become more inherently pro-corporate. This is according to their basic inertia, what they inherently are, rather than “capture” or “corruption”. These latter do exist, but are epiphenomenal. To emphasize those is to reinforce the lie that corporations and regulators have any kind of inherently adversarial relationship. On the contrary, where corporations hold the power, bureaucrats naturally see them as their true constituency. All this is also naturally pleasing to the inherent elitism and anti-democratic tendencies of bureaucrat types.
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4. Where there’s any conflict between the corporate domination imperative and any other value, it’s taken for granted there can be no compromise. The non-corporate value must submit, if necessary to the point of its own extinction. As the historical record makes clear, this is true of all human values – health, happiness, prosperity, culture, tradition, religion, morality, simple human decency and fairness. None of these can coexist with corporations. In the long run these must all go extinct, if corporatism continues to exist.
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This is borne out by the analysis of globalization as an economic and anti-political offensive being carried out by corporatism toward the goal of total domination. By economic and anti-political I mean that the goal is total domination through total economic domination, while all real manifestations of politics are to be suppressed completely. The neoliberal phony semblance of “politics” – sham elections, nominal constitutional rights and so on – may continue for some time. Actual power will be exercised at the command of corporate oligopoly sectors, by executive government bureaucracies and extranational globalization tribunals, and increasingly, directly by the corporations themselves.
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5. This is not a new kind of corporate behavior. Privateering, the formal charter to commit crimes, goes back to the 16th century, the dawn of the corporate form. Corporations were envisioned in the first place to help enable “violent crime grafted onto trade”, as Ted Nace put it. The very term “free trade” originally referred directly to freedom from the law. Or as Hannah Arendt wrote in Origins of Totalitarianism, legalized gangsters sought to use politics to regulate their bloodshed. The British East India Company’s violent lawlessness is exactly mirrored today in the form every sort of corporate thuggery and the way corporate crimes are generally considered above and outside the law. Blackwater, explicitly declared above the law and granted a charter to literally perpetrate massacres, is merely the distillation of the way every large corporation is empowered to act, and the way they usually do act. Indeed, in principle this is the way they are required to act according to the core principle that profit-seeking is the only acceptable value. (What kind of sick society would ever have enshrined such a sociopathic form in the first place? The very existence of profit-seeking corporations reflects a self-loathing and self-destructiveness on the part of civilization itself.)
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Today’s “free trade” has exactly the same criminal nature, but the term has been sanitized to refer to an economic theory rather than a legal concept of chartered outlawry.
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Today it’s true in a precise sense that corporations are formally legalized criminal organizations. Take for example the repeal of the bucket laws, which used to recognize gambling as gambling whether done over dice in a back alley or stocks on an exchange. A bank couldn’t ask the state to enforce a wager any more than could a two-bit hood. But these sane laws started being repealed in the 1980s. The process culminated in the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 (CFMA; recognize a similarity to the “Food Safety Modernization Act” (FSMA)? the similarity isn’t just terminological). Now what was naturally unproductive antisocial gambling was legalized as a “contract”. The result was massively bloated bank profits and hideous distortions of the economy, climaxing in Wall Street’s intentional crash of the real economy in 2008. The crash was then used as the pretext for the Bailout and austerity. The Wall Street bailout was a massive payout on bets gone bust. This entire process was premeditated and had its origin in the legalization of what are naturally outlawed acts. Acts of reckless gambling by the banks, indistinguishable from a bunch of drunks at a bar betting on a football game, have come to comprise legal contracts. Of course, when a solitary bum bets his children’s lunch money at the track and loses, it’s terrible for that family. When the government lets the banksters do the same thing with trillions and then pays off these bets with taxpayer money, millions of children must go hungry.
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The massive collusion, dating back to the 1990s, to fraudulently induce mortgages was helped along by this original legalization. And the rest of the crimes were piggybacked on these, leading up to the finance sector’s intentional crash of the global economy in 2008. Today where ISDS is in force we see the most extreme form of this kind of government protection. Here the corporate gambler doesn’t even need to make the bet, but only to say it could exist in theory, in order to get paid.
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This is the most extremely destructive and the most typical of the legalized forms of organized crime which are bound up in the corporate form. While many of the subsequent crimes may still technically be illegal, they were enabled by the underlying legalization of gambling. And once the government has been corrupted enough, even existing laws are no longer enforced, as we see every day. This is simply the de facto legalization of corporate crime.
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6. Corporatism is the process by which the 1% seeks to shift decision-making power and control from nominally “public” government to nominally “private” corporations. In US constitutional parlance, the system is transferring this power asset from the three branches of government enshrined in the written constitution to the extra-constitutional Fourth Branch, the corporations. In this way, power and control are shifted from nominally accountable “representative democracy” to power structures which are totally unaccountable even in principle. The nominal government remains as corporate welfare bagman and police thug, and to maintain the fraudulent facade of elections and other trappings of representative democracy. I call this the bagman-thug model of government. This process is also called neoliberalism, since it seeks to maintain the semblance of classical liberalism and pseudo-democracy even as it institutes most of the substance of fascism.
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This is part of the 1%’s general secession trend. The government abdicates its power to corporations at home, to globalization cadres abroad. It imports the alien power of the globalization cadres to domestic affairs. Throughout, government abdicates all public policy, privatizes all public property, but maximizes its absolute size, only now as corporate welfare bagman and thug.
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Accounting 101 for corporate rule: The entity is Government. Power is its asset. Democratic accountability and financial risk are among its liabilities. Government’s creation and support for corporations is an organizational shell game. The goal is to transfer the power asset to the “private” corporate entity while leaving all liabilities with the taxpayer-liable “public” entity.
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To sum up, here’s the basic tenets of corporate ideology:
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A. Governments should create corporations. (Corporations are in fact extensions of government. They’re meant to reorganize central government power, removing it from even the theoretical jurisdiction of “representative government”. It’s a kind of organizational shell game, transferring an asset from one entity to another. Meanwhile any liabilities remain with the original entity.)
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B. Corporations should be enshrined as entities that have infinite rights and zero responsibilities. They should have their profits guaranteed by the government, while all their risks are assumed by the government (i.e. the taxpayers, society) and the environment.
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C. The main purpose of government is to provide corporate welfare and thug services for corporations.
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D. Government should seek to liquidate all aspects of itself which are not directly toward B and C.
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E. Government (including in the form of globalization cadres like the WTO and IMF) should always get bigger and more aggressive, but only in ways that are directly toward B and C.
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F. The purpose of humanity and the earth are to serve as resource mines and waste dumps for corporations. Society, civilization, etc., are to be maintained only insofar as they help organize and pacify these slaves and victims. Otherwise these are to be liquidated.
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Of course I’m not saying there’s some secret master council while consciously deliberates all this. I’m describing the behavior and inertia of a socioeconomic and political force, in the same way I’d describe how the ocean organizes itself and moves.
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7. Today we confront the ultimate totalitarian manifestation of this ideology and the institutions based upon it, globalization. This reached a new level of aggressiveness in the post-war time, and especially since the end of the Cold War. The “free trade” treaties starting with NAFTA, “the law of the land” according to the Constitution, comprise a global anti-constitution. Their only content enshrines corporate license and prerogative at a level far above national governments and laws. Democracy and civil society have no place at all in this system. The “treaties”, written by multinational corporations, peddled by corrupted bagman/goon governments, and forced upon all other countries, are nothing but laundry lists of anti-sovereign usurpation and incitements to governments to set up administrative “free trade zones”, designed to obliterate all rule of law after the example of the Nazi General Government of Poland (as Richard Rubenstein pointed out, legalistically speaking no crimes were committed at Auschwitz), whose secession from law and civil society are then to be extended to encompass the entire “country”. At that point sovereignty would be completely obliterated and replaced by direct corporate rule.
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The provisions are set up to encourage corporations or their goon government proxies to file lawsuits against any manifestation of sovereignty or democracy anywhere which could hinder the profit-seeking imperative, which is the only one recognized by the globalization structure. (The same imperative which is the only one recognized by the “legal personality” regime.) The suits are heard by unelected, unaccountable secret tribunals staffed, as are the globalization cadres themselves, by corporate lawyers who come in through the revolving door. Suits have been filed against the US, Canada, Mexico, and many other governments. The very threat of such suits has a stifling effect on democracy and public health.
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While the WTO is relatively backward in having governments sue other governments on behalf of corporations, lateral agreements like NAFTA are more advanced in having the corporation directly sue the offending democracy. If it was deranged to allow domestic corporations to sue for rights against the government that created them, how anti-sovereign is it to allow alien corporations to sue a government? Perhaps the most telling fact is that under NAFTA and similar “treaties”, an alien corporation actually has more rights against a sovereign people than a purely domestic one not involved in global commerce and therefore not eligible for the powers of the Treaty.
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This perversion of sovereignty is the terminal manifestation of how so-called foreign policy has always been the mechanism by which anti-democracy and subversion has been innovated “elsewhere” and then brought home to impose domestic tyranny.
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8. The policies business wants encoded in the TTIP and TPP and enforced by governments and World Bank tribunals provide a clear picture of what these persons are. They’re nominally “businessmen” seeking “profit”. They’re really political and economic totalitarians seeking total power and control. They seek this under the rubric of business ideology, and using the corporation as their basic mode of organization. But any large corporation is not really trying to provide a good/service and make a profit, but is rather a power-seeking organization using its particular economic sector as its base of operations. It seeks to attain total power within that sector and use that economic base to assert political domination as extensively as possible.
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I was about to say, “just because it’s not overtly political, the way a de jure political party or political pressure group is, doesn’t make it any less the same kind of organization.” But in fact anyone who pays attention to corporate actions knows they’re every bit as openly political as any non-profit, de jure political group. Corporations and their trade groups describe and disseminate political principles, devise political strategies and carry them out, lobby nominal politicians and regulators. There’s really no such thing as a lobbyist-politician dichotomy, but only two political activists talking to one another. In every way corporations are organizations which seek political power. The only difference is that under representative democracy a de jure “party” is the kind of organization which runs someone called a “candidate” for a particular type of political office, while corporations are bureaucracies, identical in a de facto way to nominal government bureaucracies like the USDA or FDA.
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The twin bureaucratic structures, corporate and regulatory, understand their mission well. Today the TTIP and the TPP propose to expand the NAFTA model from North America across both oceans to encompass Europe and the Pacific Rim under a single corporate umbrella, turn the Atlantic and Pacific into ponds upon one big corporate park, use this power position to overawe Latin America and ruthlessly subjugate Africa, and to crush what’s left of the substance of democracy and economic self-determination in every country encompassed, including America and the EU. The corporations see total power within their grasp. Today they’re gearing up to reach for it. The coupled mechanisms of the globalization compacts through which they intend to attain the totalitarian goal are “investor-to-state dispute settlement” (ISDS) and “regulatory coherence”. The former is a direct assault on democracy, civil society, and politics as such, as well as being a massive corporate welfare conveyor. The latter is a formula for total bureaucratic Gleichschaltung (coordination). More specifically, it’s a plan to fully and formally institutionalize the subservience of government bureaucracy to corporate bureaucracy, and to fully rationalize the processes of this subservience.
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Take for example the European Commission. The existing EU system is not pleasing to it. The EC, like any bureaucracy, despises democracy and accountability, and politics as such, and seeks to maximize its own power as such without any necessary reference to what its nominal job is supposed to be.
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To its ongoing frustration, the EC hasn’t been able to persuade Europeans to relinquish political power, nor has economic coordination gone as far as the Commission wants, which is always the maximum conceivable. Although the EC has vast power to propose and decree “legislation” (what really are administrative decrees for the most part), it’s subject to some checks and balances from the European Council of national ministers and, to a lesser extent, the elected Parliament. Both of these latter bodies are subject to considerable bottom-up pressure from the people, and in turn put pressure on the EC. A good example of how the EC has been hamstrung is how relatively few GMO applications it has approved for cultivation, even though in theory it could have decreed the approval of far more. Of course a more practical obstacle is that few European countries want to cultivate them.
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So in the EU there’s mostly administrative rule in theory, but to its disgust the EC has to jump through lots of political hoops. It looks to the TTIP to solve this problem of residual democracy. That’s why the EC is so ardent to embrace a compact which will turn it into a flunkey of the US government and mostly US-based corporations. The EC would rather hold a lower position in a fully rationalized, coordinated hierarchy of administrative rule, than be at the top of what it sees as a mishmash.
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The TTIP is meant to override European democracy and European politics in general. Globalization is inherently anti-political. Corporatism sees politics as such to be an atavism. Globalization is meant to impose a bureaucratic, anti-political solution to this atavism.
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To sum up. Regulatory coordination as enshrined under the TTIP and TPP will seek to:
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*Formally coordinate all regulators under the goal of serving corporate power. It will formally subordinate government bureaucracy to corporate bureaucracy. Bureaucracy will go to war against democracy, politics and whatever’s left of law, while sham law will be enlisted to serve corporate power. All real government power (i.e. the power of violence) will be put under corporate control.
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*A race to the bottom among all governments in all regulatory sectors.
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*The direct access of corporations to regulators. Corporations shall directly write regulations.
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*Regulators shall always be proactive on behalf of the corporations and at their command.
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*Regulators shall always inform the corporations of any threat and help them to fight it.
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*Regulators are to be required to respond to any corporate demands.
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*All this is to be always in motion, always accelerating, always seeking the next way to further amplify corporate profit, power, control, domination.
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Real power is inertially in the hands of the bureaucracies, “public” and “private”. But of course bureaucracies don’t just passively receive and use the power which economic structures deliver to them. On the contrary, globalization is a planned economy. It’s been planned by those same bureaucrats toward the goal of permanently increasing and expanding their power. Going back to the rise of imperialist ideology and corporate lobbying in the 19th century, corporatism has relentlessly and with ever greater self-consciousness and intentional focus sought to build this command economy.
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The corporate manifesto I analyzed in my post on corporate-government bureaucratic coordination was issued by the US Chamber of Commerce and BusinessEurope. Its provisions are typical of the consensus among all corporate “trade” groups and the various sector and industry groups.
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The proposal is clearly not just any proposal. On both sides, many other cross-sector business groups explicitly support the proposal or suggest a similar approach in their contributions to the official consultations on TTIP, including BDI (German Industry Association), Confederation of British Industry, Coalitions of Services Industries, British American Business, National Foreign Trade Council, Roundtable on Trade and Competition, Transatlantic Business Council, National Association of Manufacturers, Eurometaux and the United States Council for International Business. Some, notably the Competitive Enterprise Institute, take a step further and demand that businesses are able to choose freely which set of standards and regulations they will apply.

On top of this, 30 business associations, including most of the aforementioned, have written a common letter to the US Trade Representative and to Commissioner de Gucht’s department to stress the importance of a system of “regulatory cooperation”. They include sectoral lobby groups from the chemicals industry, car industry, the financial sector, biotechnology, pharmaceutical industry and many more. They point to the existing structures on regulatory dialogue, the High Level Regulatory Cooperation Forum, and assert that they “can be made much more effective and should include enhanced opportunities for dialogue with stakeholders”.

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This is explicit confirmation from the corporations themselves that their goal is total economic control and domination, to be leveraged into total political control and domination. This confirms everything I’ve written about corporate totalitarianism and that humanity’s great need is to completely abolish the de jure corporate mode of organization. We have to abolish the corporations completely.
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9. Today we’ve reached the terminal stage of this devolution. The neofeudal elites wish to undertake the final enclosure of all real assets – land, natural resources, physical space itself, buildings, infrastructure, and all the products of the mind. At the same time they want to cut all ties with human beings other than the ties of exploitation. They want to eradicate all semblance of government, law, and civil society, except insofar as these are weapons of domination or of pacification. They want to take totalitarian control of the Earth itself, enjoy a total license to do anything they wish and have this license enshrined as their “right”, while being absolved of literally ALL social or legal responsibility. These sociopaths, these willful outlaws, want to actually secede from civilization. They want to steal all the benefit of human interaction but incur zero reciprocal responsibility or obligation. They want to burn off all relationships between human and human, distilling them to the primal confrontation of master and slave in the dead of a wasteland. Since neither slaver nor slave can be human, these corporate fundamentalists wish to completely eradicate civilization and humanity itself. They are in fact post-civilizational barbarians.
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The TTIP (and TPP) as a whole is an assault on freedom, democracy, economic prosperity, and human happiness. It’s to be a major escalation of corporate tyranny, a major step toward corporate domination. As we should have abundant experience by now, all of its promises are lies, and none of its promised benefits will come true. It’ll only accelerate the corporate destruction of the real economy and what’s left of democratic politics, leaving behind only austerity, serfdom, hunger, disease, and an ever more severe police state.
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The rise of corporate rule has been a counterrevolution within the revolutionary age of fossil fuels, industrialism, capitalism, and democracy. Just as those, including the birth of the democratic consciousness, were features of the Oil Age, so was corporate rule a necessary countermeasure if the crypto-feudal parasites were to carry their prerogatives through the dangerous age.
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Now all of those except one must decline and perish. In prospect we perceive the feudal core now rising again in the form of post-capitalist corporate domination, and we experience whatever’s left of the democratic consciousness which is the one shining legacy of the fossil fuel age, the greatest lesson humanity has ever learned, the most marvelous gift we bestowed upon ourselves out of the seemingly endless and pointless travails of history. It’s now up to us to either embrace this democratic heritage and go forward boldly living it, or reject it and adhere to the noxious residue as eternal slaves in the darkness.
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Here’s my earlier TTIP posts. If you don’t read anything else, I strongly recommend reading at least part one about the coordination plan and the ISDS post.

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https://attempter.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/the-ttip-and-the-right-to-profit-investor-to-state-dispute-settlement/

https://attempter.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/the-ttip-and-globalizations-corporate-coordination-master-plan-1-of-3/

https://attempter.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/the-ttip-and-the-corporate-coordination-master-plan-2-of-3-gmos/

https://attempter.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/the-ttip-and-the-corporatist-coordination-plan-part-three/

https://attempter.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/corporatism-and-globalization-the-context-of-the-ttip-and-tpp/

https://attempter.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/the-ttip-corporatism-and-gmos/

https://attempter.wordpress.com/2015/03/04/notes-toward-analysis-of-the-ttip-and-corporate-rule/

https://attempter.wordpress.com/2015/02/28/the-current-state-of-the-ttip/

November 10, 2010

Food Sovereignty vs. the Final Stage of Neoliberalism

 

What is globalization, really? Among other things, it’s the replacement of national sovereignty by corporate anti-sovereignty. Their own cadre, Dani Rodrik, wrote of how national sovereignty and democracy are incompatible with the corporate pseudo-sovereignty, and how if you want to maximize the latter you must destroy the former. This association of nation and democracy as the twin targets of the “free trade” onslaught demonstrates how national sovereignty itself can only arise out of the people. We can deduce from this that the only way to defend either and maximize both is to eradicate corporatism and elitism completely. It’s democracy which must be maximized: Direct democracy.
 
Who are the globalizers? Don’t look first at the World Bank, IMF, WTO and so on. Those are just the power launderers, the stooge cadres. In America, the real globalizers are Wall Street, the Republican and Democratic Parties, the weapons rackets, and the Big Ag rackets – Monsanto, Cargill, ADM, Tyson, Smithfield, and others. These are the players who concoct the “agreements” among “countries” which are really turf deals among gangster elites. The politicians sign these agreements and set up special organizations like the WTO and IMF to serve as the point men. But the WTO, and for that matter most of the Dems and Reps, are the hired goons. The “free” trade treaties are really corporate contracts, written by the likes of Monsanto and Cargill. But these contracts aren’t actual agreements among free parties. They’re instruments of tyranny to be imposed by elite diktat, from the top down, from the highest, most concentrated power, as a hail of rocks, burning ash, and poison upon the disenfranchised people below.
 
The proper legal term for a “contract” imposed by thuggery is an unconscionable contract of adhesion. Where there’s a huge power and need differential between the parties, it’s obviously impossible for them to freely contract with one another. Such contracts clearly have no moral validity. In theory these are also supposed to be legally invalid. But in practice the whole endeavor of neoliberalism, at every level, from the basic employer-employee “negotiation” to the most univeralized global trade agreements, is to replace actual freedom of contract with these contracts of adhesion. It’s to replace true economic freedom with gangster-imposed and enforced protection rackets and direct plunder.
 
All this proves how freedom of contract is impossible under conditions of wealth inequality. It’s been proven a thousand times – you can have one or the other, but never both.
 
What’s the final stage of neoliberalism? The elites have imposed financialization and are manipulating it to amass all power and real assets. This is positioning them for neofeudalism.
 
What’s neofeudalism? This is the elites’ strategy to achieve corporate totalitarianism and maintain as much of their material luxury as possible under Peak Oil and energy descent. Their strategy has been to use the corporate form, the propaganda of “capitalism” and “democracy”, and the forms of representative pseudo-democracy, to monopolize ever growing portions of wealth and power. Having achieved this position of dominance, they will now use it to push the rest of us down into actual medieval conditions. Their preferred path for doing this will be debt slavery. If necessary they’ll try to use the police state whose skeleton they’ve assiduously constructed, and even classical fascism.
 
Meanwhile, in various ways, they’ll attempt the shift from fossil fuels to alternate fuels, for the sake of their own luxury consumption. We’ve already seen a larger-scale version of this, with the diversion of vast amounts of food from the already-hungry people of the world to the gas tanks of the Western personal car. This is the industrial agrofuel strategy. Just like all other liquidations, this one’s coming home as well. America itself already has ever growing numbers of the hungry while more and more corn is hijacked for agrofuels. Obama just doubled down on the ethanol scam. So here we can see one iteration of the basic pattern I’ve called resource fascism. All ideas along the lines of corporate renewable energy buildouts have the same basic goal. Picture a network of fortresses powered by the “smart grid”, biofueled private jets travelling between, while outside the walls permanently indentured debtors slave in the fields and sleep in shantytowns, their labor compelled by the draconian penalties dangling over the heads of all defaulters, their debt compounding every day. That’s the goal of the political and economic elites.
 
How is the barbed wire being strung around us? For example, where it comes to food policy? The Green Revolution itself was intended to eradicate food self-sufficiency and economic independence. It hooks the farmer on fossil fuels, proprietary seeds, and growing cash crops for export. This then plunges him into the age-old vicious circle of debt indenture. The elites used petrodollar recycling to leverage the GR-imposed need for oil (which had to be bought with dollars) into brute power over those countries. As they sank into hopeless debt (enriching the Western banks along the way), the goon IMF could deploy its structural adjustment programs to use the existence of this unilaterally imposed debt to completely loot the people of the country, who had already been dispossessed by the same corporate process which imposed the odious debt upon them.
 
Once again we see the basic fraudulence and tyranny of the corporate “contract”.
 
Other assaults include the globalization “treaties” whose only goal was to destroy all barriers civil society and democracy posed for naked corporate aggression. The WTO, NAFTA, and subsequent proposed assaults like the FTAA, CAFTA, and the SPP, right up to the bilateral “agreements” of today, are intended to prevent messy elections or protests, or meddling laws and regulations, or any archaic notions that public property belongs to the people, from interfering with the corporate rampage. (These, including the bilateral pacts like the one Obama’s trying to impose on India, are of course agreements only among elite gangs; the respective peoples of these countries are disenfranchised in principle and are regarded as the targets for plunder in practice.)
 
There’s also the quest for domination via “patents” over seeds and genes. And then we have the new colonial land grabs. These are the maneuvers of rich countries brazenly trying to lock up their future food and biofuel supply by directly stealing the land of poor countries.
 
All of this takes place under the supervision of the big banks, who use globalization to impose their ideal of ruthless commodification upon every part of the economy.
 
As Sophia Murphy puts it:
 

The AoA [globalized Agreement on Agriculture] presupposes a particular model for agriculture and reinforces that model through the rules it establishes. It is a model for wealthy countries pursuing industrial agriculture, and for developing country governments that wish to follow suit. It ignores the needs and interests of the billions of farmers who do not live in that world. Only 10 to 15 percent of food is traded internationally, yet the AoA pressures all of agriculture to be run as if it was a trade concern.

 
This brings us back to the essence of globalization itself. The goal is to take what according to the capitalists’ own textbooks should be a small appendage of the economy and ruthlessly, recklessly, destructively impose its morals and culture on all of life. Not just economic life, but political, social, cultural, and private life as well. These “morals” and “culture” are really sociopathy and barbarism. Their goal is the absolute eradication of all competing values, which means all moral and cultural value as such. The intent and the practice is literally totalitarian, and neoliberalism is a totalitarian ideology and strategy in the classical sense.
 
Today in America the Food Tyranny bill intends to formally bring this globalization regime home. It would explicitly subordinate all domestic food policy to the WTO:
 

COMPLIANCE WITH INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS.

Nothing in this Act (or an amendment made by this Act) shall be construed in a manner inconsistent with the agreement establishing the World Trade Organization or any other treaty or international agreement to which the United States is a party.

 
This overthrows the doctrine of “perfect protection”, enshrined in America from the outset of globalization, that these rules didn’t supersede our own domestic food sovereignty. (Perfect protection was of course hypocrisy on the part of US elites, since they were destroying the same principle elsewhere. But the point is that all peoples deserve food freedom, and should receive such protection if we’re to have “free trade” at all. But by now we know the very point of free trade was to wipe out all such protections. Now it’s coming home.)
 
The bill could also subordinate us to the Codex Alimentarius, which is a globalized version of the disaster capitalist “food safety” scam. Just as in America, so everywhere globalism reigns there’s the same pattern of allowing corporate agriculture to cause food outbreaks, then use these outbreaks as the pretext to impose further corporate domination. The Codex is one “legal” vehicle to empower administrative tyranny over food. Revolving door corporate bureaucrats could issue fiats banning medicinal herbs or vitamin supplements, while requiring all growers right down to the backyard gardener to use any kind of synthetic fertilizer, pesticide or herbicide, hormone in an animal, or GMO seed. (As always in this connection, let me remind the reader that if Obama’s health racket mandate is allowed to stand, that will provide another precedent for any and every corporate mandate. The exact same logic will allow the FDA or even the WTO to “constitutionally” force us to buy, for example, GMO seeds. I defy any Obama cultist to explain how that’s incorrect. But then, an Obama supporter probably also supports Monsanto. More here and here.)
 
The bill’s extended power of recall, forced destruction of animals and product based on the flimsiest allegations, and the goal of forcing all small producers to register their animals (via NAIS) and all the details of their land and facilities (via “traceability”) with corporate databases demonstrate how the plan is to bring all non-corporatized, independent food activity under the surveillance and then control of the big corporations.
 
These are a few examples of how the food bill seeks to impose the corporate anti-sovereign assault upon us in our own country. That this is being done as a bipartisan project of our own government proves that this is a rogue government which no longer serves the people but assaults the people on behalf of our enemies. And the bipartisanship of it is stark proof (as if we needed it by now) that both Parties are equally malevolent, criminal gangs out only to rob and hurt us.
 
We’ll never be free until we get rid of them completely.
 
So this food bill needs to be put in the big picture context of debt indenture, offshoring, Walmartization and the general destruction of jobs, the assault on civil liberties, “austerity”, and the ever-tightening stranglehold of corporatism everywhere.
 
What’s the common thread everywhere? They seek to steal what wealth is left and destroy all economic and political possibilities and our very freedom to try to improvise any way out of the trap.
 
Will we ever draw a line and say No Further? A good place to draw that line is at our food. We should resolve to be growers, farmers, seed savers, on our own and in tandem, to do it directly and to assist one another, in the direct act and in resisting criminal assaults upon us.
 
More affirmatively, we need the land. We must demand it in principle (demand it, not of the elites who stole it, but as exemplary toward reawakening the people to the fact that our land has been stolen, and that if we’re to survive and prosper we must redeem it) and flow like water onto all available land. Our tactics must embrace everything from guerrilla gardening to adverse possession and organized squatting to mass land reclamation movements. Food production stewardship, and any other mode of productive economic relocalization, must always be the basis.
 
This is the only road to growing the millions of small farmers America needs, and meeting the twin goals of growing sufficient food post-oil, and providing the economic and cultural basis for the redemption and flourishing of democracy itself.

June 22, 2010

How Kleptocracy Congealed (The New Feudal War 1 of 4)

 

Beyond the simplest town hall and tribal communities, all governments are to some extent corrupt, and all economies contain legalized racketeering. But this doesn’t mean every system is a kleptocracy. We can’t be so profligate with superlatives without rendering concepts useless, although that too is a common modern disease. I’d wager it’s part of the indoctrination plan to have the perception spread that “everything has always been like this”. It fits in with the Status Quo Lie, that today’s status quo is really the normal baseline, a law of the universe. If people believe the situation is not just superficially similar to e.g. the Gilded Age, but exactly the same, then they can believe the solution is the same – time and “reform”. But this is not in fact the case.
 
The fundamental difference between today’s situation and that of past corruptions is its basis in the physical limits of Peak Oil. To describe the process one way, throughout the ascent of the oil age, the overall economic pie was getting bigger, and the goal of the elite gangsters was to steal from this growing pie. Although the goal of capitalism is always to either exacerbate existing scarcities or artificially generate scarcity where the natural state is abundance, cheap oil afforded such a surplus that it was actually difficult enough to generate artificial scarcity that it was politically easier for the elites to let the workers keep a relatively high proportion. This people’s piece of the pie wasn’t remotely proportional to their rightful share (that would be 100%), but it was still high by historic standards. This was the basis of the West’s mid-20th century temporary mass middle class.The gangsters temporarily had greater leeway to both satiate their avarice (within the political limits they temporarily acknowledged, which were also imposed by the Cold War, as I’ll get to below) and allow a broad wealth distribution.
 
That’s one way to look at the effect of the oil surplus. A parallel process was how all economic sectors were temporarily able to use cheap oil to undergo exponential “growth”. This temporarily generated what we call capitalist profits. (The classical economists like Smith and Ricardo and the critics like Marx never understood how they were really discussing an economic system based on investment and distribution of surplus from the fossil fuel drawdown. A “special case” economics indeed.)
 
The first thing to give was this economic growth process. Even if the oil surplus had been infinite, the sectors of the economy do have limits to entrepreneurial innovation. At some point the major innovations are complete, what’s left is more or less pointless tinkering, and the sector is mature.
 
In a previous post I summarized what happens next, and rather than reinvent the wheel I’ll just present it again here, if it pleases the court.
 

1. As capitalism matured it should, according to reality and to its own textbooks, have seen profits fall to marginal levels. There should be very little profit left in the economy by now. Instead, the entire economy should have long since been functioning smoothly and efficiently, with sufficient goods and services in every sector, while government largely shrunk as it would have little role to play as economic arbiter. There would be rough equality of wealth and power distribution, little wealth and power concentration. Democracy would become steadily more healthy and strong.

This is how capitalism was supposed to function. This is what its promoters always promised. This is what would have happened, if every word hadn’t always been a lie.

2. In the reality of greed fundamentalism, elites were never textbook capitalists but always gangsters. No one ever wanted to be a capitalist. No one ever wanted to compete and innovate. They wanted to concentrate wealth and power, period.

As capitalism reached its terminal profit crisis in the latter 20th century, the power elites resolved to deploy an ever more aggressive command economy. They’d use the power of government to substitute extorted and stolen rents for their diminishing “capitalist” profits.

 
This was happening in tandem with other political processes. Even during the time of the expanding pie, America was completing the sellout of its revolutionary birthright. As Hannah Arendt discusses in On Revolution, at the end of WWII it was clear that the colonial empires of Europe would be challenged everywhere by revolutionary movements. These would all necessarily be nationalist in part, but the rest of their ideological content was up for grabs. That many like the Vietminh would become communist was not a foregone conclusion. Among many anti-colonial insurgents, the American Revolutionary tradition was held in high esteem. America had total freedom to choose the path of encouraging these national revolutions along the lines of its own heritage.
 
Instead the US government chose the opposite path. It chose to trash its own revolutionary heritage, go rogue against its own best angels, and become the ultimate counter-revolutionary power. It chose everywhere to try to help sclerotic, decrepit Europe prop up its vapid imperialism. Although the propaganda lie was that this had to be done to counteract communist aggression, in fact communism instead was the beneficiary of America’s abandoning the field. Given the anti-colonial movements of the Global South, looking to the competing revolutionary heritage powers for assistance and inspiration, America simply punted and betrayed itself, and communism entered the vacuum left behind.
 
So to sum up, post-WWII, with the advent of the Cold War and the inevitable liquidation of the anachronistic colonial empires, America chose the path of counter-revolution rather than to compete as a revolutionary power. Meanwhile domestically it sought to co-opt the workers.
 
Vietnam was a milestone toward greater aggression and unsustainability for this reactionary agenda. It was an exercise in consolidating the military-industrial complex and in driving fiscal recklessness, which would culminate in Nixon closing the gold window in 1971. So the Vietnam-driven deficits were already unsustainable while the dollar could still be redeemed for gold, such that the system had to retrench even before the oil shocks set in starting in 1973, although this was foreshadowed by the American production Peak in 1970. (To get a little ahead of myself, we can compare this to the financial collapse of 2007-08 and say that in both cases the unsustainability of the finance structure in itself brought on the crisis before the energy fundamentals forced it. So in both cases the reckless financial “choice” preceded the structural change, but only as a preview.)    
 
As I said, this was bound to happen even without the looming end of the oil age. But in fact the US oil Peak was an alarm bell. Not that the system widely consciously registered it, but everyone sensed that oil supplies would be getting tighter in the future. Combining this with the end of “legitimate capitalist profits”, the system was clear in its mind that the temporary middle class would now have to be liquidated.
 
Here’s how I described how this was planned out, and how it’s been done:
 

Globalization and financialization comprised the campaign of oligopoly capitalism to prop itself up while stringing along the Western middle classes. They substituted debt for production while obscuring the assault on all public amenities and power. Real wages have steadily eroded since the 70s while wealth concentration has exponentially risen. (That juxtaposition right there is a basic metric of robbery.) The system attacked unions on every political and “legal” level. Social Security has been steadily undermined via ploys like the rigging of inflation metrics (to fraudulently depress COLA increases). Other entitlements have been similarly eroded. Globalization’s open border for unskilled labor provides the basic force of gravitation for all wages, while outsourcing and offshoring destroyed many mid-level jobs completely, forcing and ever greater number of workers into the undifferentiated unskilled mass. (The system did somewhat protect most kinds of professionals for a long time, but now that’s been eroding for many as well.) Walmartization provides a kind of linchpin, the direct conduit for addicting ex-citizens to cheap consumerism while directly destroying self-proprietors and middle class jobs in general, along with the communities anchored by the people who held such jobs.

In this way the temporary “middle class”, fueled by debt and cheap oil, had the carpet slowly pulled out from under it. Meanwhile the basic unproductivity of the Western system was covered up by bubbles, culminating in the housing bubble (itself fueled propagandistically by the Big Lie that you should rely on your house to provide for your retirement, not any other pension; this nicely provided cover while public entitlements and private pensions were gradually being subverted).

 
So we had the basic structural change. Peak Oil meant an expanding pie would first stop expanding and then start shrinking. This would radically exacerbate the dropping of the profit rate. This was structurally challenging a system whose “normal” aggression and greed had already been stepped up in the post-war era.
 
Combining these three determinants, two structural and one political, the gangsters saw that the only way they could continue large-scale extractions at all would be to radically intensify them. Since stealing each dollar would get harder and harder, it followed that you no longer had the luxury of conceding any wealth to the people who actually produce it. Allowing the existence of a middle class in principle was a luxury of the mid-century. The gangster elite no longer saw itself as having that luxury. You now had to try to steal every cent, and you had to be as systematic and ruthless as possible in doing it.
 
History since the 1970s has been primarily the playing out of this endgame. I’ll just describe the strategy and tactics as they were conceived and played, though they’re mostly epiphenomena of the structural forces of Peak Oil and the transformation from alleged capitalism to confirmed corporatism.
 
The ideology and strategy for all this was neoliberalism.  This was accompanied by such strands as economic “libertarianism”, AKA anarcho-capitalism as its more honest adherents called it, and neoclassical economics, AKA monetarism (with its “liberal” variant, the “neoclassical synthesis”). Buckley conservatism gave it a culturally respectable sheen, while Goldwater and later Reagan added a nimbus of pseudo-heroism. At the more scurrilous level, the Big Lies included the “ownership society”, “trickle-down” supply-side economics, the Laffer curve, and later “third way” politics and “compassionate conservatism”. We were allegedly going to move from a manufacturing economy to a “service economy”, and later to an “information economy”.
 
Maybe the most concise expression of the battle plan written up in one place was Lewis Powell’s 1971 corporatist strategy memo. This is a classical example of totalitarian reversal – for every word of its accusations against the enemies of American business, it’s meant to be read, “this is what we should be doing”. (He stays in character throughout.) 
 
All of this was enlisted to justify the replacement of a human society with the exponential debt treadmill. The now targeted middle class was supposed to go into debt and look to its “investments”, while quietly social spending was diverted to gangster plunder, regulation of the corporate gangs was gutted, public property was everywhere given away to private looters at pennies on the dollar, public spaces everywhere were privatized, and democracy itself was completely pimped out.
 
Everything was wrapped up in a propaganda package which justified intensifying wealth concentration, skyrocketing executive extractions, a war of extermination against unions, and the offshoring/outsourcing/downsizing of all decent American jobs. Globalization shills like Mankiw and Krugman promised all of these were temporary growing pains on the road to paradise, but like all totalitarian flacks they were simply lying about this.
 
All of this was worked out in principle in the 70s. The oil shocks gave the project new urgency, as the global rape wouldn’t work without ready cheap oil. The Nixon administration worked out the deal with OPEC whereby its oil would be priced and purchased with dollars. This gave the now fiat reserve currency a de facto “real” basis to replace the gold-based Bretton Woods basis Nixon had just abrogated. In return the US promised to prop up the undemocratic plutocracies of the Middle East against all democratic pressures. This was formally enshrined in the Carter Doctrine, which declared that anything which could interfere with the flow of Mideast oil was aggression against the US. Although advertised against foreign troublemakers, the real target was clearly people’s activists among the Arabs. There was probably also an implied military threat if OPEC producers didn’t deal.
 
Meanwhile under the scheme of petrodollar recycling, the dollars the West paid for oil would be put right back in the Western banks, who would lend it at predatory rates to developing countries for their own oil purchases. Every time OPEC received the dollars they’d extract some and send the rest back to the banks, who would extract some and lend the rest to third world elites, who would extract some and send the rest back to OPEC while saddling their own hapless peoples, who received none of the benefits, with the debt.
 
The goal was for the banks and OPEC to profit, for the West and corrupt regimes around the undeveloped world to get their oil, while the poor of the world would be forced to pay for all of it. Since they could never actually pay these odious debts, neoliberalism in the guise of its thug organizations the IMF and World Bank would stand ready to swoop in with a “structural adjustment”, which basically meant the complete looting of the helpless country. All its natural resources, and what little public property the people may have managed to accumulate, and what little social safety net they may have managed to stitch together, would all be confiscated to pay the debts these people never incurred, but which were criminally inflicted upon them.
 
(In part 3 of this series I’ll describe how, under the new name “austerity”, this same structural adjustment is being brought home to the Western countries themselves.)
 
Another detail was the transformation of the finance sector. It was of course always a gang of thieves, but it didn’t fully rationalize itself until the 70s and 80s. This was the period of the switch from partnerships as the common organizational model to limited liability corporations, and later to public corporations. The trend here is clear – enabling first the owners, and eventually the officers, to unshoulder all responsibility and risk, first on society, and later on the “owners” themselves (shareholders).
 
At the behest of Wall Street this drive to send every corporation public added the feature that stock price became the most important measure of a firm’s “health”. Productivity, real innovation and profitability, meant nothing next to short-run goosing of the stock price. Needless to say the welfare of the workers meant nothing. The goal here was to transform the entire economy into a casino for the benefit of the gamblers of the finance sector. They figured, with the end of the oil age the real economy as we’ve known it is doomed anyway, so we might as well run the risk of blowing it up prematurely for the sake of our personal profit.
 
The also had the benefit of setting up the stock market as a combination of dictator and terrorist. Even politicians who might have wanted to act in the public interest against the banks were prone to be intimidated by the market’s threats and tantrums. Most pols, of course, were happy to use the market’s “expected” reactions as a pretext for the crimes they already wanted to commit. This is taking on especially chilling significance today in the runup to “austerity”, as I’ll describe in part 3. The stock market terrorist also holds hostage the middle class in the form of its promised pensions, which have all been inextricably linked with the fortunes of the market. The message has long been clear – don’t get uppity, worker bee, or your 401(k) gets it.
 
This was all part of financialization, whose structural basis was the previously mentioned impossibility of keeping “real” profits up. Turning the flow of capital itself, previously a mechanism of capitalism, into the very core and purpose of the machine, was a way to temporarily garner fabulous rents. Again, since the real economy was doomed anyway, there was no reason not to take the finance sector, previously a periodically troublesome epiphenomenon of capitalism’s normal boom-bust cycle, and turn it into a pure extortion racket and con ring to maximize profiteering off the ultimate bubble and the ultimate bust, both of which would be engineered by this very racket.
 
(The exponential surge of “innovation” in financial “products” was part of this as well, a primary mechanism of its functioning.)  
 
All of this was already progressing through the 1980s. But the Cold War still imposed some restraints upon it, both because of the direct threat of the Soviet bloc and also because as long as the USSR existed it offered a political alternative to Western neoliberalism. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War this last restraint was removed. Now Western corporate aggression could rage forth in its full fury. In spite of the Big Lie, no “peace dividend” ever materialized, nor was it ever intended to. Irving Kristol wrote a manifesto openly declaring that with the Soviet Union gone, the West must greatly increase its military spending and aggression. This is exactly what was done, as planned. Thus every allegation throughout the Cold War about the West’s fundamental aggression was fully confirmed. It was a textbook example of what Arendt called a core trait of totalitarianism, that it steps up its aggression and its terror after the war has been won. So it was with neoliberalism.
 
From here on there was no restraint on plundering expeditions, especially in the former Soviet bloc countries; on terrorism and war as the response to any resistance or dissent; on disaster capitalism as the response to any opportunity anywhere which left people damaged and weakened. There is never a moment where any consideration enters the minds of Western leaders other than power and plunder. Everything is gauged at every moment according to those vicious imperatives.
 
And so today we have the full-blown kleptocracy. It rose out of, first, the imperative of gangsterism to survive as long as possible in the face of Peak Oil and the stagnation of the capitalist profit rate, and second to profiteer as much as possible off the final big binge and bubble which oil and debt were going to afford before burning out. The goal for the elites was simply to loot as much as possible, amass as much power as possible, impoverish and disempower the people as much as possible, undermine or destroy democracy; and to position themselves to prevent any democratic adaptation to the post-oil world, but instead to reimpose feudalism, constituting themselves as a new version of the medieval elite.
 
In parts 2-4 I’ll describe how this is meant to play out. Part 2 will recap the Bailout and describe its status today.
 
 

July 8, 2009

Globalism to Relocalism

I want to offer a few thoughts on globalization, and why opposition to it is linked to relocalization.
 
The European Union has just decided to impose a tariff for the next five years on American biodiesel imports. This is in retaliation for massive American subsidies to this pseudo-industry, which in turn enable biodiesel exporters to dump their product in Europe below cost, hammering European producers. The targeted companies include Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill. The usual suspects.
 
This is of course a mere squabble among gangsters. The Europeans are just as guilty of dumping in Africa and elsewhere (where local economies are unable to defend themselves against this aggression). We’ll no doubt hear the usual jeremiads against “protectionism”, although this is no such thing.
 
Leaving European hypocrisy aside, this is not flat earth protectionism but self-defense against what a good globalist should call an abuse of the system. (It’s not really an abuse, as I’ll explain below.)
 
(As for the omnipresent cry that protectionism will hinder the Great Recovery, we should know that this is a crock. There can be no “recovery” in their sense. Consumers are at the end of their debt rope and must either let go or be hanged. We are not going to see a restoration of the consumer orgy. We’ve seen Peak Consumerism, and we can happily bury it.
 
The banks know this, which is why they will not lend, why they only sit on the bailout money. They know, far from a consumer phoenix being ready to rise from the flames, there’s instead a lot more burndown to go: the credit card debt crash has barely begun.
 
While oil prices temporarily plummetted, they have risen again. From here they’ll likely continue to fibrillate wildly for the next several years until the true Peak Oil effect sets in, and oil becomes permanently expensive. So while shippers have had a temporary respite (if they had anything to ship) on energy prices, they know they can’t rely upon anything but price volatility.
 
Globalization’s great wave has broken and now ebbs. Anyone who is counting on that wave to roll in again to refresh the parched global economy is going to go thirsty.
 
So no one has to worry about protectionism hindering recovery. Protections will simply be a logical part of decoupling from the already-doomed globalization model.
 
We who are glad to see the end of an unsustainable civilizational model can applaud protectionism as an example of Dmitri Orlov’s doctrine of boondoggles to the rescue.)
 
Getting back to biofuels and Big Ag, the way this racket works is clear. They are the recipients of massive federal subsidies, which enable them to export and dump their product, destroying local economies and pocketing all profits.
 
If you know the movie Goodfellas you’re familiar with the part where the mob becomes a partner in a restaurant. They immediately start buying huge amounts of consumer goods like TVs on the restaurant’s credit, take delivery there, and literally bring the stuff in through the front door and out the back into the back alley, where they sell it for cash at a big discount. The place is stuck with the bill. “Nobody’s going to pay for it anyway. It’s all profit!”
 
That’s exactly the way corporatist rackets like agrofuels and industrial agriculture work under globalization. The taxpayers subsidize production, the corporations take the goods overseas and dump them. “It’s all profit”, while the taxpayers are stuck with the bill, and overseas economies are assaulted.
 
The EU’s complaint against America is 100% correct. But they are just as guilty, and often collaborate with the Americans in these crimes. Look at the example of Smithfield. The American multinational had a golden road paved for it into Eastern Europe. It promptly CAFOized the pork economies of Romania and Poland, ravaging those farm economies (and strewing various environmental and public health disasters along the way). It received huge state and EU subsidies for this, and then received further payments for exporting pork scraps to Africa, where it dumped them, largely eradicating local hog farmers there as well. European producers are guilty of the same crimes.
 
(This also illustrates how EU expansion to Eastern Europe was conceived as a colonial endeavor in the same way that Western Europe always looked at the global South.)
 
It’s clear that predatory pricing is not an abuse of globalization, but a feature. It is completely within the mainstream of its logic. Globalism’s ideologues always talked about “comparative advantage”, but what Western countries and corporations have always sought in practice is absolute advantage. The only thing the third world was ever comparatively best at was gutting all environmental and labor regulation, driving wages down to starvation levels, and deploying any level of violence necessary to keep the slaves in line.
 
As Larry Summers said, the best use for the third world is as a toxic waste dump. That’s the inherent logic of globalization.
 
Who invented and imposed globalism? Not the global South. It was the West and its self-constructed, therefore self-serving international trade structure (the World Bank, IMF, WTO – a veritable Economic One World Government). So we can assume that the standard predatory practice of America and the EU is the intended practice of globalization itself. This means subsidy, protections, dumping for its own industry, while ferociously opposing all protections, and any regulation in general, in the “toxic waste dump”.
 
Why should a Peak Oiler care very much about this if it’s true that globalization is being rolled back?
 
First, it’s a moral and philosophical imperative. Fighting back against organized crime, even where it’s in the fifth act, is worth doing for its own sake. 
 
Second, we’re not likely to have a fast crash, if that means the end of industrial civilization in a year or two. These corrections of history are going to take time to work themselves out, and in the meantime marauders are still going to do a lot of damage.
 
Third, anti-globalization is a relocalization initiative. To oppose Big Ag’s third world dumping is to help weaken its domestic stranglehold, which in turn helps domestic small farmers, which is the core priority for anyone concerned with energy descent, since America will need millions of small farmers.
 
So Europe’s biodiesel tariff, however hypocritical, is helpful. And of course, any blow to the agrofuel racket and all its wickedness is a good thing.
 
This is just one piece of the puzzle, one loose thread in the unravelling of industrialism. As more and more threads come loose, the thinner and weaker the garment. Perhaps at some point there will even be ways for the people to pull on those threads.

April 7, 2009

A Not-so-distant Mirror?

Filed under: Global War On Terror, Globalization — Tags: , , , , — Russ @ 9:36 am
Modern history shows that the basic process of growth economies is that they must always seek new frontiers where they can repeat their original “pre-capitalist” accumulation, i.e. plunder. Where the economy runs up against limits to this expansion, it falls into boom-bust cycles. In effect, if there’s nowhere for surplus wealth to go, then wealth must be destroyed so that it can be rebuilt. The old rueful joke about how GDP is all about building a bridge, tearing it down, and then rebuilding it is basically true. Wars are especially fruitful in this regard.
 
Now the globalized economy is running up against the ultimate limits of the Earth’s natural resources. Delusions of space colonization notwithstanding, there’s no frontier left to open up. We can look at the entire Industrial Revolution as a one-time spend-down of the fossil fuel hoard. (For all the delusions of capitalist grandeur, all modernity has really been is one big rent-collecting binge, which is now coming to an end.)
To the extent humanity now moves to unconventional oil and aggrofuels, this means the spend-down is over, and it’s time to recrudesce to the civilization of hard work.
 
To look at an early run-through of the West’s predicament, we may compare the rise of fascism in 20th century Europe. The socioeconomic predicament Europe faced is similar to the resource predicament we now face. The fascists were just premature.
 
As Hitler’s biographer Joachim Fest put it, fascism was trying to formulate a “last-ditch defensive ideology for the bourgeoisie”. Europe had run out of space, was depleting its own resources, while the old-style imperialism had run its course. It was entering “bust” time; the Great Depression was a foretaste of this. Fascism proposed to prop up the system first through military Keynesianism, then internal imperialism, then continental aggression, using violence and slavery throughout. The reason this was necessary, and the reason it didn’t work, was that history had entered an interregnum.
 
To repeat, Europe’s population was at the boom level, while its indigenous resources were constrained. It’s old colonial frontier and plunder grounds were closing up.
At the same time, technology, the globalist form of imperialism, and consumerism were not yet ripe as a new stage of economic intensification.
America and the Soviet Union, still rich in resources, could afford to wait. Europe could not.
 
A crystallization of the dilemma is how Hitler envied Stalin. He was well aware of how time was running out for Germany, while the USSR had all the time in the world, all on account of natural resources – oil, grain, metals, timber. This was the “rational” aspect of Hitler’s Lebensraum  (living space)  ideology. The point of the war was to seize space and resources, and therefore time, from the USSR and for Germany.
 
So what happened:
1. Natural resources won the war for the West and the Soviet Union.
 
2. The war itself spurred development of the technology and the globalization system (Bretton Woods, dollar as reserve currency, the IMF) which would open up the new frontiers, globally and internally, to the new cycle of expansion, expropriation, and accumulation. The old direct colonization would be replaced by the new sublimated imperialism.
 
But all of this, even when leveraged through the financialization of the global economy, which became an exponential debt economy, could still only buy limited time. 
 
These are the terms we must think in when we see Western multinationals, Asian cartels, Mideast sovereign wealth funds making land deals in Brazil or Madagascar or Indonesia; or where we see unholy consortiums of Monsanto and Bill Gates seeking GM biofuel plantations in Africa. It’s at core the same Lebensraum program, just prettified and not so overtly violent. This is broadly true of all of globalization, petrodollar recycling, the whole round of multinational colonization, “outsourcing” and “offshoring”, “free” trade, and the intentional trapping of the global South in the predatory lending/debt/structural adjustment cycle purveyed by the World Bank and IMF.
 
So where are we now? The whole developed world (including the elite strata of the BRIC countries, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Rim, the Mideast and elsewhere) is in the same position as Europe entering the 20th century. We have resource depletion, trade outlets are saturated, population has exploded beyond all rational measure. There is almost certainly no frontier left to colonize. The technophiles still blather about how “technology will save us”, but anywhere we look there is no conceivable technological solution which doesn’t quickly run up against physical (fossil fuel platform) and economic barriers which are insurmountable. Even where it comes to well-established tech like wind or solar, we must face the truth. As Vaclav Smil said, “beware of the scale!” They cannot be scaled.
 
I said a moment ago that the barriers are insurmountable. But there is in fact one option for temporarily propping up a zombie system. The rich and powerful can seek to prop up their wealth and power through a rerun of the old fascist gambit. This time, however much they try to demonize various foreigners or “terrorists”, they won’t really have the old-style fascist “classless” option, since this is a globalized world. Multinationals are completely unmoored from any national anchor, in practical or moral terms. This unanchoring has been with the full consent and active corporatist assistance of so-called “national” governments. Governments, administrations, and corporations are now fully cognizant of their basic thug vagrancy. They will now seek to recolonize the Earth. First on a North vs. South basis, and then on an internal basis within each and every “country”. The process is well advanced in America already, with the shredding of the safety net, rampant privatization, the addiction to consumer debt as the entire basis of physical life, and the complementary expropriation of wealth, more and more of which resides in fewer treasure hoards. The Bailouts and the Global War on Terror are stepped up processes of wealth redistribution upward.
 
In the meantime, the essence of Western life, which must be preserved at all costs, for the sake of which the people will happily throw away all wealth, all power, all spirit, all freedom, is the car. Everything else in American life boils down to this. It’s the basis of the war on terror. In effect, as long as the power elite can keep delivering the fuel, the people will consent to anything and everything.
 
This is how and why the leading edge of the new, temporary accumulation cycle of interior colonization is the “alternative fuels”, unconventional oil and biofuels. You can gauge the progress of tyranny by the progress of their development.        

March 25, 2009

The Bailout War III: Corporatism and Finance

 

(See also the rest of the five-part series)
 
https://attempter.wordpress.com/2009/03/24/the-bailout-war-part-i-aig/
 
https://attempter.wordpress.com/2009/03/24/the-bailout-war-ii-too-big-to-fail/
 
https://attempter.wordpress.com/2009/03/26/the-bailout-war-part-iv-toxic-bank-assets-and-the-bailouts/
 
https://attempter.wordpress.com/2009/03/27/the-bailout-war-v-nationalization-and-relocalization/

 

We are experiencing an attempted corporatist coup. It’s the same old disaster capitalist battle plan: trigger the disaster, in this case the financial crisis; shock, confuse, and frighten the people with Too Big To Fail and an unending litany of miserable economic news; use this chaotic environment to push through a plan which would never have any chance of success if the people could calmly understand and deliberate on it.
 
The finance elite claim to be capitalists seeking a “free market”, but what they really want is a free-fire zone. They want to be free of all government oversight, free of all antitrust, consumer, of labor protection, free of any obstacle to the most predatory and anticompetitive practices, free of environmental regulations, free of any limit on socializing the costs of externalities, free of any regulation aimed at economic stability, free of all social responsibility, and of course free of taxes and anything else which in any way compromises feudal accumulation. At the same time they want the full cooperation and protection of the public bureaucracy, police, courts, prisons, and military, which are all to be deputized in the service of private profit even as they are paid for with public funds.
 
Feudalism masquerades as capitalism, but it seeks rent rather than innovation (though Orwell-style this is called “innovation”, just as swindler “talent” is called talent as such). Banks, insurance companies, and the real estate industry , who together comprise what Michael Hudson calls the FIRE trust, use debt creation not for productive loans or to raise living standards but to inflate bubbles in real estate, stocks and bonds, luxury novelty markets and so on. They concentrate in a trust to enforce a de facto central economic planning power where all losses are socialized. The “free market” function of the FIRE trust is really a fake rentier function, enabled by the government, which shouldn’t exist at all. Corporatism is pure gangsterism.
 
Corporatism as an ideology and an agenda seeks to topple democratic capitalism and replace it with a de facto unaccountable autocratic government which serves as a wealth conveyor from the public to a rentier elite. Elected representatives and public officials are first captured with bribes and threats and then selected for ideology and obedience. A complaisant media cooperates. The result is an industry/government/media cabal which wages a civil war from above, treating the public and the public domain as a mine and a dump.
 
The FIRE trust is based on nothing productive. Rather it manages the production of bubbles and worthless luxury items priced for the consumer through (1) the exponential debt economic model, and (2) Walmartization, which brings only temporary low prices, but permanently destroys local economies and small business and drives the globalist race to gut all labor and environmental regulation. A basic feature of the debt economy is that the worker is disempowered through a divide and conquer process, where just as in any totalitarian society each individual trembles for himself and fears everyone else. In this case each worker trembles for his job since he’s deeply in debt. Thanks to this fear workers are afraid to claim their rights or organize for better conditions, and the result is a steady deterioration of their position.
 
This in turn intensifies the steep, radical, antidemocratic and antisocial concentration of wealth. Since the financialization of the economy in the 1970s, the protion of the national income going to the top 1% of wealth gatherers has more than doubled, while real wages have decreased by 16%. This concentration process ahs become ever more intense in recent years. The public is steadily stripped of all property and power and reduced to serfdom while power and wealth concentrate among an oligarchy.
 
The finance and political elite uses the creation and control of debt, of debt-enabled addiction to sham luxury, privatization, deregulation, destroying social services and protections, setting up barriers against relief in the courts, turning the law itself into the infinitely pliable tool of corporate lawyers, to accumulate and deploy power and wealth. Too Big to Fail and its bailouts, the Global War on Terror and its wars, are nominally administration, not even “American” projects. They’re really private wars waged using hijacked public resources.
 
The corporatist oligarchy, unlike true capitalism, seeks a centrally planned economy. The government taxes the people and borrows in their name, and saddles them with the debt. It then distributes this wealth to the maximum benefit of big industry, according to plans laid out by the finance industry. Today’s Bailout War is just the most brazen and thorough-going manifestation of the standard program. There’s seldom a need for policy conclaves, since the top government officials like Paulson or Geithner almost without exception started out on the private side, and many return after their government service for the industry.
 
So we have an economy run by bankers and captured Fed and Treasury planners rather than democracy. Through deregulation and regulatory neglect they developed an economic anarchy zone where anything went.  The finance industry inhabited this anarchy with increasingly large, ramified, interconnected structures. Hudson calls them grupos after the feudal finance trusts of Pinochet’s Chile. In good Orwellian fashion they called this generation of bubbles and debt “wealth creation”. They used this position to develop a command economy where nothing except at the lowest, smallest level can work except according to the top-down central plan.
 
The basic activity of the FIRE trust is according to Hudson to “make money by creating and selling debt”. The finance industry seeks to inflate bubbles: Asian debt, dot-com, housing. The insurance giant AIG spurred a $30 trillion market in credit default swaps. The basis of this market is not insurance of real assets (a steady, frumpy profit) but betting on derivative paper. The real estate business was no longer based on the real assets of land and house but turned the housing market into a casino whose features were predatory lending, speculators flipping houses, and encouraging Americans to view a house not as a home but as a retirement vehicle (which also, in a vicious circle, politically helped justify and further the shredding of the safety net, placing people ever more at the mercy of this bubble).
 
The origin of corporatism lies in the instability of capitalism itself. According to James Livingston under normal circumstances the finance industry is merely an epiphenomenon, a subsidiary factor within a productive real economy. But the unstable tendency within capitalism is for the proceeds of economic activity to shift toward wealth inequality to the point that there aren’t enough investment outlets for this surplus wealth. Different things can cause this shift. Of course the capitalist always seeks to maximize his profit. As for systemic shift, back in the 20s there was machinery, Taylorism, and monopoly centralization. In recent decades we have modern technology and Hobbesian globalization. The result in both cases is that productivity can be maintained while the economy undergoes a massive shift form wages to profits. With the advent of this surplus, the epiphenomenal finance industry turns into a monster reality. Where there’s too much capital which can’t be productively reinvested, it becomes rent-seeking.
 
[As Livingston points out, this is why tax cuts for the rich in a debt bubble economy can never increase productivity; why trickle-down can never work. It’s because the extra money just seeks an unproductive rent-maximizing investment. It’s just used to further blow up bubbles.]
 
[We also see here the incipience of collapse and Depression. This surplus capital is the result of a systemic shift to greater inequality. Its quest for investment outlets conjures up the FIRE trust. As it blows up bubbles and heats up inflation the finance industry exacerbates wealth inequality. So it’s a vicious circle: inequality -> surplus capital and rise of FIRE trust -> aggravate inequality -> more surplus, ever more concentrated finance action and so on, until: (1) the debt load on the consumer is unsustainable, (2) some proximate cause sets off the crash, (3) overproduction and asset deflation crashes the system.
 
This is the risk and result as disaster capitalism seeks an interior financial frontier where denied an external physical plunder frontier. The late 20s were a hiatus between the heyday of colonial imperialism and the rise of globalist imperialism, while in spite of his best efforts Bush wasn’t able to achieve a sufficient new economic disaster zone in Iraq, even as globalism in its most predatory aspect was starting to be rolled back elsewhere.  
 
In 2008 Peak Oil and energy issues triggered the unravelling. The American suburbanite got simultaneously hit three ways: (1) as commuter, oil supply constriction and speculation over it sent oil and gasoline prices soaring, while biofuel mandates and extreme energy prices were major factors in food price inflation; fuel and food inflation drove general inflation which hit the suburbanite (2) as consumer; and at the same time as he was beleaguered by a higher cost of living and already finding it more difficult to make his mortgage payments, (3) these conditions and higher interest rates triggered the ARMs in those mortgages, and for more and more people it was too much. The defaults started avalanching and the crash was on.]
 
What to do with the surplus? It seeks to inflate a bubble. The proximate bubble can be inflated by just blowing up whatever balloons happen to be laying around – real estate, stocks, toxic paper, overhyped startups. In modern times, the global economy was fully financialized starting in the 70s. It took the form of an exponential debt economy. It was all based on the dollar’s reserve currency status. Now “all previous bubbles [were] folded into a ‘Treasury bubble’ “, as John Bellamy Foster put it. The dollar was the reserve currency; at the same time it floated free of any reality-based anchor once it was detached from gold in 1971; to complete the picture OPEC agreed to require dollars as payment for oil deliveries, and all other market sellers followed.
 
Now the basic pattern was in place. Economic growth was based on exponential debt. Petrodollars sloshed around the world as the financial trusts blew up bubbles wherever they could. Globalization drove the infamous “race to the bottom” for wages, privatization, social spending, labor and environmental regulation (and for that matter public participation, democracy itself). Multinational corporations urged on this downward race while rushing to help inflate the bubbles and, under the auspices of the corporatist-captured World Bank and IMF, rushed as disaster capitalists to exploit any burst bubble or other disaster. All the while the American middle class was placated with a consumer debt binge and flashy worthless technological gadgets, even as its wages and social protections were eroded.
 
Under these conditions where corporatist speculation depends upon inflating and imploding bubbles, triumphs and disasters, surging and crashing prices, volatility became the new normal. Orwell visits us again to coin the term “Great Moderation” for a world of permanent upheaval and tension and instability where the only thing perceived as constant was the disaster capitalist’s uncanny ability to surf the wave of destruction and always come out profitable. (We can place Great Moderation alongside the Washington Consensus, that self-congratulatory affirmation to drown out the cries of rage and pain of millions who most definitely did not “consent”.)
 
But in spite of its soothing, moderate name the exponential debt economy was not only unstable but intrinsically unsustainable. Over the years it experienced a diminishing growth return on debt. $1 of created debt generated a 60 cent rise in GDP back in the 70s. The same real dollar in 2000 generated only 20 cents. The reason exponential debt is in itself unsustainable is because each debt-creating entity reaches its limit where it cannot borrow another cent and must crash at the first margin call. We watched this repeatedly in 2008. So to keep any bubble inflating the players need to appeal to larger entities. This drives the merger and consolidation process, but eventually everything must be enfolded in the Treasury bubble, where the US government is the ponzi schemer, the good name of the US government and its dollar is the bubble, and this debt bubble must run up against the limits of the dollar itself, and there’s no higher body to whom to appeal.
 
That’s the point we’re now reaching. As a nominally private set of structures the FIRE trust bubbled as far as it could. Now it can do nothing but de facto privatize the government and be de facto nationalized by it. Its only other option is terminal collapse.
 
Similarly we the people now face a fork in the road. The scenario I just described is also doomed. The government itself cannot maintain the dollar’s position even as an out-and-out feudal cabal. So the choices are to let them go ahead and continue taking the debt bubble civilization to its extreme, becoming enserfed along the way, and then suffer the complete collapse while going form mere dreary poverty to absolute destitution.
 
Or, we can stop corporatism in its tracks right now, defy the terroristic threats of “Too Big to Fail”, recover our country and what wealth we have left, and use it to guide us through a transformation to a sustainable and just economy and society. And best of all we can do it as a free people.
 

March 20, 2009

Globalization Brief

Filed under: Corporatism, Globalization — Tags: , , , — Russ @ 9:16 am

What does it mean when we are told globalization is good for “the economy”?

Globalization is about, among other things, the convergence of all wages to the subsistence minimum, and as often as possible even below this. It has driven down real wages everywhere, including in the ostensible “high-wage” places like America. This is part of the nefarious “race to the bottom” which is the nihilistic core of globalism.

The real point of globalism is to eradicate nation-based capitalism and replace it with an international neo-feudalist rentier racket, where this small elite would not only maximize profits but monopolize all real assets, while the people everywhere are reduced to serfdom.

This has to be the real end goal since “consumerism” is clearly not sustainable, especially as you systematically impoverish your customer base. If as Walmart you come into a vicinity and destroy x middle class jobs but “create” x + y non-living wage “greeter associate” jobs (and this is precisely what globalist cadres mean when they claim globalism creates job growth), well, how long can this process continue? Walmart has lower prices, but it drives down consumer wages. It’s another downward spiral which can’t be sustained. Another contradiction of capitalism.

The process is most advanced in the non-industrial countries, but is also advancing everywhere else. 

Globalization does not benefit any aggregate, and it does not benefit any nation.

The fact is, there is no such thing as a “nation”. There is no such thing as America, for example. Of course, TPTB want people to believe in such fraudulent mirages, since this is how they obscure the reality of class struggle.

But the fact is, this struggle is the only socioeconomic reality. A large country is by definition a free-fire zone of conflicting interests. While I won’t go here into whether or not the struggle necessarily has to be zero-sum under conditions of economic growth and resource plenty, it is indisputable that in our brave new world of resource constraint and the end of growth, where everywhere we now run up against Malthusian limits, the fight will now be over a shrinking pie, and from here on to the end of history it can never be anything other than zero sum class war.

The globalists understand this perfectly. As always, the elite has class consciousness, the people mostly do not. That’s always been the secret of their success. That’s why over the past several decades they’ve orchestrated this world-historical shift from conventional capitalism to a rentier economy of corporatism, financialization, neo-feudalism, and asset monopoly (land, oil, infrastructure). The process is now in its endgame.

(For anyone who doubts this, who believes in the good faith of globalists, here’s a question. If they were ever really serious about “comparative advantage”, which concept of course incorporates regional inefficiencies which allegedly add up to a more efficient whole, then why wasn’t this ever enshrined in practice? In practice, no one ever wanted to allow anyone a comparative advantage where it was possible for the handful of multinationals to seek absolute advantage.

At least in practice globalization has been literally totalitarian in seeking the hegemony of rentier finance and multinational corporatism, through the mechanisms of the dollar as reserve currency, what is basically the thuggery of the World Bank and the IMF, and the “race to the bottom”.)

Carbon Shock

If it’s true that disaster capitalism is the practice of swooping in upon the victims of some catastrophe to impose through “shock treatment” (Milton Friedman’s own term) the predatory corporatist and neo-feudalist regime they could never achieve by democratic means, then its most extreme and logical manifestation is where you artificially manufacture the disaster with the intent of using it to impose this regime.
 
Just as we’ve seen precisely that with resource imperialism, the “Green” revolution, petrodollar recycling, Cold War proxy wars, the drug war, and other gambits, so now we’re starting to see the outlines of a carbon war.
 
1. The West has already emitted to the point that the climate crisis is upon us, and shows no signs of mitigation.
 
2. The globalization cabal, through programs like the so-called Clean Development Mechanism, claims to be seeking mitigation but is actually funding further carbon-intensive development, like the largest coal-fired plants on earth in India.
 
3. While the rich West (and other high-emission free riders) clearly has an moral obligation to pay for adaptation measures in the poor countries being hit by the climate crisis, it is instead seizing the opportunity for the standard globalist predatory lending, which loans are always intended to be the lever to indenture the country and loot its resources and labor.
 
4. Although we still have the old-style denier guttersnipes with us, clearly the sophisticated exploiter view of climate change is that propagated by Lomborg and others, that the best way to deal with it is to “help” the world adapt to it, while “helping” them to industrialize themselves. Once all that’s achieved, only then, through some kind of invisible hand, the world will together mitigate emissions, and everything will be fine.
 
But until then, nothing special regarding emissions should be done. Just the adaptation/industrialization program, which sounds suspiciously like the latest repackaging of the same globalist offensive. You can see how well this dovetails with the World Bank program.
 
5. Similarly, there’s an attempt among policy advocates to impose a top-down consensus that “offsets” must be an important part of any climate policy. Whether these are preached as intrinsically good (e.g. many politicians and some enviros) or as a necessary political evil (most enviros), the result is the same – a gambit which counteracts mitigation in the industrial countries while helping pry open the privatization door in the non-industrialized (and probably doing little or nothing to mitigate there either).
 
6. Finally, we can only speculate on how precisely the malefactors of finance will try to use carbon permit trading (where again, a top-down imposition of “consensus” is being sought among mainstream environmentalism) to inflate a new paper bubble.
What is not a matter for speculation is the fact  (A) that they will attempt it, and (B) that the government will fully support such a bubble.
 
[All government monetary and most fiscal policy at this point, as well as almost all commentary, is overwhelmingly focused on just one thing: how to inflate another bubble, since the debt/growth ponzi system cannot survive without it. It really should be called a “bubble economy”, and indeed a bubble society.
 
Right now their preferred goal and conscious policy is to try to reinflate the housing bubble. Thus we have all the focus on trying to “stabilize” the still-inflated housing prices, and send them rising again, when clearly housing prices are seeking a reality-based level and still have a ways to go.
 
But they’ll certainly happily grab hold of any opportunity that comes along. So we can expect permit trading to become a central part of the fray. But it won’t work if a rigorous cap is truly enforced. So we can expect ever-more ramified trading, as caps become ever-more gossamer.]
 
Add this manifestation of the growth imperative to the globalist gambit outlined above, and we have the outlines of a carbon class war from above, at home and abroad, on the people and the earth.   

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