How they must bleed for us. In 2012, the world’s 100 richest people became $241 billion richer. They are now worth $1.9 trillion: just a little less than the entire output of the United Kingdom.
This is not the result of chance. The rise in the fortunes of the super-rich is the direct result of policies. Here are a few: the reduction of tax rates and tax enforcement; governments’ refusal to recoup a decent share of revenues from minerals and land; the privatisation of public assets and the creation of a toll-booth economy; wage liberalisation and the destruction of collective bargaining.
The policies that made the global monarchs so rich are the policies squeezing everyone else. This is not what the theory predicted. Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and their disciples – in a thousand business schools, the IMF, the World Bank, the OECD and just about every modern government – have argued that the less governments tax the rich, defend workers and redistribute wealth, the more prosperous everyone will be. Any attempt to reduce inequality would damage the efficiency of the market, impeding the rising tide that lifts all boats. The apostles have conducted a 30-year global experiment, and the results are now in. Total failure.
As I say, I have no dog in this race, except a belief that no one, in this sea of riches, should have to be poor. But staring dumbfounded at the lessons unlearned in Britain, Europe and the US, it strikes me that the entire structure of neoliberal thought is a fraud. The demands of the ultra-rich have been dressed up as sophisticated economic theory and applied regardless of the outcome. The complete failure of this world-scale experiment is no impediment to its repetition. This has nothing to do with economics. It has everything to do with power.
“You know, this was meant to be the first post ideological generation, right? This was meant to be the generation that never thought about anything more than our Facebook profiles and our TV screens. This was meant to be the generation where the only thing that Saturday night meant was X-Factor. I think now that claim is quite ridiculous. I think now that claim is quite preposterous. I think that now we’ve shown that we are as ideological as ever before. Now we’ve shown that solidarity and comradeship and all of those things that used to be associated with students are as relevant now as they’ve ever been…
I was with thousands and thousands of school students… who never been on a protest before, who never joined a political party or been involved in a political movement before. We didn’t have any economic knowledge or political degrees. But they were there because they believed in something. They were there because they believed in something bigger… There weren’t a million choices; there were two choices. Either they laid down and took whatever the government threw at them or they stood up and fought back. And, so those school students, who had never been involved in anything before, stood up and they fought back…
So, the message that goes out from last Wednesday is very clear. We are no longer that post ideological generation. We are no longer that generation that doesn’t care. We are no longer that generation that is prepared to sit back and take whatever they give us. We are now the generation at the heart of the fight back. We are now the generation that will stand with everyone who is fighting back… We want to show solidarity with everyone who is fighting back. We hope that you will show solidarity with us and send a strong message to this government that they can’t throw their cuts at us. We are going to stand up and fight back.”
There is no crisis the capitalists cannot survive so long as the working class is willing to pay for it.
Under capitalism, it is perfectly possible to have starving people and unsold food in the same region.
Perfectly possible to have empty factories, decaying infrastructure and millions out of work.
To have too many houses and homeless people in the same street.
That is fucked.
While I’m not 100% into the idea of capitalism, it does have it’s benefits. No economic system is perfect, and in the modern world we should be constantly changing the rules based on reality versus ideal expectations.
It’s our job to be pushing for these changes in ways that will benefit everyone.
In the past, capitalism has had its benefits. That is true. It has rapidly developed the means the production to let more people be wealthier than ever before. It did this at the cost of enormous human life, but it still did it.
However, the progressive role of capitalism is coming to an end. It now is unleashing more and more crises than ever before. The effects that I described above are the effects of economic crisis under capitalism, the insane results of overproduction of goods in the market.
Economic systems are not chosen, and I think that is where the idealist conception of economy falls down. Economic systems arise organically from the previous ones. The crises of capitalism is releasing the class warfare necessary to create socialism. The other option is that capitalism continues, and the class war results in the mutual destruction of all classes involved through economic (or it seems ecological) collapse.
So lets have a conversation about what sort of socialism we are going to create and what it will look like.
A serious strategy to save this planet has to consider every possible course of action. To state it clearly once more: our planet is dying. There could not be a greater call to responsibility than stopping the destruction of all life. A heartfelt belief in human goodness is not a political strategy. Neither is our spiritual growth or our moral purity. We all need to decide for ourselves what actions we can and cannot take, and as in all things that matter, ” No” is absolute. That should be a given.There is room-indeed there is a necessity-for every level of engagement in this project. But it is long past time to stop playing makebelieve about the threats to our planet, solutions to those threats , andabout the courage and sacrifice that will be required to bring the system down.
So can it be done? Can industrial civilization be stopped? Theoretically,its not that difficult. Industrialization is dependent on very fragile infrastructure. It requires vast quantities of fossil fuels, which come from relatively few places, enter through a small number of centralized ports and processing facilities, and then have to be transported out along vulnerable supply lines, including the highway system. Industrial civilization is utterly dependent on electricity, and the electric grid is a million fragile miles long. The system is also dependent on the Internet; globalization would not be possible without it to organize and transfer both information and capital. And finally there is capital itself, which flows every day through twenty major stock markets-a finitenumber indeed.
Any of the above could be targeted in a multitude of ways. Serious nonviolent actionists could blockade the ports, the processing facilities,the stock exchanges, the main highways outside New York, Washington, DC, Chicago. There are only sixteen main bridges into Manhattan. A flow of bodies would be necessary to keep the system at a standstill day after day, bodies provided by people willing to face the consequences. Ask yourself if you have that many people. No? Now ask yourself how long it would take to get that many people, how much political education, how much consciousness-raising against the sweet,numbing dream of conformity and cheap consumer goods? How much can you count on that slow build of courage when the planet is losing species and gaining heat every minute?
The human race as a whole could do with an honest assessment of the destruction inherent in civilization and in our resultant swollen numbers. We could make a series of difficult decisions, reorganize our societies economically, politically, spiritually, and sexually, and restore the monocultures of asphalt and agriculture to living, bioticcommunities inside which our species could take its humble place once more. Instead, China and India are hurtling into industrialization as fast as the coal can be mined, and the United States entitlement to 4,000 pounds of steel for every citizen plus the gas to move it continues unabated. Were not on the edge of the “Great Turning,” but on the brink of destruction.
In a similar vein, industrialization could be brought down by nonviolent direct action-but will it, when most environmentalists refuse to understand the basic nature of political power and hence the principles by which the strategy works? More importantly, do we have the sheer numbers of people that would be required? And how many species have gone extinct since you opened this book? I need hope to be backed up by more than a fundamentalist insistence on it: I need proof,actual evidence that either the bulk of humanity will willingly give up civilization, right now, or that enough of us are willing to risk our lives ;to bring it down to make nonviolent interventions feasible. Reality tells me differently. That means we face a decision, individually and as a resistance movement. Because a small number of people could directly target that infrastructure; a few more, willing to persist, could potentially bring it down.