by Mike Meyer ~ Honolulu ~ January 31, 2020
The problem is money. There is too much in the wrong places, and much like a star, it curves space-time around it. Rather than physical objects warping space-time, large amounts of money shape economic and social reality around itself. I think it is best to think of this as a natural force that isn’t fixable just as gravity is not something to correct.
We are watching this process in the US and other extreme capitalist nations. The analogy works very well because the growing power of a bloated star draws everything into it. While parallels are always limited in their usefulness, this seems to be valid as an economic, social, and political force.
We are very aware of the corrupting power of large amounts of money and, yet, this has been and is the only surviving goal of an extreme capitalist society such as the US. The fact that the US now has the most corrupt regime in its history was inevitable.
That excessive sums of money in private hands destroys both the legal and political systems in states allowing this is also perfectly known. Human literature tells only a few essential stories. These cover quests by heroes, thwarted love and separation, and the stupidity and evil of greed created by great wealth. These problems are not shockingly new.
The acquittal of a confessed and stupid criminal by a group of ‘jurors’ after they received direct political donations of money combined with illegal threats is absurdly stereotypical. Without some embellishment, the classical Athenians would have laughed this off the stage.
Thomas Piketty best detailed the economic process behind this in his work Capitalism in the 21st Century. Systems evolve, what once was positive can become harmful as the multitude of variables in any given system change.
We have lived with Capitalism for more than two centuries. By the late 19th Century, the problem of ‘free’ markets becoming monopolized had become apparent. This development produced a century of suffering as the industrial revolution funded by capitalist success created low wage slavery and the recurrent instability of economic boom and bust.
That correction was public, i.e., government, regulation of monopolies, and cartels with the balancing influence of socialist restraints on capitalist excesses. The socialist principles provided a more balanced focus on human well being versus the mindless and endless growth of money and goods in the capitalist world. The growing recognition of capitalist structural problems required mediation by law and social democratic systems in the mid 20th Century. Unregulated capitalist markets become monopolies or cartels, and thus abusive, in one form or another.
Because the destruction of World War II demanded massive reconstruction and restoration of distortions caused by military domination of their economies, the populations demanded a return to a more similar structure. The result implemented public controls that created the peak, economic expansion of the 20th Century. Sadly this was short-circuited as the democratic socialist principles that created these great successes in the fifties and sixties were destroyed in the seventies eighties by political calls to racism and limitless greed in the US.
Consolidation of power in the hands of neoliberalists by the 1990s converted social-democratic managed free markets into late-stage predatory Capitalism in the US and, to a lesser degree, in Great Britain, and some other linked industrial economies. This collapse of all capitalist controls into rule by billionaires that would steadily suck all economic growth into the coffers of the billionaire elite with no additional productive activity required on their part.
Ironically this was the return to a variation of the feudal model of a small landed gentry ruling over a powerless peasantry. While this had been impossible in the growth of the modern capitalist states given the need for skilled workers that allowed the creation of a socialist counterbalancing force, the growth of automation began to limit the value and power of the mass population. The billionaire elite could anticipate utilizing vast capital resources to continue planetary exploitation while ignoring most people as a resource.
This transition created, by 2020, mongrel fascist movements dedicated solely to the power of the billionaire elite and their greed. Early 20th-century fascism was corporatist and militarist. The new fascism depended on racism, ethnocentrism, religious bigotry, and nationalism. Domination of the broadcast media and social media allowed reasonable control of this population with misinformation and lies.
Unlike earlier forms of domination and control, the 21st-century billionaire oligarchy had been allowed to own and control the technologies that would increasingly replace the need for the majority of the human population. As a result, the need to spend time and money on the facade of representative government or to allocate a significant portion of profits to incentivize a working class was no longer needed.
The inherent nature of late Capitalism with its focus on rentier income from existing investments as capital returns required only a consuming population that was already locked into obedience by the credit demands of their debt. The elimination of market regulation, public ownership, and union contracts allowed the freezing of wages and the removal of substantial assets then replaced with credit offerings. This new emphasis on credit permitted consumption of the only remaining assets of the US middle class with versions of the home equity credit line. The Great Recession destroyed hundreds of millions in general family assets without any loss for the ruling elite and their financial organizations.
This conversion of substantial assets into debt owned by the elite with the refusal to provide essential social services, making a credit line vital to a family, destroyed the mass population’s political power. Most had already lost any memory of their parent’s and grandparent’s financial independence, so they didn’t notice the loss.
The early success of the capitalist system based on total exploitation of planetary resources combined with the late 20th-century reduction of public services allowed the end of scarcity for the elite just as the destructive effects of that exploitation began to destroy our planet’s climate.
With the confluence of limitless greed as the only virtue and a shrinking need for a large working population demanding livable services, it should not be a surprise that the core of the most extreme of the billionaire class would deny the climate crisis. The inevitable reduction of the population by climate disaster would facilitate ever more massive material gains by the ruling elite for the foreseeable future.
What’s not to like? Climate crisis environmental predictions are more accurate, allowing the purchase of livable locations for later use as the climate situation evolves. If resources are not a limiting factor, the most challenging demand would be defending your residential estates from the starving masses. Lies and misinformation should continue to work for a long time. The power of bigotry and religion can keep the well-armed population attacking each other until heat and malnutrition eliminate the problem.
This ugly and morally disgusting attitude is now the center of a growing cult, but it is not the attitude of the vast majority of humans. The most significant problem is the percentage of the population subverted into believing the foundational lies of these opportunistic and self-serving political groups.
The critical point is that this all makes sense within the context of the structural distortions of late-stage Capitalism. It doesn’t make sense for human survival on this planet or social well being, but continuous misinformation, lies, and incentives to hatred are overwhelming for a minority of the population.
Greed and bigotry always find advocates who are either alienated or prone to narcissism, seeing themselves as the only genuinely deserving. We see this in full blossom in the new fascist minority. We must now control this disease recognizing that all traditional social and political institutions are now corrupt and unusable.
In the US, we now realize that the last hope for institutional salvation is gone. There will be those who struggle to cling to the 2020 federal election. Still, the vast wealth already allocated to election manipulation with no regard for any law and the power of the Russian GRU social media algorithms for misinformation makes this a very faint hope. The cowardice and greed of the Congressional branch with the open corruption of the judicial branch have created a fait accompli.
All three branches of the US federal system have failed. There is nothing of value to be gained by attempting to reform or forcibly restore those institutions. And force would be needed at this point. It is time to move on.
The basis has been established over the last three years with urban and state denial of illegal federal demands, the establishment of Sanctuary Cities, and expanded international agreements bypassing federal criminal actions.
We need to move from passive resistance to active resistance. New limits and borders need to be defined and strengthened. Direct provocation is terrible, but we must expand direct, democratic control of those areas committed to democratic socialist principles with a strong emphasis on our environmental crisis. We must unify on that and not on racism, ethnocentrism, failed nationalism, or destructive capitalist greed.
This radical change will require abandoning many of our governmental traditions for new, digital, and AI-based tools for efficient administration. These are not political issues but administrative, well-being, and survival requirements.
We all need to begin discussing and working to bring about this new order in our region, metropolitan area, or even through some new regional associations or alliances. All of our free energy must focus on these changes.
For those in areas controlled by the current regime, the decision is to remain or leave. Those that cannot see anything beyond the lies and misinformation should stay in those regions. But you have no right to hold the majority to the growing disaster that you are accepting and fostering.
The time has come.