The Sting

Socialising Risk, Privatizing Profit

What happens when a democracy gets hijacked? When the pillars of justice metamorphose into pillars of sand and salt? When what was intended to be the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave transforms into a open battlefield for mean private rascals who don’t give a damn about public interest and social justice let alone justice in international relations?

I have to admit, I’m a complete novice as far as finance and economy are concerned, but let’s forget about the figures, shall we, and let us just talk in human terms.

Whatever the extent to which one might despise Capitalism in the sense with which it is run and presented to the world, i.e. an extreme egotistical and cruel social and political system, one should recognize the benefits liberal ideals have brought to humanity. It would be indeed extremely hypocritical to claim that without the spirit of freedom and self-initiative inspired and led by America and then inoculated to the world, humanity would have achieved much. The problem, from my humble point of view, is that the very noble ideals set forth by the so-called fathers of the American revolution, whom I’m sure had no Wall-Street gamblers nor pressure groups in mind when they were writing their constitution, have been diverted then perverted by private power in America to the point that the federal government has become a mere executioner for the benefit of a wealthy and extremely influential oligarchy.

What did Chomsky say? … ‘What remains of democracy is largely the right to choose among commodities.’ … He added that ‘Business leaders have long explained the need to impose on the population a “philosophy of futility” and “lack of purpose in life,” to “concentrate human attention on the more superficial things that comprise much of fashionable consumption.”

‘Deluged by such propaganda’ he said, ‘people may then accept their meaningless and subordinate lives and forget ridiculous ideas about managing their own affairs. They may abandon their fate to corporate managers and the PR industry and, in the political realm, to the self-described “intelligent minorities” who serve and administer power.’

And indeed they abandoned their fate. The American people, and in fact the world watched in mesmerized silence, the biggest transfer ever of wealth in human existence, from public to private hands, paralyzed as we were by the vision of the so-called doom and gloom that would ensue otherwise.

Is it the end of Capitalism as we know it ? Is it the end of American hegemony? I’m in no position nor capacity to foresee. Now, God knows how much I distrust extreme ideologies including Communism (in the Stalinist or Maoist version… or whatever.) And I’m, by no stretch of the imagination dreaming of a social utopia here. Indeed I hope that the best part of America will survive, that everybody would be able to enjoy the benefits of a free and productive life where fundamental human needs are met and where Justice reigns as the shared human religion. For as much as I despise Capitalism-American style, I realize the wonderful energy-releasing, opportunity-creating machine that a well regulated liberal economy represents.

Consumerist capitalism is an unsustainable way of life, apart from the fact that it is immoral, for the simple reason that we would need three or more planets to barely cover the needs of the greedy crowds that we have all become, deluged, as it were, by all the tempting environment around us.

“Let’s burn the banks,” said almost seriously my friend Yves the other day when we were talking about the matter at lunch time. A radical view supposedly shared by many who maybe are beginning to feel the consequences of the economic sting that now threatens their financial security.

Should America survive, she must rid itself of the ills that have poisoned its soul and have transformed the dream into a nightmare, allowed lobbyists and pressure groups to pervert the political system, the corporate media to subjugate the masses into an obsessive spending herd. All this having in effect corrupted the very spirit in which the American constitution has been written, a document supposed to be the end product of a very rich enlightening century that extracted man from its primitive condition as a slave of either the elements, kings, knights or fundamentalist priests. Leading quite paradoxically to a state of blind arrogance, unprecedented in human history, and most worrying of all, to establishing, in Chomsky’s words, a “profoundly undemocratic character of state capitalist institutions, designed in large measure to socialise cost and risk and privatize profit, without a public voice.”

2 thoughts on “The Sting

  1. Le titre de ton billet résume l’absurdité de la situation; Les risques sont à partager par tous. Les bénéfices quant à eux sont à une catégorie !!!

    Tu disais que tu es neophyte en finance mais tu sais même les spécialistes voire les experts ne comprennent pas grand-chose à ce qui se passe. L’autre jour Georges Soros déclarait sur une chaine française qu’il découvrait des choses avec cette crise. C’est dire…

    Pour ce qui est des USA, leur hégémonie était déjà ébranlée avant la crise par la montée des nouvelles puissances économiques du sud ainsi que par leur engagement dans les guerres en Afghanistan et en Irak. La crise ne fait qu’accélerer les choses. Et de toutes façons le sommet ne peut être squaté ad vitam eterenam !!

    Enfin comme d’hab le grand Chomsky avait vu juste 🙂

    Have a nice WE 🙂

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