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Economy & the Crisis
(or "why you have to take action")

 

Due to the exploitation of resources at present planet earth is in danger to collapse.
CO2 levels are increasing and environmental problems are unquestionable, but governments only take action very slowly, as far as measures are economically maintainable. Economic powers have reached their limits of growthand during the last 20 years financial assets have been invested in efforts to miss the unstopable recession.

rainforest

(original image: official NASA website, project "world of change")

 

The economy of western industrial countries is facing a crisis and in order to prevent employment reduction and relocation of production it is dependent on governmental support, in terms of money transfusions and tax privileges. To finance those public expenses, budgets for (in the short run) unprofitable domains like education, culture and social security contributions are cut. Nonetheless, manufacturers drift abroad for cheaper production costs, increasing their income returns and devastating subsidized jobs in the country of origin. In addition monopolies grow, dictating global prices, completely ignoring any social issues or business ethics. By spreading societal fears, repression, surveillance and distraction by the culture industry, public disagreement is almost erased and risks are individualized. On the other hand, due to the inequity of financial markets, proceeds are only collected by the powerful:

 

income

taxrates

gap rich poor

(graphics from: mother jones blog, "It's the Inequality, Stupid", 2011)

 

Having our own problems, development policy is the last issue to take care of. In spite of aid promises made at G8 summits, still 2/3 of humankind live on less than 1 US$ per day. Instead the last resources are taken from developing countries, in exchange for environmental pollution. These facts clearly show that our global society is divided into rulers and and the being ruled.

With the global economic crisis the so called "locust capitalism" is boosted. Economical interests determine political decisions, because the main issues, management of resources and reduction of unemployment, are dending on business boom, which can only be achieved by growth in consumption. To assure demand, the culture industry and advertising machinery generates artificial needs, which are based on real human needs, but offer unsatisfying solutions for sale.

 

"The First Wave had the plow as its key tool, speech as its key media, and the feudal village as its social structure; the Second Wave had the factory, the printing press, and the nation-state; and the Third Wave will have biotechnology, nanotechnology, the Internet, and new social structures."

(Barry Vacker, "Skyscrapers, Supermodels and Strange Attractors", 1999)

 

"Cognitive Capitalism", the third wave of capitalism, which is centered around the accumulation of immaterial assets, means the exploitation of cultural ressources in developed nations, while industrial exploitation drifts to emerging and developing countries (see also Asset-based Economy and New Economy). The consequence of the decoupling of product values and manufacture is a imaginary development of prices, and speculator's pure play leads to the crisis. A crisis which makes people run faster and work harder to keep afloat.

"It indicates a superior level of 'great crisis', halfway between regulationist notions of a 'crisis of a mode of development' and 'crisis of the mode of production itself '. It is a case of a crisis of mutation that challenges the tendencies that support the division of labour and the accumulation of capital, departing from the first industrial revolution."

(Carlo Vercellone, "From Formal Subsumption to General Intellect", 2007)

 

The daily fight for survival in the 3rd world and the struggle of the isolated indivdual with a tightening sytem in industrial countries is the initial point for questing new society models. Due to blindness caused by mass media the majority of people remains silent and tries - individually - to acclimatize in worse times and not become a loser. And this silence, often expressed in abstention regarding public issues, is counted as accordance to the status quo. Additionally, of course political processes are complex and it takes a high level of education and interest to spend one's leisure on trying to understand them. Particularly in industrial nations, not only the lack of knowledge and interest, but the media-created, "spectacular" imagination of reality and the model of society in our heads leads to this common lethargy, trapped in the system of Biopower (Michel Foucault).
Some lucky people who are well educated, traveled other parts of the world, widened their horizons and - regardless the manipulation by the culture industry - developed a selective view on information. Besides resignation and subordination, there are activists working on resistance to hegemonic structures. There are efforts to support the transparency of politics, de-commercialization, socializing and democratizing structures of communities, and protection of biological and cultural diversity. But because of lacking a detailed alternative proposal, and as well pointing to the earlier failure of socialism, capitalism is presented as the only logical, functioning form of society and government. The former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher is famous for her variously repeated statement "There is no alternative."

 

(Margaret Thatcher: "There is no Alternative", 1980, youtube)

 

In his book "Coming of Age at the End of History", Camille de Toledo, grandson of the founder of the Danone company and left wing author and filmmaker, says it in a more drastical way:

"either you choose free enterprise, or you choose war."

(Camille de Toledo, "Coming of Age at the End of History", 2006)

 

Not only for a more efficient utilization of human resources, but also in order to protect the exorbitant status quo, to protect the ruling class from dissidents and terrorists, neo-liberal strategies are based on preventionism , with "ultrarapid forms of free-floating control" (Gilles Deleuze, "Postscript on the Societies of Control", 1990), resulting in extensive surveillance.

 

"Its principle goes: The world economic order is legitimate since, through free trade, it guarantees peace. Dissidence needs to be repressed since it can potentially develop into isolationism, nationalism, and then barbarism. It follows that it hardly matters if the people are for or against the first principle since in any case it is the economic order that keeps the peace, not the people."

(Camille de Toledo, "Coming of Age at the End of History", 2006)

 

 

(Noam Chomsky on the economy, interview by The Real News, 2008, youtube)

 

With the focus on flexibility, the consequences of the free market and asset-based economy are limited employment contracts and wages undercutting the cost of competing producers. Companies are able to employ and lay people off as they wish and rarely one employment is directly followed by another. Regardless the level of education or qualification, this often leads to precarious time periods, situations which must be managed creatively and with help of solidarity. And the most dangerous potential dissidents are networked crowds of unemployed and underpaid academics, skilled members of a gradually collapsing middle class.

 

 

 

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