No, not “dismal” because it’s lame or lazy or meant to send you running to your anti-anxiety medicine of choice (though, it may have the unintentional effect of the latter); “dismal” because it’s time to spend more energy in Economics 101 here at Integral Psychosis.  After perusing the internets for a bit, I wanted to pass on a handful of things for you to read as you try to sift through the “crisis in the credit markets”.

 

– For starters, check out Supply Side Economics: The New Phase of Capitalist Strategy in the Crisis, which was written in 1981 by Harry Cleaver (who, at the time, was Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Texas at Austin).  This is a really great, learnt analysis which not only de-bunks the theories of “trickle-down” before they go into full swing, but also predicts, based on some good ol’ fashioned logical reasoning, the utter failure and devastation that Reaganomics (i.e., “trickle-down” economics, i.e., “supply-side” economics) eventually will (and has) bare.  And, I mean, the author was a professor at the U of Texas, which means the article has the added bonus of reminding us that there was a time not long ago when economists understood political theory rather than just memorized capitalist “laws”.  From the introduction of his paper (emphasis mine):

In examining these theories (supply-side economics) we must give up the habit of simply “critiquing” every new fashion in bourgeois thinking. There is no point in continually pointing out the errors in capitalist thought. This only helps them improve their analysis. What we must learn to do is to spy on bourgeois theory — to read it as the battle plans of the enemy in the class war. We need to examine strategically — from the point of view of working class struggle — the content of supply- side economics, to interpret its meaning in the current conjuncture of class forces in order to determine how we can best organize our forces to defeat it. This article attempts to carry out this kind of analysis of supply-side economics within the limited framework of the American domestic crisis and policy debates.

To reach the heart of supply-side economics, and the capitalist policies based on it, we must first get beyond two common confusions about its nature. One of these is the notion that supply- side economics is a free market economics opposed to state interventionism. the second is the notion of the supply-siders themselves that they emphasize “supply” at the expense of “demand”.

– One thing I’ve been thinking about lately is how good thinkers (integral thinkers) are incredibly skilled at taking a moment and framing in a larger context.  Of course, big media, pop culture, and the academic status-quo don’t do this very well at all, given the post-modern murder of history.  One theory of economics notes the cyclical nature of accumulation and loss.  If we look, say, several hundreds of years down the line, we can even begin to pin the bigger cycles of accumulation and loss on regions (nations) through the capitalist and even pre-capitalist experiment.  If we do this right, we may even get a better sense of where global power is preparing to leap to next.  For instance, the accumulation of materials (which follows immediately into the accumulation of money, assets, wealth, and ultimately power) takes a fairly straight-forward leap from the Mediterranean (typically simplified and embodied by the early trade markets of Genoa) to the expansionist Dutch Provinces to the imperial empire of Great Briton and then to the United States.  

Now, the interesting detail in the transfer of wealth and power from each of these regions to the next is that it came about, in each moment in time, as a nearly direct result of one nation’s increasing indebtedness and another region’s ability to centralize and accumulate that which is “owed”.  The U.S., though for at least 150 years was on it’s own expansionist march, didn’t finally solidify itself as the great empire that it became until after World War II, when the reigning superpower of the world, Briton, was finally carrying just too much debt to dig itself out.  And who “took on” their debt?  Well, the U.S. of course.  And that was the final nail in the coffin for the British Empire; the final transfer of wealth and power which crowned the U.S. economic powerhouse of the world.

Looking at the present moment then, it’s not hard at all to see that the U.S. has moved through the classic stages: of population increase, which allows for and is followed by land and resource expansion and accumulation, which allows for and is followed by domination in the trading markets and the accumulation of wealth, which allows for and is followed by the dramatic indebtedness of rival global powers, which allows for and is followed by a nearly hysterical greed and over-consumption (which is usually brought-on by the self-serving and delusional internal logic that serves one’s own purposes in the moment but fails to actually “reconcile” with real-world and historical facts) (which, by the way, is a predictable and inevitable outcome of concentrated power); all of which allows for and is followed by the rapid increase in debt to a rival nation, who simultaneously and by its own traction is somewhere in phase 3 or 4 (increasingly dominating the trade markets and accumulating mass amounts of wealth and/or increasingly controlling the debts of the current global superpower).

So, with history and a rudimentary understanding of economic (power) cycles, it’s not hard to see the current “crisis” as the actual withering-away of the era of Superpower U.S.A. and the beginning of the era in which China reigns over the world, inserting its Will and its economic interests where and when it wants, and the U.S. has for recent memory and the U.K. did before that.

– Of course, observing, critiquing, and working to dismantle unjust and unbalanced concentrations of human power (which, in the end, is all that I’m about) only goes so far if the planet simply ceases to be capable of supporting human life.  Which is why I can stomach war, I get excited when economics are the lead story in every newscast for weeks on end, I have a soft-spot for direct actions and “shaking things up”, and I find immense enjoyment in nearly every other form of human stupidity and vanity; but whenever I read about one environmental catastrophe or another, I just rapidly fall into depression.  So waking up this morning and reading about the world’s ocean’s literally turning into acid and dying just didn’t do me so well.

– Finally, with a tip of my hat to Five Before Chaos, the entirely hilarious U.S. elections, as presented to us by that really bizarre 1980’s sitcom about four single senior citizens living together in the suburbs of Miami, the Golden Girls:

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