Capitalism and we, the others

Published on Pambazuka News, by Horace Campbell, August 4, 2011.

On August 2, a few hours before the deadline for the US government to raise its debt ceiling or face default, President Barack Obama signed into law the Budget Control Act, after Congress passed it by wide margins. This debt ceiling agreement calls for over $2 trillion ($900 billion now and $1.2 trillion by the end of the year) in fiscal spending cuts spread over ten years. These cuts are expected to only reduce GDP growth in 2012 by 0.1% … // 

… This is a call to non-violent arms. It was the most explicit call from the progressive side. Olbermann’s call for organization was a far cry from those who were looking to Obama for answers or those who called the deal a defeat for progressives. The reality is that progressives have not yet begun to fully organize. They have allowed the conservative forces to dominate the debate about the debt, the dollar and the budget for war and oppression.

POPULIST CONSERVATISM, CLASS POWER, AND THE BUDGET CONTROL ACT:

On August 3, 2011 the editorial of the New York Times commented that this Budget Control Act:

is as contrived as the artificial crisis that spawned it. The bill, like a tired opera production, is full of clumsy staging and failed gimmicks left over from previous decades. It is not only bad policy in its goals of cutting spending too much, but it is bad procedure. It allows members of Congress to avoid responsibility for their actions through a cutout committee, a spending limit and the pretense that this Congress can tell the next one what to do.

This paper did not however explain to the readers the fact that this bad procedure was serving a clear purpose, that of ensuring the dominance of a small 2 per cent of the population. The outrage in the society from all sides had been too great, so this platform for the liberal wing of the ruling class came out with these words. While it is true that the mainstream media has been carrying the talking points and spin of the two dominant parties, there can be no hiding from the fact that millions are now paying attention to the realities of the economic crisis in the United States.

For two and a half years the Tea Party forces had seized the public political space. Loud and aggressive, these Tea Party forces of populist conservatism reproduce the values of white supremacy and militarism. It is now well documents that the financial supporters of the Tea Party are some of the most crude billionaires from the financial services sector … //

… China has the largest sum held in US Treasury Bills but this rising power will be diversifying the management of its reserve assets. The Japanese central bank has intervened to save the yen, and like Switzerland, is dropping all pretenses of leaving the fate of their economies to the vagaries of the market. Latin American states are looking for ways to protect themselves from the US dollar . As of 2010 the Latin Americans have created a virtual currency – the Sucre – to trade among themselves in order to protect the region from the crisis of the dollar. In the Middle East the countries with huge dollar reserves are turning to hoarding gold. The price of gold has skyrocketed. What is Africa doing? Will this unfolding crisis stimulate a faster rate of conclusion for the African single currency? Business as usual where African central banks send their money to be devalued in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York cannot continue.

THE NEED FOR ALTERNATIVES TO CAPITALISM:

From the discussions now raging in the USA there are radical alternatives being proposed to the rank and file as manifest in the call for self-organization and self-mobilization. There is no absence of clarity on the reality that the charade of the debate on the debt was one more dance to conceal the real powers of the masters of the universe on Wall Street. The dominant political parties are controlled by the same forces of finance capital that own and control the regular military and the private military contractors.

It is now up to progressives to join with the popular call for mobilization by using whatever skills and talent at their disposal to point to the reality that the assumptions of the Budget Control Act of 2011 are unsustainable.

In our discussion last week, we drew attention to the fact that the debt ceiling debate was an indication of the intensified class warfare at the national and international levels. The US rulers were sending a message that the US military and the masters of the universe will remain at the top of the international economy by force.

Historically, racism and militarism have been the tools of the US rulers. While the debate was going on about the debt ceiling a new study of U.S. census data revealed that wealth gaps between whites and minorities in the United States grew to their widest levels since the U.S. government began tracking them a quarter-century ago. White Americans now have on average 20 times the net worth of African Americans and 18 times that of Latinos. According to the Pew Research Center, the gaps were compounded during the housing bust and the subsequent recession, and essentially wiped out much of the economic progress made by people of color over the past 20 years. “This report is pointing to just how much the socioeconomic inequalities have been exacerbated by the recession and poor economy.”

The call by Olbermann is for the mass of poor black, Latino and white to combine. Unlike other progressives who call on the people to seek solutions from Obama, Olbermann called on the people to be their own leaders. The challenge is to stimulate this striving for self organization and self mobilization to cripple the armaments culture in order to start on the road to build the structural alternative to capitalism. (full long text).

Link: Economic crisis 2011: 10 possible triggers, on International Business Times, May 13, 2011.

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