We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, January 30, 2016

What’s driving shocks to the economy

Click here to access article by Sara Flounders from Workers World. (Some revisions made at 4:30 PM Seattle time.)

The author makes a lot of general observations about inequality, over-production, austerity, and the chaotic economic booms/busts that are typical characteristics of a capitalist controlled economy. She, like many others, sees signs that we are headed for another economic bust which always hurts working people the most.
A fifth of all stock market wealth in the world has been wiped out. This may not immediately affect most workers. But the capitalists’ way of dealing with the loss of their speculative wealth is to immediately turn on workers who have less than $1,000 or $100 to their name.
It is my observation that in Western societies the extreme accumulation of wealth is nowadays concentrated in the financial sector. This I believe is due to the inevitable upward drift of wealth under capitalism from the workers to owners of industry to financiers who over time inevitably become the "owners" of most capital. This is where we are today. Nearly everyone including many of the smaller corporations and entire nation states are in debt to people in the financial sector of the world economy.

Basic to capitalism is private ownership of social production which she touches on in this essay. However all the other characteristics she mentions, I believe, are effects of capitalism rather than basic causes. The other basic characteristic is the drive for profits by "owners". 

It matters very little what is produced (or services provided)--whether it results in eventual negative effects such as climate destabilization, public health consequences such as we are seeing in some Michigan cities, and especially devastating wars--as long as what is produced can be profitable to owners, such products will be manufactured. Hence housing, health care, and even education, which are highly valued by workers, have been converted into commodities which capitalists can bet on at their Wall Street casino. These essential needs to maintain a minimum decent living are now increasingly unaffordable for many Americans. Decisions about what is produced or what services that are to be provided are overwhelmingly decided by the ruling capitalist class on the basis of profitability. Real social needs will never be an important factor in those decisions. 

And it doesn't take much wealth accumulation to also increase one's dominance over others. Power over others has become a paramount derivative feature of capitalism which, in turn, creates the class structure and a ruling class, and causes ruling classes to engage in policies which conflict with the interests of other social classes (class war) and the security interests of other nations (imperialism). With the extreme accumulation of wealth now in the hands of a very few people, the latter control entire governments, media, education, and all other sectors of societies.

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