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

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

How debt is financing Wall Street's class war against the American people

Click here to access this 40:11m audio interview with Michael Hudson from This Is Hell.
"We've moved into a central planning economy - exactly what the free market people warned would invite socialism - but our economy is being planned, not by governments or elected representatives, but by Wall Street."
Economist Michael Hudson explains how finance became capitalism's driving force and why an increasing amount of American life is being dedicated to sustaining unsustainable debt values, then gives a radical history lesson in debt economics - from ancient Sumer to the University of Chicago - that suggests the only way to end a debt crisis is to end the debt itself.
Although very helpful in understanding current economic issues, it's not clear to me how radical Hudson's views are. He indirectly attacks current capitalist practices by frequently referring to "Wall Street" or the FIRE (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate) sector and how  this sector is currently misusing debt to transfer wealth to itself from the productive sectors of the economy. So, what is one to conclude? 

He seems to suggest, like many liberals, that we simply must stop this sector from exploiting the real productive economy and presumably restore capitalism to a form prior to this neoliberal stage. And if so, how could this be done? Or, is he playing it safe, like so many others, in order to preserve his career in academia by limiting his attack on capitalism and narrowing his focus to this current stage of capitalist development? 

In any case this interview is rather packed with insights as to what is destroying the economic life for the One Percent and increasing the concentration wealth exclusively for the Ninety-Nine Percent. However he studiously avoid two subjects: the political implications of the current extreme concentration of wealth: how wealth inevitably expresses itself as power for the capitalist class. Most of all, he avoids the implications of a finite planet for capitalists. Because capitalism is now coming up against the limits of a finite planet, it is now much easier for this class to extract its wealth and power this way than the old industrial way.