7.11.2010

disaster capitalism is all around us (updated)

We're seeing disaster capitalism all around us, and it scares the hell out of me.

The tiny minority that autocratically makes decisions for the rest of us is using the banking and credit crisis that they created as a vehicle to carry in their right-wing agenda. History shows this will only further weaken the economies they claim to be assisting. That has been proven over and over again. But no matter, because these changes will further their real goals: a crippled public sector, smaller government helping fewer people, and an increase in wealth for the already rich.

I find this "austerity" - the wholesale slashing of public budgets - deeply frightening. People are being told that half their pensions have vanished into thin air. Being told they must survive on half their income. Social welfare benefits like child care and decent pensions, hard won over decades, are decimated in moments.

This is what the G8/G20 summit was about. Little wonder it was accompanied by the biggest show of police strength in Canadian history, as world leaders fear they'll be confronted by the kind of resistance occurring in Greece and in Spain.

If you've read Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, you can watch videos from the "Shout Out For Global Justice" event that took place at Massey Hall on the eve of the G20 weekend. Rabble has video of almost every speaker. John Hilary, who spoke directly about the economic violence raining down on people all over the globe, is here.

I find the whole "austerity" agenda incredibly scary, frustrating and depressing. It is bad enough to live in a world where labour is socialized but profit is privatized. But the socialization of risk simply outrages me. Free marketeers plunge the global economic system into chaos, then working class and poor people are made to pay for it, either through outright bailouts, as in the US, or by slashing social budgets, as we are seeing all through Europe and will undoubtedly see here, too. (It has been happening in Canada in piecemeal fashion, for many years - not one giant cut but a steady chipping away.) The multi-million dollar bonuses don't stop. CEO salaries don't get slashed. No one pays but the workers and the poor.

I wouldn't feel quite as awful if I saw the potential in Canada for the general strikes and mass uprisings that have been happening in Greece, and now Spain. Or the kind of massive, spontaneous street marches you see in France whenever benefits are threatened. It would still be scary and depressing, but at least I would feel hopeful. But here in North America, we are sheep ready for slaughter.

From The Guardian:
The European right is capitalising on a crisis

Eurozone governments and European authorities are using the economy to justify pushing through rightwing policy changes

One thing should be made clear about the situation in the eurozone economies that is not clear at all if we rely on most of the news reports. This is not a situation where countries face a "dilemma" because they have overspent and piled up too much public debt. They do not face "tough choices" that will force them to cut spending and raise taxes while the economy is weak or in recession, in order to "satisfy financial markets".

What is really going on is that powerful interests within these countries – including Spain, Greece, Ireland and Portugal – are taking advantage of the situation to make the changes that they want. Perhaps even more importantly, the European authorities – including the European commission, the European central bank and the IMF – who are holding the purse strings of any bailout funds, are even more committed than the national governments to rightwing policy changes. And they are further removed from any accountability to any electorate.

. . . .

Unless the goal is to reduce wages and benefits in the public sector, weaken labour, redistribute income upward and reduce the size of government, then there is no time like the present to push these things through. We have a similar, although not yet as severe political problem, in the United States: deficit hawks are mounting a campaign to cut social security, even though it can make all promised payments for the next 33 years.

Ironically, the people who want to take advantage of the "crisis" in Spain are actually increasing the risk of more serious debt problems, since the debt burden will rise if the economy lapses into recession or years of stagnation because of their fiscal tightening measures. But they are willing to take these risks in order to accomplish their political objectives.

Read it here.

* * * *

In the past week or so, I've read two excellent posts linking the police state outside the G20 summit with the agenda inside it. Now I can't find either one! If this rings a bell for anyone, please send me the link or post it in comments and I will include it in this post. Thanks.

14 comments:

Nitangae said...

All my favorite bloggers are depressed and frightened. I am also depressed and frightened. I think the G20 in Toronto was actually quite brilliantly handled - they found a city where the premier is Liberal and the mayor is (or was - I think he left the party) NDP. The response of the opposition was thus too concerned with wasteful spending and not enough concerned with basic human rights and free expression.

The one source of hope for me is that liberal bloggers like Warren Kinsella are also calling for an investigation into the human rights abuses at the G20. So the truth seems to be coming out.

Toe said...

G20 = Lockstep

L-girl said...

G20 = Lockstep

More information please?

(Why do people leave these kinds of comments?)

L-girl said...

Nitangae, I agree, there is hope for an investigation. But what's depressing and frightening me more is what happened inside the G20, not outside it.

The human rights and freedom of expression issues are extremely important to me. But the economic violence will hurt many more people for a very long time.

Nitangae said...

I agree with you, of course, L-Girl, but it is the lack of political will from the left which really worries me, and the small hint of political will from the NDP and the Liberals now soothes me slightly. I expect the right-wing to be malign (although I am a bit shocked by the German Christian Democrats, since I never thought of them as malign in the same sense as Sarko and the US Republicans and right-wing Dems, and Canadian Conservatives)

Have you read David Harvey's Brief History of Neo-Liberalism, and do you agree with his description of the assault by high finance on New York during the 1970s?(pages 44-49, based on earlier writing by him, and by Thomas Edsell).

it reminds me enormously of the assault on Edmonton by the Oil Patch/Alberta PCs during the early 90s administration of mayor Jan Reimer. But I am not very well read on such subjects.

I am looking for reasons to be positive, and I think the fact that you now can act as an equal with full legal rights of citizenship shall be one.

Toe said...

I'm not sure any further clarification is needed. There have been many articles all over that make it plain, the G20 was to (do things at each country's own measure) NOT. But really to be in lockstep with Austerity Measures. Krugman has written how this will not work, but it is not about working, it is about THEIR political objectives. Strip us of our civil rights first, then clobber us financially to save their sorry asses.

The real constituency are the rich and the powerful. The Haves. We know the governments no longer function according to the will of the people, it functions according to the interest of the elites. The elites interests is broad economic and foreign policy issues. These 2 issues are what our politicians lie about the most. There is absolutely no proof that they ever do what they say they'll do and what they actually end up doing. They just do it, all based on lies. And they are directing all of us towards accepting draconian measures without dissent, their austerity measures. The Haves, political class, weapons manufacturers, banks, big business, et al, will do ev it can, including abuse of power, in dealing with the Have-Nots, while at the same time propelling the interests of the Haves.
Changing direction is their goal. In Defense of Capitalism. It is a False Choice, but apparently it is Absolutely Necessary. Therefore G20=Lockstep (Globally) but at their own pace individually.

L-girl said...

Nitangae, ah, now I see what you mean. It's important to try to be hopeful. I'm honoured to be part of your hope. I got choked up when I read that.

****

I am still very hopeful about Canada. I'm very stubborn that way.

Overall, though, I'm finding it very difficult to have any optimism at all. I dislike that, and I try to fight it... but I feel my hope draining away.

L-girl said...

I haven't read that book. "Assault by high finance on New York during the 1970s", eh? I'd be interested in reading his take.

I know something about the NYC financial crisis of that era, and I've read about the creative urban planning that turned it around *without* destroying the social safety net or breaking unions. But I don't know much about what caused the crisis - except that the federal govt abandoned cities.

L-girl said...

It looks like a great book. I will read those pages on Google Books right now, and plan to read the book at some future date.

L-girl said...

Nope. The preview only goes up to page 31. OK, it's on the list.

L-girl said...

Toe, the reason more information was needed is because your original comment

G20 = lockstep

could be interpreted or misinterpreted myriad ways, and no reader could know whether or not they understood your intent.

I assume the purpose of leaving a comment is communication. Your three-word comment communicated very little.

Thank you for coming back to elucidate.

Toe said...

Well okay. So then maybe if I had written Global 20=Global Lockstep, it would have been perfectly clear?
LOL, love your blog L.

L-girl said...

So then maybe if I had written Global 20=Global Lockstep, it would have been perfectly clear?

Clear as mud. :)

Thanks for reading, Toe.

Mike said...

I can understand the feeling of hope draining away but I still think there's some reasons for optimism. Given the recent court ruling in favour of a war resistor, and the response of the public to police actions during the G20 as more information comes out even in the face of government and main stream media disinformation. I think alot of the reason for the acceptance of the governments line is the lact of oppistion for the most part from our other political parties. As well most people don't know what the alternatives to the government line are, since alternatives don't seem to make it past the msm's filters. I think that progressives have to some how do a better job of getting around the filters and get the alternative views out to the public.