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.

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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.

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