Nothing in this blog can be believed. If you think that anything in this blog is true or factual, you'll need to verify it from another source. Do you understand? No? Then read it again, and repeat this process, until you understand that you cannot sue me for anything you read here. Also, having been sucked into taking part in the mass-murder of more than 3 million Vietnamese people on behalf of U.S. Big Business "interests", I'm as mad as a cut snake (and broke) so it might be a bit silly to try to sue me anyway...

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

it's the economy... part 1

I think this topic has the potential of going sequential...

I'm merely your average idiot trying to understand what's going on. But hey, on the subject of "the economy" I get dizzy just trying to see which way is up. Here's what I've managed to glean so far about "the economy":

On the one hand we collectively give rise to it and on the other it totally controls us. Our jobs, our income, and in many ways our very lives, depend on the welfare of the economy. Yes, that's right, most of us now perceive that what's best for the economy is also what's best for our own welfare.

We often hear our Prime Minister talk about how he would even go to war "to protect our interests". Our prime "interest", he assures us repeatedly, is the economy. So, he's even prepared to murder hundreds of thousands or millions of "foreign" people, if that's what he thinks is good for our economy. You'll note that all of a sudden it's called our economy. We will kill them, destroy their infrastructure and property, and we will totally trash their economy in order to feed our economy.

In the 1940's it began to dawn on our great capitalist economic strategists that these relatively new economic systems called communism and socialism would quarantine themselves from capitalism. In other words, countries whose people chose socialist or communist economic models would deny access to, or govern the conduct of, capitalist business entities called "corporations".

What?!? You mean to say there were people who didn't want corporations to exploit their country for the great benefit of a few mega-rich shareholders living in far-off countries? Unbelievable! This was like waving a red rag (pun intended) in front of a raging bull. And the raging bull (the head of which was the U.S.)charged, and the Cold War began. And it was all about stopping the growth of communism and socialism in order to maintain and increase the capitalist corporations' sphere of exploitation.

As in all wars, propaganda ruled the day. Proponents of capitalism were lauded and proponents of communism and and socialism were vilified and demonised. The people in "The Western Bloc" were just as brainwashed as those in "The Eastern Bloc". Lies ruled supreme on both sides.

By and large, "The West" won after fifty years of conducting crippling sanctions, sabotage, dirty tricks, assassinations, organised coups, the installation of corporation-friendly dictators, and many wars which killed millions (they even convinced me to do some of the killing for them, gave me medals and free memebership to all sorts of veterans clubs, most of which are propaganda outfits designed to keep the veterans firmly brainwashed about the necessity and justness of the war they took part in.) And because capitalism won, it continued to write its own history very much in its own favour. More propaganda.

And now capitalism has morphed into trans-national mega-corporations, the WTO, the IMF, and the World Bank, all working in concert to dictate the terms globally. We now talk of a global economy. And that's now become our economy.

So now it's in "our interests" to join the U.S. on its killing spree to demolish all opposition (which we now call "terrorism") to a globalised economy dominated by and giving free rein to the trans-national corporations who control American politics and through that, the American military machine. This is what our own politicians here in Australia (from both sides of politics) havs sold us into. And what for? For a few dolars more...

So, readers, how am I doing in my struggle to understand economics? All comments, hints, pointers and clues are most welcome. I'll rant more on this subject soon. There's lots to rant about...


Blogger the urban fox said...

Great post, Gerry. You're clearly not struggling at all!

I agree that when our leaders talk about "our interests", they're really talking about the interests of the tiny percentage of rich people who control the world through corporate means. Governments aren't really the ones in charge, it's private capital rather than ideology which dictates the way the world runs now.

December 16, 2004 5:42 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Thanks, fox. You're too kind.

About it being private capital rather than ideology which is "in charge", I would say that it's the ideology of capitalism that put's the rich in the driver's seat.

December 16, 2004 11:32 AM  
Blogger the urban fox said...

Well yes, but it's not really an ideology in the sense that communism is. Capitalism is perhaps sold to the ordinary people as an ideology, because otherwise they'd rebel, but it's plain self interest on the part of the people with money. They might dress it up as "the right way" to the unprivileged majority, but it's motivated by greed rather than any ideological judgement.

Then again, arguably the organised Church (and other religions, but I'm not touching that hot potato) have the perpetuation of the existing status quo at the very heart of their religious texts. The Bible says a lot about respecting your betters and being happy with a miserable life, because you'll get your reward in heaven. The Hindu caste system (which is slowly becoming discredited) similarly promotes satisfaction with one's lot in life, however awful it may be, with a view to upward reincarnation etc... you don't have to look far to find examples of "Don't touch the status quo!" messages in most large religions.

The Bible also says all humans are equal in the eyes of God, but has been simultaneously used by those in power to defend gross social inequality. Capitalism in the current sense wasn't around 2000 years ago, but the Bible is pretty one-size-fits-all when defending hierarchies to those at the bottom of the heap. So in a sense, I guess religions could be seen as ideologies perpetuating capitalism, even when extreme capitalism like ours contradicts the central tenets of the religion.

Maybe it comes down to whether you believe Bush, Blair and all other powerful capitalist leaders are really making decisions based on morals, ethics, the interests of their people etc, or whether you believe they're just using all that as a smokescreen so the "little people" can convince themselves it isn't all about selfish elitist greed. I tend to think the latter, so ideology doesn't really come into my view of capitalism except as a PR concept.

December 17, 2004 12:16 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Heh. Fox, I just gotta do this:-)

The Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary, 1987, says, in part: "ideology - ideas at the basis of some economic or political theory or system." Sorry, Fox, I'll have to play the pedant here and say that anyone who espouses, or supports, or prefers a capitalist economic theory or system, is a capitalist ideologue. i.e. they subscribe to a capitalist ideology.

It's not just those with vast quantities of capital, it's many in the middle class and some in the lower class who are in the thrall of the "beauty" or capitalist economic system. And who can afford not to be these days (rhet)? The bastards have bound most of us to capitalism without our knowledge. Everyone who relies on a superannuation fund for their retirement income had better well be singing the praises of capitalism. Soon all public utilities will be run by capitalism, so all of the services we're so DEPENDENT on will be dependent on the health of capitalism. We're screwed. We've already been sold int o the slavery that capitalism is. If we break capitalism, we break the things we're most dependent on, i.e. our retirement incomes, our electricity, water, gas, communications, etc.

That's why I asked, in another comment somewhere, if Dave could provide some idea as to how a transition from capitalism to socialism can be achiieved without and extended period of massive hardship.

But back to the topic at hand. Is capitalism an economic and therefore political ideology? I say yes.
Has it got support (and that includes tacit support) from the three broader classes? I say it does.

The thing that gets me is how the bastards fooled us during the Cold War and got us to equate socialism or communism with tyranny or totalitarianism. That was a neat trick. Well let these demagogues now try to explain away the tyrranny of capitalism, especially the way America absolutely imposes it globally. Bastards! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr..

December 17, 2004 2:37 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Just noticed more typos in the above comment. Grrrrrr.
When WILL Blogger provide comment editing? Grrrrr.

December 17, 2004 2:41 PM  
Blogger the urban fox said...

Yeah, I see what you're saying. It's a language thing again I think. I'm seeing "ideas as the basis of" as meaning a logically (or faith) based view leading to a certain way of doing things, independent of personal circumstances. In other words, those who advocate capitalism would need to truly believe in its superiority for all as a system of running a country, if it is to be called an ideology. Whereas I'm sure very wealthy people would advocate it as a system even if they believed it was unsustainable long term, for pure selfish gain within their own lifetimes. But yes, perhaps wealthy people really do believe, on an intellectual level, that capitalism works best out of all possible options, because they themselves are benefitting so much from it, and they're short sighted enough not to notice (or care) that 95% of the country is rather worse off.

In summary: yeah but no but yeah but... etc. Ha.

December 17, 2004 10:12 PM  
Blogger the urban fox said...

Just re-read your comment and I missed a bit: I agree that there is broad cross-strata support for capitalism as a system, but that comes from the same persuasive way of doing things that led (as you say) socialism to be equated with totalitarianism in the public mind. Surely?

December 17, 2004 10:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harry S. Truman (President, mass murderer, war monger, etc.) said "The only thing new in the world is the history you haven't read." Capitalism has been around for thousands of years, it just wasn't called that. The only thing different now is that ordinary people can buy a piece of paper (stock) which they believe makes them a part owner in some corporation, when in fact all they own is a piece of paper which is only worth what they can get some other sucker to pay for it. They have absolutely no say in company affairs and they're the first ones to lose everything if something goes wrong. It's a bit like democracy - it's just a figment of their imagination - the folks that hold the real capital call all the shots both in the financial and political spheres and always have. Capitalism & democracy are superior forms of economics and government because they fool more of the people more of the time (Lincoln said you can't fool all of the people all of the time, but you can come damned close!); therefore, the elite don't have to spend all their time and resources putting down internal insurrections!!

That's my condensed version of Poly Sci & Econ 101.

Diogenes Surfer

January 03, 2005 1:13 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Yep, DS, that's about how I see it too. But I want to know is what can be done about it.

January 04, 2005 9:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I knew the answers I'd be dictator of the US and all the right-wingnuts would be (fill in with the most repugnant, dangerous jobs you can think of). How do you get the money out of politics? Power corrupts and money corrupts absolutely! The problem is getting enough people to realise that the system's broken. If you could do that and if you had fair elections, then you could vote out whoever's in (at all levels of govt). Then at the next election you vote out everyone you just put in - do that 3 times in a row and you might get someone's attention! By the way, isn't that how democracy's supposed to work? I don't know because I can't say I've ever lived under one. Another thing, you've got to have term limits (8 years max, no matter if it's just the dog catcher) and no family members, relatives serving at the same time or immediately following. No gifts, bribes, off shore bank accounts, etc. Political pay raises have to be approved by 60% of the electorate. Max CEO pay =14 times the pay of the person cleaning the toilet (no exceptions)!!! See, I told you it was toooo hard to have a democracy. That's why the best form of government is a benevolent dictatorship (I'm available).

Diogenes Surfer

January 04, 2005 1:04 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

DS, can you please tell your fellow Americans that their form of "democracy" should be quarantined within the US and never exported to other countries. It's toxic, it's corrupt, it's a lie. But your fellow Americans are all for making sure that this form of corruption is globalised and your armies are getting ready to kill millions installing this "freedom" and "democracy" if you don't bring them home quick and keep them locked up for a couple centuries while you try to fix your corrupt system. I'm counting on you, DS.

January 04, 2005 4:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry Gerry - I'm just considered an old lunatic that doesn't appreciate how good and generous America is. After all didn't we bring christianity, democracy, and capitalism to the native Americans? to the Phillipines? to South America? etc, etc, etc. It was just unfortunate that so many of the indigenous people had to die, but our system is so much superior that it was a small price to pay (hope you can recognise sarcasm?). How do you counter 400 years of brainwashing?


January 04, 2005 11:36 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Is there no hope, DS?

January 05, 2005 5:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, but... If all the other countries, except the "axis of evil" (US, OZ, Mother England, & Israel), were to join forces (kind of like a UN only without individual nations having veto power) and told the "axis" to fuck off and stick the WTO up their arse, then yes there might just be a chance. Actually, there might be more than a chance - the EU is bigger than the US now (market & economy). China will probably be the next (and only) superpower and will probably evolve into some kind of democracy, and together with the rest of Asia they're the largest market in the world (hell they are the future world). Take heart, the US has been in decline since the 60s and will surely collapse like all the previous empires - it's inevitable! All the signs are there: the government is corrupt, it's a one party state, CEOs and management are incompetent and crooks, it's lost whatever innovation it may have once had, the workforce is lazy, the country's bankrupt, the stock market's a ponzi scheme, etc. Please don't ask how soon - I don't know and probably won't be around to see it myself, but it will happen - remember what Truman said - "the only thing new...." We've already lost the war in Iraq, but no one has the guts to tell the emperor he's naked. So, as they say in Scotland "Keep your pecker up!"


January 05, 2005 11:53 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

DS, I agree that hope lies with the rest of the world uniting against the Coalition Of The Oil Thieves.

As an American, you make some very intersting comments. It is heartening to see comments like that coming from an American's keyboard. But tell me this: How many Americans think along the lines that you do?

Another question: America, when it sets its mind to it, is VERY able. So why is America apparently unable to see the shit it's in and or to fix it?

Why isn't there someone harnessing The American Spirit
to get this shit sorted out once and for all?

I love your input. Don't you ever go away, now y'hear? :-)

January 05, 2005 8:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm the only one and it's lonely here in Stepford. Most Americans I've met since returning in '95 either don't care about politics, trust everything the mass media and government tells them, or are fascist bullies. They're brainwashed, ignorant and just plain lazy - it's very depressing. I want to grab them by the lapels and shake the shit out of them! Even 9/11 didn't wake them up - all they wanted to do was kill "Arabs"; they weren't interested in why we were attacked. I guess I shouldn't be so harsh since all they've been exposed to is propaganda, but I was asking tough questions way back in high school and was actually called a communist by one of my teachers! One of the biggest problems is that there isn't a viable left, progressive party here. The Democrats are only slightly left of the fascists and the so called centre is slightly right of Genghis Khan. Where's Smedley Butler when you need him?

January 06, 2005 11:33 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Smedley Butler indeed! He's my hero! :-)

Now, I think we should close this particular thread because it's so deeply buried in this blog, I doubt anyone else is reading it. That's not to say we can't revisit this topic in future threads. Ok?

Now, if you had a blog...

January 06, 2005 5:51 PM  

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