The Bronx apartment fire that recently killed 17 people was a devastating tragedy. It is also the entirely predictable outcome of a housing market that forces tenants to grovel for basic repairs while landlords rule as something close to kings.
“History paints a pretty bleak picture of what the endgame of extremely unequal societies looks like,” reads an open letter signed by millionaires and billionaires calling for higher taxes on people like themselves.
We have two good examples of economic systems and individual scientific workers doing what they do that offer a good illustration of why the US is so
For the end of the year, Clearing the FOG speaks with economist Richard Wolff about the current state of United States capitalism. Wolff explains that the United States is experiencing the greatest crisis in its history – a severe economic crisis at the same time as a pandemic, as well as the climate crisis. This is unprecedented. Unlike the great depression in the last century, when the wealth divide shrank, inequality is worsening. On top of that, US empire is in decline. Wolff discusses the current state of inflation and supply chain disruption and the forces behind them. Instead of facing up to these realities and learning from the experiences of other countries, such as China, and even our own past, the ruling class is in denial and continues on the same path that created the current situation. Wolff talks about what we need to focus on going forward.
Workers don’t set prices, bosses do. And they do so on the basis of maintaining the greatest possible profit margins.
Climate briefing for activists, more Tory Covid failure, Clarks strikers fight fire-and-rehire, Scotland’s wider crisis, socialism explained and more in this month’s Counterfire freesheet
In a splendid piece of circular reasoning, neoclassical economists justify private ownership of capital on the ground that it is the capitalist who organizes production. This is a non sequitur. The capitalist organizes production precisely because he is a capitalist: he commands his own or borrowed funds that allow him to do so. In an economy consisting of worker cooperatives, teams of workers could organize production with funds borrowed from deposit banks or tax-funded investment banks.
It is important to see the implications of Said’s perspective despite its flaws and it might be of interest to consider the issue in terms of the ‘eonic model’ and the way it points to the ‘mechanism’ of the evolution of civilizations: transition and oikoumene/diffusion. The sudden advance of given regions must generate a diffusion field to make real the globalization of advances. But this creates a problem if the distinction of ‘system action’ and ‘free agency’ is left to do all this in ‘best of luck’ fashion. Clearly, the directionality of the macro process will suddenly wane and leave the realization to free agents who are to a high probability at best imperial and at worst pirates. One after another we see the transition regions devolve in their wake to imperialism, colonialism and economic domination via capitalism. The eonic sequence tacitly projects a high ethical standard but provides no action to realize or enforce that. The result is that the evolution of civilization is mostly a botch as everything falls into the hands of psychopaths. After all we can see the problem already in the case of the (originally) underdog Israelites in relation to dominant era of Egypt, etc… And the expansion of Islam was no picnic in the outcome of jihad via plunder. In almost every case the advances in evolutionary civilization have devolved into dangerous forms of mayhem and domination. Athenian democracy disappears and the era of Alexander appears.
It is essential to consider Said’s perspective in order to at least hope to refine ‘modernism’ and its diffusion fields. The modern transition, orientalism or not, has in two centuries transformed the planet with a first: globally integrating cultures in the context of ‘modernity’, a term requiring a vast expansion. By and large, the result has been an enthusiastic embrace of the elements of the modern diffusion field globally even as the imperial aspect falls away sooner or later: note that each phase of the modern transition has had the same problem of imperialism: Germany, Holland, England, France and Spain: in each case the imperialist factions and their colonialism has fallen away. The case of the US is especially ambiguous: it was never part of the modern transition until the very end ca. 1800 when it suddenly became the zone for a democratic experiment which sadly emerged in a field of utter ruffians who have wrecked the whole thing with indigenous genocide and in the last generation the utter mayhem inflicted on the Middle East as apparently intentional state destruction and genocide of Islamic nations egged on by the zionist mafia. The issues of Orientalism seem if anything a quaint understatement of the dreadful reality. And now, finally, in this generation, we see the beginning of the waning of the US version of ‘colonialism’, never quite that, rather a capitalist/imperialist/fascist-genocidal menace. We will soon see the Chinese version of Occidentalism, no doubt, along with the retarded pre-modern Russian zone of …enough. Complete the sentence if you must. But for Americans it is a sad commentary that the very generation of Said’s work and influence has seen an horrific of militarism for profit, and capitalist extremes in the deliberate mayhem inflicted on the Middle East.
Edward Said’s Orientalism instilled an anti-imperial sensibility into an entire generation of Western scholars. But even while it castigated the imperial project, its actual analysis didn’t give us the intellectual resources to overturn it.
A second leak from the Sixth Report of the UN panel of experts, originally obtained by CTXT, clearly states that the only way to avoid climate collapse is to move away from an economic model based on perpetual growth.