mardi 16 septembre 2008

Yawning financial chasm

What difference does it make to we small sect of revolutionary Marxists if,

"As a result, the credit default market is best described as an insurance market where many of the individual trades are undercapitalized. But even worse, many of the insurers are grossly undercapitalized.

In one case in the New York courts, the Swiss banking giant UBS is suing a hedge fund that said it would insure nearly $1.5 billion in bonds but was unable to do so. No wonder — the hedge fund had only $200 million in assets.

If A.I.G. collapsed, its hundreds of billions of dollars of mortgage-related assets would be added to those being sold by other financial institutions. This would just depress values further. The counterparties around the world to A.I.G.’s credit default swaps may be unable to collect on their trades. As a large hedge-fund investor, A.I.G. would suddenly become a large redeemer from hedge funds, forcing fund managers to sell positions and probably driving down prices in the world’s financial markets. More failures, particularly of hedge funds, could follow. "

So a load of besuited greedhead bankers have lied to eachother about the amount of money they had. More banks go down, credit dries up jobs are lost. What has changed form our perspective? I mention this because over at the tomb there's a tiny debate going about the nature if the current crisis and its future impact on politics, namely the chances for social change. (I mean real social change, not just a tax break for the lowest paid and recognition of union rights etc. which would be the least any self-respecting reformist party would grant). This tiny debate involves one of our REL operatives and a user called 'On the Ball Patriot'. However, the debate starts from something 'Lenin' (ie Richard Seymour SWP and blogger), on 'Lenin's Tomb'

Lenin's Tomb is essential reading for any armchair revolutionary and for real ones too for that matter. It's up to date well written and above all socialist. His, or their, analysis of the Iraq conflit has been excellent and the international coverage is extensive and in depth. Yet this one post on the economic turbulence wreaing news programs around the world, jarred a little.

After correctly assessing the current phase of this economic belch we're experiencing as indicating the extent of US governmental power he concluded weakly "If the world economy slides into depression, the only way it will be able to raise money will be through war bonds. And who knows - another jumbo round of accumulation-by-dispossession, though risky, could destroy enough capital to help restart the whole shaky enterprise, and secure another American century."

True the "who knows" means Seymour doesn't fully endorse a what we could call a 'capitalist determinist' position, namely that whatever happens the fundamentals of capitalism are never going to go away. You could substantiate this position in any number of familiar ways.

1. Capitalism is the least worst system of production - don't bother changing it the alternatives are worse.

2. Capitalism is harmonious with selfish human nature.

3. The ruling classes are just too strong for any alternative politics to develop and threaten the economic order of things.

4. Even in times of economic crisis, the working class will not resist because they will be too scared, poor and miserable.

Capitalist determinism (CD) is a counsel of despair but in a critical form. It accepts the shortcomings of the system, the collapses, the wars, the unemployment and so on, yet closes off the possibility of change.

In the comment box, "On the Ball Patriot" replies to one of my posts therein thus:

"The reality is that when millions are thrown out of work and social conditions worsen there is also a burden shift to those that are still working that further worsens conditions to a point that all are lacking in resources and the sole focus becomes survival not resistance.A further reality -- hang on to your ‘buds of hope’ for this one -- is that you can add on top of all of the aforementioned misery and insecurity; mountains of recently enacted civil rights constraining legislation, an enormous amount of newly installed surveillance networks, and beefed up domestic ‘law’ enforcement that is trained and ready to step in where needed.

The bud of hope is to recognize the reality for what it truly is."

The ironic use of the 'bud of hope' was in response to my idea that "And, returning haphazardly to you first point, and as for "resources"... do you think the revolution was going to be funded by Master Card? People are resouceful, resilient and increasingly pissed off. Don't squash all buds of hope before they've even seen the light of cliché/day.....please?" itself a reply to OTBP's belief in capitalist determinism. He'd (or she'd) said

"Not to mention the fact that millions of people are going to end up enduring real misery and insecurity, and that crime will probably drive people out of their minds with fear, and that poverty will cut an inch into the average arse-bone. Y'know, all that stuff.”I would add that it also leaves few resources to mount any resistance. Which is also a key part of the Strauss based neocon global grand design being implemented here. " [wha'? - REL]

Now I know this is so insignificant in the great scheme of things and it looks and sounds like I 'he said - she said ooo the bitch" but there is a serious point, which is that, what is the difference between a socialist analysis but with a pessimism of the will and of the intellect and a straightforward support for the capitalist order of things?

I'd say, not very much. Note also OTBP 's tone - it's the familiar sneering contemptuous one of someone convinced the system is going to stay come what may and anyone who dares challenge it is a naive fool.

His CD rests, clearly on number 4 above. A strange belief for any left winger to have. Consistent with this approach is the following - There is little chance of any revolutionary change in times of economic boom. People are working too hard to attend meetings or even think of a political alternative. Further, when times are 'good', why should people want to change? They have cheap food, technology, houses and holidays. (True, this only applies to western workers atm but things will progress you see...). So there's no point in arguing for social change. People will just larf at you.

Fair enough. Anyway, a central tenet of marxism is the idea that capitalism inevitably immiserates the working class. (O come on look it up). They are exploited, repressed and laid off etc. . Marx's idea was that this grind would produce an awareness of what was going on socially and that the working class would seek to organised itself. The rest is history.

Now, if you're going to deny that, well history has ended for you. The working class is either too satiated by capitalism's wares or too dpressed to organise and change things. Capitalism reigns for ever. The exploitation goes on, the social breakdown deepens and wars grow in scope and ferocity - but it's all grist to the mill for 'socialist' analysts and wanna be academics.

Of course, no one is disputing people's right to attack socialists for their beliefs, it just seems a strange way to spend your time - to go on a left wing site and argue against social change. My suspicion is that with a name like "....Pariot", the writer is some kind of troll, perhaps acting unconsciously. His/her belief in Straussian conspiracy that keeps people down apart from being bad faith, is pure political solipsism. It's isolated and irrefutable, but irrefutable nonsense and a conspiracy theory that ignores the larger uncentred one that makes you convinced that resistance is futile.