Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Amir Taheri, "Sorry, Karl - Capitalism is not dying," Asharq Alawsat, October 10, 2008.

[Here is a guy who believes in the magic of the market. He believes that a period of "creativity unprecedented in history" enabled modern alchemists at investment banks and brokerage houses to transform debt into capital. This selling of debt to suckers too witless to entertain the idea that they couldn't afford it he calls the "democratization of capital." It's a point of view dangerous enough to deserve study.

Perhaps more important, financial panic has lead to widespread declarations of exaggerated doom. Probably capitalism is not dying. Neither is The Empire. Nor the world's sole superpower. Not yet. Much of this is wishful thinking; nearly all of it, premature, mistaking a knockdown for a knockout. A true multipolar world order requires more than decline of the superpower and the rise of additional powers.

One of the shortcomings of our crisis-driven definitions of news and methods of reporting is that the most recent crisis is often taken as the most important. The most dramatic recent example of this occurred when the deaths of a few thousand people in the World Trade Center eclipsed forever the deaths of millions in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The biggest, most urgent crisis in the world today is one that is represented by the combination of climate change, the anticipated disappearance of commercial fisheries, and the threatened extinction of many species of mammals and birds. These stand as symbols or expressions or immediate manifestations of a vast, largely unseen disorder.

We may hope for the emergence of a multipolar world order (or more) but that will depend on the growing political vacuum at the top of the hill being filled by a strong global consensus that can face down numerous clarifying challenges. There is not just an elephant in the room as the CBC would like us to believe. There is an elephant, a dragon, some hungry ghosts (like the failures of Kyoto, the Doha Round, and the war on terror, and the Middle East Roadmap), some demons--an unprecedented host of troubles. And the bankers, the neocons, the Watergate era election saboteurs--they will be back, "wearing a round jeer for a hat." -jlt]

  ...they loved those who borrowed and hated those who saved.

In one of those coincidences that add some spice to events, the passage of the $700 billion financial bailout package by the US Congress the other day came at the same time as some dyed-in-wool romantics were marking the 160th anniversary of the publication of the Communist Manifesto.

As you know, the slim volume penned by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1848 is an almost messianic hymn to the end of capitalism and the advent of the Communist utopia. It is, therefore, no surprise that some commentators have tried to see the current problems in the banking sector of the major Western economies as a fulfillment of the Manifesto's predictions.

"Capitalism is dying," announced he French left wing daily Liberation.

"Maybe Marx was right, after all, "noted a British friend who has spent most of his adult life fighting Communism." I plan to go back and read the Manifesto."

Well, reading and re-reading the Communist Manifesto is always great fun.

Don't miss out. Read the rest here =>
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