THE ONE AND ONLY WAY May 21, 2013Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics, Democracy, Global Warming (climate change).
Group Think as might be expected is the way of corporations, as is propaganda. When these two characteristics combined with money as political influence, the mere semblances of democracy process are cast into disrepute.
That seems a summary of what is happening in the United Kingdom and the United States, and now Australia. The United in the Kingdom may be simply be vainglory, if may happen the Scots break the association, although there is a problem about how a central banking system might work. Vainglory is equally evident as it becomes clear, at least to some, if the island secedes from its association with the European Union, as apparently almost one in five voters now identifies with “the kippers” – the UK Independence Party. The politics of austerity followed by the Cameron Conservative Government, made possible by the now irrelevant Liberal Democrats, is likely to be the policy template for an Abbott Government in Australia.
As for the United States, psychopathology seems typical of the political response. The drone program, operating and killing indiscriminately in more than a hundred countries, should not come as a surprise. And nor too, the programs of systematic mass murder characteristic of Phoenix Program, the murder squads of Central America of Iraq should not have come as a surprise despite the different labels of Cold and Terror Wars. The relationship with the criminal empire acting for corporate profit is a sacred totem that cannot be questioned. (We might see droning and mass incarceration and prison slave labor in the same light.)
The magic does not stop with murder. As Satyajit Das (probably a truth-teller by the sound of his first name) observes:
Economic growth has become the universal solution for all political and economic problems, from improving living standards, reducing poverty to now solving the problems of over indebted individuals, businesses and nations. In The Shadow of Keynes, Chicago economist Harry Johnson writing with his wife Elizabeth about England in the 1970s described this pre-occupation: “…faster economic growth is the panacea for all … economic and … political problems … faster growth can be easily achieved by a combination of inflationary demand-management policies and politically appealing fiscal gimmickry.”
Growth allows higher living standards. It generates higher tax revenues, helping balance increased demand for public services and the funds needed to finance these.
Strong growth hides disparities in the distribution of wealth in many societies. Combined with the democratisation of credit allowing lower income groups to borrow and spend which ironically helps drive growth, it avoids having to deal with the problem of stagnant real incomes.
The prospect of improvements in living standards, however remote, limits pressure for wealth redistribution. As Henry Wallich, a former governor of the US Federal Reserve, accurately diagnosed: “So long as there is growth there is hope, and that makes large income differential tolerable.”
But much of recent growth was based by policies encouraging debt-fuelled consumption, as well as unsustainable degradation of the environment and profligate use of natural resources. The ability to maintain high rates of economic growth is now questionable.
. . . In 130 AD, Ptolemy developed an astronomical system that fitted the accepted view of philosophers and the church that the earth was at the centre of the universe and all stellar bodies moved with perfect uniform circular motion. Observing the heavens, Galileo found that the actual movements of heavenly objects did not actually fit Ptolemy’s theories. Presented with the evidence, the ruling powers resisted the change to their world view, seeking to repress the truth. But eventually the system collapsed.
Political economy increasingly resembles the Ptolemaic system. The possibility of reduced wealth, lower growth and constrained economic sovereignty do not feature prominently in the policy debate.
Debates about the economy, assume the inevitable return to robust growth. Politicians everywhere repeatedly mouth the sacred mantra of economic policies that lays the foundation for long term growth. Even in Japan which about to enter its third successive decade of economic stagnation, the latest government recently outlined its growth strategy.
. . . Governments need to rethink their role and adjust policies to an environment of low growth with attendant problems of employment, labour relations, industrial policy, social welfare and stability. Relations between nations -both economic and political- need to be reshaped to cope with increasing competition for growth, markets and scarce resources.
The consensus between the major political parties, as for example, on the panacea of economic growth, is striking. The heretics are outside the inner circle, and for them perdition, if not some measure more permanent than exclusion. An editorial in <em>The Guardian</em> <a href=”http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/may/04/local-elections-ukip”>editorial</a> addressed the issue of disconnection, more acute as it turns out for Labor than the Conservatives.
The idea of thinking about the budget, and the economy more broadly in terms of a long term strategic thinking seemed like a good idea. Foreseeable, demographic changes in the population are likely to change budget revenues and expenses. Most political thinking is short term and expedient. It is focused on the next election, at the extreme the following one. Ten years is too short for a national strategic time horizon. It seems to me that looking long term, both world population increase and climate change together with biosphere distress would be ingredients. And thus, it is just crazy to threaten, rather than protect water supplies, by hydraulic fracturing, which requires boring as I understand below the water table.
Obviously, Aristotle should drop his bottle, and step forth and provide the analysis of the political landscape. Global Corporations are imperial, strategic actors, indifferent to social well being. They would disagree, but the evidence indicates that profit is a function of low costs. To this ideology the Liberal Party subscribes. Corporations represent a form of authoritarian government, impervious to the state boundaries, that citizens imagine, or are inculcated to believe, are arbiters. We should never, never entertain contradictions in the scared discourse of politics because that would disturb the music of majesty and the power unseen. We should just imagine that the various pressure groups, that leave most of us voiceless, are achieving their rightful place at the table, or be allowed to look as to how the game is played.
Contradictions and paradox abound, as Gary at Public Opinion points out:
It’s a situation of weakened media companies, reliant on corporate advertising, not only not scrutinising powerful business interests, but pretty much acting as the cheerleaders for the interests of Australian business opposed to modernization.
Despite the problems of the media, it is a feature of the political scene of the UK, the US and Australia that one company is predominate in all three political systems. The gutting of the NBN is great coup for Murdoch, and demonstrates how political work actually works. The election is not yet won, but pretty done and dusted. Corporations have no reason to care about democracy or social well being. They are machines built for other purposes. There should be no surprise by anybody that once the corporations take over democracy is over, although the outward forms and dress will be maintained, even if the body is a mannequin – which can be quite convincing, if momentarily.
The conversation by the right-thinking people is limited, perhaps conforming to a template. To further quote Gary:
The template is this: We cannot afford the welfare state. Greece beckons. Austerity is the only way to avoid this catastrophe. Social democracy has to go as its goals can no longer be afforded.
Sitting underneath this template is the view that the path to prosperity is the extraction of mineral resources and growing grain and fibre with very light regulation. It is a rejection of the social view of investing in human capital, a digital economy and sustainablity.
And then you have to understand, if possible, the economists:
- E J Dionne, Is Democracy In Trouble? (Truthdig)
- Paul Buchheit, MultiNational Corporations have no allegiance to any nation, citizens, only to profits (Buzzflash.com)
- Ralph Nader, The Age of Corporate Treason (CounterPnnch)
- Chris Hedges, Rise Up or Die (Truthdig)
- A critique to capitalism (theglobaloyster.wordpress.com)
- Australia’s trading partner looking better (news.smh.com.au)