October 13, 2008 by SocProf and tagged Corruption, Development, Economy, Global Imaginary, Globalism, Ideologies, Politics, Poverty, Precarization, Risk Society, Social Inequalities, Social Privilege, Social Stratification, Structural Violence
This is your must-read of today, a brilliant piece by Chris Floyd:
"Perhaps the most striking fact revealed by the global financial crash — or rather, by the reaction to it — is the staggering, astonishing, gargantuan amount of money that the governments of the world have at their command.
In just a matter of days, we have seen literally trillions of dollars offered to the financial services sector by national treasuries and central banks across the globe. Britain alone has put $1 trillion at the disposal of the bankers, traders, lenders and speculators; and this has been surpassed by the total package of public money that Washington is shoveling into the financial furnaces of Wall Street and the banks. These radical efforts are being replicated on a slightly smaller scale in France, Germany, Italy, Russia and many other countries.
The effectiveness of this unprecedented transfer of wealth from ordinary citizens to the top tiers of the business world remains to be seen. It will certainly insulate the very rich from the consequences of their own greed and folly and fraud; but it is not at all clear how much these measures will shield the vast majority of people from the catastrophe that has been visited upon them by the elite.
But putting aside for a moment the actual intent, details and results of the global bailout offers, it is their very extent that shocks, and shows — in a stark, harsh, all-revealing light — the brutal disdain with which the national governments of the world’s "leading democracies" have treated their own citizens for decades."
Indeed, how many times have we been told that we had to tighten our belts, accept lower levels of social services. In France, we used to call "la rigueur" ou "l’austerite" and it was always needed, always temporary but never ending. It is right-wing politicians telling us we could no longer afford (insert name of your favorite social program), besides, supposedly, these social benefits only make us lazy and dependent (at the very same time that we were making great gains in productivity and often working more than ever.
And of course, it was all fine and good because the market would make us all more prosperous, trickling down economic, tides lifting all boats and whatever other metaphor was used to make us believe in the new religion (maybe it’s time to re-read Thomas Frank’s One Market Under God).
Globally, this was the Washington Consensus, or Disaster Capitalism or the race to the bottom. The global triade of global governance unleashed the same principles on countries in the Global South: tighten your belts, you can’t afford this free education or free healthcare and these national companies. Privatize was the mantra, along with deregulate, liberalize. Make yourself attractive to foreign investment… tide that lifts all boats, prosperity for all.
And the global corporate media was the cheerleader for this neo-liberal ideology of corporate globalism.
And you know what, as Chris Floyd brilliantly writes, the money was there all along:
"Let’s say it again: The money was there all along.
Money to build and generously equip thousands and thousands of new schools, with well-paid, exquisitely trained teachers, small teacher-pupil ratios, a full range of enriching and inspiring programs.
Money to revitalize the nation’s crumbling inner cities, making them safe and vibrant places for businesses and families and communities to grow.
Money to provide decent, affordable and accessible health care to every citizen, to provide dignity and comfort to the elderly, and protection and humane treatment for the mentally ill.
Money to provide affordable higher education to everyone who wanted it and could qualify for it. Money to help establish and sustain local businesses and family farms, centered in and on the local community, driven by the needs and knowledge of the people in the area, and not by the dictates of distant corporations.
Money to strengthen crumbling infrastructure, to repair bridges, shore up levies, maintain roads and electric grids and sewage systems.
Money for affordable, workable public transport systems, for the pursuit of alternative sources of energy, for sustainable, sensible development, for environmental restoration.
Money to support free inquiry in science, technology, health and other areas — research unfettered from the war machine and the drive for corporate profit, and instead devoted to the betterment of human life.
Money to support culture, learning, continuing education, libraries, theater, music and the endless manifestations of the human quest to gain more meaning, more understanding, more enlightenment, a deeper, spiritually richer life.
The money for all of this — and much, much more — was there, all along. When they said we couldn’t have these things, they were lying — or else allowing themselves to be profitably duped by the high priests of the market cult. When they wanted a trillion dollars — or three trillion dollars — to wage a war of aggression in Iraq, they found it. Now, when they want trillions of dollars to save the speculators, fraudsters and profiteers of greed in the global market, they suddenly have it."
And with that money, we could take care of the Millenium Development Goals . It is enraging to think what could be done with that same list in the Global South: provide clean water, sanitation, health care, education, programs for girls, infrastructures, and on and on. How about investments in scientific research for environmentally sustainable energy and environmental restoration and conservation?
"This is one of the main facts that ordinary citizens around the world should take away from this crisis: the money to maintain, secure and improve the lives of their families and communities was always there — but their governments, and their political parties, made a deliberate, unforced choice not to use it for the common good. Instead, they subjugated the well-being of the world to the dictates of an extremist cult. A cult of greed and privilege, that preached iron discipline to the poor and the middle-class, but released the rich and powerful from all restrictions, and all responsibility for their actions.
This should be a constant — and galvanizing — thought in the minds of the public in the months and years to come. Remember what you could have had, and how it was denied you by the lies and delusions of a powerful elite and their bought-off factotums in government. Remember the trillions of dollars that suddenly appeared when the wheeler-dealers needed money to cover their own greed and stupidity.
Let these thoughts guide you as you weigh the promises and actions of politicians and candidates, and as you assess the "expert analysis" on economic and domestic policy offered by the corporate media and the corporate-bankrolled think tanks and academics.
And above all, let these thoughts be foremost in your mind when you hear — as you certainly will hear, when (and if) the markets are finally stabilized (at whatever gigantic cost in human suffering) — the adherents of the market cult emerge once more and call for "deregulation" and "untying the hands of business" and all the other ritual incantations of their false and savage fundamentalist faith. (…)
So remember well the lessons of this new October crash: The money to make a better life, to serve the common good, has always been there. But it has been kept from you by deceit, by dogma, by greed, and by the ambition of those who have sold their souls, and betrayed their brothers and sisters, their fellow human creatures, for the sake of privilege and power. "
Emphasis mine. And so, we are made to live in the risk society, experience more and more precarization in the West and abject poverty in the Global South.
Posted in Corruption, Development, Economy, Global Governance, Global Imaginary, Globalism, Globalization, Ideologies, Politics, Poverty, Precarization, Risk Society, Social Inequalities, Social Privilege, Social Stratification, Structural Violence | 1 Comment »