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The Left and Political Economy


Capitalism and Marxism are two sides of the same coin, both ideologies justify elite social control, however, they differ significantly in how this is accomplished. Capitalist social control is achieved through financial control and market mechanisms, capitalist ideology merely a rationalization of the process. Marxism, on the other hand, is more akin to a secular religion justifying rule by a centralized bureaucracy similar to the way religion justified monarchy. Like monarchy, Marxism requires the leadership to maintain a certain fealty to Marxist/Leninist dogma. An analogous situation does not exist in capitalism where capital (power) accumulation is the name of the game, and economic theory flexibly accommodates the activities of the more successful capitalists. Marxism requires a system-wide belief in Marxist orthodoxy in order to justify elite bureaucratic rule. Capitalism requires nothing more than systemic dependency on money and the market, a process now seen as normal. Capitalism is a much more effective means of social control than ideologically based monarchy or Marxism, one of the reasons both Russia and China have embraced a form of Capitalism.

Yet the American radical Left intelligentsia, encouraged by the financial near-collapse of 2008, buoyed by the prospect of their Marxist star rising, have continued to analyze events from a Marxist ideological perspective rather than focusing on empirical reality. One of the consequences is that they seem unaware of the extent to which the financial system controls and empowers the political economy, and the extent to which neoliberal globalization has created economic interdependencies which greatly enhance the power of the global financial system. At this stage of the game, it is difficult to imagine how Third World countries can extricate themselves from First World control and exploitation, everyone forced to play by the rules of a private, debt-based monetary system which siphons off an increasing share of the social product as interest payments. Those who control the global financial system are de facto global rulers, controlling the global political economy at the macro level. The planet has been turned into the rough equivalent of one big factory town, dependent upon “the boss” for food, clothing, shelter, etc.

The bottom line is that the American radical Left intelligentsia doesn’t appear to have a clue either about the seismic transformations underway or about what to do. Mostly made up of middle class college educated Marxist or Marxians, their understanding of political economy is overly influenced by archaic analyses and Marxist mythology. They dream of the masses rising up, leading, as if by magic, to a socialist revolution which they would somehow lead, even though they could not get even 1% of the vote in an honest election, yet claim to speak for a mythological proletariat. They are worse than useless, rather, they are a counter-productive distraction which has developed a symbiotic niche relationship with the system, creating the psychologically satisfying illusion of radical opposition to business as usual, while simultaneously discouraging actions to press for specific concrete changes in favor of revolutionary rhetoric and dreaming. Wisely, the Occupy movement has shunned them. Regrettably, there appears no comprehensive First World Left progressive analysis worthy of the name. Instead, we get warmed over Marxism. Perhaps this is why Third World resistance groups seem to grasp what is going on better than their self-indulgent Western counterparts.

The global political economy appears to be in crisis, with recessions, neoliberal austerity, social upheaval, and increased American foreign intervention. Ask a member of the Western radical Left intelligentsia what the problem is and odds are that he/she will respond that the problem is capitalism and that we are experiencing a terminal crisis of capitalism. What is meant by “capitalism” will never be described in meaningful terms, it is just a handy label. Capitalism, they say, needs to be replaced by “socialism,” another handy, ill-defined label. And since the radical Left has no chance at the polls it cannot be done democratically, but will require a revolution of the disenchanted masses who will rise up against the people they voted for. So that the same people who can’t get even 1% of the vote will claim that massive protests against structural adjustment and neoliberal austerity somehow bestows legitimacy on them, that they speak for the disaffected majority! What rubbish!

I am not sure what can be done to stave off disaster in any event. We appear to be in a de facto class war where the elites are intentionally crashing the economy to facilitate neoliberalism and global privatization leading to a neo-feudal rentier economy. I have no idea how to prevent this, however, any hope for the future must be based upon how the real-world political economy functions, how trade and financial interdependencies are the crucial factors of social control. How the private, debt-money financial system is driving us to ruin. How growth in the real monetary transaction economy based upon material production and consumption is no longer sustainable, hence, un-moderated compounding interest obligations are no longer viable and require systemic amelioration. Somewhere, somehow people need to understand that a public banking system utilizing sovereign money is the only alternative to neo-feudal debt servitude for the 99%. Also, that local autonomy and self-sufficiency are essential attributes of a sustainable society, and that trade interdependencies need to be reduced as much as possible.

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