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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Beinstein on The Crisis


Admittedly I had never heard before of this Argentine economist with cathedra in Besançon but his opinions fit surprisingly well with what I think, so I will try to echo some of his thoughts.

Source: Rebelión: Una conversación con Jorge Beinstein sobre la 'crisis general de la civilización burguesa': "Esta crisis es mucho más grave que la de 1929". Interview by S. López Arnal (in Spanish, obviously).

Some excerpts:

Nature of the crisis:

Under the appearence of a curious convergence of many "crisis" (economical, energetic, enviromental, state, urban, etc.) what is actually happening is a general crisis of the burgeueoise civilization. In its immediate origin we find a chronic overproduction crisis lasting for almost four decades (...). Even if this chronic overproduction crisis appears as the trigger, the final catalyst of this civilizational crisis, we must clearly differentiate both concepts. (...) It happens that each historical overproduction crisis left open injuries, structural damage, parasitary degenerations (...) that at the beginning of the 21st century are finally causing a "general subproduction crisis": the general incapability of the system to reproduce itself in an expanded manner anymore, to keep growing in the long term.

We are now going through the beginning of the end of a long historical transit (...). In principle we would be at the beginning of a long-lasting crisis-decadence but this is not more than a work hypothesis: History often turns out unexpected.

Financial bubble:

The global network of real state bubbles was evaluated in dossier at The Economist around 2005, soon before the debacle in the USA, as equivalent to the Gross Product of all rich countries together. This is a lot but it is littile when compared with the sum of derived financial products registered by the Bank of Basel that same year that were an speculative mountain worth 12 times the World Gross Product.

The Greater Middle East wars:

(...) they believed that the colonial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would give them the control of a vast Eurasiatic zone stretching from the Balcans to Afghanistan, at whose core, the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea basins, are located about 70% of the global oil reserves. (...) This imperialist offensive was pushed by the Military-Industrial Complex (...). Since Reagan's presidency it became entangled with parasitary and predatory business (...) conforming an oligarchic and mafious system that nowadays constitutes the backbone of the imperial power. All that was expressed in an almost caricaturesque manner by the government of George W. Bush and his hawks, now Obama, in spite of his populist gestures, is just a puppet of that highly irrational power whose dynamics push the system towards disaster. The new president (...) is more of the same: militarist business continue their triumphant march generating a fiscal deficit without precedents in US history whose continuation could even cause the bankrupticy of the imperial state in the mid term.

Senility crisis:

It is necesary to look before 1930: this crisis is much bigger even if we just ponder the financial-economical aspects. Never before in the history of Capitalism was such a huge speculative mass accumulated at all, not just in absolute terms but especially when compared with the World Gross Product. Capitalism today is a mere predatory-parasitary system and that sets an essential qualitative difference with the past. (...)

Never before did Capitalism suffer from such a huge crisis, which looks like the inverse phenomenon to the birth crisis of the modern system at the end of the 18th century (...). Now we face a senility crisis of the burgueoise world, with its economical system trapped in financial parasitism, with its imperial Military-Industrial Complex transformed in a decadent machine, its state structures degradated, etc.

China:

The talk about a "Chinese capitalist superpower of the 21st century" has been nothing but a mediatic hype that recycled the old and always failed illussion of reconversion of underdevelopement into develepoment thanks to the intensification of the burgueoise type transformations. Chinese growth, subordinated to the dynamics of global Capitalism, has arrived to its stagnation stage. (...) sooner or later, and it seems it will be very soon, the once prosperous Chinese industrial structure will enter in a deep crisis that will question in a very general manner the overall status quo.

Prospects:

Capitalism can survive but in a decadent manner, like has been doing for the last four decades. That will depend on the social and political convulsions caused by its decline (...). The neo-fascist coup attempt of the hawks does not need to be the last one of its kind: the US Industrial-Military Complex is suffering a severe cultural crisis: its internal prestige has declined but still has the instruments to generate a new reactionary alternative. This is a very serious possibility.

(...) The only thing they can do is to apply succesive doses of tranquilizers, of partial remedies, insufficient measures in wait of some miracle, that is what doctors usually do with their ailing patients.

Comparison with the fall of the Soviet Union:

It is a very good comparison, that we can extend to many other pre-modern civilizations, consumed by parasitism and that finally imploded.

Enviromental crisis:

Enviromental degradation is at the very center of the current civilization crisis: it is tightly associated to the process of predation of natural resources (...) whose ultimate cause is found in technological reproduction of Capitalism. This one has followed a trajectory of some two centuries of creative destruction-predation in the Shumpeterian sense of the concept, that is: with a positive net result from the viewpoint of the expansion of the productive forces... until it has arrived now to a phase of growingly negative redits in civilizational terms, including the enviromental aspect. (...)

Enviromental degradation is not a long term problem, a problem for the generations to come in a distant future: it is hitting now the economic activity, rural and urban life. Those who want to leave the matter aside in the name of economic urgencies have a very abstract vision, very detached from factual reality, from the problems of a possible reproductive reorganization, from the necessary energetic reconversion, etc.

How the Left should act:

We are right now immersed in the Capitalist crisis that looks as of long duration and without foreseable exit. Turbulences have just begun (...). In this new context, the Left should go into the offensive rapidly, developing a wide fan of struggles aiming to power. Gather the anti-system forces, de-estabilize the existing power systems, reduce their social legitimacy, make efforst of social and regional convergence.

It is very difficult, almost impossible, to outline a general project for all the left movements around the planet. Nevertheless we can find some common elements: for instance, political democratization at all levels, fracturing the elitist dynamics that defined the neoliberal era: grassroots democracy versus burgeuoise pseudodemocracy. And, beginning from that, recycling of the productive web: of finances, of internal and external trade, etc. That implies nationalizations (...), not to serve the interests of the elites but to transform them into truly public, that is: democratic, with strong imprints of self-management, of administrative transparency, of popular control. It is necessary to deal with the social redesign of economy: redefine consume styles based on quality and durability, rejecting the consumerist dehumanizing, individualist madness. Consume to live and not live to consume. This kind of approach would allow us to adress rationally the energetic issue: facilitating a reconversion that will take some time and that should go through huge energy savings. It should also allow for the developement of strategies of reconstruction in the enviromental aspect.

Socialism:

The way out of the crisis that I have just outlined is nothing else but a march to Socialism. But what should we understand today as Socialism? Certainly not the kind of statist Socialism experimented through the 20th century, prisioner of a decisive ideological dependency from the military-industrial burgueois statism in rise since the end of the 19th century. (...)

Now it is all changing very quickly: the burgueoise civilization drifts without direction, its great myths are beginning to collapse (...). Consequently Socialism today should adopt much more radical, revolutionary and democratic shapes than in the past (...)

The emancipation movement must be thought and tried from clearly Communist final goals (...). Socialism concieved as plural path, as process of creative destruction, of institutional breakages, demolitions that allow for the instauration of solidarious, fraternal social structures of production and consume, not anymore as humanist complement of Capitalism but as its revolutionary superation: estabilishing decentralized political structures, incrementing, multiplying direct democracy. Much of that can be found in the revolutioanry movements of Latin America, though I am persuaded it is not just a regional exception.

Marx:

(...) We are indeed returning to Marx: to critical thought rooted on the rebellion of the exploited, irreconciliable enemy of conformism, of pseudo realist adaptation to what conservatives define as "possible". To the true Marx, not to parrot him but surely to march beyond him. To the Marx without dogmatic ties, to the irreverent Marx, who wrote "I am not Marxist", rejecting that way to become a provider of infallible recipes and eternal truths.

Marx' ideas are necessary, unavoidable when we try to understand the current crisis, but they are also not enough. (...) when we try to understand the much more vast challenge of the civilization crisis, we lean on Marx to advance beyond his cultural universe. (...)

Banners, slogans:

(...) in the last decades we have been smashed by a conservative conformist avalanch that has no precedents in modern history because of its dimensions. It has been less than one decade that a slogan, which we would have laughed upon in the 60s and 70s because of its coyness, became rather popular: "another world is possible". We must begin thinking in terms of "revolution", "socialism", "postcapitalism", not as audacious ideas to share with some friends but as banners for action destinied to the great popular majorities.
.

2 comments:

Paul said...

Hi Maju

I liked this. Must read the whole thing in Spanish. Saw your comment on Gilad's anti-semitism thing and thought I'd follow you up.

Was I wrong about Gilad? Does it matter anyway?

The guy's got a big heart and he's very honest, even if his politics are fucked.

Better than that shit Aaronwitch.

And where are the Basques from? Is Basque a neolithic language as some say, and therefore older than Sanskrit, older than Hebrew?

So you're Spinozan? He thought everything was God. Me too, and I'm an atheist,

Ciao

Pablo (happyinspirit@googlemail.com) Paul Grenville.

Maju said...

Sorry, I missed this comment. Lots of comments as of late.

Saw your comment on Gilad's anti-semitism thing and thought I'd follow you up.

Was I wrong about Gilad? Does it matter anyway?
I also lost track of that thread. I follow many pro-Palestinian blogs via the aggregator and now and then post a comment. But not sure who's Gilad right now.

And where are the Basques from? Is Basque a neolithic language as some say, and therefore older than Sanskrit, older than Hebrew?For what I know Basque could perfectly be a Paleolithic language, though Neolithic is a possibility too. It was there when the Celts arrived in any case (c. 1300 BCE) and probably long before. My favorite theory is that it is the last remnant of Magdalenian languages but hard to prove.

But one thing for sure: north (iparralde) means part of the river bank (ibarralde) and south (hegoalde) probably high part (igoalde). That fits well with Aquitanian geography (between the Garonne and the Pyrenees) and it's well known that ancient Aquitanians spoke Basque and that modern Gascons are genetically almost identical to Basques.

Other basic words also reveal their ethymology quite incredibly, for instance the four colors:
- beltz (black) - like bele (raven), possibly "ravenous" (but without negative connotations: the crow was surely a totemic animal and was used for personal names: belasko = little crow, from which Velázquez, etc.).
- zuri (white) - from zur (wood).
- urdin (blue, also green, gray originally) - from ur (water), "water maker" it seems.
- gorri (red, also yellow, orange originally) - from gor (deafening)

Lots of tools' names have components meaning stone (harri) or rock (haitz), what strongly suggests a stone age creation, be it Neo- or Paleolithic.

The grammatic is very complex and yet terribly logic, like it was invented in a lab (there are some irregularities, of course), what suggests it has not suffered any creolization, that tends to simplify grammar a lot.

It has lot of Latin (pre-Romance) loanwords but no Celtic ones, probably an indication of hostile relations, which is in agreement with the archaeological record mostly.

Toponimy that appears Basque can be found in Southern and Western Europe. Placenames like Ardèche (near Lyon), for instance, appear to have a clear Basque translation (ardetxe would be house of sheep: adri-etxe or, maybe house of the middle: arte-etxe, like in the surname Artetxe). Lots of placenames in Majorca sound Basque too. Some have pointed also to Italy, Britain, etc. though its hard to be sure.

One of the items that called my attention especially was finding that in Serbocroat "gore" is up, upwards and "gora" mountain. Gora is up, upwards in Basque and has clearly Basque ethymoogy: goi (high) + -ra (to). But I also find strange coincidences with English grammar and things like that.

So you're Spinozan? He thought everything was God. Me too, and I'm an atheist,I used to be plainly atheist but got embelezzed by Astrology, which I strongly suspect it works, so not sure what to think now. Pantheism is anyhow only logical: even for ceationists there can be no fundamental difference between the artist and the artwork, right?