Archive for September 2014

CAPITALISM’S DEMISE: WHAT WENT WRONG?

September 26, 2014

CAPITALISM’S DEMISE: WHAT WENT WRONG?
Erle Frayne Argonza

To all fellow men and women out there who may have deep fondness for the liberal capitalist model of economic adaptation, I hope that you can make some adjustments in your cognitive banks. Capitalism is not a permanent facet of human life, but merely one among various epochs that will come to pass. Only impermanence is sacrosanct in the cosmos, so please refrain from singing hallelujah to a world system that is on its death knell as I articulated in a previous article.

And please refrain from swallowing hook-line-&-sinker the contentious propaganda of Francis Fukuyama about the ‘end of history’, that accordingly history had concluded with the galvanization of liberal capitalism, that history makes no more sense. Fukuyama’s theory is a slapstick narrative of hyper-valuation of the ‘mad economics’ of late capitalism and hypo-statization of reality that has no relation at all to the real in the world out there. Fukuyama had taken as ‘real’ what is actually ‘virtual’, and froze time much like unto a fairy tale of timelessness, of history-less Nietzschean moment that is fit more for infants than for adult humans.

Fukuyama epitomizes the ‘mad economics’ of all those Pied Pipers of the global oligarchy for whom he works, and his discourse is akin to the ‘mad discourse’ so described by the late Michel Foucault. The ‘mad economics’ of Friedman, Hayek, Fukuyama, and all those technocrats who serve as processors and bagmen for the global oligarchy, is precisely symptomatic of that colossal ailment of a world system, and as we all know, madness can never salve ailments but rather hasten the system’s death. Caput! Blow your horns, prepare dirges to this Dead One!

Unless that you yourselves have become maddened by the seemingly infinite monies flowing unto your purses as you are among the beneficiaries of ‘late’ capital, unless that you are indeed now suffering from combined maladies of sociopathy and schizophrenia, unless that sanity had departed from thee forever, please heed the last plea of your own conscience where sanity had retreated: CAPITALISM IS DEAD! No amount of propagandizing, of contorted interpretations, can ever change the course of history at this juncture, as we are all headed for a TOTAL SYSTEM COLLAPSE in the months ahead. Read that please: MONTHS AHEAD, not years ahead.

What went wrong with capitalism? I’m sure all of you fellows knew what went wrong, do I even need to answer that? Your previous thinker mentors, among economists and sociologists, forewarned you all of the forthcoming demise of capitalism, but you paid nary an attention to those brilliant minds as you were so engrossed in your ‘conspicuous consumption’, behaving more like some infantile EATERS or as anthropoids rather than as thinking and spiritually evolving humans. You are all very much human, so please consistently behave like one, and begin by listening to the Inner Voice of your conscience, for that voice is your soul’s.

Let me summarize the diagnostics, forewarnings and/or prophecies of our thinker mentors from the West, and I’d stress WEST because there are some other thinker mentors from the EAST and SOUTH whose peregrinations are so recondite they are not so easily digestible. Let me just stress the WEST as this is what is common to us all. So let me re-echo the thinkers and their theories:

• Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: The internal contradictions between the private nature of capital (ownership of means of production) and the social nature of production. The ‘crisis of overproduction’ and the ‘law of the falling rate of profit’ are attendant patterns. Social revolution results, then the alternative society will be constructed.

• Max Weber: Industrial capitalism’s granite product, the bureaucracy, led to dehumanization. He never forecast though whether this dehumanizing system can be sustained—but please read between the lines. (His contemporary Emile Durkheim had a similar observation about ‘anomie’ or normless state of urban/industrial society.)

• Thorsten Veblen: The end-phase of industrial capitalism is markedly pathological. ‘Conspicuous consumption’ is the disease of this phase, the toxic behavior from the ruling class that later filtered down to the emerging middle class.

• Joseph Schumpeter: The internal contradiction between the desire for profit and the revolutionary character of innovation. The demise of capitalism will see the possibility of the technical class taking over society and build that alternative system later.

• Daniel Bell: The ‘post-industrial’ society had already been born right inside capitalism. A distinct modality in itself, post-industrialism will eventually prevail in a system that isn’t capitalist (or money economy) but rather knowledge-based. The ‘service worker’ had arrived on the social landscape, the prototype class of the future.

• Theodore Adorno, Jurgen Habermas, Herbert Marcuse: ‘Late’ capital is characterized by the pervasiveness of ‘instrumental reason’, where reason is used to justify the non-rational (‘madness’ in Foucault’s argot), where state planning/intervention was infused into a system that scorned intervention.

• Alvin Toffler: Both capitalism and socialism are based on hoarding, both are variants of the same industrial society of yesteryears, both are based on ‘2nd wave’ capital-intensive technologies and non-renewable energy sources. The ‘post-industrial’ society is altogether distinct, isn’t based on hoarding, production-consumption (‘prosumer’) is based on ‘3rd wave’ knowledge-intensive technologies and renewable energy sources, knowledge cannot be hoarded.

I need not articulate further, do I? They all converged on one theme: capitalism is transitory, it bred social maladies (alienation, dehumanization, anomie, conspicuous consumption,…), is systemically flawed, and will be dismantled at sometime in the future.

No matter how delimited their theories maybe, as they all proceeded from certain perspectives (they were all ‘paradigm’-based in the jargon of Thomas Kuhn), they all proclaimed—in either tacit or explicit fashion—the coming demise of the system. They weren’t as silly as Fukuyama who popularized seemingly ‘satanic verses’ (distorted precepts) about a non-changing, permanent economic landscape called ‘liberal capitalism’, but were rather so adroit at social forecasting that they saw a vision of the future as they were articulating on their empirical observations of the present society.

So, fellows out there, prepare for the months and years ahead. We are headed towards those stormy months, years, maybe even decades. How the future society will come to shape is not easy to forecast. “Something blurs the Force, darkens our sight of the future,” declared a Jedi Master in the Star Wars cinema fame. Let me end right here.

[22 August 2008, Quezon City]

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GLOBAL TOTALITARIAN POLICE-STATE & TECHNOTRONIC SOCIETY: EXTENDING CAPITALIST LIFE

September 19, 2014

GLOBAL TOTALITARIAN POLICE-STATE & TECHNOTRONIC SOCIETY: EXTENDING CAPITALIST LIFE
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Let me go back to the question of what lies ahead of us—when ‘late’ capitalism dies and yet capitalism will be extended. I am not discounting the possibility that capitalism’s life span will be extended, but this will no longer be ‘late’ capital, just to remind everyone.

You better fasten your seat belts, as the stormy days ahead will come for sure, and as this heraldry from me will sound as stormy already as those times ahead. Stormy heraldry, because (a) you will not come to like it and that (b) its impact will be so nauseating and revolting that you’d rather sedate yourself most quickly with wine, liquor, pot or anything that can reduce that revulsion. I forgot, for the fundamentalists, you’d pray for hours to allay your fears.

By the time ‘late’ capital arrived up to the current juncture, or roughly the whole of the post-Great Depression era, the following developments have come about:

• State intervention/planning was infused into the system. Post-war former colonies proceeded on their industrial development tracks along this dirigist market model. The USA and Europe were saved from collapsing, emerging markets appeared.

• Market reforms were later introduced, bringing back free market and free trade principles. Centrally planned economies China and Vietnam infused market reforms to construct a ‘social market’ model, while former socialist states folded up in Eastern Europe and 3rd world states.

• The era of ‘mad economics’ resulted from the system integration efforts of ‘instrumental reason’. The dividing line between the rational and the mad in decision-making and system maintenance was effectively deconstructed and erased. In esoteric-mystical argot, this era is the period of the Demonic Mind, the era of Anti-Christ.

• ‘Virtual economy’ based on predatory financial practices of creating values from out of money flows (rather than from concrete production) was exemplified by ‘bubble economies’. Bubble bursts were followed by destructive, catastrophic crises and shrinkages of affected economies.

• Nation-states’ economies came to be integrated into a single economy, via globalization. A planetary economy was already institutionalized, yet no planetary state exists to regulate conduct of commerce and business at a global level. The contradiction between the norms of the planetary economy and the interests of the nation-state has led in no small measure to the fragmentation of nation-states and emergence of mini-states. Globalization has been undermining the nation-state in general.

• All of such developments will hyper-converge in the months ahead in a general system crisis characterized by hyper-inflation, great depression, and total system collapse. As the economist Lyndon LaRouche correctly perceived, that collapse phase is now taking place at a rapid rate.

• Wars and hostilities are intensifying across the globe. Surrogate wars of world powers have also been rehearsed, such as the Georgia-Russia conflict. All of these conflicts will hyper-converge in a World War III or intercontinental war, the duration of which no one can forecast so easily.

So, going back to the issue, if the ‘virtual economy’ cannot be sustained and its collapse will bring the final death blow on ‘late’ capital, is it possible to extend capitalism’s life span? Yes, the possibility is very likely. But the context emerging from the resolution of the general global crisis will hardly resemble what you’ve ever seen before nor imagine.

First of all, the consolidation of the system and attempts to prolong it can never take place without draconian police state tactics. As Lenin correctly emphasized, the dividing line between liberalism and fascism is a superficial one. Neo-fascism will become the political modality in order to save capitalism and bring it to its next phase. State terror heretofore untold will unravel the old order of things and bring the ‘new world order’ into place, resulting to pogroms that will dwarf both Hitler’s ‘final solution’ and Stalin’s ‘purges’ combined.

The possibility of a global state will finally become granite rock, with the United Nations most likely the base for creating that global regulatory mechanism governed by a demonic ‘world rule of law’. This global state will have its own military and police forces, and will have no qualms in quelling dissent and enforcing global fiats in order to bring forth the ‘new world order’.

The global corporations of the moment, whose assets and revenues are already so huge that they dwarf those of nation-states’, will all the more become gigantic. The same corporations will then declare their respective turfs among region-states and city-states that will be created from the dismantled nations. Each mega-corporation will be endowed with its own private army, akin to the British East India Company or BEIC of old, of professional mercenaries beholden to no state but to the corporation, but which can be mandated by the global state to engage hostile forces in other regions and cities.

The era of New Feudalism will then ensue from the social and urban-ecological arrangements emerging. The era of ancient Florence, Venice, or city-states with their own respective armies and ruled by powerful commercial families, will come back though in more sophisticated vogue.
The competing powerful & wealthy city-states will then give rise to new conflicts in the form of ‘wars of the cities’, much akin to the ancient Greek city-states’ conflicts. Before this century’s end, no more nations shall exist, but rather a world of cities and regions integrated largely through the mediative and regulative planetary state. Weaker cities and regions will become the vassals of powerful cities and corporate groups, at a time when technology will even be more revolutionary. The New Feudalism will be based on an integration of capital and information, contrasted to the Old Feudalism that was based on land.

As soon as 3rd phase cybernetics will conclude, and probably a 4th phase will begin, which will all the more erase the barrier between human and machine, the envisioned Technotronic Society will become the manifest order. Cyborgs and machines will then become perfected and endowed with quasi-human intelligence, while those humans with weak minds will be totally controlled via perfected chips, mega-computers, and new cybernetic systems. Large numbers of subhuman ‘Manchurian candidates’ or MCs will become the docile slave labor of the day, well fed and provided for, but whose behavior will be totally programmed and re-programmable.
That technoronic society of the neo-feudal capitalist ‘new world order’, or simply Technotronic capitalism, was fitfully described and forecast in the film series Matrix and Terminator. As 3rd phase cybernetics is advancing today in laboratory incubators of the North, cybernetics that will dismantle the barrier between human and machine, the possibility of an early arrival of that dreaded machine-controlled ‘new world order’ has become concrete. The question is no longer ‘will technotronics come’, but rather ‘when will it come’? Matrix and Terminator are no film fantasies but are rather scientific extrapolations based on existing and developing cybernetic principles.

So, fellows out there, would you count yourself among the fanatical supporters of ‘capitalist life-span extension’, or would you rather opt for a new economy & society other than the ‘new world order’ that has been engineered by the global oligarchy? Or, would you rather be silent about the matter, as the ‘silence of the lambs’ means the Keynesian “In the long run, all of us will be dead!” Caput!

Let me now end here. Suffice that I shared my notes about the possible extension of the favorite economy of the pro-capitalists or the most abhorred society by capitalism’s detractors. At least I didn’t fail to show you the possibilities, I being a sociologist and economist who learned from my thinker mentors the craft of social forecasting or ‘futurology’.

Till next writing! Adios! Adieu! Paalam! Farewell!

[Philippines, 23 August 2008]

‘LATE’ CAPITALISM ENDS IN CRASHING BLOW POST-‘MAD ECONOMICS’

September 11, 2014

‘LATE’ CAPITALISM ENDS IN CRASHING BLOW POST-‘MAD ECONOMICS’
Erle Frayne Argonza

Good afternoon!

At this moment, I’m sipping coffee contained in a pack that is sold for worth P130, or $3.00. The pack is one of the domestic brands of brewed coffee blends, ready for the drip coffee maker, of the Arabica and/or Robusta varieties. In economic parlance, this coffee is a commodity because (a) it was intended for exchange and not for the coffee producer’s consumption alone, and (b) money was used to acquire (purchase) it.

I have such deep fondness for coffee, as I acquired my coffee-drinking behavior as a childhood habit yet. In my hometown of Tuguegarao (city), Cagayan province (North Philippines), coffee beans were grounded into powder form and sold right inside the ‘wet’ market, was brewed using the local decoction techniques, and was consumed by people of all ages from pre-school to senior’s age. That was then, and that was how I learned to drink this beverage at age 5 more or less. I was hooked to the habit since then, even as I continued to drink milk that I still do till now. Both coffee and milk are among my health formulas, and both are commodities.

The question I’m asking now is, will commodity-based economics survive the times ahead? Both coffee and milk will survive for sure, but will the money economy that underpins them survive as well? As to the broader world system of capitalism, will it survive too or is it in fact on its death knell today?

Capitalism was the last of the world systems that embodied the ‘money economy’ to which it properly belongs. With the opening of the 20th century, the socialist world system appeared on the social landscape and attempted to serve as an alternative to capitalism, but this experienced its early demise as its implementers found out that it cannot be sustained after all. Both capitalism and socialism are embodiments of the ‘money economy’ as it later turned out to be, they are just but two sides of the same coin: the ‘money economy’.

Socialism is gone, and no matter what attempts there may arrive to survive it in some other forms, this variant of the ‘money economy’ is gone. Now capitalism is all alone, and it is getting more real than virtual that it too is bound to crash a catastrophic end, and with its demise, the “last of the (economic) Mojicans” is bound to disappear (my apologies to Mojicans if my note sounds ethnically incorrect). And with capitalism’s demise, the whole of the ‘money economy’ folds up like unto a book that had reached its last chapter, and deserves more to be consigned to the archives of history.

The Frankfurt school thinkers, notably Jurgen Habermas, cogitated that capitalism’s life span was extended somehow, and was dubbed as ‘late’ capitalism in this last phase of the world system. In this phase, state planning and interventionism were infused into the system to extend its life. Before ‘late’ capital came the mercantile, free enterprise, and monopoly phases of this world system. Will there be another phase to capitalism after ‘late’ capital?

Before I answer that extension of life span, let me stress that ‘late’ capitalism shall end in the following process and manner:

• The re-introduction of liberalization—of free market and free trade principles—into ‘late’ capital shifted engagements away from production, the real foundation of the economy, to the sphere of predatory finance, thus producing the gargantuan ‘bubble economy’. The ‘physical economy’ of production transmogrified into the ‘virtual economy’ that produces no real value other than imaginary or delusional values. It is ‘mad economics’ in operation, no longer the ‘rational economics’ of mercantilists, classicists and neo-classicists.

• The ‘mad economics’ led to the yawning gap between actually produced values and the aggregates of financial derivatives and debts combined, to the extent that the former shrinks at a rapid rate relative to the latter. As bubbles burst from one commodity sector to another, leading eventually to a crisis of gargantuan proportion, all the more will production shrink, unable to produce values that can input into the demand functions for fresh money to pay for aggregate credits, primary debts, secondary debt obligations, and so on.

• The crisis will then move on to the further shrinking of production, tightening of credit sources, and hyperinflationary situation in utilities (notably gas & power), food, base metals and other vital commodities. Total economic collapse results from the foregoing.

• The economic collapse then leads to social unrests, turmoil, upheavals, civil wars, food wars, water wars, and possibly intercontinental wars such as another 3rd world war. The clash of world powers and their surrogate emerging markets will become the flames of a possible long war akin to the 30 Years War (c.1618-48).

Let me now end at that instance. Suffice me to proclaim that the death knell of ‘late’ capitalism and the whole of the ‘money economy’ of the last 2000 years or so are ending. The ‘non-cognitive economics’ of the Roman to feudal era, the ‘rational economics’ of the Renaissance to monopoly capital era, and the ‘mad economics’ of ‘late’ capital were markedly the underpinning mediation processes of that entire 2000-year epoch. The epoch and its last phase of capitalism is rapidly drawing to a close.

[Philippines, 22 August 2008]

SMITH-RICARDIAN ‘FREE TRADE’ JUSTIFIED SLAVE TRADE

September 4, 2014

SMITH-RICARDIAN ‘FREE TRADE’ JUSTIFIED SLAVE TRADE

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

To continue on the theme of laissez faire, a doctrine started by the French physiocrats and systematized further by the Scots, let it be known that the principle of ‘free trade’ generated by physiocracy was largely a doctrinal defense of slave trade. [Physiocrats were philosophers who focused on economic problems, while philosophes focused on political, ethical, and epistemological problems.]

I already elaborated in a previous briefer that Adam Smith was an ‘intellectual prostitute’ whose services were procured by the British East India Company, precisely for the purpose of crafting in theoretical form the ‘free trade’ doctrine that was to justify, though subtly, the slave trade of that historic juncture. I gained the information about this rather shady background of Smith from a fellow political economist, Butch Valdez, a Fellow in the defunct Independent Review circle of 1990s Manila.

The physiocrats were already quite sophisticated in their modeling of economic reality then existing, and from out of that physiocratic subculture emerged Adam Smith whose synthesis of the existing doctrines of his time produced the Wealth of Nations. In the same book and related philosophical writings, Smith discoursed both on micro and macroeconomics, explaining in physiocratic terms the source of national income (termed ‘wealth’ at that time) from out of domestic engagements by landlords, capitalists and laborers, as well as international operations notably those accruing from overseas colonies’ operations.

It was from the latter that David Ricardo, disciple of Smith, took off to articulate the principle of ‘comparative advantage’. In the writings of Ricardo, the discipline of political economy moved much closer to empirical science, a feat that I myself had come to admire. David Ricardo was hardly any ‘intellectual prostitute’ to reckon with, but rather was he a financier who engaged in the evolving bourse and speculative pursuits of his own time. But slave trade was very much alive during his time, and there could be no doubt on his part that his theory of international trade served in no small measure to justify the conduct of slave trade.

In my youth yet did I come to learn, from the likes of Alejandro ‘Ding’ Lichauco, a Harvard-schooled economist and corporate executive, that free trade couldn’t be enforced without imperialism. It was a perfect income-generating strategy for Britain particularly since this world power had an entire empire to manage. Absent that Empire, and free trade will collapse. (Ding Lichauco was later a leading Fellow of the Independent Review in the 1990s.)

However, it was only much later that I was able to connect free trade directly to slave trade practices, thanks to my Fellows in the Independent Review, notably Butch Valdez. Slave traders were legion around the years 1700-1850, or up to the decade preceding the US Civil War and China’s Taiping Rebellion, and at one time British traders alone owned over 20,000 ships plying the oceans to market African slaves. Within America, Portugal and Spain both engaged in the same trade, though including Indians aside from Blacks, often with the blessings of the Vatican. It was huge bucks, this slave trade, more so that the bourses began to factor slave availability and chattel quality in the valuation of certain cash crops, which then factored in the valuation of main stock trading articles and nascent insurance forms.

The very same slave traders had in their employ not only those early stock traders in London and elsewhere, but also lobby groups and journalists whose tasks included bribing legislators and bureaucrats to keep them blind about the noxious trading of human chattel. There was no way that slave trade could survive in a policy environment of high regulation, more so in a context of ‘activist state’ intervening so heavily in investment areas (dirigist development).

It was only in a state with least regulations did slave trade flourish, the only regulations it seems coming from God Almighty (who would punish the traders for their sins post mortem). But even God Almighty had a long-drawn policy of non-interventionism in the physical plane, a laissez faire attitude that favored the physiocrats and their notorious slave trader sponsors. As far as Earth was concerned, it was the oligarchs who are gods till now, and so they define which doctrine to advance at every turn of epochs, historic periods and cyclical episodes.

Since the slave traders then had to reckon with powerful mercantilist doctrinaires such as Colbert, whose writings influenced France’s intellectual and governance circles and US’ policy makers notably A. Hamilton, there was no way that slave trade would fail to catch the eyes of politicians and libertarian groups, and before long the same trading ‘best practices’ would be criminalized as malpractices. The same mercantilist policy makers, who were dirigists and regulationists, swarmed the Kings’ courts everywhere, who didn’t mince words in attacking slave trade and slandering the traders before the nobles and mediocre bureaucrats (who always needed some godfather thinkers as mentor-guides for their actions).

That was why physiocracy failed to gain foothold in its own home ground of France, and had to be exported to the neighboring British Isle where it obtained further fertilization. Finally, upon the further expansion of the British Empire, physiocracy caught the eyes of the nobles, politicians and bureaucrats. At that moment of convergence of interests for laissez faire, Smith was already ripe for the picking, via the British East India Company, whose satisfactory work was vigorously propagandized by the coteries of doctrinal converts.

Smith gained not only fame but also great following, and among his followers emerged David Ricardo and Thomas Malthus. The works of Smith and his contemporaries, five to seven decades later, inspired another coterie of philosophers, the Classical Evolutionists (Darwin, Spencer, Morgan, Tylor, Frazer, etc), whose theories of ‘natural selection’ (Darwin’s) and/or ‘survival of the fittest’ (Spenser’s) were defended via the physiocratic principles of scarcity and competition.

With a fairly equal number of free market-free trade theorists at hand, promoted in public and private circles by an emerging financier class that was awash with money and enjoyed wide social networks among the elites, free trade came to challenge and demolish mercantilist doctrines in shock waves of mighty discourses. Needless to say, for a certain period, the slave traders celebrated to the highest heavens their shallow victory for seeing their candidate doctrine ascend the intellectual pinnacle, their intoxication behooving them into believing perhaps that they were Gods of Olympus, a deluded image inherited by their financier pedigrees of today.

That was then. Till slavery in its old form eroded. Free trade declined at the inception of the 20th century, but was later revived by the Chicago school and its adherents. Are we then ready to slide back into another round of slavery? What would be the forms of slavery this time, if the old form refuses justification and public acceptance? Isn’t the trading of human labor overseas a mere disguise for slave labor? Isn’t the privatization of jails—currently being experimented in the USA—an undisguised slavery as the prisoners will be considered chattel of Big Business, the same corporate groups that fund the purses of ‘corporate social responsibility’?

I’d end this piece right here. A pleasant day to everyone.

[21 August 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila.]