Posted tagged ‘history’

EUROPE’S BURNING!

September 6, 2015

EUROPE’S BURNING!

 

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

Europe is on fire. Save for those who choose to be blind, the Union is going through an incendiary economic burn. How far will the economic burning go, whether it will spread to a larger continental inferno, no one can tell for now.

Before the EU’s creation, welfare policies were prevalent from east to west of the continent. Liberal reforms then arose, commencing with the Tory’s (Thatcher era) wholesale adoption and social marketing of the same, and copied by the conservatives and liberals of the continent alike.

By the turn of the century, upon the commencement of the Euro, liberal reforms already saw the uncontrollable ascent of predatory finance worldwide. Liberalized financial-capital markets paved the way for their immanence.

Among those instruments created by the predators was financial derivatives. To recall, a decade back the derivatives markets were already awash with exposures totaling over $150 Trillion, with 36% of these in the hands of British financiers while 15% were in Americans’ hands.

By 2001, the alarming projection was leaked out that derivatives will be inflated to exceed $350 Trillions within the new decade. At a time when the global economy was producing past the $40 Trillion in Gross World Product or GWP, it was sheer madness to consider debt papers of past $350 that could meltdown the globe in case of a gigantic bubble burst.

Europe was already flat on its back for a straight two (2) decades since after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Periodic stagflations and recessions have seen the rise of poverty incidence and, consequently, the re-emergence of neo-fascist movements.

Being strongly tied up to the U.S. economy, it was not surprising to realize that a contagion of the U.S. recession will surely hit Europe, which did happen. The ugly side of the formula was the aiding of ailing banks that were badly affected by the crisis, an intervention that was flawed and immoral as it entails using taxpayers’ money to aid criminal bank speculators.

Barely out of the U.S. contagion effect, Brussels was shocked to see that a new fire had started within the Eurozone— Greece to be exact. As this was happening, Spain also began to sneeze & cough, as some of its own banks (notably Santander) spiraled down bankruptcy scale. Other member-economies were also having their own financial crucifixions going by the early part of this current year.

If we diagnose what’s going on in the financial sectors of member states, we can easily pinpoint banks as hotspot fire sources. They were heavily into speculative pursuits, with enormous exposures to derivative operations.

Just exactly how that happened can be traceable to certain acts in the North by the mid-80s. Commodities markets have sprung up on that decade, even as a global recession took place then, threatening OECD economies. Liberal reforms were already permeating diverse sectors, and within the backdrop of liberalization, financial derivatives and equivalent portfolios were launched in mass scales.

Banks shed off their previous stance of inhibiting themselves from speculative pursuits. Soon they’d find themselves investing into every speculative games they could lay their hands into, inclusive of hedge funds operations.

Now, to fast track to the present, economists estimate that EU’s aggregate derivatives are within the range of $180-$200 Trillions, estimates that seem conservative. Measure this against the gross domestic product of EU at $13 Trillions, and you would be driven to ask: just exactly where will Europe get the funds to pay the hedged financials in case of bursts and massive bankruptcies?

If all of the hedge funds investors would ask for a forced payment of their total of, say, $200 Trillions more or less, who would pay for such debts? Where will the money come from? Is it morally right to extract taxes from European workers to pay up for the dirty debt papers in case? Is it likewise morally right to impose wage cuts on workers who were not the culprits in the virtual economy game in the first place?

Concerned Europeans should better rethink the Euro and ask whether the new currency really worked for their welfare. It is now clearer that the Euro was a sell-out idea and project, that it was launched to satiate the insatiable pockets of greedy financiers represented by the top financial houses there.

And Europeans better see how silly it is to allocate taxpayers’ money worth $1 Trillion to bail out ailing banks and industries hit by the rising meltdown. For measured against total debt papers of $180-200 Trillions, $1 Trillion would be ridiculously paltry.

Yet another ridiculous intervention is the austerity measure imposed by the IMF on Greece. We’ve had so many precedents of the deleterious effects of such measures on developing economies that aimed at eventually graduating from IMF programs as a salvation measure in the short run. While emerging markets are getting out of a burning house (IMF & austerity measures), Greece voluntarily entered this house. Unbelievable!

As per reports reaching my focals, Germany had the greatest exposures to Greece’s banking sector, with exposures running to hundreds of billions of euros. British financiers, on the other hand, have their hands full in Spain’s banks.

It isn’t difficult to forecast that the fire in Greece could spread to other eurozone economies. Not even the UK, which decided to stay out of the eurozone, will be spared from the bonfire. Spain is almost there now, and who knows what country will be next.

If banks and industrial conglomerates will simultaneously burn in all of the member-states of the eurozone, with total aid claims of past the GDP of $13 Trillions, then Europe will be on the brink of a continental inferno.

Concerned readers better think for yourself whether Brussels and the bureaucrats do have the right answers to the raging problems of Europe. Poverty incidences are now hitting past the 20% mark in member countries, while massive lootings of the financial and currency markets by predatory financiers take place every day in the continent.

Well, let’s all wait and see for what happens. Let us hope that a mad Nero bureaucrat wouldn’t appear to orchestrate the burning farther to infernal scale. That would bring a new nightmare to the whole planet if it happens.

[Philippines, 20 May 2010]

WILL PHILIPPINE INSURGENCIES END SOON?

August 16, 2015

WILL PHILIPPINE INSURGENCIES END SOON?

 

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

Magandang hapon! Good afternoon!

It is still poll day as of this writing, as the day’s polling time has been extended till 7 p.m. Poll-related incidence had accordingly dropped by 200% since 2004, an encouraging development amidst a backdrop of systemic violence.

What I’d reflect about this time is the insurgency question: whether the country’s decades-old insurgencies will cease after the installation of a new national leadership. The communist and Bangsamoro insurgents have been conducting peace talks with the Philippine state for a long time now, and there’s no question that insurgencies’ end is in the wish list of diverse stakeholders.

In a society where trust has been torn asunder by the prevalence of polarized mind frames for centuries now, it is understandable that insurgencies will persist for some time. Building mutual trust and confidence is therefore a sine qua non to the end of insurgencies.

Economistic apperceptions of insurgencies, such as to account them solely to high poverty incidence, would hardly hold water. Canada, for instance, is a prosperous country with good governance in place, yet a part of it (Quebec) almost bolted away from the Canadian state.

Addressing poverty, which is now at 33-35% incidence rate, is surely a must, added to food security. There is no denying that this has been on the agenda of peace talks, aside from the options for the livelihood of combatant insurgents when they go back to the mainstream in the case of a political settlement.

What we can see from the economistic discourse is that addressing poverty and social injustices would be good approaches to re-building trust and confidence. During the first two (2) years of the new political dispensation, there has to be a trickling down of incomes to enable poverty reduction, which should convince the insurgents of the sincerity and competence of the leadership in handling the socio-economic malaise of our society.

Furthermore, there has to be relentless efforts made by civil society, church, state, and philanthropic groups to build a culture of tolerance and peace. Peace talks shouldn’t be left to government and insurgents alone, in other words, but should involve the broadest sector of society.

The building of mutual trust, confidence, and contextual building of peace and tolerance, will redound to constructing greater civility and cooperation. A ‘dialogue of civilizations’ is a broad manifestation of a culture of peace and tolerance permeating the private sphere, which is a cherished human condition by the peoples of the world.

Insurgents are incidentally growing old, and are getting weary of the war itself. They want peace, and this is a boon to the peace talks. In our day-to-day conduct of affairs as a people, we should continue to build trust in the private spaces of our lives. This, we hope, would encourage insurgents to forge new social arrangements with us on a people-to-people basis, a step that would bring us closer to a high-trust environment.

We must also continue to exert pressure on the Phiippine state and insurgents to continue to dialogue and put a time limit to the peace talks. Peace talks have already dragged on for decades, so maybe it would prove fruitful to put a time cap on the talks. We can use organizational instruments that we have, such as professional, crafts, and civil society groups.

Let us hope that we don’t have a hawkish regime forthcoming. A regime of hawks would be anachronistic to the overall trend today of higher expectations for peace and a sustained dialogue between state and insurgents.

We are all running against time today, even as we citizens of an war-torn country are tired and weary of the wars. New weapons of mass destruction, such as the Tesla Earthquake Machine or TEM, are moving out of assembly lines, and sooner or later they would be traded via organized crime groups to hot-headed insurgent and jihadist groups locally.

A wish indeed, let us hope that the two (2) insurgencies will be settled finally, with the former rebels integrated into the mainstream to participate in parliamentary politics and civil society engagements. This will give us breathing spaces we need to concur more social cooperation and economic amelioration in the short run.

With the large insurgencies gone, the police & military forces can then focus their efforts on clamping down jihadist movements that we perceive as illegitimate or criminal groups. In no way should government negotiate with groups that possess warped sense of community and are unwilling to recognize the full import of dialogue and tolerance.

[Philippines, 10 May 2010.]

SCARCITY VERSUS ABUNDANCE: THE CONTINENTAL DIVIDE

December 10, 2014

SCARCITY VERSUS ABUNDANCE: THE CONTINENTAL DIVIDE

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

The Continental Divide—between Euro-America (Europe, North America, Latin America) and Asia-Pacific—is no mere geographical cleavage, but more importantly cultural-civilizational. In economic doctrines, the division lies in the core premise that underpins all other economic variables and the social class arrangements that constitute the base for appropriating the values of the totality of efforts of production, distribution, consumption and exchange. While Western thinkers premise economic realities on scarcity, the Eastern thinkers notably sages presuppose the same on abundance.

The foundational doctrines of Western political economy—mercantilism and physiocracy—were both premised on scarcity. All other doctrines that emerged thereafter, inclusive of socialism, neo-classicism and marginalism, proceeded from the same premise. The most popular socialist thinker, K. Marx, envisioned a society of abundance, rationalizing such a vision on the presumed reality of scarcity (of resources) and its attendant effect, mitigated by social structures, of pauperization on the proletariat. This ‘scarcity premise’ is indubitably a hallmark of Western discourse.

Eastern discourse raises questions about such a premise. Among all Eastern thinkers, it was Gandhi who most succinctly articulated the difference. To the folks of the East, daily living is a reality of abundance, such an abundance abetted by continuous resource materialization and allocation as graces from the transcendent spheres. With the caveat, to note, that people live according to their needs. Accordingly, the planet has more than enough for everyone’s needs, but not enough for everyone’s greed. What could be wiser today than the said dictum, so simple in structure yet so profound in substance? (Review also Buddhist economics, Sarkar’s ‘progressive utilization theory’, Sri Aurobindo’s vedic economics, Baha’i economics, Vivekananda’s socialist visions.)

I couldn’t but agree more with the Eastern discursive stream than with the Western ones. Why, let us query, do Filipinos keep on eating the whole day, sliding inputs down their stomachs as much as five (5) times a day? And why don’t the Filipinos save surplus money at all (many folks don’t even maintain back accounts)? That is because deep within their psyche, in the antechambers of their ‘collective unconscious’, resides the presupposition of abundance. Mother earth provides, the country provides, so why save for tomorrow, and why not consume that which is offered unto you when you arrive as a visitor amongst the town & country folks, such offerings being graces from God and His most divine minions?

Among ancient islanders, it was a vice to store resources (savings) for oneself, as this is a hoarding practice. Reciprocity then was the economic norm of behavior. When a household cooks nilupak, and a surplus of the delicacy is gathered after the eating, then the virtuous behavior is to share the excess nilupak among neighbors and kins rather than hoard it; and, conversely, it was a vice (read: very bad behavior) to throw away (surplus) that which has been provided for by Bathala and the anitos.

Surely, economic theorizing that is so deeply steeped in Western streams will never get to the bottom of the reality of Filipino economic behavior. Flawed premises breed flawed models that consequently produce flawed explanatory constructs and flawed practices on the developmental sphere. To a great extent, the Filipinos continue to retain, rather unconsciously, the reciprocity-based ‘systems’ of antiquity, contributing in no small measure to their bayanihan mode of adaptation. This reciprocity helps them to survive disasters and permits them to adapt quickly to new environments that are strongly cash-based, such as urban centers. It is also the basis for creating Filipino ‘social capital’ (Peter Evans had articulated well on the principle) as human asset accretions arising from networks of volunteer social groups (civil society), the kind of capital that is a catalytic factor in various development endeavors.

New Nationalism may have to find an effective bridge between the two. What is sure for now is that the exchange systems of redistribution (feudalism) and markets (capitalism), both imposed upon the islanders by Western empires, have undermined the Asian or ‘Islander Way’ of reciprocity premised on abundance. During the time of Gat J. Rizal, the islands were able to provide more than enough for everyone else, no matter how harsh the Latin-Hispanic feudal system was to the folks who were subsumed in its enclaves. Today, with over eighty (80) million people populating the archipelago, reality had assumed the scarcity mode, making us believe that scarcity has been the premise since antiquity.

The bridge between the East and West will be institutionalized through the popularization of a needs-based philosophy. However, the consumerism that is the hallmark of a revivified market strongly erodes a needs-based discourse. There surely is a dynamic tension between ‘basic needs’ and consumerism, and such a tension will be a chief definer of the premise’s compass in the succeeding decades.

[From: Erle Frayne D. Argonza, “New Nationalism: Grandeur and Glory at Work!”. August 2004. For the Office of External Affairs – Political Cabinet Cluster, Office of the President, Malacaňan Palace.]

ZAIBATSU GLOBALIZATION ‘VOODOO ECONOMICS’ BOWING OUT

November 3, 2014

ZAIBATSU GLOBALIZATION ‘VOODOO ECONOMICS’ BOWING OUT
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Magandang hapon! Good afternoon!

Let me share to you at this moment some notes regarding the ‘globalization’ experiment and the flawed policies that sustained it. There has been much ballyhoo about the global economy’s integration, over the last three (3) decades, as having been carved out supposedly by the Anglo-Saxon policy architects, using Thatcher & Reagan as the face for the ‘neo-liberal’ policy regime they installed.

Little do peoples across the globe, including experts who are so mired in their own parochial perspectives, know that the liberalization of country economies has a great deal to do with the Zaibatsu offensive. The West should better accept the facts: that their technocrats and policy shapers have run out of fresh ideas since the 1970s onwards (i.e. mentally bankrupt), a gap that they filled up by looking up to Japan and the NICs (newly industrializing countries) for copycat purposes.

Reaganomics, as neo-liberal policies of ‘privatization’ was dubbed (Thatcher of the UK preceded Reagan by a year), is as voodoo as one can get, seductive as any enchanting mantra-resonating principle can be, and was indeed potent in erasing the vestiges of the Regulated Economics doctrines that preceded the era. In the emerging markets, they were dubbed as ‘structural adjustment policies’ or SAPs, were imposed by the IMF-World Bank Group on debtor nations, and can be summed up as follows:

• Core principles: Privatization, Liberalization, Deregulation
• Subsidiary Principles: Tax reforms, trade liberalization, free floating exchange rates, diminished state subsidies for welfare, increased utility prices (revenue generation)
• Governance Principle: Decentralization (local government autonomy)

Such policy reform measures, as far as developing countries or DCs were concerned, came in as very harsh, cruel ‘austerity measures’ imposed by the IMF. We citizens from the ‘margins’ can never forget these measures, the pauperization that they effected, the dislocation of marginal producers, the decline of health services and rise of morbidity rates, and so on. In the Philippines, our very own capital goods industries were either delayed or un-implementable (such as integrated steel), as the money allocated for their purposes simply dried as dictated by the World Bank.

But there’s another set of policy architecture that wasn’t Anglo-Saxon, and didn’t receive their inspiration from the classicists (Smith, Ricardo) and the monetarists (Friedman, Hayek). This set of liberalization policies came from Zaibatsu country, and were crafted by Japanese technocrats. Not only policies, but also institutions were addressed by them, giving rise to the globalized economy that we have today.

Chief among those technocrats was Kenichi Ohmae, who in the 1980s was a think-tank executive. Further down the line were many other technocrats, who were organically linked to the Zaibatsus (landlord-industrialist-financier oligarchs), taking up cudgels for Ohmae.

Globalization, as one better realize, was never meant as any ‘win/win’ formula for nation-states in the arena of international trade as the liberal thinkers came to defend it later. It was outright a strategy to pre-position Zaibatsu corporate interests outside of Japan, notably the U.S. and European markets.

At that time of conceptualization, Zaibatsus have already efficaciously penetrated the Asian markets, and had leveraged their investments’ entry via aid and technical knowledge diffusion (including sponsoring Developing Country scholars in Japanese universities & special institutes). The old doctrine of ‘Asia Co-prosperity sphere’ was finally won, without firing a shot this time (unlike Imperial Japan era expansionism).

In the 1980s, the clamor for mooring investments and trade in the Western markets became ever stronger. The offensive tactic adapted was rather two-pronged, which made the new voodoo mantra even more potent:

• On the micro-level, permeate other markets with new concepts such as ‘Theory Z’ (decentralized authority, see W. Ouichi), total quality management or TQM, new tools for strategic planning, mergers and de-mergers. Till these days, the tools are considered sacrosanct in all sectors of society, including the Catholic Church that now uses ‘bottom-up’ planning added to strategic planning (my observations done in 2001-02 in a California diocese).

• On the macro-level, blend the Reagan-Thatcher ‘structural adjustments’ with the ‘globalization’ doctrine. The Zaibatsu technocrats fanned out across the globe, some of whom were positioned inside international bodies, and sweetened liberalization via a supposedly ‘win/win’ growth strategy for participating countries. This brilliant blending, which Western thinkers didn’t perceive at all as any subtle tactic by a predatory class (Zaibatsu), soon caught up fire and became buzz word for nigh three decades.

Before long, the Japan Inc. was being bandied across the globe as worth any country’s emulation. Southeast Asia and Korea went for it. Even the former presidents of the USA admired the Japanese Inc. doctrine of renewed private initiatives and shift from macro- to micro-economics as stabilization and growth measure. Bill Clinton of the USA spoke so fondly of ‘globalization’ like some captive fan of an economic icon, and moved to negotiate the NAFTA.

Little do unsuspecting, gullible peoples across the planet, more so the policy experts of the West, realize that the Japanese voodoo economics was largely intended to permit Zaibatsu investments to breed and morph inside their economies. Using merger and buy-in tactics, the Zaibatsu agents made it appear that their sponsors came in for benign purposes or so. If there is any group in the world today that is enjoying its last laugh, it is the Japanese militarists of the past, who finally saw the success of their nation’s offensives and the decline of the West via ‘organized chaos’.

Around 1994, the magic of the Japan Inc. began to cramble. Recession came, and before long many banks and investment houses were catching fire. That was the origin of the bankrupt and immoral Bush-Paulson ‘bailout’, which began with the ‘crisis management’ tactic in Japan to save ailing banks and financial institutions. Eventually, Zaibatsu technocrats were forced to revive the Western tool of ‘interest rates’ intervention, to the extent of bringing down interest rates to zero percent and sustaining it there for many years.

There also came that moment, in the late 1990s through 2006, when Zaibatsu financiers suddenly were so awash with funds (liquidities), at a time when Western economies reached low growths. The ‘yen initiative’ package was therefore conceptualized as another last-ditch voodoo tactic, which was implemented by loaning out large funds at zero or low interest, which Western financiers than re-loaned at profitable interest rates. Many such funds reached the USA& EU realty subprime mortgage markets, to recall. Again, note the seemingly benign nature of the financial gesture.

Just as when the realty markets were beginning to sneeze in America, the last voodoo measure was pulled out. The ‘crisis management’ was already folded up earlier, as Japan’s economic growth was propelled up anew by the Asian markets notably China’s. Just as when USA & EU needed the Zaibatsu loans very badly, and ditto for portfolio investments, they were pulled out, thus ensuring the crash of both economies.

Japananese voodoo economics is now bowing out, as the compass of policy initiatives at present is pointing to the reconstruction of macro-economic, New Deal type measures intended to attack problems both on short-term (bail out on productive sectors) and long-term basis (induce physical economy rather than predatory finance). But the withdrawal of the voodoo regime is not being done without witnessing its catastrophic results.

That’s surely tragic for the West or North. I wonder how Zaibatsus & technocrats perceive peoples outside their borders: whether they regard the latter as human beings worth co-partnering with, or as hungry lizards that must subsist on crumbs of investments & finance from Japan that have been buttressed by enormous tons of gold acquired through production and plunder of occupied lands, across the 2,000 years of Japan’s existence from kingdom to nation.

Honestly, I don’t know the answer. But if the Zaibatsus are receiving flaks from outside their borders, it wouldn’t be a surprise. There are no more borders for Zaibatsus by the way, just an entire planet with seamless web, cocooned in all corners by their corporate money.

[Philippines, 14 November 2008]

CORPORATE PHILANTHROPY: CAN IT SURVIVE THE COMING ‘TECHNOTRONIC’ CAPITALISM?

October 25, 2014

CORPORATE PHILANTHROPY: CAN IT SURVIVE THE COMING ‘TECHNOTRONIC’ CAPITALISM?
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

‘Late’ capitalism, this current phase that replaced the ‘monopoly’ capitalism of the pre-war era, is now DEAD. As elucidated by Jurgen Habermas, thinker of the Frankfurt school, capitalism was able to move to its present state but only with massive state planning/intervention. State intervention had since the early 70s been relaxed, via globalization, but this only created monstrous predatory finance that hastened the collapse of the system.

As already elaborated in previous articles, the system is now DEAD. In the late 1990s yet, we Fellows of the Independent Review (a circle of economists and experts in Manila) were of the opinion that the system will be dead in couples of years. The ‘virtual economy’ based on magical statistics, speculation, fictitiously valued investments, and conspicuous consumption, can never be sustained, and is bound to crash and die. It was just a matter of time, as we all noted in 2000 (the last time I met the Fellows), before the bubble will burst somewhere (we forecast it will the USA) and the global economy will come crashing down…And it did, beginning last 2007 yet. That descent to the marshes of death is still going on today.

As I also declared in some previous articles, capitalism can still survive, though no longer the ‘late’ capitalism of state planning-to-globalization era. It will be a capitalism in an era of state terror heretofore unparalleled: ‘technotronic’ capitalism in the aegis of global police-state. Nation-states are enemies of the global oligarchy which will re-engineer the world by destroying nations (aftermath of atrocious World War III and global synarchy) and replacing them with city-states and region-states.

If corporate social responsibility or CSR will survive the times, it must be re-tooled at this juncture when the tumultuous changes are gathering winds. Failure to do so, many CSR pursuits will disappear in time, while only those CSR platforms of the most powerful and wealthy oligarchs can survive. All the CSR formats of today can last in relevance maybe till 2040 at the most, after which my forecast is their relevance will have reached its end.

By the year 2050, when populations will have leveled down to a census target of 2 Billion warm bodies, a figure that will be more manageable to the global elites, every member of society will be chipped and provided for. By that time, there will be no further need for ideological movements as Pied Pipers of the new system. Everyone else will be programmed by the system, from cradle to grave the chipped Manchurian Candidate or MC will be provided for. Poverty will end by then, the Millenium Development Goal of the UN will be finally met (the UN will be transformed into the tyrannical global state headed by a global Bonaparte, armed with its own police/military forces), and then will end the ‘sustainable development’ or ‘social development’ pursuits of ‘late’ capitalism.

The chipped Manchurian Candidate or MC will be half-human half-machine hybrid, and will be well provided for as mentioned. Population will be totally controlled, weak and senior members of the population will be ‘oven-baked’ or eliminated, natality will be controlled following China’s pattern of today, criminality will be almost nil, and no one will ever be poor again. Hybrid-human behavior can be easily modified using those advanced cybernetic prototype programs past 2050, and so nobody can fool around with the system.

Tell me, fellows, in a situation such as that coming context of advanced cybernetics or ‘technotronics’ (machine-controlled humans), what need will there be for CSR? Maybe CSR will go back to Victorian Era philanthropy practices, whereby wealthy sponsors will fund the theaters and chipped performers whose performances will be perfected all the more by cybernetics. The staff of the CSR formats of that era, if indeed applicable, will be chipped as well, like those outfits that will be funded because they will perform before the oligarchic-intellectual crowd by then.

When that next capitalist system comes, there will be no more activists or revolutionaries save for those who will proclaim Hallelujah forever to the radically altered, new system. Libertarian activists will be the species of yesteryears, the CSR proto-activism of today will be consigned to history, and anybody who will go against the system will be easily eliminated by sentinel robots of the most advanced prototypes.

Let me end with the challenge: CSR better retool now and reshape its image if it desires to exceed its institutional career. Now is the time.

[Philippines, 28 August 2008]
@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY (CSR): CORPORATE DEODORANT OF ‘LATE’ CAPITALISM

October 20, 2014

CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY (CSR): CORPORATE DEODORANT OF ‘LATE’ CAPITALISM
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Good afternoon from Manila!

The late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the Philippines’ most brilliant and deviously cunning chief executive, was so elated one day during his tyrannical incumbency. The reason for the unusual elation was this: his soldiers captured Bernabe Buscayno, the first national head of the Maoist insurgent group New People’s Army or NPA, who was a prized catch for the strong man. After some military interrogation, Buscayno was directed to be brought to the presidential palace to face Marcos, who at one point in the encounter, asked Buscayno for a remark. Obliging like a school boy, Buscayno replied that “no matter how evil a person can be, s/he can still be transformed into a good person.”

The enormously witty man Marcos was dumbfounded by the witty remark from the Maoist rebel, for that comment made its mark so clear: Marcos is evil, yet he can still be reformed. Probably pissed off by the stubborn rebel, who never the least conceded to defeat so as to bow in obeisance in recognition of the chief executive, Marcos made sure that Buscayno will suffer miserably inside the prison cell.

You see, I cited that story of Buscayno, as a matter of reflecting on the rationale behind Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR. Buscayno, who has been active in the cooperative movement in the Philippines after his release from prison in 1986 (the year Marcos was overthrown), could very well repeat his witty line when asked about CSR, with a curt reply that “CSR, no matter what evil may be behind it, can be reformed.”

Asians put greater stress on ‘becoming’ as a category more than ‘being’ (Westerner’s granite category), that is why we Asians are inclined to see positive reformations of things or beings whose evils may be irredeemable. And this I can say of CSR: it is an ideological deodorant for Big Business greed, but somehow it can be reformed. To use Organization Development language, it can be ‘re-engineered’.

CSR is already a re-engineering of philanthropy in fact, and belongs squarely to ‘late’ capitalism. Old fogey philanthropy operated with a Victorian underpinning: I possess the money, and you recipient are a Beggar who came to me. You are lucky enough because I am giving you part of my purse, for I have none reserved for you folks save for the theatres, performers and socialite circles thay may the better be served by my extra monies for posterity’s sake. …

Well, Big Business was able to re-engineer its image precisely by reformatting old-fogey philanthropy (which was a reformatted version of medieval charity of the pretentious church Orders or ‘corporations’). CSR appropriated the ‘social development’ practices (social technologies) of NGOs and peoples’ organizations or POs, stressed the supposedly core element of ‘compassion’, and voila! CSR was born! How effable, how sweet, how infinitely Angelic and Godly is this ‘new way’ of helping people by the Gods of Corporate World! Hail capitalism! Hail beneficent Gods!

Deodorant, pure deodorant! Take a look at Lucio Tan, who at one time was the top landlord-capitalist oligarch in the Philippines. A one-time Marcos crony, Tan made enormous fortunes from Marcos’ time to the present, probably with start-up capital coming from the dictator’s purse (but which Tan refuses to admit in public). Tan’s fortunes made him land in the Fortune 500 (world’s richest), yet he was also found wanting in the manner of paying taxes. His unpaid taxes may be worth P80 Billion (almost $2 Billion) today, and is still growing, yet not a single cent was paid to the state by this notorious oligarch for those ‘tax evasion’ cases…Yet Tan has captured the eyes of fund recipients from his CSR give-away items, even as he is fondly regarded as an angelic patron by the same armies of beggar recipients. (Beggar here means not the literal beggar, but the condescending image of oligarchs on recipients: filthy Eaters, ‘useless eaters’).

Capitalism is a system that is founded on greed and hoarding, and no sagely or wise personage, or the most evolved beings could ever rationalize capitalism as a system that will sustain the drive towards Nirvana or represents the final liberation of humans from their subhumanizing hovels of dense life. Besides, this current phase of capitalism—‘late’ capitalism—is now DEAD, and the dead system is rapidly crashing down. Only those materialistic ‘eaters’ whose perceptions are as delimited as their own astigmatic perceptions of reality principles can ever justify that capitalism is still working, for the reality we have today is that of ‘virtual economy’ of the most perverted, evil greed of all.

If CSR would have to survive the times, as ‘late’ capitalism is now DEAD, then now is the time to refurbish its image. Because its life is deeply embedded in the corporate purses, this image-change is hard to imagine at all. But being of the Asian-yogic way of life, being a mystic and development expert at the same time (though now in the twilight of social development engagements), I wish to give CSR a chance and see it grow along the trajectory of the hereafter that was declared by Buscayno: transformed from ‘evil’ to ‘good’.

I’d end this piece by clarifying to you a reality we know among mystics: demons can also return to the Path of Light. Yes, Fellows, those Belzeebub abominations, those Asuras or Demonyos, those Diaboli, or whatever term you may use for the same species of evil demented beings, many of those abominations have already returned to the state-of-balance and are now taking the Path of Light back to the Almighty I Am Presence (God)! Yes! CSR can!

[Philippines, 28 August 2008]

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]