Posted tagged ‘laissez faire’

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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2009 ECONOMIC FORECASTS: DEPRESSION, INTERVENTIONISM, REVERSAL

January 26, 2009

Erle Frayne Argonza

Magandang hapon! Good afternoon!

2009 will be another bleak year economically, more so for the North (USA, EU, Japan are topmost). The recession that began with the subprime mortgage bubble burst in America in 07, will ensue with even mightier turbulence, as there are no coherent policy solutions of a strategic nature that can salve the economic ailment on a global scale.

As already articulated by this economist/analyst in various articles, the policy environment must be changed and regulatory mechanisms strengthened to immediately gain business confidence and reverse the tide of catastrophe. On the domestic front, the solution begins by following a New Deal type of policy set, which will bring back the fervor of production-driven growth and full employment. On the international/global front, a new financial architecture must be agreed upon via a global summit called for the purpose, akin to a New Bretton Woods.

The only intervention mechanisms we observe today are bailouts of failing financial and business institutions, which are toxically immoral as those criminal oligarchs are even rewarded for their sordid looting and corrupt practices. Only Russia and China have openly resorted to a New Deal type solution, in consonance with the practices of the late regime of Franklin Delano Roosevelt of the USA. As far as the international-global front is concerned, the concurrence of a new treaty that will resonate a new financial architecture is nowhere in sight.

In the absence of genuine solutions that can stabilize ailing economies on both the domestic and international fronts, the downward spirals will continue, until the economies of the North will hit rock bottom depression that will be worse than the one that crashed the USA, UK and Germany almost a century ago (USA, UK, Germany were then the world’s top industrial & military powers). In the absence of capital control policies up North, capital flight will ensue at dizzying speed, draining their respective countries of trillions of dollars and/or euros at levels far higher than the 2008 drain.
The smart money that will sneak out will find better shelters in the South (emerging markets notably East Asia + India).

The possibility of North-based companies transferring their headquarters to the South is not entirely ruled out. The other option is for the corporate owners to transfer domicile from the North to the South, leaving their ailing mother companies in the hands of trusted stewards. The era of distance remote control-type management by corporate owners could very well begin this year, which will modify corporate governance by no small means.

The positive light for the global economy is that finally the corporate and state leaders will see light at the end of the tunnel and call for a global conference to carve out a new financial architecture. Laissez faire, a cadaver doctrine before the 2nd world war that was revived by the monetarists and greedy financiers, will finally lay to rest as it gives way to dirigist or interventionist economics.
Stronger regulatory mechanisms may be charted this year too, at least on paper.

New Deal, Keynesian, and welfare state doctrines will be blended together to produce an eclectic admixture. Since New Deal has an international facet into it thus rendering it more comprehensive, as the late FDR cogitated the need for international cooperation and development for all countries to end all wars and foment lasting peace, this doctrine will more or less be followed. We will not be surprised if, after the Davos conference, the shape of the future will already be definitively of the New Deal type.

Conclusively, even if the Northern economies will flatten down to zero and/or negative growths, the downward spiral may stop by the last quarter of the year. The full effects of the intervention solutions won’t be felt this year though, as it will take some more years to get them to galvanize. So let us brace for more turbulent winds, while hoping that the storm would finally stop so we can enjoy a delightful holiday season comes December.

[26 January 2009, Quezon City, MetroManila]

HEALING GLOBAL ECONOMY VIA NEW FINANCIAL ARCHITECTURE

November 30, 2008

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Magandang hapon! Good afternoon! Buenos tardes!

At this juncture, this economist, who is also a healer (pranic healer, soul healer, psychosocial counselor), will begin to articulate economic problems from a wellness vantage point. I will be calling the paradigm ‘healing economics’ as a fusion of wellness principles and economic analysis.

If we observe the ‘treatment’ applied by public policy experts on national economies today, we would see that the solutions to the problems are largely short-term ones that only mitigate economic collapse for a while. We can call them ‘band aid’ solutions to problems that are more of ‘cancerous’ in nature, and by common sense we know that band aid cannot cure cancer.

The economies of our nations have already been integrated over the last three (3) decades or so. This integration constituted the ‘global economy’ which is distinct from national economies and which manifest its own laws. National economies have become interstices or tissues of the global economy, and trying to cure ailing national economies without taking into consideration the wellness of the whole global economy will fail.

What is now urgently most needed, as a formula for enabling healthy national economies, is to put into place a new global ‘financial architecture’ as a beginning treatment. There is no way that economies can heal without the proper macro-policies and institutional frames that support them, and those policies cum institutions must be constructed at the global level.

Just by using that ‘global’ category as a yardstick, we can see that the solution of bank bailouts being rushed in the USA and echoed in Europe are not the long-term salvation to the ailment. That bailout route was already tried in Japan in the 1990s, it was then called ‘crisis management’, and it resulted to a 12-year recession-to-low growth catastrophe. Japan became the “sick man of Asia” for a decade, which was unbelievable for observers who knew this country’s economic might all along.

If there are certain realities that we must admit as having already turned into dead carcasses, they are:

·        Virtual or Bubble Economy: Economy that is founded on speculation, with values derived from out of financial values themselves and divorced from production, cannot be sustained for long. It is finally DEAD. Only fools would still think that reviving it, without regulating and/or criminalizing the economic predators that thrived on it, is the soundest healing work preferred. Nobody needs to heal a dead thing, just bury it deep below the ground, lest you create a zombie or vampire out of it.

 

·        Free Market of Currencies. Treating currencies like commodities that are tradable without sufficient regulation, is voodoo paradigm of ‘monetarism’. This is now DEAD. It can never work, it doesn’t, and will never work under any given context. Free market doctrine (laissez faire)), in the first place, was long dead. It was a doctrine that was enforced by the British Empire, through the “power of the gun,” and supported the slave trade business. To revive such a doctrine in the current context—guiding trade and exchanges in the monetary-currency markets—is plain voodoo practice, as it fattens the purses of economic predators at the expense of national economies and marginal social sectors.

The route to strategic healing, which combines ‘preventive’ with ‘curative’ treatments, is through a new ‘global financial architecture’. This can be and should be done most urgently, as the carcasses are now spreading havoc of ailments across the planet, through a global conference of all the nation-states. Through this conference, proper diagnostics can be done, with the help of top experts, including those representing marginal sectors, and proper treatment can also be conjured.  

An outline of agenda items for deep reflections in such a treaty-making conference would be as follows:

·        Shift Back to Regulated Trading of Currencies/Monies. Money is the lifeblood of the economy. As such, no private group or whatsoever should be allowed to play it like gambling toys just to fatten their already fat pockets. Private stakeholders that gamble in the currency markets are like cancerous corpuscles in the blood vessel, their operations must be well regulated and certain trading activities declared as banned.

 

·        Securitize Currencies with Precious Metals. A reconstruction of the gold standard should be done most quickly. This system was junked in 1971 yet, and look at the catastrophic result of its folding up. Not only gold, but certain other precious metals and crystals, such as diamonds, can be declared as securitization measures to guide money production within any country at any given time.

 

·        Fixed Exchange Rates. National currencies are still around. In no way should they be forcibly junked in favor of a global currency, which is too premature a measure. Within a period of transition, of say 25 years, national currencies should be the chief legal tender, exchangeable based on fixed exchange rate policy.

 

·        Tobin Tax on Cross-border Financial Transactions. All cross-border financial-monetary transactions, done as matter of business engagement, should be imposed a Tobin Tax, the amount of which will be defined in the conference. The revenues generated from such tax will then be used to fund the United Nations and its attached institutions (UNESCO, WHO, ILO, etc). Through this measure, all cross-border transactions can also be monitored, making it easier for international enforcers (e.g. Interpol) to counter-check sabotage and related criminal operations by predators.

 

·        Ban or Criminalize Excessive Speculation. Excessive speculation of currency markets and related financial transactions must be banned and declared as crime. Those engagements of ‘currency attacks’ that have wrecked many economies are on top of the agenda for criminalization. Till these days, they remain unchecked, due to free trade principles in currency and financial trading.       

 

·        Ban Banks from Derivatives Operations. Banks should operate largely in support of developmental and re-development pursuits. In no case should any country be allowed unrestrained speculative and/or derivatives operations that leave the banks vulnerable to collapse.   

 

·        End Usury One and For All. For as long as usury remains, poverty and underdevelopment will never end, while once wealthy economies can crash back into 3rd world status. Usury must be criminalized as an evil  act, thus ending once and for all a long history of predatory hoarding.

 

·        Create New Global Financial Institution. To enforce and monitor the new financial architecture put into place, a new global financial architecture or GFI should be installed as well. The international Monetary Fund is a total failure, even as it was used as a mere tool by predatory financiers to extract usurious rents and disable national economies through immoral austerity measures. In the long run, this GFI can be considered as the infrastructure for a global central bank, should cooperating states approve it in principle.    

 

Incidentally, the clamor for installing a new financial architecture is now getting stronger by the day. I am very optimistic that this will be concurred in due time, for failure to do so would prolong the agony of global economic collapse and decline. Let us cross our fingers that it will be called for very soon.

[Writ 28 November 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

ZAIBATSU GLOBALIZATION ‘VOODOO ECONOMICS’ BOWING OUT

November 15, 2008

Erle Frayne 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.  

[Writ 14 November 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]  

SMITH-RICARDIAN ‘FREE TRADE’ JUSTIFIED SLAVE TRADE

September 9, 2008

Erle Frayne 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 who 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’ (Spencer’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.]

ADAM SMITH: ‘INTELLECTUAL PROSTITUTE’ FOR BRITISH EAST INDIA & SLAVE TRADERS

September 8, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Amigos y Amigas, Buenos dias! Magandang umaga! Good morning!

The title of this briefer may come as a shock to all those who pretend to know Adam Smith and, more so, for those who revere Mr. Smith as a cult Icon. Just to clarify to everyone, being a political economist and ‘economic sociologist’, I hold Smith personally in high esteem as an intellectual, and this briefer is not meant to flaunt irreverence on this gentleman. Smith’s place in economic history is already granite rock, no matter if laissez faire or physiocracy has become obsolete before World War II yet.

The thing is, fact of all facts, contemporary thinkers such as those guys from the ‘Chicago school’, led by Nobel notable J. Friedman (weren’t there Nobel winners who were demented, nay demonic in mindset? E.g biologist Watson, who claimed that Blacks are genetically inferior in mental intelligence). The revival of laissez faire, as one can see, was responsible for flawed policy regimes that led to the series of short cycle crisis since the early 70s yet, and which is now leading finally to the Great Depression that will mark the death blow to liberal capitalism that is now on its terminal phase. From this point of time onwards, there can be no more return to laissez faire without bringing back humanity to a catastrophic Dark Age reminiscent of that demonic age of the Medieval Era when sanity fled humanity for nigh 200 year at least.

I used to be a Fellow of the Independent Review circle here in Manila, a circle of eminent and illustrious intellectuals and business leaders (I was the only humble fellow here in the 1990s).  Unfortunately, this group disbanded in 2002, due perhaps to methodological differences (I was active only till 2001 when I left for the USA for about a year). Entry to this group was by invitation, and that was how I got wind up of it: a female student of mine at the De La Salle University (DLSU Manila) had some of my articles (readings in class) read by his father, the Undersecretary Butch Valdez (Dept of Education) who in turn extended the invitation to the Independent Review circle thru her daughter.

Within the circle, it was Butch Valdez, the eminent Principal of the Valdez & Co that is one of the Philippines’ top auditing firms, who studied with intensity the physiocratic paradigm. He came across various readings about the life and works of Adam Smith, and wrote series of articles in the Independent Review (a journal-type magazine) in ‘97 and ‘98. Being among DLSU’s privileged coterie of most brilliant alumni, Valdez’s most revealing inquiry—Smith’s being a paid intellectual for the slave traders—did come as a shock to me, though it doesn’t shock me anymore that intellectuals do prostitute themselves before high paying clients (Antonio Gramsi and Edward Said devoted kilometric pages about intellectuals, both the ‘organic’ and the ‘autonomous’ types).

The research findings of Mr. Valdez concerning Mr. Smith can be summed up as follows:

·         Previous to the years before the ascent to eminence of Smith, slave trade and the British East India Co or BEIC were among the accepted economic modalities. Needless to say, the BEIC was engaged in the trading of slaves. [Actually, my research went beyond that, as the same BEIC was also engaged in the DRUG TRADE, in the opium trade, and had an army of its own separate yet from the King’s army.]

 

·         Physiocracy, which bannered ‘free enterprise’, was especially important for the BEIC and related monopolistic imperial groups since the paradigm promoted ‘free trade’ as well. Laissez faire was in a clash with mercantilism’s dirigist policy regime, remember, as it was also opposed to mercantilism’s promotion of industrialism even as laissez faire championed agriculturalism and the ulterior interests of the landlord class. Needless to say, physiocracy championed the cause of the gentry or big planter landlord and was scornful of the industrial class (in the Philippines there is nary a disjunction between ‘landlord’ and ‘industrial’ interests anyway, they are in conjunct.)

 

·         At that historic juncture when the British Empire was expanding and eclipsing its power, the BEIC desired to optimize its profits from out of diverse trading engagements, most of all for optimizing the slave trade. It need not belabored that slaves were tied up to colonial plantations, and plantation economy was the only modality permitted by the British Monarchy as the definitive economic formation for the ‘4th world’ peripheries (colonies). The BEIC engagements’ optimization can best be done by procuring the services of intellectual mercenaries who could articulate in sophistical vogue the very doctrinal expectations of the Lords of the BEIC Hierarchy  (a ‘Committee of 300’, per my research findings).

 

·         It was precisely at that juncture of expanded slave trade when the BEIC’s talent scouts eyed the services of a Scottish gentleman, named Adam Smith, who could fit into the mental Pied Piper prototype for BEIC enslavement pursuits.  It would be no wise to contend that Smith was a mental robot or ‘Manchurian Candidate’ controlled by overlords behind the scenes, for Smith was a man of his own mind, and up to the last instance he was indeed that ‘organic intellectual’ for the slave traders. He just couldn’t qualify as ‘independent intellectual’ though, for Smith was, in the yardsticks of the autonomous intellectuals, a ‘prostituted intellectual’ or ‘intellectual prostitute’.

The rest was history. Both the erudite and simpleton among the schooled populations of Earth know what Smith’s economic doctrine is all about. And many folks today are aware that the neo-liberal policy regime of the moment was a rehash of the same Smithian physiocracy.

I do wish that I could converse with Antonio Gramsci face-to-face today and request this noblesse thinker whether the term ‘intellectual prostitute’ is appropriate an inference for Adam Smith. I might have erred in judgement. Mr. Smith was a willing party to the enslavement, plunder and looting by the British oligarchs, and this ‘willing party to’ aspect may cancel out my inference altogether. Sous rapture, to quote Jacques Derrida.

At any rate, I have shared my notes, and thanks to the gentleman Butch Valdez for his inquiries shared to our circle. Thanks to Gramsci and Said too for their recondite peregrinations about intellectuals. Fellows, I hereby leave the inferential option to you, to decide whether Smith was indeed ‘intellectual prostitute’. Have a nice day!

[Writ 21 August 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila.]

ANOTHER GREAT DEPRESSION COMING AS FINANCIAL SYSTEM ENDS

August 18, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Is the global economy moving downward towards a devastating collapse?

If we employ a long-term Kondratieff cycle to model the world economy, we can see that the period beginning in 1935 approximately (when the big market economies US-UK-Germany moved towards another cycle of growth approximately after the Great Depression, should have ended around 1995 approximately, after which comes another great depression.

As early as 1989, ramblings of a global collapse began to murmur in the US economy. Mexico, Japan, Argentina, and other economies followed in the 1990s, while Europe went through a general low-growth trend that was the most sustainable for the continent as a whole. Then came the Asian meltdown of 1997. Then the USA again went through a recession in 2001, a pattern that has been repeated again from 2008 to the present. It seems that the pillars of the world economy couldn’t get out of a short-term crisis without having to crash back to another episode of short-term crisis altogether.

Is it really a ‘short-term’ crisis in the first place? Or is it in fact a ‘systemic crisis’, and that the financial downspin the Northern economic pillars are going through could very well be the terminal phase of a very long cycle of growth that began after the end yet of the Treaty of Westphalia (1648)? That in fact, several long-wave Kondratieff cycles have already passed over since that time, and that finally the system is DEAD in the wood?

Well, not only the financial system but the whole of CAPITALISM is already on its death throes. Those oligarchs behind the systems now dying won’t see the systems they built die down just that without “bringing down the other houses” with them, it seems. Which means that, right after the terminal phase of the system, another huge, catastrophic war will come, which will later see another Westphalian-type treaty or so that will re-carve the contours of polities into a Post-Westphalian totalitarian technotronic global order.

Below is a briefer from the Executive Intelligence Review that summarizes the issue at hand.   

[18 August 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to Executive Intelligence Review database news.]

End of the Line for Financial System; Bankruptcy Issue Raised

Aug. 10, 2008 (EIRNS)—The death of the financial system was the implicit subject of several articles in the financial press over the weekend, reflecting the way reality is setting in and attitudes are changing.

  • “Investment banking is dying,” was the blunt statement by William Cohan, in a op-ed in today’s Washington Post entitled “The End of the Masters of the Universe?” Cohan says that the revenue streams of the investment banks are drying up, and that there is genuine fear in the corridors of power on Wall Street.
  • “We have a banking crisis and an agency crisis and a mortgage crisis and a coming credit card crisis. We’ve never seen anything like that before. And it all seems to be coming home to roost at the same time. That’s never happened either,” Charles Geisst, a professor of finance at Manhattan University, told yesterday’s Washington Post. He said the Great Depression was the last time the financial markets were hammered by such a variety of factors, adding: “But we did not even have credit cards in the 1930s; there was no such thing as student loans.”
  • The specter of generalized bankruptcy was raised by Yale finance professor Robert J. Shiller in an op-ed in the New York Times. Citing the failure of Bear Stearns and the government measures to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Shiller asks, “What if the next case is worse? No one in government seems to feel a responsibility for warning about such possibilities and formulating a detailed policy for dealing with them.” Shiller says that “Bankruptcy law is a good place to start. After all, the dreaded financial meltdown would amount to a wave of bankruptcies…. What would happen to the economy if hedge funds had to liquidate, one after another, in a financial crisis? We need to rethink the theory and practice of bankruptcy, given the new complexities.”

Shiller points to the inherent limitations in current bankruptcy laws, which were largely drawn to protect narrow financial interests, and are poorly suited to deal with systemic problems, when a “subsidized system of triage would be needed to identify which companies should be saved, with the main criterion being the possible economic impact of their liquidation.”

These comments, taken as a whole, represent the way discussions of the “unthinkable” are beginning to percolate, and converge upon the outlook of Lyndon LaRouche. Shiller’s mention of triage by bankruptcy echoes the emergency measures proposed by LaRouche, of putting the financial system itself through bankruptcy, protecting the population with a firewall, and freezing the financial paper while we determine what debts will, and won’t, be honored. Whatever Shiller may think about LaRouche’s proposals, he is implicitly admitting that the system is finished, and that we must prepare for its demise, making decisions on the basis of the interests of society, and not merely the narrow interests of financial institutions. Reality is setting in, and reality leads inexorably to the policies outlined by LaRouche.