Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hey, Let's make it worse, that will make it better!...

If one is a regular reader of history one knows that the lead up to almost every revolution in history shares this much in common - the ruling elite payed little or no attention to the roots of the coming crisis, and instead was more concerned with maintaining their own wealth and power. In fact, as one reads the history of such events it gets sort of monotonous. Social and economic crisis looms on the horizon and instead of looking at ways to eleviate inequalities and injustices, the ruling elites almost always attempt another power-grab amid the coming conflagration. You read about it and after a while you find it difficult to believe that the rich and powerful have learned so little from history!

In recent years we see the pattern once again repeating itself. For thirty years or so economic and social inequalities have been getting considerably worse. The wealth of the majority has stagnated, their pensions (where they have them) have eroded, their futures (and that of their children) has grown increasingly unstable, their stake in the economy has shrunk, and their democratic rights have gradually curtailed. Meanwhile, the richest people have grown astronomically richer and more powerful. And now as the inevitable crisis is obvious to everyone the rich and powerful (and their lapdogs) are not addressing the problem but actually turning the screws! While the rich have never had so much, governments are actively preaching austerity and telling average people that capitalism can't afford for everyone to have a pension or for people to enjoy any kind of economic stability. They want to actually get rid of pensions, loosen the regulations on corporations, and get rid of unions - all policies which will not only entrench the economic crisis but will inflame the social crisis which is now seething just beneath the surface.

Yesterday Ontario Conservative leader had the gall to say that if he were elected premier he would radically increase the power of corporations while essentially killing unions. (We must, for the moment, overlook the fact that Mr. Hudak is so misinformed on the subject that the doesn't actually understand a number of basic labor laws which are de facto federally sanction by SC decisions.) Once again, amid a growing crisis, conservative leaders want to increase the very powers that have led to the crisis in the first place!

What conservatives consistently fail to understand are the basic social and economic relations of capitalism. Corporations seek to maximize profit and they do so primarily by reducing the cost of labor. Therefore capitalist enterprise seeks to minimize the number of people they employ while at the same time maximizing the number of products they sell. One needn't be an expert in algebraic equations to understand that there is a problem here. They are simultaneously reducing the very consumers that they need to have. Now, in a non-globalized context this process of capitalism can work moderately effectively for quite a while. But in a globalized context it is increasingly problematic. Furthermore, in a context of high levels of technology in which entrance to production can be exceptionally expensive, this problem deepens considerably.

As I have said before, as the revolution in France neared, the aristocracy attempted to entrench their power, to extract more wealth from the peasants, and it became fashionable to build ever larger, more elaborate carriages to show off their wealth. The results were predictable to anyone who had any sense. Today the results are equally predictable. Take away people's hope in the future, make them work evermore unstable and miserable jobs, while in the meantime the elite have ever greater amounts of wealth - and you'd have to be stupid not to be able to see what is coming. 

Laugh it up conservatives, all you are doing is constructing your own guillotine! 

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