Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Meanwhile, in Europe

Well, we had our general elections last Thursday. As is my wont, I didn't bother voting. All 2.5 parties (Conservatives, Labour, and Liberal Democrats) have more or less the same economic policies (kowtowing to the City bankers and speculators) and the same foreign and military policy (kowtowing to the US). The media tried to pump some excitement into the proceedings, and there were three "debates" (I use the term rashly) among the three party bosses (Brown, Cameron, and Clegg). About 40% of the population felt as I did and didn't bother voting. There is also evidence emerging of electoral fraud. No party succeeded in commanding an overall majority, making a coalition mandatory. The markets have been jittery -- not so much because of uncertainty about who will lead (a moot point as all three parties have roughly the same policies) but because the apathy and lack of overall majority mean there is likely to be widespread social unrest as the new government tries to implement draconian spending cuts.

As my friends across the pond doubtless know, it's the same story here in Britain (and Europe generally) as it is in the US: the poor are going to be stripped of what little they have to ensure that the fictitious capital of the rich does not go up in smoke. The European bailout package of 700 billion euros, announced yesterday, is to ensure that the banks of the rich European countries get paid. More can be found here. In addition, Michael Hudson has written an instructive essay, which will repay careful reading. I won't both pasting an excerpt but recommend it in the highest possible terms. Also, in another essay published today, it appears the "markets" are already sceptical about the European bailout package: a trillion dollars might not do the trick (it was in any case only meant to buy time as the structural imbalances remain in place).

This is essentially a class war being waged by high finance against, well, just about everyone else. Here in Britain, one pound in four that the government spends is now being borrowed. There are plans afoot for cuts of a savagery not seen for decades. Somehow the government could stump up hundreds of billions of pounds of aid to banks -- which aid is now on the public balance sheet. But when it comes to public sector spending directed at the majority of the population, everything is fair game.

Finally, let me quote from a recent essay by Greg Moses:

Arcane financial instruments called the Credit Default Swaps (CDS) are finally
explainable on these terms. Invention of the CDS by JP Morgan in 1995 was
a symptom that the system as a whole had gone debt-aholic. The CDS was
the class consciousness of debt pushers acting out
, insuring each other
against the prospect of their junkie clients collapsing from under the weight of
delivered services.

It seems that as finance has assumed central position ontologically, and as everything else now has a dubious and shadowy character, we cannot even understand the world we inhabit without understanding the intricacies of credit default swaps and interest rate derivatives. This is a version of the "hyperreality" Baudrillard spoke of.

Depressing times we live in. I won't engage in cheap moral outrage -- complete waste of time by armchair radicals and spineless liberals lacking the courage of any true conviction.

I may be back in the United States in a month or two. Britain is now a poorer and more backward version of the USA.


Red Frog said...

Thanks for the info. Excellent post today on Salon.com by John Talbott detailing AA's point about bailing out the Euro-zone banks.

I understand one Green was elected in the UK election - a first. Was anyone to the left of Labour elected? SDLP? Scargill's group?

AA said...

I think one Green made it to Parliament. Don't know about any other group. Incidentally, Labour is not to the left of the Conservatives. There's a pertinent essay in the current edition of New Left Review on why "New Labour" so richly deserves the boot:
Coming back to Europe, a Facebook friend of mine has written an essay on how the Europeans have but put off the day of reckoning:
I found it insightful.