"The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

As Radical as Reality

“We can assert with confidence that the present system cannot survive. What we cannot predict is which new order will be chosen to replace it, because it will be the result of an infinity of individual pressures. But sooner or later, a new system will be installed. This will not be a capitalist system but it may be far worse (even more polarizing and hierarchical) or much better (relatively democratic and relatively egalitarian) than such a system. The choice of a new system is the major worldwide political struggle of our times.

As for our immediate short-run ad interim prospects, it is clear what is happening everywhere. We have been moving into a protectionist world (forget about so-called globalization). We have been moving into a much larger direct role of government in production. Even the United States and Great Britain are partially nationalizing the banks and the dying big industries. We are moving into populist government-led redistribution, which can take left-of-center social-democratic forms or far right authoritarian forms. And we are moving into acute social conflict within states, as everyone competes over the smaller pie. In the short-run, it is not, by and large, a pretty picture.” – Immanuel Wallerstein, Oct. 15, 2008.

The beginning of the post-capitalist order is taking shape in the form of the mass transfer of wealth and social control to Wall Street banks. The fact that they can now openly re-appropriate the wealth of the people without significant opposition signals the beginning of the end of democratic aspirations. In this drama, Obama plays the role of moralistic facilitator to cover the power transfer.

Though the first movement of this symphony of repression will be the new role of taxpayer as guarantor of the right to risk-free speculation by the ruling elite, the music will quickly evolve. The whip of the drum takes the form of mass layoffs which enforce the necessity of discipline, of unquestioning submission to the demands of capital. Those who object to genocide will be treated as the Israeli protesters against the Gaza atrocities who were subjected to mass arrest and imprisonment.

The billionaires who control the world economy have been endowed with enough free money to become America’s ruling elite for the rest of the 21st century. “The Bush-Obama bailout bore “small print” stipulations that have already given Wall Street a decade’s tax-free status by letting it count its financial losses against its tax liability. So not only has there been a great fiscal giveaway, there has been a tax shift off finance onto labor and industry.” Michael Hudson, “Obama’s New Bank Giveaway”, Jan. 30, 2009. It is clear that we are facing the advent of a new and brutal phase in the history of slavery, with ourselves as the subjects.

The financial elites have replaced the government as primary recipients of economic surplus, reducing the public sector to the role of supplier of value. This relationship points to a new form of slavery that is likely to become the replacement for the current wage labor system. The economic planning function once considered the sole purview of government has now been taken over by the financial sector, who now dictates to the government and will accept nothing but abject submission.

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