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What might a revolution look like?

12:30 pm in Uncategorized by David Seaton

I finished up my last post saying:

(…) simply by nationalizing Monsanto and Walmart we would have a perfect, planned economy… in other words we are all dressed up and waiting for Lenin.

Walmart Logo

Would nationalizing megacorporations like Walmart turn our "socialism of the rich" into a people's revolution?

And several people have since asked me what I meant by that.

It comes in two parts the “planned economy” part and the “Lenin” part.

I use the word “Lenin” very loosely, what I mean by it is a signifier for someone or more probably something, which changes everything. Used like this digital photography played “Lenin” to Kodak’s Romanov. More about this later.

The idea of a nationalized Walmart being a “planned economy” is based on the idea that the new technologies, which the Soviets never mastered, would make it possible.

The idea simply assumes that Russians are bumbling incompetents and that with “American know how” making it tick, and with the American genius for logistics once applied to it, the whole thing would work smoothly. The centralization is already there, the question is only of ownership, not execution.

One of the great paradoxes in all this is that who actually owns the great corporations of today is not very clear. For example a man named J.P. Morgan no longer owns JP Morgan, it is a publicly traded company and no one institution or individual owns more than 4.00% of this financial mastodon. More on this ownership question later.

Actually what it appears we have now is a sort of socialism of the rich. Losses are socialized and profits are privatized. We have a great centralization of economic power of unclear ownership tied by lobbies to political power enabling the corporate managers to craft laws to the benefit of all concerned: lobbyists, their clients and the politicians, but not to the benefit of the public (sanitized name for “The People”). If we look at the control that is accumulated in this system we see that we already have a “planned economy,” but not exactly planned for our benefit. There is even a “nomenklatura” of the previously mentioned, highly paid managers, who run everything, and often move from corporation to corporation and even from industry to industry or from public “service” to the “private” sector.

The idea, for the moment, merely amusing, is that by the state simply taking control of a few corporations, as might happen during a war, they would instantly possess a “ready to wear,” planned, socialized (if not socialist) economy.

Where is the “Lenin” for all of this? Could there be a “revolution?”

Understand that for a steak on a grill being turned over to be cooked on its other side constitutes a revolution. In that sense yes, Virginia, revolution is possible … more on that later.

An American Pol-Pot leading the masses to take Capital Hill and liquidating the enemies of progress? Not very likely. In the case of the United States, because of its enormous size, ethnic diversity and institutional solidity (petrification?) I think that capitalism will just have to take its own sweet time to rot.

At bottom, Americans are practical people and if something doesn’t work, they either fix it or throw it out and get something new, preferably the second option.

I think that if the capitalist era is ever to end it will happen in the USA, because America is the vanguard of capitalism, its most complete expression. And I don’t see it happening violently, but in the same way Americans passed from horses to Model-T Fords, from Wang word processors to PCs and from cassette players to Walkmen to iPhones. America is just one revolution after another, if you think about it … and plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Revolution is part and parcel of the American way of life.

Americans are really famous all over the world for being practical and innovative and when and if the system spins off its wheels as old Karl predicted, I think that those qualities would surely come to the fore. But given how well the system is vertebrated, it would be traumatic or it wouldn’t be.

What could cause our present system to spin off its wheels and self-destruct?

Read the rest of this entry →

You say you want a revolution… it’s staring you right in the face

11:37 am in Uncategorized by David Seaton

The continued slide in median earning power, rather than public obfuscation or even lack of jobs, is America’s real problem. It is the wood as distinct from the trees. It tends to loom larger when the television is off. Edward Luce – Financial Times

Suburban America!

Fat, Dumb and Happy No More

 

What we are witnessing in Europe — and what may loom for the United States — is the exhaustion of the modern social order. Since the early 1800s, industrial societies rested on a marriage of economic growth and political stability. Economic progress improved people’s lives and anchored their loyalty to the state. Wars, depressions, revolutions and class conflicts interrupted the cycle. But over time, prosperity fostered stable democracies in the United States, Europe and parts of Asia. The present economic crisis might reverse this virtuous process. Slower economic expansion would feed political instability and vice versa. This would be a historic and ominous break from the past. Robert J. Samuelson – Washington Post

For almost two centuries, today’s high-income countries enjoyed waves of innovation that made them both far more prosperous than before and far more powerful than everybody else. This was the world of the American dream and American exceptionalism. Now innovation is slow and economic catch-up fast. The elites of the high-income countries quite like this new world. The rest of their population like it vastly less. Get used to this. It will not change.  Martin Wolf – Financial Times

The quotes above are the witness to the seeds of mighty change in the years to come. In them is the embryo of the world of the future.

Capitalism’s winning weapon in the great struggle with Marxism-Leninism during the Cold War, was the elevating of the former starveling, sans culottes of Marx’s Das Kapital into the well fed, healthy, well educated, home-owning, fat, dumb and happy, paid-vacationing, new middle class… that, until not too long ago, made up the majority of Americans, or at least the way most Americans saw themselves or at least their children.

Now all of this is being taken away from them in the interest of technological progress, globalization and fiscal responsibility…

Good luck one-percenters, I have news for you. Today’s soon to be déclassé  new middle class are infinitely more dangerous than the 19th century proletariat that Marx thought would be the protagonists of his revolution. We are talking about people with much more education, knowledge of and access to the levers of the economy than the “masses” of former days. In fact this sort of educated malcontent was previously only a tiny minority, but even so was feared as the seed corn of revolution: the “vanguard of the proletariat”… now there are masses of them.

The fools that want to take away these people’s “entitlements” are just that, fools. This middle class was created so that rich people could sleep soundly in their beds, while sugarplum fairies danced in their heads.Take away their “life style” and they will devour the perp.

Cross posted from: http://seaton-newslinks.blogspot.com

Poor United States, so far from God and so close to… the USA

9:05 am in Uncategorized by David Seaton

The lesson of the past few years: Watch out for things that can go massively wrong. What could go massively wrong in 2011? Let’s start next door, with Mexico.  Mexico drug war a nightmare scenario – CNN

I put the quote above, one that I have taken at random from CNN, to avoid being accused of setting up a straw man — the idea that no one in the USA is worried about the Mexican drug war. Plenty of people are very worried, and for all the right reasons. All I want to do here is add some more reasons of my own to be worried.

Many people fear, and they have good reason to do so, that Mexico may be in danger of becoming a “failed state”, or may already be one to some extent. I am not that optimistic, I think that the real danger may be that the United States of America is in danger of becoming a “failed state” or may already be one to some extent and that Mexico’s dilemma is in great part only a symptom of America’s own dilemma. Read the rest of this entry →