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Friday, February 25, 2011

                         The Survivor...
                                                                  a morality tale

Part I

It's the early 80s, some months in advance of the election of the first Neocon to the presidency in the US, and his imposition of Friedmanesque "neo-liberal" economic practise onto what had to there been the postwar period of the Social Democratic State. To augment the outside cash flow subsidy that our family farm required, we went into also a relatively small scale export dependent shingle mill and contract logging operation on private land. Small in the context of the system, but big to us, in terms of its capital and labour intensity... involving taking on a considerable debt load.

Interest rates at the time had been "pegged" in the area, if I recall correctly, of about 6-8%. And interest rates had been so pretty much throughout the entire prosperity period of the Social Democratic State of Capitalism... at least pegged for predictable periods. Which we were well able to handle for as far ahead as we could see, had rates more or less held.

 But which was of course, in still the heady days of endless prosperity capitalism that had been to then, throughout the entire postwar, and which I mean everyone had by then come to the conclusion would NEVER end. (Even most of the what had been  in the 30s, the "revolutionary left", had fundamentally by then gotten on board with the assumptions of the Social Democratic State and its presumed endless prosperity.)

Suddenly, shortly thereafter, through the corporate media, around the election of Ronald Reagan to the US presidency for the first time, one started to hear of talk that he and his Republicans planned to "free" interest rates and get society back to the "lean and mean discipline" of the "free capitalist market place". Which I remember at the time did catch my attention and cause me some concern, but hell, I was working day and night falling trees, cutting shingle blocks, running them through our mill, and putting together truckload orders for our market in Germany. Everything else in the world was going by in a kind of work intensity haze to produce product and pay the bank. Besides, people wouldn't stand still for that, and it is one thing to talk crazy Right Wing shit like that in an election, and quite another after, in the real world of governance. Right?

 Well, we now know of course, that I was wrong. Reagan did get elected, also Margaret Thatcher in England, the first two postwar Neocons pursuing the "neo-liberal" economic theories of  "capitalist fundamentalism" being espoused by Milton Friedman and his Chicago School of Economics. What followed was the fast and furious rise of interest rates to previously unseen levels throughout the postwar, again if I remember correctly, getting as high as 20%, and possibly more.  Which, to make a long story short, brought about the great economic collapse of the 80s period, and with it, still going on today, the destruction, nth degree by degree, of the great Social Democratic State of capitalism, and the endless prosperity time. 

Now, there were many complex elements that went into the ruling class decision of the time, to take capitalism there of course. One being the great task of rebuilding postwar Europe had been completed, which task had acted to "more or less" smooth out the historical cycles of boom and bust that have always been a part of capitalism, and to especially, enrich us here in North America. Another element, expressed at the time was a right wing concern about "creeping socialism", and still is, which manifest ruling class concerns that the logical conclusion of the line of development the postwar Social Democratic State was on, in fact, led away from Capitalism and in the direction of State managed "Socialism". The claim being that Capitalism was ultimately doomed if it continued to go along with this ongoing building of the Social Democratic State, and its systems of economic intervention and regulation. Which, from their perspective, was true enough, and in my view as well.

Hence, the Social Democratic State had to be stopped and dismantled; including its systems of medical care, unemployment insurance and welfare etc., and its State interventions in the economy, at least in so far as these interventions served the working class masses and their interests in safe work places etc. Instead, it was to be Capitalism as it was historically from the time of the Industrial Revolution, and is in the process of  becoming again; socialism for the wealthy and their corporations, and capitalism for everyone else. 

The Survivors, Part II, to follow soon.


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