The following linked Doug Nowland article from AT points to statistics and trends that we have remarked upon more than once hereabouts.
This dismal accounting from the most dismal of “sciences” is not guaranteed to get your dopamine levels up through first impressons. Econo-talk is a deadly bore — designedly so to ensure that it doesn’t attract the curiosity of us proles. Nonetheless, I urge those who have the time to give this a study… perhaps with a financial-terms glosaary ready at hand. Under this battleship gray veneer is a saga of power and powerlessness that has gone on for several decades, the last act being around 18-years long, culminating in the formal repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 (it had been ignored and eroded for some time before that).
The Glass-Steagall Act was a response to the speculative meltdown of 1929-31 that walked the world into the Great Depression then World War II. It separated commercial banks (that lend money) from financial speculators, because there was a justifiable fear that the hot money of speculation would overhwelm and destabilize the cool-money of commercial lending… duh.
Many Keynesians (Glass-Steagall was a Keynesian measure) now blame the loss of Glass-Steagall, to include the systematic bypass of it by the Federal Reserve for years before Clinton signed its repeal, for the so-called “credit crisis,” or by those who need to paper over the crisis with another level of superficiality, the “subprime crisis.” This confuses symptoms with causative agents, rather like calling Dengue a “fever-and-pain-crisis.”
They are right that this is a crisis, just as a high fever, on its own, can endager a patient’s brain.
Former US Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, once famed for his reticence and oblique statements on the economy, seems to have spent the time since he retired from the Fed in 2006 rebuilding his persona, at least the reticence part.
Yet, though he now seems unable to decline an interview opportunity, it is increasingly evident that Greenspan is not going to be of much help when it comes to the critical issue of exploring what went terribly wrong with monetary policy and the financial system.
What is most interesting about this article, near the end of its dreaded accounting, is the mention of rising food prices, related to hyperinflation, related to oil prices, related to dollar hegemony… and so it goes.
And so the crisis comes full circle, not simply to the emblematic investors jumping out of Wall Street windows, but to the concentration of a massive global population, created by industrialism and jazzed to uber-velocity by the so-called Green Revolution, in megacities laden with overcrowded Bidonville slums along precarious terrains; the residents therein dependent on money to eat.
Meanwhile, petit-fascists like Lou Dobbs fan the flames of xenophobia against the refugees of this process with their anti-immigrant demagogy… as the band plays on.
In 1999, Mark Jones (RIP) wrote:
Immigration into the US is the direct result of the previous creation of a surplus population, principally by driving peasants off the land in the process of extending capitalist agriculture.
There is a one-to-one connection between the aggressive extension of monopolised agriculture in the oppressed peripheral countries, and the creation of the megacities in the South, which are the sumps of stagnant surplus population, and the ultimate source of contemporary tidal immigration into the US, Europe etc. The argument from social justice begins with the proposition that as of now, we have enough food production capacity to feed people all over the world comfortably. All that is needed is more equitable distribution, meaning among other things less meat in Western diets. This is the classic Green argument: if we eat more wholesome beans and vegetarian foods, there is enough food for everybody. But it is utopian. The call for social justice involves not just redistribution, but a structural change in the mode of food production itself. What will this change entail, and how can it be implemented? Once you start to examine the problem in detail, you discover that the level of food production we have today, which is historically very high, depends upon the inputs which the total capitalist system provides: everything from chemical inputs, pharmaceutical, pesticides, stock breeding, biotech — to distribution methods, the vertical organisation of agriculture, the existence of a large scale, powerful agronomy research sector, the existence of sufficient energy inputs etc.
Third World food depends on the ‘Green Revolution’ in agriculture which is itself just an aspect of modern capitalism. This ‘Green Revolution,’ which produces an abundance of food, also produces new ‘surplus’ populations, i.e., former peasants made landless and driven into the cities. But if people object on spurious grounds even to the terminology ‘surplus population’ then we are unable even to define the problem, which is that the productivity of modern capitalist agriculture creates excess population as a by-product. This surplus population is a hostage to imperialism and it guarantees that modern capitalist agriculture, far from becoming sustainable or green/organic, will be still more intensified, capitalised, and imbued with the technologies of gene-modification, germplasm patenting, chemical saturation of soils etc. … Pools of hunger, scarcity, malnutrition, epidemic disease etc. are produced by capitalism alongside and together with the enclaves of prosperity.
Over-population confronts the world with multiform crises whose scale and intensity make alternatives to capitalism almost unthinkable… [yet] the population cannot exceed Earth’s carrying capacity, and all economic processes including food production must be sustainable. The population already exceeds carrying capacity, yet it may rise to 10 bn. within forty years. This huge surplus population will be hostage to capitalist agronomy, science and technology, to monopolised agribusiness with its complete dependence on unsustainable technologies, on chemical and pharmaceutical inputs, biotechnology and gene-manipulation, to the monopolistic food producing centres which will be concentrated in the temperate zones of the rich North. The tempo of change, too swift to plan or vary; and the structural imbalances which will only deepen over time, make this fate seem all the more inescapable. But this only means that capitalism’s crises will become still more explosive and dangerous.
So now we are reading about food riots… not because the food is in shortage (though our system is one where food is simultaneously over-abundant and scarce depending on where and who you are), but because of money… because the prices increased for this monocropped, globalized food.
And population is not an issue of the fecundity of the poor. It is an issue of what we are doing to the earth to simultaneously reduce its carrying capacity (destruction of biomes, of soil, air, water) and support the over-developed, energy-intensive, industrialized metropoles (especially the USA).
“Explosive and dangerous,” Mark said…. that’s the essence of it. “Anything that can’t go on forever, won’t,” as they say; but what goes on in the wake of “won’t” should alarm us enough to think seriously about how this crisis is about to affect us, and those within our proximity. The stranded billions in the megaslums are not the only hostages to this inertial capitalist agronomy.
If it comes for “them” in the morning, it shall come for us in the afternoon.