Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

November 16, 2010

Guest post: the economy is not coming back

Filed under: financial crisis,oil,swans — louisproyect @ 1:53 am
The Economy Is Not Coming Back 

Part III: The Reasons it Shouldn’t

by Gilles d’Aymery

Fundraising Drive: If rants appeal to you, dear readers, then turn your attention to MSNBC, Fox News, Antiwar.com, other news aggregators, and the myriad noisy outputs that emphasize either the status quo or some reactionary future. If not, and you wish to keep thinking about real matters like, say, working to change the socioeconomic system, and you consider that culture is an intrisic component of society, then Swans is directed to you. If a few original thoughts (and original work not found anywhere else) are your call, then Swans is for you. Understand the difference. Whether a donation of $5, $75, or $100, they all are welcome, but again — if our approach is worthy of your interest — you need to up the ante. $180 in the past cycle were much appreciated. Still it won’t be enough to keep Swans going in its current form. Please, friends and comrades, help us. We need another $1,700+ to keep providing you with real content. Do Donate now!

Many thanks to Brandon Haleamau, Dimitri Oram, and Philip Fornaci for their generous contributions.

Read the first part of this essay, “A Short History of the Maelstrom.”
Read the second part of this essay, “The Reasons it Won’t [come back].”

“This meeting is part of the world’s efforts to address a very simple fact — we are destroying life on Earth.”

—Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Program, Nagoya, Japan, October 18, 2010

“We are nearing a tipping point, or the point of no return for biodiversity loss. Unless proactive steps are taken for biodiversity, there is a risk that we will surpass that point in the next 10 years.”

—Ryu Matsumoto, Japanese Environment Minister, Nagoya, Japan, October 18, 2010 (1)

(Swans – November 15, 2010) The first part of this long essay presented an abridged history of the road to the current deep socioeconomic crisis that some observers had predicted, even though no one could pinpoint the exact timing of the implosion. The second part submitted that there are objective factors that explain why the economy is not going “to come back” any time soon. But, more importantly, profound and intensifying environmental and ecological crises militate in favor of not having the economy revert to the shape and form it had. Some of these crises are the object of this third part. In short, to return to business as usual will lead to collective suicide, which Mother Nature will trigger in the not so distant future.

According to the WWF (2) 2010 Living Planet Report, “human demand outstrips nature’s supply.” “In 2007,” the report states, “humanity’s Footprint exceeded the Earth’s biocapacity by 50%.” The Global Footprint Network (GFN) has calculated that on August 21, 2010, the world reached Earth Overshoot Day — that is, “the day of the year in which human demand on the biosphere exceeds what it can regenerate.” As GFN president Mathis Wackernagel stated: “If you spent your entire annual income in nine months, you would probably be extremely concerned. The situation is no less dire when it comes to our ecological budget. Climate change, biodiversity loss, deforestation, water and food shortages are all clear signs: We can no longer finance our consumption on credit. Nature is foreclosing.” Though these environmental organizations are promoting policies that are essentially based on demographic and increasingly economic Malthusianism — independent researcher Michael Barker has written in-depth analyses, particularly in regard to the WWF, in these pages (3) — they do acknowledge the gravity of the situation. As the WWF report states, “An overshoot of 50% means it would take 1.5 years for the Earth to regenerate the renewable resources that people used in 2007 and absorb CO2 waste. … CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are far more than ecosystems can absorb.” In other words, the world, or to be more precise, some parts of the world, over-produces and over-consumes natural resources that are being depleted at an exponential rate. That’s the main reason for not having US (and other rich nations’) households “spend again at pre-crisis levels.” (4) The socioeconomic paradigm built on capital accumulation, perpetual material growth, and financial profits for the infinitesimal few must be not just overhauled but buried, and replaced by an equitable new arrangement that takes into account all natural ecosystems.

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  1. There’s yet a dozen more reasons this bankrupted capitalist economy is not coming back but the work of Gilles, et al, is always greatly appreciated.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — November 16, 2010 @ 2:08 am

  2. Is Antiwar.com really just a “news aggregator” pushing “the status quo or some reactionary future”? Yeah, right, so keep sending your pennies to “intrinsic” causes, like “Progressives for Obama” while the US military blasts those nasty foreigners to bits. Comrade Proyect, you make me sick.

    Comment by Justin Raimondo — November 16, 2010 @ 7:24 pm

  3. Do I make you sick? That seems rather unlikely given the fact that you are on the West Coast. I am suffering from a head cold right now but I would not blame that on you.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 16, 2010 @ 7:27 pm

  4. I was just on the East Coast, Louis, speaking at Boston and Danbury, CT, where we had large audiences: my theme — a left-right coalition against imoperialism. But since we’re just useless “news aggregators” to you and the rest of the left-sectarians who pose as “antiwar,” then I guess that doesn’t count as anything but “reactionary.”

    Yeah, I brought that head cold back with me — caught it on Amtrak. Figures. A government-run train… hahahaha

    Comment by Justin Raimondo — November 16, 2010 @ 7:36 pm

  5. Yes Justin, libertarians are the only real anti-war activists. Doing a bang up job of trying to convince americans that to stop bombing poor people overseas they have to become poor themselves because social services are ebol too! Your whole selling point is less enlightened then that of Republican Eisenhower.

    Comment by SGuy — November 16, 2010 @ 7:40 pm

  6. I wasn’t aware that I ever called antiwar.com an aggregator. Maybe you have me confused with my cousin Louis Reynolds Proyect, a retired corporate lawyer in West Palm Beach. We were both named after our grandfather Louis. I must admit that Louis R. does not have much of a presence on the Internet.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 16, 2010 @ 7:46 pm

  7. We could save your precious “social services” — which really ought to be considered social worker services, since they just subsidize the New Class — if we cut the empire, got out of Europe, out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Why, you could even afford single-payer healthcare: heck, you could give everyone in the country a guaranteed annual income. I would oppose that, naturally, but at least 1) the killing would stop (yeah, I know, it’s just foreigners, and you care about Amurrican workers who make 50 bucks an hour), and 2) increase our security here at home, because it would end our foreign policy of perpetual war. Ron Paul points this out: but left sectarians, still hoodwinked by the left-right paradigm, are deaf, dumb, and blind to reality.

    Comment by Justin Raimondo — November 16, 2010 @ 7:47 pm

  8. @Louie:

    Okay, so it was some dorky guy with the unlikely name of Gilles d’Amyery (whatEVER!), but you published it and presumably approve, and I quote:

    “Fundraising Drive: If rants appeal to you, dear readers, then turn your attention to MSNBC, Fox News, Antiwar.com, other news aggregators, and the myriad noisy outputs that emphasize either the status quo or some reactionary future.”

    Don’t you read your own blog? Sheesh!!! And here I thought you were one of the smarter lefties.

    Comment by Justin Raimondo — November 16, 2010 @ 7:50 pm

  9. And, yes, unfortunately, it looks like libertarians are indeed the only antiwar activists — what other organization is conducting a winter antiwar speaking tour from coast to coast? Very very sad, but all too true. C’mon, guys, we need some help!!!! Wake from your sectarian slumber! We have a world to win! (Oh, wait…. that line is taken.)

    Comment by Justin Raimondo — November 16, 2010 @ 7:52 pm

  10. Oh, never MIND. Ignore what I said. Go back to your intramural sectarian circle jerk while your government kills thousands in your name. It’s useless talking to some people.

    Comment by Justin Raimondo — November 16, 2010 @ 8:00 pm

  11. You’re good with the straw men Justin, nobody knocks ’em down like you. Im sorry but did I express a pro-war or pro-obama position, in fact you wont have to go down far to find me criticizing the ISO for being Obama friendly. I think it was plainly obvious that I was criticizing one of the oft repeated anarcho-cap anti-war talking points. Hey Id love to see the Air Force hold a bake sale.

    Comment by SGuy — November 16, 2010 @ 8:15 pm

  12. A brief question. When do names become dorky? When they sound foreign? What makes Raimondo a non-dorky name, for instance? Is it because he associates with political rednecks?

    Comment by Peter Byrne — November 16, 2010 @ 9:46 pm

  13. I’ve donated to antiwar.com — only because it aggregates the news for me — but the libertarians have a fatally flawed understanding of US imperialism. The US global war machine springs immanently from the basic logic of capitalism — as Marx theorized it and as Williams, Kolko, Magdoff, and Chomsky demonstrate it in historical reality. There will be no end to empire without a socialist revolution at home. For this reason, there is very little political ground for a left-right alliance. A fundamental aspect of fighting the wars is building the social struggles against state AND capital.

    Comment by roger — November 16, 2010 @ 10:50 pm

  14. Who can argue with roger? When there’s ever a hideously akward attempt at Left Liberal/Conservative Right Alliance it always winds up like WWWII, that is, worse than the Popular Front. Both sides back US Imperialism to the hilt, that is, to the profound detriment of the advanced proletriat in general and the World’s Toilers in particular.

    If bourgeois democratic reality in the US amounts essentially to one ruling class with two party factions bickering over how best to expropriate profits derived from an ever more productive wage slavery then what Ron Paul has to offer is utterly unsustainable bullshit insofaras his understanding of IMPERIALISM ultimately lacks the important distinction that Lenin drew, that is, capitalism in the age of finance capital is organically predatory, that is, can only be driven by a permanent war economy that strives for perpetual peace.

    Once academics and pundits concede this fact, which is exceedingly difficult being contrary to their being that determines their consciousness, then maybe antiwar.com will realize that it’s living in an oxymoron insofaras CAPITALISM AND WAR HAVE BECOME INEXTRICABLY SYNONOMOUS.

    That leaves one conclusion, that socialism & peace, versus socialism or barbarism, is the only viable alternating platforms for the future.

    The bottom line is that Ron Paulers need to start with American insights drawn from Eugene V. Debs in books like “Walls & Bars” before they reject insights from cats like Lenin who’ve proved socioloically that Capitalism is unsustainable insofaras it’s organically predatory, and that’s per unarguably the single most influential politician in the last 100 years.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — November 17, 2010 @ 2:38 am

  15. @Peter Bryne: A name is dorky if it’s obviously made up, and sounds like the male lead in a romantic bodice-ripper.

    Comment by Justin Raimondo — November 17, 2010 @ 3:30 am

  16. @roger: I won’t argue with your Marxoid analysis, but simply ask: why is it stragegically wrong to pursue the SWP’s single-issue orientation during the Vietnam war era? Surely the need to actually make an impact is more urgent than even when Nixon was invading Cambodia. Yet now we are going into Pakistan, and the urgency of building a truly massive opposition is missing on the left. Why can’t we agree to disagree on domestic issues and yet organize an effective national movement against US intervention in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, etc.? Most Americans are not going to respond well to the usual left-ish rhetoric — and I’m afraid the long-suffering overseas victims of US imperialism can’t wait for the long-promised socialist revolution. They want relief now. And we should get off our ideological hobbyhorses and give it to them, fer chrissake.

    Comment by Justin Raimondo — November 17, 2010 @ 3:36 am

  17. Oh, and thank you for your donation to antiwar.com: it is very much appreciated.

    Comment by Justin Raimondo — November 17, 2010 @ 3:37 am

  18. Justin,

    Hi hope you are well.

    Without a permanent solution, which is the end of capitalism war will always emerge once more.

    Capitalism by nature is evil as it puts the value of material possessions over the value of human life. While capitalistic theory may not say this outright their is overwhelming evidence of this fact.

    Look at how capitalistic countries committed genocide, wars, robbery and other evils through out the Earth.

    It is not that there is no commitment to ending war. On the contrary we are committed to a greater goal and that is permanent termination of war.


    John Kaniecki

    Comment by John Kaniecki — November 17, 2010 @ 4:04 am

  19. I thought you were leaving us to our, what was it? yes circle jerk.

    Comment by SGuy — November 17, 2010 @ 4:42 am

  20. antiwar.com has considerable value even as an ‘aggregator.’ it aggregates well, and has many well done interviews by libertarian scott horton. it’s also edifying to read the libertarian right’s reasons for opposing empire. it does not typically spend much time on libertarian positions except for antiwar/anti-empire ones.

    it fails when it presents defenses of central american coups, or joins in attacks on our brothers and sisters living across mentally-constructed, militarily enforced borders.

    justin r. went over the top in reacting to one word, anyway. he just doesn’t understand the website he’s commenting within.

    Comment by jp — November 17, 2010 @ 2:17 pm

  21. But thats just it, they’re using the war to recruit people to their libertarian views, which means we are in fact in competition with them and the right-left divide is in fact far from meaningless. JR himself has revealed that in his comments here, he stated it “Ill fight you” when it comes to social services, so were supposed to unite on one issue while we’re fighting on another far from crucial one?

    Comment by SGuy — November 17, 2010 @ 4:48 pm

  22. And I hope noone is feeling any shame fropm JR’s constant invocation of sectarianism. To be honest that term only really has meaning amongst the ranks of socialists, even then there are certain groups, like the AWL which I think the sectarian clause can be safely waived.

    Comment by SGuy — November 17, 2010 @ 4:50 pm

  23. Has anyone checked out Raimondo’s report on his antiwar campus tour? Raimondo, how come you were able to get only less than 200 people per meeting to listen to you whine about how the “left” has abandoned the antiwar cause at a time when the right is on the rise in the form of the Tea party? Why are you not able to mobilize Tea party types? Auto workers still make $50/hr, and like Obama you want to knock them down to $14/hr. I’ve read your blog for many years and it is the first time that an America first type such as yourself has expressed concern about saving Afghan lives. If I recollect correctly your view used to be why bother with such lesser beings. You have defended Ron Paul against the charge of racism by using racist arguments such as all Blacks are on welfare and commit crime. I recall that the main selling point for electing Paul was his promise to increase border patrols. I think that your search for “left” allies is an attempt to shield you from the charge of being a neo confederate. I’ve always been mystified
    by your call for a return to “the old republic”,would you care to tell us the date when that republic vanished.

    Comment by lextheimpaler — November 17, 2010 @ 6:14 pm

  24. You have to give credit to the evil genius of the American ruling class after Nixon, particularly to liberals like Jimmy Carter, for ending military draft conscription in favor of a volunteer mercenary army paid for by unbounded rivers of tax paying sweat from the toilers because it throws student revolts, that is, educated young people, largely out of the equation.

    Instead the Pentagon co-opted the American University system so that the only departments that can survive are ones that serve militarism.

    The difference between the SWP’s historic effort to end the Vietnam War on a platform of non-eclusionary one dimensional criteria versus antiwar.com’s attempt at something similar, is that the Libertarian soul of the former represents reviving & saving capitalism, an unsustainable socio-evolutionary failure that impoverishes billions while despoiling the planet and enriching a few, whereas the SWP, despite world historic setbacks and it’s own organizational degeneration, at least represented society’s only future, that is, the expropriation of the expropriators with a mind toward socializing the means of production & planning economy, the only hope for the future of the planet and humankind.

    We should therefore understand Raimondo’s angst and remember that according to the Bolsheviks the origin of individual terrorism flows from frustrated intellectuals who’re unable or unwilling to organize the masses.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — November 18, 2010 @ 2:10 am

  25. Im surprised he didn’t use the term ‘gold plated benefits’ in conjunction with his over paid workers argument.

    Comment by SGuy — November 18, 2010 @ 3:18 am

  26. I’ve always been mystified by your call for a return to “the old republic”, would you care to tell us the date when that republic vanished.

    Was it not somewhere around 44 BCE?

    Comment by Lajany Otum — November 18, 2010 @ 3:32 am

  27. And besides, auto workers are not now nor have they ever been overpaid. I think most auto-workers joining the line today start at around 14.00 an hour, a second and even third tier hourly wage that represents a huge slide backwards, and many of the benefits have been gutted as well, especially for retirees.

    Comment by dave — November 18, 2010 @ 1:44 pm

  28. It should be $50/hr for autoworkers anyway. Those factories play tricks on your mind & shorten your life. The human labor portion of a car’s price tag is remarkably tiny, like less than $400 for a $20,000 car.

    The problems the Big 3 car makers had and are having weren’t a result of labor or its cost but rather from the greed of bosses, their hubris, bureaucracy, incompetence and mismanagement, not to mention the morons didn’t lift a finger to promote single payer health care which would have saved them $8/hr per worker, the idiots.

    The idea that somebody trying to organize for antiwar.com would be so resentful of beleagured auto workers speaks volumes about the petty bourgeois libertarian mindset.

    They don’t know a union from an onion because they’ve never had to organize anything for survival, not to mention it’s as difficult to organize the stampeding petty bourgeoisie today as it was in the 30’s in Europe during the rise of fascism

    Reminds me of the other day when I asked a FedX driver when they were going to organize a union?

    He said: we don’t need one because we make union scale.

    I said yea but who made the scale?

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — November 18, 2010 @ 2:19 pm

  29. Well said.

    Comment by dave — November 18, 2010 @ 3:07 pm

  30. Damn right, Karl. I know how busted my relatives are physically after 30-plus years in a Ford plant. My dad lost more than half his hearing in a steel mill. But I guess those are easy jobs and they’re just spoiled Amurricans.

    Comment by Gemma — November 18, 2010 @ 8:42 pm

  31. If you really want to see a brilliant documentary that’ll drive home my last point about the Big 3’s unmitigated perfidy that will immediately get you so pissed off your blood will boil, right out of your brains, then you’ll go rent “Who Killed The Electric Car” (2006?).

    If you haven’t seen it yet you’ll thank me, although Proyect has probably already written a review on it somewhere, but if not I insist he should as it’s one of those skillfully produced documetaries you could watch a dozen times and always pick up a different insight on the madness, anarchy, greed, avarice, snotiness, incompetence, stupidity, criminal negligence, and even, as a libertarian might argue — treason — exhibited by the Big Three Holy American Corporations whose class of owners have about as much allegence to America as a lap dancer has to her customer.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — November 19, 2010 @ 12:53 am

  32. And don’t even get me started about the grotesque commodification of women resulting from this iniquitous social arrangement that pro-capitalist blowhards insist is the pinnacle of human achivement and liberation, you know, “the best system ever created” and all that bullshit that never withstands scrutiny.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — November 19, 2010 @ 1:12 am

  33. #32. I knew it in my bones but was just so freaking beat after an 8 to 5 working on the Big 3’s cars & trucks that I didn’t even have the brain muscle left to do a cursory search, but what a great review and a what an exceptional movie. Every time I watch it I forget how “Rising Up Angry” I get. I mean for cissakes, if for the sake of argument just the usual crew here at this site were somehow to take the reigns of such a business opportunity for a sea change in automotive engineering that GM had before it we’d have been able to practically build a socialist infrastructure in the belly of the beast and confronted it’s demise from a completely different angle.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — November 19, 2010 @ 1:24 am

  34. On the bright side. The underbelly of the “two-party system” has not been this exposed (and not in a good way) since 1968.

    Comment by dave — November 19, 2010 @ 1:32 am

  35. So the movie and its reviews are about 5 years old now, with more time & reflection, concluding without a doubt the critics of the electric car are completely full of shit by comparing its inefficiencies to oil leaking, parts consuming, gas guzzling monstrosities — atavisms of industrial infancy.

    Only paid hacks of the status quo would be dreaming up diatribes against electric cars, which of course are no panacea, but nevertheless a vast improvement in overall environmental impact.

    I argue this from a position working astride & underneath these leaking piles of fecal planned obsolesence 8 hours a miserable day.

    On YouTube there’s videos of ancient Datsuns getting 10 second 1/4 mile times from a trunk full of DeWalt or Ryobi cordless drill batteries and although all the compounds that make up that stuff isn’t begotten neatly (but interestingly there’s lots in Afghanistan) it’s nevertheless far superior to Light Sweet Crude’s derivatives and everybody knows it in their bones except for corporate lobbyists and retarded reactionary goons.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — November 19, 2010 @ 1:52 am

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