Commentary on Political Economy

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Here is the copy of a comment posted at the Gavyn Davies Blog on the BIS Report:

Something went by entirely unremarked by commentators in the FT the other day: the BIS Report signed by Stephen Cecchetti that said (no tongue in cheek there!) that "the world economy is growing too fast", that inflation is a growing threat, that there is little "spare capacity utilisation". 

The remarkable thing is that such a remarkable set of lies could pass undetected beneath the keen olphactory nerves of FT commentators. - Because of course there is no truth whatsoever in what Cecchetti and his legion of myrmidons are saying - not if you consider that the US, if anything, is on the verge of deflation, that commodity prices are plunging and the dollar strengthening at every Greek sneeze, and that "near full capacity utilisation" means that 30% of Italian youngsters are out of work, together with some 40% or so in Spain (but, hey - who's counting?) and unemployment in Europe (the official figures, not including "precarious", part-time workers and people who have just given up) still hovers at around 10%.

So there we have it, again: the productive potential of our (still capitalist) society cannot "absorb" the human resources available. Something has to give. And Jean-Marc Vittori at Les Echos today knows this all too well: writing about the European crisis he says that the stark choices are either "fraying at the ends" - meaning a general and gradual European decline followed by a serious political conflict.... or an explosion in short order. The crowds in Athens, the indignados in Madrid, the dissatisfied Italian and Irish voters are all propense for the latter - the explosion, that is.

So why can't the European bourgeoisie "resolve" itself to take decisive action to avert a catastrophe? You would have noticed what a fun time Wen Jia Bao is having visiting the various European capitals. You see, it is much easier to deal with these squabbling idiotic European bourgeois on a one-on-one basis than it would be to deal with them if they showed some real unity of purpose and of political will! With the consequence that millions of Chinese workers get exploited by these latter-day Hitlers and Europeans kiss their hands each time they visit - so much for Goethe and Beethoven, let alone "Liberte', Egalite'... et cetera". 

The European bourgeoisie can't decide on who should pay for the financial crisis. Their economic science and ideology tells them that "economic rationality" must be adhered to. But economic rationality says that

self-interest is the only and the best solution! Sauve qui peut, then! For it is too difficult to ask these bourgeois to show "solidarity" when their entire livelihoods depend on selling the gospel of economic self-interest! Whither Europe? Vittori is right: the nerves will fray or there will be an explosion....

In discussing the vicissitudes, the swings and roundabouts of European Union we need to rise, so to speak, "au dessus de la melee", to be super partes, and to judge the view below in terms of the broader "forces" that "condition" this historical movement. Europe has difficulties not merely at "European" level, but also at the "national" levels - and that is because a truly "European" bourgeoisie" is not yet born and the existing "national" bourgeoisies are also too weak. As a result, it is difficult for the existing "national bourgeoisies" to determine how to share "the burden of adjustment" that the "imbalances" of the GFC have exposed - especially in the sector of "financial capital".

The problem of "resolution" of the crisis is compounded by the very "ideology" of market capitalism that places "competition" and not "solidarity" first and foremost on the ladder of bourgeois values. It is difficult for the European bourgeoisies to agree "to help" one another according to a "market competitive" logic, which is the "rationale" they universally share, when that "logic" dictates that "the common good" is for wach to pursue their "individual" interests. There is no "inter-esse" (no "common being") in this "interest"!

It is difficult therefore to find an "internal" force that can push toward greater European Union. Mercifully, however, there is a forum externum, a force majeure, an "external dynamic" that will make the result inevitable: and that is the fact that the European bourgeoisies are confronted by ominous challenges that they need to face virtually by themselves (as Robert Gates has told NATO) - and also there is the "external" force of the dynamic needs of European capital itself created by its growing and irreversible "inter-dependence" and "concentration". This is the framework within which this entire process must be viewed: these are the "forces" whose "balance" we need to weigh and measure. Cheers to all.


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