Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Important Historical Events

It's September 11, and there will be no shortage of stories in the news about what happened in New York 12 years ago today.  And it is for that reason that I like to also talk about the forgotten suffering of others that happened around this time.  When the weak and powerless suffer it's not talked about as often.

Today is the 40th anniversary of the coup in Chile, which was much more deadly and caused a lot more suffering.  Some of the lessons are discussed briefly at Crooked Timber.  When capital feels threatened, this is how they react.  This is very much worth remembering.

On September 10, 1987, 19 unarmed coal miners were shot in the back and killed as they tried to negotiate a decent life for themselves and a larger share of the revenue they created.  The owners, once again facing the prospect of threatened profits, called in the violence.  It's discussed at Daily Kos.  One of many bloody incidents that's not often discussed in your high school American history classrooms.

A few weeks back was the 42nd anniversary of a monumental event.  The dismantling of the Bretton Woods financial framework, which has since ushered in the age of finance.  The framers at Bretton Woods understood that unrestricted capital movement was the end of democracy.  Owners of capital become the new virtual senate.  So suppose a nation wants to initiate policies that are in the interest of the people and supported by the people, such as building infrastructure, providing health care, and providing education.  These policies are irrational from the perspective of the owners of capital in their drive for short term profit.  Facing the prospect of capital flight the will of the people must be disregarded.  Capital can enjoy the spoils as the place deteriorates, then quickly move on to the next victim.  Today it's India's turn.  Read the discussion at Naked Capitalism here.  Rising inequality, even in the US, is a direct consequence of this action.

Some rich privileged types say they don't mind that, but they should for a lot of reasons, including the fact that inequalty harms them as well even though they are rich.

1 comment:

Examinator said...

Very interesting post.
As I read it(in my little post- structuralist-ish mind)you were raising a number of points. Amongst which was the all too credible bias(selectivity of facts and thought processes) of not only the western mind generally but specifically the American. Clearly reflected in the issues we/they lament. See
a good piece but one wonder at the beginning about the hyperbole... he seems to have forgotten Pearl Harbor. Surely that was the first Terrorist attack on US soil the death and damage was greater and so was its aftermath (war...first and second nuke etc.). Or the 40,000 US deaths or there about each year from motor vehicles most of which are/were avoidable. For the purposes of perspective in the same 12 years 480000 US deaths a close approximation to the number of the total deaths in the Iraq war and maybe Afghanistan war too. That in no way diminishes the horrors/ obscenities of any of afore mentioned the events.

What it tells us about our culture and our species isn't all that great especially since we're supposed to be the civilised/social/ sentient species. Yer right.

Now we move on to your point as covered in 'naked capitalism'. There is no doubt that there is a lot of truth in the article. Certainly the argument can be rightly made that the dominance of capital and its free flows are a key component of the problem. Even in “the wealth of Nations” that was alluded to in that Smith assumed national patriotism would prevent Capitalists from moving jobs off shore.

As an observation, any philoso Duke phy that is predicated on anything but the individual person has an in built fatal flaw. Most are based on statistical generations because there is some predictability in mass numbers. However, the unpredictability of the individual also ignores the power of an individual as a catalyst. i.e. WW1 was set off by one nut shooting some relatively unimportant as an individual Duke. Hence when the economically inclined like HP starts justifying his personal prejudices by economic theory/(assumed) principals I am mindful of the implied caveats (underpinning high levels of unpredictabilities embedded). The average armchair economist often loses sight of the 'embedded ' caveats and the professionals want to represent it as a science therefore don't mention them.

I tend to look at the more fundamental level as in the instincts/emotions of the individual (s). it is well understood that the human species is prone to a lot of “me-too- ism”. There is significant research that shows that many money/share traders do so on 'instinct' influenced by what other traders do. This has lead to an economic theory based on Irrationality as opposed to the underpinning theory that capitalists always (re)act rationally. My guess it's some were in the middle and the key is the unpredictability of individuals and the afore mentioned unpredictable influence.

Notwithstanding, there is prima facie observation that the article has considerable merit (caveats understood). My comment would be incomplete with my usual fingering the lack of wisdom to base our civilization on non human constructs devised to be tools not the human i.e. Capitalism. We should call it what it is “GAPitalism” a theory specifically designed to increase inequity (the gap) between people.