Capitalism in Crisis? 86

I am not blogging about the EU summit. It is pointless. It will of course produce a communique to reassure the markets. It makes no difference.

The economic system in which most of our readers live is little to do with capitalism. The value of goods traded is an insignificant fraction of the flow of funds around the world, much of which relates to either bets on the future values of goods, or bets on the consequences of the vectors of financial flows of which the bets themselves are a part.

The whole edifice is based not on a market for exchange of goods and concrete services, but on an astonishing matrix of state enforced legal instruments creating an extraordinary pile of paper money produced by states, but ultimately worth nothing real. This legal framework was designed to shift the great bulk of this wealth from people who actually work for a living to a small financial elite, most (but not all) of whom create little or nothing real.

If the state compelled everyone to play a pyramid scheme, then you could keep it going for decades. As the system started to reach inevitable collapse, the state moved in with bank bailouts and quantitive easing, both of which simply moved yet more money from ordinary people to the super-rich. In fact the last three years have seen the biggest transfer of resources from poor to rich in human history.

It cannot last, and whether it is Greece or Italy or Spain which is this week’s fashionable media focus is irrelevant. In making these vast levied and leveraged transfers of resources from poor to rich, states have exhausted the capacity of their people to actually pay them. That is true all over Europe, the UK and US. The currency crises are a tiny symptom of a very large impending crash.

That is why I am not blogging about today’s EU meeting or a specific statement of the US Federal Bank Chairman. They are all pissing into the wind that is shortly to be a tornado. I expect before I die I will see a genuine social revolution. I expect that, as always happens, middle class liberals like me will start by being elated by it, and end up being shot by those who seize on the change, to take their turn to use the power of the state to corner resources for themselves.

86 thoughts on “Capitalism in Crisis?

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  • Wrong Ron

    And anyone who tries to establish a different economic system will end up being stamped on in the desert.
    I am minimising my economic footprint in the UK. I don’t want to finance these turds on sticks while they slowly melt into their suits. If I could I’d take a rifle and go into the desert to fight alongside the children of Ozymandias.

  • Nextus

    A social revolution requires a critical mass of protesters, and there are signs that the public is finally waking up. I encourage anyone within reach of London to get down to St Paul’s Cathedral, read the posters on the pillars, listen to the speakers and talk to the campers. It will prove that many other people are aware of the economic plundering that has happened since the deregulation of the banks. I observed a general meeting there a few days ago, and found it very peaceful and co-operative. It isn’t purely a socialist movement: there are people from all walks of life. There is almost a carnival atmosphere at times.
    Critics have complained that the St. Paul’s protesters do not an agreed set of demands: that’s because they aren’t trying to get the government or the corporation to listen or obey (they never would). The aim instead is to increase public awareness. What the public then does about the situation is a different issue.

  • mike

    A bleak view of the future, Craig. I hope you’re wrong about the Reign of Terror aspect of revolution. But the system is in crisis, perhaps the terminal one, there’s no doubt about that.
    If the mass of people are to be impoverished, who is going to buy all the shit? What will take the place of consumerism?
    I suspect the answer is some kind of post-democratic autocracy forever fighting on the Malabar Front, at least in the first instance. What replaces that is up to us — the impoverished masses.

  • MJ

    Thanks for that Craig. It is possible for the problem to be resolved without social upheaval. Iceland achieved this by allowing the banks to fail and refusing to pick up their debts. It devalued its currency and now has one of the highest growth rates in Europe. Not that we hear much about that in the MSN.
    As a sovereign nation the UK could have done this. All you need is the political will. That we did not demonstrates that our political leaders are there to serve the interests of the bankers, not the people who voted for them.

  • ingo

    Add to that the limitations of our ecological systems and you have a perfect storm. Thanks for that bang on economic outlook, but somwhere between then and now there will also be one, or a few, allmighty war’s.

    The denigration and compression of human rights in the near future, to about the size of an orange, these fundamental principles of human relations choosen and adopted at humanities the zenith during the 1950’s/60’s, despite the cold war and many hot one’s, will mark the end of our civilisations as ordered states and countries with principial relations. bartering will be all the rage. you’ll get a sack of potatoes for a pair of fine shoes. Increase the price of oil by $100 and you have a world war situation in 24 hrs. Markets are controlling our destiny and hollow deals on futile futures, with ever greater chaos in our weather patterns, with ever greater shouts for democracy in papua New guineas copper mines, these blood copper dealers are utter mugs, to be put in the stock

    The food chain will soon become a fight chain, for profits, market share’s, farmers, for land, land and more land, potable drinking water will become the most precious commodity on earth.

    That said, thanks fcuk the sun is shining. Off to the doc for some tenderness….

  • Rob

    Revolution or war are the usual outcomes at this point in the impending shitstorm. It’s possible that ‘Them indoors’ (if I may borrow an expression) will decide that they’d rather have mayhem far away (eg Iran, Pakistan) than on their doorstep. From the 1%-ers point of view, war is preferable because there’s money to be made.

  • markU

    Agree completely except for the social revolution bit. The financial elites are so arrogant, greedy, evil and profoundly ignorant of concrete reality that they will see the whole world in flames rather than give up any of their ill gotten gains.
    Expect war. No, not just the military occupation of some severely out-gunned nation, a real war, probably threatening the economic or strategic military interests of the BRICS countries. Perhaps Syria first and then Iran or maybe both at once. Once they have a real war going on, then dissenters are of course traitors who are giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

  • Anon

    Libya asks Nato to stay until 2012

    Surprise f***ing surprise. And please build a big military base. And please build a secret prison. And please help us continue with the killing and the raping and the torturing and the stealing.

  • mary

    Old Boy is nasty, very very nasty. I expect that he is one of those *ankers who have us over a barrel.

  • Martin Green

    On the money Craig…so to speak! My bet is on a war involving Iran and Syria – the elite would love it since it perpetuates the ‘war economy’ which is the only ‘money maker’ currently on offer AND it offers a certain amount of payback as those in the know are aware that the Lockerbie atrocity was ordered by Iran and operationalised by Syrian-based PFLP – GC terrorist group. How neat that would be for our heroes in NATO and the CFR/RSI/Tri-lateral commission; Kissinger will be in ‘heaven’ !

  • nuid

    “Sky Exclusive: Labour demands investigation into relationship between Adam Werritty and Defence Minister Gerald Howarth”

  • KingofWelshNoir

    Well mate if you can see it coming, so can the elites who are profiting from it. For years Alex Jones has been banging on about secret internment camps in the US, and other preparations for martial law. Was he right?

  • Ludwig

    Martin Green – there is more to these wars than the perpetuation of a “war economy”. Just look at the facts:
    (1) Global oil production is about to go into sharp decline;
    (2) All the countries that America and NATO are either invading or threatening are rich in oil.
    You will never find this quite obvious correlation even mentioned on British TV news.

  • mary

    The BBC are devoting a large amount of their resources to the EU ‘summit’. At lunchtime, they had Sopel in Brussels, someone else in Berlin with Mrs Merkel, an economics bod in the studio and another in France.
    Their website leads with:
    Clouds loom over EU debt summit
    European leaders are set to meet in Brussels, amid growing doubts they can reach a comprehensive deal to tackle the eurozone debt crisis.
    Deadline EU cannot miss
    Q&A: Eurozone rescue proposals
    Flanders: Eurozone plan B?
    Peston: Will Germany insure Italy?
    Mason: Armour plating the euro
    What’s the matter with Italy?
    Tripe. Buy silver bullion seems to be the watchword but what good is that. You can’t eat it and what could it be exchanged for when the crash comes?

  • Komodo


    Well, ok. No permanent government, though. No majority of cronies who are assured of years in power. Nothing much going on. There’s still a moral in there, no?

    Mary: “Old Boy is nasty, very very nasty. I expect that he is one of those *ankers who have us over a barrel.”

    No, he’s just a dim troll who stuck to the flypaper. Ignore the buzzing.

  • Herbie

    We tend to look upon this as a potential revolution of the 99%, but I suspect it may be a well-planned revolution of the 1% against the rest.
    There is no reason why the 1% cannot rule the whole world show for an extended period of time. Small numbers of people have ruled very large numbers of people for eons.
    They have the resources, wealth and ability to buy as much force as they please, indeed it looks as if they own it already. What we used to think of as Western democratic institutions are already in the grip of these 1%, and even our idea of mass democracy is no more than a recent blip on the historical landscape. In most of the world outside the West they haven’t even any democratic tradition for the 1% to overcome.
    The oligarchs of the world already control such institutions as exist, paying mere lip service to democratic ideals until they further impoverish the 99%.
    Once that project is completed they’re done. The 99% will finally have been emasculated. The 1% will agree their territories amongst themselves. They will be kings and we will be serfs.
    This is the neo-Feudalism of which Chris Hedges often speaks. Sure there’ll be some risings and rebellions etc, but these are easily put down, as we’ve seen.

  • Tom Welsh

    “You will never find this quite obvious correlation even mentioned on British TV news”.

    Indeed, Ludwig. Our masters today (or rather their spin doctors) could teach Goebbels a thing or two.

    The particular ploy you highlight is, in a sense, the opposite or complement of the Big Lie. It is the Big Taboo – except that as time goes by, people gradually forget that there even is anything they are not allowed to mention. That is the ideal, perfection in mind control.

  • david

    Non of it is real. Lets no forget that they are talking about money that doesnt actually exist in any real sense, its never been printed, its fictional money.
    Worst case senario.. the fictional money that they trade in, and that they really hope we will continue to buy real things with, becomes totally worthless. It doesnt matter how much you have.. its worthless.
    So ill trade you instead…. ill fix your leaking pipe if youll fix my car…. or how about the creation of “local “currency.
    Money isnt real, and when its finally shown to be worthless we will find a different way. That the nature of things. Money as we know it will become obsolete, a new currency will be created.
    Every system is flawed because it forgets one of the darkest traits of the human condition….. GREED. Until a system is created that over comes this then this cycle will repeat over and over. I dont know how you remove greed from the equation, maybe hang the greedy bastards ?

  • Uzbek in the UK

    ‘Capitalism in Crisis?’
    Not to be over pessimistic but the last time this has happened WWII has happened.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Yes, well. I think to understand this more clearly one should look at it from this point.
    Decades if not centuries ago there have been a capitalism that was based on ruthless exploitation of colonies. Raw materials from Asia, Africa and South America were brought to Europe and goods were produced enriching tiny elite and also by the rule of invisible hand creating so called middle class.
    Times changed since and colonies infected by nationalism have gained independence. But have they become really independent? Nowadays there is no need to even bring raw materials to Europe. Why not make these Chinese/Indians/Bangladeshi to produce goods themselves and sell them to us for our paper (that as well pointed by Murray worth nothing). And why not to make these Chinese/Indians/Bangladeshi to store excess of this paper with us to that we can produce even more paper and make them work hard to get some of this paper back.
    What a wonderful system, is not it?

  • tangoed

    Capitalism IS in crisis – indeed. I’d recommend the blog for keeping updated on the aspects of the financial cris that they don’t tell you in the MSM.

    Note also the not-oft mentioned protests in the USA, eg. Oakland

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