Sunday, September 28, 2008

Interesting times and not the end of Capitalism

As before, Wil Hutton in The Guardian:

This is not the end of capitalism, as some wildly claim; there is no intellectual, social or political challenge to a market system based on respect for private property rights, even by the Chinese Communist party.

Rather, it is a crisis of a particular capitalism that has set aside respect for trust, integrity and fairness as fuddy-duddy obstacles to 'wealth generation'.

Well thank goodness for that.

Now hopefully the Americans will get a handle on their borrowing; quit Iraq in as orderly and rapid manner as possible, invest in infrastructure, education, nationalise their healthcare as well as their banks and mortgage companies and leave running the world to the Europeans or Chinese.

In fact the ideal situation would be one where there were three Great Powers - the Europeans, Americans, and Chinese, with an influential G8 and India. According to this article by Jon Taplin, and based on The Great Transformation by Karl Polanyi, Taplin's analysis:

His conclusion is that the key to a long period of peace is a stable Balance of Power between three or more states, combined with a stable world financial system (he calls it Haute Finance) which constantly stresses that war is destructive to trade.

Also worth checking out is The Rise and Fall of Great Powers by Paul Kennedy and Charles Stross' commentary on this essay on the fall of the USSR by Yegor Gaidar:

Normally empires decline slowly; it took nearly half a century for the British empire to descend from planetary hegemony to the edge of bankruptcy in 1945, for example.

The USSR took a decade from the first serious worries about its balance of trade to the final abortive Putsch and Gorbachev's resignation.

But the US Empire has developed a uniquely unstable financial system over the past two or three decades, and we may be witnessing a catastrophic collapse. (I hope not; this sort of event is deeply uncomfortable and unpleasant to live through, even when it doesn't coincide with major environmental crises, a power vacuum, and a disciplined cadre of apocalypse-obsessed religious fanatics waiting in the wings to seize power if they can.)

Clearly I need to write a list of lessons to be learned from the current economic problems.

[image credit to thegoldguys, via luxamart on flickr]

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