Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Extraordinary Contortions

The title of this post, above, refers to the way the G8 or G20 or whatever it is that comprises the governance aspect of trade seems to squirm as they try to figure out what to do in the face of problems. The situation in the world today is that you have all these independent individuals. I do not deny that capitalism consists of different individuals. They are the individual capitalists, running the firms and corporations; they are business agencies. If the sea is the capitalistic human world (the existing economic theories, however, say this is not so; it "is" a mathematical world --- which is ideological, and wrong), the businesses are ships on that sea. Some have actual ships plying the seven seas, some operate the ports of call for those ships. Some have the telephone transmission wires; and, some just hedge-fund; yet, all seem to get along well. And all are welcome in this big trade club--as long as you have money. That remarkable human construct is called "globalization," which is ready to crash now.
     So, now they need to save their system. They cannot do it. Hence the contortions, or squirming, or, as blogger Molly of "Gaia," put it --- she was carried by "Green Conduct" --- "extraordinary contortions."
     I see them as if contorted in their seat at the big conference. Persons involved seem to be pure individualists. Hence they are unaware of the social aspects of economics, and they are yet forced to come to conferences to coordinate what they are doing as if they were social beings after all, and they cannot do it.
     So, we must ask, what then is economics? There are so many possible answers --- maybe economics is what we make it. In our day, though, is economics all about these individuals playing their money games like different ships on the sea? But then 1) that system is not going to be working anymore; it is over, and 2) you have always this controversial other player --- authority. You have this other player in this fascinating sea of capitalism --- authority. But of course. You didn't think there was no government, did you? (Hi, anarchist!) That means "political" authority, government. Businessmen have gotten along just fine until now. I can understand how this could lead some less deep persons to remove government from of the equation altogether. Government and business seem to work on two different principles, yet it seems surely to be the case that government, as well as the private actors, remains in there somewhere.
     When we say "G" 8 --- or 20 --- the "G" is the semiotic sign there-----the one that admits of government----so, we know there's government-----as long as there is that little "G" there: government needs to be there (which is plausible, right? --- unless you are one of the two exceptions: libertarians and anarchists, and we have to reserve also honorable mention here, or partial exemption, for those lovable drooling, pencil-tapping idiots, the absolute free-market maniacs, those politely called "free-market fundamentalists" by Stiglitz --- such a nice man --- you know them: "government interference in markets," bla bla bla---yeah, those guyz; the Chicago boyz). But, at any rate, thank g-d for language, and that little "G" shows us that government is there --- which you believe, right? Now we know. But they are, of course, "carrying water" --- for business. I can't help remember that phrase from this one leaflet given me recently by a virtuous protester-person I chatted with, at the university --- it happened in Chicago, and, despite what they say ----- despite what the segments of the population who think government has or should have no part to play say in their idea lives or their ideological life, at the end of the day government is there; it has some importance.
     Government is a bad problem too. No argument. This makes the world difficult, Rousseau knew it; this difficulty inherent in operating a "government of the people," as I recall, is what "Social Contract" deals with in great part. But the acknowledgment of such grave difficulties does not necessitate reverting to an anarchist position like a turtle retracting into its shell in the face of difficulties. In other words, you can say that you don't like Obama, or you don't like Reagan, but you can't, truly, say they don't exist.

     So. Why are they having such a problem down there in the G20 meeting? Why is it so hard for the government part of the equation to act in solving economic problems? Why is it so hard for government to reason out its proper role? Why is it that these 20 governments cannot come to an understanding of that role which, actually, comes down to an understanding of what it means to intervene? Have they been reading too much garbage from the right? Too much "non-interventionist" idiot propaganda on the coffee table? Do they simply believe the stuff about "less government" influence in markets?
     Not exactly. The problem is that they do not know how to act as governments. They do not know how to question the orthodox economics language. The business sector has simply taken over and the government can't get a word in edgewise. The ideology of business rules. I do not know if even the businessmen themselves believe it. But they are stuck in their own game and the only ones that can break  the spell, i.e. the government, cannot do so. The website "Green Conduct" linked me to a blog mentioning a Czech book title, and this is referenced here at http://www.greenconduct.com/articles/2011/10/17/  ---  why-is-it-easier-to-imagine-the-end-of-the-world-than-to-imagine-the-end-of-capitalism/.
     I don't know what the book is about (how could I? I have been writing this all day; also, book is written in Czech). Basically, the question that this blog post brings up is that of why the government side of economics goes through such extraordinary contortions. Which I feel as if I am going through right now. (Gavel hammers down.)

     (Back to order!)

     The governments are discussing economics, but they shouldn't be. They should be discussing politics. They are not economists, and neither are they businessmen sailing their private business ships upon the human sea. Governments are governments. So, what part of that are we not understanding? They aren't businessmen, rather they are governments and they are supposed to govern; and, they either get along with one another at a conference table, or they do not. The role of governments in capitalism is to regulate, to oversee, to monitor, to adapt to changing conditions. They can fix their problems together or separately, I don't care. I do recommend separately, though, simply because except in wartime I do not see that the governments have ever gotten along with each other. Who are we fooling, then?
     Governments govern; they don't run the free market system. Nature does that all by itself. All governments can do is govern; they will necessarily either to do so well or do it poorly. Governments do need to figure out something about economics, directly or through others. That is a part of their duties as governments. Alas, there is a problem. The problem is that all they have are bad theories. These bad theories --- "capitalism is private property traded by private actors" --- an example --- are promoted as the "ideological" part of the business actors' lives. They generate ideology like teenagers generate acne pimples.
     Generally, capitalist actors have felt the need to develop bad theories of capitalism. Why? Well, I don't know how to put this in a smooth, stylish way, but, to cover up their evil or whatever. In fact, bad theories have been essential to capitalism's success like an eye patch and a bandanna is essential to a pirate. But yesterday's medicine could be today's poison; it doesn't follow that what was essential yesterday is essential, or even desirable, today. But they cannot get up off their lies (which of us can?) and so, they "contort" in their seats.
     But times change; the actors in the economy --- government, businesspersons, regular people, leaders, followers, markets, the private actors, the public actors, the liars, the cheaters, the flatulent hypocrite bankers with phosphorescent slime running down their noses and dribbling down their chins and eating acidic holes into their business suits --- all of these great persons of our brilliant social organism need to work together somehow and that's a matter of politics.
     Therefore, the piece on the "Gaia" site carried as a Green Conduct article speaks of "extraordinary contortions," which are --- in my opinion, maybe not the author's --- the squirms of G20 actors who don't want to do their job. Which is?

     Discriminating right from wrong. Acting ethically. Serving the people. A responsible government is government that runs its country in the right way, not the wrong way. It's pretty simple.

1 comment:

  1. In the sixth paragraph from the end, some readers may have been thrown by the words "Nature does that all by its (her?) self." It sounded right as I typed it. Even though it sounds like laissez-faire, it is the case that there is this "by itself" aspect, but this refers TO THE PAST. I do not think such a "natural" or unregulated basis exists, in any sense, for the future. I feel that real changes must be made. Man has to take control of the economy and capitalism has to develop into a more mature form where it is no longer simply left to "nature," which was an inadequate system in any case, which we should be quite glad to get rid of, as we must, if we are to have any future at all.