"International capital is mobile, and is running circles around the world's governments, frankly" speaks an economist on Radio 4's Today as I type. The author of 'The Price of Civilisation', Jeffrey Sachs, appeals for the return of a humanistic and communitarian ethos in America. The blurb for the book includes
Sachs goes deeper than an economic diagnosis. By taking a broad, holistic approach—looking at domestic politics, geopolitics, social psychology, and the natural environment as well—Sachs reveals the larger fissures underlying our country’s current crisis. He shows how Washington has consistently failed to address America’s economic needs. He describes a political system that has lost its ethical moorings, in which ever-rising campaign contributions and lobbying outlays overpower the voice of the citizenry. He also looks at the crisis in our culture, in which an overstimulated and consumption-driven populace in a ferocious quest for wealth now suffers shortfalls of social trust, honesty, and compassion.This is, of course, true. And the Occupy protesters and the Indignant protesters on the streets today are essentially angry about the same thing. The balance of global power has slipped away from the political class and towards the global corporates, not in some sinister conspiracy but through the wholly natural behaviour of monopolies and oligopolies in excluding competition and strengthening their grip. We, the West, are spent-out; the corporates have squeezed about all they can from our markets. The burgeoning markets and debt-potential of the BRICs are now their focus, rich honeypots of spectacular GDP growth and rapidly expanding middle classes, young populations and a sort of societal energy that powers rapid change.
Corporatism and the power of Leviathan States and Super States are the enemies both of laissez-faire capitalism and classic Liberalism, but the targets identified by the protesters are as fatuous as these things usually are; "... the WTO, the IMF, the ECB, the UN, the G8, the banks". The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars but in our selves. Both strands of protest today are by essentially 'an overstimulated and consumption-driven populace in a ferocious quest for wealth', by a furious young fighting for material gain. In 1968 they fought for Love; in 2011 it's for Money.
"You are right to be indignant. The fact is, the system is not working right ... We've socialized losses and privatized gains. That's not capitalism. That's not a market economy." – Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel laureate in economics, speaking to Occupy Wall Street.