January 10, 2010

Financial Weapons of Mass Destruction

We live in a society which tends to reduce everything to a commodity with a price tag. In these conditions, lack of motivation at work, sickness and absenteeism, disinterest in the wider society, different kinds of escapism, crime and antisocial behaviour will tend to flourish.

The cyclical crises (boom and bust) of the current economic and social order become increasingly alarming as companies go to the wall, labour and machinery are thrown onto the scrapheap and public services are depleted.

A minority of big shareholders own the world’s capital - the big money - and employ almost everyone else to work for them. For these big shareholders and directors the sole purpose of any endeavour is to maximise their wealth. Production is not carried out to meet the needs of people or the needs of society as a whole. Houses are not built by private developers so that people can have homes. They are built only when a big enough profit can be made from selling the houses. There could be a million people in need of a home – but unless they can pay a price which guarantees a profit (usually by taking out a mortgage to pay at least five times the actual building cost of the house) those houses will not be supplied because the speculative land alone will increase in value regardless of whether or not a house is built on it.

If capital can gain a higher rate of return in arms production, banking, or through the employment of child labour overseas, its owners will invest it there. Similarly technology is developed and deployed primarily in the interests of profit. There is little or no profit to be made in the development of medicines for afflictions linked to poverty, and the technology will not be pursued or applied unless public money is forthcoming. On the other hand, in hugely profitable sectors such as hi-tech entertainment systems, innovation is relentlessly pursued in order to ensure speedy obsolescence. The two world wars of the 20th century multiplied and strengthened the bonds between big business and the state - indeed the whole system is lubricated by the circulation of money, personnel and posts between big business and the state. As a matter of priority a capitalist state will devote substantial funds to military research and development.

Globalisation has intensified the contradictions of laissez faire capitalism. Its uneven economic and political development, it’s periodic financial crises bringing mass unemployment, poverty, insecurity and exploitation, have widened further the gap between rich and poor on a domestic and global level.

Globalisation is a strategy driven by the world’s most powerful monopolies and their states. Its’ primary goal is the unhindered penetration of every part of the globe. International organisations (such as the IMF, WTO and World Bank) are dominated by the US, Japan, Germany, Britain and France in order to drive through free movement of capital, deregulation of labour and the privatisation of almost all public sector industries and services. This power and freedom for transnational corporations has problems. In Britain for example, the export of capital has eroded the country’s manufacturing base and the privatisation of essential public services is proving to be inefficient and expensive.

Society is losing its’ optimism. Many people are experiencing psychological problems – often arising from stress – and ever larger sections of the population demonstrate their disaffection through self-destructive or escapist behaviour. Politics has become increasingly corrupted and the mass media have largely abandoned any notion of inquiry, integrity and improvement in favour of vulgar populism, cynicism, defeatism and consumerism.

The world-wide scramble for profit is depleting the Earth’s non-renewable resources without regard for the immediate environmental or longer term ecological consequences. Vital research, development and utilization of renewable and less harmful energy sources are neglected because bigger profits can be made elsewhere.

Globalization often appears to be a force of nature, a phenomenon without bounds or alternatives. But peoples’ movements have shown that it is neither unalterable nor inevitable. Citizens all over the world—ordinary people from the global North and South—can work together to shape alternate futures, to build a globalization of cooperation, solidarity and respect for our common planetary environment. It need not be all about profit.

The deepening contradiction between the economic, environmental and democratic needs of society as a whole, and the requirements of big business profits can only be resolved peacefully through the political will of self-empowered, self-educated and responsible voters.



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