We are going through a wide-systematic reset where the current capitalist system is changing to the extent that a new world-order will be formed. Unfortunately, this won’t be like the previous resets in history. Previous systematic changes to the political-economic structure of the world were of great benefit to common people. When feudalism started collapsing in the 14th century, serfs were getting freed and the right to private property began to be shared by an increasing number of people. Capitalism had brought riches and opportunities, but eventually common people challenged the system once again to usher in socialism and build a society which is more just to them. We have seen since the Second World War in Western Europe the rise of socialist policies which had subdued the excesses of capitalism and created a fairer society thanks to free healthcare, free education, meritocracy, social mobility, decent working conditions, anti-rent-seeking measures etc…. Today we are experiencing a historical phenomenon in the other direction, that is a reset which will benefit the elite rather than the common people. This reset is effecting one of the greatest wealth transfer events from poor to rich in recorded history.
It’s all in the banks
The European Central Bank is following on the footsteps of the Federal Reserve in handling the economic crisis: quantitative easing. It’s the magical solution. Just like an intern in her first days of work, the European central banker, clueless, bewildered, and overwhelmed with the juggernaut of history, opted for the quick, copy and paste solution of the big boss. It’s what everyone does in the first days of a job after all. When in doubt, do the same thing your peers are doing. Then Merkel and Macron came up with their 750 billion Euro bazooka and the Euro broke its years-long downward trend and is now shooting up as if the sky is the limit. At face-value, everything seems to be working. Europe has made it.
But we know how this story ends because we’ve been here already. With the previous quantitative easing programmes initiated by Draghi “whatever it takes to save the Euro”, Europe did not lurch back into economic growth, on the contrary, the economic cycle upwards quickly ran out of steam and as of last year we were wondering whether Germany will remain an economic power-hub as its industry faltered and economic growth in Europe subsided. The peripheral countries such as Greece, Italy and Spain remained loaded in debt and austerity and their youths fled to other countries scrambling for jobs. Only Eastern Europe which most of it had not yet joined the Euro was picking up some steam as factories and manufactures rushed there for the cheaper labour. Now, we add to the debt and artificially inflate stock prices higher while hoping that economic growth will surge organically given an increased money supply and higher liquidity in the financial system. The only thing missing from this equation is reality itself. If we would have had some empirical evidence which showed a strong correlation between job creation and quantitative easing then it would have been easier. But we will have the new Green Deal for that. Ok. So the jobs are coming with investments in energy and infrastructure which we will fund with more debt, and which we would then have to pay for with more jobs that are created by the multiplier effect. It’s like playing a poker game which never ends, given you can buy-in again every time you lose your money, hoping that one day you’ll get a royal flush and go home a total winner. Debts cancelled and austerity ended. We’ve won. The only snag in this game plan is that poker players who keep losing will probably keep losing even more.
Put it simply, Italy, Greece and Spain will not pay their debt. So if we can get a free buy-in, why can’t we take the money and stop playing, instead? This is exactly what private banks, central bankers, big corporations want to avoid. You’ve got to play the game with their rules. Small manufacturers who had their cash-flow dried up are getting 2.5% interest on their emergency loans delaying by default, any capital investment they would do in the future. Small businesses are stuck in a rut while the big boys get to play with free money. Subsidising a failed European banking system to keep a dysfunctional system afloat. Why would central bankers and government officials change the game-plan if there are no riots in the streets and everyone seems to be happy in the Euro’s gilded prison?
But at the end of the day, we Europeans will get the thinner end of the stick. Amazon has devoured the retail space and crushed the profit-margins of many. Google, and Facebook suck up the advertising revenue and the culture and press-publishing industry is decimated. Will manufacturing make a comeback? Maybe, but if the whole world is in tatters and their currencies are debased who will buy our stuff? But maybe we are asking the wrong questions because the problems are innate in a system. From seeking to build meritocracy and social mobility as prescribed in in the European Social charter of the 1960s, the system now feeds money to the rich and locks the masses in austerity and a jobless economy. So much for the overblown balance sheet of the Central Bank: small businesses still have no cash-flow. There’s no rabbit coming out of the hat. If we want an economy which creates jobs we have to make cheap capital available to small businesses, but we’re not doing that. Lower-interest rates come only if you are big enough and then we put all the risk on the ordinary mortals eventually suffering mos of the consequences of austerity and a slow-growth economy. So why don’t we change the game then? Let’s play chess instead of poker. Drop the quantitative easing textbook, restructure the debt-spaghetti monster and unlock capital for a productive economy with 0.1% interest rate to small businesses and households.
Who will change the system?
The left in Europe was mostly represented in the international media by Jeremy Corbyn. The new wave of millennials who were dejected by the capitalist machine with university fees and property prices too expensive to own and live in. Sadly, the millennials will not get a break. Corbyn’s project was a rotten failure and was as bad as to lose votes from core Labour constituents who had voted Labour on a generational basis. What a fucking mess. We knew how it would end up, but we were too hopeful and high on idealism to admit it. Corbyn was the left’s biggest disappointment after Tsipras. But the British left seems to have learnt nothing at all from this experience and remains stuck in this fantasy-reality of 1970s anti-US imperialism. So, now they’ve got Keir Starmer and they hate him because he is not an Israeli-basher. We’ll see how this plays out.
On the other hand, Macron represents the European’s left compromised status-quo version. France with its overly-bloated government-spending system can keep its population afloat in this very difficult economic period, the question is for how long? Macron has no interest to change the system as long as France will have its cake and eat it. Then there is Sanchez who is too busy wheeling and dealing the internal divisive shenanigans of Spanish politics and has little time on his hands to even think about broad change in Europe. So, there’s no one out there fighting to change the system, and the dejected Southerners are turning to the far-right and populist politicians. They want to change the system themselves and the left is nowhere to be found. Fascism rears its ugly head once again.
The left needs to remake itself. The fact that there is no progressive force in Europe mobilising and fighting for the plight of the ordinary and the dejected is terrifying. After-all we’ve seen this happening in the US already. The Democrats failed to relate to the working-class and here comes Trump – the real-estate moghul who can speak to the working-class. Bring back jobs. Open those oil and gas taps and pump it full-speed ahead. People don’t want to think what is going to happen to the environment and to the world in ten or twenty years time, for fuck’s sake they need to pay their mortgage in thirty days. Get those jobs running. And the left keeps hounding on universal basic income as if that was going to be relatable to the working-class. Basic income you say? Sure. Let’s automate all the jobs, and ship the rest to India and give to the dejected a universal basic income doing an unproductive job. No wonder make America great again. The left is speaking discourse of the socialism of the early nineteenth century and Marx has become a mere symbol. Forget about complex economics and finance. And what happened to the philosophy of economy? Fundamentals, fundamentals and fundamentals. The main fundamental philosophical and economic point of Marx in all of his work was that humanity is intelligent enough to distribute natural resources in a way in which everyone can work and earn value for their work in a meritocratic manner. Isn’t this the European Social Charter speaking? Everyone should have the right to achieve one’s ambitions, to eventually work the job they desire and earn a just and decent amount of money for that job. And the social-mobility? Where is that? No, now, we have universal basic income. The economy is too broken to fix. People’s hopes are being diminished and they feel that their previous lucrative jobs are not coming back again. Then go to these people and explain about the privilege and importance of staying in the EU.
Trump was right
Trump reduced taxes to the rich and bloated government debt to astronomical proportions. The US has become the epicentre of quantitative easing, pulling all other central banks into its orbit. The fact that global trade is transacted in Dollars, gives the US carte-blanche to print as many Dollars as they like. Trump did in fact make America great again, but of course, it’s not ordinary Americans who are benefiting from the largess of the Federal Reserve. More automation, universal-basic income cheques, and low-paying jobs coming your way. The US has now become the unstoppable Dollar printing-machine sucking in all the foreign currencies into its fold and creating immense amount of wealth to a very small number of people. Outside the US, those who don’t have Dollars or at least Euros, will lose the game. China has lost the new Cold War before it even had the opportunity to rev-up its engine. Now, its bullishness and excessive authoritarian behaviour will only make China’s fate even worse. The debate now is not who will out-run the US, but who will out-run China. It seems that India has a very good chance to do this, but in a longer-time-frame, I think Mexico has also a very good chance of catching up.
So, Trump did actually fulfill his promise. He made America great again and broke China’s back. There was only one big snag in the whole plan – it ignored the basic fundamental economic reality and Trump now risks losing the votes of his constituent working-class base. Are the George Floyd riots a turning-point? Maybe, but literally no one knows what is going to happen and what comes next may be even worse than what we already have. I find Zizek’s theory of inertia quite irresponsible and reality shows this. Trump hasn’t opened the gates for progressive radical change in the US on the contrary – he has created an unequal society at home which is more solidified than before and internationally he has brought the whole world into an uncharted-territory which we Europeans tried to avoid for many years by creating stability mechanisms, single-currency, multi-national political institution promoting world peace etc… etc…. Now we are in the abyss of uncertainty and there are no leaders to look up to. Make America Great Again has come at the price of the whole international financial system.
And they are not going to let it collapse. They are going to Draghi it to whatever it takes. And as long as they issue the UBI cheques, they will hope that the system will keep floating and people don’t take to the streets with the pitchforks.
Why Fight Club Matters
As a historian, I see works of art in their historical context. Literary critiques give literary and aesthetic interpretations. Fight Club to me is a work of art which represents the contemporary struggle of the dejected in the times of hyper-finalised-capitalism. It’s not about the cult of Tyler Durden, but rather a struggle of the dejected who have no leaders, no ultimate plan, no ultimate end – just pull everything down and start from ground 0. Then we will see. Ins’t this the same spirit which lead people to vote for the far-right? Donald Trump is the real Tyler Durden, maybe a right-wing version of him.
So, if we are lost on a political level we have to start from ground 0 and that is why we have to start with ourselves. We have to take care of each other and build our communities. And we have to ask ourselves many questions. Do we want to live in a world where Amazon is the retail oligopoly of the world? Do we want to live in a world with UBI or with an economy which produces productive jobs and enables social mobility? Let’s cut to the chase. The left doesn’t seem to be a player in the political game. It’s either the quantitative-easing status-quo or the far-right which may bring the whole system down or make it even worse. We don’t have many options.
So, what’s next? No one knows, but it will only take a very small flame to light the huge powder-keg of social problems which we are accumulating over time. We’re not ready for that. One, new and unexpected black swan to wobble the ship once more.
So what’s next?
I don’t know why you ask, I don’t know. I am just a slave like you. I can only write as a historian. And I may be totally wrong of course. I hope so.