Will Bonsall

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excerpted from old essay on Paul Krugman

What Krugman basically sees is a political divide between Liberals and Conservatives, with competing generic ideologies. Liberals seek government intervention, amelioration of the (worst) excesses of Capitalism; Conservatives seek to accelerate Capitalistic processes, which are best summed up by Private Enterprise, rendering a rabid and irrational hostility toward government itself. (The inherent validity of Capitalism is of course unquestioned). This simplistic dogma overlooks a lot: most obviously, the consistent bipartisan commitment to Empire, but also the darker and more complex intricacies of neoliberal capitalism, particularly in the overlap between State and Private Sector; not to mention their absolute ecological destructiveness. What it really ignores is the hegemonic approach to reality that seemingly underlies all mainstream ideology these days, implicitly suggesting that the effects of Capitalism are (still) malleable, a rather compromised position on the effects of economic processes that a Nobel Laureate might recognize as objectionable (admittedly, it does raise severe questions about the supposed objectivity of the “science” Economics). To be sure, every critique of Neoliberalism points out the obvious truths that Krugman spends each column diminishing, rendering into mildness, non-absolutes.

 

In any case, Krugman’s consistent anti-Bernie columns and blog posts (Sanders over the edge, Varieties of Voodoo, Who Hates Obamacare?, The Truth About the Sanders Movement, Bernie’s Bad End, Weakened at Bernie’s)— based never so much on fact as on liberal political commentating orthodoxy— neatly mutated into anti-Trump columns, who, it should be noted, was lumped into the same “demagogue” category as Sanders. All columns were asterisked with the same defense of the beneficent Hillary Clinton, who was only, Paul Krugman repeatedly reminded us, after twenty five years in the public spotlight, a little misunderstood. In the general campaign Krugman wrote column after column attacking the media— aligned pretty much 99% with the Clinton campaign— for being completely unfair to Clinton, and spouting over and over, in the same 3-4 sentences, a banal and uninformed defense of Clinton’s record and objectives (“realistic,” “left-leaning,” “most progressive platform in decades,” “most qualified candidate in history.”) His characterization (this characterization, one seemingly dreamed up as a Clinton talking point and repeated ad nauseam by all sympathetic political commentators) stank of unbelievability and demonstrated a thin and selective reading of words and expressions with a staggering blindness; i.e. no consideration of the evident ideological approach underlying the Clinton political program. Virtually nothing he wrote acknowledged the myriad and obvious flaws of Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic political agenda, which were visible well before the election. These columns were beyond useless, indeed were probably unhelpful to Clinton (who in God’s name could they have convinced who was not already?) and most aesthetically problematically, were written in the graceless pseudo-conversationality that increasingly defines the style of all NYTimes ed board writers (though the imbecilic & delusional pablum of David Brooks remains a world unto its own).

written in 2015

The corporations (etc financial interests) can only have their way because the US maintains global hegemony with its military (or at least does in theory, in the dominant external view of the world, though the reality of this grows more doubtful). However the infrastructural basis of this appears to be crumbling. The US is in deep debt and spending far beyond its means. The far-right (political representation of the corporations) continues working to dismantle government in favor of loosening the few remaining economic constraints on corporate activity. Productive industries have moved out of the United States, leaving much of what remains to the domestic ‘economy’ devoted to top-down service labor— essentially, recycling cash dollars in a cash economy, a nonproductive, cyclical, wasteful process. Corporations etc only systematically interested in profit neglect the basis on which the entire dominating system is founded. This is possible only in a hyper-integrated, modern world, wherein money acquires an abstract, electronic value.

In tandem is the disrupted and worsening state of the environment. Corporate activity in its constant drive for profits consumes & exploits vast quantities of natural resources, and damages and destroys natural spaces, polluting the earth to maintain its system of operation and to earn what must be short-term profits. But as environmental impacts are increasingly dire, and industrial civilization increasingly devastating— posing true, existential threats to civilization and human and other life on the planet— we are presented with a progressively clear demonstration that the present world economic system, geared towards profit over any sense of living harmoniously on & with the earth–industrial capitalism as it is– is not a realistic, sustainable, or possibly long-term one. Moreover while productive economic labors and industries exist, the structure of the entire one, which through its enormity and pervasiveness delineates the overall economic current on the planet and world economy, is non-productive, profit driven, and not sustainable.

What happens next is unclear but it is clear that humans must live harmoniously and productively on the earth, cooperatively, or not at all.