Global Depression and Regional Wars - Reviewing James Petras' New Book: Part I - by Stephen Lendman
James Petras is Binghamton University, New York Professor Emeritus of Sociology. Besides his long and distinguished academic career, he's a noted figure on the left, a well-respected Latin American expert, and a longtime chronicler of the region' popular struggles. He's also a prolific author of hundreds of articles and dozens of books, most recently his new one titled, "Global Depression and Regional Wars" addressing America, Latin America and the Middle East.
Part I - Global Depression
Variety's famous October 30, 1929 headline is again relevant: "Wall Street Lays an Egg," or as economist Rick Wolff puts it: "Capitalism hit the fan" following a familiar pattern of boom and bust cycles punctuated by bubbles that always burst. Petras explains it this way:
"All the idols of capitalism over the past three decades have crashed. The assumptions and presumptions, paradigms and prognosis of indefinite progress under liberal free market capitalism have been tested and have failed. We are living the end of an entire epoch (and bearing witness to) the collapse of the US and world financial system."
Grim prospects are ahead:
-- a world depression with one-fourth of the labor force unemployed;
-- global trade in free fall;
-- a proliferation of bankruptcies with General Motors a metaphor for a decaying system;
-- free-market capitalism in disrepute; and
-- "planning, public ownership, nationalization(s and other) socialist alternatives have become almost respectable" because most sacred cow "truisms" and solutions have failed.
Today's global crisis reflects an unsustainable system - crisis-prone, unstable, anarchic, ungovernable, self-destructive, and eventually doomed to collapse. Its early death throes may now be audible - despite intense "psycho-babble" reengineering of facts to portray the current situation as a "failure of leadership....lack of understanding....willful ignorance of what markets need, (and) loss of confidence."
Samuel Boswell explained that "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." Perhaps "psycho-babble" is its equivalent for "capitalist ideologues, academics, (self-styled) experts, and financial page editorialists, all of whom use "shoddy economic arguments" to pump life into a bankrupt ideology - one based on:
-- repeated boom and bust cycles;
-- unsustainable growth to stay viable;
-- direct foreign investment for the highest rates of return, producing a race to the bottom the result of some nations benefitting at the expense of others and all of them eventually losing out;