Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 4 (4 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Stats   15 comments

OpEdNews Op Eds

Paralysis: An Early Stage of Paradigm Shift

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H2 2/3/09

Become a Fan
  (2 fans)
- Advertisement -
Although Arianna Huffington ended her report from Davos, Switzerland, last week with a bon mot about dinosaur free-marketeers, her more important comment was about the paralysis seemingly affecting the principals at the world's annual convention of the rich and powerful.
The widespread contrition permeating Davos is matched by an unnerving feeling of paralysis. The people here -- and we are talking about some of the most influential people on the planet -- seem confused, at a loss about how to attack the financial crisis. No one seems to think that the steps being taken are sufficient. It's as if we are watching things unravel -- how many times, for example, are we gong to hear that layoffs have exceeded expectations? -- but are powerless to stop the unraveling.
An unnerving feeling of paralysis, indeed! It is a good sign, in fact, for followers of Thomas Kuhn and paradigm theory. It means that we are probably rid of the free-marketers for a while, or at least until one of the inevitable late-adopters of the new paradigm comes up with one more reason to believe in a flat earth! New ideas, however, we have very few of these days. Everyone is reading Jonathan Alter and others on the FDR answer to financial calamity. FDR does not represent new ideas at all, nor were his ideas coherent and part of an ideology or theory of finance, markets, or government. The alphabet soup of CCC, NRA, PWA, WPA, TVA, and so forth were ad hoc stabs in the dark intended to put some money into circulation where it would do some good ... saving people from starvation and hopeless homelessness. Barack Obama, the economists like Paul Krugman, and indeed the Democrats in Congress are pretty sure they have distilled the FDR experience down to a paradigm, though. Spend. Spend like inflation of the currency would solve deflation in the general economy caused by a freeze in finance. They may be right, and who's to say when no one, well practically no one important, is saying something that makes more sense. Paradigms are tricky. You get to hatch a new paradigm only when you are least expecting to. So, if Krugman is correct in "Bailouts for Bunglers," the new paradigm could easily be founded on the principles of kleptocracy, and we will play hell getting beyond the thrall we have been in of the financial wunderkind s. While the Davos rich and powerful were sitting there in paralysis, down in Belem, Brazil, the world's Left was meeting, too. Their fairly unanimous opinion is that capitalism is dying, if not already dead. Let's be clear about this: capital-ISM is different from capital, which is just a category of resource in any economy. The Left at Belem ... (funny we don't hear about these meetings on Olbermann or Maddow) ... could not help but notice what the Davos people have known since 1581 (when the Dutch declared their independence ... and modern Christian capitalism began to form). People left to themselves try to find a financial advantage, be it in meals for socialists or drinking water for Lefties in Belem. One hopes that the version of capitalism that emerged in WWII (under FDR, Truman, and Ike, btw)-the military industrial complex-does fail, but we would have to stop fighting wars for that to happen. We are not close. Accordingly, the nature of capitalism will not change appreciably, except that the "complex" part of the military-industrial system, i.e., Congress, will try to expunge the latter-day variant called Reaganism, and might succeed. It does not matter whether we have stringent regulations or none as long as capitalists own our government! Not to despair, though, the Davos and the Belem people are not crazy. They both recognize ... as you have for several months ... that we are at a tipping point and it is up to us to notice that the world is spherical and that ownership of capital is not grounds for declaring superiority or special recognition. Capital is, as Marx laboriously proved, the accumulation of "surplus value" drawn out of markets and applied to next enterprises. Capital is not savings. Savings is savings. Capital is applied savings of surplus value. Surplus value is the value difference between the costs of production and price. In other words, surplus value is the result of holding down production costs knowing (or hoping) that the market will bear a higher price. Capital is not theft, nor is it evil or bad in any way. CapitalISM, on the other hand, adds judgments about the holders and appliers of capital that are wholly unwarranted by evidence and history. Capitalists are notoriously inept at decision making and waste more of their savings than they convert to capital. Recently Wall St. proved this by granting $18.2 billion in bonuses to people who managed capital ... to spend on wasteful toilets, yachts, and other inessential things, all of which do nothing to promote the general welfare. We will reach a new paradigm about political economy eventually. (I use the old term to emphasize that we dare not say "political economy" these days because it points up the relationship between politics and economy.) I don't know what the new paradigm will be, but if it is a new paradigm it will "solve" problems that seem intractable right now. It will account for the evidence we now see better after the fall. It will ignore some evidence and in so doing will lay the foundation for another paradigm shift years from now. JB
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

 

James R. Brett, Ph.D. taught Russian History before (and during) long stint as an academic administrator in faculty research administration. His academic interests are the modern period of Russian History since Peter the Great, Chinese History, (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon


Go To Commenting

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Follow Me on Twitter

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles
- Advertisement -

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Economy v. Ecology

VP Debate: One Gigantic Mistake by Sarah Palin ... Huge!

Tell It Like It Is

The Meaning of the Mike Connell Story: Under the Bus

Capitalism, Fascism, and Socialism

Sack Rahm

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
10 people are discussing this page, with 15 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

We are free of 'free marketers' only until... by M. Davis on Tuesday, Feb 3, 2009 at 4:26:29 PM
M. you are absolutely correct.  I don't k... by James Brett on Tuesday, Feb 3, 2009 at 4:36:13 PM
I find this view encouraging. Paradigm shift is wh... by martinweiss on Tuesday, Feb 3, 2009 at 4:54:09 PM
I'm more interested in what the paradigm shoul... by Harold Barre on Tuesday, Feb 3, 2009 at 8:16:58 PM
First thing: paragraphsSecond thing:  I like ... by James Brett on Tuesday, Feb 3, 2009 at 8:46:49 PM
I agree with everything you wrote- in fact, I'... by Jennifer Hathaway on Tuesday, Feb 3, 2009 at 10:28:40 PM
I have just read The Pyramid and the Net, and I wi... by James Brett on Wednesday, Feb 4, 2009 at 12:11:31 AM
Perhaps their work is finished.  The only thi... by kato krause on Tuesday, Feb 3, 2009 at 9:32:17 PM
I get the feeling from history ... or historians, ... by James Brett on Wednesday, Feb 4, 2009 at 12:15:41 AM
Maybe some old fashioned Libertarian socialism? Co... by Patrick Lafferty on Tuesday, Feb 3, 2009 at 10:06:30 PM
Isolationism is impossible, but there will be sire... by James Brett on Wednesday, Feb 4, 2009 at 12:21:45 AM
It is not an economic problem, it is a political p... by William Whitten on Wednesday, Feb 4, 2009 at 12:39:21 AM
"Government is predation."Forgive me, bu... by Perry Logan on Wednesday, Feb 4, 2009 at 4:19:33 PM
Those of us who appreciate the unsustainable cultr... by Jim Prues on Wednesday, Feb 4, 2009 at 4:22:14 PM
Have you ever heard of "Communitarianism"... by William Whitten on Thursday, Feb 5, 2009 at 7:50:11 AM