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How Recessions Cause Wars and Revolutions

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Message shamus cooke

A quick glance around the globe reveals a ruined international economy, wars and more wars in the works, and revolutionary movements aplenty -- all connected phenomena. No, the apocalypse is not coming; but the international economic system currently used to arrange the social order is crumbling, taking everyone down with it.

The global capitalist system is in far worse shape than most people realize: it may only take the tiny economy of Greece to go bankrupt to break this camel's back -- and finally the word "recession" will be antiquated and "depression" will be in vogue.

How did this happen?

A great economic downturn would have happened years ago were it not for the monstrous debt that many governments created -- consumer, corporate, and state -- to prop up the economic system, since debt was needed to fuel the consumption that corporations depended on for the purchase of their products. When this global debt bubble burst, the current crisis was ignited.

The debts started going unpaid and the banks stopped lending, creating the "credit crunch." Giant corporations thus began failing, and the governments that are heavily "influenced" by these corporations went on a bailout frenzy: billions and trillions of taxpayer money poured into these companies, keeping them alive to plunder another day.

After the bailouts, stupid politicians everywhere declared the capitalist system "saved," and the crisis over. But bigger crises were already visible on the horizon.

The debt that nations used to bailout private corporations was too massive. If these countries' currencies are to retain any value, the debt must be trimmed (the Euro for example, is widely believed to be "finished"). The battle over how this trimming takes place can be properly referred to as "class war" -- a revolution in Greece is brewing over such an issue, with Portugal, Spain, and Italy not far behind.

All over Europe and the U.S. the corporate elite is demanding that the giant government debts -- due to bailouts and wars -- be reduced by lowering wages, gutting social services, slashing public education, Social Security, Medicare, etc. Labor unions and progressive groups are demanding that the rich and corporations, instead, pay for the crisis that they created through progressive taxation, eliminating tax havens, and if need be, nationalization. This tug of war over society's resources is class war. The global crisis has developed to such a degree that no middle ground can be safely bargained.

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Shamus Cooke is a social service worker and activist living in Portland Oregon.
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