Sunday, November 02, 2008
John McCain’s real problem is that if it is announced on Tuesday that he has won the election for the presidency of the United States, nobody will believe it.
Every indicator – including popular sentiment worldwide – is against him.
The huge crowds – some standing in the rain to listen to Barack Obama; the millions of poor people’s dollars donated to the Obama campaign, the hundreds of thousands of volunteers for Obama, the hundreds of songs written for Obama, the number of early voters who say they have voted for Obama, and finally, the public opinion polls have embedded into the consciousness of the world the idea that Barack Obama cannot lose this election if it is conducted fairly.
The world is suspicious of John McCain and his confederates.
They, led by Rove, Cheney and Bush have so discredited the US electoral system, have so reduced US credibility over the world, that nobody really believes anything they say.
And it isn’t that they are simply unbelievable, untrustworthy and full of it, they and McCain and Palin are also viewed as socially backward and behind the times, technologically advanced but culturally primitive -unrepresentative of what the world believes the real America to be.
In a world where Liberal usually means right of centre, non-Americans are astonished to hear “Liberal’ launched as a cuss-word by people who believe that the world was created in seven days and that dinosaurs and humans once walked the earth at the same time.
A few days ago it was announced that Volkswagen had overtaken Exxon-Mobil as the world’s most highly valued company. In a world where ‘socialism’ is an even more outrageous insult than ‘liberal’, it is startling to contemplate the fact that Volkswagen is a product of the post-war British Army of the Rhine directed by the 1945 British government of Clement Atlee- a bunch of socialist commissars who reinvented Hitler’s ‘People’s Car’ and put it on the road.
It was these same socialists who were responsible for civilising industrial relations in Germany by inventing the idea of Co-Determination, a system where the worker participates at every executive level of the German corporation and worker directors sit on corporate boards.
Co-Determination is an idea which has been so successful that it has transformed European social relations and flowered into the adoption of an EU social agenda – aimed at full employment and a more inclusive, participatory society. On December 9, 1989, the member states, with the historically ironic exception of the United Kingdom, adopted a declaration constituting the Community Charter of the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers.
Among the areas regulated in this charter are such matters as employment and remuneration, improvement of living and working conditions, social protection, freedom of association, collective bargaining, equal treatment of men and women, industrial health, the protection of children, elderly and disabled persons; and information, consultation and participation of workers in decision-making. Most of these principles are still, in the United States, subjects of bitter dispute.
A couple of weeks ago, President Bush, in a piteous appeal for a return to the wild, begged his fellow world leaders not to abandon the principles of laissez-faire when they come to remake the world in the aftermath of the current economic meltdown and the almost inevitable social catastrophe to follow.
The next president of the United States will need to come to terms with a world which no longer works according to American principles and rules. Free trade, globalisation, and the ideas behind the multilateral agreement on investment are obsolete.
This time, as in every crisis of capitalism, the pundits are dashing to the Internet and the libraries to reread Karl Marx.
Marx was not a sentimentalist. He hated neither capitalism nor capitalists. They were objective realities and functioned according to certain principles. Capitalism was doomed to fail because of its fundamental internal contradictions – not because of the greed of its practitioners.
These contradictions include the antagonism between the social, collective nature of production on the one hand, and private ownership of the means of production on the other; and the antagonism between the world market and the limitations of the nation state. Capitalism is based on production for profit and not for social need. The working class creates new value but receives only a portion of that new value back as wages.
The capitalists take the rest – the surplus. As a result, the working class collectively cannot afford to buy back all the goods it produces. Capitalism destroys its own markets by pauperising its workers and by over-production. Marx predicted globalisation and the worldwide effects we now experience.
The opponents of socialism, the proponents of laissez-faire, tend to believe like Margaret Thatcher that “There is no such thing as society” and like Ronald Reagan that “Government is not the answer, Government is the problem.” The ultra-capitalists and globalisers abhor what they call “the Nanny State” – the welfare state that attempts to guarantee a basic level of civilised existence for all.
In FA Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom?” the problem is stated: “In place of individual liberty, socialism offers security. It promises protection from personal economic necessities and restraints, and an equality of economic well-being.” Hayek was not a socialist.
The main architect of the latest disaster, Alan Greenspan, has proclaimed himself confounded by the turn of events. He had a set of rules which he says had always worked. Until now! He cannot understand the disaster over which he presided.
Greenspan is a disciple of Ayn Rand, one of recent history’s most eminent false prophets. Rand’s theory – so-called ‘Objectivism’ – holds that human beings must rationally be selfish, putting individual self-interest first. She therefore rejects the ethical doctrine of altruism – a moral obligation to live not only for one’s self but for the sake of others. Since Rand took millions of words to define her philosophy, any summary of it is perforce crude. I do not think, however, that I have misrepresented her, or Hayek, or Greenspan, or Thatcher or Reagan or the millions of others to whom freedom is a purely personal attribute and life is every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.
Some others of us think that none of us is free if any of us is unfree. The fascists believe that any sense of duty outside of self is a fetter, restricting real freedom. We believe that only by our mutual recognition of all our humanity are we human, and that our civilisation and survival depend on that. We are all in the same boat and on the same journey.
Individual liberty clearly means different things to different people. The International Republican Institute, headed by John McCain, no doubt believes that the people of Haiti are free, and free to starve to death, while the people of Cuba are enslaved by socialism, free education and the best health services in the world.
The IRI was one of the prime movers in usurping Haitian sovereignty to get rid of Jean Bertrand Aristide whom they consider a serious threat to real democracy as he was intent on building another socialist/welfare state alongside Cuba.
NAUGHT FOR THEIR COMFORT
The Gleaner on Wednesday betrayed the essentially parasitical view of imperial capitalism, when it headlined a soiree held at the Gleaner with the admonition “Look away from the USA”, and reported that a number of academics and a (now obligatory) theologian were urging the government to seek financial aid from world powers other than the USA.
On Sunday last Mr Edward Seaga similarly gave his considered and equally obtuse opinion that Jamaica stood to gain nothing from either Obama or McCain. Continue reading