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Turbo-Charging The Great Depression And Great Repression

Financialization, stock market manipulation, the refusal to strengthen the productive sector that actually produces what people need (the real economy), large declines in consumer spending, enormous sums of debt in all forms and at all levels, more personal and corporate bankruptcies, endless money printing by central banks around the world, extremely low interest rates, and the non-stop invention of toxic financial instruments, "utilities," "vehicles," "facilities," and arrangements to rescue the rich now dominate the retrogressive direction of humanity. These and other antisocial developments point to a historically exhausted ruling class that is unfit to rule. The financial oligarchy has no solutions for any of the serious problems confronting humanity, just more tragedies.

The last few months have unmasked the most massive economic collapse the U.S. has ever experienced. Officially, 30 million people in the U.S. lost their jobs in about 6 weeks. The St. Louis Federal Reserve noted recently that around 50 million Americans may be unemployed in the coming months, resulting in an "official" unemployment rate exceeding 32 percent.2 The jobless rate at the height of the 1930s Great Depression was 25%.
 link to dissidentvoice.org

Turbo-charging The Great Depression and Great Repression

by Shawgi Tell / May 9th, 2020

Great Depression

Since the 2008 economic collapse engineered by Wall Street, most of the world's economies have been running on gas fumes and more bankrupt schemes and failed policies. Few, if any, economies have been able to return to weak pre-2008 economic growth levels. Even the Chinese and Indian economic "miracles" are not that miraculous.

To be sure, major capitalist economies have been declining since the late 1970s, and for the past few years imperialist organizations like the IMF and World Bank have routinely revised downward multiple economic growth estimates that are low to begin with.

Financialization, stock market manipulation, the refusal to strengthen the productive sector that actually produces what people need (the real economy), large declines in consumer spending, enormous sums of debt in all forms and at all levels,1 more personal and corporate bankruptcies, endless money printing by central banks around the world, extremely low interest rates, and the non-stop invention of toxic financial instruments, "utilities," "vehicles," "facilities," and arrangements to rescue the rich now dominate the retrogressive direction of humanity. These and other antisocial developments point to a historically exhausted ruling class that is unfit to rule. The financial oligarchy has no solutions for any of the serious problems confronting humanity, just more tragedies.

The last few months have unmasked the most massive economic collapse the U.S. has ever experienced. Officially, 30 million people in the U.S. lost their jobs in about 6 weeks. The St. Louis Federal Reserve noted recently that around 50 million Americans may be unemployed in the coming months, resulting in an "official" unemployment rate exceeding 32 percent.2 The jobless rate at the height of the 1930s Great Depression was 25%.

Millions have also seen their pensions and savings drop substantially and rapidly. Not surprisingly, the mental, emotional, and physical health of millions has also further deteriorated, causing more harm than the coronavirus itself. Insecurity and uncertainty have never been higher.

Globally, a bigger disaster is unfolding. An April 29, 2020 press release from the International Labor Organization states that, "The continued sharp decline in working hours globally due to the COVID-19 outbreak means that 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy - that is nearly half of the global workforce - stand in immediate danger of having their livelihoods destroyed."3

The coming months and years will be horrendous for millions worldwide. More intense social, economic, and political turmoil is bound to arise. Few will be unaffected by coming developments.

Fortunately, the fear, hysteria, and disinformation built into the ready-made "COVID Pandemic" narrative promoted by the rich and their allies has not caused everyone to become anticonscious or paralyzed. Many have not abandoned conscious acts of finding out the truth.

The "COVID Pandemic" did not trigger, induce, or cause the current economic meltdown, it simply diverted attention from it temporarily and provided convenient cover for what was inevitable.4 For years, many have been accurately predicting a major stock market crash and a deepening of the economic depression that started 12 years ago. It was not a matter of if the house of cards would collapse, but when it would break down. Many actually came very close to predicting the exact timeline of the economic collapse as well. There really were no mysteries or secrets.

Capitalism has always lurched from crisis to crisis, ensuring instability and insecurity for millions. Chaos, anarchy, and violence are inherent core features of the so-called "free market." Economic upheavals, slumps, recessions, booms, and busts are fellow-travelers of this anachronistic economic system that further destroys the social and natural environment with each passing day. This will continue so long as conscious human control of the economy is blocked by existing political-economic arrangements.

While comparing the current economic catastrophe to the deep economic crises of 2008 or the 1930s has some value, this value is limited because the breadth, depth, and nature of the current economic collapse is far greater and qualitatively different given the all-around level of development and interconnectedness of contemporary societies and economies around the world. Wealth and power are also more concentrated in fewer hands today than just 12 years ago. Geo-political and geo-economic configurations have evolved and changed as well, presenting humanity with new realities. And never before has most of the world been put on a top-down extended lockdown (a prison term) for months at the same time.

In this dark context, while various benefits, stimulus checks, waivers and extensions for bills, and other social insurance programs are being considered and implemented in order to provide people with some relief, these are all temporary and inadequate—they are largely "stop-gap measures." Student loans, for example, will have to start being repaid eventually, as will rent, credit cards, mortgages, car payments, service fees, and utility bills.

Here it is worth recalling that the U.S. Federal Reserve recently printed $4 trillion to prop up the big banks and big business. This is in addition to the $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed a few weeks ago,5 which also benefits mainly the rich. Most of the money that was printed in three seconds will not go to the majority. It will not substantively help the millions who have been harmed by the severe economic collapse that could have been prevented if decisions were made by the people and not the financial oligarchy. This is even more alarming when considering that the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Neel Kashkari, recently stated that the Federal Reserve has an "infinite amount of cash" to bail out the super-rich.

But if an "infinite amount of cash" can arbitrarily and instantly be printed on a whim, why should anything go unfunded? Why not fully fund excellent healthcare for all right now? Why not fully fund America's public schools? Why not eliminate $1.7 trillion of humiliating student debt immediately? Why should anyone even pay taxes? What meaning does money have if it bears no relationship to the real world and the sphere of production that humanity depends on? Replacing real value with fictitious value is not a recipe for social progress; it lays the groundwork for deeper problems down the road.

Great Repression

The current crisis will lead to the further concentration of wealth in even fewer hands. Everything will be even more monopolized by the super-rich.

Monopoly in economics means monopoly in politics, and monopoly in politics means less democracy and more authoritarianism, repression, surveillance, and war. Things cannot be otherwise in the final and highest stage of capitalism. Economic parasitism and decay will only intensify until a new direction, motivation, and outlook for society and the economy are established by the people themselves.

On May 2, 2020, the Washington Post wrote:

In a matter of months, tens of millions of people in dozens of countries have been placed under surveillance. Governments, private companies and researchers observe the health, habits and movements of citizens, often without their consent... . At least 27 countries are using data from cellphone companies to track the movements of citizens, according to Edin Omanovic, the advocacy director for Privacy International, which is keeping a record of surveillance programs.6

It is no accident that we are seeing a broad range of enhanced police-state arrangements being put into place during the "COVID Pandemic." Police-state arrangements are multiplying, often out of sight and with zero scrutiny.

New police-state arrangements include stepping up the number of police departments in dozens of U.S. cities using more drones to "protect public health"—usually without telling anyone. A dystopian atmosphere has even emerged in some places.

We are also seeing big tech companies like Apple launching "tracing apps" so as to "find infected people" and "improve public health." Such apps will gather, store, and misuse gigantic quantities of private information, creating much anguish and many headaches for people in a variety of ways.

State "digital checkpoints" have also conveniently emerged during the "COVID Pandemic." Some states are now setting up arrangements that require those driving into their state to stop at some place close to the state border and complete some sort of digital personal inventory and questionnaire before being permitted to enter the state. Putting aside the many embarrassing logistical and technical problems that have emerged with these poorly-conceived antisocial arrangements, this is nonetheless an effective way to gather extensive private and personal information—and it is probably unconstitutional; certainly not something Americans are used to or should get used to.

Perhaps worse, several mayors of major cities have publicly, casually, and openly called on people to snitch on each other in the name of "improving public heath." Snitching all of a sudden has been cynically turned into a virtue, even a heroic act. But is such an approach a progressive, responsible, and ethical way to build a modern society that honors the dignity and personality of people? How is sowing distrust, animosity, and fear between neighbors helpful and acceptable? Is this how unity and mutual support are built?

A massive top-down effort to shift many different services and work online is also exposing millions more to frequent invasions of their privacy and hacking, not to mention a range of technology-related health problems (e.g., headaches, eye strain, neck pain, hand problems, shoulder tension, and sedentary behavior). Technology is great in many ways, but it is also excellent at delivering many problems.

For a more extensive and detailed breakdown of the many other aggressive and criminalizing surveillance tactics being used by authorities at home and abroad, see John W. Whitehead's March 3, 2020 article, "Coronavirus vs. the Mass Surveillance State: Which Poses the Greater Threat?"

Fight for the Alternative

It is critical to consciously reject and condemn police state arrangements and government abdicating its responsibility to the people. As grim and sometimes apocalyptic as the dark situation we are collectively suffering through feels like at times, all is not lost. All is not doom and gloom.

Contradictions, cracks, and openings abound.

While various things have (inadvertently) improved during the "COVID Pandemic," such as less pollution around the world, clearer skies, cleaner lakes, fewer car accidents, and lower gas prices, to name just a few, we are experiencing a deep crisis, and a crisis presents various opportunities.

What happens next is significant.

It is critical to deprive the rich and their allies of any initiative to further wreck everything. Their ideas and policies are bankrupt and do not serve the public interest. The rich and their retinue, including the cartel political parties, must not be allowed to set the agenda for anything. They have no real solutions.

People are tired of being told what to do by unaccountable "leaders" and politicians, and they reject the ready-made diversionary answers "leaders" are tirelessly promoting. People do not want any more top-down "solutions" that leave them out of the equation. They want to be the decision-makers themselves, which means giving more than occasional "input" that is routinely disregarded or used against them anyway. Decision-making and "input" are not the same. The entire polity must be part of all decision-making. Sovereignty lies with the polity, not "leaders," different factions of the rich, and politicians.

People can and must boldly speak out in their own name and be accountable only to themselves and their peers. The polity is very creative and has many intelligent solutions for everything, as well as a strong desire to enact such solutions.

It is harmful to rely on the rich and their political representatives. It is best to avoid them altogether and find new ways to come together and think about, analyze, and discuss new directions, motivations, agendas, and programs for society and the economy. There is an alternative to the highly untenable status quo.

1. Credit card debt is about one trillion dollars in America and has grown significantly since the 2008 economic collapse. See Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. August 2019. The consumer credit card market. [↩]
2. Miguel Faria-e-Castro. "Back-of-the-envelope estimates of next quarter's unemployment rate". Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, March 24, 2020. [↩]
3. International Labor Organization. "ILO: As job losses escalate, nearly half of global workforce at risk of losing livelihoods", April 29, 2020. [↩]
4. It is worth noting that, intended or not, social and physical distancing rules have played a big role in blocking rallies, protests, and demonstrations against assaults on people's rights and livelihoods. [↩]
5. Note that millions of people have still not received their meager stimulus check. [↩]
6. Kareem Fahim, Min Joo Kim and Steve Hendrix. "Cellphone monitoring is spreading with the coronavirus. So is an uneasy tolerance of surveillance". Washington Post, May 2, 2020. [↩]

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Shawgi Tell is author of the book Charter School Report Card. He can be reached at  stell5@naz.edu.. Read other articles by Shawgi.

This article was posted on Saturday, May 9th, 2020 at 2:05am and is filed under 2008 Financial Collapse, Capitalism, COVID-19 (coronavirus), Debt, Economic Inequality, Economy/Economics, Fearmongering, Federal Reserve, Free Market, Lockdown, Media, Militarism, Police, Propaganda, Repression, Social Movements, Surveillance, Unemployment.

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