Shop local

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Saral Sakar 'Understanding the present-day World Economic Crisis: An Eco-Socialist Approach'

Interesting essay from an eco-socialist Indian colleague - Saral Sakar - offering an eco-socialist analysis of and prescriptions for the global economic crisis.

He notes the following:

It was said that in the first seven days after the stock exchange crash, wealth amounting to 2.5 trillion dollar was lost, and since the stock exchange peak of one year earlier, stock owners lost 8.4 trillion dollar (Wall Street Journal, 10.10.2008). But what does that actually mean? One says in such cases, the wealth vanished into thin air. But in reality, nothing concrete vanished, no house, no car. What vanished into thin air were only some numbers on paper, some zeros after a digit. The 8.4 trillion dollar were only fictitious wealth. A year before the stock prices peaked, the same stocks were valued much lower. Only speculation had driven the market value of the stocks upward. After the crash, what was in any case fictitious wealth ceased to exist.

Worth remembering of course that much of this lost wealth was illusory, paralleling the creation and circulation of 'fiat money' within an over-heated economy fulled by a double whammy of a stock market bubble and a housing bubble. But...while this correct, how many peoples' pensions were reduced or lost in that process of fictitious wealth destruction?

Later he suggests that what really triggered the crisis is the fact that the capitalist world has reached 'limits to growth'

Trade-unionists and all kinds of leftists may blame the current misery of the working people on brutal capitalist exploitation, on the weakness of the working class, on speculators without any conscience, on greedy bankers, on globalization that has caused the relocation of many production units in cheap-wage countries etc. Of course, at first sight, all these explanations are partly correct. But on closer look one cannot but realize that when, on the whole, there are less and less resources to distribute because it is getting more and more difficult to extract them from nature (think of oil exploration off the west coast of Greenland!), then, even in a better capitalist world with a strong working class, at best a fairer distribution could be achieved, not more prosperity for all. It is now necessary to think in totally new terms; a paradigm shift isnecessary, a shift from the former growth paradigm to what I call the limits-to-growth paradigm.

His analysis is that we are headed for a long period of economic contraction, which must, in his words, lead to a 'steady state economy' as we adjust our economic system to the available energy and natural resources we can exploit and use sustainably. And he concludes that what we are witnessing is "not simply the crisis of capitalism. It is the crisis of industrialism altogether, in whichever socio-political frame it might be packed. "

Interesting and provocative analysis as one would rightly expect from an eco-socialist perspective. It would have been useful if there had been some attention given to what one might call the classic question posed by Lenin 'What is to be done?'

No comments:

Post a Comment