6 May 2010

The Global Weimar Phase

The historic rise of the far-right, including the consolidation of the Nazis in Germany, occurred in the context of the 1930s Great Depression. This is well-known. In Germany, the background to the rise of the Nazis was precisely the de-legitimization of the mainstream, democratic party-political system. People had simply lost all faith in the political system.

But their lack of faith in the political system hadn't sprung out of nowhere. It was a direct consequence of the massive economic devastation wrought by the systemic contraction of the world economy. Mainstream governments simply found it increasingly difficult to survive, and many didn't. The Weimer Republic collapsed in that context, and its collapse paved the way for an opportunist such as Hitler to manipulate his way to power, and to project the ills of the homeland onto the Jewish minority (among other minorities).

We're not back in the 1930s, but structurally - systemically - we're in a far worse condition. The problem is that the three main parties on offer today lack a fully-formed understanding of the real structural issues behind the concurrent crisis of world capitalism. They fail to realise that they're in a catch-22. The symptom-led solution to the massive deficit is inevitably massive cuts in spending. The problem is that those cuts, structurally necessary within the given system to stabilise our credit rating and currency value so that the government can keep borrowing, will inevitably contract the real economy massively to such an extent that it will create a serious socio-political crisis in this country in the next 5-10 years. We've heard as much from the Bank of England.

Yet what the Bank hasn't said, and won't, is that the reason we're in this mess is precisely the fact that the structure of our economic and financial system now systematizes debt. What the Bank also hasn't said is that we a full and lasting recovery is likely to be impossible in the constraints of the current system, because we're running short on the physical basis of the last few decades of exponential (and fluctuating) 'growth' - and that is cheap, easily available hydrocarbon energies, primarily oil, gas and coal.

The turning point has arrived, and without that global cheap energy source in abundant supply, we cannot continue growing, no matter what we do. Something has to give. Our economies need to be fundamentally, structurally, transformed. We need to transition to a new, clean, renewable energy system on which to base our economies. We need to transform the way money is created, so that it's not linked to the systematic generation of debt. We need to transform our banking system on the same grounds. Whitehall, and the three political parties, recognize only facets of the picture, but they don't see it as a whole.

Whatever government gets into power with this election, it's likely to be one that includes in some way all three parties. The new government, beholden to conventional wisdom, will be unable or unwilling to get to grips with the root structural causes of the current convergence of crises facing this country, and the world. This suggests that in 5-10 years, the entire mainstream party-political system in this country, and many Western countries, will be completely discredited as crises continue to escalate while mainstream policy solutions serve largely to contribute to them, not ameliorate them. The collapse of the mainstream party-political system across the liberal democratic heartlands could pave the way for the increasing legitimization of far-right politics by the end of this decade in the context of massive structurally-generated resources scarcities.

Of course, there's an alternative, but it lies with civil society, not simply with who to vote for, or not to vote for. We need to strengthen human and community resilience and awareness at the grassroots.

Anyway, I'm off as my wife is telling me off for spending so long writing this piece - we're about to pop down to the polling station now.

Happy voting!

1 comment:

  1. one by one they are falling to the right. here in the us, for years now, the scapegoating of latino and chicano immigrants, the new "jews". i've compared what is happening to what happened in germany but have been told by experts that the analogy is over the top... i don't think so. thank you for this excellent article, taking the time. and thank your wife! :>>)) cheers from oregon, ~laura tattoo xoxox