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Monday, September 15, 2008

U.S. Capitalist Financial/Economic System on the Brink

While the two U.S. Presidential candidates have allowed their campaign to descend into stupidity and triviality, and the Bush administration is trying to restart a Cold War with Russia and foment another major escalation of military conflict on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, the nation's financial and economic system teeters on the brink--after a second weekend of Wall Street brinksmanship to deal with the failure of two major financial firms (Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch) following last weekend's last-ditch efforts to save Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from complete collapse.
The collapse of Lehman Brothers, and attendant weakness of other major financial institutions, has now produced perhaps the worst U.S. financial crisis since the banking panic that faced former President Franklin Roosevelt at the beginning of his administration in March 1933.
While the economic survival of the United States and its own citizens are increasingly on the line, and the United States is in need of state-building efforts at home to address the growing poverty rates, homelessness, joblessness and suffering of our own citizens, the national political debate (as reflected by the candidates and the corporate media) seems completely disconnected from these desperate realities.

In order to pull ourselves back from the brink, the citizens of the US need to demand two things above all others from anyone who wants to be a political leader, and from anyone who asks us to support them with votes or financial contributions in the upcoming elections:

1) Clear focus, dedication, and vision for dealing creatively with the economic, health, energy, social, and infrastructure problems in our own country;

2) In order to focus on these problems at home, a clear commitment to getting out of the war-making and state-building business overseas, so that we can dedicate all our precious human and material resources to fixing the mess the Bush administration has created at home.

Instead of this kind of focus on solving our own problems and building a viable strategy to address these growing problems, in its last months in office the Bush administration seems to be trying to get us even more deeply involved in several more wars overseas (in Pakistan, in particular). And unfortunately both our leading Presidential candidates of the Republican and Democratic parties have seemed to give permission to the Bush administration by stating that they would support military incursions into Pakistan.

When will the people of the United States and its presumptive political leaders wake up to the fact that they cannot hope to address any of these deepening crises at home while continuing to expend billions of dollars fighting wars overseas?

Just like the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1980s through a combination of military overreach and hubris (in Afghanistan) and bad economic decision-making, the United States seems to be heading in the same direction now.

Will the United States go the way of the Soviet Union?

For obvious reasons the corporate media seems incapable of considering or discussing in a critical fashion the possibility that the capitalist system may be just as corrupt in 2008 as the Soviet Communist system was in 1988.

But the survival of any meaningfully democratic political and economic system in the West may depend on whether discussion of the corrupt forms of capitalism can not only be put on the table, but be placed at the center of the table for discussion. The capitalist system, if it wishes to survive, is now in major need of dramatic reforms if it is to adjust to the demands for change arising out of the global energy, climate, and financial crises, which will bring a tsunami of change to the world's economic and political systems one way or another.

The only question is whether capitalism will be able to transform itself in ways that strengthen democratic capacities to respond to these pressing problems, or will preside over the destruction of what remains of democratic forms, as the world descends into a chaos of violence and perpetual warfare and economic destruction through the failure of political vision and leadership in the years ahead.

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