Monday, May 14, 2012

Real Radicalism

You think the Greek left is "radical?" Think again.

The elite bias of Western media constitutes an overwhelming and insidious obstacle to solving problems. BBC, for example, calls the surging Greek reform party Syriza "radical." Similar comments fill the pages of U.S. papers. What is radical about a party that wants peaceful, democratic reform of an outrageously slanted economic system that punishes the poor while rewarding the rich? It is high time for Western elites to crawl out of their cocoons and face the music that they are responsible and will burn the house to the ground if they don't start making repairs.

If people get sufficiently desperate, the West may in fact end up with radicalism. Here is what radicalism looks like:

There will be no more calm chit-chat about financial "haircuts;" rather, bankers will face the guillotine. Banks will be nationalized, and the lucky bankers will retain their positions on modest bureaucratic salaries. That's not really radical either, in truth, and the next step will be burning the banks to the ground or maybe just jailing the bankers. How does Guantanamo for Bankers sound (on the grounds that they are exempt from prisoner-of-war constraints because fraudulent foreclosing and gambling with society's future amount to terrorism)? If we had a system based on "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need," Jamie Dimon would have a distinctly different lifestyle. How many unemployed people could live on his $25M salary?

What the West is suffering from today is rogue capitalism on a binge of consuming the economic seed corn. Putting people on unemployment and tricking them out of their homes and cutting social support in order to feed the military-industrial monster surely do further enrich the 0.1% but at the cost of weakening the country. Uncontrolled exploitation by the rich has provoked revolution before, and it can happen again. Unfortunately, as anyone who has read Gulag Archipelago knows, revolutionary anger can easily lead us astray. That is not a future to anticipate with nonchalance. No one ever claimed the New Deal was perfect, but it was a socio-economic compromise agreement that rich and poor could both live with. Over the last generation, the rich have broken that agreement. It is time for the elite to wake up before it brings back real, old fashioned class war.

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