Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Global Paradox

Here is a BBC News item of some 2,000 words by Robert Preston (see photo) in which he makes claims about what is likely to arise out of the current global economic collapse. He states that - "A New Capitalism is likely to emerge from the rubble. And although it's impossible to be precise about how the reconstructed economy will operate, parts of its outline are taking shape.....For many, the New Capitalism may well seem fairer and less alienating than the model of the past 30 years, in that the system's salvation may require it to be kinder, gentler, less divisive, less of a casino in which the winner takes all.....(however) the return to equilibrium, to a more balanced global economy, is happening in a horribly painful way that's impoverishing millions of people."

He essentially examines the way in which economic trends are likely to effect the UK and other developed economies. This leaves two important factors out of the equation. What impact will the global economic collapse have upon the world's poorest nations and what political consequences will flow from the current turmoil?

Paul Collier's book "The Bottom Billion : Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It" has recently been updated and published in paperback. But it was written prior to the global economic collapse. So the terrible conditions he describes are likely to worsen and the solutions he suggests (which were gaining a hearing in significant places) are now likely to be placed upon the back burner.

In situations of economic deprivation (whether in poor or developed nations), political extremism is likely to be given a further boost as political and military leaders offer brands of racial, ethnic, fundamentalist religious and other ideological panaceas as answers to the plight people find themselves in.

To both humanise economic re-construction and tackle modern brands of fascism, there is also now an opening for the spread of countervailing democratic socialist understandings, which are needed on an international scale. As the late Royden Harrison once said "Never have the objective circumstances for socialism been greater, yet never have the subjective circumstances for socialism been worse". Socialists now have a desperate opening to show that a new world is possible.

Yet whilst the current crisis cries out for the spread of democratic socialist understandings, we also need to be aware and beware of simple minded solutions which can lead us into looking for Stalinist-style shortcuts.

The paradox is that we might not even reach the limited objectives of Robert Preston's New Capitalism without significant pressures for a New World of Socialism. For capitalists don't give ground unless they are pushed.

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