Bulletin N° 737
Subject : THE EVOLUTION OF CAPITALIST PREDATORS : A STORY OF UNREQUITED LOVE.
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
It has been argued that the political economy of capitalism has progressively weakened the free market place and that the late stage of war capitalism represents the coup de grace, destroying once and for all the historic market place economy and replacing it with a universal system of domination/subjugation which stabilizes the accumulation of wealth into the hands of fewer and fewer of people.
The historic material reality of this development is discussed in Fernand Braudel’s trilogy, Civilization & Capitalism, 15th – 18th Century. In the second volume of this work, “The Wheels of Commerce,” he discusses the role of supply-and-demand in pre-industrial Europe, and in the world beyond.
“The principal stimulus to trade comes of course from supply and demand,” writes Braudel,
various supplies and various demands: these may be familiar old friends in economics, but that does not make them any easier to define and discern. There are hundreds and thousands of different kinds of supply and demand. They form chains end to end, and provide the current for trade circuits. Classical economics explains everything else in terms of these two concepts and also draws us into endless debates on the respective roles of supply and demand as prime movers –debates which have gone on down to the present day and still play a part in the inspiration of economic policies [Two arms extended: one hand giving; the other hand receiving.].
Conventional wisdom has always been that there is no supply without demand and vice versa: both arise from the exchange that they create, and which creates them. The same could be said of sale and purchase, of the merchant’s outgoings and incomings, of gift and counter-gift, even of labour and capital, consumption and production –consumption being to demand what production is to supply. Turgot argues that if I offer something I posses, it is because I want something else; and I shall simultaneously request whatever it is I do not have at present. . . . Thus, Turgot concludes, we have four elements: ‘Two things possessed, two things desired.’ It goes without saying, a present-day economist has written, ‘that e very supply and every demand supposes a counterpart.’
That said, it is now perhaps legitimate to isolate demand for a moment form its surrounding context. I am encouraged to do so by the writings of present-day economists on under-developed countries. Ragnar Nurske for instance is quite positive that the right string to pull to start the engine is demand. Merely to increase production would lead to imbalances. I am well aware that what is true to the Third World today is not necessarily true of the societies and economies of the ancient régime. But comparisons may provoke thought in both directions. Is the following observation made by Quesnay in 1766 really true only of the past? There will never be any shortage ‘of consumers who cannot consume as much as they would like: people who only eat black bread and drink water would like to eat wheaten bread and drink wine; people who never have eaten meat would like to do so; people with poor clothes would like better ones; people without wood to warm themselves by would like to buy it, and so on’. What is more, this mass of consumers is constantly increasing. Mutatis mutandis then, one could argue that there is always a potential consumer society. Only the size of its income, of which it regularly and easily devours nine-tenths, places a limit on its appetite. But to the vast majority of mankind, this limit makes itself relentlessly felt. French economists in the eighteenth century were as conscious of its limit as are the development economists of today; they were always looking for recipes to increase income and consumption,‘the ruin of which’, as Boisguilbert was already pointing out,‘is the ruin of income’. In short, they wanted to increase demand.
There was of course demand and demand. Quesnay was hostile to the demand for ‘luxury of decoration’, and favored ‘subsistence consumption’, that is an increase in everyday demand by the ‘productive class’. And he was not mistaken: this demand was essential because it was durable, massive, capable of maintaining its pressure and its requirements over a long period of time, and therefore of acting as a reliable guide for supply. Any increase of this demand was crucial to growth. . . .
Economists interested in the pre-industrial world are agreed on one point: supply was not a significant factor. It lacked elasticity; it was unable to respond quickly to any demand. One should however distinguish between agricultural supply and industrial supply. . . .
The nature of supply by the end of the eighteenth century then, . . . was not as modest and inadequate in response to the monster of consumption as one might have supposed. And it was of course to gain strength with the advance of the industrial revolution. By 1820, it had become a weighty factory. . . .
Say’s Law [which asserts that ‘that production is the source of demand’ (and not the supply-side economics credo: that ‘supply creates its own demand’)] was the guiding principle for several generations of economists who, with very few exceptions did not question it until about 1930. But the laws or so-called laws of economics probably last only as long as the desires and realities of the period they reflect or interpret more or less faithfully. A new age brings its own ‘laws’. And in the 1930s, Keynes had little difficulty in standing Say’s law on its head. Among other things, he argued that the beneficiaries of the supply as it was being produced would not necessarily appear immediately on the marketplace as purchasers. Money offers its possessor a choice: he can keep it, spend it or invest it. But I am not here concerned to develop Keynes’s critique of Say, fruitful and realistic as it undoubtedly was in its time. We are not here concerned with whether Keynes was right or not in 1930, nor indeed whether Say was right or not in 1820. But was Say right (that is, does Say’s law apply retrospectively) about the period before the industrial revolution? This is the only question we have to answer –but it is unlikely that we shall be able to do so to our entire satisfaction.
Before the industrial revolution, the economy we are contemplating had frequent breakdowns; its different sectors were poorly related to each other and often out of step, whatever the overall situation. One might have a burst of prosperity, but it did not necessarily take the others with it. And every single sector could act in turn as a bottleneck: progress was never smooth. We know of course that merchants complained constantly at the time, and that they tended to exaggerate. But they were not systematically lying, nor inventing their problems, the ups and downs of the economy, the collapses, breakdowns and bankruptcies, which could occur at the very highest financial levels of wealth. The sector of ‘industrial’ production –of which Say was thinking—could not, in these circumstances, expect that what it supplied would automatically find a reliable and permanent market. The money that the production process had distributed had been shared unequally between the suppliers of tools and raw materials, the transporters and the workers. The later represented the largest single bill. But they were rather special economic ‘agents’. Among the workers, money went straight ‘from hand to mouth’, as the saying has it.(pp.172-182)
. . .
What is certain is that alongside the ‘non-markets' beloved of Polanyi, there always have been exchanges exclusively in return for money, however little. In rather minimal form perhaps, markets nevertheless existed in very ancient times within a single village or group of villages –the market being a sort of itinerant village, as the fair was a sort of travelling town. But the decisive step in this long history was taken when the town appropriated these thitherto modest little markets. It absorbed them and inflated them to its own dimensions, in return having to accept the demands they made on it. The important development was surely the launching on to economic circuits of the towns as heavy units. The urban market may have been invented by the Phoenicians. Certainly the Greek city-sates of about the same period all had a market on the agora, the central square; they also invented or at any rate propagated money, which clearly furthered the career of the market, it was not the sine qua non of its existence.
. . .
To sum up then, it would be more accurate to think of the market economy as being built up step by step. As Marcel Mauss used to say,‘it was the societies of the Western world that turned man into an economic animal, in very recent times’. Not everyone is yet agreed of course on the exact sense of ‘very recent’.
. . .
. . . in the view of some economists today, the ‘free’ world is undergoing a singular transformation. The increased potential of production, the fact that the people of certain large nations –not all of course—have now progressed beyond the stage of scarcity and hardship and do not have serious difficulty in ensuring their everyday subsistence, the mushroom growth of huge, often multinational firms—all these transformations have overturned the old order of the all-powerful market, the power of the customer and the market economy. The laws of the market no longer apply to huge firms which can influence demand by their very effective advertising, and which can fix prices arbitrarily. J.K. Galbraith has describe in very clear terms what he calls the ‘industrial system’. French economists are more inclined to speak of ‘organization’. In an article in Le Monde (29 March 1975) François Perroux even refers to ‘the organization, a model far more important than the market’. But the market survives all the same. I can walk into a shop; go to an ordinary street market, to test my modest power as customer and consumer. And for the small manufacturer –if one takes say the classic example of the dressmaking trade—the laws of the market still apply. In the book referred to, Galbraith talks about ‘the two parts of the economy’, the world of the ‘thousands of small and traditional proprietors’, (the market system) and that of the ‘few hundred . . . highly organized corporations’ (the industrial system). Lenin wrote in very similar terms about the coexistence of what he called ‘imperialism’ (or the new monopoly capitalism of the early twentieth century) and ordinary capitalism, based on competition, which had, he thought, its uses.
I agree with both Galbraith and Lenin on this, with the difference that the distinction of sectors between what I have called the ‘economy’ (or the market economy) and ‘capitalism’ does not seem to me to be anything new, but rather a constant in Europe since the Middle Ages. There is another difference too: I would argue that a third sector should be added to the pre-industrial model –that lowest stratum of the non-economy, the soil into which capitalism thrusts its roots but which it can never really penetrate. This lowest layer remains an enormous one. Above it, comes the favoured terrain of the market economy, with its many horizontal communications between the different markets: here a degree of automatic coordination usually links supply, demand and prices. Then alongside, or rather above this layer, comes the zone of the anti-market, where the great predators roam and the law of the jungle operates. This –today as in the past, before and after the industrial revolution—is the real home of capitalism.(pp.228-230)
This history of capital accumulation -- from a perspective of the evolution of society: ‘before the existence of the market place’, into a ‘market place society,’ and eventually subordinated ‘under the capitalist system of exploitation’-- gives us an understanding of where we are at this particular juncture in time. Instead of demonizing certain individuals or groups of individuals, we are able to discern the predatory origins of capitalist behavior and what perpetuates this system, and indeed what has propelled us towards large-scale catastrophes, again and again.
The 12 items below will allow readers to judge for themselves whether the capitalist game today is worth the candle. And if it is found lacking, the question to be addressed is what strategies, tactics and logistics are appropriate to dislodge this destructive system that is consuming us and the environment we require and obstructing 'science for the people'.
Professor emeritus of American Studies
Director of Research
University of Paris-Nanterre
Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements
The University of California-San Diego
Roaming Charges: Toxic Mom: the Short, Terrible Career of Anne Gorsuch
New Republican Strategy: Acknowledge Climate Change,
Obscure Human Role
Professor Chris Williams says the definition of climate denial should not be limited to Republican's rejection of scientific fact; it should include the refusal to take the necessary course of action, as exemplified by the Obama presidency
Human Extinction by 2026, a controversial/questionable idea, is examined in some detail on the web site: arctic-news.blogspot.com. Within the posted article, a bright red box highlights the hypothesis: “Will Humans Be Extinct By 2026?” Of course, simply posing the question is tantamount to endorsing the conclusion in the affirmative. By definition, an article dealing with human extinction is highly provocative and touchy and generally dismissed as balderdash. After all, it sounds kinda crazy. Still, the named article: “Will Humans Be Extinct By 2026?” warrants serious consideration. Here’s why: The Arctic News blog is an amalgam of serious research by topnotch scientists that “speak to truth.” They endorse the distinct possibility of an extinction event that will catch humanity flat-footed. They really believe it is a serious risk. These scientists go against the grain, telling it as they see it, not pulling any punches.
From: "BBlum6" <BBlum6@aol.com>
Sent: Saturday, 4 February
Subject: Anti-Empire Report, February 5, 2017
Anti-Empire Report, February 5, 2017
Trump or Putin? EU Loses Plot on Biggest Threat
by Finian Cunningham
Talk about "fortress mentality"! The European presidents and prime ministers were scheduled to deal with migration from North Africa as a threat to the bloc's stability. But instead, their summit was dominated by the issue of US President Donald Trump and the shared perception that the new occupant of the White House poses an urgent challenge to the EU. "Prime ministers and presidents at Malta summit line up to scorn Trump's conduct, accusing him of lack of respect," reported the Guardian. French President Francois Hollande even said that if the EU did not unite to oppose Trump's populist nationalism, then the bloc was doomed to collapse. The irony of the European leaders' existential apprehensions about the new American president is laughable. For months, these same European politicians have been led by the nose by Western state propaganda alleging it was Russian President Vladimir Putin who is the top threat to EU stability. European news media – like their US counterparts – have pushed sensationalist claims that the Kremlin is out to subvert EU democracies, undermine "European values", promote Eurosceptic political parties and smash the union.
Edward Snowden: 'National Security' Really Means Protecting the Status Quo
How Trump Could Cause the Economic Meltdown
Noam Chomsky on the new Trump era - UpFront
Is America Experiencing A Fast Moving Coup?
Sue Trump Adviser, Netanyahu for Terrorism
by Charlotte Silver
A group of US citizens and Palestinian nationals is suing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and key members of US President Donald Trump’s administration for perpetrating and enabling war crimes. Their lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, alleges a money laundering scheme that involves the US defendants raising charitable donations to send to Israeli government leaders.
From: Mark Crispin Miller
Sent: Monday, 6 February, 2017
On "killers" working for OUR government,
Trump spoke the truth—and our "free press" freaked out....
Attacking everything Trump says as wholly false, just because Trump said it, is just as mindless as Trump's own knee-jerk attacks on everything his critics say.
And since Trump, now and then, surprisingly refutes some Big Lie that no other president—or any other major player in the political establishment (the press included)—has ever dared to question publicly, reflexively dismissing everything he says is not just mindless, but dangerous.
It's dangerous, because those Big Lies that Trump now and then contests in his erratic way have done more harm, by far, than Trump's wild, flagrant and, for the most part, trivial lies could ever do.
That is certainly the case with Trump's jaw-dropping pushback in the face of Bill O'Reilly's ritual assertion that Putin (just like Stalin) "is a killer": "There are a lot of killers. You think our country's so innocent?"
Well, yeah. Duh. No kidding. Though there is, of course, NO reason to assume that the thin-skinned, revenge-obsessed and Mob-connected Trump has any moral qualms about the state employing "killers" to whack inconvenient persons, there also are NO grounds to doubt Trump's cheeky implication that the
US government itself has quite "a lot of killers" on the payroll, and not just on the battlefield abroad, and has had for a very long time.
Anybody who's read much at all about our history since World War 2 knows full well that the dark side of "our" government has (to quote LBJ) "been running a damn Murder, Inc." all over the world—the USA included, despite the old canard that they don't do that here. That they unquestionably do—and that a comprehensive list of their domestic hits would put the dreaded Putin in the deepest shade—is clear enough to anyone who knows even a little bit (as Bill O'Reilly does) about the epic carnival of murder that BEGAN with the assassination of John Kennedy, followed by the hits on Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X; a carnival including the related murders of innumerable witnesses, accomplices and inconvenient journalists and investigators.
Beyond those four "iconic" murders, and the awesome list of further killings consequent upon them (from J.D. Tippit, Lee Oswald, David Ferrie, Jack Ruby, Dorothy Kilgallen and Mary Pinchot Meyer to Johnny Roselli, Sam Giancana, George de Mohrenschildt, Roger Craig and William Sullivan: just to
name a few related to JFK's murder alone), the tally of more recent deaths premature, convenient and anomalous enough to be considered probable assassinations by the state (as they would be for sure, if they went down that way in Russia), includes, in no particular order, Michael Hastings, William Colby, Danny Casolaro, Philip Marshall, Athan Gibbs, Ray Lemme, Seth Rich, Gary DeVore, Barry Jennings, Vince Foster (yes), Mike Connell, Gary Caradori, Deborah Jeane Palfrey, Paul Wellstone and maybe (the evidence suggests it) Antonin Scalia, just to name a few.
Only in America, where one succeeds in journalism not just by refusing to investigate such stories, but by learning to stay perfectly UNCONSCIOUS of them, could the press decry Trump's common-sense remark as somehow scandalous.
And that is dangerous indeed; because we'll never overcome the looming dangers to American democracy unless we know exactly what they are, and that Trump/Pence is only one of them.
Canada's Dark Secret
Video Documentary - by Al Jazeera
The story of Canada's residential school system and the indigenous survivors who bear witness to its abuses In 1996, the last residential school in Canada was closed down, bringing to light horrifying stories about the methods used to sever indigenous children from the influence of their families and to assimilate them into the dominant "Canadian" culture. Over more than a century, tens of thousands of families were torn apart as children were kidnapped or forcibly removed from their homes
From: "PEN America" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "FRANCIS FEELEY" <Francis.Feeley@u-grenoble3.fr>
Sent: Tuesday, 7 February, 2017 1:12:07 PM
Subject: WATCH LIVE: Russian Journalists on Post-Election America
RED SQUARE, WHITE HOUSE:
RUSSIAN JOURNALISTS REFLECT ON POST-ELECTION AMERICA
7:00pm – 8:30pm
Featuring Julia Ioffe, Galina Timchenko, Tikhon Dzyadko, & Sergey Parkhomenko.
The U.S.-Russia relationship is once again stirring unease, while the denigration of journalists, disinformation campaigns, and the malleability of truth that characterize repressive regimes now threaten America’s democratic values. At this singular moment in the U.S. experience, what can we learn from Russians who press forward to exercise their free expression under the regime of President Vladimir Putin? Join us as three Russian intellectuals directly engaged in this struggle consider the U.S. elections, the rise of authoritarian leaders worldwide, and how writers can survive autocracy.