Tuesday, January 24, 2006

IT'S THE CLASS WAR, STUPID!


I'm really bored with blogging, but thought this deserved some mention, especially because I sunk roughly two years of my life--on and off--into the project.


The Global Class War: How America's Bipartisan Elite Lost Our Future, and What It Will Take to Win It Back

I last read a non-final draft about a year ago and even then I was shocked by the story of collusion among a transnational class of business and political elites that Jeff Faux weaves--shocked, even though I provided the lion's share of the background research. It's riveting, it's fascinating, it's empassioned and fiery. It's a real page-turner, no joke. That's why it is now top on my globalization reading list.

The book begins with a simple question? Why in 1993 did President Clinton sell his own party the American working class--his Democratic base--down the river to implement NAFTA, a revolutionary policy spawned by Reagan and propelled by Pere Bush? By so doing, Clinton broke the camel's back of Democratic control of the Congress and drove the nail in the coffin of the American labor movement that helped put him in office. In pursuit of an answer, Faux takes his reader on a tour through the battlefield of the global class war (I promise, that's the last of my cliches for the posting), exploring the historical development of this consolidating transnational class, and the devasting effects they are wreaking on the world social order.

Though a book like this is long overdue, it is a timely entree to the public policy debates on the left at a time when the left is drifting rudderless in a sea of hawkish Republican-led (and many Democrats-condoned) imperialism. The collection of economic policies that have come to be known as "globalization" are in fact a coherent political platform for the global elite class designed to revolutionize the social and political institutions that underpin the distribution of wealth and income within and between countries. Though what we know as "globalization" are largely political changes, the changes are happening not through open, democratic political processes. Rather, they transpire in secretive international summits, in archane decisions taken by insulated government technocracies, in dimly lit five star hotel bars, and wherever else the global class of business and political elites convene to chortle, fete, and conspire.

Most centrist Democratic apparatchiks clearly do not get it (or at least pretend not to). Take Clintonista economic policy advisor Gene Sperling. I never met the man, though I hear he's a good guy. But his latest book, The Pro-Growth Progressive, is the stuff that prepetually lost elections are made of.

Sperling believes there exists a technocratic policy fix to the economic woes of working Americns and developing countries more generally. Sperling thinks if only both parties could be honest for a moment we could have all the portable pensions, trade-adjustment wage insurance, balanced budgets, and open trade we want--and everyone can reap the mutual beneficence of the liberal (in the classcal sense) economic agenda.

It's all a pipe dream: not because I'm cynical that it could ever be implemented (though let's be honest--it will never happen because elites will fear that any government institutions strong enough to coordinate the conditions of mutual beneficence is also strong enough to force redistribution). The problem is that the liberal economic vision (again, in the classical laissez-faire sense) itself by design undermines the livelihoods and group power of those who can deliver a Democratic majority.

In other words, it's not the economy, it's the class war stupid! The war machine of the transnational elite class is a well-oiled juggernaut. It's so smooth it can even enlist apparatchiks like Sperling, et. al., to do its bidding.

The big problem is there really is no other organized class to push back against the global elites, and its unclear what force could compel workers of the world to unite. Faux proposes the same idea on more modest lines: a tri-national politics to fight for a continental social contract to underpin the continental North American economy. It's time to re-embed the market in social institutions, and the easiest way to do this is to start in our own back yard.

What are you waiting for, go buy it (DISCLOSURE: I receive no monetary compensation from the sales)!

1 Comments:

At 10:56 AM, Blogger Jim Robb said...

Thanks for the post. You got the attention over at CFN: http://jameshowardkunstler.typepad.com/clusterfuck_nation/2006/05/summer_fun.html#comments

Keep it up!

 

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