This worldwide crisis is more devastating than the Great Depression of the 1930s.
— Michel Chossudovsky
Yajnavalkya offered the king a wish. The king chose: to ask questions according to his desire.—
— The Upanishads
For a hundred men who are hacking at the branches of evil, one is digging at the roots.
— Henry David Thoreau
A review of The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century, Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall, Editors; Global Research Publishers, Montreal, 2010; 391 pages.
Each of the 16 authors in this collection of contemporary essays and articles about our New-World-Order socio-political-economic mess are digging at the roots of evil; each exposes another layer of lies, frauds, half-truths, myths or cover-ups about the way our global system actually operates.
This is not about your father’s capitalism. The Repugnants, Tea-Partiers and their assorted know-nothings can continue to berate the Demonics, Obama, Pelosi and their own assorted know-nothings for their “Marxist tendencies,” but the plain fact is that capitalism has evolved into something far beyond the dialectical materialism and “surplus value” of 19th and 20th century visionaries and theorists. Given Stalin’s metastasis of socialism, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989-1991, and the rapid technoligization of global trading–including futures trading–, the Minotaur in the labyrinths of our nightmares is “financialization”: a beast reaching its tentacles (or central banking system) into every corner of the globe, its “brain” an alphabet soup of noxious acronymous (IMF, BIS, CIA, FAO and countless others) agencies, reducing the laboring masses to feudal serfs on endless treadmills of debt for their housing, health care, transportation—indeed, their very lives.
The 22 articles and essays are written by Chossudovsky and Marshall, as well as Ellen Brown, Richard C. Cook, James Petras, Mike Whitney, Michael Hudson, Tom Burghardt, Peter Dale Scott,Tanya Cariina Hsu, Claudia von Werlhof, Bill Van Auken, Peter Phillips, Shamus Cooke, John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff—names familiar to many, especially to readers of progressive websites like Global Research. The articles are categorized into five parts: “The Global Economic Crisis,” “Global Poverty,” “War, National Security and World Government,” “The Global Monetary System” and “The Shadow Banking System.” Generally, I read the articles from the shorter ones to the longer ones; that worked fine because the “big picture” that emerges is not so much about an inevitable sequencing or unfolding of events as it is about our contemporary world of fibrous connections that enfold, squeeze and strangle the general population of the planet. The puzzle pieces fall into place with each article.
“Famines in the age of globalization are the result of policy,” Chossudovsky writes in his essay on global poverty. The key point, of course, here and elsewhere in this book, is that none of the colossal failures of our post-Cold War world, including “failed states,” “rogue states,” the Global War on Terrorism, the devastations wrought in Iraq and Afghanistan, bank failures and bailouts, rising poverty and debt, the shrinking middle classes, assaults on union power, the consolidation of wealth—none of it “just happened.” The fact is, Chossudovsky demonstrates, that “world agriculture has for the first time in history the capacity to satisfy the food requirements of the entire planet, yet the very nature of the global market system prevents this from occurring.” Giant firms like Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland and Monsanto “control the markets for grain, farm inputs, seeds and processed foods.” They set market prices through the New York and Chicago mercantile exchange—where the name of the game is “leverage” through “futures” trading of options, derivatives, etc. Control food, fuel and water prices, and a consortium of interests can control the world. For example: “US margin rules of the government’s Commodity Futures Trading Commission allow speculators to buy a crude oil futures contract on the Nymex by having to pay only 6% of the value of the contract. At today’s price of $128 per barrel, that means a futures trader only has to put up about $8 for every barrel. … This extreme “leverage” of 16 to 1 helps drive prices to wildly unrealistic levels and offset bank losses in sub-prime and other disasters at the expense of the overall population.”
While the architectonics of our New World Order solidified and rigidified during and after the Cold War, with the application of new communications technologies fostering international trade, finance and speculation, the brick and mortar have long been part of the imperial design. Thus, in Gavin Marshall’s essay on “Central Banking: Managing the Global Political Economy,” we find this extraordinary quote by Lincoln:
I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me, and the bankers in the rear. Of the two, the one at my rear is my greatest foe [as]… corporations have been enthroned, and an era of corruption… will follow. The money power will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in the hands of a few, and the Republic is destroyed.
How many times have you heard that compared to “The Gettysberg Address”?
That system of privately owned, national” or “central banks,” bewailed by our prescient 16th president, has created, and certainly exacerbated, many of the crises, disasters and holocaustic wars of the modern era. Marshall avers: “the most vital and powerful force within the capitalist global political economy: the central banking system… [manages] capitalism—controlling the credit and debt of both government and industry.” That management, of course, has become especially potent since the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913, with its power to print “fiat” paper money, determine fractional reserve rates for banks within the US, override regulatory policies of the Treasury Department and Congress, and interlock with central banks in other nations to control “capitalism for the few and at the expense of the many.” Marshall notes, “Any notion of a “free market” must be dispelled.
While the Tea Partiers and most other sentient humans in the developed countries viscerally feel the dissolution of “democracy,” few can understand the complex processes by which they have been disenfranchised, as the world’s elite, political class moves towards global governance, enforced by the militarization and segmentation of the world’s economy, and underscored by the fragmentation and destruction of the nation-state. In “The Tower of Basel: Secretive Plan to Create a Global Central Bank,” Ellen Brown quotes a G-20 Communique from London, April 2, 2009:
We are committed to take all necessary actions to restore the normal flow of credit through the financial system and ensure the soundness of systemically important institutions, implementing our policies in line with the agreed G20 framework for restoring lending and repairing the financial sector.
I wonder how many of those good-scout Americans, eager to evince their “patriotism” by voting in the mid-term elections or in presidential elections, have any idea what on earth this “G20 framework,” which over-arches their lives–, have any idea what on earth it means? Of, for that matter, what is this “Tower of Basel,” the Bank for International Settlements, founded in 1930 in Basel Switzerland, and why is it called the “most exclusive, secretive, and powerful supranational club in the world”? Ms. Brown quotes Dr. Carroll Quigley (whose book, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time , is quoted by other authors in this collection):
The powers of financial capitalism had… nothing less [as their aim] than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations.
The key to their success, as Brown nods to Quigley, would be that “international bankers would control and manipulate the money system of a nation while letting it appear to be controlled by the government.” Ms. Brown notes here Mayer Rothschild’s infamous quote: “Allow me to issue and control a nation’s currency, and I care not who makes its laws.”
Those laws are increasingly enforced by a militarized global state under the direction of the US-Nato-Israel axis. According to Chossudovsky:
Economic conquest is an integral part of America’s military adventure. The US military and intelligence apparatus consults with Wall Street and the Texas oil giants. Conversely, the IMF and the World Bank, which have a mandate to supervise macroeconomic reform in developing countries, are in liaison with the US state Department and Petagon. … We are looking at an integrated process involving conquest through outright military operations… and the destabilization and conquest of sovereign countries. …
Thus we see our “color revolutions” in former Soviet republics, the deliberate wreckage of national economies in Africa, Latin America and Asia. In the US-NATO-Israel alliance we perceive “the militarization of a region extending from the tip of the Arabian peninsula to the Caspian Sea, and from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Chinese border.” A region encompassing “approximately sixty percent of the world’s reserves of oil and natural gas.” The “military-industrial” complex, still nascent enough for Eisenhower’s trenchant warning, now reigns supreme: “The development and production of advanced weapons systems, the construction of military bases, the recruitment of troops to serve in the war theater and the outsourcing of contracts to mercenary companies are an integral part of the US economy.”
So… what to do?
Some wag critic once remarked that to describe everything that was in Hamlet, one would simply have to re-write Hamlet word for word and hand it to the inquiring student. So it is with this rich collection of essays about our modern, entangled world. In this review, I’ve barely touched upon the excellent work of most of the authors in the book: Richard C. Cook on “Democratizing the Money System”; Mike Whitney on “Securitization: the Biggest Rip-off Ever”; Peter Phillips on “Poverty and Social Inequality”; Michael Hudson, Tom Burghardt, Bill Van Auken and Peter Dale Scott writing on the interconnections of “War, National Security and World Government”; Tanya Cariina Hsu, John Bellamy Foster, Fred Magdoff, James Petras, Claudia von Werlhof and Shamus Cooke writing on the “Death of the American Empire,” “Financial Implosion,” “Depression,” “Globalization and Neoliberalism,” etc.
These authors do not pretend to have all the answers, but they do pose some mighty questions about the way our global system has been working and not working for several decades, and even centuries. Posing those questions in a book of this kind by a highly respected progressive press is an invaluable service to all those who would like to understand our world—and change it for the better.
In The Upanishads, it is written: “When Janaka, king of the Videhas, and Yajnavalkya debated together at the offering of the holy fire, Yajnavalkya offered the king a wish. The king chose: to ask questions according to his desire.” It may seem a simple wish, but it is in fact a profound one at any time, and particularly so in our age of media/government/corporate disinformation and war-generating distortions about “weapons of mass destruction,” false-flag operations, etc.
Theories about the sustainability of systems remind us of the essentiality of efficiency and resilience. With its wars, engineered famines and economic collapses our present system has proven itself highly inefficient for most of the seven billion humans now existing or subsisting on the planet. Nor, with the growing awareness of its weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and brutal repressions, is it likely to prove resilient in the longer term. But…, then again, it is entrenched and super-powerful! Systems theories also remind us that the crucial variables upon which efficiency and resilience rely are diversification and interconnectivity. Our world system has become less and less diversified, more and more monetized and consolidated for the sake of the top 1-10 percent of the world’s population. And while the Internet offers the prospect of increased interconnectivity for the citizens of this planet, it also has been hijacked and overridden by the control freaks, disinformation-disseminators and surveillance-monitors. We have militarized space, and fear and ignorance have hardened the human heart and mind.
We will have to learn how to swim in the quicksand. In this book there are signals for doing so… and for extrication.