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Ain’t No Monti High Enough

Giarre, Italy

This article is about the crisis. Addressed from a non-expert perspective, because I don’t think anyone who hasn’t survived an earthquake or a shipwreck should have a say in this as an “expert in crisis management”. We’re all newbies, especially when old academics tell us this is comparable to the 1929 economic meltdown. None of us was there then, at least in managerial positions. If some superman is out there to prove me wrong, he’s probably too old and senile to understand what goes on today. We’re all guessing. Sarà presto tradotto in italiano.

Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell insisted that love would overcome every kind of obstacle. At least for the three minutes they sang “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough“. Tammi died prematurely and her friend Marvin had to face the rough truth of the unsurmountable barrier of death. Styx and Acheron are indeed “rivers wide enough”. The “too-big-to-fail” economic paradigm of the last few years has displayed the same gay optimism of Gaye&Terrell. The only difference is that it gave false hopes to investors, small portfolio owners, and passer-by citizens. Not to teenagers at a concert. The new millennium’s ubercapitalism is trying new ways of dealing with its contradictions, no longer retorting to welfare and keynesian policies, which, together with nationalism first and the ideological divide of the Cold War later, have kept the system alive.

With no social-democratic parties left at the governments throughout Europe, there’s little chance that the reforms needed for the survival of capitalism will be carried forward. Social-democracy, in fact, has held high the banner of capitalism through expansive policies that shrank the gap between classes, although never standing for equality – when they did, they needed votes from the left – and progressively abandoning the idea of proletarian struggle – they also needed votes from the center. The conservative wave of the early-to-mid 2000s has been followed by a harsh economic crisis and by more conservative rounds of elections. The lower and lower turnout shows that those who disagree tend to abandon the electoral circus as well. Social-democracy, however, is in crisis: it cannot manage to recover from the defeat and present itself as the alternative. In my opinion, this happens because of the loss of memory that the social movements experience cyclically. There is no solution to this. One must not hope that a Democratic Party or a Social-democratic Party would come in and solve problems in a way that escapes capitalist dynamics.

Monti "The Savior"

States have overlooked the financial bonanza that was rampaging under their noses, when banks gained high revenues on the fictitious money they lent out. All that virtual money inflated the bubble that exploded a few years ago with an irregular and blind domino effect. In fewer words, states failed to regulate a market that was overtaking their sovereignty. When a financial institution owns private debt, public debt, and finances campaigns, there is little chance for statesmen to avoid bowing and nodding to every de-regulation request by banks. Meanwhile, another kind of financial organization stepped in and played dirtier capitalism, rating agencies. Based either in London or in New York and composed by formations of MBA graduates and STATA-thirsty economists, rating agencies have graded states’ debt for decades. However, due to the crisis, they started to selectively downgrade states’ ratings and putting their economy in jeopardy. With crumbling economies, European, American, and selected countries east of the Urals suffered the worst social and political crisis of the past 50 years.

Banks overriding states, financial derivatives circumventing the law, and the uncertain behavior of former powers towards the rise of new ones led to a blatant democratic deficit in the Western world. And, while I do not think that “democracy” is something standard and invented by the West, in this case, I consider a lack of democracy “Western style”. Electoral politics have lost their importance and appeal to the public. Only in 2011 we saw all sorts of anti activities, from indignados in Spain to the Arab Spring to the Occupy movement in the US to riots in Greece. Millions of people mobilized by the feeling that there’s something wrong with the way society is run and that are not willing to pose in yet another electoral snapshot. Those who campaigned for a party last year, now are unwilling to do it again (cfr. the Forconi in Sicily) and see “all politicians and powerful men as the same“. This is the deepest democratic crisis the Western world has undergone since its creation – yes, the concept of “West” is man-made, therefore susceptible of change – and it seems that the ruling class is not aware of the danger it faces.

The solution that the West is proposing is austerity: “Tighten your belts, folks, we have to keep capitalism alive and this time the 99% of you is going to pay for it in cash.” As if it was the normality to think about capitalism as the solution of all problems. Sure, when it works, when measures are taken to fight highs that are too high and lows that are too low, capitalism is nice to most of people. But it’s in time of crisis that people start putting it into question, or even talk about its existence, as is now happening in the US. I say that there could be another way. There is little need to sell out Greece, Sicily, and Spain to solve Europe’s financial ratings. After all, every state is sovereign. Yet, there seems to be no alternative to the natural discourse of the capitalist ruling class and Monti’s provisions for Italy – just like the other “technical” government in power in Greece – are seen as a necessary evil. The spirit of self-subsistence of capitalism has subtly pervaded the souls of the ordinary people and has become their mission. There’s much need for people to stand up and show that things can be done out of the capitalist box, which for many has become a cage. For this reason, I stand against Social Democratic and so-called Socialist parties that bow to the almighty god of money and finance instead of pursuing the ideals that originated them.

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2 responses to “Ain’t No Monti High Enough

  1. Pingback: Su Pei Monti [ITA] « bottleneck analysis

  2. Pingback: Su Pei Monti « bottleneck analysis

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