Capitalism=Crisis


Greece is in revolt. Not surprisingly, though, the protests there are being totally misrepresented in the mainstream media. Much attention in the US press has focused on the spectacle of the riots and on the three tragic deaths in a bank in Athens. Cogent analysis of the underlying crisis has been hard to find.

This relatively neutral sounding article in The Guardian is typical. The article describes the sovereign debt crisis in Greece as a product of the fact that the Greek government
relies on foreign loans in order to balance its debt. In a thinly veiled racist reference that’s typical of these sorts of crises (remember the rhetoric about lack of fiscal discipline during the Asian crash in the late 1990s?), the article cites Greece’s unusually generous welfare state and its problem with tax evasion as an important
ingredient in the current economic debacle.

To its credit, the article does also cite the role of US- and UK-based credit ratings agencies, which recently downgraded the government’s debt to “junk” status, making it virtually impossible for the government to borrow any more money. There’s mounting anger in Greece and the rest of continental Europe towards the decisive role
such dubious “Anglo-Saxon” ratings agencies — which, after all, gave gold stars to the banks that were pushing dangerous mortgage-based derivatives to the hilt — are playing in stoking the crisis.

Little mention is made, in this or any of the other articles in the mainstream press, of the underlying crisis of capitalism. There are no discussions, for instance, of the role of speculative capital flowing
from banks in northern Europe and the US into the (again thinly veiled, racially demarcated) PIGS: Portugal, Ireland/Italy, Greece, and Spain.

No analysis can be found of the underlying crisis of overaccumulation that produces such inflows and wrenching withdrawals of speculative capital. And nowhere can one find defiant rejections of the shifting of this burden onto the backs of the Greek working- and middle-classes.

Ironic, really, given the fact that exactly the same thing is happening now – although to a lesser degree – throughout the rest of the global North. Here in NYC, Mayor Bloomberg has just announced a budget
in which 11,000 teachers are going to be fired in anticipation of draconian cuts in the state budget. 1,000 employees of the Metropolitan Transit Authority are going to be fired. These cuts are a gut punch to
average New Yorkers. They’re also totally short-sighted since they are going to make it harder to get the economy moving again.

Where to turn for adequate analysis? David Harvey has just published an incredibly lucid new book called The Enigma of Capital. He’s
been out on the lecture circuit, and some of his public presentations are now available. Check out the talk below. Listen until the end, because Harvey discussed not just the roots of the crisis but also the need to take public control of the economy in order to avoid the kind of destructive gyrations that we’ve been seeing with increasing frequency since the dawn of the neoliberal era.


Related Posts

Greeks on the Move: Capitalism's Wreckage and the Demand for Real Democracy The entire world is watching as the future of Greece, and with it that of the global economy, is hanging in the balance.  As journalists and commentators worry over the prospect of a Greek sovereign default triggering a chain reaction with economic reverberations worse than the bankruptcy of Le...
Notes from Europe: from Thessaloniki to Athens In Thessaloniki: This bank is French-owned. Stand-off: police attack social center (video still). Heat conspired with exhaustion to make the train ride from Thessaloniki to Athens seem cruelly extenuated.  We could only blame ourselves. We'd stayed up all the previous night preparing our v...
From The Cinematic Mode of Production to Computational Capital: An Interview with Jonathan Beller for Kulturpunkt Social Text Collective Member Jonathan Beller, interviewed for Kulturpunkt by Ante Jeric and Diana Meheik. Re-posted from Kulturpunkt.hr. Thanks to Tanja Vrvilo and Film Mutations. KP: The Cinematic Mode of Production is the term by which you seem to be introducing a new order of intelligibility ...
Must We Rebuild the Anthill?: A Letter to/for Japanese Comrades Dear comrades, We are writing to express our solidarity with you in a time when the pain from the deaths of friends, family and comrades is still raw and the task of shaping a new kind of life out of the immense wreckage of the present earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor meltdowns might appear ...

Ashley Dawson

Ashley Dawson, a professor of English at the Graduate Center/CUNY and the College of Staten Island, is a scholar of postcolonial studies and a climate justice activist. He is the author of two recent books on topics relating to the environmental issues, Extreme Cities: The Peril and Promise of Urban Life in the Age of Climate Change (Verso, 2017) and Extinction: A Radical History (O/R, 2016), as well as many other books on topics relating to migration, global justice, and cultural struggles. He is currently completing a book on energy democracy and just transition entitled The Energy Common.