Jared Diamond’s books Pulizer Prize winning Guns Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, and Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed." The former was on the best seller lists for at least three years, a books well worth reading to understand what causes civilizations to succeed and fail and why we are doomed to fail unless we change.
This article excerpt tells us what is and has happened to us now.
“The collapse of the global economy, which wiped out a staggering $40 trillion in wealth, was caused when our elites, after destroying our manufacturing base, sold massive quantities of fraudulent mortgage-backed securities to pension funds, small investors, banks, universities, state and foreign governments and shareholders.
The elites, to cover the losses, then looted the public treasury to begin the speculation over again. They also, in the name of austerity, began dismantling basic social services, set out to break the last vestiges of unions, slashed jobs, froze wages, threw millions of people out of their homes, and stood by idly as we created a permanent underclass of unemployed and underemployed.”
Our wealthy and powerful assume that once Americans start foaming at the mouth about how they raped and stole the resources of our country from all of us, they will be safe in enclaves guarded by hired guns or can emigrate to another country. What is happening in the Middle East, predicted earlier by Jonathan Schell in The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, And The Will of The People," 2003, about what will happen to the dictatorial Middle East. "You can fool people some of the time, but not all the time."
Jim Kawakami, March 8, 2011, http://jimboguy.blogspot.com
This Time We’re Taking The Whole Planet With Us, Chris Hedges, Truthdig, http://truthout.org/
… Jared Diamond in his essay “The Last Americans” notes that by the time Hernan Cortés reached the Yucatán, millions of Mayan subjects had vanished.
“Why,” Diamond writes, “did the kings and nobles not recognize and solve these problems? A major reason was that their attention was evidently focused on the short-term concerns of enriching themselves, waging wars, erecting monuments, competing with one another, and extracting enough food from the peasants to support all these activities.”
“Pumping that oil, cutting down those trees, and catching those fish may benefit the elite by bringing them money or prestige and yet be bad for society as a whole (including the children of the elite) in the long run,” Diamond went on. “Maya kings were consumed by immediate concerns for their prestige (requiring more and bigger temples) and their success in the next war (requiring more followers), rather than for the happiness of commoners or of the next generation.
Those people with the greatest power to make decisions in our own society today regularly make money from activities that may be bad for society as a whole and for their own children; those decision-makers include Enron executives, many land developers, and advocates of tax cuts for the rich.” …
Civilizations rise, decay and die. Time, as the ancient Greeks argued, for individuals and for states is cyclical. As societies become more complex they become inevitably more precarious. They become increasingly vulnerable. And as they begin to break down there is a strange retreat by a terrified and confused population from reality, an inability to acknowledge the self-evident fragility and impending collapse.
The elites at the end speak in phrases and jargon that do not correlate to reality. They retreat into isolated compounds, whether at the court at Versailles, the Forbidden City or modern palatial estates. The elites indulge in unchecked hedonism, the accumulation of vaster wealth and extravagant consumption. They are deaf to the suffering of the masses who are repressed with greater and greater ferocity.
Resources are more ruthlessly depleted until they are exhausted. And then the hollowed-out edifice collapses. The Roman and Sumerian empires fell this way. The Mayan elites, after clearing their forests and polluting their streams with silt and acids, retreated backward into primitivism.
As food and water shortages expand across the globe, as mounting poverty and misery trigger street protests in the Middle East, Africa and Europe, the elites do what all elites do. They launch more wars, build grander monuments to themselves, plunge their nations deeper into debt, and as it all unravels they take it out on the backs of workers and the poor.
The collapse of the global economy, which wiped out a staggering $40 trillion in wealth, was caused when our elites, after destroying our manufacturing base, sold massive quantities of fraudulent mortgage-backed securities to pension funds, small investors, banks, universities, state and foreign governments and shareholders.
The elites, to cover the losses, then looted the public treasury to begin the speculation over again. They also, in the name of austerity, began dismantling basic social services, set out to break the last vestiges of unions, slashed jobs, froze wages, threw millions of people out of their homes, and stood by idly as we created a permanent underclass of unemployed and underemployed.
The Mayan elite became, at the end, as the anthropologist Ronald Wright notes in “A Short History of Progress,”
“… extremists, or ultra-conservatives, squeezing the last drops of profit from nature and humanity.” This is how all civilizations, including our own, ossify and die. The signs of imminent death may be undeniable. Common sense may cry out for a radical new response. But the race toward self-immolation only accelerates because of intellectual and moral paralysis. As Sigmund Freud grasped in “Beyond the Pleasure Principle” and “Civilization and Its Discontents,” human societies are as intoxicated and blinded by their own headlong rush toward death and destruction as they are by the search for erotic fulfillment. … http://truthout.org/this-time-were-taking-whole-planet-with-us68280
Chris Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.
- Wikipedia: In his 2006 book, American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century, American writer and commentator Kevin Phillips presented financialization as “a process whereby financial services, broadly construed, take over the dominant economic, cultural, and political role in a national economy.” (page 268). Philips considers that the financialization of the U.S. economy follows the same pattern that marked the beginning of the decline ofHabsburg Spain in the 16th century, the Dutch trading empire in the 18th century, and the British Empirein the 19th century: (It is also worth pointing out that the true final step in each of these historical economies is; collapse)
. . . the leading economic powers have followed an evolutionary progression: first, agriculture, fishing, and the like, next commerce and industry, and finally finance. Several historians have elaborated this point. Brooks Adams contended that “as societies consolidate, they pass through a profound intellectual change. Energy ceases to vent through the imagination and takes the form of capital.” …
Financialization is a term sometimes used in discussions of financial capitalism which developed over several decades leading up to the 2007-2010 financial crisis, and in which financial leverage tended to override capital (equity) and financial markets tended to dominate over the traditional industrial economy.
Financialization is a term that describes an economic system or process that attempts to reduce all value that is exchanged (whether tangible, intangible, future or present promises, etc.) either into a financial instrument or a derivative of a financial instrument. The original intent of financialization is to be able to reduce any work-product or service to an exchangeable financial instrument, like currency, and thus make it easier for people to trade these financial instruments.
Workers, through a financial instrument such as a mortgage, could trade their promise of future work/wages for a home. Financialization of risk-sharing makes all insurance possible, the financialization of the U.S. Government's promises (bonds) makes all deficit spending possible. Financialization also makes economic rents possible. … http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financialization
Share in GDP of US financial sector since 1860. This sector went up quite sharply due to Reagan and succeeding Presidents. During W. Bush the financial sector profits went up 50 percent! It is now 63 percent of our GDP.
The graph below shows profits of the U.S. financial sector and of the U.S. manufacturing sector, as a percent of GDP