Capitalism in an Apocalyptic Mood

Feb 21

An apocalyptic mood has seized the highest levels of global capital as the global financial system continues to implode. This implosion is but the latest financial crisis to wrack global capitalism. Financial crises are inevitable since capitalist growth has increasingly been driven by speculative bubbles such as the housing bubble in the United States. The increasingly uncontrolled financial gyrations stem from the increasing divergence between an expansive financial economy and a stagnant real economy. This "disconnect" stems from the persistent stagnationist trends in the real economy owing to overproduction or overcapacity. The search for profitability is capitalism's driving force, and increasingly, significant profits can only be obtained from financial speculation rather than investment in industry. This is, however, a volatile and unstable process since the divergence between momentary financial indicators like stock and real estate prices and real values can proceed only up to a point before reality bites back and enforces a "correction." The bursting of the US housing bubble is one such correction, and it is leading not only to a recession in the US but to a global downturn owing to the unprecedented level of integration fostered by corporate-led globalization. It will not be easy to restore dynamism by fostering another speculative bubble, for instance, by resorting to "military Keynesianism."                                   We have to pay for the sins of the past.                                                                                                                                 Klaus Schwab, key organizer of the Davos elite jamboree   (San Francisco, Feb. 17, 2008). Skyrocketing oil prices, a falling dollar, and collapsing financial markets are the key ingredients in an economic brew that could end up in more than just an ordinary recession. The falling dollar and rising oil prices have been rattling the global economy for sometime, but it is the dramatic implosion of financial markets that is driving the financial elite to panic. Capitalist Apocalypse? And panic there is. Even as it characterized Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke's deep cuts amounting to a 1.25 points off the prime...

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Walden Bello awarded 2008 Public Scholar Award

Feb 02

Filipino academic and activist Walden Bello has been named the Outstanding Public Scholar of 2008 by the International Political Economy section of the International Studies Association (ISA).  He will receive the award at the group’s annual convention to be held in San Francisco, California from March 26-29, 2008. Special events honoring Bello include a panel on his work on Thursday March 27, 2008 during the annual meeting. On Friday evening, March 28, Bello will join other scholar activists in speaking at a public event at City Lights Bookstore, 261 Columbus Ave, in San Francisco, co-sponsored by Routledge, Taylor & Francis Press. In announcing the award, the committee chair Dr. Barry Gills noted, “Walden Bello has been chosen for this award due to his lifetime contribution to scholarship and activism on the international political economy of development, and his work for global justice. He has consistently demonstrated the highest standards of scholarship, leadership and dedication, and is therefore an example of 'Outstanding Public Scholarship'.” The Belgian newspaper Le Soir has called Bello "the most respected anti-globalization thinker in Asia." Canadian author Naomi Klein has described him as the "world's leading no-nonsense revolutionary." Chalmers Johnson has hailed him as the "world's best guide to American exploitation of the globe's poor and defenseless." For over 30 years, Bello has been in the forefront of struggles for human rights, social justice, peace, and the environment.  In the last five years alone, he has served as a key leader of the global movement against the war in Iraq, played a central role in the effort to roll back the World Trade Organization, led a peace mission to Lebanon during the Israeli invasion in the summer of 2006, and worked to bring a justice and equity dimension to discussions of climate change.  His trademark as an activist has been his effort to connect issues and movements.  As he told Interpress Service during the international conference on climate change in Bali in December 2007, “We are here because of the broadening character of the climate change crisis and the solutions being proposed at the Bali meeting.  It is no more about techno-fixes. It has become a global emergency for which issues such as trade, justice, equity...

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