Ali’s blog

Mostly quant stuff with occasional digressions

Change I can believe in

Posted by alifinmath on February 23, 2009

As I may have stated in earlier posts, I never had a shred of faith in the pope of hope (otherwise known as Obama). As Ken Livingstone — an English politician — once pointed out, if voting could change anything, they’d have abolished the ballot box a long time ago. So what kind of change can we hope for, can we believe in? Recent demonstrations in Iceland, Greece, and Latvia answer this question. And now it would appear that British authorities are fearful of rioting on British soil; from the Guardian:

Police are preparing for a “summer of rage” as victims of the economic downturn take to the streets to demonstrate against financial institutions, the Guardian has learned.

Britain’s most senior police officer with responsibility for public order raised the spectre of a return of the riots of the 1980s, with people who have lost their jobs, homes or savings becoming “footsoldiers” in a wave of potentially violent mass protests.

Superintendent David Hartshorn, who heads the Metropolitan police’s public order branch, told the Guardian that middle-class individuals who would never have considered joining demonstrations may now seek to vent their anger through protests this year.

He said that banks, particularly those that still pay large bonuses despite receiving billions in taxpayer money, had become “viable targets”. So too had the headquarters of multinational companies and other financial institutions in the City which are being blamed for the financial crisis.

If one glances back at history, this is the only way real change has been effected. The authorities would have us believe peaceful methods — voting or peaceful protests — can accomplish change. But this is exceedingly naive and experience and history indicate otherwise. It would truly require “the audacity of hope” to believe in this specious nonsense. The powerful would have us believe that “non-violent resistance” is the way forward. I doubt it. It wasn’t a Gandhi who brought real results (despite massive propaganda suggesting he did); it was Indian nationalists like Subash Chandra Bose and also the shellacking an armed and militant Japan administered to British imperial interests in Asia.

In this connection I would recommend a couple of books:

How Nonviolence Protects the State, by Peter Gelderloos, and

Pacifism as Pathology, by Ward Churchill

Note that for the record, I am not advocating violence. But I am asking the question of what it does take to bring about real change. One can’t appeal to a tiger’s sense of justice and fairness to persuade it to become a vegetarian. Why do people think that moral and logical appeals to a venal and ruthless ruling financial and political elite is going to be any more effective?

The pope of hope, the chairman of change, the mocha messiah, is delivering absolutely nothing. It’s another triumph of style over substance. Global finance capitalism is in a deepening crisis — and the measures proposed so far will do next to nothing to ameliorate it. Indeed what these measures seem to be about is a hegemonic financial elite taking care of its own interests in a structural crisis that is the inevitable consequence of a system this elite has presided over and benefited from.

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One Response to “Change I can believe in”

  1. alifinmath said

    In the Daily Telegraph:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/4788962/ECB-faces-mutiny-from-national-bank-governors-as-recession-deepens.html

    QUOTE In the case of Ireland, the slump is spilling on to the streets. Some 120,000 marched through Dublin over the weekend to protest austerity measures.UNQUOTE

    My prognosis is that the Eastern and Southern European members of the EU are going to fracture and break away from the EU and what will be left will be either a North European or Mittel Europa rump, more tightly integrated than ever before. But this will have to be the topic of another post.

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