By Prof. John McMurtry
The interview (transcript below) from questions with Prof. John McMurtry was conducted for the 15th Anniversary of “Geopolitika” a journal of geopolitical and cultural analysis in Belgrade which was broadcast on Radio Belgrade by the weekly show “Silen” on February 12 from questions posed by Biljana Đorović.
The depth of the abyss into which the world is falling is ever clearer to people, but not the cause or the way out. Could you give us some kind of structure to explain what is at the heart of this empire of chaos that is reigning across the world?
In a nutshell, social evolution itself has been reversed by a US-led war on social and ecological life organisation driven by one corrupt master value – to free transnational corporations and their shareholders from social responsibility to multiply private fortunes without limit. It is a counter-revolution against the long development of democratic government and the welfare state that once crossed across the divisions of the Cold War.
The ultimate driver of the disorder can be explained in one underlying principle. The sole and absolute organising principle of the world’s reproduction and growth is turning private money into maximally more money for private money controllers. The ‘empire of chaos’ is the result.
The more this transnational financial capitalism is deregulated and subsidized , the more it multiplies itself through organic, social and ecological life hosts, the more predatorily destructive it becomes at all levels. This is ultimately a cancer system at the macro level, and it has quickly spread through the world. It was effectively with the Reagan-Thatcher counter-revolution against the social state with a US $500-billion tax-cut to the rich deliberately bankrupting the base of social programs, simultaneously pervasive media worship of the ‘free market’ and hatred of socialism, behind-the-scenes presidential permission of mass media monopolies proclaiming this mindless propaganda line, the systematic smashing of organised labour and sites of progressive intellectual discourses, ghoulish leashing of death squads in Latin Central America to reverse socialist forces while spending the opposing superpower USSR into bankruptcy on the arms race, and – finally but perhaps most importantly – preparation and passing of the world’s first major binding treaty absolutizing transnational corporate rights over all past or future democratic policies or legislation reducing foreign profit opportunities.
This sets the historical parameters of the current empire of chaos by reversing the post-1945 social evolution towards life security for all by the master principle of commodity and money-demand maximization across cultures and permanent war against any alternative.
How could this possibly be proclaimed, as it always has been, a victory for global freedom morality and justice?
The key is always in the US-designated Enemy whose destruction is equated to the victory of Good over Evil. There is no positive substance of the Good but destruction of the designated Enemy. There is in fact no common life interest of US civilization. There is the Enemy that must be defeated on the collective level, the sole collectivity. The money that must be made to survive is the only obligatory individual value, with self-maximization the logic of success.
The global turning point to ‘Communism’ as the Enemy came in 1991 with the fall of the USSR. This was triumphally proclaimed the victory of US freedom, the death of marxism and socialism, and the end of history itself.
In fact, the USSR fell by being hollowed out by the arms race and the Cold War, a deliberate US strategy, and from fighting the first jihadi terrorist uprising financed by the US in quasi-socialist Afghanistan. It was on Russia’s border, and the way to “bleed Russia to death” when it intervened to assist the secular social order with new equality for women. Yugoslavia at this same time was an iconically successful socialist society across ethnic divisions. But its US-led financial destruction was planned by secret presidential directive in 1981, and led to a chaos of ethnic wars and hatred ending in the 1999 bombing of Belgrade by NATO – – which was also during the US-British sanction bombing of Iraq, and more society-destroying bombings to come across the Middle East. Now the new designated Enemy was Saddam once the USSR fell.
One can see here that always a great Enemy is declared. It was long Communism which covered any alternative secular order with any socially owned economic base, the real danger being that it outperforms capitalist societies in serving the life needs of its people. But no sooner had this threat been apparently eliminated in even the Third World with death squads, international slanders and financial sabotage usually doing the trick than a new great Enemy called Saddam was declared just as the USSR was falling next door and unable to intervene.
Another new war, worse than the Cold War went into motion. As always there was constructed pretext, but this time without any USSR to limit it, the US (and Britain) bombed the long-evolved socialist infrastructure of Iraq into ruins and perpetrated an eco-genocidal invasion from 1991 to 2003 that was, as always, justified by the Enemy it attacked – although the enemy Saddam was long on the CIA payroll, just as Osama Laden, the next great Enemy to appear, was financed and armed by the US in Afghanistan to begin the new greatest enemy of all replacing Communism.
This Enemy is Islamic Terror which still morphs on into ISIS suddenly appearing in June 2014 to keep the ball rolling into Syria bombing by NATO, a reprise of the complete society destruction of Libya by US-led NATO bombing in 2011. The end of the Cold War gave rise not to peace, but wars of aggression by the US whenever it could take the people along with false cover stories. The constant throughout is a great Enemy, the cornerstone of US ideology, with constructed pretext or false flag event always justifying war against the now perpetually changing Enemy – in fact, sitting duck with no air defenses to stop imperial bombing and expansion of the transnational money-cancer system.
Do you think there is a fundamental difference between the US-led empire during the Cold War and after it? The years of the US-Soviet conflict seem almost pastoral compared to now.
1991 was supposed to bring about the great Peace Dividend with no US enemy to justify the always rising military spending to stop the “communist plot for world rule”. Now we know better who was aiming for world rule, as always projecting onto the designated Enemy the US’s own objective. The carpet bombings of helpless societies by US-led forces since 1991 are, like Vietnam, eco-genocidal in nature, only now one after another. They force-metastasize the exponential private financial growth of Wall Street and company, but transnational corporate treaty and social-state stripping is the ultimate inner logic of the US-led spreading chaos.
Before 1991, the US and allies had developed social life support systems and a welfare state to compete with state socialism. No longer. Since the fall of the USSR, whole peoples and their life conditions are destroyed and looted across continents from Yugoslavia to the Ukraine, from Iraq to Libya to Syria to who knows where next. Propelling every degenerate trend from behind has been the carcinomic financialization of real economies into multiplying private money sequences devouring life and life support systems as ‘global market freedom and prosperity’. This is the borderless transnational globalization of the private money-power system that has changed all the rules.
Dividing societies into civil war or helpless bankruptcy or both is the new and unnamed master pattern, destroying whatever collective economic and social success has been achieved everywhere, clearing s the way for foreign control of once sovereign resources, markets and peoples. Greece is a current example of these external money sequences cored in transnational banks hollowing out an evolved Western society to recoup foreign bank revenues after the Wall-Street-engineered bank collapse of 2008 – stripping ever more peoples to pay for big banks’ ponzi schemes even if the society’s unemployment goes over 30%, the public sector is dismantled and looted at fire-sale prices, and the majority’s lives and life conditions are turned towards the living hell formerly reserved for the Third World death-squad dictatorships.
This systemic money-sequenced destruction of evolved societies, their public resources and life support systems is now plundering all societies including the US and Britain. It is inconceivable that what is now normalized as “necessary market reforms” today could have been even proposed by these countries from 1950 to 1991. But things have also changed at the oppositional level. Latin America has largely evolved out of the US-led oligarchies of fascist tyranny.
Why is this underlying pattern – essentially a global multi-front war against humanity – not recognised in even academic discourses?
This is a very complex matter in all the levels of systemic degeneration and attack. The inherited methods and categories of understanding are incapable of comprehension so long as they are divided into siloes, mechanistically organised into atomic agents and aggregates, and increasingly funded for proprietary corporate research for profit.
The academy led by its own multiplying corporate managements has been largely converted into a servo-mechanism to the financial cancer system, a long war, with a new underclass of casualized worker- profs doing most of the teaching with no time for research. System diagnosis is prohibited at every step by this context. Marxist analysis itself is bound to categories unable to grasp the system’s disorder where more means and conditions of life are now destroyed than produced.
So-called ‘economics’ is most of all a set-point of the self-referential stupefaction. It is based on a life-blind liquid mechanics of the nineteenth century disguised by algebraic notations whose referents are idealized money coordinates in dyadic and exponential repetitions. The reigning models are structured a-priori not to see any of the real-life failures and depredations of the runaway disorder. Policy-setting ‘economics’ is without any framework to factor in the life needs of people, societies and environments at all. Academically trained critics name the problem as ‘neo-liberalism’, but this is a vacuously equivocal slogan. – – The classical liberals John Stuart Mill and John Dewey were both mild socialists and advocated a reasoned social progress of humanity’s permanent life interests, which this transnational private money-sequence system rules out in principle.
Could you say more about the “false ruling categories” misleading even the academic Left and most concerned citizens?
To begin with, this system is not as almost everyone assumes, a ‘free market’. Its trade and investment treaties across borders prove it to be a transnational corporate dictatorship in principle. Corporate lawyers write all the rules in secret. They override the policies of elected legislatures. Global supply and demand are controlled by dominant transnational corporations. Open market competition is ruled out by predatory and transfer pricing, corporate lobby control of state policies, and vast and growing government subsidies to favoured players.
While “the free market” is still absurdly assumed as given, “efficiency” is even more universally assumed as its regulating discipline and logic of progress. Indeed it is the justification for all the jobs continuously lost, all the deregulations, pollutions, resource-mining horrors, and inhuman exploitations from one place to the next across the globe.
Yet in fact this system is the opposite of ‘efficient’ in life means production and reproduction – the substance of any real economy. What is miscalled ‘efficiency’ merely lowers money costs for private profit agents. In reality, this system is now by far the most wasteful system ever, wasting more life value than it produces. 90% of the biomass it converts into commodities for profit end up as waste within six weeks. 40% of even final food products are thrown away without consumption. Fresh water lakes and aquifers are everywhere polluted and drawn down without efficient water use entering the equations. .
‘Absence of waste’ is the definition of efficiency. But this system wastes everything to multiply private money sequences with ever more people jobless, species in spasm extinctions, oceans poisoned and hollowed out, junks of every kind becoming more dominant across domains.
Do you think there are dark corridors of power where the game is rigged by master manipulators with their own ruling goals and forms of action? If so, what are they
Well they definitely exist as a self-flattering transnational money party bending the system to limitless rule. In the cases I know, the imaginary global free market is covertly structured to make private money rights sovereign over all that exists with no accountability to any human or ecological life need at all. This is conceived as “global market freedom”. The corrupt self-conceit is mind-stopping.
Banker David Rockefeller elliptically expressed this program back in 1991. “A supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and bankers”, he intoned to fellow Bilderburgers, “is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries”. This statement has never been denied. It implicitly entails a dark meaning. The ruling goal and form of action is to stop history’s democratic trend, to end peoples bonded by national identity, to override people’s say over their collective future, to eliminate public sectors except as serving this private money sovereign, and to accept this banker sovereignty as the proper replacement of the self-determination of nations and peoples.
Banker Rockefeller only refers to the ‘intellectual elite’ to deploy their Platonic conceit. He is more ignorant than they that Plato’s ‘philosopher kings’ live in community ownership of goods without private money gain to corrupt their reason by the lowest level of the soul, the self’s appetites. In contrast, Rockefeller’s ‘intellectual elite’ are exemplified by Rockefeller’s own money-obsequious German protégé, Leo Strauss who preaches the sovereignty of private money over society in Talmudic style that is hard to decipher. Yet as Rockefeller’s parachuted University of Chicago professor and godfather of the U.S. National Security Council, Strauss affirms the goal in his Natural Right and History:“limitless [money] capital accumulation” is “a moral duty and perhaps the highest moral duty”. Wasted expenditures at will , no productive function, genocides of the conquered, each and all are rationalized away by Strauss as moral rectitude by the ‘natural right’ of private money capital. He justifies every one.
This is only one dark corridor leading to the financial cancer system we face today. Its NSC branch rooted in Harvard’s graduate apparatus of ‘political science’ over decades is still dominated by the Russia-hating Zbigniew Brzezinski. Undergirded by the more substantial ‘free market’ worship dominating graduate schools everywhere up to US presidential appointees, all agents are propelled by big corporate and bank money power which they all worship. This ultimate money power explicitly and bilaterally seeks ‘full spectrum dominance’ of the world, as in the 2000 project for a New American Century signed by US leaders and advisers across parties. Its dark vision was then followed into 9-11 and the 9-11 Wars.
9-11 itself was corridors covered by darkness in how it happened. The first question of forensic justice, cui bon (who benefits?), remains publicly silenced. The official conspiracy theory of the World Trade Center buildings melting and collapsing into their own footprints violated the laws of physics at every step, beginning with the blamed Arabs with box-cutters and no remains. The US secret state is so covered in dark hidden corners that we can only predict in principle what will happen next – for recent example, the fully-armed ISIS killing machine springing onto the stage out of nowhere mass murdering everywhere it can, but somehow never touches Israel.
But a cautionary word. The deep global game-changers here are institutional moves at the level of sweeping trade treaties and thousands of new bureaucratic laws and regulations. They silently replace sovereign government and democratically legislated policies and laws everywhere “to compete in the global market”, with few observing that they are massive corporate-lawyer fiats multiplying protections of transnational business profits as their single unifying objective. They too are secret in negotiations, corporate lobby construction, thousands of pages of prescriptions, and closed tribunals punishing states which disobey. It is hard to see where the dark financial global coup d’etat stops.
Could you step us through a paradigm case of this financcial cancer system’ at work and how progressive voices fail to see its meaning?
The recently released Oxfam Davos Report (January 16) is a perfect example because it clearly succeeds in informing us of the escalating extremes of inequality which this system has produced – a fact on which now everyone agrees. The first essential fact it identifies reports from global business statistics that 62 individuals now own more wealth than 50% of the world’s population. More shockingly, the second essential fact reported is that this share of wealth by half the world’s people has collapsed by over 40% in the last five years.
Yet even in this report the big lie continues that “the world has made great progress in tackling world poverty” and that “extreme poverty has been halved since 1990”. The near automatic assumption that the poor are being “lifted out of poverty in greater numbers” thus persists even though the business evidence itself shows that, in fact, the poorer half of humanity has lost 42% of their wealth in just the last few years. What does this mean for “trickle-down theory”, “global competition nets more wealth for all”, and “Parteo optimal markets”? It means that they are all delusionary. The World Bank and other figures purporting to show great gains for the poor are based on income gains of less than a cup of coffee a day – typically of emigrants forced into big polluted cities who formerly had at least a family home, clean air and green surroundings.
Yet observe that throughout the revolutionary redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich, the magic of the market and globalization are proclaimed as “enhanced competition”, “liberalized de-regulation”, “‘more labour flexibility”, “reduced welfare costs” and “austerity programs to correct excesses”. In fact beneath the pervasive propaganda conditioning citizens to believe in the money shell game devouring the world, the poorer half of humanity has been deprived of one trillion dollars of wealth in five years while the 62 richest people have gained almost twice as much for themselves by the operations of this system.
But the end is not yet. Other figures in the Davos Report show that a further $760 billion flowing to non-producing investors has been gained by transnational tax evasion with impunity across the world. This is another revolutionary turn of ‘globalization’ to enrich the richest while doubling down on deprivation of the poor. Yet at the same time, it strips the funding of public sectors and institutions which have evolved to serve the common life interest of societies outside the global market. Governments which could once protect the deprived at all levels of life organization are now widely bankrupted or debt enslaved along with most citizens. Who has reported any of this?
In consequence, the world slips into deeper recession from the collapse of demand at the public and majority levels as the poorest half’s share of wealth is almost halved and the share of the richest is more than doubled for accumulation. But this cause of the Great Recession is ignored by governments and international policy meetings as if it did not exist.
As these and other facts show, borderless and de-regulated corporate globalization is eating the world alive. That is why these facts are never reported by the mass media or politicians. It is why claimed actions to stop the world bleeding never face the system disorder causing them. It is why even concerned organizations continue to repeat falsehoods as if they were true. Once again like a cancer system at the macro level, this exponentially multiplying private money-sequence system has no committed life functions but to feed on life and life conditions to grow itself. But what progressive journal or even book connects all of these dots?
Can there be any resolution to the fragmentation and paralysis of unifying vision?
Our problem now is that is not even the informed and the progressive join the dots and realise the meaning of their own senses and the rising evidence. As with Oxfam, they pre-consciously deny the collapsing position of the majority of humankind by repeating the lies of the ruling doctrine like ‘progress in eliminating poverty’ and ‘halving of absolute destitution’.
Nowhere is the criterion of human needs across cultures identified. Nowhere are the truly ‘changed rules of the game’ specified and shown as cause of the systemic catastrophes for humanity and planetary life support systems. Nowhere do we see a policy-structure change spelled out that connects across crises. Yet everywhere the diagnosis and tracking of financial- ization can detect and show the CSC drivers of world society today.
Resolution requires recognition of the ultimately regulating principle of humanity’s social evolution that moves underneath technological development to what it is for and the basic institutional bases to rule out the great blind alleys of post-1900 social evolution such as state Stalinism and global financialization. The underlying pattern of progress is now lost in superstructural debates, but is control of currency and credit by public-bank authority linked to defined life standards of investment and production to protect human beings and their shared life support systems. History shows this underlying pattern of progress in varying degrees such as the Scandinavian countries and the old Yugoslavia, but a conscious life code has been lacking at the society-wide level. This missing link is a life-coherent collective value system translated into self-evident principles of how to live as a society beyond individual choices.
You have explained ‘globalization’ as transnational money sequences multiplying through societies and environments and devouring life support systems. Given the current paralysis of unifying vision, what is the social alternative?
You are right about the ‘paralysis of unifying vision’. Even philosophers reject any ultimate common value, while no party has a policy framework of alternative. The tacitly ruling morality is that everyone must compete harder to survive while economic systems are stripped everywhere to enrich the corporate rich. Business statistics show that the poorer half of the world has lost over 40% of its wealth in the last five years, while less than one-tenth of one percent of the world’s population has multiplied its wealth and blames ‘overpopulation’ as the problem. But with even the opposition repeating masking slogans like “neo-liberal” and “austerity”, there are no coherent policy drivers to reclaim the life capital base of humanity.
For years before global capitalism went carcinogenic, I thought Marx provided the unifying vision. But close examination reveals that technological determinism is the ultimate driver of society for Marx with no grounding life-value base to control it – Stalinist growth an extreme example of the problem. My research has concluded that life capital is the underlying ground eluding us, the real base of human society and development, and the only concept which unifies across social, ecological and organic systems. It is the unseen foundation of alternative.
What exactly is life capital?
Life capital is an objective and quantifiable process whose criterion is intuitively self-evident, but not yet understood – life wealth/capacity that produces more life wealth/capacity without loss and cumulative gain through generational time. Yet it is crucial to emphasize that life capital does not presuppose a private possessor. It refers to the collective life capital of the planetary ecosystem and all the socially constructed conditions of humanity’s provision of life goods which are reproduced and, at best, gain through time. All life capital, however, can also be run down by a life-blind economic system such as financial capitalism today. The collapse of the Easter Island culture is a paradigm example of this.
Can you illustrate how this ‘unifying alternative’ applies to our daily lives
Life capital is all that we continuously depend on to live and live well – breathable air, potable water, everyday knowledge, energy infrastructures, and life-serving regulations. There is nothing that is reproduced and developed through time that is not life capital, and there is no good of our lives not dependent on it to stay alive and well. In short, life capital is the daily enabling ground of everyone, even though the current system increasingly privatizes, poisons and loots it.
On the individual level, each one of us is also a bearer of life capital which we manage better rather than worse by developing rather than wasting or depleting it. On the micro as well as the macro level, our life capital is far deeper in value than what can be sold in the market. Yet we lack the concept for what ultimately matters to us, that without which every life is reduced, malnourished and dies. This is especially true for social and ecological life capital on which we depend without knowing it – for example, effective societal norms and infrastructures ensuring clean air, water, civil safety, electricity infrastructures, education, healthcare, income security, you name it.
The concepts of’ natural capital’, ‘social capital’, ‘human capital’ and ‘knowledge capital’ have recently become familiar in name. Yet beneath recognition, they are all reversed in meaning when they are assumed as merely means of making private money in the market.
What has gone wrong at the most basic level?
Money becoming more money for private possessors has become the ultimate ruling value on Earth by corporate market indoctrination, treaty commands and armed force. The transnational money-sequence system selects only for more priced commodities without life standards, multiplies more money to the richest, and depredates life capital at all levels. The ruling value system here would be laughably absurd if not so eco-genocidal in effects.
Wall Street has now modelled control of all the water and land in the world for future profit to its ‘investors’, and anything else that can be bought and sold to spike private money sequences. These are called ‘sophisticated financial instruments’ of ‘development’ and invade everywhere with state protection by myriad-article treaties in corporate lawyer code contrived behind closed doors. Every plane of existence from which more money-value can be extracted is in the cross-hairs of this investment regime with no protection for the social and ecological life support systems of the world and a-priori impunity for destroying them. The crowning irony is ‘austerity programs’ for the rest of society, but never for the obese and tumorous money party showing all the hallmark characteristics of a metastasizing global cancer system.
“With captive customers, the cash flows are virtually guaranteed. The only major variables are the initial prices paid, the amount of debt used for financing, and the pace and magnitude of price hikes – easy things for Wall Street to model.” Thomas Berry long ago said more directly, “corporate profit is the deficit of the Earth”. The money-sequence cancer system is how it works with ever more ‘freedom’ to hollow out societies’ life capital bases. Seek exception. We have lost our ultimate value ground without knowing it, and this is the reason people feel ever more helpless and meaningless.
What are the implications for public policy and recovery?
The first is that the life-ground of value is not created by the global market, and even less by individuals in money exchanges – the ruling delusion within which state policies and economic understanding are imprisoned. Our ultimate economic ground begins with reproduction of the planetary atmosphere itself, the oceans, earth’s hydrological cycles, soil cover, forests, fellow species, and so on – all basic forms of universal life capital ignored by the moribund model. So-called ‘Economics’ is geared towards eco-genocide without knowing it.
Yet life capital includes much more than the planet’s physical resources. It denotes all real goods that are reproduced and cumulatively advance through time, including scientific knowledge and human energy sources. Securing our collective life capital base to live by entails policy and regulation to prevent every kind of life capital being run down, wasted or destroyed as it is now. The binding Ozone Layer Protocol was implemented with success in 1989, but nothing binding since has been allowed by the life-blind system. Instead, the publicly deregulated and subsidized private money-sequence disorder keeps invading across borders with no recognition it is objectively evil as measurable by its laying waste of the collective and individual life capital of society, nature and citizens.
This is where moral and policy deciders must reclaim human purpose and life by binding life standards regulating international trade and investment. We have already significantly achieved these standards in public health and higher education, but these too are now undermined by the corporate profit driver that is alone protected and invades everywhere.
What role do the mass media have in paralyzing us within this carcinogenic system?
The mass media never question the global corporate market. It is assumed as natural and good as enslavement of other peoples and women once were. Mass homicide by system starvation and ecocide are indeed still called ‘development’. Problems of systemic life depredation and ruin are never raised, even as knowledge and information themselves are corrupted into what corporations can sell for profit. Instead, endless images, gossip and tales of fear, appetite and projections rule the public airwaves.
The latest designated Enemy like Putin or other stigma object is the release valve for pent-up hatred and frustrations – with total indifference to hard evidence as long as the story sells and the game keeps going. It is almost comical – the lead New York Times lying at will about the latest whipping boy – if it were not equivalent to a collapsed social immune system in the face of a macro cancer system. Some in the academy seek truth and stand against the perpetual big lies, but this resilient core of evolving human understanding is embargoed in the corporate media.
At the most general level, the mass media are governed by three final goals – selling corporate ads, glorifying money power, and blocking out ruin of life capital bases by the ruling disorder. These are the unseen general laws of the mass media across the West and its allies.
Professional sports exemplify the global corporate system as the unseen but ultimate propaganda site. The more money you get as a star, the more the money-sequence system is glorified, the more ads are sold by the contest spectacles, the more public attention and wealth are diverted from real issues, and the more the ultimate struggle for better life on earth is displaced by sweater-logos fiercely competing for external money prizes.
Big-money sports are a media allegory of the system. Unending battle cries of “everything is at stake here” are the hysteria of the money-driven forces displacing all that really matters to our lives and the future of life on Earth. Even if a real public issue is allowed into the spectacle-sales agenda, like climate destabilization, it too is converted by corporate media into saleable profit opportunities and false images of collective action. The rising cataclysmic storm, sea-rise and weather extremes are themselves euphemized as ‘climate change’, and only market solutions are reported and promoted. No binding policy reduction is made, and ecocidal trends are not connected back to the system as common cause.
The media are also now controlled by monopolies which defund investigative journalism and increasingly strip newspapers for quick cash to their stockholders. Reduced to ad vehicles and infotainment, the media follow one underlying law of meaning. The truth is what sells. The only ‘free’ agency left is the money party behind myriad front names and business lobbies buying elections and minting laws beneath public accountability or glare of publicity on any step.
Yet it is not only the mass media that avert their attention from the objective destruction of life capital bases. There are state propaganda machines abroad like the US ‘National Endowment for Democracy’ and George Soros leveraging billions made from attacking sovereign currencies who together destabilize countries where the transnational media are not yet in control – as in Ukraine before the fascist coup, or the most progressive Latin American countries, or countless other victim societies like Serbia, now on the line for a new US-controlled media empire.
Meanwhile in the background once independent scholarly journals are all bought up by transnational corporations selecting and monopolizing academic knowledge for proprietary profit while bankrupting university libraries with multiplied book and subscription costs for the creations of faculty and scholarly referees paid nothing. Is there any limit to the invasion of even independent original research and dissemination?
Yet even the best known theorists blinker out the occupation. German social philosopher and scientist, Jurgen Habermas rules out any alternative economic order to the global market a-priori. The dominant American justice theories of Rawls and Nozick cannot get beyond self-maximizing agents in a social void with no life capital bases. Even socialist theory and doctrine provide little or no life-grounded analysis and policies for recovery.
What about post-modernism with thinkers like Foucault, Baudrillard and Lyotard who have exposed the inhuman in our institutions and language?
They express the problem by their abhorrence of any objective grounding structure or any universal life value. They proclaim the liberated, the particular and the insurgent in labyrinthine theories while ignoring the actual global command system and any alternative to it. Deleuze and Bourdieu may loathe capitalism, but they have no conception of humanity’s universal life necessities as a grounding step to agreement and resistance. Indeed, any grounding in bonding values across differences is denounced as prescriptive or “terrorist universals”.
Organising principles which bridge from the past through the present to the future by objective common life interests, like universal human life necessities, are effectively out of bounds. Never have integrating life coordinates been more stripped away in theory and practice at once. This is the ultimate crisis – the abandonment of life-coherent reason across domains. As a result, the locked paradigm of liquid mechanics goes on being mapped onto the living world. Not even ecologists connect life-destructive trends back to their common cause. They presuppose the global market system a-priori. Wall Street and NATO meanwhile keep advancing the private money-command system under mutating big lies – as Serbia knows well. After the ‘shock therapy’ of Wall-Street financial ruin and the 78-day bombing to enforce socialist Yugoslavia’s destruction perorated by the show trial of the prior president, most people became afraid and servile to survive. A global terror system is built in beneath consciousness of it.
Where is there hope for countervailing understanding and action?
No system of life-blind oppression works for long once people awake to their common life bases and the enemy system subjugating and destroying them. Yugoslavia led the world in effective struggle against Nazism and in society-rebuilding afterwards across the extremest ethnic and political divides. In the first stage, the enemy was clear by the Nazis’ armed invasion of another state, and the world’s then-greatest military machine was defeated by anti-fascist forces. But the second stage of building an ethnically unified socialist formation was even more impressive to outside observers – at least those caring about humanity’s future.
Yugoslavia’s democratically socialist example inspired me and countless others a generation ago. Worker forces fought back fascist invasion, won, and overcame past divisions in a social state against seemingly impossible odds. Nazism was the clearly evil system to defeat. Yet today’s financial fascism is becoming arguably more life-destructive overall. Here as always, life-grounded understanding of the situation leads effective response to it. Correct me if I am wrong. But it seems that every good step taken in this war against fascism and the non-Stalinist socialist state afterwards was for collective life capital defence and advance.
Can you give some examples of life capital meaning and application to steer by?
A paradigm example is herds of livestock. Their life capital continues so long as they reproduce or gain in collective life capacity of yield in meat, milk-production, pull-power, and hide material, all quantifiable through time. The same can be said in more advanced meaning without animals involved of socially constructed and regulated life capital formations today –public literacy and health systems, clean air and water, electric-light access, recycling garbage and sewage systems, life security in body and speech, book and film libraries, ecological integrity including noise bylaws, biodiverse pathways and surroundings. We find life capital meaning most incisively when we consider our lives without any of them.
Public spending now increasingly going to serve and subsidize the private money-sequence system at every level is, in contrast, the major financial prop of the disorder attacking our life capital bases. Every public investment should be bound by capital standards instead, not only in public health and education, but in ensuring every enterprise is steered to life-coherent technology and regulation by licensing and taxing commodities accordingly.
The life capital base of developed societies is already very evolved beneath market phenomena without connective understanding. Our problem is that no unifying comprehension connects across ecological systems to the means to live as human to applied technology through time. On the contrary, the global money-sequence system destroys life capital and support systems without stop, and never builds them. It has no real life coordinates at all. Life capital provides the long-missing link. It defines the life-coherent set-point of policy deciders at all levels.
Today we have no way out. Heidegger may seem to recover the lost life-ground by his famous notion of our “forgetfulness of Being”. But he has nothing to go on but the “home of language”, like Wittgenstein with his “language games” in the analytic tradition. Economics itself strips even natural language out. We have lost life reason and science at the level of understanding that without which human life capacities are destroyed over time. That is what life capital is in all its forms. “Being” merely mystifies and empties the meaning to pre-Socratic abstraction. We see this on the life-ground of Greece today – a burning example at every step of the transnational money-sequence program devouring the collective and individual life capital of an historical nation . Heidegger saw the Nazi version with no opposition. Today global financial fascism rules with the moribund abstractions of the academy still towing the line.
At the moving edge of the US-EU-led system of dispossession and ruin today, refugees now flee in the millions from the places that NATO and allies have bombed since Yugoslavia. EU authorities then demand that Serbia and Greece, already bled dry by the terror-backed financial system, manage the catastrophic effects landing on them. How do we recognise the moving lines of system depredation by objective measure? The life capital measure enables an objective and unifying meaning of life-value loss throughout – the losing of life security in need, of housing and nourishing food supply, of adequate clean water and sewage cycles, of accessible learning and knowledge, of public facilities and structures of production, art and environmental integrity – in short, the real goods of life without which human capacities shrink, suffer and die. If life capital is not at stake, then the issue of opposition may be diversionary, as in promotion of hate against poor out-groups. Life capital invariably provides the life compass of value ground and direction to guide understanding.
Do Russia and China have a role in stopping the US-EU financial and armed juggernaut expanding on all fronts?
With many others, I felt relief at Russia’s Putin drawing the line on the US-led transnational-corporate occupation of the Ukraine and reclaiming the traditional Russian territory of Crimea given away under the USSR by Khrushchev, himself a Ukrainian. But such understanding is inconceivable within the US-led propaganda system. The inner logic and driver of the US propaganda empire across continents never stops: Blame the designated Enemy for what the US itself is doing as the reason to hate and attack it. Russia and China are no longer cowed by the propaganda line. A stop is being made to the money-sequence cancer system at its fronts of Eastern expansion – which is reverse-projected as always onto those stopping the march.
China’s “win-win” alternative of international development investment is also advancing without the US methods of war, destabilization and death squads. Public banking systems in place of a global financial cancer stem-celling from Wall Street are already established. New international development banks and initiatives are slowly advancing, China leads most successfully on the basis of having more US Treasury bonds and bills than the US can afford to have flooding the global market. Both Russia and China can defend themselves against military and internal attack unlike the always weaker victims helpless against aerial bombing and US-funded takeover from within. China and Russia’s power of veto in the United Nations Security Council as well as on the ground can stop the compulsive US-led aggression, bombing and civil war construction which is built into its “full spectrum dominance” doctrine backed by both US governing parties. The Libya genocide by NATO with Security Council approval has left a lasting impression. Russia and China are in some ways joining to stop the US-led world money-cancer system that invades, subjugates and devours life on Earth.
Yet Russia and China today show no alternative of life-grounded democracy and freedom from want and oppression. It is their armed force capacity and, with China, dollar power which stand in the way of totalized US-led empire and subjugation as it declines. China and Russia, however, have no evident life capital base they ground in to lead out of the global money-sequence end-game. China in fact has already run down and polluted its own life capital bases of breathable air, water sources and rivers, biodiversity, and minimal public life security for all, as with the old workers’ brigades now defunded. Both Russia and China lack developed constitutional rule of life-protective law.
Yet there are good signs – in Russia, investing in public pensions as a priority, repudiation of fracking and GMO degrading of ecological stabilities, and a bred-in-the-bone tradition of life collectivity. In China, a presidential war against corruption and massive green commitment and power production show statesmanship to lead. Most of all, public banking systems have allowed sovereign control over public investment, the secret to real economic development and non-bankruptcy for societies everywhere.
It is worth pointing out here that public banks were also the key to Yugoslavia’s success before US-led foreign loans and compounding interest rates over 20% prime financially broke the multi-ethnic country’s unifying social programs and life security baseline. At the same time, what Russia and China lack, Yugoslavia’s self-governing worker enterprises, democratic processes, and joining of divided peoples together by life serving public programs led the world as example. That is why Yugoslavia was marked for ruin by a still-secret 1981 Reagan directive. Nothing is so abominated and attacked in this ruinous private bank and corporate occupation of the world as collective life capital bases independent of corporate market money sequences accountable to nothing but their self-multiplication. The public option of life capital investment and advance can lead the way beyond the cataclysm.
John McMurtry is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and his work is published and translated from Latin America to Japan. He is the author and editor of the three-volume Philosophy and World Problems published by UNESCO’s Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS), and his latest book is The Cancer Stage of Capitalism/from Crisis to Cure.