Capitalism operates in waves. I have held the opinion for a decade or so that the United States would need to eventually ease into a form of national capitalism in order to compete with similar large regimes in China, Russia, Europe, and several oil-rich quasi-socialist entities in the Middle East. Let me be perfectly clear. I am not advocating a misguided heavy-handed socialist agenda for America, or anything remotely close to the pie-eyed Marxist flim flam so popular among Left-wing bookstore café hipsters who are as personally selfish as any pickup truck-driving capitalist I've ever met. Yet so many of these lovely people with the trés chic smiles embrace an ideology which always seems to end in a pernicious totalitarianism and uninvited oppression by an elite class, quite a shell shocker or two in scale from the worse forms of capitalism ever practiced. Forget all that shuck and jive about false consciousness. It exists, but no one has a monopoly on a justifiable antidote. Life is not that damn complex, even for the uneducated. After all, even for the Big Kahuna, negotiating a Big Wave is a good thing. Negotiating a tsunami, not so much.
I predicted this need to ease into a form of national capitalism back in the 1990s to a loosely knit group of internationalists who were known as the Sworgists for no other reason than the fact that we had gathered around the fledgling Scenewash Project to discuss the future of capitalism. Back then, I was a staunch believer in the capitalist system, and at some point in the late 90s I coined the phrase, "Capitalism has proven to be the most effective and purest form of communism ever practiced."
Having founded the listserv I dubbedTHE SWORG SWILLI was operating among several staunch Marxists, and a couple of progressives who decried all previous failed experiments, of which Situationist Marxism and formal capitalism were the two more prominent. We hailed from Washington, DC, Austin, TX, Nottingham, England, Peoria, IL, and Sidney, Australia. All of us intuited that capitalism was weakening and its constitutional faultlines deepening. Trapped in our own miasma and personal biases however, we often disagreed on how to proceed with our investigations, and the group ended rather abruptly in May, 2000, after several years of communication.
But I had I suggested that we didn't need no stinking revolution because I viscerally agreed with the poet and musician John Lennon, who rejected revolution while advocating peace. No bloody pacifist am Igiven the horrid nature of the worldI however still prefer peace to war, a slap in the face or a kick in the collective ass to total war, and a purpose bounced ounce of dignity in life for everyone not waving a death sentence at me or my family. My impression then and my impression now is that capitalism would fall of its own weight and greed, and in that particular historical moment, a massive reorganization towards a kinder gentler socialist model could possibly improve the government, its daily standards, and the uncommon conditions of more common people struggling in this world, where unfortunately the many prop up the few.
I think that time has come. To that end, let's observe the festering approach in today's New York Times:FINANCE EXPERTS SAY THAT HAVING Washington take stakes in United States banks nowlike government interventions in the pastwould be a promising move to address an economic emergency. The plan by the Treasury Department, they say, could supply banks with sorely needed capital and help restore confidence in financial markets.
Elsewhere, government bank-investment programs are routinely called nationalization programs. But that is not likely in the United States, where nationalization is a word to avoid, given the aversion to anything that hints of socialism.
In past times of war and national emergency, Washington has not hesitated. In 1917, the government seized the railroads to make sure goods, armaments and troops moved smoothly in the interests of national defense during World War I. After the war ended, bondholders and stockholders were compensated and railways were returned to private ownership in 1920.
During World War II, Washington seized dozens of companies, including railroads, coal mines and, briefly, the Montgomery Ward department store chain. In 1952, President Harry S. Truman seized 88 steel mills across the country, asserting that unyielding owners were determined to provoke an industrywide strike that would cripple the Korean War effort. That nationalization did not last long, though, because the Supreme Court ruled the move an unconstitutional abuse of presidential power.
In banking, the government took an 80 percent stake in the Continental Illinois Bank and Trust in 1984. Continental Illinois failed in part because of bad oil-patch loans in Oklahoma and Texas. As the nation’s seventh-largest bank, Continental Illinois was deemed “too big to fail” by federal regulators, who feared wider turmoil in the financial markets. In the end, the government lost an estimated $1 billion on the bad loans it bought as part of the takeover of Continental, which eventually became part of Bank of America.
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