Saturday Sanity Break, 5 November 2016 - could Marx be right?
How will we cope if the voters of America elect either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, which seems likely? With just a few days until the US presidential election, this is the issue de jour. Greg Sheridan takes the palm with his suggestion that the USA is preparing to take a radical step.
'The West, especially the US, has created an affluent cultural underclass, who literally know nothing of Western culture. They even have a spiritual capital. It’s not New York but Las Vegas. Trump is its epitome. American politics is full of charlatans. Trump is the authentic charlatan.
'Here is a new question for democracy: Is it better to be ruled by a morally odious hypocrite like Bill Clinton, or any representative of the Clinton dynasty, or is it better to be ruled by a proud vulgarian who does not pay the price of hypocrisy that vice traditionally owes to virtue, but runs explicitly and proudly on his vulgarity?'
Many writers have noted the increasing cultural gap between the elites and the rest. In my view both the success of a vulgarian like Trump and the results of the Brexit referendum show the protest of the masses against the elites. Note that the UK's high court (the cream of elites) has determined that the decision to disengage from the European project must be ratified by parliament, despite the fact that parliament (a house of elites) created the referendum and to reject it would be to reject the clearly expressed view of the people.
My dentist has recently been to Germany with her partner, who is German. 'It felt very tense in Berlin' she said, with Mrs Merkel's refugees raging around. Another example of unhappiness of decisions of the elites hated by ordinary folk. The unemployed of Greece cannot understand why they are in such a dire position, driven by Greek elites who did not understand economics. Even in Australia, the onetime 'miracle economy' is experiencing falling numbers of fulltime jobs offset in official statistics impacted by people dropping out of the workforce and rising numbers of people with part-time jobs who wish they could find more work.
Two other matters that will greatly harm Australia's economy involve debt. Rapidly rising international debt, financed on the national credit card plus asset sales. And record levels of household debt, now rapidly approaching two times the level of (slowly rising) household incomes. With falling job prospects, these trends in debt are absolutely unsustainable, yet our parliamentary elite will not even acknowledge the trouble our economy is in. Treasurer Scott Morrison, who seems to be a simple-minded 'Keynesian', urges people to spend, spend, spend while the Prime minister looks like a bloke who knows he will not long be a man who is deeply excited by his new job, or the supposed opportunities offered to all Australians.
As I have pointed out previously, five PMs in a few years is a sign that there are intractable problems that fail to be understood by political elites
Another feature of the modern capitalist world is the significant part played by the unhappiness of the masses due to increasing inequality of rewards. This was of course warned about by the arch-Communist Karl Marx.
In 2013, Michael Schuman warned that Marx was finally being recycled. He wrote: 'With the global economy in a protracted crisis, and workers around the world burdened by joblessness, debt and stagnant incomes, Marx’s biting critique of capitalism — that the system is inherently unjust and self-destructive — cannot be so easily dismissed. Marx theorized that the capitalist system would inevitably impoverish the masses as the world’s wealth became concentrated in the hands of a greedy few, causing economic crises and heightened conflict between the rich and working classes.
'Accumulation of wealth at one pole is at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation, at the opposite pole.
'A growing dossier of evidence suggests that he may have been right'.
Unless and until the elites wake up to reality the Trump-Clinton-Brexit syndrome will gather strength. Ordinary folk around the world are disenfranchised and deeply pissed off, to use a Trumpism.
Fiona Prior has been active while Henry has been gathering his strength for his latest tilt at windmills. Last weekend she reviewed the Sydney Dance Company in untamed mode.
And Gary Scarrabelotti introduced us to The Karamazov Clue, kindly provided by Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky in 1880.
Henry's reading has included Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari, whose previous work has included the much acclaimed Sapians. It shall be reviewed, dear readers, but don't wait for that. I'd be astounded if you did not enjoy both of these books.
The Sporting Life
Day 2 of the test against the South Efricans and Australia's batters collapsed like a house of cards despite the great start by Messrs Warner and S. Marsh. (I am reliably informed that 'S' does not stand for 'Swampy'.) Henry is again reminded of the Mont Albert Fourths, who would have at least fought hard. Then the South Efricans batted like champions despite our fearsome first innings bowlers.
Soon the Aussie Rugby team will begin its Grand slam attempt in Europe. It's rarely/never been done, dear readers, and the signs were a bit promising when our lot faced the unbeatable All Blacks recently.
Image of the week