Logic of Tough Love

St. Valentine Day in Beirut
by  Marek Cejka

It has been a while since I last blogged.  Events unfold at slow pace, and some of the events belong to trends I had hinted at here.

Now, it seems that the continental drift is apace, at least in geo-political terms.  Greece is just the tip of the iceberg, and I suspect nothing less than the western growth model is at stake--by credit vs. organic.  Some, especially in the English speaking world, may want to argue that we are going through another capitalist cycle, whereby the excess of the last two decades is being cut to size.  I think the continentals would 'like' it the German way, or do they?  We'll find out in March when the hands in favor of the Stability Pact are counted out.  I can only say that the Europeans cannot get away from sixtysome years of dollarization on the cheap, yet this poker-like game goes on.  Look out for elections in France and the radicalization of the European street.

The complicating factor has been for some years the Asian re-centering of the world, which also pulls the US and Europe apart, and this is most unfortunate.  I, for one, would rather compete with the Europeans, otherwise the whole baseline for competition goes back a long way, wiping clean many a gain made by the western middle-classes.

On the other hand, I invite you to consider the following.  How is it possible that the Greek olives rot on trees, yet a kilo of olives, or a litter of olive oil, has not come down in price despite the Greek economic tragedy?  Is this a failure of human imagination, or of the ways of commerce at the hands of the multinationals whose logic defies common sense?

I think our unit of capitalism--be it production, trade or finance--has been allowed to grow so big, in order to better compete globally*, that human ingenuity is mostly misdirected in societies  with little understanding of cause-effect relationships.  In a way, this is a measure of the colossally material success our society has achieved, and some great minds in times past saw it all coming.

Some claim this is the result of increased complexity and advocate for a return to simpler forms, or a reduced role for the state.  I wish I knew how we could manage such undoing, other than being resigned to accept a lower station in life--except that such process would require fairness and that's nowhere in sight, neither within , nor among countries.  

Others do want to restore the status-qvo ante by all means left at their disposal, read war, for we still live in a post-ideological time.  As I wrote elsewhere, for US, the worse it gets the better it is, provided that it's all denominated in dollars.  I take this to be  a generational failure, for war is still one of the biggest known unknowns, and the top incumbent stands to lose the most.    

(*) Surely, the reader recalls this being the default justification for allowing anti-competitive mergers to take place.


WAR! by Luis Aguilera

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