Towards a New Economic System

The global financial crisis is abated and while most are glad to see it drop from the top spot in the media, there is still a danger that the underlying reasons why it occurred have not been resolved.

As Sonja asked last year, what would the Baha’i answer have been? Of course, the Baha’i Faith does not pretend to be an economic system. It neither endorses a laissez-faire economic system, nor a Marxist, socialist or communist system.

The world is by now becoming keenly aware that none of the frameworks implemented throughout history have been successful. The failures of Marxism and communism provided the right with a few decades to gloat. However, the recent collapse of the world economy is a sharp slap in the face of the Chicago school of thought.

Understandably, everyone is confused. Experts, economists, and politicians argue incessantly about what happened and why and what should be done. As always, there are a few who tenaciously cling to the old, fatal ideas, claiming that they are valid but their implementation was flawed. This is the tired refrain we’ve heard so many times from the left to excuse the collapse of communist states. And so it is equally invalid.

People are angry. The gap between the rich and the poor has reached epic proportions not seen for more than 80 years. Michael Moore who has his finger on the pulse of the masses has captured the zeitgeist yet again and released a scathing new documentary: “Capitalism, a Love Story”. Here is the trailer:

Being the agent provocateur that he is, Michael Moore doesn’t pretend to offer answers in this documentary. Instead, he exposes a broken system by asking a lot of daring questions. One of his main ones is that both capitalism and socialism are constructs 100′s of years old. We are now living in the 21st century – isn’t it time we created a new financial system for today’s world?

And most damning of all: how can we pretend to live in a political democracy when our economy is not democratic? Can we ever have true democracy when the top 5% of Western society control the majority of its wealth? When that top 5% uses money to influence politics to protect the status quo?

Of course, answering these questions and proposing new paths for humanity is complex and will take time. But if you look carefully, even right now, amid all the chaos and injustice, there are a few glimmers of hope. One that I learned about recently is a micro-credit project being spearheaded by a Baha’i NGO in South America. They are working with the locals to set up self-sustaining banking institutions, run democratically by the community, for the community. While these tiny micro-credit institutions have a Baha’i model built in, the vast majority of the members and participants are non-Baha’is.

The work they are doing is amazingly good as you can see from this documentary. It is a bit long at 40 minutes but well worth it. I encourage you to watch it. If you can’t in one sitting, come back and see it in two or three installments. And make sure you share it with your friends. It is life affirming and during difficult times like these, it is important to be reminded of the good in the world:

I’m not suggesting that these simple community based finance institutions are the panacea for an incredibly complex and interwoven global financial marketplace. But the underlying philosophy is what is important. Had the animating spirit behind these micro-credit institutions also powered Wall Street, we would not have gone through the wrenching financial crisis.

  • randyburns

    Michael Moore is a great film maker and a wonderful student of human nature, but for Baha'is the essential question is : are human elites helping people or helping themselves? Where do you find human elites willing to sacrifice their own well being for others? If you find them Baha'is should join them.

    Cheers, Randy

  • http://twitter.com/masuds19 Masud Samandari

    Hi Randy,

    I agree that we Baha'is should join those that are actually helping people. We have a long way to go, but I think that organizations like the European Baha'i Business Forum do a good job in trying to achieve this goal.

    On another note, I must ask you, Randy, do you honestly take Michael Moore seriously? I find him to be quite obnoxious in his morally frivolous attitude towards important issues. I particularly disliked Fahrenheit 9/11; I found it to be full of half-truths, if not worse.

    I haven't watched “Capitalism” yet, but I am tired of people being led by their emotions as dictated by the popular media when considering the important issues we face today, and I think Michael Moore is part of that problem, not the solution.

  • randyburns

    Hi Masud

    I take Moore seriously as a film maker, therefore I take his exploration of the human condition and of human nature seriously. Human nature under lies all issues that affect human life. I doubt that I will agree with Michael Moore's economics view at all, I'm sure they are naive, however he uncovers the reasons why things are as they are. This uncovering allows us to explore ways and means of changing the way things are. The way of change always lies in the transformation of the human condition itself vis-a-vis change in human actualities in realizing hidden potential. This is the essence of what Baha'u'llah teaches in the Iqan.

    Cheers, Randy

  • Craig Parke

    Speaking of far sighted economics and grass roots justice in the new World Age, does anyone know what the UHJ's opinion is on the recent Kansas Supreme Court Decision on the MERS electronic mortgage registration system?

    http://www.webofdebt.com/articles/mers.php

  • Baquia

    The EBBF? you're kidding, right?

    As Abdu'l-Baha said, ideas can start in the realm of thought but they must then enter the world of action. EBBF throws conferences, cuts down trees to write inane 'statements' and then holds some more conferences. Give me one single thing they've done to help someone that really needed the help, the way this micro-credit organization has and I'll stand corrected.

  • sonjavank

    thanks B, inspiring stuff!

    It reminds of something I was involved in in the 80's in New Zealand.
    A number of individuals started the “Coorperative Enterprises Loans Trust”, C.E.L.T., a people's bank where we gave advice and help in setting up co-operative ventures, as well as being a bank. First I was just one of many who used this as my bank for my spare cash and later I was a boardmember. We had boardmembers throughout the country and we met every few months. In those days, I met such amazing people, all wanting to do something to change the captilist trend of things. In those days I never met another Bahai involved in this, which was odd, given that so many aspects of this were so Bahai-like.
    I tried googling this and found nothing, so it probably no longer exists, but I still remember the smiling faces of those starting up their 2 or 3 person cooperative businesses and I assume that many of those are still in operation.
    It was quite a learning experience for me to be involved in such a venture where we helped so many people start out in a small business.

    Michael Moore is one of my favourite filmmakers, not for his aesthetics nor his brashness, but because he is a whistle-blower with wit and for his “we are the people” approach.
    Actually here's quite a bit of parody in his gung-ho approach. But most importantly, his whole approach is to give the viewer the idea, that they too, can go and ask, can go ask for transparency, can ask for accountability.
    That's what his movies are really about and they do it so well, with a humour that is impowering. I'm looking forward to this new film.

  • sonjavank

    wouldn't it be amazing if 20% of a Bahai community fund went towards development as these people do? Towards the life and future of a community?

  • fubar

    first, answer the following question:

    what is the democratic experience?

    (microcredit is one specific example.)

    then, answer:

    how does postmodern culture effect the democratic experience, and the related institutions.

    Note: what exists in many cases now is *not* “the democraic experience”, but “disinformocracy”:

    http://www.well.com/~hlr/vcbook/vcbook10.html

    excerpt:

    Here is what the preeminent contemporary writer about the public sphere, social critic and philosopher Jurgen Habermas, had to say about the meaning of this abstraction:

    By “public sphere,” we mean first of all a domain of our social life in which such a thing as public opinion can be formed. Access to the public sphere is open in principle to all citizens. A portion of the public sphere is constituted in every conversation in which private persons come together to form a public. They are then acting neither as business or professional people conducting their private affairs, nor as legal consociates subject to the legal regulations of a state bureaucracy and obligated to obedience. Citizens act as a public when they deal with matters of general interest without being subject to coercion; thus with the guarantee that they may assemble and unite freely, and express and publicize their opinions freely.

    In this definition, Habermas formalized what people in free societies mean when we say “The public wouldn't stand for that” or “It depends on public opinion.” And he drew attention to the intimate connection between this web of free, informal, personal communications and the foundations of democratic society. People can govern themselves only if they communicate widely, freely, and in groups–publicly. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights protects citizens from government interference in their communications–the rights of speech, press, and assembly are communication rights. Without those rights, there is no public sphere. Ask any citizen of Prague, Budapest, or Moscow.

    Because the public sphere depends on free communication and discussion of ideas, as soon as your political entity grows larger than the number of citizens you can fit into a modest town hall, this vital marketplace for political ideas can be powerfully influenced by changes in communications technology. According to Habermas,

    When the public is large, this kind of communication requires certain means of dissemination and influence; today, newspapers and periodicals, radio and television are the media of the public sphere. . . . The term “public opinion” refers to the functions of criticism and control or organized state authority that the public exercises informally, as well as formally during periodic elections. Regulations concerning the publicness (or publicity [Publizitat] in its original meaning) of state-related activities, as, for instance, the public accessibility required of legal proceedings, are also connected with this function of public opinion. To the public sphere as a sphere mediating between state and society, a sphere in which the public as the vehicle of publicness–the publicness that once had to win

    out against the secret politics of monarchs and that since then has permitted democratic control of state activity.

    Ask anybody in China about the right to talk freely among friends and neighbors, to own a printing press, to call a meeting to protest government policy, or to run a BBS. But brute totalitarian seizure of communications technology is not the only way that political powers can neutralize the ability of citizens to talk freely. It is also possible to alter the nature of discourse by inventing a kind of paid fake discourse. If a few people have control of what goes into the daily reporting of the news, and those people are in the business of selling advertising, all kinds of things become possible for those who can afford to pay.

    Habermas had this to say about the corrupting influence of ersatz public opinion:

    Whereas at one time publicness was intended to subject persons or things to the public use of reason and to make political decisions subject to revision before the tribunal of public opinion, today it has often enough already been enlisted in the aid of the secret policies of interest groups; in the form of “publicity” it now acquires public prestige for persons or things and renders them capable of acclamation in a climate of nonpublic opinion. The term “public relations” itself indicates how a public sphere that formerly emerged from the structure of society must now be produced circumstantially on a case-by-case basis.

    The idea that public opinion can be manufactured and the fact that electronic spectacles can capture the attention of a majority of the citizenry damaged the foundations of democracy. According to Habermas,

    It is no accident that these concepts of the public sphere and public opinion were not formed until the eighteenth century. They derive their specific meaning from a concrete historical situation. It was then that one learned to distinguish between opinion and public opinion. . . . Public opinion, in terms of its very idea, can be formed only if a public that engages in rational discussion exists. Public discussions that are institutionally protected and that take, with critical intent, the exercise of political authority as their theme have not existed since time immemorial.

    The public sphere and democracy were born at the same time, from the same sources. Now that the public sphere, cut off from its roots, seems to be dying, democracy is in danger, too.

    The concept of the public sphere as discussed by Habermas and others includes several requirements for authenticity that people who live in democratic societies would recognize: open access, voluntary participation, participation outside institutional roles, the generation of public opinion through assemblies of citizens who engage in rational argument, the freedom to express opinions, and the freedom to discuss matters of the state and criticize the way state power is organized. Acts of speech and publication that specifically discuss the state are perhaps the most important kind protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and similar civil guarantees elsewhere in the world. Former Soviets and Eastern Europeans who regained it after decades of censorship offer testimony that the most important freedom of speech is the freedom to speak about freedoms.

  • Kurt

    Thanks for the reference to the webofdebt.com site, Craig. It fits nicely with Bacquia's article on capitalism and microlending. I recommend it to anyone who truly wants to understand how credit works but more importantly how profit takers and speculators have hijacked capitalism for their own nefarious ends. I would also recommend baselinescenario.com for further policy analysis and commentary.

    I personally enjoy Michael Moore's movies. His sense of the absurd corresponds nicely with my own. By the way, I noted in a previous post that you were on pilgrimage in 1982. I went the latter half of February 1982. When did you go?

    Kurt

  • Craig Parke

    Hi Kurt,

    Thanks for the tip! But I recently discovered baselinescenario my self just by luck. It is quite good. The future of the world will be decided by economic policy and rogue nuclear weapons in THAT order. The institutions of the Baha'i Faith have zero knowledge and zero competence on matters of economics so every person will have to figure this out (gasp) for themselves. There will be no rote Ruhi book(s) on economics because there is absolutely nothing in the Baha'i writings on it other than not for everyone to die in poverty. A nifty teaching indeed! That is, unless Peter Khan starts channeling John Maynard Keynes or Thorstein Veblen as the new Supreme Manifestation of God for this World Age which could indeed happen at any time.

    I really like Ellen Brown:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QU0XiklHPMc

    There will be no Baha'i Ellen Browns on Yourtube because economic thought involves “politics” in SE unfortunate mid-twentieth century paradigm. Therefore the Baha'is will not be players in any thought or analysis at all. It is forbidden. But in this century economic thought will be a matter of basic intelligent justice not simple party politics.

    I was on Pilgrimage in Haifa over Easter 1982. I think Easter that year was on the same date as Ridvan (April 21st) so maybe I was in the Pilgrimage group one, two, or three groups after you? I'll have to look up the date again to be sure.

  • peyamb

    Heck I would take 19%. :o) And I thought that was the purpose of the House of Worship (the mashriq), to do charities. But the ONE charity that the House of Worship had going for it in the US was shut down (the home for the elderly). Chicago has one of the worst inner city violent crime and poverty in the country, yet our house of worship sits in opulent Wilmette nearby- doing absolutely nothing except looking pretty for the tourists that come by. Sorry to be so negative, but you really can't paint a pretty picture here. It's just a pretty building that sits near a pretty lake, while a nearby city is breaking down and what are the Bahais doing all these decades to at least “try” to make a difference?

  • Baquia

    The inequality in the distribution of wealth is among the social ills that the Baha'i Faith address. Here is a fascinating discussion of what underlies this pattern.

    I was shocked to learn recently that the wealthiest people have actually seen an increase in their net worth after the financial crisis. The ideas in the article explain why this is so and what we can do about it.

  • Craig Parke

    Kurt,

    Have you been to this site yet?

    http://futurenewstoday.blogspot.com/2009/10/dtc

    Yep. Just as I thought. A lot of people are now getting onto the existence of the January 2006 creation of the DTCC (Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation) as the new epicenter of the seismic worldwide derivatives universe.

    DTCC – WALL STREET'S BOOKIE

    Looks like they will be featured in Matt Taibbi's next piece in the November Rolling Stone issue coming out October 15th this week about NAKED SHORT SELLING as a key feature in the economic catastrophe! It looks like Goldman Sachs made some nice options plays in bringing down BOTH Bear Stearns AND Lehman Brothers and cleaning up in the process! Looks like they had some really, really good “seers” over there…especially on March 11th, 2008…!

    If the UHJ is completely factually infallible in EVERY FIELD OF HUMAN ENDEAVOR KNOWN TO MAN as many of the Ruhiized Baha'is now believe in their hyper Super Mommy/Daddy psychological projection, shouldn't they be giving us ALL stock picks too? We all could have shorted Bear Stearns on March 11th, 2008 and made a killing too! And I could certainly use the money these days! Can't I just bypass Tim Geithner and get the UHJ on direct speed dial for maximum guidance in accordance with the New Think in the Faith?

  • Craig Parke

    Baquia,

    Here is a link that explains this economic observation from another angle and shows the general effect on society over time.

    http://wimp.com/weirdbanking/

    I also like this wonderful site very much which I only recently discovered.

    I think this below video link pretty much illustrates the Ruhiization of the Faith by the lifetime incumbent groupthink ideologues that are completely unaccountable to anyone on Earth since the worldwide Baha'i electorate is so incredibly weak as critically thinking people.

    http://www.wimp.com/threecats/

  • Craig Parke

    And although I think Baha'u'llah actually taught critical thinking (otherwise how would souls have thought on things enough to leave the formal fixed authoritarian fundamentalist mindset of Islam and peruse something else) that is now all forbidden in the top down fill-in-the-blanks with pre-authorized-answers AO. This is where it all eventually leads:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink

    Then this starts to eventually happen:

    http://www.wimp.com/puppyscared/

    And then eventually this:

    http://www.wimp.com/puppyescapes/

    As I have posted here before. The Faith could have once really been a factor in the true progress of the world. So many people had hoped things would be different this time out. I certainly did over all those years. But it turned in to the same old same old in “organized religion” in human history. A tiny group of organizational addicts own it as their own private satrap for their personal psychotherapy and it is now cut off from the Divine Cosmic power that it could once have had. That will now go to the spiritual free booters moving in the terrain of their own hearts motivated by completely independent investigation of truth who can then unite on actual deeds not mere words. The Baha'is cannot do that under the current conditions. It is an utter tragedy. Very, very sad. But probably better now for the true progress of the world. Maybe it will straighten itself out in 300-500 years. I still think there is a chance with the rise of the mass intimate planetary communication of the internet.

  • Kurt

    The following is an excerpt from David Korten's new book Agenda for a New Economy. It is David Korten's version of Obama's inaugural speech. It is long but very clear about what needs doing and why.

    Fellow Citizens:

    My administration came to office with a mandate for bold action at a time when our most powerful economic institutions had clearly failed us. They crippled our economy; burdened governments with debilitating debts; corrupted our political institutions; and threatened the destruction of the natural environment on which our very lives depend.

    The failure can be traced directly to an elitist economic ideology that says if government favors the financial interests of the rich to the disregard of all else, everyone will benefit and the nation will prosper. A thirty-year experiment with trickle-down economics that favored the interests of Wall Street speculators over the hardworking people and businesses of Main Street has proved it doesn’t work.

    We have no more time or resources to devote to fixing a system based on false values and a discredited ideology. We must now come together to create the institutions of a new economy based on a values-based pragmatism that recognizes a simple truth: If the world is to work for any of us, it must work for all of us.

    Corrective action begins with recognition that our economic crisis is, at its core, a moral crisis. Our economic institutions and rules, even the indicators by which we measure economic performance, consistently place financial values ahead of life values.

    We have been measuring economic performance against GDP, or gross domestic product, which essentially measures the rate at which money and resources are flowing through the economy. Let us henceforth measure economic performance by the indicators of what we really want: the health and well-being of our children, families, communities, and the natural environment.

    Like a healthy ecosystem, a healthy twenty-first-century economy must have strong local roots and maximize the beneficial capture, storage, sharing, and use of local energy, water, and mineral resources. That is what we must seek to achieve, community by community, all across this nation, by unleashing the creative energies of our people and our local governments, businesses, and civic organizations.

    Previous administrations favored Wall Street, but the policies of this administration henceforth will favor the people and businesses of Main Street—people who are working to rebuild our local communities, restore the middle class, and bring our natural environment back to health.

    We will strive for local and national food independence by rebuilding our local food systems based on family farms and environmentally friendly farming methods that rebuild the soil, maximize yields per acre, minimize the use of toxic chemicals, and create opportunities for the many young people who are returning to the land.

    We will strive for energy independence by supporting local entrepreneurs who are creating local businesses to retrofit our buildings and develop and apply renewable-energy technologies.

    It is a basic principle of market theory that trade relations between nations should be balanced. So-called free trade agreements have hollowed out our national industrial capacity, mortgaged our future to foreign creditors, and created global financial instability. We will take steps to assure that our future trade relations are balanced and fair as we engage in the difficult but essential work of learning to live within our own means.

    We will rebuild our national infrastructure around a model of walkable, bicycle-friendly communities with efficient public transportation to conserve energy, nurture the relationships of community, and recover our farm and forest lands.

    A strong middle-class society is an American ideal. Our past embodiment of that ideal made us the envy of the world. We will act to restore that ideal by rebalancing the distribution of wealth. Necessary and appropriate steps will be taken to assure access by every person to quality health care, education, and other essential services, and to restore progressive taxation, as well as progressive wage and benefit rules, to protect working people.

    We will seek to create a true ownership society in which all people have the opportunity to own their homes and to have an ownership stake in the enterprise on which their livelihood depends. Our economic policies will favor responsible local ownership of local enterprises by people who have a stake in the health of their local communities and economies. The possibilities include locally owned family businesses, cooperatives, and the many other forms of community- or worker-owned enterprises.

    We will act to render Wall Street’s casino-like operations unprofitable. We will impose a transactions tax, require responsible capital ratios, and impose a surcharge on short-term capital gains. We will make it illegal for people and corporations to sell or insure assets that they do not own or in which they do not have a direct material interest.

    To meet the financial needs of the new twenty-first-century Main Street economy, we will reverse the process of mergers and acquisitions that created the current concentration of banking power. We will restore the previous system of federally regulated community banks that are locally owned and managed and that fulfill the classic textbook banking function of serving as financial intermediaries between local people looking to secure a modest interest return on their savings and local people who need a loan to buy a home or finance a business.

    And last, but not least, we will implement an orderly process of monetary reform. Most people believe that our government creates money. That is a fiction. Private banks create virtually all the money in circulation when they issue a loan at interest. The money is created by making a simple accounting entry with a few computer keystrokes. That is all money really is, an accounting entry.

    My administration will act immediately to begin an orderly transition from our present system of bank-issued debt money to a system by which money is issued by the federal government. We will use the government-issued money to fund economic-stimulus projects that build the physical and social infrastructure of a twenty-first-century economy, being careful to remain consistent with our commitment to contain inflation.

    To this end I have instructed the treasury secretary to take immediate action to assume control of the Federal Reserve and begin a process of monetizing the federal debt. He will have a mandate to stabilize the money supply, contain housing and stock market bubbles, discourage speculation, and assure the availability of credit on fair and affordable terms to eligible Main Street borrowers.

    By recommitting ourselves to the founding ideals of this great nation, focusing on our possibilities, and liberating ourselves from failed ideas and institutions, together we can create a stronger, better nation. We can secure a fulfilling life for every person and honor the premise of the Declaration of Independence that every individual is endowed with an unalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    No government on its own can resolve the problems facing our nation, but together we can and will resolve them. I call on every American to join with me in rebuilding our nation by acting to strengthen our families, our communities, and our natural environment; to secure the future of our children; and to restore our leadership position and reputation in the community of nations.
    ________________________________________
    This is an abridged excerpt from David Korten's new book, Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth, to be published by Berrett-Koehler, Feb 2009. This extract forms part of the YES! series, Path to a New Economy. An earlier version of this chapter first appeared as part of David's article in Tikkun, Nov/Dec 2008. David Korten is the author of the international bestseller When Corporations Rule the World and The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community. He is co-founder and board chair of YES! Magazine, and a board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies.
    http://www.davidkorten.org

  • fubar
  • fubar

    re: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JAK_members_bank

    I’m continually amazed that people forget how much community cooperation existed in pre-industrial cultures. If no one used big megacorporate banks, instead using credit unions, coops, etc., bought more locally, supported family businesses, and so forth, then things would be much more stable.

    Ironically, most small businesses are owned by Republicans (supposedly).

    The current “New Economy” paradigm shifters are all about “style over substance”, and reducing all human meaning to the level of money, with little or no depth of meaning outside of superificial considerations. e.g., “Democracy” is given nothing but superficial consideration.

    http://tcfrank.com/books/the-wrecking-crew/

    http://whatsthematterwithkansas.com/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Frank

    Thomas Franks (a leftist populist) explains how mainsteam (“elitist”) leftism resulted in the misappropriation of working-class anger/betrayal to create a bizarro “conservative” (really “royalist”) backlash THAT IS A GIANT LIE:

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/17982

    excerpt:

    Volume 52, Number 8 · May 12, 2005
    What’s the Matter with Liberals?
    By Thomas Frank
    1.

    For more than thirty-five years, American politics has followed a populist pattern as predictable as a Punch and Judy show and as conducive to enlightened statesmanship as the cycles of a noisy washing machine. The antagonists of this familiar melodrama are instantly recognizable: the average American, humble, long-suffering, working hard, and paying his taxes; and the liberal elite, the know-it-alls of Manhattan and Malibu, sipping their lattes as they lord it over the peasantry with their fancy college degrees and their friends in the judiciary.

    Conservatives generally regard class as an unacceptable topic when the subject is economics—trade, deregulation, shifting the tax burden, expressing worshipful awe for the microchip, etc. But define politics as culture, and class instantly becomes for them the very blood and bone of public discourse. Indeed, from George Wallace to George W. Bush, a class-based backlash against the perceived arrogance of liberalism has been one of their most powerful weapons. Workerist in its rhetoric but royalist in its economic effects, this backlash is in no way embarrassed by its contradictions. It understands itself as an uprising of the little people even when its leaders, in control of all three branches of government, cut taxes on stock dividends and turn the screws on the bankrupt. It mobilizes angry voters by the millions, despite the patent unwinnability of many of its crusades. And from the busing riots of the Seventies to the culture wars of our own time, the backlash has been ignored, downplayed, or misunderstood by liberals.

    The hallmark of a “backlash conservative” is that he or she approaches politics not as a defender of the existing order or as a genteel aristocrat but as an average working person offended by the arrogance of the (liberal) upper class. The sensibility was perfectly caught during the campaign by onetime Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer, who explained it to The New York Times like this: “Joe Six-Pack doesn’t understand why the world and his culture are changing and why he doesn’t have a say in it.”[3] These are powerful words, the sort of phrase that could once have been a slogan of the fighting, egalitarian left. Today, though, it was conservatives who claimed to be fighting for the little guy, assailing the powerful, and shrieking in outrage at the direction in which the world is irresistibly sliding.

    . . .

    The backlash narrative is more powerful than mere facts, and according to this central mythology conservatives are always hardworking patriots who love their country and are persecuted for it, while liberals, who are either high-born weaklings or eggheads hypnotized by some fancy idea, are always ready to sell their nation out at a moment’s notice.[7]

    …What makes national security such a winner for Republicans is that is dramatizes the same negative qualities of liberalism that we see in the so-called “values” issues, only much more forcefully. War casts in sharp relief the inauthenticity of the liberals, the insincerity of their patriotism, and their intellectual distance (always trying to “understand” the terrorists’ motives) from the raw emotions felt by ordinary Americans—each quality an expression of the deracinated upper-classness that is thought to be the defining characteristic of liberalism.

    The reason conservatives are always thought to be tough and liberals to be effete milquetoasts (two favorite epithets from the early days of the backlash) even when they aren’t is the same reason Americans believe the French to be a nation of sissies and the same reason the Dead End Kids found it both easy and satisfying to beat up the posh boy from the luxury apartment building: the cultural symbolism of class. If you relish chardonnay/lattes/ snowboarding, you will not fight. If you talk like a Texan, you are a two-fisted he-man who knows life’s hardships and are ready to scrap at a moment’s notice. This is the reason conservative authors and radio demagogues find it so easy to connect liberals and terrorists. It is the same reason, by extension, that old-time political nicknames like “the Fighting Liberal” make no sense to us anymore and that current foreign policy failures like North Korean nuclear proliferation do not bring lasting discredit on President Bush: in the face of such crises one is either a wimp or a hard guy, and we’ve already got a hard guy in there.

    . . .

    Once again, the “party of the people” chose to sacrifice the liberal economic policies that used to connect them to such voters on the altar of centrism. Advised by a legion of tired consultants, many of whom work as corporate lobbyists in off years, Kerry chose not to make much noise about corruption on Wall Street, or to expose the business practices of Wal-Mart, or to spend a lot of time talking about raising the minimum wage.[12]

    The strategy had a definite upside: Kerry’s fund-raising almost matched that of the Republican candidate, while the newspapers brimmed with exciting tales of New Economy millionaires volunteering to work their entrepreneurial magic for the Democrats, and the society sheets offered juicy details on fund-raising stunts pulled by wealthy women of fashion.[13] Yet there can be no question about this scheme’s ultimate effects. As the savvy political journalist Rick Perlstein put it in a postelection report,

    For a party whose major competitive advantage over the opposition is its credibility in protecting ordinary people from economic insecurity, anything that compromises that credibility is disastrous.[14]

    Swearing off economic liberalism also prevented Democrats from capitalizing on the great, glaring contradiction of their rivals’ campaign, namely, the GOP’s tendency to demote “values” issues once elections are over. Republicans may have seemed like God’s authentic warriors when seen from the streets of Beckley, West Virginia, but as I wandered among the celebrations at the Republican convention in September it was obvious that they were still primarily soldiers for the business community, courting their most important constituency in the manner to which it was accustomed. Indeed, examples of the distinctly nonpopulist essence of Republicanism were hard to miss: the well-dressed GOP revelers pouring out into Fifth Avenue traffic as they left a party that had been held—so tastefully!—at the Cartier jewelry shop; or (my personal favorite) the Republicans celebrating tax cuts and laughing at Purple Heart winners[15] at a party in the New York Yacht Club, the kind of place that makes it easy for a fellow of means to pine for the nineteenth century.

    . . .

  • fubar

    More Thomas Frank on the “culture wars” and political economics:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120873309012529

  • ABDOLKARIM

    oversize buildings just like big oversize masajid.
    and who is working in Haifa has a regular job contract(Israel laws) and social security and retirement???? in the case of my father NOT

  • fubar

    see below for a semi-random item, I'm organizing my email archives, and found this.

    http://attackthesystem.com/free-enterprise-the-

    excerpt:

    The natural corollary to libertarian anti-statism is the defense of the free market in economic affairs. Many libertarians and not a few conservatives, at least in the Anglo nations, claim to be staunch proponents of free enterprise. Yet this defense is often rather selective, and timid, to say the least. Libertarians and free-market conservatives will voice opposition to state-owned enterprises, the social welfare and public health services, state-funded and operated educational institutions, or regulatory bureaus and agencies, such as those governing labor relations, relations between racial, ethnic, and gender groups, or those regulating the use of the environment. Curiously absent among many libertarian, conservative, or free-market critiques of interventions by the state into society are the myriad of ways in which government acts to assist, protect, and, indeed, impose outright, an economic order maintained for the benefit of politically connected plutocratic elites. Of course, recognition of this fact has led some on the Left to make much sport of libertarians, whom they often refer to, less than affectionately, as ??€oeRepublicans who take drugs??€?, or ??€oeTories who are soft on buggery??€?, and other such clich?©s.

    (sorry for the weird fonts)

  • fubar

    FW: Brooksley Born – Bankers Trust , Long-Term Capital Management [LTCM] , etc.

    The PBS Frontline program this week was Un-freaking-believable:

    Re: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/warning

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/warning

  • Craig Parke

    It is very interesting to note that the people that have arisen and functioned in the economic disaster in the United States so far with the greatest intelligence and courage have ALL BEEN WOMEN!

    Brooksley Born, Elizabeth Warren, Ellen Brown, and Catherine Austin Fitts just for starters! Any system that cannot marshal the insight, integrity, and courage of women like this at it's HIGHEST LEVEL will be out classed and out gunned into total embarrassment. There are no men currently at the top of either the Government of the United States or the Baha'i Faith that can hold a candle to them.

    I just love the courage of Ellen Brown!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QU0XiklHPMc

    Our guys will be having endless tea and cookies with Greenspan, Geithner, and Summers talking guy stuff while this is going on at every other level in the real world:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izYTskwE0As

    So it goes.

  • fubar

    Ok, sure. I do see a distinction between the kind of innovator-warrior women that Born and Brown represent, who are old-school, and from the age of technocratic competence, and the postmodern women “leaders/managers” who tend to be conformists and bullies. Many of the worst bullies I've had the misfortune to encounter in life were “transformative” postmodernist women who are vicious promoters of “nanny statism”. Ironically the “business culture” memes that they operate from are lifted straight out of the playbook of the world of “information age” corporate predators, including the “style over substance” problem. Recent research indicates that women bosses are the worst bullies, probably moreso because they tend to have more of a lack confidence (due to social conditioning) than male managers, than because of gender per se.

    As you might recall, traditionalists/conservatives that opposed affirmative action did so partly on the basis that quotas/preferences would result in promotion of people that lack competence.

    One of the “unintended consequences” of the transition to postmodern culture appears to be that “new leaders” that merely “look good” (style conformance is confused with actual success/achievement) can move far beyond their level of confidence and actual skill and competence.

    Bernie Neville of Latrobe.edu has deconstructed the problem with great acumen:

    http://www.latrobe.edu.au/educationalstudies/do

  • Craig Parke

    (1) I indeed don't always trust the muse of Hermes.

    (2) The best everyday middle managers I ever knew were women.

    (3) Elizabeth Warren is more competent than anyone at the top of either the Baha'i Faith, the Roman Catholic Church, or Scientology.

    Somebody left in this hapless dumbed down society has to understand the rule of law and the laws of money regardless of what voices they hear in their heads.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akVL7QY0S8A

    (4) I love Ellen Brown.

    Other than that, I am pro the Integralists as you have set forth. I am working on a Integral theory on economics.

  • http://www.fakeurl.com/ Concourse on Low

    So I see this site is as moribund as the North American Baha'i community.

  • Grover

    Well, without Farhan trolling, there was no one to flame. I wonder what happened to him?

  • fubar

    quick – someone call themselves a theologian that wants people to think better. that should stir up some controversy.

  • fubar

    Comment from a war college type that studies social decay in relationship to terrorism:

    http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/

    LINKS: 19 NOV 09
    Random items of interest:

    Video of unrest at UCLA due to a slated 32% increase in tuition.
    [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33UU6MKuWSE]

    In short, the final round (the first being privatization of the cost) of closing off access to the US middle class is starting to accelerate.

    [http://www.examiner.com/x-833-San-Diego-News-Examiner~y2009m11d19-UC-students-could-see-32-percent-increase-in-tuition-hikes-next-year]

  • fubar

    Causes of economic problems are deeply structural: power and paradigm shifts:

    http://fabiusmaximus.wordpress.com/2008/10/29/c

    linked from: http://fabiusmaximus.wordpress.com/financial-cr

  • Grover

    Oh, the horror!

  • peyamb

    He is studying in a newly revised secret Ruhi course on how to deal with dissent online. I'm sure he'll be back when he graduates…

  • Grover

    I'm not quite sure how Farhan is managing to restrain himself…

  • Craig Parke

    I was recently doing some economic research and now believe classic group-think was the mechanism that took down the entire economy of the United States over the last 30 years and has brought us to this still very much present crisis despite the spin. This is certainly the explanation for what happened to the Baha'i Faith too. It is a simple as that. Group-think is probably the most effective means to total organizational and social destruction ever devised. From blundering into WWI to lock step Islamic fundamentalism to the derivatives economy to the neutering of the once great message of the Baha'i Faith it pretty much explains it all. God help us on this planet of “D” student dupes and dunces!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink

    http://www.cedu.niu.edu/~fulmer/groupthink.htm

  • fubar

    The classic discussion is about liberals advocating “big government” and conservatives advocating “big business”. The real problem is that big government is now in bed with big business. Populism is almost dead in a world of extreme complexity.

    Corporate overlords are pushing a “hidden agenda” to convert the USA to a plutocracy (same for the “global economy”). This is consistent with the decline (paradigm regression) expected by various theorists, e.g., Jurgen Habermas, who stated that soc ial institutions will collapse from within due to spiritual/psychosocial and economic pathologies.

    So much for the “new world order”.

    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/

    Here is some analysis from the UK, of the characteristic weaknesses of conservative/libertarian thinking (and its critique of liberalism/progressivism):

    http://attackthesystem.com/free-enterprise-the-

    excerpts:

    Out of this process of transformation from personal government to corporate government, the evolution of a system of state-capitalist privilege that has supplanted feudal privilege, the ever greater interaction and co-dependency between the plutocratic elite and the minions of the state, and the wider integration of organized labor, political interests groups generated by mass democracy and unprecedented expansion of the public sector has emerged a politico-economic order that might be referred to as the “new manorialism”. These “new manors” are the multitude of bureaucratic entities that maintain an institutional identity of their own, though their individual personnel may change with time, and who exist first and foremost for the sake of their own self- preservation, irrespective of the original purposes for which they were ostensibly established. The ??€oenew manors??€? may include institutional entities that function as de jour arms of the state, such as regulatory bureaus, police and other “law enforcement” agencies, state-run social service departments or educational facilities, or they may include de facto arms of the state, such as the banking and corporate entities whose position of privilege, indeed, whose very existence, is dependent upon state intervention.9 Out of this domestic state-capitalist order there has emerged an overarching international order rooted in the pre-eminence of the American state-capitalist class and its junior partners from a number of the other developed nations.
    . . .

    Such is what “big business” has wrought. Such an international imperial order is about as far removed from the libertarian principles of small government and free enterprise as anything could possibly be.
    . . .

  • bob

    tipically out of context, but the contact thingi was messed up . you might want to have a look at that if it is not already the case : http://www.bahai.org/arising/

    I'm shure you'll share your thoughts about it cuz there is a lot of things to say. =)
    btw thanks for your blog one of the best! And I would be glad if I could get all the information about baha'is who where expelled or declared CB inequitably (like this lady in US because she was doing better devo' music than one of the NSA relatives or smthg like that)

    Bob

  • fubar

    re: http://www.bahai.org/arising/

    Bob,

    Thanks for sharing the link.

    What you NEVER see in such propaganda is the whole truth.

    What you NEVER see is honest discussion of the giant problems that have existed in bahai for many decades.

    What you DO see is feel good stuff that is either just an act for the camera, or so short terms as to have no real impact on structural problems, or stuff that any group of people could have already known, or done, without all the negative baggage that bahai administration attaches to the very valid efforts of people to gain a sense of community and shared meaning at a “populist” level.

    no false prophetology is needed, no dysfunctional administrative bureacuracy is needed for people to work together to solve their communities' problems, or to work together to become more enlightened, self-realized people that are transforming the world into something better.

    bahai administration does not “own” people's souls, or their freedom.

  • fubar

    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/stewart_bran

    excerpt:
    The man who helped usher in the environmental movement in the 1960s and '70s has been rethinking his positions on cities, nuclear power, genetic modification and geo-engineering. This talk at the US State Department is a foretaste of his major new book, sure to provoke widespread debate.

    About Stewart Brand
    Since the counterculture Sixties, Stewart Brand has been a critical thinker and innovator who helped lay the foundations of our internetworked world.

    also see: http://web.me.com/stewartbrand/SB_homepage/Home

  • fubar

    An earlier (2006) article on Stewart Brand's “Four Environmental Heresies”:

    http://www.conservationmagazine.org/articles/v7

    The Green Movement (and Green economy) will be driven by urban slum culture in developing countries. The center of global power will shift away from europe/usa within a generation or two. Depopulation is a bigger problem than overpopulation.

    Cities are more “green” (and better in general) than rural villages. This directly contradicts the “spiritual” (romanticist) notion in bahai scripture that rural life is better.

    Nuclear power is the only viable solution to global warming (which is mainly caused by coal pollution). Solar/wind are only supplemental.

    Genetic engineering (of foods) can be part of the “green” movement/economy.

  • Craig Parke

    Iran Accuses Five of Warring Against God

    (plus apparently more persecution of the Baha'is)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/08/world/middlee

    I have had it with the entire human race about this very bad state of deranged brain chemistry. It is all mas mental illness. I am sick of it. All of this killing and violence for what?

  • peyamb

    For what? To keep power, what else? When the ignorant and incapable are cornered because they know that they can not lead, then they lash out on the innocent to try to maintain that control. But it will soon end.

  • fubar

    rationalism necessary, but not sufficient?
    re: http://mavaddat.livejournal.com/14429.html

    ————
    callmesquanky,

    re: raw reality (human suffering, liberation from suffering)

    I'm an ex-bahai, but I think you have a valid point, aside from the religious specifics.

    Why? rationalism is good for understanding “It” (objects, externals). But not “I” (inner awareness, individual emotion), or “We” (collective emotion, goodness, human decency, empathy, compassion…..).

    I think you have correctly reacted against the “absolutism” that rationalism typically represents in the minds of many anti-religious people (this is probably a “projection” of the pain they experienced in a religious community, or family). Mavaddat is correct concerned about ( and presumably pained by) the absolutism in religion, but is perhaps less sensitive to rationalist absolutism.

    Alienation results from modernist and postmodern conditions.

    Rationalism, since it “sees” emotions/feelings from the “outside” isn't going to lead anyone, by itself, to emotional healing, or wholeness, or love, or awe of the horrible emptiness and expanse of the universe, or any of that kind of stuff.

    Rationalist absolutism is as limited and “partial” a perspective as is fundamentalist/authoritarian religion.

    Balanced, holistic/integral, rationalism is good. It stops “needing” to be absolutist, because it is healed of pain and suffering.

    Mavaddat is right that religion isn't strictly needed in the postmodern world that has had the basis of culture “deconstructed” via pluralism and relativism. The bits and pieces of good stuff about religion can be picked up hither and yon for those interested. No exclusivist membership needed. [no dogma needed]

    The bigger question is: what will replace religion now that it had been deconstructed?

    The answer is: lots of scary stuff at least as bad as religion, and some good stuff.

    People need to start finding the good stuff fast, but relying on a non-holistic form of rationalism won't work, it simply can't lead people to emotional healing.

    What rationalism can do is tell us that our brains are wired, by evolution, for compassion and altruism, love, bliss and enlightenment.

    For the next step, some healing process, and/or contemplative practice, which implies “real” community has to exist.

    The larger forces of the world are hostile to holism and the integration of spirit and rationalism. Healing (emotional wellness, and the “demands” of community that rise from it: equality, justice) is a “threat” to the worship of money and ego gratification that are the driving force of Corporatism and other forms of “New Totalitarianism” that are taking over the postmodern world.

    Mavaddat's rationalism is necessary, but not sufficient.

    The New Totalitarians are rationalists that are irrational (their universe is one of ego, power and control for itself, and greed). The world they are creating is vile, and is likely to got more ugly and more unenlightened, and more evil, and more corrupt, fast.

    Liberation from ego, from clinging, from suffering is the real game.

    —–

  • fubar

    Has “Corporatism” (new totalitarianism) “infected” the “culture of therapy”?

    One of the interesting themes of some writers is that old categories of meaning have lost their boundries, and the “memes” that originally defined those categories cross over into other categories.

    For instance, Rush Limbaugh is actually very postmodern/unconventional in how he rabidly defends convention and tradition. He attacks relativism with relativist arguments. Entertaining, but absurd and nasty.

    James Hillman has an interesting “take” on part of this phenomena, as it relates to economics and social conditions.

    Normally, the subject of psychotherapy would seem to fall into the world of liberal, progressive culture. Some critics have disparagingly referred to the “culture of therapy” (“nanny state”, etc.) that absorbs liberal culture.

    What James Hillman appears to be saying in his critique of the institutionalization of therapy is that the “bad memes” of Corporatism have leaked across the boundry into the liberal/caring institutional world. (This isn't surprising to me since I've seen “caring” culture become increasingly fascist/absolutist about “thought policing” and “political correctness” for a couple of decades.)

    http://www.scottlondon.com/interviews/hillman.html

    excerpts:

    … In spite of these achievements, Hillman is not exactly an establishment figure in the world of psychology. If anything, he is looked upon by many in the profession as a profoundly subversive thinker, a thorn in the side of respectable psychologists.

    As the founder of archetypal psychology, a school of thought aimed at “revisioning” or “reimagining” psychology, Hillman believes that the therapy business needs to evolve beyond reductionist “nature” and “nurture” theories of human development. Since the early 1960s, he has written, taught, and lectured on the need to get therapy out of the consulting room and into the real world. Conventional psychology has lost touch with what he calls “the soul's code.”
    . . .

    London: You're not a very popular figure with the therapy establishment.

    Hillman: I'm not critical of the people who do psychotherapy. The therapists in the trenches have to face an awful lot of the social, political, and economic failures of capitalism. They have to take care of all the rejects and failures. They are sincere and work hard with very little credit, and the HMOs and the pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies are trying to wipe them out. So certainly I am not attacking them. I am attacking the theories of psychotherapy. You don't attack the grunts of Vietnam; you blame the theory behind the war. Nobody who fought in that war was at fault. It was the war itself that was at fault. It's the same thing with psychotherapy. It makes every problem a subjective, inner problem. And that's not where the problems come from. They come from the environment, the cities, the economy, the racism. They come from architecture, school systems, capitalism, exploitation. They come from many places that psychotherapy does not address. Psychotherapy theory turns it all on you: you are the one who is wrong. What I'm trying to say is that, if a kid is having trouble or is discouraged, the problem is not just inside the kid; it's also in the system, the society.
    . . .

    London: In The Soul's Code, you talk about something called the “acorn theory.” What is that?

    Hillman: Well, it's more of a myth than a theory. It's Plato's myth that you come into the world with a destiny, although he uses the word paradigma, or paradigm, instead of destiny. The acorn theory says that there is an individual image that belongs to your soul.

    The same myth can be found in the kabbalah. The Mormon's have it. The West Africans have it. The Hindus and the Buddhists have it in different ways — they tie it more to reincarnation and karma, but you still come into the world with a particular destiny. Native Americans have it very strongly. So all these cultures all over the world have this basic understanding of human existence. Only American psychology doesn't have it.

    London: In our culture we tend to think of calling in terms of “vocation” or “career.”

    Hillman: Yes, but calling can refer not only to ways of doing — meaning work — but also to ways of being. Take being a friend. Goethe said that his friend Eckermann was born for friendship. Aristotle made friendship one of the great virtues. In his book on ethics, three or four chapters are on friendship. In the past, friendship was a huge thing. But it's hard for us to think of friendship as a calling, because it's not a vocation.

    London: Motherhood is another example that comes to mind. Mothers are still expected to have a vocation above and beyond being a mother.

    Hillman: Right, it's not enough just to be a mother. It's not only the social pressure on mothers by certain kinds of feminism and other sources. There is also economic pressure on them. It's a terrible cruelty of predatory capitalism: both parents now have to work. A family has to have two incomes in order to buy the things that are desirable in our culture. So the degradation of motherhood — the sense that motherhood isn't itself a calling — also arises from economic pressure.
    . . .

    London: What is the danger for a child who grows up never understanding his or her destiny?

    Hillman: I think our entire civilization exemplifies that danger. People are itchy and lost and bored and quick to jump at any fix. Why is there such a vast self-help industry in this country? Why do all these selves need help? They have been deprived of something by our psychological culture they have been deprived of the sense that there is something else in life, some purpose that has come with them into the world.
    . . .

    But when the medical becomes scientistic; when it becomes analytical, diagnostic, statistical, and remedial; when it comes under the influence of pharmacology and HMOs — limiting patients to six conversations and those kinds of things — then we've lost the art altogether, and we're just doing business: industrial, corporate business.

    London: Doesn't this have to do with the fact that, at a certain point in its development, psychology adopted the reductive method in order to gain the respectability of science?

    Hillman: I think you're absolutely correct. But as the popular trust in science fades — and many sociologists say that's happening today — people will develop a distrust of purely “scientific” psychology. Researchers in the universities haven't picked up on this; they're more interested in genetics and computer models of thinking than ever. But, in general, there is a huge distrust of the scientific establishment now.

    London: As people rebel against the scientific approach, they often wind up at the other extreme. We're seeing many new forms of self-help and personal-growth therapies based on non-rational beliefs.

    Hillman: The new age self-help phenomenon is pretty mushy, but it's also very American. Our history is filled with traveling preachers and quack medicine and searches for the soul. I don't see this as a new thing. I think the new age is part of a phenomenon that's been there all along.
    . . .

    My book is about a third view. It says, yes, there's genetics. Yes, there are chromosomes. Yes, there's biology. Yes, there are environment, sociology, parenting, economics, class, and all of that. But there is something else, as well. So if you come at my book from the side of science, you see it as “new age.” If you come at the book from the side of the new age, you say it doesn't go far enough — it's too rational.
    . . .

  • abbas

    562 Comments for sex issue 42 for modelli economici

    siete veramente perverti

  • peyamb

    Correction: 562 Comments for human rights and justice issue…