I’ve been using that term so often of late I’m tempted to give it in abbreviated form. Trouble is, SSC is too close to this site’s SCS for comfort. But a shortened form is required, given that self-serving credulity is at pandemic levels within our media and political castes.
As Upton Sinclair long ago put it:
It’s hard to get a man to see a truth his salary depends on him not seeing.
Or a woman. Here’s how Editor-in-C. Zanny Minton Beddoes opens her Economist This Week round up of March 17:
This week I was struck by a sense of déjà vu. I was living in Washington, DC during the financial crisis of 2007-09, overseeing The Economist’s global economics coverage. And I once again happened to be in America for another banking collapse as Silicon Valley Bank went bust, sending shock waves through markets. The scale is different, as is the cause. This time rising interest rates have left the banks exposed. But much of what unfolded over the past week was familiar: the sense of uncertainty, the panicked wait ahead of the authorities’ intervention—and a situation that is worse than initially imagined. Banking crises are always frightening. Our cover leader in most of the world this week explains what went wrong and offers suggestions for how the financial system can be made safer. 1
I’ll keep my response short. First, the only people not “struck by a sense of déjà vu” this week would have to have been held in solitary on Guantanamo Bay, else suffering chronic amnesia. The West’s hyper-financialised forms of capitalism now lurch with accelerating frequency from crisis to crisis, each ‘solution’ sowing the seeds of the next and more severe collapse.
Them’s dialectics for you!
That’s because each ‘solution’ is constrained by a sacred axiom. It must not challenge the rights of a tiny elite to grow absurdly and obscenely rich regardless of the consequences for peace, environmental sanity or social justice and stability. It must not, for instance, use QE to write down student debt or place money in the hands of ordinary people who have no choice but to spend it in and thereby boost the real economy. Nor – duh! – must it take banking into public ownership …
But since I promised to keep this brief, I’ll confine myself to laying down two markers for future posts:
- Western capitalism in crisis, war in the Ukraine and escalations in the South Pacific/South China Sea are not randomly coincidental. They are deeply connected, though no wing of corporate media is capable of saying so.
- Francis Fukuyama – end of history, thy name is neoliberalism! – and Gordon Brown – we have ended boom and bust! – were neither idiots nor (on this question at least) liars. Just high profile victims of SSC.
So when Zanny Minton Beddoes tells me The Economist’s “cover leader … explains what went wrong” I expect half-truths at best. And you know – Telling a Martian what hospitals do – my views on those.
And when the same sentence heralds “suggestions for how the financial system can be made safer”, I know I’m in the presence of self-serving credulity on steroids.
Give that Economist leader a read by all means. (I’ve been watching The Economist’s descent into self parody since the run up to February 24 last year, but that doesn’t stop me keeping tabs on its wilful idiocies.) But if you want to understand (a) what really went wrong at Silicon Valley Bank and Credit Suisse, (b) why these aren’t isolated failures but falling dominoes and (c) the drastic measures needed – assuming, as with Mass Extinction Event No.6, we haven’t passed the point of no return – try the three pieces hosted in yesterday’s post.
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