Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Social Instability

Paul Krugman is worrying that the Little Depression is giving rise to the irrational forces last seen in the 1930s with the rise of fascism and hard right political parties. Here is the key bit from a post on his NY Times blog:
...what we’ve witnessed pretty much throughout the western world is a kind of inverse miracle of intellectual failure. Given a crisis that should have been relatively easy to solve — and, more than that, a crisis that anyone who knew macroeconomics 101 should have been well-prepared to deal with — what we actually got was an obsession with problems we didn’t have. We’ve obsessed over the deficit in the face of near-record low interest rates, obsessed over inflation in the face of stagnant wages, and counted on the confidence fairy to make job-destroying policies somehow job-creating.

It’s a disaster – and maybe not only an economic disaster.
Fears of far-right rise in crisis-hit Greece

ATHENS, Greece — They descended by the hundreds — black-shirted, bat-wielding youths chasing down dark-skinned immigrants through the streets of Athens and beating them senseless in an unprecedented show of force by Greece’s far-right extremists.

In Greece, alarm is rising that the twin crises of financial meltdown and soaring illegal immigration are creating the conditions for a right-wing rise — and the Norway massacre on Monday drove authorities to beef up security.

The move comes amid spiraling social unrest that has unleashed waves of rioting and vigilante thuggery on the streets of Athens. The U.N.’s refugee agency warns that some Athens neighborhoods have become zones where “fascist groups have established an odd lawless regime.”
Got that 30s feeling, all the way.
I'm not aware of a surge in 1930s style crazy politics, but Paul Krugman is a much smarter guy than me, he's got a network of friends keeping him abreast of these things, so I suspect he is on to something. I hope we don't repeat the political craziness of the 1930s (that ended in global war). But when I look at the political crazies in the US I'm already pretty frightened by what I see. I don't understand why people are not willing to compromise.

Think about WWII. It destroyed so much wealth and killed so many people. If political systems had worked and people had worked out their problems, today would be a paradise. But humans seem hell-bent on spoiling their own nest by going beserk with wars and crazy destructiveness. Rather than appreciate what you have and learn to share in order to get a win-win relationship, people would rather take down everything to prevent somebody else from getting a bit more. It is completely irrational, but I've long ago learned that Mother Nature has no love for humans and isn't kind or benevolent. The world is a cruel place and it filled with far too many crazy people.

Just think of the billionaires in the US. Rather than pay a bit more in taxes and help kickstart the economy, they have their goons in Washington fighting tooth and nail to prevent any tax increases while they are fighting to remove the social programs that keep the poor from starving on the street homeless and forgotten. Insane.

No comments: