In ‘Seventeen Contradictions and the end of Capitalism’ David Harvey sees one of the main contradictions as being the 3% annual compound growth that capitalism needs to survive and, while Professor Harvey’s figure might be needing some further research, it still only requires a modicum of intelligence to come to the conclusion that on a planet of finite resources the infinite demand required by capitalism means that we are very probably heading for a dystopian nightmare that might indeed culminate in Armageddon.
Still, we are offered hope and the author of that book believes we can act, while Naomi Klein comes to a similar conclusion in her splendid book ‘This Changes Everything’ . Unfortunately, theirs is not an optimism that is easily shared, even if Slavoj Žižek’s in ‘Living in the End Times’ repeats their call to action when he writes, “Today, we do not know what we have to do, but we have to act now, because the consequences of inaction could be catastrophic (Žižek:480).”
The problem, of course, is that we are already in the middle of this “dystopian nightmare”. The perennial “War on Terror” is in full swing, the manufacturers of consent serve their corporate masters, total surveillance accompanies full spectrum dominance and armies and institutions such as the IMF plunder the planet. Acting is already difficult and it just might be about to become even more so as we enter an even more real Orwellian nightmare .
In his article, ‘The IMF Changes its Rules to Isolate China and Russia’, Michael Hudson points out that the IMF changed its own rules in order to facilitate the Ukraine defaulting on a $3 billion loan by Russia’s sovereign debt fund, which was protected by IMF lending fund practice. In doing so he not only reveals the geopolitics behind this action, but also the consequences of it. He writes:
The nightmare scenario of U.S. geopolitical strategists seems to be coming true: foreign economic independence from U.S. control. Instead of privatizing and neoliberalizing the world under U.S.-centered financial planning and ownership, the Russian and Chinese governments are investing in neighboring economies on terms that cement Eurasian economic integration on the basis of Russian oil and tax exports and Chinese financing. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) threatens to replace the IMF and World Bank programs that favor U.S. suppliers, banks and bondholders (with the United States holding unique veto power).
In short, a very real alternative to that “global financial papacy” with its headquarters in Washington at the IMF and World Bank offices and a very real challenge to the United States’ full spectrum dominance is on the horizon. No bad thing, indeed, considering the plundering and looting that those two organisations have been involved on behalf of the United States and its allies.
It is, however, a scenario which the author sees as resulting in that Orwellian world where Oceanea (the United States, Britain and its northern European NATO allies) finds itself in a never-ending war against Eurasia. In Orwell’s dystopia basic human acts such as falling in love and writing a diary were considered acts of rebellion. Messrs Harvey and Žižek and Mme Klein calls to action might seem overly optimistic, but where there is life there is hope and as Žižek quite rightly says, “we have to act now, because the consequences of inaction could be catastrophic”. One thing is certain, once we move to that world without love, there is no real life anymore and there is no hope.