One of the least edifying aspects of this international capitalist meltdown is the rush to point fingers at who is to blame. In America most conservative commentators have fixated on (surprise) the Democrats and their long ago legislation concerning Freddie Mac and Fannie Mac or the Community Redevelopment Act. These actions, rather than traditional Wall Street greed (make that super-greed) are seen as the culprits. The Democrats want to blame (surprise) Wall Street, “the bad capitalists”, for being unregulated. Here again, race and class raise their ugly little heads in the background. Behind all of this palaver are the “little guys and gals” , that is the poor working people of every race but mainly black and Hispanic, who just wanted to have their own homes-not an irrational dream in America whatever this writer’s personal take on the wisdom of such a choice might be. You see the poor are the fall guys and gals because they were in over their heads and should not have pursued that road. Well, we will let that one rest for now because we have bigger fish to fry today.
On October 23, 2008 former Federal Reserve Chairman Allan Greenspan appeared before a Congressional committee investigating the causes of the international financial meltdown. During the course of the interchange between Greenspan and members of the committee he owned up to the fact that, as long time overseer of the capitalist markets, he had miscalculated (“found a flaw” to use his expression) concerning the effects that self-interest should have played in the markets- the so-called “invisible hand” that watches out and safeguards against irrational behavior. Thanks for that insight, Allan. However there is more to it than that. Greenspan’s economic policies reflected his adherence to the ultra-capitalist notions of one of Russian Revolution refugee, Ayn Rand. A lynchpin in that thinking is the belief that markets should regulate themselves with little (really no) oversight from “big brother” government. Well, at least that was the widely accepted “wisdom” before some eight trillion dollars of “paper wealth” in the market proved to be essentially “funny money”.
None of the back and forth between the concepts of liberal “welfare state” capitalism and conservative “free market” capitalism reflected in this investigation is to the point. To paraphrase an old presidential campaign slogan- “It’s the system, stupid”. That is the elephant in the room studiously ignored by Republican and Democrat alike. Private ownership of the means of production and its adjunct credit markets and other financial devises as defined by the long history of capitalist rule has produced one constant- the continuous need for profits. No just any rate of profits but the highest possible, to put it in a word- greed. Until that glorious day when greed is not the central driving force behind economic life and is replaced by rational international socialist planning that will continue to be true. Revolutions have convulsed societies over policies that caused far less damage to the social fabric than have occurred in the present meltdown. But until that time a few heads should roll. As a contribution to that end can anyone disagree that old Allan Greenspan should walk the plank? I think not.