Monday, October 15, 2012

How Big a Lie is the "Big Lie"?

Golem XIV has the third part of his now four-part series on "Why Are We Bailing Out the Banks?"

There's some good observations here:
To tackle a big lie can feel as if you are weakening yourself more than those you oppose. You feel the branch you are sitting on starting to weaken. Which makes it all the harder to defend what you are doing and saying against those who cast doubt not just upon what you say but upon your motives and even your sanity.
For many people the feeling of self-inflicted unease becomes too great. And the bigger the lie the greater this effect. To oppose a really big lie, particularly one vocally supported by a network of mutually re-enforcing powerful people and institutions who all claim they have your best interests at heart, is hard because of the sheer scale of what your opposition entails. To oppose the well constructed, well supported, really big lie you are faced with having to question far more than you want to. Questioning is hard to do. It sets one apart. No one likes to be set apart.We are by instinct social animals. If we must set ourselves apart we at least want to feel confident of where we stand. The really big lie ups the ante. It forces us to feel the widening circles of disruption of our own beliefs.
One can oppose the small lie from the solid ground of the rest of your beliefs. The big lie’s strength and defense is that it forces you to question all the ground you thought was solid; the ground you thought you could stand upon to make your stand. To question the big lie is to feel that you are casting yourself out. It is not a great feeling.
Ultimately, I fear, Golem XIV will end his unraveling of the Big Lie at the fig leaf covering this instance of so-called "Capitalism," that he will not see Capitalism is itself the Biggest of Lies, offering slavery as liberty.

You see, the reason we are bailing out the banks is that they own us.  We serve them, they do not serve "Capitalism" or "society."  We serve them.  A better question is "Why do we think we have the right to question why we are bailing out the banks?"  Real people must die so capitalism's fictions may live.

An even better question is "Why should we accept being owned?"  FDR allegedly "saved Capitalism," but here we are, right back to the Gilded Age and the Great Depression.  Any "Golden Era" of Capitalism after FDR's reforms was short-lived, as the stagflation of the late 1960s and early 1970s was the direct result of a counter-attack by the FIRE sector.

To be clear, I am not proposing any alternative to Capitalism.  I don't feel qualified to do so, and I tend to believe that our conditioning under Capitalism will lead us to propose something too much like it, e.g., Communism.

It is hard to believe that I once believed, as Ian Fraser wrote today, that "neoliberalism perverted Adam Smith."  I came to that conclusion over three years ago, and wrote about it two years ago here.  While people I trust and who have read Adam Smith much more deeply than I have assure me that Smith was sincere in what he wrote, I fear that he was not.  The one thing that keeps me hopeful is that Smith was very much against usury, the corporate form, and financial speculators.  It may well be that he was the equivalent of a modern day "progressive" and inadvertently legitimized evil by attempting to engage it on its own terms.