11 Structural Problems of the Current World System

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Eleven Key Structural Problems from Chapter 8, A Users Guide to the Crisis of Civilisation, Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, Pluto Press, 2010.


1. Key Structural Problem: The dispossession of labour - the separation of the majority of the population from access to the means of subsistence; the ownership of the means of production - productive resources and the technologies to extract and exploit them - by an elite minority.


2. Key Structural Problem: The globalization of capitalist social relations ­the total domination of the world's productive resources by a minority, and the corresponding worldwide dispossession of labour.


3. Key Structural Problem: Cyclical generation of socio-economic crises of over-accumulation and underproduction (‘boom and bust'); which exacerbates inequalities between historically advantaged core capitalist states and labour peripheral states relegated to being suppliers of cheap raw materials and labour, and markets for core agricultural (and other) exports.


4. Key Structural Problem: The capitalist social relation's pressure to exploit ever larger quantities of the world's natural resources for production for profit, on an ever expanding geographical scale that will soon be beyond the natural world's ability to self-replenish.


5. Key Structural Problem: The systemic over-dependence on hydrocarbon resources for industrial production, sustained by an international division of labour designed not to meet the needs of local populations, but purely to maximize profits for primarily Northern banks, corporations and governments.


6. Key Structural Problem: The world monetary system is based on fractional reserve banking - that is, the creation of fiat money as credit at interest ­ which serves to subjugate the population to an enlarging and un-repayable debt that is the basis of self-reproducing profits for banks; and which compounds the imperative for unlimited growth through unconstrained exploitation of natural resources.


7. Key Structural Problem: Computational finance effectively transformed the banking system's ability to create fiat debt-money through the development of fraudulent quantitative models concealing ballooning levels of risk, making possible the creation of exorbitant profits virtually ex nihilo - but the costs were socialized and backlogged until the banking system collapsed under the weight of its own un-sustainability.


8. Key Structural Problem: Nation-states and national identity, as the primary loci of 'legitimate' political representation, are increasingly detrimental both in terms of their negative impact on democracy, and the categories by which human social groups ascribe identities to themselves. While current forms of representative democracy are increasingly susceptible to erosion and manipulation by nondemocratic military-financial forces, ethnic and national markers of difference can increasingly be exploited to polarize communities and legitimize political violence against the 'Other'.


9. Key Structural Problem: Global governance institutions are mobilized primarily as mechanisms for the US to regulate the international system in its own interests, rather than the interests of the majority of the system's members. Calls to reform these institutions (such as to make the UN more democratic, or to make the World Bank more transparent) have therefore consistently failed.


10. Key Structural Problem: The implicit philosophical and ontological assumptions underlying neoliberal capitalism posit an extreme form of materialism, reducing the world to a collection of physical, disconnected, atomistic, self-interested and thus inherently conflictual units. These assumptions are clearly mistaken, as they implicitly shape a global political economy that is simultaneously destroying itself and the natural world.


11. Key Structural Problem: Neoliberal capitalism is premised on a materialist value system which penetrates the entirety of human life, commodifying everything from human life to the natural world in the service of maximizing a 'good' defined largely in terms of material consumption. Yet this ethical system is responsible not only for the escalation of multiple global crises, but simultaneously for high levels of psychological illness and distress among neoliberal capitalist nations. It is therefore a value system divorced from reality, incommensurate with human nature and the natural world.

Video documentary from the book "A Users Guide to the Crisis of Civilisation", Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, Pluto Press, 2010.

Watch on dailymotion : http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xrbxaq_la-crise-de-la-civilisation-documentaire_news