Destiny of Civilization
* Book: The Destiny of Civilization. Michael Hudson.
“The decline of the West is not necessary or historically inevitable. It is the result of choosing policies dictated by its rentier interests. … The threat posed to society by rentier interests is the great challenge of every nation today: whether its government can restrict the dynamics of finance capitalism and prevent an oligarchy from dominating the state and enriching itself by imposing austerity on labor and industry. So far, the West has not risen to this challenge.”
“There are essentially two types of society: mixed economies with public checks and balances, and oligarchies that dismantle and privatize the state, taking over its monetary and credit system, the land and basic infrastructure to enrich themselves but choking the economy, not helping it grow.”
"The Destiny of Civilization is based on a lecture series on finance capitalism and the New Cold War that Michael Hudson presented for the Global University for Sustainability. It presents an overview of Michael’s unique geo-political perspective: analysis which integrates economics, history, politics, archaeology and psychology.
Most importantly, Michael applies his macro analysis to explain how the world has arrived at this point of fracture, where a financialized and de-industrialized United States is facing off against the mixed-economies of China and Russia.
He emphasises that There Are Alternatives (TAA) to the neoliberal finance capitalism that prevails in the West, and that civilization is today at a fork in the road:
- one path leading to a neoliberal neo-feudalism dominated by a rentier oligarchy ruling over the indebted many.
- the alternative path is broadly mixed-economy industrial capitalism leading to socialism.
Hudson cuts to the big issues, conveying that ‘The role of government has been inverted away from one which was to protect society from the rentiers, but now sees rentiers protected and even encouraged by government’.
The book’s scope takes the reader inside the levers of power, spanning several thousand years:
- the origins of money and credit, debt cancellations, and land tenure in the first cities of Ancient Mesopotamia;
- from Classical Greece to Rome’s collapse into a Dark Age of feudalism, and the arresting parallels to today;
- the development arc of Britain and the United States as industrial powers, and why classical thinkers expected they would move towards socialism;
- America’s strategic use of financial and creditor power after WWI and again after WWII to structure the world economy in its own interests, orchestrating global economic dominance;
- the alternatives to neoliberal finance capitalism, and the policies needed to restrain this underlying rentier dynamic.
The Destiny of Civilization is a book of hope for humanity."