Serfdom: From the American Working Class to Global Capital & China

Conservative organizer Friedrich Hayek famously, counterintutitively predicted that democratic Enlightenment and egalitarianism would restore serfdom. However, in our less enthralling, dog-bites-man history, financialized global capitalism restored serfdom instead.

Partly, as the capitalist economic coordination organizations (World Bank) like to point out, that is the cost of recycling wealth to China and India, which have been serving as the global factory. Partly, that is the cost of building up the astronomical fortunes and exclusive sovereignty of a restored, and slightly more global patrimonial capitalist class.

Class War Brings Commodified Life…

8-22-17highered_f9

…Paid for with Credit in Lieu of Income.

not including mortgage debt (presuming mortgages debts converts into private wealth at some point), US data.

debt to income us households minus mortgage

From the 1970s on, Anglosphere Rentier Capitalism Busts Out, EZ Credit Permits Housing Prices to Balloon, and Household Debt Balloons

Blue (below) is household debt, from the 1920s-2010s.

debt life

…Then, Fed on Credit Not Income, the US Working Class Hemorrhages Wealth in the 21st Century

After housing asset inflation, student & car loans expand.

total household debt us 03-16

The American Working Class Lives in Debt Serfdom, Loses Wealth, so that China Can Develop & Global Capital Can Accumulate

Chinese Money on Credit Markets

Suffering and Dying in 21st Century American Serfdom

One way of recognizing the impact of this global capitalist macro social construction is in its effects on working class people’s life chances. As working class people are in the majority, their suffering impacts population health statistics.

Regardless of current racial composition, former slavery counties continue to maintain inegalitarian slavery institutions, facilitating elite prosperity on the back of mass human stunting. The map below shows the bifurcating distribution, in the US, of declining (green) and increasing (pink) mortality in the 21st century. This is to say that life expectancy is declining in the pink zones.

divergent mortality rates, US

The orange and blue map below shows the distribution, within the US, of the “hardest places to live” (in orange). Easier living is found in the darker blue counties. The “hard places” index was constructed from data on each county in the United States on education (percentage of residents with at least a bachelor’s degree), median household income, unemployment rate, disability rate, life expectancy and obesity.

hardest places in the US

Index and map by Alan Flippen, New York Times, June 26, 2014.

By comparing the above life-chances distribution maps to the green map below, we can note the correlation between white evangelical Christianity (light green) as a sacralized organization (associated with inegalitarian slavery culture) and crappy life chances. White evangelical Christians are just a-passin’ through this world–all rough ‘n’ tumble-like.

whats wrong with oregon

Women’s health is taking a hard hit with the restoration of class inequality within the US. The chart below shows the high and increasing rate of maternal mortality in the US, compared with other core capitalist countries.

Maternal Deaths per 100,000 live births

propublica-mortality-rates

While life chances have always been distributed by race, gender and class in the US, aggregate life expectancy has begun to gradually decline in the 21st century US. “Life expectancy in the United States has declined for a second year in a row, driven in large part because increasing numbers of Americans are dying from drug overdoses, suicides and chronic liver disease, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A baby born in 2016 can expect to live 78.6 years, which is down from 78.7 years in 2015 and 78.9 years in 2014.”–Susan Perry, US Minn Post.

LifeExpectancy640 US by race

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Again with the Containment of US Lebensraum!

Despite Anglo-Israeli-American efforts to isolate Iran, China is building a $2 bn domestic railway line for Iran that could eventually be linked up with Syrian and Iraq railway networks that extend to the Mediterranean.

As it ever has been in the history of capitalism and apparently ever shall be, the Anglosphere is trying to control and exploit the whole globe, and China and India are working with neighboring countries–like capable Iran–to push back and create their own independent transport routes.

Fo’ shfubble my bubble

“It will not be too bad this year. Both China and America are addressing bubbles by creating more bubbles and we’re just taking advantage of that. So we can’t lose,” China Investment Corp Chairman Lou Jiwei said, August 28, 2009.

According to Okishio 1961 and Van Parijs 1980, stabilizing the falling rate of profit and staving off snowballing economic crisis depend on:
1) opening new labor-intensive sectors (requires increasing rate of innovation, so it’s not feasible in the long run);
2) increasing division of labor and specialization of firms; and
3) holding back/reversing pace of technological change, via takeovers, patent laws, large reserve armies of labor.
None of this works very well when wages are stagnant.
Of course, geographer David Harvey reminds us that production can also be shifted around the globe, in effect spatially juggling buying low and selling high, and so staving off profit rate decline. This seems to have been effective throughout capitalist history, but it seems like a complex strategy over time, and possibly destabilizing. What happens if, in staunchly depressing wages and production in affluent Region A, and only insufficiently increasing wages and consumption in Region B, you lose a quantum level of aggregate demand? I’d imagine that’s possible, due to the complexity of the system.

A lot to look forward to!