'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Subprime Crisis 

An informative, provocative article by Robin Blackburn in the most recent April/May issue of the New Left Review about the social, economic and financial origins of the current credit crunch, with an emphasis upon the increasing commodification of everyday life through debt, the creation of mathematical instruments that facilitated the illusory management of risk and the inescapable corruption embedded within the existing global financial system that exponentially expanded minor, petty frauds into ones that threaten economic stability.

The article is approximately 45 pages long, but well worth the time it takes to read, a good introductory presentation of the circumstances that have generated the current credit crunch from an informed left perspective. Blackburn also provides the reader with numerous citations of additional materials of interest, for example, a biography of Fischer Black by Perry Mehrling, a man whose work Blackburn describes as an inspiration for the development of contemporary financial risk modeling.

Blackburn proposes a number of social democratic solutions for managing the crisis, and turning it into an opportunity for harnessing some of creative forces of finance capital towards the fulfillment of the daily requirements for survival, such as housing, all of which, from my cynical, alienated US perspective, appear utterly implausible in regard to the prospects for implementation.

Alternatively, you'd also be tempted to think that the implementation of Blackburn's proposals require nothing short of revolutionary conditions, and, if such conditions existed, why would you stop there, instead pushing the revolution forward to its ultimate conclusion, the destruction of capitalist finance that forms the skeleton of a system of commodity production and consumption? But you shouldn't let my reductive cynicism stop you from reading the article, which presents an essential context for understanding contemporary socioeconomic conditions. Again, you can find it here.

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