Andrew Gavin Marshall

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Article Translation: “La ‘Crisis de la Democracia’ y el ataque a la educación”

Thanks to Verdad Ahora for translating a recent article of mine into Spanish: “Class War and the College Crisis: The Crisis of Democracy and the Attack on Education.”

Note: If you have any access to or have written translations of any of my articles (into any language), please send me the links so that I can re-post them on my website! Thanks.

Por Andrew Gavin Marshall

Hoy en día, somos testigos de una incipiente rebelión global masiva, liderada principalmente por los jóvenes educados y desempleados del mundo, en contra de los poderes institucionalizados y establecidos que tratan de privarlos de un futuro digno. En Chile durante el año pasado, un masivo movimiento estudiantil y huelgas se convirtieron en una fuerza poderosa en el país contra un sistema educativo cada vez más privatizado (que sirvió de modelo para el resto del mundo) con el apoyo de la inmensa mayoría de la población; en Quebec, Canadá, una huelga de estudiantes ha llevado a cientos de miles de jóvenes a las calles para protestar contra la duplicación de sus tasas de arancel; estudiantes y otros se fueron a huelga en España contra las medidas de austeridad; están desarrollándose y creciendo protestas lideradas por o con fuerte participación de los jóvenes en el Reino Unido, Grecia, Portugal, Francia, y en los Estados Unidos (por ejemplo, con el Movimiento Occupy), luchando contra las medidas de austeridad, la corrupción abierta de la clase capitalista, y la colusión del gobierno con los banqueros y las corporaciones. Estudiantes y jóvenes llevaron a los levantamientos en Túnez y Egipto el año pasado que condujeron al derrocamiento de los dictadores que habían gobernado a esas naciones durante décadas.

En todo el mundo, cada vez más, los jóvenes están saliendo a las calles para protestar, agitar y atacar los abusos de poder, los fracasos del gobierno, los excesos de la codicia, el saqueo y la pobreza. La juventud educada, en particular, está desempeñando un papel activo, un papel que crecerá dramáticamente durante este año y los próximos. La juventud educada está graduándose en un mercado de desempleo con una deuda enorme y pocas oportunidades. Ahora, así como hace varias décadas, los jóvenes están volcándose al activismo. ¿Qué pasó en el intervalo para que el activismo se desbaratara cuando había sido tan amplio en la década del 60? ¿Cómo nuestro sistema educativo llegó a su situación actual? ¿Qué implica esto para el presente y el futuro?

La “Crisis de la Democracia”

En el período comprendido entre los años 50 y 70, el mundo occidental, y especialmente Estados Unidos, experimentó una oleada masiva de resistencia, rebelión, protesta, activismo y acción directa de sectores enteros de la población en general que estuvieron durante décadas, si no siglos, en mayor medida oprimidos y olvidados por las estructuras de poder institucional de la sociedad. El movimiento de derechos civiles en Estados Unidos, el surgimiento de la Nueva Izquierda – radical y activista – en Europa y América del Norte, como en otras partes, el activismo contra la guerra, en gran parte impulsado en oposición a la guerra de Vietnam, la Teología de la Liberación en América Latina (y en Filipinas), el movimiento ecologista, el movimiento feminista, los movimientos de derechos de los homosexuales, y todo tipo de otros activistas y movimientos movilizados de la juventud y de vastos sectores de la sociedad se organizaron y agitaron activamente en favor del cambio, la reforma e incluso, la revolución. Cuando el poder se resistió más a sus demandas, los movimientos se radicalizaron más. Mientras más lento actuó poder, más rápido reaccionó el pueblo. El efecto, en esencia, es que estos movimientos buscaron, y en muchos casos consiguieron, empoderar a vastas poblaciones que habían sido de otro modo oprimidas e ignoradas, y por lo general hicieron despertar a las masas de la sociedad ante injusticias tales como el racismo, la guerra y la represión.

Para la población en general, estos movimientos fueron una etapa instructiva, civilizadora, y llena de esperanza en nuestra historia moderna. Para las élites, fueron terribles. Así, en la década del 70 tuvo lugar un debate dentro de la élite intelectual, sobre todo en los Estados Unidos, ante lo que se conoció como la “Crisis de la Democracia.” En 1973 fue creada la Comisión Trilateral, por el banquero y oligarca global David Rockefeller y el intelectual elitista Zbigniew Brzezinski. La Comisión Trilateral reúne a las élites de América del Norte, Europa Occidental y Japón (ahora incluye varios estados de Asia Oriental), en los ámbitos de la política, finanzas, economía, negocios, organizaciones internacionales, organizaciones no gubernamentales, académicos, militares, inteligencia, medios de comunicación, y círculos de política exterior. Actúa como un importante think tank internacional, diseñado para coordinar y establecer un consenso entre las potencias imperiales dominantes del mundo.

En 1975, la Comisión Trilateral publicó un importante informe titulado “La Crisis de la Democracia”, donde los autores se lamentaron por la “oleada democrática” de la década del 60 y la “sobrecarga” que impuso a las instituciones de autoridad. Samuel Huntington, politólogo y uno de los principales autores del informe, escribió que la década del 60 vio un crecimiento de la democracia en Estados Unidos, con un repunte de la participación ciudadana, a menudo “en forma de marchas, manifestaciones, movimientos de protesta, y organizaciones por “causas”.” Además, “la década del 60 vio también una reafirmación de la primacía de la igualdad como un objetivo en la vida social, económica, y política.” Por supuesto, para Huntington y la Comisión Trilateral, fundada por el amigo de Huntington, Zbigniew Brzezinski, y el banquero David Rockefeller, la idea de “la igualdad como un objetivo en la vida social, económica y política” es una perspectiva terrible y aterradora. Huntington analizó la forma de cómo en parte de esta “oleada democrática”, mostraban las estadísticas a lo largo de las décadas del 60 y el 70, hubo un dramático aumento en el porcentaje de personas que sentían que Estados Unidos estaba gastando demasiado en defensa (del 18% en 1960 al 52% en 1969, principalmente debido a la guerra de Vietnam). [1]

Huntington escribió que la “esencia de la oleada democrática de la década del 60 fue un desafío general a los sistemas existentes de autoridad, públicos y privados”, y que “La gente ya no sentía la misma compulsión a obedecer a aquellos a quienes habían considerado previamente superiores a sí mismos en edad, rango, estatus, experiencia, carácter, o talentos”. Huntington explicó que en la década del 60, “jerarquía, experiencia y riqueza” se encontraban “bajo ataque”.” El uso del lenguaje aquí es importante, colocando al poder y la riqueza como si estuviesen “bajo ataque”, lo que implica que aquellos que lo “atacan” son los agresores, lo que se opone al hecho de que estas poblaciones (como los estadounidenses negros) habían sido atacadas por el poder y la riqueza durante siglos, y que solo entonces habían comenzado a luchar. Por lo tanto, la autodefensa del pueblo contra el poder y la riqueza es vista como un “ataque”. Huntington afirmó que las tres cuestiones clave que son fundamentales en el aumento de la participación política en la década del 60 fueron:

cuestiones sociales, como el uso de las drogas, las libertades civiles y el papel de la mujer; cuestiones raciales, como integración, movilidad, ayudas gubernamentales a grupos minoritarios, y disturbios urbanos; cuestiones militares, que implican principalmente, por supuesto, la guerra en Vietnam, pero también proyectos, gasto militar, programas de ayuda militar y el papel del complejo militar-industrial en general. [2]

Huntington presenta estos problemas, en esencia, como la “crisis de la democracia”, en que aumentara la desconfianza en el gobierno y la autoridad, lo que llevó a la polarización social e ideológica, y derivó en una disminución “de la autoridad, el estatus, la influencia y la eficacia de la presidencia.” Huntington concluyó que los problemas de gobernabilidad en Estados Unidos derivaron de un “exceso de democracia”, y que “el funcionamiento eficaz de un sistema político democrático por lo general requiere cierto grado de apatía y de no participación por parte de algunos individuos y grupos”. Huntington explicó que la sociedad siempre ha tenido “grupos marginales” que no participan en la política, y si bien reconoce que la existencia de “marginalidad por parte de algunos grupos es inherentemente antidemocrática”, también “permite que la democracia pueda funcionar con eficacia”. Huntington identifica a “los negros”, como uno de esos grupos que se habían vuelto políticamente activos, lo que representaba un “peligro de sobrecarga del sistema político con demandas.” Por supuesto, esto implica directamente una versión elitista de la “democracia” donde el Estado mantiene la estética democrática (voto, separación de poderes, estado de derecho), pero sigue estando exclusivamente en manos de la rica élite de poder. Huntington, en su conclusión, afirmó que la vulnerabilidad de la democracia, particularmente la “crisis de la democracia”, deriva de “un alto nivel de educación, movilización, y sociedad participativa”, y que lo que se necesita es “una existencia más equilibrada” donde existan “límites deseables a la extensión indefinida de la democracia política”. [3] En otras palabras, lo que se necesita es menos democracia y más autoridad.

La Comisión Trilateral luego explicó su visión respecto de la “amenaza” a la democracia y por lo tanto, la forma en que el sistema “debería” funcionar:

En la mayoría de los países de la Trilateral [Europa Occidental, Norteamérica, Japón] en la última década ha habido un descenso en la confianza que el pueblo tiene en el gobierno… La autoridad ha sido cuestionada no sólo en el gobierno, sino en sindicatos, empresas comerciales, escuelas y universidades, asociaciones profesionales, iglesias y grupos cívicos. En el pasado, las instituciones que habían jugado el papel principal en el adoctrinamiento de los jóvenes en sus derechos y obligaciones como miembros de la sociedad habían sido la familia, la iglesia, la escuela, y el ejército. La eficacia de todas estas instituciones como un medio de socialización ha disminuido severamente. (Énfasis añadido) [4]

El “exceso de democracia” implicaba generar un supuesto “aumento de las demandas” al gobierno, justo en un momento en que la autoridad del gobierno estaba siendo socavada. La Comisión Trilateral asustó crecientemente a la comunidad de la elite intelectual, discutiendo la amenaza de los “intelectuales orientados a los valores” que se atreven a “hacer valer su disconformidad con la corrupción, el materialismo y la ineficacia de la democracia y con la sumisión de los gobiernos democráticos al “capitalismo monopolista”.” Para los miembros y componentes (las élites) de la Comisión Trilateral, no se retractaron de la evaluación de esa amenaza, afirmando que, “este desarrollo constituye un desafío a un gobierno democrático que es, al menos potencialmente, tan grave como los planteados en el pasado por las camarillas aristocráticas, los movimientos fascistas, y los partidos comunistas”. [5] Este es un uso muy típico de retórica elitista donde a la hora de identificar cualquier amenaza a los intereses de la élite, esta es presentada en casi términos apocalípticos. La implicación, por lo tanto, es que los intelectuales que desafían a la autoridad son presentados como una amenaza tan grande a la democracia como lo fueron Hitler y el fascismo.

El informe de la Comisión Trilateral explica – a través de un razonamiento económico – cómo una mayor democracia es sencillamente insostenible. La “oleada democrática” dio a los grupos desfavorecidos nuevos derechos y los hizo políticamente activos (como los negros), y esto se tradujo en aumento de las demandas sobre el mismo sistema cuya legitimidad había sido debilitada. ¡Un escenario terrible para las elites! El informe explicó que mientras la votación disminuyó a lo largo de las décadas del 60 y el 70, la participación política activa en los campus aumentó, los grupos minoritarios estaban exigiendo sus derechos (¡cómo se atreven!), y no sólo exigían derechos humanos básicos, sino también “oportunidades, posiciones, recompensas y privilegios, que no habían considerado como derechos propios anteriormente.” Es decir, no como los ricos, que se han considerado con derecho a todo, por siempre y para siempre. Por lo tanto, el gasto público en bienestar social y una mayor educación se incrementó, explica el informe: “A principios de los 70 los estadounidenses se volvieron progresivamente exigentes y recibieron más beneficios de su gobierno y sin embargo tenían menos confianza en su gobierno de la que tenían hace una década.” La mayoría de las personas se refieren a ello como un logro de la democracia, pero para los “intelectuales” de la Trilateral se trataba de un “exceso de democracia”, y, de hecho, una amenaza. [6]

Samuel Huntington, por supuesto, asume que el declive de la confianza en el gobierno era irracional, y no tenía nada que ver con la guerra de Vietnam, la represión policial y estatal de los movimientos de protesta, el escándalo Watergate y otros delitos evidentes. No, para Huntington, la pérdida de confianza está ligada mágicamente a las “mayores expectativas” de la población, o, como Jay Peterzell explicó en su crítica al informe, “la causa de la desilusión pública se remonta constantemente a expectativas poco realistas alentadas por el gasto del gobierno.” Huntington justificó este mito absurdo en su análisis sesgado del “giro a la defensa” y el “giro al bienestar”. El “giro a la defensa”, que tuvo lugar en la década del 50, describe un período en el que el 36% del aumento del gasto en el gobierno fue a la defensa (es decir, al complejo militar-industrial), mientras que el bienestar se redujo como proporción del presupuesto. Luego vino el “giro al bienestar” de la década del 60, en el que entre 1960 y 1971, sólo un ínfimo 15% del aumento del gasto fue al complejo militar-industrial, mientras que el 84% del aumento se destinó a programas nacionales. Por lo tanto, para Huntington, el “giro al bienestar” básicamente destruyó a Estados Unidos y arruinó la democracia. [7]

En realidad, sin embargo, Jay Peterzell desglosó los números para explicar los “cambios” en un contexto más amplio y más racional. Si bien es cierto que los porcentajes de aumento o disminución que muestra Huntington eran, después de todo, un porcentaje de “aumento” en el gasto, no lo eran en el porcentaje global del gasto Así que, cuando uno mira el conjunto del gasto público en 1950, 1960 y 1972, el porcentaje de “defensa” fue de 44, a 53, a 37. En esos mismos años, el gasto en bienestar ascendió de 4%, a 3% y a 6%. Así, entre 1960 y 1972, la cantidad de gasto en defensa disminuyó del 53 al 37% en el gasto total del gobierno. En los mismos años, el gasto en bienestar aumentó un 3-6% en el gasto total del gobierno. Cuando se ve como porcentaje del total, difícilmente puede ser legítimo afirmar que el escaso aumento del 6% de los gastos del gobierno para el bienestar era ni de lejos tan “amenaza” a la democracia como lo fue el 37% invertido en el complejo militar-industrial [8].

Así que, naturalmente, como resultado de estas terribles estadísticas, la élite intelectual y sus amos financieros tuvieron que imponer más autoridad y menos democracia. No se trataba simplemente de que la Comisión Trilateral abogara por tales “restricciones” a la democracia, ya que fue un debate importante en la élite de los círculos académicos en la década del 70. En Gran Bretaña, de esta discusión surgió la “tesis de la gobernabilidad” – o tesis de la “sobrecarga” – democrática. “Las Contradicciones Económicas de la Democracia” de Samuel Brittan en 1975, explicó que, “La tentación de animar falsas expectativas entre el electorado se vuelve abrumadora para los políticos. Los partidos de oposición están obligados a prometer hacerlo mejor y el partido de gobierno debe participar en la oferta.” En esencia, se trataba de una repetición de la tesis de la Trilateral de que demasiadas promesas generan demasiadas demandas, los cuales crean demasiada tensión para el sistema, e inevitablemente lo derrumbarán. Anthony King se hizo eco de esto en su obra, “Sobrecarga: Problemas de la Administración en la Década del 70”, y King explicó que gobernar se estaba volviendo “más difícil”, porque “a uno y al mismo tiempo, la gama de problemas que el gobierno espera y tiene que enfrentar ha aumentado considerablemente y su capacidad para hacer frente a los problemas, incluso muchos de los que tenía antes, ha disminuido.” El politólogo italiano Giovanni Sartori se hizo la pregunta: “¿La Democracia mata a la Democracia?”:

Estamos persiguiendo objetivos que están fuera de proporción, demasiado aislados y perseguidos ciegamente y que, por lo tanto, están en el proceso crear… una sobrecarga totalmente inmanejable y siniestra… Estamos empezando a darnos cuenta en las prósperas democracias que estamos viviendo por encima de nuestras necesidades. Pero estamos igual y más gravemente viviendo por encima y más allá de nuestra inteligencia, por encima de la comprensión de lo que estamos haciendo. [9]

King explicó que, “Los politólogos se han ocupado tradicionalmente de mejorar el desempeño del gobierno.” Un error evidente, concluyó King, quien sugirió que, “Tal vez en los próximos años deberían preocuparse más por cómo el número de tareas que el gobierno espera llevar a cabo pueda reducirse.” El “remedio” para toda esta “sobrecarga” de las sociedades democráticas es, en primer lugar, poner “fin a la política de las “promesas”,” y la segunda, “intentar reducir las expectativas de los votantes y los consumidores” en el proceso político. [10]

La “amenaza” de la juventud educada era especialmente pronunciada. En 1978, el Management Development Institute (una importante escuela de negocios de la India) publicó un informe en el que afirmaba:

Quizá la tendencia más perniciosa de la nueva década es el abismo creciente entre una mano de obra crecientemente mejor educada y el número de ofertas de trabajo que pueden hacer uso de esas habilidades y calificaciones… El potencial de frustración, alienación y disrupción resultante de la disparidad entre el nivel educacional alcanzado y el trabajo apropiado no puede ser menospreciado. [11]

En estos comentarios, estamos tratando con dos definiciones diametralmente opuestas de democracia: popular y elitista. La democracia popular es el gobierno del, por y para el pueblo, la democracia elitista es el gobierno de los, por y para los ricos (pero con la estética exterior de las democracias), canalizando la participación popular en la votación en lugar de la toma de decisiones o de la participación activa. La democracia popular implica que las personas participan directamente en las decisiones y las funciones y el mantenimiento de la “nación” (aunque no necesariamente del Estado), mientras que la democracia elitista implica la participación pasiva de la población lo suficiente como para permitir que se sientan como si desempeñaran un papel importante en la dirección de la sociedad, mientras que las élites controlan todas las palancas importantes de poder y las instituciones que dirigen y se benefician de las acciones del Estado. Estas diferentes definiciones son importantes porque al leer los informes por escrito y publicados por los intereses de la elite (como el informe de la Comisión Trilateral), cambia la sustancia y el significado del propio informe. Por ejemplo, tomemos el caso de Samuel Huntington, lamentándose por la amenaza a la democracia que representa la participación popular: desde la lógica de la democracia popular, esta es una afirmación absurda que no tiene sentido, desde la lógica de la democracia elitista, esa afirmación es correcta y profundamente importante. Si las élites entienden esta diferenciación, también debe hacerlo el público.

El Memo Powell: Protegiendo a la Plutocracia

Mientras las élites se lamentaban por el aumento de la democracia, sobre todo en la década del 60, no se quedaron sólo quejándose por el “exceso de democracia”, sino que fueron planeando activamente la reducción de la misma. Cuatro años antes del informe de la Comisión Trilateral, en 1971, fue publicado el infame y secreto Memo Powell, escrito por un abogado corporativo y miembro directivo de una compañía de tabaco, Lewis F. Powell, Jr. (a quien el presidente Nixon colocó en la Corte Suprema dos meses después), el cual fue dirigido al Presidente del Comité de Educación de la Cámara de Comercio de Estados Unidos, que representa los intereses empresariales estadounidenses.

Powell estipula que “el sistema económico estadounidense está bajo un amplio ataque” y que “el asalto al sistema empresarial tiene una base amplia y es perseguido constantemente… ganando impulso y conversos.” A pesar de que las ‘fuentes’ del ‘ataque’ fueron identificadas como amplias, incluyen a la multitud habitual de críticos, comunistas, la Nueva Izquierda, y “otros revolucionarios que quieren destruir todo el sistema, tanto político como económico.” Además de esto existían “extremistas” que eran cada vez “más bienvenidos y alentados por otros elementos de la sociedad, más que nunca antes en nuestra historia.” La verdadera “amenaza”, sin embargo, eran las “voces que se unen al coro de críticas [que] vienen de elementos perfectamente respetables de la sociedad: desde el campus de la universidad, el púlpito, los medios de comunicación, las revistas intelectuales y literarias, las artes y las ciencias, y de los políticos”. Aun reconociendo que en estos mismos sectores, los que hablan en contra del “sistema” son todavía una minoría, Powell señaló que “estos son a menudo los más elocuentes, y los más prolíficos en su escritura y expresión oral”. [12]

Powell, discutió la “paradoja” de cómo los líderes empresariales parecen estar participando – o simplemente tolerando – los ataques contra el “sistema de libre empresa”, ya sea por dar voz a través de los medios de comunicación que les pertenecen, o a través de las universidades, a pesar del hecho de que “los consejos de administración de nuestras universidades están compuestos mayoritariamente de hombres y mujeres que son líderes en el sistema”. Powell lamentó las conclusiones de los informes que indican que desde las universidades se estaban graduando estudiantes que “desprecian el sistema político y económico”, y por lo tanto, que estarían dispuestos a entrar en el poder y generar un cambio, o directamente cuestionar el sistema desde la cabeza. Esto marcó una “guerra intelectual” librada contra el sistema, de acuerdo a Powell, quien citó a continuación al economista Milton Friedman de la Universidad de Chicago (y ‘padre’ del neoliberalismo), quien declaró:

Está muy claro que los fundamentos de nuestra sociedad libre son objeto de ataques extendidos y poderosos – no por comunistas o cualquier otra conspiración, sino por personas equivocadas que cacarean como loros el uno al otro y sin darse cuenta que sirven a fines que nunca promoverían intencionalmente [13]

Powell, incluso identificó específicamente a Ralph Nader como una “amenaza” para el empresariado estadounidense. Powell se lamentó más por los cambios y el “ataque” que se realiza a través de los tribunales y el sistema legal, que comenzaron a atacar a la evasión de impuestos y los vacíos legales, con los medios de comunicación apoyando este tipo de iniciativas ya que ayudan a “los pobres”. Powell, por supuesto, se refiere a la noción de ayudar a “los pobres” a expensas de los ricos, y la formulación del debate como tal, como “demagogia política o analfabetismo económico”, y que la identificación de políticas de clase – los ricos contra los pobres – “es la más barata y más peligrosa clase de política.” Lamentablemente la respuesta del mundo empresarial ante este “amplio ataque”, según Powell, era “el apaciguamiento, la ineptitud e ignorar el problema.” Powell, sin embargo, explicó en simpatía a la “ineptitud” del empresariado y las elites financieras que, “hay que reconocer que los empresarios no han sido entrenados ni equipados para llevar a cabo una guerra de guerrillas como la de los que hacen propaganda contra el sistema”. [14]

Mientras que el “papel tradicional” de los empresarios ha sido el de obtener beneficios, “crear empleos”, para “mejorar el nivel de vida”, y por supuesto, “en general, ser buenos ciudadanos”, lamentablemente han demostrado “poca habilidad efectiva en el debate intelectual y filosófico.” Por lo tanto, declaró Powell, los empresarios primero deben “reconocer que el tema final puede ser la supervivencia – la supervivencia de lo que llamamos sistema de libre empresa, y todo lo que esto significa para la fuerza y la prosperidad de Estados Unidos y la libertad de nuestro pueblo.” Como tal, “la gestión [corporativa] debe estar igualmente preocupada der proteger y preservar el sistema en sí mismo”, en lugar centrarse en los beneficios. Las sociedades anónimas, reconoció Powell, estaban involucradas en este tiempo en las “relaciones públicas” y los “asuntos gubernamentales” (léase: propaganda y política pública), sin embargo, el ‘contraataque’ debe ser más amplio:

Pero la actividad independiente y no coordinada de las empresas individuales, por muy importante que sea, no será suficiente. La fuerza reside en la organización, en una cuidadosa planificación y aplicación a largo plazo, en la coherencia de la acción durante un periodo indefinido de años, en la escala de financiamiento disponible sólo a través de un esfuerzo conjunto, y en el poder político disponible sólo a través de la acción conjunta y las organizaciones nacionales. [15]

Si bien el ‘asalto’ contra el sistema se desarrolló a lo largo de varias décadas, Powell declaró que, “existe razón para creer que el campus de la [universidad/educación] es la fuente individual más dinámica”, ya que “las facultades de ciencias sociales suelen incluir miembros que son indiferentes al sistema empresarial”. Estos académicos, explicó Powell, “no tienen que ser mayoría”, ya que “son personalmente atractivos y magnéticos; son profesores estimulantes, y su controversia atrae a los estudiantes que los siguen; son prolíficos escritores y profesores, además de autores de muchos de los libros de texto, y ejercen una influencia enorme – muy desproporcionada para su número – ante sus colegas y en el mundo académico.” Esta situación es, por supuesto, ¡terrible y deplorable! ¡Imagina la clase de horror y desesperación que traería al mundo tener profesores atrayentes, estimulantes y prolíficos!

Pretendiendo que muchos politólogos, economistas, sociólogos e historiadores “tienden a ser más liberales”, Powell sugirió que “la necesidad de un pensamiento liberal es esencial para un punto de vista equilibrado”, pero que el “equilibrio” no existe, con “unos pocos miembros de la [facultad] conservadores o [de] poca persuasión… y siendo menos articulados y agresivos que sus colegas opuestos.” Aterrorizados por las perspectivas de que estos jóvenes potencialmente revolucionarios lleguen a posiciones de poder, Powell dijo que cuando lo hacen, “la mayoría de ellos rápidamente descubre las falacias de lo que se les ha enseñado”, esto, en otras palabras, quiere decir que se transforman rápidamente al socializar con las estructuras, las jerarquías y las instituciones de poder que demandan conformidad y sumisión a los intereses de la élite. Sin embargo, todavía existen muchos que podrían aparecer en “posiciones de influencia donde podrían moldear la opinión pública y a menudo dar forma a la acción gubernamental.” Por lo tanto, recomienda Powell, la Cámara de Comercio debe convertir en “tarea prioritaria de los empresarios” y sus organizaciones afines “abordar el origen de esta hostilidad en el campus.” Puesto que la libertad académica era vista como algo sacrosanto en la sociedad estadounidense, “sería fatal atacarla como un principio”, lo que por supuesto implica que debe ser atacada indirectamente. En cambio, sería más eficaz utilizar la retórica de la “libertad académica” contra el principio de libertad académica misma, utilizando términos como “apertura”, “equidad” y “equilibrio” como puntos de crítica que darían “una gran oportunidad para la acción constructiva.” [16]

Por lo tanto, una organización como la Cámara de Comercio debería, recomienda Powell, “considerar el establecimiento de un equipo de especialistas altamente calificados en ciencias sociales que crean en el sistema… [incluyendo] varios de reputación a nivel nacional cuya autoría sea muy respetada – incluso cuando no se esté de acuerdo con ellos.” La Cámara también debe crear “un equipo de oradores de la más alta competencia”, que “podrían incluir estudiosos”, y establecer una “Oficina de Oradores” que “incluya a los defensores más capaces y más eficaces de los niveles más altos del empresariado estadounidense.” Este equipo de investigadores, que subraya Powell, debe ser conocido como “investigadores independientes”, deben participar en un programa continuo de evaluación de “los libros de texto de ciencias sociales, especialmente en economía, ciencias políticas y sociología.” El objetivo de esto sería “orientarse a restablecer el equilibrio esencial para la libertad académica genuina”, lo que significa, por supuesto, la implantación del adoctrinamiento ideológico y la propaganda del mundo empresarial, que Powell ha descrito como nuestra garantía “de un trato justo y objetivo de nuestro sistema de gobierno y sistema empresarial, sus logros, su relación básica con los derechos y libertades individuales, y la comparación con los sistemas del socialismo, el fascismo y el comunismo.” Powell se lamentó que el “movimiento de derechos civiles insista en reescribir muchos de los libros de texto en nuestras universidades y escuelas”, y que “los sindicatos insistan en lo mismo [ó] que los libros de texto sean justos con los puntos de vista de los trabajadores organizados.” Por lo tanto, Powell sostuvo, dentro el mundo empresarial el intentar reescribir los libros de texto y la educación, el proceso “debe ser considerado como una ayuda hacia una auténtica libertad académica y no como una intrusión en ella.” [17]

Además, Powell sugirió que la comunidad empresarial debía promover oradores en las universidades y ciclos de conferencias “que parecieran ir en apoyo del sistema norteamericano de gobierno y empresa.” Aunque explicó que los grupos de estudiantes y profesores no son susceptibles de estar dispuestos a dar la palabra a la Cámara de Comercio o a líderes empresariales, la Cámara debía “insistir agresivamente” en ser escuchada, exigiendo “tiempos iguales”, lo que sería una estrategia efectiva debido a que “los administradores de la universidad y la gran mayoría de los grupos y comités de estudiantes no estarían en posición púbica de rechazar un foro para diversos puntos de vista.” Los dos ingredientes principales de este programa, explicó Powell eran, primero, “tener oradores atractivos, articulados y bien informados”, y en segundo lugar, “ejercer cierto grado de presión – pública y privada – que pueda ser necesario para asegurarse la oportunidad de hablar.” El objetivo, escribió Powell, “siempre debe ser el de informar e iluminar, y no simplemente hacer propaganda.” [18]

El mayor problema en los campus, sin embargo, era la necesidad de “equilibrar” las facultades, lo que significa simplemente que el mundo empresarial debía trabajar para implantar portavoces y apologistas de la élite económica y financiera en las facultades. La necesidad de “corregir” este desequilibrio, escribió Powell, “es de hecho un proyecto a largo plazo y difícil”, que “debe llevarse a cabo como parte de un programa general”, incluyendo la aplicación de presión “para mantener el equilibrio de la facultad sobre los administradores de la universidad y los consejos de administración.” Powell reconoció que tal esfuerzo es un proceso delicado y potencialmente peligroso, lo que requiere “una reflexión cuidadosa”, ya que la “presión indebida sería contraproducente.” Enfocarse en la retórica del equilibrio, la equidad y la “verdad” crearía un método “difícil de resistir, si se presenta al consejo de administración.” Por supuesto, todo contraataque del mundo empresarial no sólo debía dirigirse a la educación universitaria sino que, como sugirió Powell, también “a las escuelas secundarias”. [19]

En tanto Powell abordada el “ataque” desde – y el “contraataque” propuesto hacia – el sistema educativo por la élite empresarial y financiera, sugirió que, si bien se trataba de una estrategia a más largo plazo, en el corto plazo, sería necesario hacer frente a la opinión pública. Para ello:

El primer elemento esencial es el de establecer un personal de prominentes académicos, escritores y oradores, que piensen, analicen, escriban y expongan. También será esencial contar con personal que esté muy familiarizado con los medios de comunicación, y la manera más eficaz de comunicarse con el público. [20]

Los medios de comunicación con el público incluyen el uso de la televisión. Powell recomendó monitorear la televisión de la misma manera que se vigila los libros de texto, con objeto de mantener los medios de comunicación bajo “vigilancia constante” ante la crítica del sistema empresarial que, asume Powell, se deriva de una de dos fuentes: “la hostilidad o la ignorancia económica.” Se trata simplemente de asumir que las críticas al empresariado y al “sistema” no están justificadas, se derivan de un odio fuera de lugar o de la ignorancia de la sociedad. Este punto de vista es consistentemente regurgitado a lo largo del memo. Para “corregir” adecuadamente a los medios, Powell sugirió que la vigilancia presentara quejas tanto a los medios de comunicación como a la Comisión Federal de Comunicaciones, y al igual que en ciclos de conferencias universitarios “debe ser exigido el mismo tiempo [para los oradores empresariales]”, especialmente en “programas con formato de foro” como Meet the Press o el Today Show. Por supuesto, la radio y la prensa escrita también debían controlarse y “corregirse”. [21]

La “facultad de los eruditos”, establecida por la Cámara de Comercio o por otros grupos empresariales, debe publicar especialmente artículos académicos, ya que tales tácticas han sido efectivas en el “ataque” al sistema empresarial. Por lo tanto, estos “investigadores independientes” deben publicar en revistas populares (como Life, Reader ‘s Digest, etc.), revistas intelectuales (como The Atlantic, Harper’s, etc.) y revistas profesionales. Además, se deben publicar libros, ensayos y panfletos que promuevan “nuestro postura” para “educar al público.” La publicidad pagada también debe ser utilizada crecientemente para “apoyar el sistema”. [22]

Powell se volvió su atención a la arena política, a partir de la suposición básica de que la idea de que las grandes empresas controlan los gobiernos occidentales es simplemente “doctrina marxista” y “propaganda izquierdista”, que lamentablemente, informa Powell, “tiene un amplia recepción del público entre los estadounidenses.” Afirmó inmediatamente después que “todos los ejecutivos de negocios saben… que pocos elementos de la sociedad estadounidense de hoy en día tienen tan poca influencia en el gobierno como el hombre de negocios estadounidense, la corporación, o incluso los millones de accionistas de las empresas.” Powell afirma que, increíblemente, en términos de influencia en el gobierno, el pobre y desafortunado hombre de negocios y el ejecutivo corporativo estadounidense son “el hombre olvidado”. [23]

Olvídate de los sectores pobres, negros, y de los marginados de la sociedad, olvida las personas con discapacidad, los estereotipados, y los encarcelados, olvídate de los que dependen del bienestar social, los cupones de alimentos, o dependen de los servicios sociales o de caridad locales, y olvídate de toda la población de los Estados Unidos, que sólo consiguió el reconocimiento y apoyo del gobierno después de años de lucha, protestas constantes, represión policial, asaltos, reducción de sus derechos humanos y dignidad, esas luchas que sólo buscan conseguir un verdadero estatus de ser humano, el ser tratados de forma igualitaria y justa … no, ¡olvídate de esas personas! Los verdaderos “olvidados” y “oprimidos”, son los ejecutivos de Union Carbide, Exxon, General Electric, General Motors, Ford, DuPont, Dow, Chase Manhattan, Bank of America, y Monsanto. Ellos, en verdad, son los marginados… Por lo menos, al menos según Lewis Powell.

Para Powell, la educación y las campañas de propaganda son necesarias, pero los pobres ejecutivos marginados de una empresa estadounidense deben darse cuenta de que “el poder político es necesario”, y que tal poder debe ser “utilizado agresivamente y con determinación – sin vergüenza y sin la resistencia que ha sido tan característica en el empresariado estadounidenses”. Además, no es sólo en las ramas legislativa y ejecutiva del gobierno donde los líderes empresariales deben tomar el poder “agresivamente”, sino también en la rama judicial – los tribunales – que “pueden ser el instrumento más importante para el cambio social, económico y político”. Asegurando que tanto los “liberales” como la “extrema izquierda” han sido “explotadores del sistema judicial” – como la American Civil Liberties Union, los sindicatos y las organizaciones de derechos civiles – los grupos empresariales como la Cámara de Comercio tendrían que establecer “un personal altamente competente de abogados” para explotar el poder judicial en su propio beneficio. [24] Powell pasó a jugar un papel muy importante en este proceso; fue nombrado a la Corte Suprema de Justicia casi inmediatamente después de haber escrito este memo, tomando muchas decisiones importantes con respecto a los “derechos corporativos”.

Al abogar por un impulso agresivo en beneficio de sus propios intereses, Powell alentó a la comunidad empresarial “a atacar a los [Ralph] Nader, los [Herbert] Marcus y otros que abiertamente buscan la destrucción del sistema”, así como “sancionar políticamente a los que se oponen a éste”. La “amenaza para el sistema empresarial” no debe ser meramente presentada como una cuestión económica, sino que debe ser presentada como “una amenaza a la libertad individual”, lo que Powell describió como una “gran verdad”, que “debe ser reafirmada, para que este programa tenga sentido”. Por lo tanto, las “únicas alternativas a la libre empresa” son presentadas como “distintos grados de regulación burocrática de la libertad individual – desde que el socialismo moderado hasta el talón de hierro de la dictadura de derecha o de izquierda.” El objetivo era vincular la propia concepción individual promedio de los estadounidenses de su libertad personal a los derechos de las empresas y líderes empresariales. Por lo tanto, afirmó Powell, “la contracción y la negación de la libertad económica es seguida inevitablemente por restricciones gubernamentales sobre otros derechos preciados.” Este es el mensaje preciso, Powell explicó, “que por encima de todos los demás, debe ser llevado a los hogares del pueblo estadounidense”. [25] Así, según esta lógica, si hoy Monsanto y Dow son regulados, mañana, tu mamá y tu papá estarán en una dictadura.

La Nueva Derecha: Neoliberalismo y Educación

El Memo Powell es reconocido en mayor medida como una especie de “Constitución” o “documento fundacional” de la aparición de think tanks derechistas en los años 1970 y 1980, de acuerdo con sus recomendaciones para el establecimiento de “un equipo de especialistas altamente calificados en ciencias sociales que crean en el sistema.” En 1973, apenas dos años después de que el documento fuese escrito, fue fundada la Heritage Foundation como una “organización de expertos agresiva y abiertamente ideológica”, que adquirió gran influencia durante la administración Reagan. [26]

La página web de la Heritage Foundation explica que la misión del think tank “es formular y promover políticas públicas conservadoras basadas en los principios de libre empresa, gobierno limitado, libertad individual, valores tradicionales estadounidenses, y una defensa nacional fuerte.” Después de su fundación en 1973, la Heritage Foundation comenzó a “entregar investigación convincente y persuasiva al Congreso proveyendo hechos, datos y argumentos sólidos a favor de los principios conservadores.” En 1977, Ed Feulner se convirtió en presidente de la fundación y estableció “un nuevo personal directivo superior” y una ” banco de recursos” para “destronar al establishment liberal y establecer una red nacional de grupos políticos y expertos conservadores” en última instancia, un total de más de 2.200 “expertos en política” y 475 “grupos políticos” en Estados Unidos y en otros lugares. En 1980, Heritage publicó un “modelo de política pública”, titulado “Mandato para el Liderazgo”, que se convirtió en “la biblia política de la recién electa administración Reagan para todo, desde los impuestos a la regulación a la delincuencia y la defensa nacional.” En 1987, Heritage publicó otro plan de política, “Fuera de la Trampa de la Pobreza: Una Estrategia Conservadora para la Reforma del Bienestar”, que, según su página web afirma jactanciosamente, “cambió la mentalidad de las obligaciones en Estados Unidos, sacando a miles fuera de los subsidios [bienestar] y hacia la responsabilidad personal”, o, en otras palabras, a una mayor pobreza. [27]

El modelo de la Heritage Foundation llevó a la rápida proliferación de think tanks conservadores, de 70 a más de 300 en más de 30 años, que “a menudo trabajan juntos para crear múltiples redes a nivel local, estatal y federal y usan medios masivos y alternativos de comunicación para promover la agenda conservadora.” El objetivo final, al igual que con todos los think tanks y fundaciones, es “difundir la ideología”. [28]

El Cato Institute es otro think tank conservador – o “libertario” -, como se describe a sí mismo. Fundado en 1974 como la Charles Koch Foundation por Charles Koch (uno de los multimillonarios más ricos de Estados Unidos y principal financista del movimiento del Tea Party), así como por Ed Crane y Murray Rothbard. En 1977, había cambiado su nombre por el de Instituto Cato, después de las “Cartas de Catón”, una serie de ensayos escritos por dos escritores británicos del siglo dieciocho, bajo el seudónimo de Catón, que era un senador romano que se opuso firmemente a la democracia, y luchó contra la sublevación de esclavos dirigida por Espartaco. Fue idolatrado en el período de la Ilustración como progenitor y protector de la libertad (para unos pocos), lo que se reflejó en la ideología de los Padres Fundadores de los Estados Unidos, en particular, de Thomas Jefferson y James Madison, lo que para el Cato Institute justificó el cambio de nombre. Mientras que los pensamientos y pensadores de la Ilustración son idolatrados – muy especialmente en la formación de la Constitución de Estados Unidos – como defensores de la libertad y los derechos individuales, era el “derecho” de “propiedad privada” y para aquellos que poseían la propiedad (que, en ese momento, incluían a los propietarios de esclavos) la forma última de la sacrosanta “libertad”. Una vez más, una concepción claramente elitista de la democracia que se conoce “republicanismo”.

Estos think tanks derechistas se ayudaron en la era del neoliberalismo, reuniendo a “eruditos” que apoyaban el llamado sistema de “libre mercado” (sí, una falacia mítica), y que se burlan y se oponen a todas las formas de bienestar social y apoyo social. Los think tanks generaron la investigación y el trabajo que apoyó el dominio de los bancos y las corporaciones por sobre la sociedad, y los miembros de los think tanks conseguían que sus voces fueran escuchadas a través de los medios de comunicación, en el gobierno, y en las universidades. Se facilitó el cambio ideológico en los círculos de poder y la política hacia el neoliberalismo.

El Memo Powell y la “crisis de la democracia” establecieron una circunstancia política, social y económica donde el neoliberalismo emergió para administrar el “exceso de democracia.” En lugar de un enfoque más amplio en el neoliberalismo y la globalización en general, me centraré en sus influencias sobre la educación en particular. La era de la globalización neoliberal marcó un rápido declive de los estados de bienestar liberales que habían surgido en las décadas anteriores, y como tal, la educación se vio directamente afectada.

Como parte de este proceso, el conocimiento se transformó en “capital” – dentro del “capitalismo del conocimiento” o de una “economía del conocimiento”. Los informes del Banco Mundial y la Organización para la Cooperación y el Desarrollo Económico (OCDE) en la década de 1990 transformaron estas ideas en una “plantilla directiva.” Esta buscaba establecer “una nueva coalición entre la educación y la industria”, donde “la educación una vez reconfigurada aparecería como una forma de capital del conocimiento masivamente subvalorado que determinará el futuro del trabajo, la organización de las instituciones del conocimiento y la forma de la sociedad en los próximos años.” [29]

El conocimiento se define así como un “recurso económico”, lo que llevaría al crecimiento de la economía. Por lo tanto, en la era neoliberal, donde todos los aspectos de la productividad y el crecimiento económico se privatizan (supuestamente para aumentar su eficiencia y capacidad productiva, ya que sólo el “libre mercado” lo puede hacer), la educación – o la “economía del conocimiento” – sí, estaba destinada a ser privatizada. [30]

En el modelo educativo de revisión neoliberal, “se vio que la productividad económica no proviene de la inversión pública en educación, sino de transformar la educación en un producto que podría ser comprado y vendido como cualquier otra cosa – y en un mercado globalizado, la educación occidental puede ser vendida como una mercancía valiosa en los países en desarrollo.” Por lo tanto, dentro de la propia universidad, “el significado de “productividad” se apartó de un bien social y económico generalizado hacia un valor en dólares ficticios para determinados productos y prácticas designadas por el gobierno”. Davies et. al. explica:

Cuando estos productos son estudiantes graduados, o investigaciones publicadas, el gobierno podría ser interpretado como financista de la labor académica, como siempre. Cuando los ‘productos’ que se financiarán son investigación con dólares de subvención, con mecanismos para fomentar la colaboración con la industria, puede interpretarse como la manipulación directa de los académicos para volverse autofinanciados y prestar servicios a los intereses de las empresas y la industria. [31]

La nueva “gestión” de las universidades implica una disminución de los fondos estatales al mismo tiempo que aumenta las “pesadas (y costosas) demandas en materia de contabilidad de la forma en que se utilizan los fondos”, y por lo tanto, “la confianza en los valores y prácticas profesionales ya no fue la base de la relación” entre las universidades y el gobierno. Se argumentó que los gobiernos ya no eran capaces de pagar los costos de la educación universitaria, y que la “eficiencia” del sistema universitario – definida como “hacer más con menos” – iba a requerir un cambio en el sistema de liderazgo y la gestión interna hacia “una forma de gerencia pública inspirada en la del sector privado” de la estructura universitaria. El “objetivo principal” de este programa neoliberal, sugiere Davies:

no era simplemente para hacer más con menos, ya que los sistemas de vigilancia y auditoría son extraordinariamente costosos e ineficaces, sino volver a las universidades más gobernables y de aprovechar sus energías en apoyo de las ambiciones programáticas del gobierno neo-liberal y las grandes empresas. Un cambio hacia la economía como la única medida de valor sirve para erosionar la situación y actividades de aquellos académicos que encuentran valor en ámbitos sociales y morales. Por el contrario, los tecnócratas de orientación política de los círculos académicos, que sirven a los fines del capital corporativo global, son alentados y recompensados. [32]

Si la década del 60 vio un crecimiento de la democracia y la participación popular en un grado significativo, emanando de las universidades, los intelectuales disidentes y los estudiantes, la década del 70 vio la articulación y actualización de los ataques de la élite contra la democracia popular y el propio sistema educativo. Desde la Cámara de Comercio de Estados Unidos y la Comisión Trilateral, que representan los intereses de la élite financiera y corporativa, el principal problema fue identificado como la participación activa y popular del público orientada a la sociedad. Esa era la “crisis de la democracia.” La solución para las élites era simple: menos democracia, más autoridad. En el ámbito educativo, esto significó un mayor control de la élite sobre las universidades, menos libertad y activismo de intelectuales y estudiantes. Las universidades y el sistema educativo de manera más amplia era crecientemente privatizado, corporativizado, y globalizado. La época de la militancia llegó a su fin, y las universidades iban a ser meras plantas de ensamblaje de unidades económicamente productivas que apoyasen el sistema, no que lo impugnasen. Uno de los métodos clave para asegurarse que esto funcione fue a través de la deuda, que actúa como un mecanismo disciplinario en el que los estudiantes se ven limitados por el peso de la servidumbre por deudas, y por lo tanto, su propia educación debe orientarse hacia una carrera específica y una expectativa de ingresos. El conocimiento se busca para obtener beneficio personal y económico más que por el bien del conocimiento como tal. Graduarse con una gran deuda implica entonces la necesidad de entrar inmediatamente al mercado de trabajo, si es que no se había entrado ya al mercado de trabajo a tiempo parcial mientras se estudiaba. Por lo tanto, la deuda disciplina a los estudiantes hacia un propósito diferente en su educación: hacia un puesto de trabajo y a los beneficios financieros en lugar de hacia el conocimiento y el entendimiento. El activismo entonces, es más un impedimento que un partidario del conocimiento y la educación.

En la siguiente parte de esta serie, voy a analizar el propósito y el papel de la educación y los intelectuales en un contexto histórico, diferenciando entre los propósitos de “bien social” y “control social” de la educación, así como entre los intelectuales orientados a la política (de elite) y los orientados a los valores (disidentes). A través de una mirada crítica de los fines de la educación y los intelectuales, podemos entender la crisis actual en la educación y la disidencia intelectual, y por lo tanto, entender los métodos y orientaciones positivas para el cambio.
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Andrew Gavin Marshall es un investigador independiente y escritor residente en Montreal, Canadá, que escribe sobre una serie de cuestiones sociales, políticas, económicas e históricas. También es Project Manager del The People’s Book Project y presenta un programa semanal de podcast, “Empire, Power and People”, en BoilingFrogsPost.com.
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Notas

[1] Michel J. Crozier, Samuel P. Huntington and Joji Watanuki, The Crisis of Democracy, (Report on the Governability of Democracies to the Trilateral Commission, New York University Press, 1975), pages 61-62, 71.
[2] Ibid, pages 74-77.
[3] Ibid, pages 93, 113-115.
[4] Ibid, page 162.
[5] Jay Peterzell, “The Trilateral Commission and the Carter Administration,” Economic and Political Weekly (Vol. 12, No. 51, 17 December 1977), page 2102.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Wayne Parsons, “Politics Without Promises: The Crisis of ‘Overload’ and Governability,” Parliamentary Affairs (Vol. 35, No. 4, 1982), pages 421-422.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Val Burris, “The Social and Political Consequences of Overeducation,” American Sociological Review (Vol. 48, No. 4, August 1983), pages 455-456.
[12] Lewis F. Powell, Jr., “Confidential Memorandum: Attack of American Free Enterprise System,” Addressed to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 23 August 1971:
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/supremecourt/personality/sources_document13.html
[13-25] Ibid.
[26] Julie E. Miller-Cribbs, et. al., “Thinking About Think Tanks: Strategies for Progressive Social Work,” Journal of Policy Practice (Vol. 9, No. 3-4, 2010), page 293.
[27] The Heritage Foundation, “The Heritage Foundation’s 35th Anniversary: A History of Achievements,” About: http://www.heritage.org/about/our-history/35th-anniversary
[28] Julie E. Miller-Cribbs, et. al., “Thinking About Think Tanks: Strategies for Progressive Social Work,” Journal of Policy Practice (Vol. 9, No. 3-4, 2010), pages 293-294.
[29] Mark Olssen and Michael A. Peters, “Neoliberalism, Higher Education and the Knowledge Economy: From the Free Market to Knowledge Capitalism,” Journal of Education Policy (Vol. 20, No. 3, May 2005), page 331.
[30] Ibid, pages 338-339.
[31] Bronwyn Davies, et. al., “The Rise and Fall of the Neo-liberal University,” European Journal of Education (Vol. 41, No. 2, 2006), pages 311-312.
[32] Ibid, page 312.

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Podcast: The College Crisis

Empire, Power, and People with Andrew Gavin Marshall

The College Crisis

EPP

We are in the midst of a major college crisis: more students than ever before are graduating with professional educations and immense debt into a jobless market with no opportunities. The result of such a scenario, as any historian would warn, is the development of social unrest, dissatisfaction, rebellion, and potentially, revolution. As over 100,000 students on strike protested last week in Quebec against increased tuition costs, with the government stating its intent to dismiss and ignore them, student movements and protests are developing all over the world: Egypt, Tunisia, Chile, Taiwan, Spain, Portugal, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. Where did this college crisis come from?

It helps to look back at the activism of the 1960s which saw a “surge in democracy” among the population, and which created a terrifying scenario for elites. The response of elites to this “crisis of democracy” was to reduce democracy. In a secret memo to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a 1975 Trilateral Commission report, the “crisis” of popular participation in politics was identified, and the groundwork was laid for a counter-attack: neoliberalism, debt, and discipline. Today, we are seeing a further attack upon the population and democracy, and the students are beginning to stand up.

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Class War and the College Crisis: The “Crisis of Democracy” and the Attack on Education”

Western Civilization and the Economic Crisis: The Impoverishment of the Middle Class

Western Civilization and the Economic Crisis: The Impoverishment of the Middle Class
When Empire Hits Home, Part 2
Global Research, March 30, 2010

This is Part 2 of the series, “When Empire Hits Home.”

Part 1: War, Racism and the Empire of Poverty


The western nations of the world have built their great wealth and societies on the exploitation and plundering of the people and resources of the rest of the world. The wealth, freedom, and structures of our societies have been built on the starvation, robbery, deprivation and murder of millions upon millions of the world’s people, both historically and presently.

It seemed for a time that “Western Civilization” had worked, even if only for the west. We saw the emergence and growth of a vibrant middle class, which has its origins in the Industrial Revolution, out of which we also saw the formation of the “nuclear family.” The middle classes of the west grew in wealth, education, and access. While the great problems of the world, and for the majority of the world’s people, persisted and expanded exponentially, the great purpose of the middle class was siphoned and expanded into facilitating the development of a massive consumerist society. The function of the middle class became that of consuming, not necessarily contributing to determining the direction of society.

Nevertheless, life was good; or so it seemed. Thus, the people were by and large able to turn a blind eye to the plight of the world’s majority. As the decades progressed, however, the great western empires, increasingly united under the umbrella of a US-led NATO empire, grossly expanded their plundering and exploitation of the rest of the world. New avenues for capitalist expansion needed to be found, more money to be made, more assets to be owned, more power to be had. As a part of this process, class structure was being reorganized, which meant that the middle class was to undergo an evolution.

In the past few decades, the middle class has been forced to survive on debt. In order to maintain the image of middle class, and to maintain the functions of the middle class (i.e., to consume), the middle class needed access to credit and had to descend into a class of debt. Now, as the world is undergoing a rapid social, political, and economic transformation, the middle class has been marked for death. As a debt crisis takes the nations of the world into debt servitude, the middle classes of the western world will lose their access to credit, and will be forced into repaying their debts. As nations fall under a debt crisis, the middle class will collapse with it. A class built and sustained on debt is not sustainable. We are entering into a period of rapid class transformation on a global scale.

The mirage of the middle class is steadily vanishing as our eyes adjust to the reality of our environment. The Empire we turned a blind eye to abroad, is about to hit home; what we do abroad, comes home to roost. The middle class is about to realize the true cost of empire.

The Debt Class

In 1958, the first successful modern credit card was launched by Bank of America, eventually evolving into what we know as Visa. The origins of MasterCard date back to 1966. The expansion of credit card usage grew exponentially through the following decades.

In 2004, PBS published a special report on the “secret history of credit cards.” One of the researchers explained that, “The almost magical convenience of plastic money is critical to our famously compulsive consumer economy,” as “With more than 641 million credit cards in circulation and accounting for an estimated $1.5 trillion of consumer spending, the U.S. economy has clearly gone plastic.” However, credit card companies do not seek as an ideal customer the one who pays off their cards on a monthly basis:

“The industry’s most profitable customers, the ones being sought by creative marketing tactics, are the “revolvers:” the estimated 115 million Americans who carry monthly credit card debt.

[. . . ] Some experts say the profitability of credit cards really began twenty-five years ago [in 1979], when the banking industry successfully eliminated a critical restriction: the limit on the interest rate a lender can charge a borrower. Deregulation, coupled with a revolution in technology that enables the almost real-time tracking of personal financial information and the emergence of nationwide banking, has facilitated the widening availability of credit cards across the economic spectrum. But for some, the cost of credit is often far greater than it appears.”[1]

Robert McKinley, founder and chairman of Cardweb.com and Ram Research, a payment card research firm, explained that, “[Banks are] raising interest rates, adding new fees, making the due date for your payment a holiday or a Sunday on the hopes that maybe you’ll trip up and get a payment in late,” and thus, “It’s become a very anti-consumer marketplace.”[2]

It was in the origins of the neoliberal era, in the 1980s, that the west saw the ascendancy of credit cards. While the western nations of the world, in collusion with international banks and corporations, plundered the ‘Third World’ through “structural adjustment” at the behest of the World Bank and IMF, the middle classes of the western world were lulled into a debt trap from which they would not emerge:

“Between 1980 and 1990, the number of credit cards more than doubled, credit card spending increased more than five-fold and the average household credit card balance rose from $518 to nearly $2,700. With the cost of money sinking and average balances climbing, profits soared.”[3]

In 2004, “the total amount of outstanding revolving consumer credit, which is primarily credit card debt, reached $743 billion,” which was “nearly nine times the amount recorded 20 years” prior. Thus, “Credit card debt collection has not only become essential, it has become very profitable. The most recent data indicates credit card debt collectors generated $1.2 billion in revenue” as of 2004.[4]

In 1994, Federal Reserve figures in the United States showed that, “middle-class families remain stuck with unusually high debt payments as a proportion of their income.” As the New York Times reported:

“That high debt, resulting from stagnating wages while low interest rates have encouraged families to borrow, means consumers are living close to the financial edge, and ready to cut spending at any sign of economic trouble.”[5]

One prominent economist even stated that, “The rate of consumer spending is not sustainable unless there is a noticeable pickup in the pace of income growth.”[6] This has not occurred.

In 2006, a major report released by a US think tank revealed that, “The middle class today is less prepared for an economic emergency, such as losing a job or visiting an emergency room, than at any time since the late 1970s.” The report, published 2 years before the outbreak of the global financial crisis, reported that:

“Despite a growing economy, a rising stock market and stronger corporate earnings that are helping the rich get richer, the middle class in America is caught in an unprecedented squeeze that makes it increasingly unstable.”[7]

Among the conclusions of the report, it was revealed that, “Income for middle-class families has remained stagnant or flat since 2001,” while “Prices for big-ticket items — housing, health care, college education and transportation — have skyrocketed, leaving families unable to save.” Thus, “Middle-class families are borrowing record amounts of money to pay their monthly bills.” One of the lead research economists at the think tank stated that, “Families are being forced to live beyond their means, just to pay for the basics, such as housing and health care,” and that, “They are not only spending their current income but all their future income.” Further, the report revealed:

“To maintain day-to-day consumption, Americans are taking on record amounts of consumer debt, researchers say — $5.2 trillion since 2001. In June 2006, families took on debt equivalent to 129% of their disposable incomes, a big increase from the 96% in March 2001.

Many homeowners are tapping into the equity in their homes, assuming more debt to pay for escalating energy and health-care costs. Falling home prices could force many of these middle-class families into foreclosure or back into apartments.

Middle-class families are also struggling with the ballooning costs of higher education. The total cost of tuition, fees, and room and board at four-year public colleges has increased 44% in the past four years.”[8]

Of course, this is exactly what happened with the onset of the global financial crisis, as foreclosures ran rampant, and household debt levels soared to new heights. This issue is not only confined to America. In 2005, it was reported that:

“[T]here are more credit cards than people in the UK (67m, to be precise), and that personal debt is so huge Britain is more indebted than Argentina. If interest rates go up, the experts warn, the effect on ordinary people could be like a “time bomb”. Credit card debt accounts for £2 billion and Britain has in total a £1 trillion debt mountain.”[9]

In 2006, it was reported that on average, “a Briton has twice the debt of a European,” and “Total consumer debt in the UK is at a record £1.3 trillion.” While Europeans are also mired in credit card debt, “the average Briton owes £3,175, compared to the average debt in Europe of £1,588,” as “Borrowers from the UK now account for a third of all unsecured debt in western Europe.”[10]

The Middle Class in Crisis

At the onset of the global economic crisis, as in, at the point in which the word “recession” was being used, in the Spring of 2008, it was reported that in the U.K., “The number of middle class families struggling to make ends meet has increased significantly, with debt advice agencies overwhelmed with pleas for help from households in affluent areas of the country.” The financial problems of the middle class “[were] being driven by rising inflation, the increased cost of living and the downturn in the housing market.” An article in the Telegraph explained that, “The face of debt has changed. Historically, it used to be mainly people on benefits and people in social housing who went to debt advice agencies.” However, “Since the credit crunch started, there has been a big increase in professionals and home-owners coming for help – you just didn’t see these people before at all.” The middle class is “struggling with mortgages, secured loans, and credit card debts.”[11]

The middle class in Britain has been plunged into a personal debt crisis, as professionals across the nation fall into the red. The middle class has been spending beyond its means; however, easy access to credit has been aided and abetted by the banks and financial institutions that gave away credit cards and loans without proper financial checks.[12]

At the same time, in America, it was reported in July of 2008 that years of spending beyond their means has left a record number of Americans “standing at the financial precipice.” Americans “have amassed a mountain of debt that grows ever bigger because of high interest rates and fees.” As the New York Times reported, “the increased availability of credit has contributed mightily to the American economy and has allowed consumers to make big-ticket purchases like homes, cars and college educations.”[13]

It was reported in June of 2008, that despite the obvious onset of the economic crisis at that time, “Cash-strapped Americans are ringing up more and more purchases on their credit and debit cards, and there could be a steep price to pay ahead.” One market strategist stated that, “Right now what we’re seeing is the US consumer losing their disposable income as they have to spend more and more on necessities because of higher prices for gas and food.”[14]

This debt crisis is a consumer debt crisis of the western world. An article in Macleans in March of 2009 explained that for Canadians, while “debt” used to be a “bad word” for nearly a century:

“[S]tarting in the 1990s our attitude to debt changed. As interest rates fell and soaring house prices made everyone feel richer, our nation of savers became a nation of borrowers. Debt emerged as the great enabler, the ticket to the trappings of a better life, to flat screen TVs and shiny new SUVs. Now the upward march of real estate has reversed course, taking the household net worth of Canadians with it.”[15]

Now, Canadians are “at the point where regular Canadians are carrying even more debt than Americans. It’s true we used to save much more—as recently as 1990 we socked away 13 per cent of our disposable incomes—but the average debt carried by Canadian households has jumped 71 per cent since then to $90,700, growing six times faster than the average household income.” The article elaborated, “the average Canadian family now owes more than 1.3 times its disposable income. That puts us in a slightly worse position that the typical American family, which owes just over 1.2 per cent of its disposable income.” The middle class wealth was built on this debt, and so when the housing market began to collapse, it “exposed much of that wealth as a mirage.” Foreclosures and bankruptcies have soared, and now, “paying down debts that once seemed quite manageable will become a crushing and onerous process.”[16]

In August of 2009, Bank of America released a report in which they explained, “The consumer debt problem in the economy really is a debt problem for the middle class. The need to work off a chunk of that debt will sap middle-class families’ spending power for perhaps years to come.” The twisted irony here is that institutions like Bank of America encouraged and facilitated debt-based consumption, and engaged in far riskier debt-based transactions on a global scale, which caused the global financial crisis. Subsequently, the banks, like Bank of America, were given a blank check by the government that bought their bad debts, and are now going to charge the taxpayers, of which the Bank of America report states they need to “work off a chunk” of their own personal debt. They forgot to mention that the taxpayers would also be paying off the bankers’ debts, too.

The Bank of America report further revealed that, “Lower-income families account for 40% of the population but just 12% of total consumption,” while, “The middle class is 50% of the population and nearly as large a share of consumption, at 46%,” thus, leaving “the wealthy to account for a hefty 42% of consumption.” The report explained:

“In terms of their debt burdens, neither lower-income families nor the wealthy are constrained the way the middle class is constrained. . .

[The report] says the middle-class has suffered more than the wealthy from the housing crash because middle-class families tended to rely more on their homes to build savings through rising equity. Also, the wealthy naturally had a much larger and more diverse portfolio of assets — stocks, bonds, etc. — which have mostly bounced back significantly this year.”[17]

Thus, the consumer society has already been altered. It will no longer be the middle classes that are the consuming class, but the wealthy. The middle class will be forced to deleverage and buckle under their debt burdens. This is only a radical acceleration of a several-decades long trend in Western society; the economic crisis simply sped up this process and is exacerbating its compound effects. Do not deceive yourself, this has been a long-time coming.

In May of 2009, it was reported that in the U.K., “The number of Britons in traditionally affluent areas who are being swamped by debt has more than doubled in the last six months,” as “The recession and resulting increase in unemployment has hit white collar workers in the service sector particularly hard.” One expert stated that, “We are seeing a higher percentage of middle and higher income clients who are struggling because of redundancy or the inability to manage their mortgage repayments, often alongside multiple credit card debts.” He further articulated, “Inevitably, these higher levels of debt are leading to [an] increased number of clients having to look at bankruptcy or other insolvency solutions.”[18]

In July of 2009, the IMF warned that “Britain’s credit card debt crisis will get significantly worse in the coming months with a wave of consumer payment defaults.” The IMF said it “expects [that] £1.5bn of consumer debt across Europe will not be repaid, much of it in Britain which has the highest number of credit card borrowers on the continent.” Further, the “failure to pay credit card bills is likely to increase as unemployment rises and the number of personal insolvencies, which reached 29,774 in the first quarter of the year, continues to rise.”[19]

In October of 2009, it was reported that, “High earners are struggling with debt as much as people on low incomes, according to financial experts and advisory charities,” as a direct result of the credit crunch and years of spending beyond their means, as “The withdrawal of easy credit as a result of the credit crunch has forced even those earning six-figure salaries to seek help with their debts.”[20]

Now into 2010, central bankers are concerned about the massive debt levels of nations and consumers (that they played a central role in), and “they are warning about the need to raise interest rates to control this.” However:

“When interest rates start to rise payments on these mortgages will rise to the point where some borrowers won’t be able to manage. The fear is that foreclosures will then increase and there will be a repeat of the market collapse that started in the United States in 2007.”[21]

As a result of the credit crunch in Canada, middle-income families have actually been increasing their credit and debt in order to stay afloat. In May of 2009, “household debt has reached an all-time high of $1.3 trillion in 2008,” as “Canadian families are financing consumption activity with unearned money as they increasingly reach for credit to finance day-to-day living expenses.” In October of 2009, the Bank of Canada reported that total household debt had risen to $1.4 trillion. In 2008, the average Canadian had a personal debt of almost $39,000, and the trend was on the rise. 58% of Canadians said their borrowing is to finance day-to-day living expenses. Between September 2008 and September 2009, 148,373 Canadians went into bankruptcy, with the trend rapidly increasing on a monthly basis, suggesting that the financial situation of Canadians is only getting worse.[22]

It was reported that over the course of 2009 in the United States, “Total credit-card debt outstanding dropped by $93 billion, or almost 10%.” On the surface, this appears to be a good trend, suggesting that people might be paying off their debts. However:

“It turns out that while total debt outstanding dropped by $93 billion, charge-offs added up to $83 billion — which means that only 10% of the decrease in credit card debt — less than $10 billion — was due to people actually paying down their balances.”[23]

In reality, “Consumers weren’t paying down their credit cards at all: they were racking up billions of dollars in new debt, and defaulting on the old stuff.” In late 2008 and early 2009, considered the worst period of the economic crisis, spending was down and panic was in the air. People were also trying to pay off their credit cards:

“Then two things happened: the panic started wearing off, and unemployment continued to rise. The urgency of paying down debt ebbed, even as spending naturally continued in the face of country-wide layoffs. And as a result, credit card debt continued its natural upward rise.”[24]

The only way to stem the rise in credit card debt is to increase employment so that people can afford to pay off their credit card debt. However, due to governments bailing out the banks at trillions of dollars, the governments have put themselves at great risk of a fiscal debt crisis; thus, to pay off their debt, they will have to cut spending, which means exacerbating the unemployment rate, not stemming it.

The middle classes of the western world, surviving only on debt, are about to be subject to a “class default.” The wealthy class will be the consumption class, as the middle class is absorbed into the lower class and labour work force.

The College Crisis

Coupled with and central to a crisis in the status of the middle class, we are witnessing a growing crisis in which college graduates are finding it increasingly hard to find jobs. As record numbers of students graduate, they do so into a dwindling and ever-decreasing job market. With so many students having gone into extreme debt to attain an education, and graduate into a jobless market, we see the growth of a “crisis in expectations.”

As the Guardian reported in September of 2008, at the height of the global financial crisis, “Universities are producing too many graduates, leaving more than a million people in jobs for which they are over-qualified.”[25] Thus, there are too many graduates and too few jobs.

Alan Krueger, an economist at Princeton, explained in December of 2008 the misrepresentation of the official statistics for unemployment as put out by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As he explained, to be counted as “unemployed,” it is required that someone:

“1) was without a job in the reference week; 2) made an effort to actively search for a job in the last four weeks; and 3) was available for work. A person who is not employed and does not meet this definition of unemployed is considered out of the labor force.”[26]

So, if you are unemployed and have given up on searching for a job, you are not counted in the statistics of unemployment. Further, if you are surviving on part-time work, you are not counted in the unemployment statistics. Students who can’t find a job and return to school are not counted among the unemployed. Thus, the official government numbers are a gross misrepresentation of the true degree of the crisis in employment.

In November of 2008, “the number of college graduates who were working fell by 282,000, while only 2,000 more college graduates were classified as unemployed,” as “Laid off college workers, who are unaccustomed to unemployment, may feel a stigma if they report themselves as actively looking for work, so they are uncounted among the unemployed.”[27]

From March of 2008, college graduates began abandoning the labour force, while high school graduates have been joining it. Many unemployed college graduates also decide to return to school instead of search for work. “Over the same period, the unemployment rate has risen more than twice as much for high school dropouts as for college graduates.” However, following March of 2008, when Bear Stearns collapsed and the severity of the financial crisis began to rear its head, the unemployment rate for college graduates accelerated and less-educated workers were increasingly getting the few available jobs. As economist Alan Krueger explained, “If funds for investment are not available because of the financial crisis, however, companies will hire fewer skilled workers.” Thus, we will see a trend in which college graduates will increasingly have to take up jobs in the service and labour economy.[28]

In January of 2009, it was reported that a poll of the UK’s 100 best-known companies revealed that, “Students face a “very slim” chance of a graduate level job” over the summer of 2009, as one in six graduate-level jobs have already been cut. The intake of new graduates was to be cut by 17% over 2009.[29]

There were even reports in the UK that the “slump” in graduate jobs in the UK would result in “hobbling Scotland’s economy for an entire generation.” As the Scotsman reported, “Despite racking up debts of up to £13,000 to pay for their degrees, those leaving university in the summer face a battle for work.” Further, “Dramatic falls in graduate opportunities could see soaring unemployment and increasing reliance on the welfare state.” One university official stated, “Students about to graduate are having to adjust their expectations.”[30]

Further, Scottish graduates “can expect to owe an average of £13,000 by the end of their degrees,” while English graduates “who pay tuition fees, were predicted to graduate with an average of more than £17,500 of debt.”[31]

The Sunday Times in the UK mentioned the story of one student, who, after 12 years of school, four years of university and a degree in Business Management, was now working on a factory production line. He said, “I want to do something that gives me opportunities, so that I can work towards something. I am qualified to do all sorts of things, but I am working in a factory.” This crisis is affecting large swaths of graduates:

“They are among an army of graduates emerging from the education system who face the toughest employment prospects for years as the recession deepens. The government, having encouraged youngsters into higher education that has saddled many with large debts, is deeply worried. Graduate numbers are hitting a record high just as the number of jobs is shrinking.”[32]

CBS reported in April of 2009 that graduates were entering the “toughest job market in decades,” as:

“The jobless rate among college graduates has more than doubled from a year ago to 4.3 percent. Almost 2 million college graduates are unemployed and a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers predicts companies will hire 22 percent fewer graduating seniors than they did last year.”[33]

There are even bigger problems for graduates, due to the excessive amounts of new unemployed, as college graduates are not simply competing against each other, but also a large amount of earlier college graduates who have more experience. There are around five unemployed workers for every opening, “so each job is a coveted prize.” Interestingly, “many recent college grads are also often more willing to settle for lower-skilled jobs.”[34]

In October of 2009, while people were being told that we were “in recovery,” the job market remained abysmal. While we are told that the job market “lags behind recovery,” we forget to use logic and realize the implications that the job market has for the near and long term future. Business Week did a special report on how “unemployment is ravaging just about every part of the global workforce, [yet] the most enduring harm is being done to young people who can’t grab onto the first rung of the career ladder.”[35]

This crisis is affecting young people in every area, from high school dropouts to college graduates, from Britain to Japan. One indication, the author stated, was that, “In the U.S., the unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds has climbed to more than 18%, from 13% a year ago.” Thus:

“For people just starting their careers, the damage may be deep and long-lasting, potentially creating a kind of “lost generation.” Studies suggest that an extended period of youthful joblessness can significantly depress lifetime income as people get stuck in jobs that are beneath their capabilities, or come to be seen by employers as damaged goods.”[36]

Further, “the baby boom generation is counting on a productive young workforce to help fund retirement and health care.” However, young people will get jobs with less pay and benefits, which “would mean lower tax payments for Social Security and Medicare.” Amazingly, “Only 46% of people aged 16-24 had jobs in September, the lowest since the government began counting in 1948.” However, this has also led to some commentators suggesting the solution is to slash “high minimum wages,” saying that a “high” minimum wage has made it less attractive to hire young people. In this logic, the solution is to pay young people much less. This could very well turn out to be the “Lost Generation.”[37]

In November of 2009, it was reported that, “New college graduates had 40% fewer job prospects” over 2009, and that while the prospects for 2010 are “better,” they are “still not very promising,” as “hiring of grads with any degree will decline by 2% compared to 2009.”[38]

In December of 2009, it was reported that while the unemployment rate dropped in November for men and women, both black and white, (according to official statistics), “for recent college graduates and other young adults, the labor situation didn’t just remain dire — it got worse.” It was revealed that:

“For 20- to 24-year-olds, the jobless rate rose four-tenths of a percent to 16% in November, even as unemployment nationally slipped to 10% from 10.2%.”[39]

The Telegraph reported in March of 2010, that over the course of 2009 in the UK, “there were 44.3 applications for each graduate vacancy but this year the total is expected to be even higher as a backlog of unemployed graduates make further attempts to find jobs.”[40]

Student Debt: The Other College Crisis

In 2007, it was reported that a major crisis in the United States was in the increasing reliance upon private loans for students going to college, which were extremely unregulated:

“As college tuition has soared past the stagnant limits on federal aid, private loans have become the fastest-growing sector of the student finance market, more than tripling over five years to $17.3 billion in the 2005-06 school year.”[41]

Student loans from the government have interest rates capped by law; student loans from private financial institutions have “variable” rates, “like credit cards,” that can reach 20%. There was an increasing trend with students piling up debts, which have no limits, as high and higher than $100,000. Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers said, “When a student signs the paper for these loans, they are basically signing an indenture. . . We’re indebting these kids for life.”[42]

In the midst of the financial crisis, “graduates across the country are entering the workplace with staggering liabilities. The average student debt has doubled since the mid-1990s.” Further:

“[M]ore than two-thirds of all students now borrow money to finance their education, up from less than half in 1993. Among undergrads who borrow, the average finished school in 2004 with loans of $19,000, up from $9,000 a decade earlier.”[43]

In graduate school, however, “debt is escalating the fastest”:

“Master’s students who borrow, however, finish with an average $36,000 in loans; law students with $66,000; medical students with $106,000; and dental students with $143,000.”[44]

The Los Angeles Times reported in December of 2008 on the debt trap students are drawn into, where high interest rates and fees aren’t disclosed up front. The article tells the story of one girl who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in photography with $140,000 of debt, “some of it at interest rates as high as 18%. Her monthly payments are roughly $1,700, more than her rent and car payment combined.” She had taken the loans simply to pay for tuition.[45]

One interesting fact to know is that the student loan market is worth (as of December 2008) $85 billion.[46] Yet, the $700 billion bailout granted by Congress to the bankers would also benefit student-loan companies, which “will unfairly reward companies that have profited from writing risky loans to students.”[47] Meanwhile, the students suffer. A ‘real’ stimulus or ‘bailout’ would have been a student debt bailout; clear the slate and let students start anew.

Kathy Kristof writes for Forbes on the “Great College Hoax,” where students are cultivated with an image that college is a “sure-fire path to a life of social and economic privilege.” She tells the story of two students, who got into debt to go to law school, got married, and suffered under the burden of debt servicing, citing it as a major facet in their divorce. Kristof writes:

“The two disillusioned attorneys were victims of an unfolding education hoax on the middle class that’s just as insidious, and nearly as sweeping, as the housing debacle. The ingredients are strikingly similar, too: Misguided easy-money policies that are encouraging the masses to go into debt; a self-serving establishment trading in half-truths that exaggerate the value of its product; plus a Wall Street money machine dabbling in outright fraud as it foists unaffordable debt on the most vulnerable marks.”[48]

In January of 2009, student loan debt in Canada had reached $13 billion, which “does not include debt from provincial student loans or private debt, such as lines of credit.” Thus, says one commentator in the Georgia Straight, “Today’s generation of students is living in a debt crisis like no other in Canadian history.” The article continues:

“Federal and provincial funding cuts to postsecondary education have created this debt crisis by passing the burden of funding our public education system on to those who can least afford it: students. According to Statistics Canada, tuition fees in British Columbia are nearly 10 percent above the national average, at just under $5,000. High tuition fees and student debt have undeniable long-term consequences on students and our society as a whole.”[49]

The Wall Street Journal reported in September of 2009 that even in the midst of the economic crisis, student loans in the United States were rapidly accelerating:

“[T]he total amount borrowed by students and received by schools—in the 2008-09 academic year grew about 25% over the previous year, to $75.1 billion. The amount of money students borrow has long been on the rise. But last year far surpassed past increases.”[50]

Further, odious debts are affecting major life choices of graduates, “forcing them to put off traditional milestones—from buying a first home to even marriage and having children.”[51] Thus, we have entered a period where college graduates face record high levels of debt and unemployment. More and more adults are moving back home instead of buying their own.[52]

As Reuters reported in January of 2010, while access to credit everywhere seemed to be limited, “one area of the credit market is rapidly expanding: student loans.” Student loans have risen to unprecedented levels, even in the midst of the economic crisis, and the perceived ‘recovery’.[53]

Looking at this in broader economic terms, the private lenders are doing what all the big banks did in the lead up to the financial crisis and the creation of the housing bubble: giving excessive loans to high risk individuals who will never be able to pay back the loan. This has created an “education bubble,” where students would go into extreme debt in order to get an education, and upon graduation would enter an intensely competitive and difficult job market. Even if they manage to get a job, it is likely not in the field of their education, and it is very likely that they will never emerge from their student debt.

Students are thrown into debt to take jobs that don’t exist, in order to pay loans they can’t afford on wages they won’t get. Though, the ‘popping’ of this bubble will have a greater social dynamic than economic, there will certainly be an economic dimension, as this is a strong indication of years and possibly an entire generation of slow or negative economic growth. If there are no jobs for graduates, then the skills required for those markets will disappear, and with it, the economic vitality they created. It is, however, the social aspect that poses a still greater threat. With a generation of educated youth thrown into debt servitude and unemployment, a generation of ‘expectations’ is failed. When that happens, students take to the streets.

Class Default: What ‘Austerity’ Means for the Middle Class

In June of 2009, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) warned that while governments around the world “bailed out” the finance industry, they failed to reform or regulate any of the problems in financial markets that created the crisis, and “some rescue plans have pushed banks to maintain their lending practices of the past.” Thus, warned the BIS, “stimulus measures won’t be able to gain traction, and may only lead to a temporary pickup in growth,” and “A fleeting recovery could well make matters worse.” Further, the BIS warned that governments “will find it harder to place debt, and could face rising funding costs – leading to spending cuts or significantly higher taxes.”[54]

The BIS further warned that countries such as Australia “faced the possibility of a run on the currency, which would force interest rates to rise,” and “fiscal stimulus packages may provide no more than a temporary boost to growth, and be followed by an extended period of economic stagnation.” The BIS said that, “the biggest risk is that governments might be forced by world bond investors to abandon their stimulus packages, and instead slash spending while lifting taxes and interest rates.”[55]

This essentially amounts to “austerity measures” imposed upon the Western ‘developed’ nations of the world, akin to the austerity measures imposed upon the nations of the ‘Third World’ through IMF and World Bank Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) following the 1980s debt crisis. This “austerity adjustment” will be endemic of the Western world. We are entering “a fiscal crisis of the western world.”[56]

As the debt burden grows for western nations, they will be forced to raise interest rates, thus making payments on debt larger; currency devaluations will be required, in a stated attempt to encourage private investment; however, this will have the effect of causing inflation, where the prices of food and fuel and other essential commodities will rise dramatically. At the same time, countries will be forced to exponentially raise taxes and cut social spending in an attempt to gain revenue while cutting costs, in order to pay off the debt burden and reduce deficits.

The result of this will be the decimation of the public sector, as areas of education and health care as well as other public enterprises are dismantled, privatized and sold off to mega corporations and banks for pennies on the dollar, as a devalued currency would make purchasing companies and assets much cheaper than before. Concurrently, a massive privatization of infrastructure will take place, as roads, resources and other public assets are sold to multinational corporations. What will follow is what follows every time this is done in a ‘Third World’ nation: massive layoffs, spiraling unemployment and soaring poverty rates.

To know the extent of ‘austerity’ measures that will be imposed upon western nations, look to Europe, where nations already immersed in debt crises are undertaking ‘austerity’ reforms. In March of 2010, Greece unveiled a new round of ‘austerity measures’, which include salary cuts for state workers and tax hikes, and it “is likely to intensify public opposition in the Mediterranean nation, where strikes by unions in recent weeks have brought the country to a halt.” Greece will “raise its value-added tax, a national sales tax, as well as taxes on fuel, tobacco and other items.” One Greek government official stated, “It’s going to be painful, people will protest, but we know Greece has no alterative.”[57]

Right on cue, riots and protests broke out in Greece, with estimates of the number of people protesting between 20,000 and 60,000 in Athens alone. Even police and security forces were protesting many of the measures. Naturally, the riots were met by clashes with the police forces.[58] While Greece descended into crisis, British and American firms partook in aggressive speculative attacks against Greece in money markets, as the derivatives market booms with speculators hedging bets against a Greek default.[59]

As investors move their money away from buying Greek debt, signaling a lack of faith in Greece’s ability to handle its debt load, the country subsequently plunges deeper into crisis, “pushing the country further towards a possible debt spiral.” Speculative attacks are taking place against many countries, as “Alongside Portugal, Spain, Italy and Ireland, Greece has been the focus of widespread market selling over the past few weeks, with investors fearing the countries may be unable to repair their balance sheets alone.”[60]

Portugal, in an attempt to ‘forestall’ a debt crisis, has already begun imposing austerity measures, including “cutting welfare benefits and government hiring as well as selling assets and raising taxes.” Further, “Portugal aims to raise 6 billion euro ($8.2 billion) from privatizations, trim welfare benefits and slash other state expenditure in an effort to reduce the country’s heavy debt load.”[61] This is just the beginning of the austerity measures being imposed in these countries, which are scheduled under programs that are intended to last several years, until the deficits are brought down significantly.

‘Austerity’ in America

While it will likely be a little while longer before America is truly hit with harsh austerity measures to reduce its deficit, the groundwork is already being laid down. At the beginning of August, Timothy Geithner, the US Treasury Secretary who bailed out all the banks, said that, “Americans face tough choices in reducing the national deficit.” So after he gave the banks a blank check, saving them from their own institutional hubris, he acknowledged that indeed, someone must pay, and it will be the American people. Appearing before the Congress, Geithner, as well as former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan said that, “the economy would not collapse.” However, considering their track record, this means absolutely nothing coming from them. What they did say that is worth noting, is that, “emergency steps, including the bailout plan last year and the economic stimulus bill this year, are expanding the federal budget deficit to unsustainable levels.” Geithner elaborated:

“We will not get this economy back on track, recovery will be not strong and sustained, unless we … can convince the American people that we’re going to have the will to bring these deficits down once recovery is firmly established.”[62]

Geithner refused to rule out tax increases, “saying President Barack Obama’s administration would take whatever steps were necessary to reduce the deficit,” and Greenspan said, “he believed the government eventually will impose some kind of value-added tax to raise revenue.” A value-added tax is a tax on the “transfer” of goods from production to delivery, which makes the price for the consumers higher. Thus, it is not a sales tax added onto the product, but is hidden in the product’s price, itself. Greenspan referred to the value-added tax as the “least worst solution.”[63]

We must be reminded that Obama’s economic team are all architects of the financial crisis, who in the past played pivotal roles in creating the conditions for the crisis to occur, and who are all closely aligned with the interests of Wall Street banks. They are now in charge of organizing the ‘solutions’ to the economic crisis they helped cause; they are there for the banks, not the people. Geithner was President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York during the economic crisis, one of the key institutions of banking power, corruption, and the “black-ops outfit for the nation’s central bank.”[64] Now he runs the Treasury.

Top White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers was previously Deputy Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration where he was a pivotal figure is the dismantling of banking regulations and expansion of the derivatives market, both of which were essential facets of the economic crisis. Paul Volcker, another top economic adviser to Obama, a former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, was responsible for creating the 1980s debt crisis across the ‘Third World’ by raising interest rates dramatically, causing a wave of countries to default under their debt loads and leading to the re-colonization of the ‘Third World’ by the IMF and World Bank. These are men that should not be trusted to guard your piggy bank, let alone the national Treasury.

Lawrence Summers had, in the spring of 2009, promised that there would be no tax increases on the middle class; yet, in early August, he said he “would not rule out middle-class tax increases.” In March of 2009, Summers said, “Let’s be very clear. … There are no, no tax increases this year. There are no, no tax increases next year.” In August, he said, “circumstances change and options cannot be ruled out.”[65]

In March of 2009, it was reported that, “President Barack Obama is putting former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker in charge of a tax-code review aimed at closing loopholes, streamlining the law and generating revenue.” Volcker, the head of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, “will be examining ways of being even more aggressive on reducing the tax gap.”[66] The tax gap is the difference between taxes that are owed and taxes that are collected. In other words, tax collection will be rapidly and aggressively increased.

While on the campaign trail, Obama vowed that anyone making less than $250,000 a year “will not see their taxes increase by a single dime.” A golden rule of political rhetoric is to never believe what politicians say when they campaign. As the Wall Street Journal reported in August, Obama “was right, very strictly speaking: It’s going to be many, many, many billions of dimes.” Perhaps the most important tax hike will be the value-added tax, which “would apply to every level of production or service, and it is beloved by politicians in Europe because it raises so much money so easily without voters noticing.”[67]

Obama’s 2010 budget released in February of 2010 was most widely discussed for having increased taxes on the wealthy. Despite these seemingly progressive and pertinent measures, most commentary has been quite superficial, failing to see that the tax increases on the wealthy will do little to even dent the deficit. As one report noted:

“Taxing the rich will be one of the hot political stories this year. It will also divert attention from a much bigger story: Sooner or later, almost everybody in America is going to pay more in taxes.”[68]

Since raising income taxes is widely unpopular, politicians will employ it as a ‘last-resort’, which leads the way for ‘creative’ tax hikes to take place, such as raising state and local sales taxes, and to crack down on tax evasion and increase penalties for filing taxes late. There is also the route of ‘carbon’ and energy taxes. Health care taxes are also likely to increase, as several states had already raised taxes on hospitals. The federal government could also reduce aid to states, forcing them to cut their own spending. However, again, the “holy grail” of tax experts is the value-added tax (VAT), which would have the effect of simply raising prices.[69]

In early February of 2010, Obama said he was “agnostic” about raising taxes on the middle class. Obama stated that the government “needs to consider all options for reducing the deficit, including tax increases and cuts in spending on entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.”[70] With the passing of so-called health care ‘reform’, roughly 12 new taxes will be levied against the middle class.[71]

The 2010 budget in the U.K. is “to carry out a £19 billion tax raid on the middle classes to help pay Britain’s record debt,” as well as “cuts and savings in public spending.”[72] Business Insider reported, following the British budget assessment, that America will likely have a similar increase in taxes, analyzing potential future taxes that may appear in America. Among these are raising the alcohol tax on a particular drink, such as wine coolers; an increased tax on tobacco, all drinking sales taxes, increased taxes on gasoline, taxes on waste and garbage, increased property taxes, income tax increases, social security tax increases, and a variety of others.[73]

In America, such an austerity budget would reduce funding programs for the unemployed, or those searching for jobs, spending on job growth would be cut and “gutted”, child spending would be cut, drug spending would be “destroyed,” dental services cut, retirees would be “ransacked,” salary cuts for public servants, carbon taxes would “hammer” consumers, education and science spending would be slashed, health spending would be cut, and welfare would be slashed.[74]

Dylan Grice, working for the Global Strategy arm of Societe Generale, a major international financial institution, wrote in late March of 2010 about the prospects of when it would be best to sell gold. In this report, he stated that, “developed market governments are insolvent by any reasonable definition.” In other words, the west is bankrupt. He suggested that America has the potential to fall into “an extreme inflationary event,” as governments tend to avoid an “explicit default” on their debt by allowing for an “implicit default” via inflation. He explained that a period of “short-term pain” would become necessary to deal with the financial reality of government debt. He explained that as Ireland undertakes harsh austerity measures to deal with its deficit, “These draconian fiscal policies wouldn’t have been possible five years ago. But the political winds have changed.”[75]

He explained that what is necessary for governments to undertake austerity measures, is to experience a fiscal crisis, in order to “force a majority acceptance of the implications of an overleveraged government.” He wrote that, “a government funding crisis is both inevitable and necessary. Dubai and Greece are merely the first claps of thunder in what is going to be a long emergency.” He elaborated:

“Eventually, there will be a crisis of such magnitude that the political winds change direction, and become blustering gales forcing us onto the course of fiscal sustainability. Until it does, the temptation to inflate will remain, as will economists with spurious mathematical rationalizations as to why such inflation will make everything OK… Until it does, the outlook will remain favorable for gold. But eventually, majority opinion will accept the painful contractionary medicine because it will have to. That will be the time to sell gold.”[76]

Make no mistake, a default is coming, and with that, the middle classes of the west should expect to be liquidated through inflation and ‘austerity’. Lest we forget, the reason why the people must pay, is because our governments have imperial foreign policies and serve the interests of powerful economic entities, such as the major international banks they bailed out.

Banking on a Crisis

As the nations of the western world have, since the onset of the global economic crisis, sought only to save the banks from their own bad investments, they have handed global banks a blank check. The governments bought the bad assets of the big banks, taking the private debt and transferring it to public debt. Thus, the bad practices of banks were and are still being encouraged, as governments have shown their propensity to step in and “save” the banks. Thus, governments have chosen to privatize profit, and socialize the risk; this is the foundation of corporatist state structures, corporate socialism, or what is otherwise known as ‘economic fascism’.

In mid-September 2009, the BIS warned that, “The global market for derivatives rebounded to $426 trillion in the second quarter [of 2009] as risk appetite returned, but the system remains unstable and prone to crises.” The derivatives trade had risen by 16% “mostly due to a surge in futures and options contracts on three-month interest rates.” In other words, speculation is back in full force as bailout money to banks in turn fed speculative practices that have not been subjected to reform or regulation. Derivatives markets pose “major systemic risks” for the global financial system.[77]

The destructive practice of financial speculation, largely operating through the global derivatives trade, remains totally unregulated and continues to be active and growing. This only suggests that as nations around the world begin to buckle under their debt burdens, the major financial institutions (along with the global central banking system) which were the key architects of the global financial crisis, will now be able to profit from the collapse of nations.

Large financial institutions and speculators will be able to engage in capital flight, quickly removing their money from a nation’s currency, speculating that it will collapse, which often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. They will thus engage in currency speculation, speculation against debt burdens and national fiscal austerity programs. Countries that do not take the established method of imposing fiscal austerity through “Structural Adjustment” will face a speculative assault. As nations collapse, the banks will grow, further consolidate, and purchase major global assets.

This is why the financial system has not been subject to any actual regulations or structural reforms, because the financial crisis is far from over. The banks and mega-corporations must be permitted to grow and profit off of the crisis to come. Surely, several more banks and corporations will collapse, and we will witness an acceleration of the global consolidation of business and banking. However, as nations collapse, the banks and corporations at the top will profit.

It will be the people of the world, and the whole world over, who will be forced to pay for the crisis caused by the international collusion between banks and governments. Incessantly high taxes, rising inflation, mass unemployment and growing poverty will plunge the western world into a social crisis the likes of which have never before been seen.

The Reorganization of Global Class Structure

The world has already, in the past two years, witnessed the greatest transfer of wealth in human history.[78] What will follow is a global restructuring of class structure as the western educated middle class will largely be decimated and liquidated of all its material wealth. This is a new phase of globalization. As Robinson and Harris wrote in Science and Society Journal:

“One process central to capitalist globalization is transnational class formation, which has proceeded in step with the internationalization of capital and the global integration of national productive structures. Given the transnational integration of national economies, the mobility of capital and the global fragmentation and decentralization of accumulation circuits, class formation is progressively less tied to territoriality.”[79]

The authors argue that a global ruling class has emerged as a result of ‘globalization’, a class they refer to as the ‘Transnational Capitalist Class’ (TCC). The TCC “is a global ruling class. It is a ruling class because it controls the levers of an emergent transnational state apparatus and of global decision making.”[80]

As governance ‘goes global’, social structures must follow in step. Globalization has led to the formation of a truly global economy, where states have less influence in global economic factors, and increasingly the world economic system is controlled by a powerful minority of banks, international financial institutions, and corporations. This process has been facilitated by the major nations of the world, primarily the United States, and it has in turn led to the formation of a truly global ruling class. David Rothkopf refers to this global class as the ‘Superclass’ and has concluded that it is a class consisting of roughly 6,000 individuals, roughly one member of the ‘Superclass’ for every one million people.

The economy has been effectively ‘globalized’; the world’s political structures are following the economy in being ‘globalized’, as nation states are reorganized into regional governance blocs modeled on the European Union, and ultimately a global state apparatus emerges. Concurrently, global social structures will also have to be ‘globalized’.

The majority of the world’s nations do not have a vibrant middle class population. For a global state to form, global class structures must be totally transnationalized; the ruling class is not the only global class structure to be formed, it is simply the first to be transnationalized. Thus, we have a situation in which we will see an increasingly concentrated global ruling class consolidate their control over the global levers of power while a global labour class is transnationalized, meaning that the middle classes of the world have been marked for liquidation.

This, however, is not a new phenomenon. The middle classes of the western world, primarily that of the United States, have for several decades, been subjected to the erosion of their material wealth. The middle class exists in theory; it is a class built and sustained by debt.

As the middle class evaporates into the lower labour-oriented class, there will be a number of major social changes that take place. As the Industrial Revolution changed class structure, the Post-Industrial Revolution will do the same. Suburbia will need to alter its landscape, as lawns become gardens for growing food. The family unit itself will significantly alter. As the Industrial Revolution led to the formation of the ‘nuclear family’, the Post-Industrial Revolution will lead to a re-emergence of the extended family, with multiple generations of families living together in the same house. Communities will have to come together or fall apart.

Already, “The number of people living with several generations under one roof in the United States is at its highest point in 50 years, as families cope with ruinous job losses and foreclosures”:

“During the first year of the recession, the number of Americans living in such multi-generational families rose by 2.6 million, or more than 5 percent, from 2007 to 2008…

Now 49 million Americans — 16.1 percent of the population — live in homes with multiple generations. Many include adult children in their 20s.”[81]

We are entering into the era of the ‘Post-Industrial Revolution’, a ‘class cleansing’ of the western world. The entire socio-political economic landscape is being redrawn and reorganized. The effects will be felt from the wallet to the family unit, itself.

The global financial crisis is a global class war. In 2006, Warren Buffett, one of the world’s richest billionaires, said that what is going in is “class warfare,” and that, “it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”[82]

Notes

[1]        Introduction, Secret History of the Credit Card. PBS Frontline: November 23, 2004: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/credit/etc/synopsis.html


[2]        Ibid.

[3]        Robin Stein, The Ascendancy of the Credit Card Industry. PBS Frontline: November 23, 2004: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/credit/more/rise.html

[4]        Mark Chediak, When the Debt Collector Comes Calling. PBS Frontline: November 23, 2004: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/credit/more/collect.html

[5]        Keith Bradsher, MIDDLE-CLASS DEBT IS SEEN AS HURDLE TO ECONOMIC GAINS. The New York Times: March 28, 1994: http://www.nytimes.com/1994/03/28/business/middle-class-debt-is-seen-as-hurdle-to-economic-gains.html?pagewanted=1

[6]        Ibid.

[7]        Debora Vrana, Middle class living on the edge? MSN Money: 2006: http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/SaveMoney/MiddleClassLivingOnTheEdge.aspx

[8]        Ibid.

[9]        Debt juggling, the new middle-class addiction. The Sunday Times: April 3, 2005: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/money/borrowing/article376520.ece

[10]      David Prosser, Britain becomes ‘never, never land’ as personal debt runs out of control. The Independent: September 28, 2006: http://www.independent.co.uk/money/loans-credit/britain-becomes-never-never-land-as-personal-debt-runs-out-of-control-417809.html

[11]      Caroline Gammell, Debt crisis: More middle classes seeking help. The Telegraph: May 18, 2008: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1981850/Debt-crisis-More-middle-classes-seeeking-help.html

[12]      Sean Poulter, Now desperate middle-class families face huge debt crisis as more and more professionals plunge into the red. Daily Mail: May 19, 2008: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-567190/Now-desperate-middle-class-families-face-huge-debt-crisis-more-professionals-plunge-red.html

[13]      Gretchen Morgenson, Given a Shovel, Americans Dig Deeper Into Debt. The New York Times: July 20, 2008: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/20/business/20debt.html

[14]      Jeff Cox, Credit-Card Use Is Surging, Risking Another Debt Crisis. CNBC: June 3, 2008: http://www.cnbc.com/id/24948627/Credit_Card_Use_Is_Surging_Risking_Another_Debt_Crisis

[15]      Jason Kirby, Pay up or get out. Macleans: March 19, 2009: http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/03/19/pay-up-or-get-out/

[16]      Ibid.

[17]      Tom Petruno, ‘The consumer isn’t overleveraged — the middle class is’. Los Angeles Times Blogs: August 14, 2009: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/money_co/2009/08/the-well-heeled-might-be-able-to-save-the-us-economy-from-a-long-period-of-dismal-consumer-spending—-if-only-we-dont.html

[18]      Sean Poulter, Middle-class debt epidemic: Wealthy plunged into crisis by recession. The Daily Mail: May 12, 2009: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1180710/Middle-class-debt-epidemic-Wealthy-plunged-crisis-recession.html

[19]      Alastair Jamieson, Credit card crisis to grip Britain, IMF warns. The Telegraph: July 27, 2009: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/borrowing/creditcards/5914853/Credit-card-crisis-to-grip-Britain-IMF-warns.html

[20]      Jill Insley, Middle-class life and debt, even on a good salary. The Guardian: October 4, 2009: http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2009/oct/04/middle-class-debt-good-salary

[21]      Rupert Taylor, Canadians Boosting their Debt. Suite 101: February 11, 2010: http://news.suite101.com/article.cfm/canadians-boosting-their-debt-a200789

[22]      Ibid.

[23]      Felix Salmon, That stubbornly high credit card debt. Reuters: March 10, 2010: http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2010/03/10/that-stubbornly-high-credit-card-debt/

[24]      Ibid.

[25]      Polly Curtis, Too many graduates, not enough jobs, says CBI. The Guardian: September 17, 2008: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2008/sep/17/graduates.business

[26]      Alan Krueger, The Job Market for College Graduates. New York Times Blogs: December 8, 2008: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/08/the-job-market-for-college-graduates/

[27]      Ibid.

[28]      Ibid.

[29]      Polly Curtis and Jessica Shepherd, Graduates facing ‘slim’ job market in downturn. The Guardian: January 14, 2009: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/jan/14/graduate-jobs-recession

[30]      Fiona Macleod and Beth Mellor, Slump in graduate jobs ‘is threat to hopes of recovery’. The Scotsman: January 12, 2009: http://news.scotsman.com/latestnews/Slump-in-graduate-jobs-39is.4864395.jp

[31]      Ibid.

[32]      Richard Woods and Jack Grimston, Labour’s graduates aren’t getting jobs. The Sunday Times: January 11, 2009: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/education/article5488978.ece

[33]      CBS, College Graduates Tackle Dismal Job Market. CBS News: April 18, 2009: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/04/18/eveningnews/main4954222.shtml

[34]      Shaheen Samavati, Recent college graduates finding entry-level jobs hard to get and hard to keep. The Plain Dealer: May 31, 2009: http://www.cleveland.com/help-wanted/index.ssf/2009/05/recent_college_graduates_findi.html

[35]      Peter Coy, The Lost Generation. Business Week: October 8, 2009: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_42/b4151032038302.htm

[36]      Ibid.

[37]      Ibid.

[38]      Hibah Yousuf, Job outlook for 2010 grads: Still stinks. CNN Money: November 18, 2009: http://money.cnn.com/2009/11/17/news/economy/college_graduates_jobs/index.htm

[39]      Don Lee, Job market worsens for recent college graduates. Los Angeles Times: December 14, 2009: http://articles.latimes.com/2009/dec/14/business/la-fi-jobs-graduates14-2009dec14

[40]      Roland Gribben, Graduate job scramble continues despite recovery in recruitment market. The Telegraph: March 15, 2010: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/jobs/7442887/Graduate-job-scramble-continues-despite-recovery-in-recruitment-market.html

[41]      Diana Jean Schemo, Private Loans Deepen a Crisis in Student Debt. The New York Times: June 10, 2007: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/10/us/10loans.html

[42]      Ibid.

[43]      Nick Perry, Graduates drowning in debt from high cost of college. The Seattle Times: October 5, 2008: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008228780_loansmain05m1.html

[44]      Ibid.

[45]      Kathy M. Kristof, Students learn too late the costs of private loans. The Los Angeles Times: December 27, 2008: http://articles.latimes.com/2008/dec/27/business/fi-collegedebt27

[46]      Ibid.

[47]      Nick Perry, Graduates drowning in debt from high cost of college. The Seattle Times: October 5, 2008: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008228780_loansmain05m1.html

[48]      Kathy Kristof, The Great College Hoax. Forbes: January 14, 2009: http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2009/0202/060.html

[49]      Shamus Reid, Student debt is a recipe for economic disaster. The Georgia Straight: January 23, 2009: http://www.straight.com/article-198179/shamus-reid-student-debt-recipe-economic-disaster

[50]      Anne Marie Chaker, Students Borrow More Than Ever for College. The Wall Street Journal: September 4, 2009: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204731804574388682129316614.html

[51]      Ibid.

[52]      Mary Pilon, College Graduates Facing Mounting Debt, Rising Unemployment. The Wall Street Journal: December 1, 2009: http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2009/12/01/college-graduates-facing-mounting-debt-rising-unemployment/tab/article/

[53]      Student loan demand at record high, Reuters: January 21, 2010: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60K3VD20100121

[54]      Heather Scoffield, Financial repairs must continue: central banks. The Globe and Mail: July 29, 2009: http://v1.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090629.wcentralbanks0629/BNStory/HEATHER+SCOFFIELD/

[55]      David Uren, Bank for International Settlements warning over stimulus benefits. The Australian: June 30, 2009: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/bank-for-international-settlements-warning-over-stimulus-benefits/story-0-1225743622643

[56]      Niall Ferguson, A Greek crisis is coming to America. The Financial Times: February 10, 2010: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f90bca10-1679-11df-bf44-00144feab49a.html

[57]      Anthony Faiola, Greece to unveil another austerity plan: Salary cuts, tax increases. The Washington Post: March 3, 2010: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/02/AR2010030202028.html

[58]      Mail Foreign Service, Greece rocked by riots as up to 60,000 people take to streets to protest against government. The Daily Mail: March 11, 2010: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1257243/Greek-riots-Up-60-000-people-streets-protest-government.html

[59]      George Georgiopoulos, Greek investigators identify American, British speculators. Reuters: February 20, 2010: http://www.canada.com/business/Greek+investigators+identify+American+British+speculators/2590073/story.html

[60]      Edmund Conway, Greek crisis intensifies as Joe Stiglitz calls for Europe to ‘teach the speculators a lesson’. The Telegraph: February 8, 2010: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/7191113/Greek-crisis-intensifies-as-Joe-Stiglitz-calls-for-Europe-to-teach-the-speculators-a-lesson.html

[61]      Barry Hatton, Portugal uses privatizations, welfare benefit cuts to drive down debt ahead of bond issue. AP: March 8, 2010: http://blog.taragana.com/business/2010/03/08/portugal-uses-privatizations-welfare-benefit-cuts-to-drive-down-debt-ahead-of-bond-issue-39094/

[62]      CNN, Geithner: Economy healing, but deficit must go down. CNN Politics: August 2, 2009: http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/08/02/geithner.economy/index.html

[63]      Ibid.

[64]      David Reilly, Secret Banking Cabal Emerges From AIG Shadows. Bloomberg: January 29, 2010: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601039&sid=aaIuE.W8RAuU

[65]      Tom LoBianco, Geithner, Summers hedge on tax hikes. The Washington Times: August 3, 2009: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/aug/03/geithner-summers-hedge-on-tax-hikes/

[66]      Roger Runningen and Ryan J. Donmoyer, Obama Asks Volcker to Lead Panel on Tax-Code Overhaul. Bloomberg: March 25, 2009: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?sid=a8yCQsJfpb24&pid=20601087

[67]      Opinion, Teeing Up the Middle Class. The Wall Street Journal: August 4, 2009: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204313604574328552267381152.html

[68]      U.S. News & World Report, Get ready to pay more taxes. MSN Money: February 3, 2010: http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Taxes/Advice/get-ready-to-pay-more-taxes.aspx

[69]      Ibid.

[70]      Rich Miller, Obama ‘Agnostic’ on Deficit Cuts, Won’t Prejudge Tax Increases. Bloomberg: February 11, 2010: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-02-11/obama-agnostic-on-deficit-cuts-won-t-prejudge-tax-increases.html

[71]      Fred Lucas, 12 Taxes in Health Care Law Violate Obama’s Pledge Not to Increase Taxes on Households Earning Less than $250,000. CNS News: March 25, 2010: http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/63313

[72]      Andrew Porter, Budget 2010: Alistair Darling’s tax raid on middle class. The Telegraph: March 24, 2010: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/budget/7514760/Budget-2010-Alistair-Darlings-tax-raid-on-middle-class.html

[73]      Gregory White, Are These 10 Big Tax Hikes Coming To America? Business Insider: March 25, 2010: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-ten-uk-tax-hikes-that-could-be-coming-home-to-america-2010-3#now-check-out-how-the-us-government-would-look-under-an-austerity-budget-11

[74]      Ibid.

[75]      Dylan Grice, Popular Delusions: When to Sell Gold. Societie General – Global Strategy: March 23, 2010: http://www.scribd.com/doc/28795508/Dylan-Grice-Selling-the-Yellow-Stuff

[76]      Ibid.

[77]      Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Derivatives still pose huge risk, says BIS. The Telegraph: September 13, 2009: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/6184496/Derivatives-still-pose-huge-risk-says-BIS.html

[78]      Dawn Kopecki and Catherine Dodge, U.S. Rescue May Reach $23.7 Trillion, Barofsky Says. Bloomberg: July 20, 2009: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aY0tX8UysIaM

[79]      William I. Robinson and Jerry Harris, Towards a Global Ruling Class? Globalization and the Transnational Capitalist Class. Science & Society, Vol. 64, No. 1, Spring 2000: pages 11-12

[80]      Ibid, p. 12.

[81]      Donna St. George, Pew report shows 50-year high point for multi-generational family households. The Washington Post: March 18, 2010: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2010/03/18/ST2010031804512.html?sid=ST2010031804512

[82]      Ben Stein, In Class Warfare, Guess Which Class Is Winning. The New York Times: November 26, 2006: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/26/business/yourmoney/26every.html