The Next Economic Crisis and the Looming Post-Multipolar System

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The Next Economic Crisis and the Looming Post-Multipolar System

Written and produced by SF Team: J.Hawk, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watson; Voiceover by Dermot Arrigan

The Impending Crisis

At one time, specifically during the post-World War 2 Bretton Woods era, it looked like as if the capitalist model could be indefinitely sustainable and avoid plunging the world into major world conflicts. That era began to come to an end during the stagflation crisis of the 1970s, and came to a complete end at the end of the Cold War which ushered in the era of the so-called “globalization” which took form of unbridled competition for markets and resources. At first this competition did not show many signs of trouble. There were many “emerging markets” created as a result of the collapse of the Soviet bloc into which Western corporations could expand. However, the law of diminishing returns being what it is, the initial rapid economic growth rates could not be sustained and attempts to goose it using extremely liberal central bank policies, to the point of zero and even negative interest rates, succeeded in inflating—and bursting—several financial “bubbles”. Even today’s US economy bears many hallmarks of such a bubble, and it is only one of many. Sooner or later the proverbial “black swan” event will unleash a veritable domino effect of popping bubbles and plunge the global economy into a crisis of a magnitude it has not seen since the 1930s. A crisis against which the leading world powers have few weapons to deploy, since they have expended their monetary and fiscal “firepower” on the 2008 crisis, to little avail. The low interest rates and high levels of national debt mean that the next big crisis will not be simply “more of the same.” It will fundamentally rearrange the global economy.

The Once and Future Multipolar System?

While the 1944 Bretton Woods  conference sought to re-establish a global economic order that was destroyed in the Great Depression, the formation of the United Nations served a rather different aim. The UN Security Council, with five veto-wielding permanent members, meant that for as long as these five countries abided by its rules, there would be five spheres of influence and therefore also five relatively exclusive economic zones. British leaders in 1945, for example, hardly desired the dissolution of their empire; records of wartime discussions between FDR and Churchill show the two clashed repeatedly over the tariff barriers separating British colonial possessions from international trade.  That which became known as the “Iron Curtain” was a feature, not a bug, of that system—Churchill himself wanted one for his empire, after all. However, is the apparent multi-polar system of today any more viable than the one which appeared to emerge after 1945?

“We have always been at war with Eurasia”

The post-WW2 multipolar world did not come to pass because the French and British empires collapsed and its newly independent states became aligned with either the United States or the USSR, and the PRC was in no shape to exert much power outside of its own borders since it was recovering from decades of civil war and foreign occupation. Seven decades after WW2’s conclusion, however, one can readily see that the era of US and European economic dominance is giving way to a multipolar world in which Russia and China are once again capable of standing up for their economic interests.

However, a return to genuine multipolarity does not appear very likely. Russia and China need each other too much to risk conflict by pursuing their own separate and mutually exclusive economic spheres of influence. Rather, we can expect a gradual merger of the two. When it comes to the US and the EU, the situation is slightly more complicated.

Welcome to Oceania, Citizen

While George Orwell imagined the future of Russia (Eurasia) and China (Eastasia) as imperial entities unintegrated with one another, a prediction that does not appear to be coming true, the establishment of Oceania, governed from the United States and UK playing the role of “Airstrip One” seems to be looming every closer. Only the status of Europe remains unclear at this point. The European Union is still unfit to shoulder world power responsibilities, it has barely weathered the last economic crisis, and the next one could easily be the final nail in its coffin. It certainly does not help that the United States is attempting to thoroughly economically dominate the European Union in order to deal with its own economic problems. Reducing European exports to the US and expanding US energy exports to the EU is very high on the list of White House priorities, to the point of risking trade war. Europe’s behavior following the US unilateral JCPOA withdrawal shows that the Europeans are incapable to oppose US power, even if it means defending important economic interests.

On the other hand, and in response to the Trump administration increasingly brazen attempts to subjugate Europe in political and economic terms, Germany and France are pursuing efforts to establish a solid EU “core”. This “core” would boast a European army, a concept whose popularity has grown in recent years, and be capable of collective action in the event of a crisis even if it means shedding the less well integrated eastern and southern EU members or at least relegating them to second-class status. However, it remains to be seen whether anything viable can be created before the next crisis topples the European house of cards and leads to power struggles over the political and economic alignment of the individual European states. As logical as developing a unified political and economic European may seem, it practice it is a very difficult idea to implement.

In theory, Germany, France, and Italy as well as other industrialized European states have the potential of becoming an independent force operating in the interests of their nations. In practice, this possibility has almost been lost. In the event of a confrontation with the Anglo-Saxon power center under conditions of difficult relations with Russia and intense struggle over markets with China and other “Asian Tigers” (Japan, ROK, Taiwan), Germany and other above-mentioned European powers lack potential for future economic expansion or even scientific and technological development. Their internal markets lack expansion potential, instead, they appear to be shrinking instead. Populations which produced the most value-added products are aging. The youth has been to a large extent replaced by newcomers who are not interested in industrial labor or hard work in general. These countries’ export capabilitiies are also limited.

On the other hand, if one considers the US competitors, we can readily see groups of actors whose elites have not consented to the roles being imposed upon them by the global elites. This is a heterogeneous group which cannot be termed to exist as a single bloc. National elites’ interests diverge significantly from, and often clash with those of the globalists to a certain degree and at different times. For example, Russian and Chinese national elites do not have identical economic interests. That which interests Chinese capital may be directly counter to the interests of Russian capital. The same is true for social questions. When it comes to Iran, the situation is more complicated still. Accordingly, the main problem of those who seek to compete or oppose the global dominion is that they lack a shared strategic vision and long-term coordinated position. They actions often have only localized significance.

Hybrid War Forever

Once that process of coalescence is complete, proxy wars will continue over certain parts of Europe, Africa, Asia, even Latin America, as key powers will struggle over vital markets and resources, using the full array of military, political, economic, cyber, and information weapons that we have seen used in Libya, Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, and Venezuela. This hybrid warfare will be accompanied by a level of official propaganda that will make for example the current “Russiagate” reporting pale in comparison. However, at the same time, the rhetoric will be considerably more heated than the actual level of hostilities between the nuclear weapons-wielding states. Instead, that propaganda will be used to justify internal political censorship and repression, on a scale even greater than we have seen used against the Yellow Vests protests in France.  Deprived of the ability to expand into ever new territories, the West will gradually sink into stagnation , poverty, and domestic disorder. At that point, the world will be in a state of a genuine bi-polar Cold War, a war of political and economic attrition whose outcome is currently impossible to predict.

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  • You can call me Al

    Very good thank you.

    I must admit that I do believe you are being rather pessimistic in our outcome, but hey ho, I am usually incorrect.

  • Vince Dhimos

    Very stimulating and thank you. Having said that, with regard to the notion that the Europe is not strong enough to resist the US, some evidence suggests a possible source of strong resistance. It is noteworthy that Germany is consistently saying no to US ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell’s bullying as he tries to force Germany to stop the progress of Nord Stream 2 and force the extravagantly overpriced US LNG down their throat. As Merckel pointed out, there are several European countries involved in this project, not just Germany, and it is too late to stop it. German and EU officials and business people pointed out at the outset that Trump’s hand wringing over “energy security” for Europe is just a transparent ploy to force expensive US LNG down their throats. His team still pesters as before but all of Europe, including the milquetoasts in the EU Parliament, knows it is too late and is not happening.
    Merckel is also steadfastly refusing to pitch in the 2% of budget to NATO. Of all the groups I interact with on Quora, the Germans are the most savvy by far, and if I had to place a wager, I’d say Germany will gradually peel off and go on its own. At that point, China and Russia would be logical economic partners for Germany (although France could surprise us) and the US could be left out in the cold.
    As for Africa and Asia, I don’t see them falling into a lot of different camps as suggested in this article. In fact, there are no examples given here of which countries are going in which directions. Not very convincing. I see China as being pretty much in control of the economic regions in which it is working with its BRI. I also see much more economic complementarity between China and Russia than I see differences that could split the two apart. For example, thanks to the US bullying, China is no longer buying LNG from the US and Russia is taking up the slack. Russia has outstripped the US in gas sales in 2018.
    The only major headache for China and Russia is the US, but the hegemon and its bullying will only serve to rally the two and other countries as well. Example: While Pompeo whines that Russia can’t have the whole Arctic to itself (a fair indication that it is in the process of grabbing it all) and US Naval Commander reminds us that the Arctic is not Russia’s “private lake,” the US is lagging way behind in terms of controlling parts of the arctic, and that is nobody’s fault but its own. China has the necessary shallow draft ships for navigating there and Russia is years ahead in terms of ice breakers. The US only has hot air power to deal with real world problems.

  • Rob

    Trump is ready to start war with Iran, for which Trump with Israel will do false flag attack on itself without any casuality or damage to the war ship and then war will start.

  • purplelibraryguy

    There are some good points here. The Europe bit strikes me as the most superficial and misleading. Europe is having major political and economic problems, and has a lot of difficulty resisting the US, but not in the ways or for the reasons the article suggests. For instance, immigrants pose social cohesion problems and can be taken advantage of by hard right pseudo-nationalist groups, but they don’t pose economic problems, at least not for the ruling class–the opposite of unwilling to work, immigrants are generally willing to work harder for cheaper than multigeneration inhabitants of prosperous countries. This is good for profits, but bad for general wage levels and for the power of labour. There are only two ways to avoid this problem–either have no immigrants, or be very nice to the immigrants one has–make sure they have access to hands up, education, social programs, labour rights and unionization. If they get the same wages as everyone else and are in the same unions, contributing to labour power rather than splitting it, the wage suppression that comes from having an underclass can be avoided.
    Germany is one of the world’s biggest exporters. Europe’s problems, much like in other parts of the developed world, revolve around conflicts of interest between financiers, multinational enterprise, local productive capitalists, and everyone else (whether native or immigrant). So far, the European financiers and the multinationals have been successfully screwing everyone else, while the local productive capitalists manage OK in Germany and the Nordics (which aren’t exactly in the EU anyway) but not most of the rest.
    If everyone else could insist on repatriating some local industry and repealing various financial rules designed to help banks fuck over the rest of the economy, Europe might prosper. And become less aligned with the finance-oriented Anglosphere in the process. Chances seem faint right now though.

    But the article makes a good point about running out of markets. Capitalism needs to grow; investments need to make returns to pay off debts; if capital runs out of new things to exploit, the whole thing seizes up. Debts aren’t paid, interest payments eat the economy, there’s nothing to make up for the money being sucked up to a few capitalists and financiers. Jobs and wages get cut to lower costs, those cuts lead to reduced demand, reduced demand leads to more jobs being cut. The odd thing is that it doesn’t really matter if there’s enough raw materials and production capacity for everyone to have what they need. If nobody can afford it, it won’t get done. So with new frontiers running out, serious problems loom for the world capitalist system–and that actually includes Russia and China. The US is more decadent, has moved more towards worshipping paper profits and tending to ignore the physical (With the odd exception of Trump–in a really stupid kind of way he has his eye on the ball where the Wall Street types do not), but neither Russia nor China are doing anything really different, and you can see the Chinese already starting on the kind of trajectory that screwed up the Americans and the Japanese and the Brits. Plus, climate change and other looming ecological and overpopulation-related crises are gonna mess everything up. At some point as they jockey to shove the Americans off the top of the hill so they can sit there instead, the Chinese and Russians are going to get blindsided by the fact that when the hill has a major earthquake it can break their stuff too.

    In the medium term the world system is not going to be globalized capitalism as we know it, if it’s capitalism at all.

    • David Parker

      Nice try, but fundamentally Judaism, Islam, and Christianity are absolutely incompatible. At the base of all conflict are Judaism (Zionism) and Islam dedicated to the destruction of Christianity. Christianity is the basis of individual liberty and peace – rich and the poor living in harmony, not covetousness.

      • purplelibraryguy

        So you’re saying Christianity must destroy Judaism and Islam (because you believe they want to do it to you first) and then that Christianity is dedicated to peace. Has it occurred to you that these two things cannot both be true?

        And of course they’re not. Christianity is what now? Most of the warmongering in the world today is done by people who then turn around and quack about Christ. Some of the rest, yes, is done by people who then turn around and quack about Islam. I notice there isn’t a lot done by agnostics, though. The basis of peace is not thinking your people (Christians, Americans, Jews, whatever) are the only awesome ones in the world and everyone else is bad and should be killed.

        The basis of individual liberty is either basic features of the human spirit or pagan Greek philosophy. Organized religion of every stripe is fundamentally against individual liberty, because their whole gig is telling you to obey. You’re supposed to do what Big Daddy tells you; sometimes that happens to be the right thing, but even when it comes to doing good you’re not supposed to do it because it’s good, you’re supposed to do it because God/YHVH/Allah tell you to and your job is to obey, not make free ethical choices (and if you don’t you’ll be tortured for eternity). Even if the religions are correct–say whichever one’s Big Daddy actually does exist–they still do not become about liberty; liberty just becomes a bad thing. If you have genuine courage of Christian convictions you should be claiming that individual liberty is bad and the right thing is humble submission to God. And indeed that’s exactly what the medieval church did say. But that’s a harder sell nowadays.

        Not that your post had anything to do with what I posted that you were replying to. Unless you meant that, since many EU immigrants are Islamic, it was necessary to kill them all instead of getting them decent wages. Which would be horrible and repugnant, but again, if that’s what you’re trying to say, why don’t you have the guts to go ahead and say it and take the flak for being evil?

        • David Parker

          As usual you build strawmen and false dilemmas. “So you’re saying Christianity must destroy Judaism and Islam (because you believe they want to do it to you first) and then that Christianity is dedicated to peace.”
          That is what you said, not me.
          Christianity wins. God intervenes in the affairs of men. When Christians follow God’s law, God defends the Christians.

    • Cyclois

      “he opposite of unwilling to work, immigrants are generally willing to work harder for cheaper”

      I am yet to see a hard working nigger or arab. This mantra is taken from the era of european WHITE migrants going to the US in masses and wrongly applied to the nigger invasion to Europe. For fucks sake, these negroes are coming to Europe because they are being lied to in Africa. They are told that once they are here they will be given free housing, free car, and a job with 5K Euro salaries.

      Also the jobs they are required to fill in are being taken over by robots and AI. And what else can these niggers do lacking the basic education and livelihood skills with an IQ of 80? These people are liabilities not assets, and even worse, they set the table for a civil war in Europe.

      • purplelibraryguy

        Generally the people I see who are the worst liabilities to society are the kind of whites who have to be smug about race, because they have nothing else to feel good about. Get some genuine self-esteem and then you won’t need to be an ignorant bigot.

        • Cyclois

          Get lost kike. Go be a jew somewhere else.

      • paul becke

        You are ignorant. full stop. Zulu schoolchildren outperform ours in exams.

  • RichardD

    If you look at the epicenters of trouble on this planet. The US, UK, France and Israel. They have vermin Jews as the common denominator. The ziocon US hegemony project and Israel’s Yinon plan are both thoroughly Jewish constructs. Formulated and staffed by Jews and their traitors. Conspiring against the best interests of their host nations.

    • purplelibraryguy

      “Antisemitism is the socialism of fools.”

      • RichardD

        You’re comment doesn’t make sense.

        • purplelibraryguy

          German socialists were saying this as far back as the 1890s. The problem that leads people to socialism is that elites with money and control over the means of production take too much from everyone else, so we end up with lousy pay and insecure jobs and expensive housing and crappy health care and so on. Some Jews are members of such elites, and more noticeable because most other minority groups tend to be underrepresented among those elites. And it’s always easier to go for a quick fix by targeting some outsider group than to confront the real structural problems which would require real social transformation to change. One of those looking for the keys where there’s a street light instead of where you dropped them, kinds of things.

          So, it’s easy for stupid people, or just people who don’t want to put in the effort of thinking or confront the real size of the problem, to start thinking that the problem of capitalism is actually a problem about Jews. But it’s not about Jews, its about the ruling class. Some Jews are members of the ruling class and are a piece of the problem. But most Jews are not members of that class, they’re just shmoes like everyone else, and most members of that class are not Jews.

          • RichardD

            That’s a dodge. The problem of Jews being over represented in control positions of societies and governments that they take over is historical and contemporary fact. Not conspiracy theory. The US and Israel which have the largest populations of Jews on the planet being glaring examples.

            All governments and societies with rare exceptions suffer from the issues that you describe. The ones run by Jews are much worse because of the Jew factor.

            Your contention is like saying bankers are the problem. When all societies have bankers. It’s the societies controlled by Jew bankers misusing their positions that are the big problem.

            Mislabeling me with the Nazi smear is standard operating procedure for Jew pedophile rape supporters like you.

  • Sinbad2

    Since the US defaulted on the Bretton Woods agreement, which was caused by Americas lust for war in Vietnam, the US has been printing money. At first the debasement was obvious to see in the rising price of gold, however the US created the paper gold market, which was easy to manipulate with limitless supplies of dollars.
    All other countries jumped on the money printing bandwagon to keep their currencies competitive with the US dollar.
    Until the US dollar and all other currencies return to their true value these various economic meltdowns will occur. For the US dollar that’s more than $35,000 dollars per ounce, and what the US has done is no different to the Romans debasing gold coins with lead. The US like many drug addicts is addicted, with the US they are addicted to printing money, but demand it retains its value with the gun.
    Many empires addicted to war have debased their currencies as the US, and the whole world has done, the end result is always the same, economic collapse.

    • paul ( original )

      Peter Schiff has been saying much the same as you for at least ten years. His analysis is very plausible as is yours. I myself don’t have any special insight and really can not even attempt to predict the future, except to say I am very sure that it will be people like me who will suffer most. May be this will also include you as well. The English of old stock will be right in the cross hairs for dispossession and vengeance .

      • Sinbad2

        You probably know inflation, the thing that makes things more expensive tomorrow than they are today.
        Governments and banks set inflation rate targets to keep their economies working correctly.

        Most people don’t realize that inflation is a byproduct(tax) of fiat currencies or actually debasement of currency. Before fiat currencies prices of things did not rise for thousands of years.

  • El Mashi

    No war with Iran. Just making noise to please the US/Israeli Neocons. Its Trump theater. It took 500,000 US troops to conquer Kuwait in three weeks. Do the math. If we bomb the s**t out of Iran. Iran retaliates bombing every US military base in the Persian Gulf, Israel’s airports and military bases, all of Saudi and Gulf tyrannies petroleum installations including tankers…All. Oil prices will reach $200/barril and more. Hezbollah will shower 20,000 missiles into Israel, and Syria and Hezbollah will liberate the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, and occupy Northern Israel. Shalom.