#OWS Economics: Neofeudal Reality and the Free Market Myth

A little follow up to the last post about Damon Vrabel and his critique of neoclassical economics.

After concluding the Renaissance 2.0 series of lectures, Vrabel wrote a farewell on his blog at his Council for Spiritual, Psychological and Economic Renewal, explaining why he was no longer going to keep posting on the world situation. Among his reasons:

As I said in previous articles, IF we participate in the system, I’m not opposed to it at all. How could I be? I’d be a tyrant if I wanted to force hundreds of millions of people to change their behavior. And the fact is, that “IF” was answered long ago. We Americans have chosen the material benefits of being managed by the financial system for generations. We like demand-side freedom, i.e. choosing between Coke and Pepsi, but don’t want supply-side freedom. We like the supply-side to be taken care of for us. We love the benefits that come from it being imperially run—the credit card always works, the gas station is always open, our water faucets and light switches do what they’re supposed to do, the markets keep going up (oops…maybe not). All of our economic needs are outsourced to others, so we have the luxury of spending our time pursuing wants. And if these types of benefits are good for us, they’re good for the rest of the world. We have no moral authority to stand opposed just because we’re now going to lose our privileged position—a rather childlike perspective.

Do I detect some sarcasm? Many of the items Vrabel ticked off as buying our disinterest in changing the imperial system are, of course, threatening to stop working in the near-long term, if they haven’t already stopped working for many of us, which is why, I suspect,  #OWS has resonated so deeply so fast.

In any case, perhaps responding to the Arab spring and certainly responding to questions from viewers of Renaissance 2.0, Vrabel returned to YouTube with a new series titled “Debunking Money.” Again, I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to understand how the world really works and why we, the people (or the peasantry, as the case may be), are experiencing a diminution of our liberties. In this series, Vrabel makes explicit his rejection of various ideas from the left and right, including Austrian school economics and Milton Friedman’s neoliberalism.

The lesson below is particularly interesting as it debunks the notion, popular among Libertarians and popularized by Ron Paul, that “ending the Fed” is a viable solution to the problem. Vrabel says the American people would be “cutting their own throat.” If you have difficulty following this, I strongly suggest starting from the first video and hanging on his every word, if possible. Not to say this is the ultimate truth, of course, but it is certainly much closer to the truth than anything you will be hearing from Republicans or Democrats:

A Critique of Ron Paul’s Ten Principles of a Free Society: Natural Rights?

My first encounter with the idea/s of Ron Paul came more than a decade ago on a long-defunct Website, I’m sad to say, the name of which I don’t recall. It was a repository of intelligence about some of the more bizarre beliefs of prominent right-wingers. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson were particularly favorite targets. But there was one page devoted to Ron Paul’s outrageous racism, a catalog of some truly ignorant and occasionally horrifyingly mean-spirited remarks Paul was alleged to have made about poor people of color over the course of his political and academic careers.

When, during the last decade, Paul’s courageous (or simply intellectually rigid?) anti-war stance earned him a lot of love from many on the left and heightened his stature internationally, I wanted to double-check my first prejudice against him. Alas, the site was gone, and the web seemed to have been scrubbed of any evidence of Paul’s backwardness on race.  (A Google check today, however, now that Paul is a big favorite of Tea Party types, shows that his racist past–and probable present– is ready to come back and bite him at any time: Jonathan Chait and James Kirchik for example have written on the subject for TNR.) Continue reading