Monday, May 11, 2009

Weapons of Class Destruction

As we lurch towards a new global financial architecture, each country has something to learn from the other, and each has something to offer. In the spirit of international brotherhood, I'd like to offer some suggestions--about what the United States has to offer China, what China has to offer Russia, and what Russia has to offer the United States.

From the United States, the Chinese can draw valuable and specific lessons as to how various technocratic policies and initiatives can effectively work to refine and fine tune a powerful, globally competitive economy. While the example of the last 24 months isn't particularly edifying, U.S. policies drawn from the second half of the last century can be mined for extremely valuable precedent.

From China, the Russians need to take away a more impressionist sense of how better to accomplish the transition from a command and control economy to one that unleashes the productive potential of a large population occupying a continental space. Over reliance on natural resources and preferential dismantling of state enterprises transforming former managers into oligarchs did not work so well as continuous agnostic meddling. The first step is for the apparachiks to acknowledge they have something to learn from the Mandarins.

From the Russians, the Americans need to learn how to deal with their oligarchs. The first step, of course, is to stop thinking of the financial oligarchy as a meritorious elite in any sense, and admit the cognitive capture of the regulators by Wall Street. Then, redefine the Masters of the Universe as Enemies of the People. The Masters of the Universe were, after all, the ones who orchestrated the evisceration of the American economy and the conversion of a productive citizenry with savings into a mewling horde of consumers indebted up to their eyeballs. While showtrials and bullets in the stairwell aren't in the American tradition, tarring and feathering certainly is.

What we need are weapons of class destruction that maximize wealth impairment while minimizing the loss of human life.

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