One of the most striking things about the current global meltdown is that the meltdown is global but the response is piecemeal. I have always been a fan of the idea of globalisation in general, but a complete sceptic about allowing it to happen at the behest of capitalist corporations and under the control of capitalist corporations and what can only be described as intellectually and politically supine national governments. To the extent that there is an effective global politics of any kind it seems to consist solely of organisations such as the WTO, whose role appears to be to further the interests of business.
In addition, the impact of this crisis are vastly more than financial. A the impact works its way through national economies, we can only expect the meltdown on Wall Street and in the City to mean suffering for many millions throughout the world. This crisis means difficulties for homeowners in Omaha and Frankfurt, but in the Third World it is going to kill people. A lot of people.
So what is the answer to the current global economic crisis? A global political response? As a temporary measure, yes – but also, now that global corporations have managed to demonstrate just how little they know how to manage the global economy, the time has surely come for a serious attempt to build a global political system. Without that it is hard to see either how economic globalisation can be made to work, even for those who run the corporations, or how the rest of us can be protected from its massive downside.
We won’t get it, of course. Our politicians have made sure of that. On the one hand they have abdicated responsibility for actively managing society to big business and on the other they have barred the doors to politics to everyone but the ‘professionals’ – i.e., people like George Bush, Gordon Brown, my MP and a thousand other talking heads with zero practical experience of running the world and zero insight into the real structure of global society.