When you're mostly still interested in acquiring the wound, it's way too early for medicine

Not only is the United States slouching toward a double dip, but so is Europe. New data out Tuesday show even Europe's strongest core economies -- Germany, France, and the Netherlands -- slowing to a crawl.

We're on the cusp of a global recession.

Policy makers be warned: Austerity is the wrong medicine.

[. . .]

But chalk up a big part of Europe's slowdown to the politics and economics of austerity. Europe -- including Britain -- have turned John Maynard Keynes on his head. They've been cutting public spending just when they should be spending more to counteract slowing private spending.

The United States has been moving in the same bizarre direction. Cutbacks by state and local governments have all but negated the federal government's original stimulus, and no one in Washington is talking seriously about a second. The pitiful showdown over increasing the debt limit has produced the opposite: a Rube-Goldberg-like process for capping spending rather than increasing it, and a public that's being sold the Republican lie that less government spending means more jobs.

Yes, governments on both sides of the Atlantic are deeply in debt. But policy makers on both sides seem to have forgotten that economic growth is the most important tonic. (Robert Reich, “Austerity is bringing on a global recession,” Salon, 17 August 2011)

We always get what we want, and sometimes it's stark curtailment after one too many dip-ins into the cookie jar, that has us all feeling a bit edgy

Doom is what we want, as:

Economic depressions are motivated internal sacrifices which often kill more people than wars do. Cartoons prior to and during depressions often show sinful, greedy people being sacrificed on altars, and the depressed nation becomes paralyzed politically, unable to take action to reverse the economic downturn. Just as depressed individuals experience little conscious anger--feeling they "deserve to be punished"--so too nations in depressions are characterized by "introverted" foreign policy moods, start fewer military expeditions and are less concerned with foreign affairs. The feeling during depressions is "I should be killed" for my wishes rather than "I want to kill others." Depressions are economic anorexias, where people starve themselves to avoid being eaten up by the Dragon Mother, the maternal vulture of infancy. The nation begins to look for a Phallic Leader with whom they can merge and regain their failed potency and who can protect them against their growing delusional fears of a persecutory mommy.

* * * * *

At the end of the 1920s, for instance, as economic and social progress seemed to have gotten "out of control," world bankers-chief sacrificial priests of modern nations-pursued deflationary economic policies, trade barriers were erected and many other "mistakes" were made that were motivated to produce the Great Depression that sacrificed so much of the wealth of the world. As Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon said in 1929 as the Federal Reserve pushed the world into the Great Depression, "It will purge the rottenness out of the system." Business cycles, as William K. Joseph has shown, are driven by the manic and depressive cycles of group-fantasy, as manic defenses against growth panic are followed by depressive collapses into emotional despair and inaction. Indeed, most death rates car crashes, homicides, cancer, pneumonia, heart and liver diseases rise during prosperous, manic times and are lower during depressions and recessions. Only suicide internal sacrifice rises during economic declines, reacting to the prevailing group-fantasy need for internal sacrifice.

Depressions and recessions are thus not due to "the Invisible Hand" of economics but are motivated sacrifices that often kill more people than wars do, halting dangerous prosperity and social progress that seem to be getting "out of control. [. . .] Like Aztec human sacrifices, recessions and depressions are accompanied by national sermons, "cautionary tales," about how sacrifices are necessary to purge the world of human sinfulness." (Lloyd DeMause, Emotional Life of Nations)

Depressions aren't just the rich, even if ultimately to their own detriment, hogging it all selfishly to themselves. Greed, self-interest, gone amuck. We've got to look at other motivations behind this evidently willed madness, most notably, I would hope, collective masochism. Referring to preferred social science assessments/assumptions of human behavior, further DeMause to help prod deeper inquiry into why nations do the mad things that they do:

Social behavior, using these models, cannot therefore be (a) irrational (because all men use only reason to achieve their goals), (b) empathic (because empathy for others would not be totally self-interested), (c) self-destructive (because no one can rationally ever want to hurt themselves), nor (d) sadistic (because people don't waste their resources just to harm others). At most, people might be shortsighted or uninformed in their social behavior, but not unreasonable, benevolent, suicidal or vicious-i.e., not human.

The exclusion of the most powerful human feelings other than greed from social and political theory plus the elimination of irrationality and self-destructiveness from models of society explains why the social sciences have such a dismal record in providing any historical theories worth studying.

Link: Austerity is bringing on a global recession (Salon)


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