Things will get worse before they get worse

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I remember reading Ann Pettifor’s article Debtonation: how globalization dies, on Open Democracy, back in 2007. It was the first time I heard someone suggesting, matter-of-factly, that the global economy was coming to an end. As much as I took her arguments seriously I wasn’t so worried as to even read her previous piece dated back to 2003, titled The coming first world debt crisis. It’s impossible to read it now without a sense of disbelief –the economic calamity of our times presented, in plain and simple terms, five years before it happened.

The past months have shown that nothing is unbelievable anymore. Spiegel Online now goes so far as to question the possibility of state bankruptcies in the euro zone – read Iceland on the Thames: Can countries really go bankrupt?
Despite European Union efforts to control deficit spending in recent years, the national budgets in most EU member states are in pitiable condition. With a major economic breakdown at hands, governments are now putting away their budget consolidation agendas to secure accessible credit and keep companies up and running. And still, the growing unemployment figures are a gloomy revelation of the limitations of government power. Dark projections are already looming for 2010 and the signs of a major social crisis are starting to emerge on the horizon.

With these facts at hand it’s hard to feel any sort of excitement for the latent value of the crisis as a cultural renovator. This crisis is not an intellectual abstraction that’s going to transform contemporary mentalities in silky fashion. It’s already starting to hit the low and middle classes and will represent an inevitable setback for younger generations now stepping up to the job market. In the next decade we will witness an unprecedented transformation of labor rules. The paradigm of protection will be replaced by a realm of uncertainty and fear. And it may get violent.
I’m not being ideological about it. It is what it is. We may feel thankful that the non-crisis culture is coming down in flames. And those towers in Dubai don’t feel so sexy anymore. But the weight of History is a daunting thing. And, for most of us, it’s something we may be about to experience for the first time in our lives.