Speculators Were Hung in the 17th Century. Ah, 'The Good Old Days'

"Speculators at megabanks or investment firms such as Goldman Sachs are not, in a strict sense, capitalists. They do not make money from the means of production...They are parasites. They feed off the carcass of industrial capitalism. They produce nothing. They make nothing. They just manipulate money. Speculation in the 17th century was a crime. Speculators were hanged." - 'Overthrow the Speculators', by Chris Hedges

Often Hedges' essays are to long for me, but sometimes, like today, when he really nails it, they are tight and focused. In another great paragraph today Hedges pays tribute to 'The Public Banking Institute' and its founder Ellen Brown, saying:

"The Bank of North Dakota, the vision of socialists from a century ago, has been in operation for 90 years. It offers the state’s farmers and businesses low interest rates on loans. After floods destroyed much of Grand Forks in 1997 the bank provided a six-month moratorium on mortgage payments and gave low-interest loans to the community to rebuild, a sharp contrast with the raw exploitation that marked the arrival of Wall Street bankers and speculators in Gulf Coast areas hit by Hurricane Katrina. Public banks in the United States, like the public banks in Germany, fund things such as solar power because it is good for communities rather than the portfolios of speculators."

Ellen Brown's writings and the excellent video below both explain the underlying criminal processes at work in our monetary systems and the all important role that interest plays in keeping everyone on the endless growth treadmill.. Hedges line about how speculators aren't capitalists because "They do not make money from the means of production." is important. Real capitalists can not voluntarily stop trying to accumulate more capital because they too must earn 'extra' money somewhere to pay interest.

Consequently, as Stephanie McMillan says in 'Why Environmentalists Should Support Working Class Struggles', "Attempts to solve the environmental crisis head-on, without addressing the underlying structural [economic] causes, will ultimately fail." She correctly reasons that: "Approaching it directly (for example by blocking a pipeline to prevent tar sands oil from reaching a refinery) can not overturn the economic system that demands resource extraction a non-negotiable necessity."  Capital has been relentless in its pursuit of supplying those demands in part because at every iteration the Snidley Whiplashes of finance get their end.

Pope Francis focuses on the structural causes of poverty often. Lately he's been talking about the speculators practicing the “idolatry of money,” and the “new tyranny” of unfettered capitalism. Obviously, say the Pontiff’s pious critics, that’s commie talk. Maybe some of those critics fear a resurgence of a gallows building industry.