On the Causes and Solutions of the World Economic Crisis: Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi, Novel by Robert Sheppard

NOTE: The following is a comprehensive discussion of the Causes and Solutions for the World Economic Crisis taken as an excerpt from Spiritus Mundi, the Occupy Wall Street/World War III/United Nations Parliamentary Assembly Novel by Robert Sheppard. You can get a more complete view of Spiritus Mundi by viewing the following links:

Introducing Spiritus Mundi, a Novel by Robert Sheppard

Author’s E-mail: rsheppard99_2000@yahoo.com

Related Links and Websites: Spiritus Mundi, Novel by Robert Sheppard

For Introduction and Overview of the Novel:https://spiritusmundinovel.wordpress.com/

For Updates on the Upcoming Movie Version of the Novel, Spiritus Mundi & Casting of Actors and Actresses for Leading Roles See: https://robertalexandersheppard.wordpress.com/

For Author’s Blog: https://robertalexandersheppard.wordpress.com//

To Read Abut the Occupy Wall Street Movement in Spiritus Mundi: http://occupywallstreetnovel.wordpress.com/ 

To Read a Sample Chapter from Spiritus Mundi:https://spiritusmundisamplechapters.wordpress.com/

To Read Fantasy, Myth and Magical Realism Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundifantasymythandmagicalrealism.wordpress.com/

To Read Sexual Excerpts fromSpiritus Mundi: The Varieties of Sexul Experience: https://spiritusmundivarietiesofsexualexperience.wordpress.com/

To Read Spy, Espionage and Counter-terrorism Thriller Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi:http://spiritusmundispyespionagecounterterrorism.wordpress.com/

To Read Geopolitical and World War Three Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundigeopoliticalworldwar3.wordpress.com/

To Read Spiritual and Religious Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundionspiritualityandreligion.wordpress.com/

To Read about the Global Campaign for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly in Spiritus Mundi:https://spiritusmundiunitednationsparliamentaryassembly.wordpress.com/

To Read Poetry from Spiritus Mundi:https://spiritusmundipoetry.wordpress.com/

For Discussions on World Literature and Literary Criticism in Spiritus Mundi:http://worldliteratureandliterarycriticism.wordpress.com/

For Discussions of World History and World Civilization in Spiritus Mundi: https://worldhistoryandcivilizationspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

To Read the Blog of Eva Strong from Spiritus Mundi: https://evasblogfromspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

To Read the Blog of Andreas Sarkozy from Spiritus Mundi: http://andreasblogfromspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

To Read the Blog of Yoriko Oe from Spiritus Mundi: http://yorikosblogfromspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

To Read the Blog of Robert Sartorius from Spiritus Mundi: http://sartoriusblogfromspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/




“Well, I’m here representing the American AFL-CIO and its sister progressive labor faction Change to Win in their Global New Deal Initiative (GNDI) including the Global Labour Organizing and Collective Bargaining Initiative (GLOCBI), and the main message I am trying to deliver is similar to your own with the UNPA Committee—-that we need new institutions and strategies of rebalancing and adaptation to the overwhelming reality of Globalization, especially in the wake of the World Financial Crisis, which tells us that the wrong kind of imbalanced globalization is threatening the world with economic and social breakdown. The West has sold out its own people in this Crisis and not only mortgaged its soul but in a Faustian compact has sold credit default-swaps to the Devil!—it is financially, morally, politically and spiritually bankrupt!….And, without a globalized New Deal the peoples of the world face the grimmest consequences.

We are the vanguard of the Economic Democracy Movement, promoting  and fighting for the concept of Economic Democracy, both at the national level and like Professor Sartorius’ work at the international and globalized level with the UNPA; that is, our goals include keeping many of the benefits of the free enterprise market-based system to allow the American people and the peoples of the world to set the game rules for the marketplace, financial and economic system to re-take control over their economic destiny—–ensuring a strong Social Safety Net, Social Contract and fair distribution of economic production and wealth, and to make sure that the abusive externalities of the financial system do not undermine the well-being of the people for the benefit of the unscrupulous elites. We are The Counterforce, part of the “People Power” movement sweeping the world, forming the counterforce to both corporate greed and exploitation, and to oppressions of undemocratic, despotic and illegitimate regimes and states, including displacement of dictators in Latin America, Asia, the Stalinistic one-party dictatorships of the former East Bloc, those of the Islamic World with the recent ‘Arab Spring’ and we are also part of the International Labor Movement and the resistance of the peoples of the West to the destruction of the American Dream and the European Social Contract resulting from the corporate and financial abuses leading to the World Financial Crisis, including our people power actions such as “Occupy Wall Street,” which our unions have supported and led. In short we are The Counterforce, Global Democrats, democratic and worker activists, fighting for a fuller and less corrupt political and economic democracy in our national homelands such as the USA and the European Union, for safeguarding of the livelihoods of the working and middle-classes, and fighting for a globalized democracy and a democratically based system of global political and economic governance to reflect the reality of the globalized economy to which all of our destinies are irrevocably tied.   

Our initiative grew out of our participation in the International Forum on Economic Globalization and Trade Unions under the sponsorship of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and coordinated with our brother organizations across the world such as the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), the Organization of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU),the International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions (ICATU) and the All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU). Specifically, the message I am here to deliver is that just as in 1929 we have suffered a massive failure of the Circulatory System of the Global Economy, a massive stroke and heart attack whereby the circulation of purchasing power to the middle and working classes has been blocked because of a chronic inordinate and dangerous maldistribution of income and over-concentration of ownership and wealth in the capital owning classes that prevents the consuming classes—the middle, lower-middle and working classes—from being able to sustainably continue their consumer participation in the economy. The critical difference this time however is that in 1929 the Circulatory Failure of aggregate demand was within national economies, whereas in the much more globalized world of today the Circulatory Failure is within the circulatory system of an internationalized and globalized economy that functions across the world as a whole and not within any one nation. Even the well intentioned efforts at expanding the money supply—Quantitative Expansion or QE Initiatives are unlikely to have the effect intended in a globalized economy since the aggregate demand stimulated will flow in purchasing power to the low-wage developing economies like China rather than to US or EU-based production and employment, and our cross-border capital markets will channel the newly created money-supply again to the low-wage/high-profit developing economies rather than to investment in the US, EU and the developing world. Meanwhile sovereign debt crises in the EU and Federal and State budget crises in the US states will keep eroding aggregate demand. The key to restoring circulation of aggregate demand and sustainable effective purchasing power to the middle and lower classes despite the real estate bubble is to have Global Collective Bargaining, along with parallel means to raise worker and middle class incomes, including bolstering the Global Social Safety Net rather than de-funding it in the face of deficits.  Most needed are Global Unions and globalized labour organizing, collective bargaining and industrial action capable of confronting and negotiating with Multi-national corporations on a unified collective global front across all their global subsidiaries, including the “Big Stick” of last resort of effective global strikes against all global units and subsidiaries of any multinational enterprise that remains unresponsive, to redress the outrageous loss of net income to the working and middle classes and redress the loss of the effective balance of power of employees against multinational employers of the last fifty years. In the first New Deal a national solution to this collapse of the economic circulatory system was found in the construction of national labour unions and collective bargaining coupled with the social welfare safety net of the nation-state—the NLRB and labor laws, Social Security, Unemployment insurance, Workers Compensation and so forth. The trouble after 2008 is that the nation-state is no longer capable of providing the same solution because the economy is no longer national but global. National labour unions have no bargaining power in a globalized economy and a generous social safety net of the nation-state has proven unsustainable in competition with cheap-labour in developing countries often without such benefits and safety nets, allowing multinationals to export jobs and eliminate the social safety net in the nations they have turned their backs on. Because there is no system of effective global governance, and certainly no global state to balance the abuses of global capital there is, of course, no “Global Social Safety Net” to replace the failing national social safety nets. To remedy all of this we need a newer “Global New Deal” to restore the viable circulation of purchasing power between the social classes and enable the evolution of a global social safety net, or the whole system will break down, as it just did in the World Financial Crisis exploding out of the Sub-Prime Crisis. This is similar to the idea of the ‘Social Contract’ in the European Union which also needs to be part of a Globalized New Deal. With regard to the dislocations in the industrialized economies which are the natural and unavoidable result of the process of Globalization, we need a “No Worker Left Behind Policy,” analogous to the phrase utilized in education. We are making an Exodus from the old industrial economy and moving towards a Post-Industrial economy, a “Trek” as you South Africans would put it———the migration of a whole people. We must make sure that no worker or person is left behind in that transformation, just as we resolved that in education there shall be “No Child Left Behind,” or left to the wolves. That means we need just as much of a Globalization Safety Net as we needed the Social Security Safety Net that was part of the New Deal during the previous crisis of the 30’s. No person should ever be “unemployed.” Any jobless person should be in a mandatory re-training and re-education program funded by the government with a minimum subsistence stipend for participation at all times as a condition or aid, and the nation should thus be incessantly re-investing in its “Human Capital” at all times. If we can’t find an analogous solution at the global level for what the US New Deal and the European counterparts did following the 1929 crisis at the primarily nation-state level the whole global economy will implode—and explode!—-just remember the result of the melt-down after 1929 was not simply the Great Depression but also the rise of Hitler and a World War between the Fascist, Communist and bourgeois nations. The race is on to find a Global New Deal before all of that blows up. Without it people are sure to go into the streets with a powerful ‘Occupy Wall Street’ or ‘Fight Back’ populist countermeasures, good in themselves, but which may become either ineffective, mindlessly destructive or the occasion of unjust brutal repression if they are not channeled into realistic constructive change. Indeed, the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Movement needs to extend its scope of action up Manhattan Island at least as far as the United Nations to demonstrate in the streets for Robert’s United Nations Parliamentary Assembly as a first step to getting a global handle on the abuses and failures of global financial governance. Unless they realize that the Global Financial Crisis and the abuses of Wall Street are rooted in globalization and can only be cured through global governance they are sure to remain impotent and ineffective. The failure in global economic circulation is also reflected in the imbalance of the manufacturing economy and the service economy and in the imbalance of the financial economy and the real economy. The sale of goods is highly globalized, but the manufacturing sector is shrinking rapidly in the “post-industrial” developed west. The advanced economies on the other hand are expanding in the much less globalized service sector, but services are much less portable and exportable. Hence the need for a Global New Deal which opens the service sectors globally to balance the loss of jobs in the advanced countries, and the growth of unions in both manufacturing and service sectors globally to bring wages up. Without this the result will be the gutting out of the middle classes by the labor-rate arbitrage of globalization. Ultimately the deficits are unsustainable, and without a Global New Deal advanced nations will either turn back to protectionism or demand-failure depression. And in the absence of the Global New Deal the only “service sector” America is consistently succeeding in exporting is War! Contrary to the empty dream of the unrepentant Neo-Liberals or Tea Party fantasists, going back to the pre-crisis status quo ante is not an option—just as going back to the pre-1929 status quo ante was not an alternative at the nation-state level as Roosevelt proved against the Coolidge-Hoover right who disastrously attempted it in the first stage of national recovery. And I repeat at the top of my lungs—-This is not because it is morally or idealistically right, which may have its appeal to a sensitive minority, but is the result of the hard-headed conclusion that the alternative simply will not work!—which is ultimately the stronger argument for the majority and for the recalcitrant vested interests who have to be dragged in the right direction by the heels.

“That all sounds very good and humane Garry, but won’t all those New Dealesque measures cost a lot of money? What with this “Quantitive Loosening” of the money supply to finance these things by a monetary hat trick aren’t we in danger of undermining the value of the currency by inflation and devaluation?” asked Christina.

“Money is the Supreme Fiction of our times. Sometimes obsession with it makes us forget that Life and Death are the Supreme Realities. Some of the monetary Neanderthals want to go back to the gold standard to keep our money real and to head off so-called populist tampering with its value. But really we should just accept that money is just an invented tool that should be used in the service of life and not an absolute in itself. We can’t go back to the age of treating the Chairman of the Federal Reserve as a plutocrat’s tin God, and Oz-like defending the Pluto-cryptocratic Elite by shouting to the people “disregard that man behind the curtain!” Yes, money is a fiction, but we must still choose and use our fictions carefully, flexibly and pragmatically in the service of life.  To insist on balanced budgets and hard money in a time of systemic crisis is to bow to the narrow vested interests of the wealth holders of the present rather than the wealth creators of the future. That’s a Hooveresque recipe that will only prolong this depression or crisis or whatever you want to call it. Fetishing a balanced budget and a strong dollar, yen or euro will only cultivate a monetary and fiscal “Upas Tree of Java” which will poison and devastate all life around it. Sure we need to keep from going overboard with hyperinflation in managing this fiction of money and use some self-restraint to adjust its healthy relationship to reality and life, but let’s not forget the fundamental principle that money is an invented tool in the service of humanity and life and not an idol or fetishized Golden Calf that we should set up for false worship. Money is simply a flexible tool and catalyst enabling social economic interaction and measured exchanges of the fruits of human productivity. William Jennings Bryan, though no perfect man, is well remembered for his ringing phrase: “Thou shalt not crucify my people upon a cross of gold!”  When the market economy of its own contradictions, vulnerability and intrinsic instability goes off the track and is derailed in systemic crisis passive wealth holders have to, as they say, “take a haircut” for the good of the whole economy and its future health and we can’t let the dead hand of propertied wealth and their obsession with fetishizing money strangle the recovery and the full re-mobilization of human productivity. We have to focus on the big picture and the long-term enlightened interest of the whole community and the community of nations of the world.”

Let me give you a little background to explain what I mean, if I can tax your patience for a few minutes………….It is no accident that the Taft-Hartley Act in the United States that set up the basic framework for national industry-wide collective bargaining occurred as a response to the last general economic crisis of this magnitude—the Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression that followed. That showed that the free market by itself, contrary to false-idealizing Free Market ideologues then and now, would not respond to any quasi-divine “Invisible Hand” and achieve a magical balance of interests in the distribution of income and benefits from industrial enterprise. That “invisible hand” was “invisible’ for the very good reason that it was not there and in large part did not exist!——Or the working and middle classes discovered that the only occupation of such an invisible hand was in invisibly picking their pockets for the benefit of the capital controlling classes. The New Deal in America and socialist reforms across Europe and the world recognized that the power of overly-concentrated industrial and financial capital would not only result in abuse of power but in positive self-destruction unless constrained by the balancing power of both a regulating strengthened democratic state and, equally importantly, through the balancing power of legally protected and flourishing labour unions which would ultimately utilize their enhanced bargaining power within that marketplace to win a fairer distribution of the benefits of productive enterprise vis-à-vis exploitative ownership and capital, and a strengthened social safety net, both within and emanating from the enterprise, and as part of the state.

Thus it was only with the New Deal in the US that unions won national legal protection and sponsorship and were able to organize nationally and collectively organize and confront the new national-scale industrial enterprises like General Motors, US Steel and Ford, threatening them with effective strikes and shutdowns if they failed to reach equitable settlements. The result of all this is what we now call the “Social Contract.” Corporations made good profits, yes, but were also forced to provide their workers through collective bargaining union contracts with health insurance, pensions, unemployment benefits and severance pay, and they were forced to pay taxes, including new progressive income taxes, inheritance taxes, and corporate taxes to support Social Security, welfare, Medicare and Medicaid, Food Stamps, universal primary and higher education and other public benefits of the social safety net underpinning and making possible the sustainable free marketplace. Thus the New Deal and analogous socialist reforms in Europe in the last crisis resulted in a workable tri-partite balance of power and benefits between capital, labour and the state.

Where did all this break down? It ended with the progressive Globalization of the world economy after the Sixties. What we call “union density” or the prevalence of unions in the labour marketplace plummeted from that time. In the Fifties around 30% of American workers were unionized, including strong national unions with strong bargaining power in key industry sectors such as steel, automobiles, transportation, and other industries where a strike could bring things to a general halt. Now after fifty years of globalization only 12% of American workers are unionized, and only 8% in the private sector. The bankruptcy of General Motors and other firms in the new World Financial Crisis saw the final dismantling of the union pension plans and health plans and a rolling back of wages—-in short a complete gutting out of everything that was won by the ordinary worker since 1929. But likewise 2008 also proved incontrovertibly that if aggregate workers’ wage benefits are cut back over and over, shrinking as a percentage of GDP, and thereby their ability to service their inflating mortgage loans and maintain their consumption disintegrates into default, then the whole financial system will come tumbling down Humpty-Dumpty after them.

Why? Well we’d need an encyclopedia to include all the contributing causes but we’d find the asymmetrical and unbalanced Globalization of the economy is at the root of most of them. Ownership and capital moved with freedom across national boundaries in a globalizing world and new industrial capacity was relocated readily to developing countries where wage and benefit rates were miniscule. On the other hand, what happened to labour unions? Labour unions did not go international with their companies. General Motors workers in Shanghai should by law or practice be part of the same union and collective bargaining as those in Detroit, and if the company fails to deliver higher benefits in all its subsidiaries a global strike should effectively shut down the enterprise worldwide until it changes its mind. Rather than eliminating health and pension benefits of UAW workers in America in bankruptcy proceedings, the real solution is to make those same benefits mandatory for the GM workers in Shanghai and Brazil, or at least relative to their proportionate compensation. And any company like Wal-Mart that engages in union busting should be broken up and banned from international trade or the international sourcing of supplies and operations by the collective action of national governments secured by international treaties and labour organizations to that effect—and likewise the same fate should be given to phony communist unions and company unions that are in bed with or in the pocket of the state and employers and don’t have the freedom or incentive to organize and fight for their members rights and interests.

            A case in point, illustrating the tragedy of the creative genius of globalized American capitalism is the saga of Apple Computer’s iPod, iPhone, iPad. Here we can be rightly proud of the creativity and innovation of Steve Jobs and Apple, creating products, like Edison’s light bulb, movie camera and phonograph, which have literally changed and re-shaped the world. Yet what is the result for the American worker? Almost no iPhones and iPads are manufactured in the United States, and the power of unions to bargain fairly with the colossus of capital is virtually non-existent in this sector at home and abroad. Instead, almost all iPads and iPhones, phenomenally dominating their markets, are made by subcontractors like Foxconn in China, which employs over one million workers in such dismal conditions that a national scandal has erupted in China over the mass suicides of Foxconn workers subjected to inhuman conditions on endless assembly lines that would make Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times look humane and utopian in comparison. Apple Computer was found recently to have more cash-on-hand than the Federal government! Yet most of that cash is idle and not even being reinvested in Apple so as to create new jobs in its own company or anywhere. Where are the global unions that would represent Apple workers and Foxconn workers alike globally in a common union with common collective negotiations backed up by the power of global strikes backed by consumer support such as to force global improvement in their dismal wages and working conditions such that they get a fair share of the pie and that the global social safety net is sustainably maintained?  When are Foxconn and Apple workers going to stop commiting suicide and begin going on global strikes for the better wages and working conditions they deserve, with supporting boycotts of Apple customers if they don’t comply? What an affront to human dignity in the Kafkaesque failure of Asian companies like Foxconn in introducing the further dehumanizing control of their workers through the newly popular “Electronic Fingerprint Recognition” devices as a means to fine and punish workers even one-minute late to the assembly line, which in some cases had to be abandoned for the ironic reason that too many of the assembly-line workers had had their fingerprints “erased” as if by sandpaper by the the constant friction of their fingertips on the electronic parts and products they assembled! Here we see the market in capital and products being effectively globalized, but the necessary counterbalance of global union organization and redress of a vacuum of collective bargaining power being strangled in its cradle. The resulting severe imbalances from such unbalanced and one-sided globalization is now recognized as completely unsustainable, and threatens not just the well being of the workers and middle-classes themselves, but the viability through them of the entire financial system and economic system.

 The main problem is that the “Social Contract” that gave us a workable balance of industrial power from 1929 to say 1970 has been broken by a globalization that only worked for one party of the three-legged balance—capital, and not for the other two legs—-labour and the democratic regulatory state, which have been rendered globally ineffective and impotent in relative and absolute terms.  

But just as the Climate Change and Global Warming Crises have demonstrated that there are feedback mechanisms which cannot be escaped however much anyone tries to ignore them, so also with the toxic economic feedback mechanisms causing the World Financial Crisis. How did the Crisis occur? In part from the inability of the average American or European to carry the weight of mortgage debt required to maintain their standard of living. Why?At root because the real wages and purchasing power of the average American and most European workers and working middle classes have not risen or even actually declined for thirty years, in real terms and as a proportion of GDP, under the influence of unbalanced globalization while the cost of living, particularly the cost of housing, rose constantly. With the failure of the bargaining power of labour the only means for maintaining that standard of living was through the appreciation in value of the one principal asset of the common worker, the house he or she owned, or perhaps a small portfolio of equities in their retirement plans. Working and Middle-class homeowners were forced to use their houses as ATM’s to finance their consumption out of the capital gains and equity accruing from the inflation of their house’s appreciating market value. Demagogues denounced this as irresponsibility and the result of irrational credit and credit card binges. It may have been a little of that, some irresponsible overspending certainly, but in large part it simply reflected the failure of the capital owning classes to fairly distribute the productivity gains of a globalized economy to the working and middle classes that had built that economy and made it possible. Their proportionately shrinking aggregate incomes could not keep up with the stretch and strain required. The ignored cause of the Financial Crisis, beyond the excesses of the sub-prime mortgage lenders and the intricacies of credit default swaps, was the failure of wages and employment benefits to rise to keep up with necessary expenditures of the ordinary household, including most saliently their housing costs. In effect globalized industrial capital learned, or should have learned from the World Financial Crisis that strangling labour and denying it any participation in the economic benefits of globalization was in effect preventing the circulation of the necessary consumer power necessary to sustainably purchase their own industrial products and services and sustain the companies themselves. Their greed was cutting off their own noses to spite their faces. In the end the financial crisis was caused by the inordinate build-up of debt, particularly mortgage debt on the consumer side and over-leveraged corporate debt on the supply-side—–but the key factor on the consumer side is that the slide into consumer debt has not been caused by overspending but by imposed and exploitative underearning rendering existing consumption and rising debt service unsustainable, all in turn largely caused by imbalanced globalization and the unfair and unsustainable loss of bargaining power of labor; plus the cancerous growth of the hypersophisticated unproductive financial sector draining more and more from the real economy. The same loss of labour’s earning power is ironically just as true in “Communist” China and other developing countries where the percentage of GDP received as personal income and benefits has shrunk even during the economic miracle of a dramatic rise of GDP. The Chinese worker is even more exploited than the American even though he may put the American out of his job as he creates more Chinese billionaires. Demagogues on both sides then foment the one side against the other—the Americans shrieking at the Chinese worker to spend more and save less, and the Chinese ranting at the American to spend less and save more, while the true villain in the piece is their common employers and their collusive states and political establishments that have reduced the percentage of GDP going to workers on both sides of the Pacific to an intolerable and unsustainable level. And similarly the so-called “National Debt Crisis” is another false construction—–not caused by “overspending” as in the mindless rant of the Tea Party, but the majority of the deficit caused by the Reagan-Bush tax cuts to the upper income and wealth-holding elite, inheritance tax gutting, and wastage on the Iraq and other wars in the service not of the American people but of the narrow oil, military-industrial complex, and Israeli interests, and from the ageing of the nation through demographic change.

 And, an additional side effect of the imbalanced globalization leading to this shrinkage of personal income from wages is the smashing of the family, where now both husband and wife must work at reduced wage levels to keep the family afloat economically, destroying their ability to devote themselves or their resources to the family itself, causing increased divorce, delinquency, maleducation and social problems—-a fortiori for the hyper-exploited migrant labor class in China—–and making the hypocritical protestations of the capital owning classes to champion “family values” and “Confucian values” an empty farce…………………”

“You may well be right on the matter of China” interjected Sartorius, “I lived many years there and watched the growth of their capital and labour markets. Their competitive advantage derived from low wages, high foreign investment and protection of state capital, multinational and private big capital making them into a manufacturing economic powerhouse, accounting for up to half of the US merchandise trade deficit. But the working class and most of the middle-class in China is effectively locked out of the benefits of this prosperity. The government outlaws free labour unions—incredibly in a Communist country!—and the Party controlled unions do nothing for the workers but are in service to the party and state, rented out to the highest bidder. There is no effective independent labour organization, collective bargaining and use of the strike to increase wages and benefits. The result? China systematically exploits its working population in both the labour markets and the capital markets. Banned free unions keep wages low, but interest paid by banks is strictly controlled so that working people derive little profit from savings, ironically forcing them to save even more and exacerbate the trade deficit with the industrialized countries. Nowadays real interest rates are negative—subsidizing the state and state-owned and big capital sectors which receive artificially cheap loans while workers lose money on their savings—-you get 2.3% interest on your saving accounts fixed by law, but inflation is 2.8% and rising towards 6% levels. Result? You lose money by putting it in the bank and the only effective alternative investment is speculation in the real estate, commodities or immature stock markets, which creates bubbles for future disasters. Yet to your chagrin you have to save even more to make up for the fact that your savings are falling in value relative to what you need to purchase in the future—housing inflated by the collusion of corrupt local government and Communist Party leaders and property developers bleeding working people white in the real estate markets, education for your children and your retirement without an effective social security system.  The further result is that wage compensation in real terms as a percentage of GDP has steadily decreased during the boom of the last twenty years, though rising in absolute terms. Bearing the brunt of the exploitation are the hundreds of millions of migrant workers unable to unionize and used, abused and shipped back to their countryside villages. Marx advocated a classless society but China exploits a new lower class—the hukouless migrant New-Proletariat. On the supply and capital side the over-profitability of capital leads to gross overinvestment in surplus capacity, causing further export surpluses and wastage of social resources. The simple fact is that in terms of a circulatory system the money is not circulating through China back into the outside world in any sustainable way—hence the two and three trillion dollar foreign exchange buildup——and significantly it is not even circulating back to the Chinese working and middle classes effectively.  Because wages are artificially low Chinese workers and consumers do not buy American and European goods (or notably services) in sufficient quantity. Profits build up for the entrepreneurial and capital-owning classes, but strict government control of the capital account prevents even them from recirculating their excess profits even in the form of individual overseas portfolio investment or personal investment of the wealthy or middle-classes in stock and securities markets of the USA, Europe or elsewhere because they are prohibited from personally directly buying foreign stocks and bonds for investment or retirement accounts. The surplus capital derived from China’s formidable export surpluses since she joined the WTO thus can’t recirculate back to the West and elsewhere in either the trade account through Chinese consumption or in the capital account through Chinese individual investment abroad. The result? The excess liquidity builds up in two places: in the excess foreign currency reserves of the Chinese treasury, and in the general economy it builds up in unsustainable bubbles in the real-estate and fixed investment sector and in the immature stock market and commodity runs and crashes unrelated to the underlying productivity of the listed companies but only a function of excess liquidity seeking somewhere to go, cut off from much more profitable and sustainable foreign investments. The excess liquidity only recirculates back into US Treasury securities, unhealthily and unstably funding the US fiscal deficit. The funds should be recirculating in the trade and capital accounts through Chinese consumer import purchases and Chinese wealth-holders personal investments abroad but these channels are cut off by nationalist and mercantilist Chinese controls. The final result? As economists like Paul Krugman and others have aptly pointed out, you then have massive circulatory failure in the global economy, a stroke, with a liquidity embolism building up in China which is going to burst sooner or later if there is no change and quite possibly provoke another crash or deeper systemic crisis along these unstable fault lines.” Sartorius agreed.

“Exactly! That’s exactly the point I have been trying to make!” jumped back Garry, “What then are the lessons we take away from the World Financial Crisis? The first lesson is that markets are not self-correcting and in fact in the adverse conditions of a financial panic are apt to melt-down under systemic risks, system failure and malfunctions. Therefore the Neo-Liberal illusory dream of the invisible hand of the market serving as the invisible hand of God’s justice is demagoguery. Governments must remain strong and vigilant in their regulation and balancing of power vis-a-vis industrial and financial interests and in the public interest, both national and international. Second, we must accept that the market system will periodically run amok and collapse and that therefore the state and the international collectivity of states and international organizations must use their powers to maintain an adequate Safety Net for times of recession, trade imbalance, depression and systemic breakdown. By safety nets, I mean not only sustainable aid for the hard-stricken workers but also the systemic safety nets capable of stopping meltdowns and preventing irrational bankruptcies in the corrupted financial sector or other sectors in systemic crisis, and for which the bailout costs are imposed on the capital owning classes in times of recovery through either full re-compensation of the public or public assumption of full or partial equity-ownership. Third, we must come to grips with the gutting out of the New Deal safety net previously based on a long-term benefit-sharing relationship between labor and capital which no longer exists or functions. It is clear that to the modern multinationals, apart from their highly paid managerial and technocratic elite core, workers are disposable in its struggle to survive in intensified global competition and that therefore they are unwilling to maintain the pension plans, job security, health plans and other social safety net expenses within the enterprise that formerly prevailed from the era of collective bargaining. General Motors’ gutting out of labor benefits is the exemplary case of erasing all that has been won for fifty years. Given this reality the safety net must be either taken up by an enlarged state in concert with new international “Social Contract Treaties” which impose the same burdens on all enterprises globally, or concerted legislation must force the enterprises to do so without the escape route of offshoring to jurisdictions without such safety net burdens. It is both unacceptable and unsustainable for enterprises and financial intermediaries to privatize profits while socializing costs and risks at the expense of taxpayers and working people. We cannot be deterred by the right-wing red-herring of “socialism”—-the benefits the New Deal secured for industrial workers must be secured from gutting out by unbalanced globalization and guaranteed to all workers and if the enterprise cannot accomplish this, then, just as in the case of the New Deal, there must be an acceptance of an increased responsibility of the state for being forced to take over the Safety Net resulting from the default of the capital-owning classes at the enterprise level from this obligation, and there must be a general acceptance of an increased responsibility of the capital owning classes to pay taxes for this burden which they are shunting off onto the state by disburdening their enterprises of equitable wages and fringe benefits and by international tax-flight.  Fourth, the bailout of the hypocritically “too big to fail” investment banks and the financial sector has egregiously transferred immense wealth from and imposed incalculable future burdens and liabilities upon the ordinary worker and taxpayer to the benefit of the financial sector. Never have so many given so much to so few, and so unjustly! The financial enterprises must be therefore be held to a standard of public trust—they can no longer operate as mere private enterprises for private gain, regardless of whether and when they pay back the short-term bail out loans—having underwritten their survival the taxpayers, workers and citizens have become irrevocable stakeholders in those enterprises and capital and management will ignore their interests at their own peril, including reasonable intervention by the state in their outrageous conduct to prevent predatory externalized risk creation if necessary to the public interest. Fifth, government regulation must end the abusive “externalities” of the present abusive system by which private profit and irrational risk taking by the financial elite imposes systemic risk on other institutions, the state and the taxpaying public at no cost to the perpetrators. In particular this means a firm regulation and control of such egregious instruments as credit default swaps and a firm re-imposition of their externalities and costs upon the capital owning classes which exploit them. Just as firms must be made to pay for the externality of the pollution they cause, so they must be made to pay for the externalized systemic risks their abusive risk creation imposes on others. We have come full circle in 2008 back to 1929, and we now know that Keynsian economics still works and is vital for regulation and calibrating the market system and the corporate, financial and moneyed elite sectors must be harnessed to bear their share of the necessary burden, with “risk-adjusted” increases in the tax and penalty on speculative income, capital gains, inheritance and wealth taxes as needed to restore the circulation of spending power to the working and middle-classes on a globalized basis. We have to overturn the myopic and class-biased Reagan revolution of Offensive Tax-Cuts and strict monetary policy only focused on preventing inflation and imposition of artificial deficits on the public sector via the bogus tactic of lowering taxes for the upper classes thus creating a False Deficit. Sixth, we cannot trust the marketplace to discount risk by itself, and we need strict regulation of the derivatives market, including the infamous “credit default swaps.”—we can no longer accept that financial innovations are a good in and of themselves ignoring the horrific systemic externalities they impose on others and the general public for private gain. Credit-Default Swaps are essentially a predatory Class Instrument—–those within the golden circle of capital ownership mutually guarantee themselves against loss, even beyond their financial capacity, creating a Guaranteed Class. Those outside the golden circle—workers, government, consumers and the taxpayer—they are relegated to the Unguaranteed Class that will be forced to transfer present and future wealth to the Guaranteed Class—The “Too Big to Fail” Class to bail them out of their unsustainable conspiracy against the public. We need stronger regulation of such instruments, accounting standards and a rooting out of institutionalized financial fraud to stabilize markets globally…………………..

………………….The amount of individual freedom a people, or all the peoples of the world may keep depends on its collective political maturity. The maturity of the masses of the people depends on their ability to recognize their own interests. In history a pendulum swings back and forth between relative liberation and repression. The swing towards the loss of freedom begins with the panic and delusion of a headless people driven to stampede by a demagogic and predatory reactionary elite and the tools and mignons which serve them. Every quantum leap of technological and economic progress leaves the intellectual development of the people or the masses of peoples a step behind. It takes a considerable time for their values and understandings to adjust and adapt to the novel circumstances. The demagogic manipulators of the right are far quicker in identifying and defending the narrow self-interests of their own and those they serve. In the present era the universal phenomenon of Globalization as accelerated at breakneck speed has left the consciousness of the “People of Peoples” of the world, not to speak of the outmoded institutions of the nation-state, far behind, causing their political maturity to regress in the unfamiliar new global landscape. A mistake of the idealists of democratic and socialist consciousness has been to assume that mass-consciousness by benign historical laws could only rise and rise constantly and never regress. Many pessimists and cynics would cite Pareto’s Iron Law of Oligarchy, whereby every economic and political system is subject to perversion and corruption by a small minority who seek to forcibly monopolize the control of resources and power—an Iron Law of Predatory Leverage, whereby under any and all social and economic systems a tiny oligarchic elite ineradicably seeks to secure and monopolize illegitimate advantages to the harm and detriment of the majority and institutionalize them as rentier class privileges—the guaranteed profits of the Guaranteed Class—the Financial Rent Seeking/Rent Keeping Class.  They would have us believe that the predatory stateless financial elite, the “hot money,” and its economic oppression and its stranglehold on the newly globalized economic system is unopposable and unreformable. They would label futile our attempts to build a system of global governance to balance the abusive excesses of that stateless kleptocratic financial elite, constituting itself into a new rentier class of unproductive stateless usurious exploiters—our investment banks and their ilk and hangers on, hitherto unrestrainable by any state, combinations of states, or supra-national institutions of governance. They would label as hopeless the gullible mass movements such as the Tea Party, who as the unthinking and unteachably manipulated dupes of the financially controlled media buy into the mindless rant of neo-liberal ideology and end up both destroying their own interests and serving the interests of predatory capital rather than the people or any fair and sustainable system of global governance——a peculiarly though not exclusively American mental disease. Hence our latest conundrum before the latest swing of the pendulum following the World Financial Crisis……….Is our situation hopeless then? By no means!—-I am still moved by the native optimism of being an American and a child of the Enlightenment—–As our former HEW Secretary John W. Gardner was wont to say: “We are continually faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems!”—I believe there are the makings of a quantum leap forward in our present morass……….

     ………………What then is the way out? Am I or the labour movement against globalization per se? Absolutely not. We are internationalists and in particular labour internationalists in a long tradition. We could never turn back the clock of history even if we weren’t. Is a communist revolution and command economy the answer? The history of China and Eastern Europe also show the pitfalls of that path in terms of both economic stagnation and inefficiency and loss of individual and entrepreneurial liberty, to the extent that even the Chinese Communists have largely abandoned it. They endorse a “Socialist-market Economy,” or a mixed economy in which a vibrant and innovative marketplace plays a vital role alongside and including a state sector which provides a social safety net and regulatory framework. We need that at a minimum, though striking the proper balance may well come down differently, preserving many more of the strengths of the free market system while reining in and eliminating its weaknesses and abuses. Despite the opium dreams of the Tea Party there is no way to unglobalize the world economy and go back to a faux-ideal of self-sufficiency, hard work and an imagined ‘invisible hand’ of a fictitiously idealized marketplace, unless we take the path of hermit countries like North Korea and accept their levels of poverty—and we would probably then later need to confront a world war with whoever did dominate the global economy in our stead. What we need is more globalization not less globalization—-that is globalization of the labour movement and collective bargaining as well as globalization of the New Deal institutions of the regulatory state and social safety net to balance the runaway abuses of globalized and globally irresponsible capital. We don’t need an EU bailout of Greece—–we need an EU assumption of the Europe-wide costs of the international social safety net based on an expanded and balanced international tax-base including taxes on international financial transactions. And we need a rebalancing of the maldistribution of the fruits of the increases of productivity of the new globalized economy, conferring higher wages and benefits and sustainably restoring purchasing power to the working and middle classes across the globe to prevent purchasing power circulatory meltdown. To correct the imbalances of the overgrowth of the financial sector vis-à-vis the real economy, much but not all of it viscious, irresponsible and predatory, we need strong and international financial regulation and a firm shifting of tax burdens onto unearned financial profits, unearned gains from financial speculation and short-term speculative securities trading. To counter this Neo-Disraeli-like growth of two-nations, Rich and Poor, we need a firm shifting of the tax burden onto the Neo-rich, with Excise taxes on luxury items during time of severe recession, claw-back of higher tax-rates on the rich recovering from the pseudo-deficits of the Reagan-Bush tax cuts for the rich, and we even need to shift from mere Income Tax to a Wealth Tax, administered on financial assets on an ongoing basis as well as through inheritance taxes on death. The sheer demagoguery of the right, calling this “class war” seeks to ignore that the class war, if there is one, was started by the conscienceless upper class offensive of faux-deficits brought on by the Reagan-Bush tax cuts for the rich, the imbalanced globalization of capital while gutting out national social safety nets, social security and collective bargaining, and the excess military spending of the neo-Imperialist wars and the overgrowth of the ‘Military-Industrial Complex’ which Eisenhower warned so much against.   Keynes demanded this at the national level in the 30’s and would demand the same at the international, EU-wide and globalized level after 2008 were he alive today. And this rebalancing of international trade and of the benefits of globalization needs to be equally effective in the service sector that is increasingly the dominant sector of most advanced economies, as well as in the traditional areas of industry and agriculture. China and the emerging market countries need to liberalize access to services, the dominant part of developed economies,  including financial services for individual Chinese from the West to balance their freer access to the developed world under the old WTO in their dominant sector of manufactured products such as textiles so that the structural trade gap can be controlled and growth in both the developed and developing world can be sustainable.  That is also why I am on your side in fighting for the United Nations Parliamentary Assembly as a means of strengthening the international public sector functions necessary to preserve a “Globalized Social Contract” or “International Social Contract” as one might say in the European Union, or an “International New Deal” as we might put it in plain old American. Two crucial keys needed to restored balance would be globalized labour unions and effective globalized collective bargaining through them and a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly to give strength, effectiveness and democratic legitimacy to globally operating public institutions commensurate with the now globalized economy and generally globalized society and environment. So I would say that I and Robert are here for the same essential purpose.

“Well Garry, I am now in the camp of reform, but in my hotter days I was on the workers’ revolutionary side. Do you think the crisis after 2008 requires that we revive the idea of revolution—-go back to an ideal of a socialist revolution overthrowing an oppressive and exploitative class system and replacing capitalism with something new altogether?—–I often muse—-ambivalent—–that we are just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic and that we need to be more radical and bold altogether.” Sartorius asked.

“Robert, if we could enter paradise, Shambhala, Utopia or the infinitely creative society with a revolution I would personally be willing to try. The communist and socialist revolutions were betrayed by their founding parties and powerholders who cared more for their own power than the principles of the revolution, but even those principles were perhaps flawed with contradictions or unworkability. I would join or lead the revolution if it would work. It remains more a myth than a reality. But if the reality deteriorates to a nightmare and the alternative is more clearly workable I would not exclude the possibility of returning to that route. Now I am in the reform camp but a return to revolution is conceivable. How to combine the social idealism and safety net of socialism with the energy, enterprise, innovation and creativity of free enterprise and a free people are a conundrum. Consider also the costs against the benefits of revolution. But some choices are more fundamental than gain or loss. At this point in history I would say let us try the path of peaceful, albeit forceful reform. If the vested interests, selfish elites, plutocratic and autocratic power holders and the Establishment are enlightened enough to work peacefully for and accept effective reform on behalf of the working class and majority of the peoples of the world I am willing to cooperate. But as John F. Kennedy was want so say in my youth: “If we make peaceful revolution impossible, we make violent revolution inevitable.” So I would try to make common cause with the existing establishment to bring about the needed peaceful evolution and revolution while there is a modicum of good faith and good cause for hope. But, consistent with Teddy Roosevelt’s dictum to “talk softly but carry a big stick” I would advise the workers, unions, workers movements and the majority of the populace to try to empower  themselves peacefully through global common action and enabling legal reforms, but if the state is hijacked and use of corrupt police, money-dominated faux-democratic politics and unrepresentative laws are used, as they so often are, by the narrow interests of capital or autocratic selfishness, then I would advise that the labour and people’s movements take preventative measures such as formation of worker’s militias, self-defense corps and aggressive strikes capable of resisting the predictable repressions of repressive capital or their allied de-legitimatized state or states. Even as Jefferson in the American Declaration of Independence maintains, along with the French, when the government or its controlling elite breaks the Social Contract, then the People retain a right of revolution, even violent revolution, until a legitimate government is created or restored. But we should be responsible and try the path of peaceful revolution first, such as attempting a more balanced globalization, globalization of the social safety net and the creation of your United Nations Parliamentary Assembly with its re-imagined United Nations, which I sometimes nickname the “Imagine Nations!”

“I am completely with you….”  added Wole Obatala, “…..and if American and European workers have suffered from this imbalance of bargaining power vis-à-vis the multinational corporations, how much more so have the African workers suffered because of their even greater deficit of bargaining power in a distorted marketplace.”

Copyright Robert Sheppard 2012 All Rights Reserved

Introducing Spiritus Mundi, a Novel by Robert SheppardA

Author’s E-mail: rsheppard99_2000@yahoo.com

Related Links and Websites: Spiritus Mundi, Novel by Robert Sheppard

For Introduction and Overview of the Novel: https://spiritusmundinovel.wordpress.com/

For Updates on the Upcoming Movie Version of the Novel, Spiritus Mundi & Casting of Actors and Actresses for Leading Roles See: https://robertalexandersheppard.wordpress.com/

For Author’s Blog: https://robertalexandersheppard.wordpress.com//

To Read Abut the Occupy Wall Street Movement in Spiritus Mundi:  http://occupywallstreetnovel.wordpress.com/

To Read a Sample Chapter from Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundisamplechapters.wordpress.com/

To Read Fantasy, Myth and Magical Realism Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundifantasymythandmagicalrealism.wordpress.com/

To Read Sexual Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: The Varieties of Sexul Experience: https://spiritusmundivarietiesofsexualexperience.wordpress.com/

To Read Spy, Espionage and Counter-terrorism Thriller Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: http://spiritusmundispyespionagecounterterrorism.wordpress.com/

To Read Geopolitical and World War Three Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundigeopoliticalworldwar3.wordpress.com/

To Read Spiritual and Religious Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundionspiritualityandreligion.wordpress.com/

To Read about the Global Campaign for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly in Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundiunitednationsparliamentaryassembly.wordpress.com/

To Read Poetry from Spiritus Mundihttps://spiritusmundipoetry.wordpress.com/

For Discussions on World Literature and Literary Criticism in Spiritus Mundi: http://worldliteratureandliterarycriticism.wordpress.com/

For Discussions of World History and World Civilization in Spiritus Mundi: https://worldhistoryandcivilizationspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

To Read the Blog of Eva Strong from Spiritus Mundi: https://evasblogfromspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

To Read the Blog of Andreas Sarkozy from Spiritus Mundi: http://andreasblogfromspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

To Read the Blog of Yoriko Oe from Spiritus Mundi: http://yorikosblogfromspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

To Read the Blog of Robert Sartorius from Spiritus Mundi: http://sartoriusblogfromspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/
“Read Robert Sheppard’s sprawling, supple novel, Spiritus Mundi, an epic story of global intrigue and sexual and spiritual revelation. Compelling characters, wisdom insight, and beautiful depictions of locations all over the world will power you through the book. You’ll exit wishing the story lines would go on and on.” May 13, 2012

Robert McDowell, Editor, Writer, Marketer, Editorial Cra, The Nature of Words


“Robert Sheppard’s new novel “Spiritus Mundi” is a new twist on a well-loved genre. Robert leaves no stone unturned in this compelling page turner you’ll experience mystery, suspense, thrills, and excitement. Robert touches on sexuality and spirituality in such a way that the reader is compelled to ask themselves “what would you do if faced with these trials?” Robert is a master at taking the reader out of their own lives and into the world he created. If you’re looking for a “can’t put down” read pick up Spiritus Mundi!” May 20, 2012

Nicole Breanne, Content Coordinator, Ranker.com

“Robert Sheppard’s exciting new novel, Spiritus Mundi, is an unforgettable read and epic journey of high adventure and self-discovery across the scarred landscape of the modern world and into the mysteries beyond. Its compelling saga reveals the sexual and spiritual lives of struggling global protesters and idealists overcoming despair, nuclear terrorism, espionage and a threatened World War III to bring the world together from the brink of destruction with a revolutionary United Nations Parliamentary Assembly and spiritual rebirth. This modern epic is a must read and compelling vision of the future for all Citizens of the Modern World and a beacon of hope pointing us all towards a better world struggling against all odds to be born.” May 19, 2012

Lara Biyuts, Reviewer and Blogger at Goodreads.com and Revue Blanche


“Robert Sheppard’s “Spiritus Mundi” is a book of major importance and depth. I must read for any thinking, compassionate human being living in these perilous times. I highly recommend this powerful testament of the current course of our so-called life on his planet. April 25, 2012

Doug Draime Writer, Freelance


This new novel ‘Spiritus Mundi’ brings together history, politics, future society, and blends with a plausible World War Three scenario. I have read it and find it over the top fascinating. I am very glad to see Robert share his creativity with the world through this work of fiction, and know it will be a huge hit.” April 28, 2012

Jim Rogers, Owner and Director, AXL


About robertalexandersheppard

Robert Sheppard , Author, Poet & Novelist Pushcart Prize fof Literature 2014 Nominee Professor of World and Comparative Literature Professor of International Law Senior Associate, Committee for a Democratic United Nations (KDUN) E-mail: rsheppard99_2000@yahoo.com Robert Sheppard is the author of the acclaimed dual novel Spiritus Mundi, nominated for the prestigious 2014 Pushcart Prize for Literature in two parts, Spiritus Mundi the Novel, Book I and Spiritus Mundi the Romance, Book II. The acclaimed “global novel” features espionage-terror-political-religious-thriller action criss-crossing the contemporary world involving MI6, the CIA and Chinese MSS Intelligence as well as a "People Power" campaign to establish a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly on the model of the European Parliament, with action moving from Beijing to London to Washington, Mexico City and Jerusalem while presenting a vast panorama of the contemporary international world, including compelling action and surreal adventures. It also contains the unfolding sexual, romantic and family relationships of many of its principal and secondary characters, and a significant dimension of spiritual searching through "The Varieties of Religious Experience." It contains also significant discussions of World Literature, including Chinese, Indian, Western and American literature, and like Joyce's Ulysses, it incorposates a vast array of stylistic approaches as the story unfolds. Dr. Sheppard presently serves as a Professor of International Law and World Literature at Peking University, Northeastern University and the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of China, and has previously served as a Professor of International Law and MBA professor at Tsinghua University, Renmin People’s University, the China University of Politics and Law and at the Law Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) in Beijing, China. Having studied Law, Comparative Literature and politics at the University of California, Berkeley (Ph. D.Program in Comparative Literature), Northridge, Tübingen, Heidelberg, the People’s College and San Francisco, (BA, MA, JD), he additionally has been active as professor of International Trade, Private International Law, and Public International Law from 1993 to 1998 at Xiamen University, Beijing Foreign Studies University, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Graduate School (CASS), and the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing. In the US he serves as a Professor at Kean University, as well as having taught at Bergen Community College and Pillar College in NJ. Since 2000 he has served as a Senior Consultant to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Beijing and has authored numerous papers on the democratic reform of the United Nations system.
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