Universal History, Neoliberalism, Globalization, and Comparative Advantage: Or the Occidental Hangover

This is an introduction to longer ongoing blog. I’m publishing it here mostly for feedback. Any comments would be greatly appreciated — please be nice thank you.

Liberalism is a centrifugal political force that has defined — or at least helped define — national and international relations since the 18th century. It was — and in some cases, still is — an ideology of freedom and liberty for the individual. Liberals believe in democracy and capitalism. Though capitalism is not a necessary and sufficient belief for being a liberal — Pinochet liked capitalism, but not liberalism. In the 19th century, when European and the American Empire spread across the world, it sought to Enlighten savage people and set them on the course democratic freedom, capitalism, and liberalism — more or less. In the eighteenth century, Scottish and French scholars devised a time line of human development. It started with the savages who did not own property, they did not till the land, instead they merely hunted and gathered. According to Hobbes, their lives were nasty brutish and short. The second link in the chain came with simple horticulture and pastoralism. 18th century contemporaries called this barbarism. Finally, humans discovered agriculture, which launched them into the final stage — Civilization. This, they called Universal History. It was based on the evidence collected from myriad cultures during Europe’s expansion across the globe and scholars hope that they could create a social science with the same predicative and manipulative success as natural science — we’re still struggling with this aspect. As you can probably tell, Universal History was anything but Universal. For Eighteenth century intellectuals, Universal merely meant European — or some form of European — something Europeans could easily understand.

Universal history was intimately tied up with the idea of progress. How else would they be able to teach savages to plant grain, if humans could not develop according to the universal natural laws of history. Many Enlightenment philosophies, especially those of natural law have been discarded by today’s standards, but somehow Universal History, according to Brett Bowden, remains intact. Though not completely. Most intellectuals have given up on the teleological dialectic to civilization, but they believe in progress and development — hell! They have to.

Institutions such as the IMF, the World Bank, and other institutions aim at helping troubled countries develop industries with which they can use to compete in the global market, thereby enriching themselves and the people in their nation. This idea, of course, relies on the idea of development. A c countries development has to grow beyond the initial loans and interest provided to the country by the IMF. But many countries in the Global South have problems meeting these demands, so the IMF sets up a Structural Readjustment Program, where the IMF effectively governs the nation, through a proxy, under the rubric of neo-liberal capitalism and comparative advantage.

Neoliberal capitalism emerged in Western countries, America and Britain, because of stagflation. The solution for stagflation, according to supply-side economists, was less government interference in business and incentives for manufacturers (producers) rather than incentives for consumers (demand-side). However, in June 2016, IMF admitted that “instead of delivering growth, some neoliberal policies have increased inequality, in turn jeopardizing durable expansion.”[1]

Asking if the International Monetary Fund supports economic neoliberalism is like asking if the Pope is Catholic — the answer is so obvious it seems silly to even raise the question. The IMF has been one of the principle endorsers of neoliberalism — an ideology that promotes free markets, free trade, and small government — for decades.

That is what makes it so shocking that the IMF recently released a paper titled “Neoliberalism: Oversold?” questioning the efficacy of a program that has been the basis of mainstream economic policy in most of the Western world since the end of the Cold War.[2]

This means that the Structural Readjustment Policies were wrong and that they created the very problems they sought to avoid. This is far from an “oops” moment, before looking at the ramifications in light of Universal History, we should turn to comparative advantage — because it only makes matters worse.

Comparative advantage is an economic theory whereby two countries conduct their trade so as to exploit one another’s mutual productive capabilities. For instance, let us say that two countries produce both bicycles and butter. Country 1 has an absolute advantage of producing better bicycles and butter over country 2. Bicycles bring Country 1 more revenue, but in order to supply the demand for butter, they must reduce bicycle production enough so that they can also produce butter — this is their opportunity cost. But if Country 1 trades Country 2 for butter, Country 1 will not have to give up producing bicycles and they can put their resources into what provides the best among of profit. Therefore, the two countries have a mutual or comparative advantage.

On a global scale, this means that with the help of the IMF, a country would find its best comparative advantage and put their investments, employment, money for infrastructure into their comparative advantage because it would effectively bring the best amount of income for the country. This in effect creates a monoculture, where a nation gives up planting — say — grain and produces more bicycles. But this country will only enrich themselves if the global market is static and the demand for bicycles remains steady. In the event that they need more grain, they must import this grain from elsewhere, because they gave up their resources to produce grain. By importing grain without selling enough bicycles the country goes into a trade deficit, whereby the depend on more loans to boost up their productive capabilities in bicycles or in another form of comparative advantage — determined by the IMF.

This is the modern-day version of Universal History, where development is monetarized and lead by Western countries according to a faulty ideology of neoliberal global trade and comparative advantage.

[1] “Neoliberalism: Oversold? — Finance & Development, June 2016.” Accessed September 24, 2017. http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2016/06/ostry.htm.

[2] Geier, Ben. “Even the IMF Thinks Neoliberalism Has Failed.” Fortune. Accessed September 24, 2017. http://fortune.com/2016/06/03/imf-neoliberalism-failing/.

Advertisements

Consumerism and the American®™© Spirit

Andy Warhol

We live in a capitalist consumer society. Consumerism lies at the heart of our economy and our economy lies at the center of American power and influence. It is the duty of American citizens, who love their country, to spend their money as much and as often as possible. Advertising plays a vital role in uniting the personal self-interests of individual citizens with the will of nation. Many Americans readily admit that they do not like advertising. In fact, very few citizens actually enjoy commercials, despite the new comedic-turn in advertising, but we must spend more time appreciating what advertising and consumerism does for our own psyche and glory of the U.S.

Whether or not we actively watch commercial, we are still impacted by them in many ways. For instance, our social interactions are often mediated by commercials. People we interact with on the street or even our family are often effected by television, thereby making us influenced by it too. The importance of advertising firms and the geniuses who create these sixty-second glimpses into the hearts and minds of America are often overlooked. Advertisers not only help socialize us at a young age, but they are also social engineers. They are today’s psychologists who offer both diagnosis and cure within a short span of time — and it’s free.

Commercials follow a simple two-part paradigm. First, they tell you what is wrong with you. They note, often accurately, that you suffer from some sort of insecurity about yourself or some kind of merchandise that will both solve a problem and fulfill you in unexpected ways. By notifying us of our insecurities — often ones we didn’t know we had — they tell us how to fill that gnawing existential void we, as Americans, feel, but do not understand. This is where advertising unites our self-interest and the will of the nation.

Our proverbial hunger will never subside. This entices us to spend money, thus feeding the economy. It is imperative that this insatiable appetite, this hole, this longing, emptiness, and existential crisis never be alleviated for any prolonged period of time. Our peace of mind, our contentment, is a threat to freedom and democracy. Our insecurities, our emptiness, our longing perpetuate American capitalism, expand the frontiers of freedom, and unites us as a country and Empire — the greatest of which the world has never known.

Bandung, Indonesia and the New Geography of Production

In 1955, the Non Aligned Movement met in Bandung. Indonesia and made a list of demands to the first (U.S.) and second (Soviet Union) worlds. The Bandung conference would become a significant force for the Third World Project. They demanded Peace, Bread, and Justice from the world’s leading powers.

Peace, of course was on the top of their agenda, because nuclear war between Russia and the U.SD. would be globally destructive. Financing the cold war was obviously depleting resources that could be put to better use. The “military industrial complex” soaked up more and more money that could be used for human development. Even President Eisenhower was ‘irked’ at how much money the U.S. spent to keep their position of global dominance. The “military complex,” also wanted to extend its reach and indoctrinate third world countries.[1] According to Vijay Prashad, they wanted to “insinuate a security complex over the social agenda of the thirds world.” This included selling arms. In fact the U.S., at one point, became the world’s leading small arms distributor in the world. Arms proliferation in conjunction with the age-old American philosophy of “our enemy’s enemy is our friend” has contributed to global conflicts since before the Korean War. For instance, Afghanistan, the First Gold War, arming ISIL, and so on and so forth.

Next, the demanded for bread, went well for the NAM. For instance, in the 1970s, under the direction of Raul Prebisch, from Argentina, who called the “IMF a conspiracy against the laws of the market,” the NAM had several successes including OPEC.[2]

Justice. This was unobtainable. Members of NAM “recognized that little of their agenda would be able to move forward without a more democratic international structure. The UN had been hijacked by the World Bank had been captured by the Atlantic powers, and the GATT international economic order. It was helped that the NAM and the G77 would put pressure on both the West and the East to attend political spaces to the new nations. It was not to be.”

In 1969 Henry Kissinger stated: “Nothing important can come from the South. The axis of history starts in Moscow crosses over toe Washington, and then goes to Tokyo. What happens in the South is of no importance.”

In 1975 at the Chateau de Rombouillet, Prashad announces, leaders the G7 came together to tackle the recent problems brought about by the NAM. The sought to tackle three major problems brought about by NAM. The first was the social democratic demand for fair (or higher wages). Second was the communist problem, which simply acted as bargaining alternative for workers. And third was the Third World Project and the creation of OPEC.[3]Their answer, Prashad argues, was the new geography of production. That is, move production into new areas that were unburdened by the constraints mentioned above. This is now known as off-shoring, outsourcing, etc.

[1] Prashad, Vijay. The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South. London; New York: Verso, 2014,

[2] Ibid., 2–3

[3] Ibid., 3–4.

Development as Neocolonialism

https://www.prisoncensorship.info/archive/books/Economics/Neo-Colonialism_KwameNkrumah.pdf

The Bretton Woods Conference in 1944 set the precedence for development relations between the Global North and Global South. Attendees of the conference came form the promenade first world capitalist countries, where they planned for the future of global capitalism after WWII and in the face with communism. The conference designed two institutions — the International Monetary fund and the World Bank — designed, initially, to help European countries rebuild after WWII by providing loans to reinvest capital into major industries.

But also during the time, Europe’s former colonies were breaking away from their overlords, demanding sovereignty, and independence. Countries like Britain, also, found that they could no longer fiancé occupation. After WWII, formal Empire came to an end, but this did not mean that Empire, itself had ended. Under the auspices of the U.S. and other post-industrial capitalists societies, Empire continued, but this time it was more nuanced, informal, under the radar, so to speak.

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund would eventually switch attention from rebuilding the first world to developing the third world. Historian Robert K. Young, in Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction (2001) , as “a way of describing the assumed necessity of incorporating the rest of the world into the realm of modernity, that is, the Western economic system in which capitalism produces progressive economic growth.”[1] In other words, development, as such, is a manner of transforming non-European/ non-capitalism societies into European capitalist societies that participate in the global economy. In a way, neocolonialism is an extension of colonialism and imperialism in that it extends Western hegemony, albeit, with focus on ‘hands off’ strategies wherever and whenever possible. These strategies, according to historians John Gallagher and Ronald Robinson, in The Imperialism of Free Trade, are indicative of informal Empire — America’s Modus Operandi.

The nation was part of modernity. It signified autonomy, sovereignty, and independence from foreign influence, much like the sovereign individual did for Enlightenment philosophers. Nationalism was a Western creation, but its prestige became globally renowned and in the twentieth century, nationalism became the goal of many former colonies. It signified, as mentioned above, autonomy. But with the advent of neocolonialism, it’s been shown that political sovereignty mounts to little when the commanding heights of economics are not owned nor controlled by and for the people of a particular nation. Neocolonialism involves financial control by foreign entities through institutions such as the IMF, usually understood as foreign capital investment. Through projects, such as Structural Adjustment Projects, foreign economic influence becomes political and nations are governed/ controlled by proxy. This marks the era of neocolonialism.

Bretton Woods and the institutions that developed from the conference — especially the IMF — require a more in depth analysis, especially in light of today’s financial capitalism and the indeterminacy of the ‘floating dollar’ since the 1970s.

[1] Young, Robert J. C. Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2016., 49.

Development Preface:

Development theories are multidisciplinary approaches used to instigate a nation’s economic growth.. Development theories became popular after WWII, when former colonies won their independence, but lacked the institutions and knowledge to participate in the global economy without their colonial overlords. [^“Development Theory | Economics and Political Science.] Development comes from first world nations. The driving motive is that economic growth leads to positive development in people’s daily lives. But with the growth of the global economy, development theory has come to resemble a new form of colonialism as institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have undermined national sovereignty by implementing Structural Adjustment Programs in underdeveloped countries. These SAPs stem from neoliberal free market principles, ignoring the history of Euro-American capitalism, and ignoring the general well fare of the nation’s people. Development theories are part of the modernity project, which originated in the 18th century, and still bares the fruit of Western dominance.

“The developed nations have discovered for themselves a new mission — to help the Third World advance along the road to development… which is nothing more than the toad on which the West has guided the rest of humanity for several centuries.”[1]

Historian D.C. Platt ared that “colonialiskm was necessary ‘to establish a legal framework in which in which capitalist relations could operate.” Author Edward Goldsmith adds, “if no ne colonies were created… it is largely because a legal system that was ‘sufficiently stable for trade to continue was already in existence.”[2] This argument reflects John Gallagher and Ronald Robinson’s “The Imperialism of Free Trade,” where they argue that Britain’s informal Empire played just as an important role as their formal (occupied Empire).[3]

According to Kwame Nkrumah, Neo-Colonialism, The Last Stage of Imperialism (1965), reveals how interest rates from loans have created a form of neo-colonialism. His comments deserve to be cited at length.

“Another technique of neo-colonialism is the use of high rates of interest. Figures from the World Bank for 1962 showed that seventy-one Asian, African and Latin American countries owed foreign debts of some $27,000 million, on which they paid in interest and service charges some $5,000 million. Since then, such foreign debts have been estimated as more than £30,000 million in these areas. In 1961, the interest rates on almost three-quarters of the loans offered by the major imperialist powers amounted to more than five per cent, in some cases up to seven or eight per cent, while the call-in periods of such loans have been burdensomely short”.

“While capital worth $30,000 million was exported to some fifty-six developing countries between 1956 and 1962, ‘it is estimated that interest and profit alone extracted on this sum from the debtor countries amounted to more than £15,000 million. This method of penetration by economic aid recently soared into prominence when a number of countries began rejecting it. Ceylon, Indonesia and Cambodia are among those who turned it down. Such ‘aid’ is estimated on the annual average to have amounted to $2,600 million between 1951 and 1955; $4,007 million between 1956 and 1959, and $6,000 million between 1960 and 1962. But the average sums taken out of the aided countries by such donors in a sample year, 1961, are estimated to amount to $5,000 million in profits, $1,000 million in interest, and $5,800 million from non-equivalent exchange, or a total of $11,800 million extracted against $6,000 million put in. Thus, ‘aid’ turns out to be another means of exploitation, a modern method of capital export under a more cosmetic name.”

Goldsmith argues that the former method of colonialism — formal Empire — was too expensive, but the Global North found new means of extracting resouces and finances from postcolonial powers.[4]

Today, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund are on the front line of neocolonialism. They lend underdeveloped country money for development purposes i.e. making them part of the global economy under the auspcies of comparative advantage. Then they set interest rates to make a profit off of the money lent, which also makes it hard for countires to pay back the loans. Some countries have to implement Structural Adjustment Programs, which ‘hand over’ governance to these institutions, whereby austerity programs gut public spending on education, wages, libraries and other public institutions. In other words, IMF policies streamline underdeveloped countries into neoliberal peons.[5] Even the IMF, however, admitted that it “oversold neoliberalism” and that neoliberal policies in fact induced poverty and widened the gap between rich and poor.[6]

https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2016/06/pdf/ostry.pdf

[1] Partant, François. La fin du développement. Paris: Maspero, 1982.

[2] Goldsmith, Edward. “Development as Colonialism.” Ecologist 27, no. 2 (1997): 69–76, 255.

[3] Gallagher, John, and Ronald Robinson. The Imperialism of Free Trade, 1953.

[4] Goldsmith, Edward. “Development as Colonialism.” Ecologist 27, no. 2 (1997): 69–76, 255.

[5] See: Hudson, Michael, and Michael Huckleberry Hudson. Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1973.

[6] “Neoliberalism: Oversold? — Finance & Development, June 2016.” Accessed June 26, 2017. http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2016/06/ostry.htm.

Trump’s Emotional Net Worth and the Origins of His Spat with Time Warner and CNN

“We don’t want to see fake news. Very bad. Not a good thing.” Trump said during his first overseas conference in Warsaw, Poland. It’s no secret that trump despises the media, some more than others. Trump’s disdain for CNN stems from a book written by Timothy O’Brien and published by Time Warner — CNN is a subsidiary of Time Warner. O’Brien’s, in Trump Nation: The Art of Being Donald Trump (2005), estimated Trumps net worth as 200 to 300 million dollars. This infuriated Trump, who claimed that his net worth was between 2 and 5 billion dollars. Hence Trump’s claim that CNN is fake news. Trump tried to sue O’Brien and Time Warner for defamation.[1] His dislike for media is a symptom of his obsession with his self-image and his self-image is intimately connected with his net worth. This makes for a strange, almost humorous, situation — if he wasn’t president. Trump claimed that O’Brien’s book harmed his brand, but he failed to offer any tangible evidence. Below is a summary of the court case including Trump’s comments that his net worth is intimately connected with his feelings. In the transcripts, Trump reveals that businessmen are never supposed to say that they are not doing well. This business strategy has followed him to the White House. For instance, with the Republican’s attempt to reform the ACHA, Trump tried to assure the public that it was a great bill and “everyone was onboard,” but as we know — very few politicians were on board. If America is Trump’s brand, then anyone who hurts his feelings hurts America. This was the essence of his argument recently in Phoenix, when he claimed that the media doesn’t like America.

The following comes from the official court records. Andrew Ceresney interrogates Trump:

Q: Would you say that your brand is hotter than ever today?

A: Well, the brand is doing very well. I don’t know about hotter than ever. I can’t define hotter than ever. But I think the brand is doing very well.

Q: Have you said publicly that your brand is hotter than ever?

A: Possibly. I think it’s doing very well.

Ceresney produces “Defendant’s Exhibit 90, article from Crain’s New York Business dated 11/12/07), where Trump is quoted as saying “My brand is hotter than ever.” Ceresney asks Trump if he was telling the truth to the reporter:

A. Yes

Q: Because whenever you speak to reporters, you are accurate; correct?

A: I’m as accurate as I think I can be.

Q: Okay, you try to check your facts before you talk to reporters?

A: Yes, I do.

Q: You try to get what you say to them accurate, correct?

A: Yes, I do.

Q: Isn’t it also true that you believed your brand was blazing hot even back in February?

A: Probably

Q: Do you think you did?

A: I don’t — I don’t think I didn’t. I don’t — I assume they’re quoting me correctly.

Q: Did you actually believe it at the time?

A: Yes, I think the brand was — was doing fine. I don’t know blazing hot. But I think the brand was doing well.

Q: Is it possible you told a reporter in February of 2006 that your brand was blazing hot?

A: Well, you wouldn’t tell a reporter you’re doing poorly. I’ve never seen a person go up and say, I’m really doing poorly now. You just don’t do that.

Q: So when you speak to a reporter about how your brand is doing, I think you just said a moment [ago] saying you try to be accurate?

A: Well generally speaking you want to say that you’re doing well. You don’t want to say you’re doing poorly. If I’m doing well, I say I’m doing well; and if I’m doing poorly, I’d rather not comment. Usually I try not to take those calls.

Q: When have you actually been doing poorly, Trump?

A: In the early nineties I was doing poorly.

Q: In the las five years have you been doing poorly?

A: Well, I would say that I had some moments, some bad moments, like when this book came out. That was a very bad moment. I think I was — I was perceived as doing poorly. I wasn’t doing poorly.

But I was perceived by a lot of people as doing poorly when this book came out and when the Times wrote a front page in the business section story that was one of the largest stories they’ve ever written where virtually every paragraph was a negative.

I think I was perceived as doing poorly then. I wasn’t doing poorly then, but I was perceived.

Trump, then, declares that the article (New York Times) “was very detrimental to me.”

Q: And it hurt your brand, is that what you’re saying?

A: Well, I think it hurt my brand. I think the fact that I sued got a lot of publicity, which was good because at least you’re protesting the article. I think it was important that I brought this lawsuit. But yes, I think the article hurt my brand… and it hurt me.

A month after Trump filed his lawsuit, he told the Dallas Business Journal “that your name, your brand is blazing hot.” He states how the article affected him by saying:

“Well number one I lost deals, specific deals, and we’ll get to that,” and “then there are things that happened or didn’t happen that I don’t even know about. For instance, there are many deals that I lost that I don’t even know about where people wouldn’t see me. So, I didn’t know I lost the deal, but I lost the deal. And there are many of those deals out there, and I can’t name them.”

Q: How do you know that there are deals out there that you didn’t know about that didn’t come to you because of this book?

A: Because the perception of me after that article was a very bad perception, by sophisticated people; not necessarily the man on the street because they don’t read the book and they don’t read the Times.

But the perception of me by business people was a very weak perception, and that’s why I lost certain deals that we’ll talk about. It’s also why I lost certain deals that I’ll never know about.

Ceresney ask Trump if he has “always been completely truthful” in his public statements about his net worth “of properties.”

A: I try.

Q: Have you ever not been truthful?

A: My net worth fluctuates, and it goes up and down with markets with attitudes and with feelings, even my feelings, but I try.

Q: Let me understand that a little bit…. You said that the net worth goes up and down based upon your own feelings?

A: Yes…

Q: When you publically state what you’re worth, what do you base that number on?

A: I would say my general attitude at the time that the question may be asked. And as I say, it varies.

Several questions later, Trump claims that his net worth “can change when somebody writes a vicious article like O’Brien. I mean, I didn’t feel so great about myself when I read that article.” And, “yeah, it changes [his net worth]. It can change pretty rapidly.”

Trump was supposed to provide evidence that O’Brien’s book harmed his brand, but he continually said that his brand was doing well. And even if his brand was not doing well, he said his brand was doing well. Without providing tangible evidence for a coherent case against O’Brien, Trump connected his brand to his own personal feelings and told the judge that he lost deals that he did not know he had lost. In essence, Trump tried to sue O’Brien and Time Warner because they allegedly under reported his net worth, thereby hurting his feelings, which are directly connected to his net worth.

His business strategy is now his political strategy. For instance, in the run up to the Republican’s attempt to change the Affordable Care Act, Trump commented:

“It’s a great bill, we’re going to have tremendous — I really believe we’re going to have tremendous support … I’m already seeing the support not only in this room, I’m seeing it from everybody.[2] As we know, the bill was such a failure that Republican’s pulled it before all the votes were cast, in hopes of preventing a catastrophe. His comments about the ACA reform bill reflect his testimony above: “Well generally speaking you want to say that you’re doing well.” This is why CEO’s should not hold public office.

[1] Case No. A-6141–08T3 (NJ Superior Ct. App. Div., Sep. 7, 2011.

[2] Levitz, Eric. “Trump Says ‘Everybody’ He’s Seen Supports the GOP’s New Health-Care Bill.” Daily Intelligencer. Accessed April 9, 2017. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/03/trump-everybody-supports-the-gops-new-health-care-bill.html.

More Sources:

http://caselaw.findlaw.com/nj-superior-court-appellate-division/1579526.html

The Children of Men: a Unique Dystopia

The Children of Men

In Capitalist Realism — is there no Alternative? (2010), author Mark Fisher comments: “Dystopia films and novels were exercises in imagination,” where directors and authors thrust viewers and readers into technologically innovative, but morally perverse futures. The fact that viewers and readers felt like aliens in these dystopian worlds — such as 1984 (1949) by George Orwell or We (1952), by Yevgeny Zamiatin — were essential to their plots. “Not so in The Children of Men,” writes fisher. “The world that it [the film] projects seems more like an extrapolation or exacerbation of ours than alternatives to it.” This was no mistake and it is part of what makes Children of Men such a remarkable film.

Director Alfonso Cuaron based Children of Men on author PD James’ film with the same name. Cuaron, however, would make significant changes to the overall imagery and background narrative. He paid more attention, for instance, to the social upheaval and the apocalyptic aesthetic occurring background. He wanted the social problems portrayed in the book to feel more relevant to today’s global political environment. In the film, the distinction between our contemporary world and the imaginative dystopian future is subtle, nuanced, and does not compel one to take a great leap of faith to see how this world could easily become the one portrayed in the film.\

The film, however, is not about social upheaval, totalitarian fascism, or global chaos. These ideas, though important, lie in the background to the main story about humanity’s loss of fertility and subsequent loss of hope that acts as the apocalyptic catalyst. This, too, is where Cuaron’s tale differs from others in the same genre and gives his film something more substantial than other apocalyptic movies. In the film, there are no great events such as zombies, nuclear war, global warming, or other familiar apocalyptic categories — instead, it is the loss of hope that brings the world to its knees.