Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Walden Bello, "The coming capitalist consensus," Foreign Policy in Focus, December 24, 2009.

[Bello's assumption that we are dealing with a failure of capitalism reminds me of the Sun Ra tune "It's after the end of the world; don't you know that yet?" Back in the 90s, a chapter entitled "The hijacking of capitalism" in John Ralston Saul's book, Voltaire's Bastards, demonstrated clearly that a risk-averse paper economy based on derivatives, mergers and currency speculation was not capitalism, at least not by the classical definition. No self-respecting Harvard MBA would be caught dead in the near abroad of actual, historical capitalism of the kind that both Adam Smith and Karl Marx discussed. The hours are too long, the risk too great, the discipline too severe. The economy in crisis and, therefore, under discussion here is none other than the neoliberal, pseudo-capitalist, bubble economy. -jlt]

  Global Social Democracy accepts the framework of monopoly capitalism, which rests fundamentally on deriving profit from the exploitative extraction of surplus value from labor, is driven from crisis to crisis by inherent tendencies toward overproduction, and tends to push the environment to its limits in its search for profitability.

Not surprisingly, the swift unraveling of the global economy combined with the ascent to the U.S. presidency of an African-American liberal has left millions anticipating that the world is on the threshold of a new era. Some of President-elect Barack Obama’s new appointees – in particular ex-Treasury Secretary Larry Summers to lead the National Economic Council, New York Federal Reserve Board chief Tim Geithner to head Treasury, and former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk to serve as trade representative – have certainly elicited some skepticism. But the sense that the old neoliberal formulas are thoroughly discredited have convinced many that the new Democratic leadership in the world’s biggest economy will break with the market fundamentalist policies that have reigned since the early 1980s.

One important question, of course, is how decisive and definitive the break with neoliberalism will be. Other questions, however, go to the heart of capitalism itself. Will government ownership, intervention, and control be exercised simply to stabilize capitalism, after which control will be given back to the corporate elites? Are we going to see a second round of Keynesian capitalism, where the state and corporate elites along with labor work out a partnership based on industrial policy, growth, and high wages – though with a green dimension this time around? Or will we witness the beginnings of fundamental shifts in the ownership and control of the economy in a more popular direction? There are limits to reform in the system of global capitalism, but at no other time in the last half century have those limits seemed more fluid.

Read the rest here =>
Recommend this Post

Sphere: Related Content