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APPEARANCE AND REALITY January 27, 2013

Posted by wmmbb in Human Rights, Social Environment.
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Economists probably know what is happening with the economic system, but many people within it, have not the foggiest notion. Reality is the way things seem.

Bashkar Sunkara at The Guardian writes (via Truthdig):

In the wake of the second world war, some of this vision became a reality. Capitalism thrived and, though uneven, progress was made by American workers. With pressure from below, the state was wielded by reformers, not smashed, and class compromise, not just class struggle, fostered economic growth and shared prosperity previously unimaginable.

Exploitation and oppression didn’t go away, but the system seemed not only powerful and dynamic, but reconcilable with democratic ideals. The progress, however, was fleeting. Social democracy faced the structural crisis in the 1970s that Michal Kalecki, author of The Political Aspects of Full Employment, predicted decades earlier. High employment rates and welfare state protections didn’t buy off workers, it encouraged militant wage demands. Capitalists kept up when times were good, but with stagflation – the intersection of poor growth and rising inflation – and the Opec embargo, a crisis of profitability ensued.

An emergent neoliberalism did curb inflation and restore profits, but only through a vicious offensive against the working class. There were pitched battles waged in defense of the welfare state, but our era has largely been one of deradicalization and political acquiescence. Since then, real wages have stagnated, debt soared, and the prospects for a new generation, still wedded to a vision of the old social-democratic compact, are bleak.

The 1990s technological boom brought about talk of a light and adaptive “new economy”, something to replace the old Fordist workplace. But it was a far cry from the future promised at the 1939 World’s Fair.

The 2008 recession shattered those dreams, anyway. Capital, free of threats from below, grew decadent, wild, and speculative.

For many in my generation, the ideological underpinnings of capitalism have been undermined. That a higher percentage of Americans between the ages of 18 and 30 have a more favorable opinion of socialism than capitalism at least signals that the cold war era conflation of socialism with Stalinism no longer holds sway.

Most people are not intellectuals. Not even close to being that construct and informed. So when a young person in New York was espousing the benefits of socialism during the emergence of the Occupy Movement it caught by attention. So where this opinion come from? My point of reference was the House UnAmerican Committee and Joe McCarthy.

It might be added that political and social systems always involve deception. The attraction of Marxism is that it provides an explanation of how the system of capitalism unfolds. The identification of the inherent contradictions between capital and labor, and on reflection the emergence of ideology and the repeated crises of capitalism.

David Harvey gives an extended lecture, apparently without notes. The title is: Swinders and Prophets: “Facts, Fictions and Fetishisms”

(For the summary, go to 0:54:00)

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