Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

By Peter Frase

We need a politics that acknowledges that the social-democratic class compromise is unsustainable.

Patrick Iber and Mike Konczal have an essay at Dissent in which they use the Bernie Sanders phenomenon as an opportunity to explain the theories of Karl Polanyi, and what they mean for the future of progressive politics. Polanyi was a Hungarian emigré to Vienna and later England and the United States, a veteran of the interwar period that gave us the Great Depression and the rise of fascism.

His most famous work, The Great Transformation, was written in the 1930s and 1940s. In it, he attempted to diagnose the failures of the free-market capitalism of his time, which in his view had given rise to the reaction and war he lived through.

His central point, and the one which has been most influential on contemporary liberals, is that there has never been any such thing as an unfettered or natural free market.

Rather, all really existing social formations involve complex ties between people based on a variety of norms and traditions. As Iber and Konczal put it, “the economy is ’embedded’ in society — part of social relations — not apart from them.”

For this reason, the attempt to establish unfettered and unregulated markets is doomed: a pure free-market society is a utopian project, and impossible to realize, because people will resist the process of being turned into commodities.

This is an important insight, and to this point there’s not much about it that I can disagree with. The problem arises when one tries to derive a complete political strategy from this analysis. This is where I part ways with the Polanyian analysis that Iber and Konczal offer.

They suggest that the vision of “socialism” offered by Polanyi, and also by Bernie Sanders, ultimately just involves subjecting capitalism to some humane and democratic limits. They quote a passage in which Polanyi defines socialism as “the tendency inherent in an industrial civilization to transcend the self-regulating market by consciously subordinating it to a democratic society.”

Continue reading at: Social Democracy’s Breaking Point

James McGill Buchanan’s vision of totalitarian capitalism has infected public policy in the US. Now it’s being exported • George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist

It’s the missing chapter: a key to understanding the politics of the past half century. To read Nancy MacLean’s new book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, is to see what was previously invisible.

The history professor’s work on the subject began by accident. In 2013 she stumbled across a deserted clapboard house on the campus of George Mason University in Virginia. It was stuffed with the unsorted archives of a man who had died that year whose name is probably unfamiliar to you: James McGill Buchanan. She says the first thing she picked up was a stack of confidential letters concerning millions of dollars transferred to the university by the billionaire Charles Koch

Continue to full story: A despot in disguise: one man’s mission to rip up democracy | George Monbiot | Opinion | The Guardian

Please take the time to read this long article. It’s worth it.

The first issue of Catalyst appears at a profoundly contradictory political conjuncture. It is the moment of the greatest promise for the working class and popular forces since the 1960s, but also one of significant danger.

Source: Editorial

If anything, the federal income tax isn’t soaking the rich – rather, it’s keeping the rich from paying a lower tax rate than everyone else.

Source: The U.S. Tax Code Actually Doesn’t “Soak the Rich” | CEPR Blog | Blogs | Publications | The Center for Economic and Policy Research

If we are shaped by everything from politics to genetics, can we really be held responsible for our actions? In his book Creating Freedom, the author says we must change our attitude to society’s losers

Source: Raoul Martinez on writing this year’s essential text for thinking radicals | Books | The Guardian

What Martinez calls the responsibility myth is, he suggests, the basis of the American Dream, namely that anyone can become rich and that those who do – even Donald Trump – deserve their money, while those who don’t have only themselves to blame. The political corollary of that myth is that we have no obligation to help the poor, the obese, the disabled, the refugees, the homeless or the unemployed. They all deserved it, so screw them.

This is an absolute must see for anyone trying to make sense of the last forty years. It’s long at 2 hrs and 46 minutes but well worth the time spent.

It has been a long year. Let’s engage in some speculative fiction. Donald Trump is due to get his hands on the nuclear codes Jan. 20, so thinking too far into the future may be a pointless exercise, but lets suppose humanity makes it out the other side of his presidency more or less in one piece. Continue reading

Source: Automation, Climate Change and Donald Trump: What Kind of Future Are We In For? – BillMoyers.com