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January 29, 2012



Excellent analysis and a pleasure to read.

It's striking that what passes for mainstream political and media debate over capitalism is so limited in scope and ambition, given the calamities generated by actually existing neoliberalism. Outrage over the extreme executive pay racket is strictly constrained. We go from one banking scapegoat to the next, but never do anything to deal with the systemic issues at stake. And our politicians, even when presented with mass support for action on top pay and with the chance to exert shareholder power, plead impotence in the face of neoliberal Fate: democracy is over a barrel and power remains with the To Big To Failures. Neoliberal capitalist ideology is in crisis, but still in power; shorn of credibility, but still in power. We're still in the Neoliberal Unsettlement, 1979 - ad nauseam. I'd feel a bit more optimistic if it looked as if Labour and the Democrats and EU Social Democrats had a clue how to take on the institutional issues you describe and the challenge of refounding 'economic value'.

Dick Pountain

Great post Will. One reason that the Coalition is not scared to debate the crisis of "capitalism" is that calling the beast by its name reminds everyone that the alternative of socialism/communism didn't work and is discredited, so it's a debate that can be allowed to slowly fizzle out.

The truth is of course that ever since Keynes the future of capitalism in the West has been safe, but only as part of a social-democratic settlement, an armistice in the class war. Social democracy was regulated capitalism, a mixed economy welfare state.

The current crisis stems from neo-liberal capture of politics over the last 30 years undermining that social-democracy, ostensibly in the name of the "free market" but resulting in a tax strike and asset stripping. Neo-libersls probably believed their own bullshit and didn't expect it to destabilise the whole world economy.

The tragedy is that no-one will defend a return to regulation and social-democracy - Labour will not even use the word, whereas it's happy to joust with Osborne about "capitalism".

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