Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Is This True?

Over to Crooked Timber, John Quigqan argues that
[t]he problem for social democrats is to keep [capitalism's unmatched] dynamism and innovation[2] while delivering more stable and sustainable, and less unjust outcomes. I’m planning to write yet more about this, but in the meantime, it’s open for comment.
Things like medicinal advances aren't necessarily the result of "capitalism," understood as an economic system, as much as they are the result of state sponsored education; while the internets, at least as I understand their development, derived from state sponsored research at universities and the military. Making money off of medicinal advances and the internets, to be sure, rely on capitalism. Unfairly monopolizing the profits of the current economic system relies on "capitalist" obtaining state protection from competition and workers, who want enough to live on. Surely, the first step to imposing humanism on economics requires some sort of discussion that differentiates between dynamism and innovation in the service of the greatest good the smaller number and the greatest good for the greatest many, no?

By the way, the comments are well worth reading particularly for a robust and, as near as I can tell, correct defense of Marx's labor theory of value from Quiggan's  familiar and far to off-handed dismissal.

The comments are now closed over there but toward the end Quiggan asks, in the service of disproving Marx's point about increasing number and quality of capitialism's crises, if the current mess is as bad as the great depression. One commentator makes the perfectly sensible point that it's early days yet.

The recent job report for these United States, long may its commitment to alternative transportation wave, is pretty darned dire and all the policies that mitigate the damage done by capitalism's periodic crises are being rolled back world wide, which -- combined with the austerity mania -- suggests that we've not nearly reached our nadir. Added to that that here the attacks on unions, loss of decently paying jobs, and commitment to disenfranchising anyone who might maybe vote for more sensible politicians suggests that, in fact, things are going to get and stay worse. Where is the FDR, a man who changed his mind about balanced budgets and state intervention, of today?

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