Sunday, 20 April 2014

Now an economist proves what we already knew - capitalism doesn't work!

I was really interested to read about Thomas Piketty's new book 'Capital in the Twenty-First Century' which is being hailed as a 'groundbreaking'  work and, apparently, is making a real impact on economists. What Piketty has done is to 'prove' what many of us long thought was true - capitalism creates inequality, and left unchecked, ever increasing inequality. Piketty has done this by sifting through masses of economic data from the past couple of hundred years and he has written about his findings in a book which is accessible to the general reader.

All of this is good news - if it has a real impact on economics - and we can only hope now that it does. One hundred and fifty years or so ago Marx showed how capitalists expropriate wealth from working people through the mechanism of surplus value, and despite the fact that Marx had a huge influence politically, much of his work was ignored by mainstream economists, who were wedded to the capitalist economic system. Lets hope that Piketty doesn't suffer the same fate as Marx because economists whose ideas run counter to the prevailing order tend to have little impact in the end. This is because 'economics' is less an academic discipline and more a political justification of the current structures of economic power. 
David Harvey's new thought provoking book

I look forward to reading Piketty's book when I've finished a book I suspect will prove to be a much more interesting and thought provoking read - this is David Harvey's 'Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism'.  Harvey is a renowned Marxist who has lectured on Capital for many years. I'm only six contradictions into this book but Harvey has already nailed the iniquities and inefficiencies of capitalism and is well on the way to explaining what we must do to build an economy for the 99%. Its a book that I can thoroughly recommend. I'll get round to reading Piketty as soon as I can but I guess I owe him thanks already for proving what I have been saying on this blog for years - capitalism creates poverty.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

The French Socialist Party is repeating the failures of the mainstream left

Another day, another election drubbing for the left. The French Socialist party got a kicking in the recent local elections. Much of this has to do with the unpopularity of the French President Francoise Hollande. In May 2012, I posted optimistically on this blog about Hollande's success in becoming the President of France. And why not? Hollande offered some hope of an alternative to the austerity programme which has proved so devastating for millions of people in the EU. But that optimism proved false. Hollande may have started out with tax increase for the rich at a rate of 75% but he quickly succumbed to the austerity agenda announcing £50 billion of cuts. And here's the irony, the beneficiaries of this have been the French National Front headed by Marie Le Pen.

Once again, a party of the left has failed in Europe by following a neoliberal agenda, and by conceding ground to a right-wing political agenda, has encouraged the right. There are parallels between France and the UK, where UKIP has benefited by assuming the mantle of being the champions of the working class just as the Front National has in France. So when is the mainstream left going to begin to learn some lessons from this debacle? When is it going to reject the austerity agenda and promote a positive alternative which shows its support for the 99% with jobs, housing and support for public services, publicly delivered?
Hollande: repeating the same mistake and expecting a different result

Since the crash of 2008, wherever parties of the left have implemented austerity they have been decisively rejected by voters at the ballot box and the right have been the beneficiaries. There is a serious lesson for Ed Milliband and the Labour Party here. Recently Len Mckluskey, General Secretary of UNITE threatened to withdraw support from the Labour Party if they fail to win the next general election. Who can blame UNITE for talking this stance? Labour ceased to be a party of working people and the trade unions about twenty years ago. Until left mainstream parties can begin to articulate a positive alternative to neoliberlaism they will continue to fail. They are like Einstein's  madman endlessly repeating the same mistake and each time expecting a different result.