Friday, 13 March 2009

A couple of bits

1. Charlie is surely right about the radical reassessment of economic ideas going on at present:
What's truly mind-boggling about this, at least for a 'once-upon-a-time-but-now-ex-ish' Marxist like myself, is that none of it is being discussed because of social pressure from below. The left is as weak and irrelevant as it was at the start of the crisis. These ideas are not being debated because of class struggle: they are being aired because the basic Anglo-American market driven, finance-dominated model of running an economy has fallen apart both practically and intellectually.

2. Interesting new blog alert!


Charlie Marks said...

1 is not actually true. Issues like executive pay were pursued by the unions and within the labour party. In many ways it is good that the crisis isn't provoked by working people - it means that the capitalists will be disoriented when social pressure from below is exerted. Charities and campaign groups have been banging on about the role played by tax havens for years - now the promise of regulation. So, in fact a lot of the changes will be in response to the slight pressures with the hope they will prevent greater ones - Sarkozy's talk of "regulated capitalism", etc.

Tom P said...

Hi Charlie

But isn't that the point? There has been no serious political action on executive pay up till this point for example despite campaigning by unions (Cedric the Pig's wages wouldn't make a decent bonus these days). It's only the implosion in the finance sector that has resulted in any real effort to address remuneration IMO.

CharlieMcMenamin said...

I accept the other Charlie's point that issue around executive pay and other overt abuses of capitalism were routinely criticised by the labour movement and others. But such criticisms were simply ignored.

Another example of how capital is suddenly waking up to its own faults is provided by Willem Buiter(, ex of the MPC, in the FT today. He's just recognised that most of the fancy derivatives traded on the markets were gambling, not insurance. He wants them subject to 'insurance-like' regulation, which, he says, would reduce their incidence by around three quarters.

I don't think he is saying this because the left or labour movement told him so or put pressure on him. I think he's saying this because the model he supports is broken and he wants to put it back together again without the dangerous bits....