Many progressives, unlike neoliberals, believe that labourers, not investors, are the fundamental source of economic productivity, innovation and wealth. Implicit in this line of argument is the view that business's capacity to accumulate profit therefore depends to some degree on its capacity to diminish labour's ability to bargain over control of the gains from rising productivity. Many social movements and unions contend that the neoliberal rules -- initially propelled by the United States --- of the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank and many governments, were not established to protect labour but instead to foster the well-being of those who invest for a living at the expense of those who must work.
Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin have just released their latest book, The Making of Global Capitalism. Gindin is the former Research Director of the Canadian Autoworkers Union and Packer Visiting Chair in Social Justice at York University, and Panitch is Canada Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy and Distinguished Research Professor of Political Science at York University. The two have worked together on many books and publications. Aaron Leonard recently sat down with them in New York City to discuss their work. The interview will be presented here in three parts over the coming days.
Part I: "An American Proposal"
In An American Dilemma, published in 1944, Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal examined U.S. race relations, and concluded that the American "creed" would eventually vanquish widespread racism, and allow black and white Americans to live in greater harmony.
The election of a mixed-race U.S. president in 2008 did not mean the end of American racism. However, the victory of Barack Obama did confirm the guarded optimism of the conclusions Mrydal reached in his classic work of social science. A majority of those voting signalled it was all right for a non-white family to occupy the White House. Some 64 years after Myrdal documented the extent of systemic racism throughout the U.S., this definitely constituted progress.
A decade ago, the liberation theologian Frei Betto and the ecosocialist Michael Löwy wrote an article for the 2002 World Social Forum titled "Values for a New Civilization." They pointed out that the current neoliberal order is essentially dominated by a religion of profit: this system of beliefs has its churches (the stock markets), its Holy Offices (the World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund and World Bank), its theologian (Adam Smith), a vast clergy (orthodox economists) that defends its principles, and a variety of instruments to persecute its heretics (all th
A toast to Paul Ryan -- or to Mitt Romney who made him his teammate in the U.S. presidential race -- for putting a grand old argument back on the front burner. "The fight we are in here, make no mistake about it," Ryan has said with spunk, "is a fight of individualism versus collectivism." That was once a great debate but it's drifted almost out of view. First the Berlin Wall came down 23 years ago, then the Soviet Union imploded, the "individualism" side declared total victory and if that wasn't enough, the End of History too. The collectivism side, which had been largely hiding behind communist and socialist parties, grew mousy, except for relics like the socialist "caucus" in the NDP.