Current Economic Crisis and the Future of the Left

23 posts / 0 new
Last post
Sven Sven's picture
Current Economic Crisis and the Future of the Left

     

Sven Sven's picture

It seems to me that the economic crisis facing the world represents a golden opportunity for the Left.  But, if the Left is not able to dramatically change the economic order during the worse economic downturn since the Great Depression, what hope does the Left have of ever doing it?

I don’t think that it’s possible to accurately prognosticate the political and economic changes that will result from this downturn, but it just strikes me that if the Left cannot forge significant and long-lasting change out of this crisis, then the likelihood of it doing so any time soon seems remote.

My view is that if this downturn lasts “only” another year or so, I think the impetus to make significant change will be absent.  If the downturn lasts for three or four or more years, then the impetus for such change will be strong.

My feeling is that the economy will bottom out in 2010 and, hence, I don’t think that there will be dramatic change to the economic and political order.

Anyone else have a different view?

_______________________________________

Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

Fidel

Ten years. And even then theyll have to put financial capitalism of Wall Street through bankruptcy proceedings and stop the looting and pillaging. Social Security is the most successful socialist program in US history. They are obligations not "unfunded liabilities" Wall Street's derivatives and pyramiding debt are unfunded liabilities, iou's, and gambling debts. The crooks and liars and crooked-liars cant pay their gambling debts. And I dont think US taxpayers can afford more private enterprise debt shifted onto their shoulders.

There's a breaking point somewhere along the line Perhaps it will be in their ability to finance the war machine. Theyll have to sell the Pentagon's real estate abroad, and paint some Tremclad over the rusting tanks and battleships. They can have Wall Street financiers running the show or continue pursuing empire abroad but not both. It's all about choices. 

The global leftwing revolution is what will replace this failing setup naturally one day in the future. 

Capitalism represents decay and rot.

The new capitalism is an illusion, a colossal lie. 

Kapitalism is rust.

Socialism or barbarism.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Putting a ticking clock on "the left" to be successful is a waste of time. No system ever changes without political leadership organized around an alternative - even for a system in crisis - and the last time there was an economic collapse on this scale was in the 1930's when there was a much more powerful left with clearer goals and an alternative. And, this despite the fact that Stalinist ideas weaked and harmed the left at the time. It's all about what people do today.

What SHOULD be pointed out, however, is that the Great Depression of the 1930's did not end with capitalism-saving Kenysian spending, but rather ended with the economic lift associated with World War 2. Roughly 55 million people died in that Global conflagration. A war on that scale today, to bring capitalism out of its current problems, say, would wipe out human life on this planet. Another way has to be found, obviously. 

We have a conjunction of crises, not just the current financial one, but, above all, the planetary ecological crisis. The system founded on endless accumulation of capital and profits has led us to the current impasse. 

Perhaps those not on the left should spend less time trying to silence the left and more time elaborating solutions to our current crises. Then again, maybe that's all they've got. 

Sven Sven's picture

N.Beltov wrote:

Putting a ticking clock on "the left" to be successful is a waste of time. 

I didn't mean to imply that it's "now or never".  Rather, I meant to say that if radical change does not arise now (given that the time is probably ripe for such change), then it will probably be a long time before such change will occur.  Or, to put it another way, if people will not push for radical change during an economic crisis, then they are even less likely to push for radical change at a later time when there is more economic stability.

_______________________________________

Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

 

".. if people will not push for radical change during an economic crisis, then they are even less likely to push for radical change at a later time when there is more economic stability."

 

I think that's too simplistic and maybe just plain wrong. The gigantic efforts at ideological control, brainwashing if you like, are really quite stupendous. Getting people to seriously look at alternatives and ACT on that is THE question. At least in the citadels of imperialism that is the question. More blatant use of state violence is more common outside those citadels. In our own country, and in  the US, "thought control" is very impressive indeed. It should not be underestimated. 

Many people much cleverer than you and I have looked at this problem: Noam Chomsky, various class theorists, investigators of the marketing and advertising industries, left wing political organizations and thinkers, etc. What's clear to me, and I think Fidel addressed this, is that an alternative seen as workable has to have lots of support; that nothing has changed in the sense that it is still the working class, in alliance with other social groups of course, that has to lead the change; that able leadership willing to fight for the interests of that class has to be found; and so on.

We know that people in very difficult conditions can fight back and win. But being better off gives people more options - this we also know. A crisis, like an election, is a  time for people to look around for other solutions than the ones they have been handed. It's the duty of those on the left to put their solutions forward, to outline the problems with the current system, its dead end qualities, and to provide hope. This is why someone like Barak Obama can exploit those deeply felt sentiments and get people to support him. Millions of people want to believe that there is some other way. They're right. It's just not the election of an African-American President of the USA that's that other way. 

Sven Sven's picture

N.Beltov wrote:

Many people much cleverer than you and I have looked at this problem: Noam Chomsky, various class theorists, investigators of the marketing and advertising industries, left wing political organizations and thinkers, etc. What's clear to me, and I think Fidel addressed this, is that an alternative seen as workable has to have lots of support; that nothing has changed in the sense that it is still the working class, in alliance with other social groups of course, that has to lead the change; that able leadership willing to fight for the interests of that class has to be found; and so on. 

I would make one modification to that: It is the middle class that must lead any change.  Only if middle class life is significantly threatened with a long-term and steep economic crisis will that class be willing to entertain radical change.  If the vast middle is largely content with the system, then radical change is unlikely.

_______________________________________

Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

OK, I'll bite. The "middle" class is the "middle" of what, exactly? heh. These are fuzz words, I think, that mean anything. 

And, if you're using "income" or some such criteria, then what makes middle income individuals MORE likely to fight for social change? In fact, as anyone who's belonged to a legitimate left wing organization knows, "middle" class people bring a whole bundle of baggage that they need to overcome in order to become good leaders of any group other than "middle class". 

jacki-mo

Actually Sven, discussing things with co-workers, friends, etc, I find the opposite of your tinking is occuring: people imply that moving left will make things even worse.

500_Apples

Excellent post N. Beltov.

Unfortunately I don't see much hope. Barack Obama has effectively destroyed the left in the USA. A lot of left organizations that came up in the Bush years such as MoveOn.org have now been reduced to pro-Obama organizations.

Jacob Richter

Sven wrote:
It seems to me that the economic crisis facing the world represents a golden opportunity for the Left.  But, if the Left is not able to dramatically change the economic order during the worse economic downturn since the Great Depression, what hope does the Left have of ever doing it?

I don’t think that it’s possible to accurately prognosticate the political and economic changes that will result from this downturn, but it just strikes me that if the Left cannot forge significant and long-lasting change out of this crisis, then the likelihood of it doing so any time soon seems remote.

My view is that if this downturn lasts “only” another year or so, I think the impetus to make significant change will be absent.  If the downturn lasts for three or four or more years, then the impetus for such change will be strong.

My feeling is that the economy will bottom out in 2010 and, hence, I don’t think that there will be dramatic change to the economic and political order.

Anyone else have a different view?

 

Everyone keeps "trotting" out the Great Depression (sorry for the pun), when in fact the Long Depression of 1873-1896 and the Japanese stagnation years are more relevant.

I too share your views regarding the extent of change, just not the duration of the downturn.  However, the prolonged duration will also force those in the workforce and the unemployed to ask questions about the neoliberal BS they've experienced over the past three decades (longer hours, real decreases in wages and salaries, etc.) and even about the capitalist system itself.

Ultimately, only class-strugglist, Marxist, small-c communist politics can set the stage for worker struggles later on.  In Canada, that means splitting from the social-corporatist NDP and forming an independent left party.

jacki-mo

I just found an article on this very subject which is enlightening:

 http://www.alternet.org/story/130365/

Jacob Richter

That was reprinted from the original article in The Nation, by the way. Wink

Fidel

Jacob Richter wrote:
Ultimately, only class-strugglist, Marxist, small-c communist politics can set the stage for worker struggles later on.  In Canada, that means splitting from the social-corporatist NDP and forming an independent left party.

So when the NDP starts taking money from the corporatocracy for electioneering, youll let us know, right?

genstrike

Fidel wrote:

So when the NDP starts taking money from the corporatocracy for electioneering, youll let us know, right?

According to this report, the Saskatchewan NDP accepted over $165,000 in donations from 52 corporations in 2006, which is much more than was accepted from unions.

And here, the Federal NDP accepted 57 corporate donations of $2000 or more in 1991

So, we have money from the corporatocracy.  It would be reasonable to assume that this money was centrally collected and then spent on electioneering, which is essentially the NDP's raison d'etre.

Jacob Richter

Whatever happened to class independence (example read: not accepting money from corporations or the bourgeois state)?

Sven Sven's picture

Jacob Richter wrote:
That was reprinted from the original article in The Nation, by the way. Wink

That was an interesting piece from The Nation.

_______________________________________

Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

genstrike

Fidel wrote:

An average of $3100 dollars. That's not money.

$3100 isn't money?

It's way more per corporation than the Saskatchewan Party gets ($759), although the Sask Party gets more donors.

But seeing as $3100 isn't money, you woundn't mind donating me $3100, would you?

 

Fidel wrote:
And which corporations? The small town where I grew up is incorporated. There exist corporations which rely on donations in turn to survive. Shpw us where Exxon-Imperial slid money to the NDP and the two old line parties in equal amounts. Banksters? Desmarais? Irvings? Dont look too closely, because you may not like what you see.

In that book I linked to, a couple things mentioned include a private healthcare company and a corporate cousin to Jean Chretien's old law firm.

Fidel wrote:

 That's because small and medium sized businesses know the Liberal Party doesnt have a chance in that province.

Ah, so when the business community can't get the Liberals elected, they pick a winner and get the NDP to do their bidding instead?  Well, that explains the only NDP premier in Canada...

Fidel wrote:

When an NDP party receives over a million dollars from corporate donors and as much as the two very similar traditional parties of big business and banks are handed with a wink and a nod on the QT before an election, then we'll be worried.

That book I linked to said there were 57 corporate donations over $2000 dollars to the federal party in 2001.  At the very least, that is well over $100,000.  And that was 18 years ago.  Same for the Sask NDP which took in $165,000 in 2006.  I'm sure if they're taking in corporate money at that rate, they would have hit a million a long time ago.

Besides, you said "taking corporate money".  If you think money doesn't count until you hit $1 million, I'd hate for you to be my accountant.

Fidel

And not only did the NDP earn top marks from CFS on tuition fees,

[url=Democracy">http://www.dwatch.ca/camp/RelsOct1008.html][b][u]Democracy Watch gives NDP highest grades[/url]

Fidel

genstrike wrote:
Fidel wrote:

An average of $3100 dollars. That's not money.

$3100 isn't money?

It's way more per corporation than the Saskatchewan Party gets ($759), although the Sask Party gets more donors.

Oh that's baloney. SaskaTories took [url=">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saskatchewan_Party#Clashes_with_the_NDP_gov...$10 G's from Imperial Tobacco[/url] alone in 2003. And Devine's Tories were on the take and pilfering taxpayer's money all the time. They spent time in the crowbar hotel for it, too.

Fidel wrote:
genstrike wrote:
And which corporations? The small town where I grew up is incorporated. There exist corporations which rely on donations in turn to survive. Shpw us where Exxon-Imperial slid money to the NDP and the two old line parties in equal amounts. Banksters? Desmarais? Irvings? Dont look too closely, because you may not like what you see.

In that book I linked to, a couple things mentioned include a private healthcare company and a corporate cousin to Jean Chretien's old law firm.

You make it sound as if Bay Street and big money from the US have infiltrated the NDP. Are you talking about multinational energy companies and big banking interests, or does this corporate influence amount to small to maybe mid size businesses, the little guys, and all Canadian?

Fidel wrote:
genstrike wrote:

 That's because small and medium sized businesses know the Liberal Party doesnt have a chance in that province.

Ah, so when the business community can't get the Liberals elected, they pick a winner and get the NDP to do their bidding instead?  Well, that explains the only NDP premier in Canada...

So youre saying that since Philmon's neoliberal agenda was rejected by Manitobans, but not before pawning off the most profitable public utility to wealthy friends of the conservative party, youre saying the Man-NDP has sold off the family jewels and silverware for a bit of cutter, some kick-back and graft, and NDP appointments to corporate boards for jobs well done on the inside? Because if you are, you'd actually be describing exactly how the two old line parties have been operating on behalf of big money for years and years.

 

Fidel wrote:

When an NDP party receives over a million dollars from corporate donors and as much as the two very similar traditional parties of big business and banks are handed with a wink and a nod on the QT before an election, then we'll be worried.

Tommy_Paine

 

I think Sven has made some salient points here.  It will be the middle class that determines things.  Although, having said that, I would include the top hourly wage earners in manufacturing  in the middle class.  Remember, there is a delay effect between anounced plant closures and layoffs and the actual loss of these jobs.

It could be the fuse is just burning.

Part of the lack of responce to this economic meltdown in Canada is due to the fact that everyone blames the U.S., and everyone is looking to them for the recovery.   The Conservatives, who bought into neoliberal capitalism as much as any Republican ever did, have been able to side step the political blood spray that happened last November in the States.

We also haven't had the scandles of excess and criminality on Bay Street that we have seen in the States.  There has to be some moral outrage to galvanize the public.    Not that I don't think, in Canadian scale,  that the same has not happened here.  It's just not investigated, or, perhaps not even against our laws.

One must note that Alan Eagleson, Conrad Black, and Peter Pocklington (all prominent tories btw) were brought to justice in the U.S.  That our financial police couldn't even get a conviction in the Bre-x debacle, and that no observers think justice will be done in the current Nortel trials--which ever decade that might come before a judicial rubber stamp.

Be all that as it may,  perhaps the biggest factor resides on the left itself.  Considering that plant closures and layoffs will effect women and people of colour first, worst and most, the lack of noise from those quarters concerning the economy is mystifying.  

And, the union movement is taking  this on piece-meal, plant by plant, workplace to workplace, when a broader-- and more radical-- approach is needed.

 

 

Jacob Richter

Quoting RosaL from another thread:

 

We're knocking ourselves out to "leverage the current financial crisis" (to use business language I abhor!) for change. But we've been gravely weakened. We don't have money. We don't have the numbers. It's not a matter of wasting an opportunity. The strength of the left right now is not in North America or in Western Europe. Fortunately, it is strong elsewhere.

Jacob Richter

Quoting RosaL from another thread:

We're knocking ourselves out to "leverage the current financial crisis" (to use business language I abhor!) for change. But we've been gravely weakened. We don't have money. We don't have the numbers. It's not a matter of wasting an opportunity. The strength of the left right now is not in North America or in Western Europe. Fortunately, it is strong elsewhere.

I'd like to correct her about "Western Europe": she should only be talking about the UK, and not France and Germany.