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economics

Inequality will be the issue for 2014

greed

By Mike Treen, national director of the Unite union (New Zealand)

January 14, 2014 -- The Daily Blog, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the permission of the author -- Everyone from the Pope Francis to US President Barack Obama is bemoaning the effect that inequality is having on the world today. It is even being blamed for the depth of the economic recession and the weakness of the current recovery because it is claimed that poorer people spend a larger portion of their income than the rich who save more and thus more equal income would help revitalise the economy.

Global wealth inequality: top 1% own 41%; top 10% own 86%; bottom half own just 1%

By Michael Roberts

October 10, 2013 --  Michael Roberts' Blog -- Just 8.4% of all the 5 billion adults in the world own 83.4% of all household wealth (that’s property and financial assets, like stocks, shares and cash in the bank). About 393 million people have net worth (that’s wealth after all debt is accounted for) of over $100,000, that’s 10% own 86% of all household wealth!

But $100,000 may not seem that much, if you own a house in any G7 country without any mortgage. So many millions in the UK or the US are in the top 10% of global wealth holders. This shows just how little two-thirds of adults in the world have – under $10,000 of net wealth each and billions have nothing at all.

This is not annual income but just wealth – in other words, 3.2 billion adults own virtually nothing at all. At the other end of the spectrum, just 32 million people own $98 trillion in wealth or 41% of all household wealth or more than $1 million each. And just 98,700 people with "ultra-high net worth" have more than $50 million each and of these 33,900 are worth over $100 million each.  Half of these super-rich live in the US.

Five years after the economic meltdown: Riches for some, poverty for the rest

Last Man Standing and heavyweight champion of the world

Last man standing.

By Rupen Savoulian

October 5, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Antipodean Atheist -- Five years ago, in September 2008, the giant investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed, filing for bankruptcy. This was the largest, but not the only, banking and investment firm to go under in that year, signalling the beginning of the ongoing capitalist economic crisis. Bear Sterns, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, IndyMac and a host of financial institutions went bust, were taken over by the US federal government (yes, in the United States where private corporations are venerated, banks were nationalised) and returned to private ownership or continued in different forms.

John Bellamy Foster: The epochal crisis -- the combined capitalist economic and planetary ecological crises

[Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal urges its readers to consider taking out a subscription to Monthly Review, where this article first appeared. Click HERE for more on Marxism and ecology. For more by John Bellamy Foster, click HERE.]

By John Bellamy Foster

Parts of this argument on epochal crisis were presented in three overlapping keynote addresses in: (1) Esslingen, Germany on May 30, 2013, at a conference on Marxist thought organized by the Berlin Institute of Critical Theory (InkriT) and the Historisch-Kritisches Wörterbuch Des Marximus; (2) New York City on June 9, 2013, at the closing plenary of the Left Forum; and (3) Dublin on June 27, 2013, at the annual conference of the International Association for Media and Communication Research. The argument has been revised and updated based on the original notes for these talks.

'A Freedom Budget for All': Paul Le Blanc on Martin Luther King's struggle for economic and racial justice (now with slideshow)

[For more on Martin Luther King Jnr, click HERE.]

Paul Le Blanc interviewed by Scott McLemee

August 21, 2013 -- Inside Higher Ed, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Three years after the August 28, 1963, March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a number of its core organisers projected a new stage of the struggle for equality -- expanding and deepening it, creating the economic and social foundations needed to realise Martin Luther King’s dream.

Their program, “A Freedom Budget for All Americans”, was issued by the A. Philip Randolph Institute in fall 1966. In his foreword, King called the document “a moral commitment to the fundamental principles on which this nation was founded”. Chances are you’ve never heard of it. (The original pamphlet is available in PDF here.)

Å bygge sosialisme for det tjueførste hundreåret: intervju med Michael A Lebowitz

[For more articles by or about Michael Lebowitz, click HERE.]

[English at http://links.org.au/node/3355.]

Michael A Lebowitz intervjua av Darko Vesić og Aleksandar Stojanović.

– Kapitalismen har vore i krise i mange år no, og dei kapitalistiske statane svarer på krisa med såkalla innstrammingstiltak. Ser me på dynamikken til kapitalismen dei seinaste femti åra, så var svaret på krisa på 1970-tallet det som no er kalla «nyliberalismen». Om ny vekst er svaret på krisa, kan me seie at nyliberalismen på 70-tallet hadde suksess. Men gjeld det same dagens «innstrammingstiltak»?

- Eg trur me må sjå på somme av premissa i spørsmålet. For det første meiner ikkje alle marxistar at kapitalismen som eit heile er i krise, i motsetning til kapitalismen i spesielle område. For det andre, om kapitalismen er i total eller partiell krise, kva er årsaka?

Lessons of the Australian Prices and Incomes Accord

Former ACTU heads Bill Kelty (left) and Simon Crean (right), and former Labor PM Bob Hawke attend the Prices and Income Accord 30-year anniversary. Photo by Renee Nowytarger. Source: The Australian.

June 1, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal --The 30th anniversary of the Prices and Incomes Accord, signed by the Australian Labor Party federal government and the Australian Council of Trade Unions, has just been celebrated by the former employers, union officials and ALP politicians of the period. At the time, and again today, this class-collaborationist "social contract" was lauded as a tremendous step forward for workers and "the economy". The reality for Australian workers was the opposite and the lessons should never be forgotten.

Below is a talk presented to the political school of the South African Municipal Workers Union -- in Durban in 2001 -- by Norm Dixon, at the time editor of Green Left Weekly and a national executive member of the Democratic Socialist Perspective (since merged into the Socialist Alliance). It is excerpted from the SAMWU Political Education Book, 2002-03.

A peoples’ manifesto: Roll back austerity and claim real democracy!

Our urgent common priorities for a democratic, social, ecological and feminist Europe

[The following is the manifesto to be discussed at the Alter Summit, June 7-8, 2013, in Athens.]

May 21, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Europe stands on the edge of a precipice, looking into the abyss. Austerity policies drive the peoples of Europe into poverty, undercut democracy and dismantle social policies. Rising inequalities endanger social cohesion. Ecological destruction is worsening while acute humanitarian crises devastate the most affected countries. Women and young people are hardest hit.

Building socialism for the 21st century: interview with Michael A. Lebowitz

[For more articles by or about Michael Lebowitz, click HERE.]

Michael A. Lebowitz interviewed by Darko Vesić and Aleksandar Stojanović

May 7, 2013 -- Left East,suggested to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by Michael Lebowitz.

Darko Vesić and Aleksandar Stojanović: Capitalism has been in crisis for several years now and in response to this crisis the capitalist states practice  so-called austerity measures. If we look at the historical dynamics of capitalism in the last half century, we see that they responded to the crisis of the 1970s with what is now called “neoliberalism”. If the restoration of growth is what must be carried out as a response to the crisis, we can say that neoliberalism of the 1970s was successful. Yet, can we say same of present-day “austerity measures”?

South Africa: Since 1994, a massive wealth shift from already poor to the 'uber-rich'

By Dale T. McKinley, Johannesburg

May 13, 2013 -- South African Civil Society Information Service, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- If capital is to be believed, it is the worker who is the main source of our contemporary social and economic problems.

Every time the annual South African season of wage negotiations is about to begin, as it is now, representatives of capital unleash a tsunami of propaganda about workers’ "high and unaffordable" wage demands. Dire warnings of destructive social unrest/conflict, high inflation rates, poor competitiveness and generalised economic devastation roll off their silver-lined tongues. The underlying message is neither subtle nor sanguine: wage demands of workers are to blame for just about everything bad that is happening in our society.

What to do about the debt and the euro? A manifesto

May 13, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Europe is sinking into crisis and social regression under the pressure of austerity, recession and the strategy of “structural reforms”. This pressure is tightly coordinated at the European level, under the leadership of the German covernment, the European Central Bank and the European Commission. There is a broad consensus that these policies are absurd and even “illiterate”: fiscal austerity does not reduce the burden of the debt but generates a spiral of depression, more unemployment and despair among the European peoples.

Yet, these policies are rational from the point of view of the bourgeoisie. They are a brutal way -- a shock therapy -- for restoring the profits, for guaranteeing the financial rents and for implementing the neoliberal counter-reforms. What is going on is fundamentally the validation by the states of the financial claims on future production and GDP. That is why the crisis takes the form of a sovereign debt crisis.

Michael Lebowitz: Primitive accumulation versus contested reproduction (video)

[For more articles by or about Michael Lebowitz, click HERE.]

By Michael A. Lebowitz, Ljubljana

May 4, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- If we don't understand a system as it is fully developed [its "being"] and thus its critical characteristics, we cannot investigate the "becoming" of those characteristics.

This is why Marx discussed primitive (or original) accumulation of capital only at the end of volume 1 of Capital. Exclusive focus upon the emergence of the new elements, however, is not real history. "Becoming" is two sided: it is both a coming into being and a passing away. The concept of primitive accumulation explores only the former; it considers the new being born but not the old struggling to remain alive. It is, in short, one-sided. Not only does it fail to explore on its own the struggle of the old for its reproduction but it also does not consider the interaction, the morbid symptoms and dysfunction when two sets of productive relations are engaged in contested reproduction with respect to their control of the elements of production.

Michael Lebowitz: Working-class response to devaluation measures in Venezuela

By Michael A. Lebowitz

February 16, 2013 -- In view of the latest devaluation of the Venezuelan currency (see articles below), Venezuela-based Canadian socialist Michael Lebowitz has provided Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the following paper written in 2010 at the request of socialist group Marea Socialista.

* * *

We agree that the government decision to devalue the bolivar can be an important step toward providing greater funds for social programs and the state budget at all levels, reducing the unacceptable current level of imports, encouraging the development of exports other than oil and helping to create the conditions for new national production. However, by itself the burden of the devaluation measures will fall upon the working class. Therefore, to break clearly with the neoliberal model, it is essential that the government supplement its devaluation decision by accepting the following proposals.

Our proposals are based on four central principles:

Africa’s ‘rising’ or overdue uprising?

By Patrick Bond

January 1, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

Either:

1) Africa owes its takeoff to a variety of accelerators, nearly all of them external and occurring in the past 10 years:

  • billions of dollars in aid, especially to fight HIV/AIDS and malaria;
  • tens of billions of dollars in foreign-debt cancellations;
  • a concurrent interest in Africa’s natural resources, led by China; and
  • the rapid spread of mobile phones, from a few million in 2000 to more than 750 million today.

Business increasingly dominates foreign interest in Africa. Investment first outpaced aid in 2006 and now doubles it.

Or:

US economy: A major attack on labour rights

President Barack Obama bragged how he had saved the US auto industry by handing out billions in taxpayers’ money to the auto bosses, and even establishing what amounted to temporary federal ownership of the old General Motors plants when GM went bankrupt during the “Great Recession”.

By Sam Williams

December 23, 2012 -- A Critique of Crisis Theory, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Journal with permission -- December 11, 2012, brought news of a major new attack on basic labour rights in the United States. The following day, the Federal Reserve [the US central bank] announced new inflationary measures designed to end the economic stagnation the US economy has been mired in since the “Great Recession” bottomed out in July 2009.

Video: Stop the financialisation of nature!

June 28, 2012 -- ATTAC.TV -- A recently released, short animated film about the takeover of nature by financial markets and the real alternatives coming up from the civil society.

An initiative of SOMO, European Attac Network, Food&Water Europe, Friends of Earth, Amis de la Terre, Carbon Trade Watch, WEED, Ecologistas en Acción, Aitec and Campagna per la riforma della Banca Mondiale. Produced by La Antena and AttacTV. Animated by desarme s.c.

Can Asia save global capitalism?

Protesters rally, coinciding with the 45th annual meeting of the board of governors of the Asian Development Bank. May 2, 2012, in Manila, Philippines.

By Reihana Mohideen

May 4, 2012 -- Socialist Feminist, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission of the author -- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has just held its annual board meeting in Manila, accompanied by much publicity and fanfare about "sustainable and socially inclusive development". A key framework document presented is entitled How Can Asia Respond to Global Economic Crisis and Transformation. The paper was prepared by a team of ADB technocrats and other leading gurus of neoliberal economic dogma, such as Jeffrey Sachs. There are some key underlying themes that ran through the document, reflected in the major conference sessions:

The dirty picture of neoliberalism: India’s New Economic Policy

Wealth and poverty in India. Photo by DaveWilsonPhotography.

By Raju J. Das

April 11, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Bollywood movie The Dirty Picture (apparently) runs on three things: entertainment, entertainment and entertainment. The dirty picture of neoliberalism runs on three things, as well: class, class, and class. Indeed, neoliberalism must be seen as the restoration and reinforcement of class power (Harvey 2005), class power of large owners of business over the working masses.

This article makes a series of observations on the multiple aspects of neoliberalism in India as a class project. What is problematic about the “New Economic Policy” (NEP) is not this or that aspect of it (e.g. the idea that it causes an increase in the number of people below the official poverty line). The whole policy is the problem. So it requires a dialectical totalising critique, one that places its limited benefits in relation to its enormous costs, seen from multiple vantage points.

Doug Lorimer's introduction to 'Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism'

Introduction by Doug Lorimer

I. Lenin's aims in writing this work

The term "imperialism" came into common usage in England in the 1890s as a development of the older term "empire" by the advocates of a major effort to extend the British Empire in opposition to the policy of concentrating on national economic development, the supporters of which the advocates of imperialism dismissed as "Little Englanders". The term was rapidly taken into other languages to describe the contest between rival European states to secure colonies and spheres of influence in Africa and Asia, a contest that dominated international politics from the mid-1880s to 1914, and caused this period to be named the "age of imperialism".

The first systematic critique of imperialism was made by the English bourgeois social-reformist economist John Atkinson Hobson (1858-1940) in his 1902 book Imperialism: A Study, which, as Lenin observes at the beginning of his own book on the subject, "gives a very good and comprehensive description of the principal specific economic and political features of imperialism" (see below, p. 33).

Lenin had long been familiar with Hobson's book. Indeed, in a letter written from Geneva to his mother in St. Petersburg on August 29, 1904, Lenin stated that he had just "received Hobson's book on imperialism and have begun translating it" into Russian.(1)

Austerity in Europe: Susan George on the rise of neoliberal and undemocratic Europe

Susan George interviewed for the Transnational Institute (TNI). Posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.

March 1, 2012

What is the continuity you see between the Maastricht Treaty, through the Lisbon Agenda and the Lisbon Treaty, to the "six pack" and now this new fiscal treaty?

The Maastricht Treaty was a treaty that presented two completely arbitrary figures: 3 per cent budget deficit with regard to the GNP and 60 per cent for the debt.  Why not 4 per cent or 2 per cent? Why not 55 or 65 per cent? Nobody knows. They came out of the sky, those numbers, doubtless from the Bundesbank. But they have become sort of religious symbols, the holy numbers of Maastricht. That was the first effort to get government policy under control, but countries did not respect that, including Germany

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