Donate to Links


Click on Links masthead to clear previous query from search box

GLW Radio on 3CR



Recent comments



Syndicate

Syndicate content

capitalism

The economic crisis: Whose fault is it, and how can it be overcome?

By Aleksandr Buzgalin and Andrey Kolganov, translated by Renfrey Clarke for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

March 23, 2009 -- The period at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 was notable for a whole range of developments. Two of them, however, seem to the authors to be not only closely interconnected, but also of symbolic importance: a genuinely profound economic crisis broke out, and along with it, sharply increased interest came to be shown in the works of Karl Marx.

Over many years, various Marxists spoke of the crisis of capitalism at such length that the great majority of analysts ceased to take them seriously. The situation thus recalled the old story of the shepherd boy who continually cried “Wolf! Wolf!” even though there was no wolf there.

But one day, the wolf actually appeared ...

Meanwhile serious Marxists, unlike the party-political propagandists of the Soviet era, began talking of the threat of a world financial crisis and of the possibility of its turning into a world economic crisis only relatively recently, around the turn of the 21st century. This was the point at which it became obvious that the gap between fictitious financial capital on the one hand, and human capacities and the requirements of material goods production on the other, had reached dangerous dimensions.

John Bellamy Foster on the economic and ecological crises: `The common denominator is capitalism'

John Bellamy Foster interviewed by Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly's Ruth Ratcliffe

A 20-minute interview recorded with a handheld cam in Oregon, USA, in February 2009. John Bellamy Foster is editor of Monthy Review and professor of sociology at the University of Oregon. He is co-author, with Fred Magdoff, of The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences (Monthly Review Press, January 2009) among numerous other works. Foster discusses the global economic crisis, its implications for the world and particularly the Australian economy. He also discusses the ecological crisis and the potential for revolutionary change.

Robert Brenner: A Marxist explanation for the current capitalist economic crisis

Robert Brenner.

Marxist economist Robert Brenner was interviewed by Seongjin Jeong for Hankyoreh, one of South Korea’s leading daily newspapers. The interview was published on January 22, 2009.

* * *

Seongjin Jeong: Most media and analysts label the current crisis as a ``financial crisis''. Do you agree with this characterisation?

Robert Brenner: It's understandable that analysts of the crisis have made the meltdown in banking and the securities markets their point of departure. But the difficulty is that they have not gone any deeper. From US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and US Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke on down, they argue that the crisis can be explained simply in terms of problems in the financial sector. At the same time, they assert that the underlying real economy is strong, the so-called fundamentals in good shape.

The doublespeak of the discredited IMF

By Eric Toussaint and Damien Millet, translated by Christine Pagnoulle and Judith Harris

March 12, 2009 -- The international crisis that erupted in the summer of 2008 demolished all the neoliberal dogmas and exposed the deception behind them. Unable to deny their failure, the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) claim they no longer uphold the set of neoliberal policies known as the ``Washington Consensus’’. Yet, discredited though they may be, these two institutions are using the international crisis to return to the limelight.

For decades they have enforced the deregulation measures and structural adjustment programs that have led to the current impasse. After this total fiasco the WB and the IMF must now account for their decisions before world opinion.

Paul M. Sweezy: Cars and cities -- `automobilisation' and the `automobile-industrial complex'

By Paul M. Sweezy

[This classic essay first appeared in Monthly Review, vol. 24, no. 11 (April 1973). It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the permission of Monthly Review.]

“Cities, after all, have a great deal in common with cars. More and more, in fact, they often seem to be turning into cars. There are deep mysteries here, impenetrable to the present shallow state of human understanding. Somehow, we know not how, things communicate.” — Russell Baker, New York Times, March 8, 1973

The best way to protect auto industry jobs is to stop making cars

By Don Fitz and Tim Kaminski

In the days when there was an Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers union (OCAW), its St Louis business agent, Bob Tibbs senior, enjoyed coming to Green Party events. He would tell us that his union knew how bad nuclear powerplants were and that it would be happy to get rid of them if workers would be guaranteed jobs of equal pay in other industries. That’s “social unionism”. The union looked beyond wages and working conditions – it asked if what it was producing truly benefited humanity. [1]

Social unionism is most needed in times of crisis. The automobile industry is truly in crisis. According to the February 14, 2009, Wall Street Journal, car sales have dropped to a 30-year low. In November and December, 2008, Ford, General Motors (GM) and Chrysler went to Washington, whining that without tens of billions of dollars in government handouts they would go belly up.

Marx is back! Karl Marx and his contribution to the socialist tradition

The ideas of Karl Marx -- that class society creates great wealth for the few at the expense of the many  --  ring truer every day. Brian Jones, a member of the International Socialist Organization of the United States, examines Marx's revolutionary ideas in the following three articles. These articles first appeared in Socialist Worker, newspaper of the International Socialist Organization of the United States. They have been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission of Socialist Worker.

China: `We feel like we are serving prison sentences', say factory workers for Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Lenovo, Microsoft and IBM

Workers sit on hard wooden stools without backrests 12 hours a day racing to complete 500 keyboards an hour. Each worker will complete 35,750 operations a day.

[For more discussion on China's recent economic and political developments, click HERE.]

By Charles Kernaghan

[This is an excerpt from the introduction and executive summary of a report released by the National Labor Committee in February 2009, High Tech Misery in China: The Dehumanization of Young Workers Producing Our Computer Keyboards. Click here to download the full report in PDF format.]

“I think it’s fair to say that personal computers have become the most empowering tools we’ve ever created. They’re tools of communication, they’re tools of creativity, and they can be shaped by their user...The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.” -- Bill Gates

``We feel like we are serving prison sentences.” -- factory worker making Microsoft keyboards

The new assembly line: Making computer keyboards and other peripherals for Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Lenovo, Microsoft and IBM

Market madness: `Oversupply' of water tanks during a record water crisis!

Not enough water; `too many' tanks

By Dave Holmes

Melbourne, February 26, 2009 -- Australian plastics manufacturer Nylex has been placed in the hands of receivers. Nylex is a well-known name — the company produces the iconic Esky, water tanks, wheelie bins, hose and garden fittings and interior trimmings for car manufacturers. According to the February 13 Melbourne Age, “The drought and a government rebate stimulated demand for water tanks, but oversupply pushed down prices and demand collapsed after substantial rain in Queensland and NSW.”

The slump in the auto industry also contributed to the company’s woes. In the end, the banks (ANZ and Westpac) called in their loans.

The jobs of its 700-strong work force are in the balance. The receivers may or may not find a buyer for Nylex, but any new owner is likely to heavily restructure the company, leading to substantial job losses.

John Bellamy Foster: A failed system -- The world crisis of capitalist globalisation and its impact on China

By John Bellamy Foster

John Bellamy Foster is editor of Monthly Review and professor of sociology at the University of Oregon. He is coauthor, with Fred Magdoff, of The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences (Monthly Review Press, January 2009) among numerous other works. This article was originally a presentation delivered to the International Conference on the Critique of Capital in the Era of Globalization, Suzhou University, Suzhou, China, January 11, 2009. It appeared in the March edition of Monthly Review and is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with John Bellamy Foster's permission.

Michael Lebowitz: The path to human development -- capitalism or socialism?

The following is the preface to an important article in the March 2009 issue of Monthly Review by Michael Lebowitz, entitled "The path to human development: capitalism or socialism?". Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal encourages its readers to follow the link below to the full article. Michael Lebowitz will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.worldATACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets.

* * *

By Michael A. Lebowitz

If we believe in people, if we believe that the goal of a human society must be that of “ensuring overall human development”, our choice is clear: socialism or barbarism.

John Bellamy Foster: `A whole different kind of struggle is emerging'

John Bellamy Foster is editor of Monthly Review and professor of sociology at the University of Oregon. He is the coauthor with Fred Magdoff of The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences, recently published by Monthly Review Press. This interview was conducted by Mike Whitney and first appeared at Dissident Voice. It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Whitney's permission.

Food sovereignty: Accelerating into disaster -- when banks manage the food crisis

January 26, 2009 -- Against the dramatic background of a profound global food and general economic crisis the Spanish government organised the “High Level Ministerial Meeting on Food Security for All” on the January 26-27, 2009, in Madrid.

The emergency of today is rooted in decades of neoliberal policies that dismantled the international institutional architecture for food and agriculture and undermined the capacity of national governments to protect their food producers and consumers. The central cause of the current food crisis is the relentless promotion of the interests of large industrial corporations and the international trade that they control, to the detriment of food production at the local and national levels and the needs and interests of local food producers and communities. At the World Food Summit in 1996, when there were an estimated 830 million hungry people, governments pledged to halve the number by 2015. Today, in the midst of a terrible food crisis, the figure of hungry people has risen to well beyond 1 billion.

Meltdown, fires as climate emergency hits Australia: Urgent action required

By Katherine Bradstreet

Melbourne, February 7, 2009 -- The heatwave across south-eastern Australia in recent weeks has given a hint of what we can expect as global temperatures continue to rise: black-outs, fatalities and transport chaos as privatised infrastructure fails. 

Many are in mourning as bushfires have devastated rural Victoria, with the death toll passing triple figures and more than 750 homes destroyed. The country town of Marysville has been erased from the map. Several other towns have all but been destroyed.

Even before the bushfire catastrophe, South Australia and Victoria had seen a sharp increase in deaths as a result of the heatwave, with Adelaide’s central morgue quite literally overflowing — the “excess” cadavers were stored temporarily in a refrigerated freight container.

Thousands of homes were left without electricity as demand soared, overwhelming the existing grid. Melbourne’s rail system collapsed into chaos as temperatures reached over 40°C.

Fidel Castro: Contradictions between Obama’s politics and ethics

By Fidel Castro Ruz

February 4, 2009 -- A few days ago I referred to some of Obama’s ideas which point to his role in a system that denies every principle of justice.

Some throw their hands up in horror if anything is said to criticise the important personality, even if it is done with decency and respect. This is usually accompanied by subtle and not so subtle darts from those with the means to throw and transform them into the elements of media terror imposed on the peoples to sustain the unsustainable.

Every criticism I make is always construed as an attack, an accusation and other similar qualifiers reflecting callousness and discourtesy towards the person involved.

This time I’d rather address some questions of many that could be raised and that the new President of the United States should answer.

The following for example:

Production-side environmentalism -- Can we produce less and consume more?

By Don Fitz

Corporate "environmentalism" is consumer-side environmentalism. "Make your dollars work for the Earth." "Buy green!" "Purchase this green gewgaw instead of that ungreen gadget." "Feel guilty about driving your car."

Consumer-side environmentalism is loath to discuss production. Consumer-side environmentalism does not challenge the manufacture of cars. Rather, it assumes that producing more and more cars is a sacred right never to be questioned.

Production-side environmentalism places blame on the criminal rather than the victim. It looks at the profits oil companies reap from urban sprawl rather than demeaning people who have no way to get to work other than driving a car. Production-side environmentalism looks at an agro-food industry which profits from transporting highly processed, over-packaged, nutrient-depleted junk thousands of miles rather than the parent giving in to a child bombarded with Saturday morning pop-tart-porn TV.

Production and consumption: A broken connection

Capitalism and sport: Sports for a few

Sachin Tendulkar (pictured) and other stars learnt their cricket in the compounds of their buildings or in lanes and alleys. But even these spaces are now beyond the reach of the common people.

By Vidyadhar Date

The competitive frenzy for winning in sports has been fuelled by aggressive marketing. Together they ensure that while a minority is trained with superlative sports facilities, the majority is deprived of even basic amenities to play and breathe fresh air. In India, market forces have pampered cricket while harming all other games in the process.

India won just three medals at the recent Beijing Olympics, though it did better than in the past. This is seen as a breakthrough by our ruling class,  which now wants the nation to gear up for further success at the London Olympics in 2012.

Present-day Russia needs a renewal of the feminist movement

By Anna Ochkina, translated from Russian for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by Renfrey Clarke

January 1, 2009 -- In the Soviet Union feminism was elevated to the status of official state policy and ultimately was destroyed as an ideology and a social movement. The dominant concept was one of a general, global equality; as a result, a separate movement for the rights of women simply could not exist. The feminist reference points of Soviet social policy took the form of a set of rights for women: employment in the workforce on an equal basis with men; political rights; equality before the law, and so forth. The gaining of formal rights, however, resulted in the restricting of particular, specific rights of women, which in practice proved very difficult to realise.

Sign the Belem Ecosocialist Declaration

The following Declaration was prepared by a committee elected for this purpose at the Paris Ecosocialist Conference of 2007 (Ian Angus, Joel Kovel, Michael Löwy), with the help of Danielle Follett. It will be distributed at the World Social Forum in Belem, Brazil, in January 2009.

To add your name to the list of signatories who support the analysis and political perspectives set forth in this statement, email your name and country of residence to ecosocialism@gmail.com, or visit http://www.ecosocialistnetwork.org/.


The Belem Ecosocialist Declaration

“The world is suffering from a fever due to climate change,
and the disease is the capitalist development model.”
— Evo Morales, president of Bolivia, September 2007

John Bellamy Foster: The great financial crisis: causes and consequences

A November 3, 2008, public lecture by John Bellamy Foster, editor of Monthly Review and co-author (with Fred Magdoff) of The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences, which will published by Monthly Review Press in January 2009. See also ``Financial implosion and stagnation: Back to the real economy'' , by John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff.

Syndicate content

Powered by Drupal - Design by Artinet