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17 September 2008

Prominent left-wingers' views of the financial meltdown


What? We still can't say the word "depression"? How about "recession", can we at least call it that? Are we all Keynesians now?
The Guardian has a nice selection of comments and insights into the global financial crisis, coming out on the same day that Lloyd's TSB is in talks to buy out Halifax-BOS (both major UK banks and the result of earlier mega-mergers, but in more optimistic times.) But rather than being the thoughts of pundits and economists, these views are from philosophers, artists, socialists and peace activists.
Is capitalism done for? Is it even in trouble? Most of the thinkers say no. They are not so positive about the chances of the nemesis known as New Labour, however. Many of them bemoan the undeniable fact that the left does not have an inkling of a reform plan. But still, the analyses are mostly quite spot-on.

Ken Livingstone (former mayor of London) : As a system for the distribution and exchange of goods, you can't beat the market. But the mistake a lot of politicians have made is to think that because the market was good at that, it could be good at everything: it could train workers, create infrastructure, protect the environment, regulate itself. Quite obviously, it can't.
Max Keiser (former broker) : This is not a blip. It's extremely significant. We will see a shift in power away from the US, and towards the developing world - to countries such as Brazil and the Gulf states that have commodities to sell, and to China, where the savings ratio is high. We are going to see a new world order. America as a driver of the global economy is finished.
Shelia Rowbotham (professor of gender and labour history) : The Labour party has always been ambiguous about whether it is trying to make capitalism more efficient, or whether it is trying to soften its harshness. Since the 1970s, the left has been much weakened, as neoliberal ideas became totally ascendent. Under Blair, the idea that the Labour party was committed to any redistribution was pushed to the sidelines. I would like to see a new kind of left - a left that would relate to the present predicament.

Late breaking addendum : Nobel prize-winner Joseph E. Stiglitz has an article on CNN about preventing future financial catastrophes (in the US) through prudent regulation.

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