[Marxism] The End of Capitalism as We Know It
absynthe at gmail.com
Wed Mar 11 19:03:25 MDT 2009
On Wed, Mar 11, 2009 at 8:46 PM, Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com> wrote:
> Martin Wolf biography:
Which is what makes it all the more interesting. See below.
Throwing capitalism into the dustbin of history
The Reagan/Thatcher model of unregulated markets now looks "as
outdated as revolutionary socialism" declares the Financial Times'
Martin Wolf. Them's fighting words!
Mar. 11, 2009 |
How should we interpret the remarkable declaration of the
end-of-capitalism-as-we-know-it produced this week by by Martin Wolf,
the chief economics commentator of the Financial Times?
It begins with a bang -- "Another ideological god has failed. The
assumptions that ruled policy and politics over three decades suddenly
look as outdated as revolutionary socialism" -- and continues in that
vein for some 2000 words.
It is impossible at such a turning point to know where we are
going. In the chaotic 1970s, few guessed that the next epoch would see
the taming of inflation, the unleashing of capitalism and the death of
communism. What will happen now depends on choices unmade and shocks
unknown. Yet the combination of a financial collapse with a huge
recession, if not something worse, will surely change the world. The
legitimacy of the market will weaken. The credibility of the U.S. will
be damaged. The authority of China will rise. Globalization itself may
founder. This is a time of upheaval.
"The deepest, broadest and most dangerous financial crisis since the
1930s," writes Wolf, entails nothing less than a: "The proposition
that sophisticated modern finance was able to transfer risk to those
best able to manage it has failed"; b: the bankruptcy of the idea of
"maximization of shareholder value as the way to guide business"" and
c: "the legitimacy of the market process itself is damaged."
That's some strong stuff. Just the suggestion alone that perhaps a
corporation's long term interests are not best served by catering to
the short term financial interest of shareholders is a fairly stunning
rebuke of capitalism as it has been practiced of late. At least one
unrepentant market fundamentalist is unhappy about it. At Canada's
Financial Post, editor and columnist Terence Corcoran greeted Wolf's
broadside as follows:
The end of capitalism is near. Nay, it has arrived, officially
proclaimed yesterday by the world's leading media panjandrum of
economic doom. In a staggeringly glib, sensationalistic and
over-the-top 2,000-word rantorama, Financial Times' economics
columnist Martin Wolf yesterday launched what the Times calls its
major new series, The Future of Capitalism.
Corcoran imaginatively titled his opinion piece "The Future of Big Government."
But here's what's so funny. Martin Wolf is preaching the gospel of
gloom now for entirely understandable reasons. We happen to be
experiencing a global economic catastrophe. But Wolf hasn't always
been a "panjandrum of economic doom." His 2004 book, "Why
Globalization Works" offers a pretty ringing defense of capitalism as
it has been practiced over the past few decades. Until quite recently
he was far more of a defender of deregulated markets than a
But what makes Wolf interesting is that he has allowed his views to be
shaped by events, rather than attempted to force those events to fit
into his preexisting box. Meanwhile Corcoran, like conservative
Republicans in the United States, automatically labels any critique of
manifest market failures as a manifesto for Big Government. They don't
seem to have any room in their calcified mental frameworks for the
conception that maybe, just maybe, capitalism can be improved -- that
there is some usefuness to the concept of "well-regulated markets"
that doesn't translate automatically into stereotyped "statism."
-- Andrew Leonard
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