[Marxism] Are recessions better for the left or right?

michael perelman michael at ecst.csuchico.edu
Sat Jul 24 15:08:02 MDT 2010

The Chinese character for crisis supposedly combines danger and 
opportunity, although I've been told that it is not true. Even so, it 
should be true.  Uprisings occur during good times, such as the 60s, 
when people expected better. I'm not sure whether any such uprising ever 
created lasting changes.

Bad times make people desperate.  Desperation makes people vulnerable to 
demagogy, but it can also create opportunity for long-term organizing.  
Here, the Great Depression offers the most obvious example.

Opportunity is no guarantee of success.  Sometimes demagogy wins out. 
Sometimes organizing can, but I suspect that generalizations are 
impossible without looking at context. How would the New Deal have 
turned out without the prior existence of the Communist Party in the 
United States? As an undergraduate, I had the opportunity to drive 
Norman Thomas around Ann Arbor.  He thought that Roosevelt had 
appropriated the Socialist party platform.

Here in the US, the corporate-oriented Democratic Leadership Council 
might be the strongest operative "left" organization.  We have bloggers 
and e-mail lists on the left, unfortunately only a few of us have any 
record of organizational successes.

In any case, I suspect that we have little grounds for optimism within 
the context of the current crisis in the US economy.



Michael Perelman
Economics Department
California State University
michael at ecst.csuchico.edu
Chico, CA 95929
fax 530-898-5901

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