[Marxism] The lure of Keynesianism

Gary MacLennan gary.maclennan1 at gmail.com
Thu Feb 7 17:00:27 MST 2013

I have snipped a section from the NYT's article by Paul Krugman.  Not
because I endorse his views but because it is being circulated in Brisbane
among what we in the International Socialists arrogantly used to refer to
as the "Soft Left".

Australia has been spared most of the current financial crisis due to the
continuation of the minerals export to China boom.  That much is well
known. However having a resources based economy creates other problems, but
that is not what this post is about. I am becoming once more fascinated by
Queensland politics and recapturing my belief from the 70s that what
happens in Queensland is central to what will unfold in the larger and more
populous states in the South.

So to my narrative about Queensland.

Queensland elected last year a conservative government - led by the newly
formed Liberal National Party.  It was elected in a record landslide that
almost saw the ruling Labor Part wiped out. The trauma and demoralisation
induced in the Labor Party by this experience is very deep.  It is
compounded though by the under lying exhaustion of the Laobr Party's
political project which has been to surf the tide of neo-liberal reform. I
hasten to point out here that the surfing metaphor does tend to disguise
the process of active collaboration and even the initiating role that Labor
has played in the neo-liberalising of Australia.

With the Labor Opposition in political and theoretical disarray,  the new
LNP began with a class assault straight out of the Austerians handbook.
The Public Service was thrashed with at least 14, 000 puiblic servants
losing their jobs.  There were whole sale attacks on the social wage etc.
The result is that state unemployment is rapidly trending upwards. the
assault on the non-mining sector of the economy is especially stupid given
the lopsidedness produced by the resources boom.  But there you are.
Capitalist irrationality reigns in Queensland.  How could it be otherwise
when it reigns in Washington?

All of which brings me back to the Krugman article and the lure of
Keynesianism. For me Krugman et al represent the hope that somehow we will
not have to undergo the trauma of taking on the capitalist class and their
supporters in order to build a socialist world. It is the belief that
somehow there is an easy fix - replace under-consumption with consumption.
What could be simpler? So we have the left intelligentsia in Brisbane
circulating Keynesian solutions.  It is a very small intelligentsia to be
sure, but one that is desperately groping for solutions. In that I feel it
reflects the state of Non-Marxist Australian Left.



*Pathetic search for austerity success stories*

*By PAUL KRUGMAN, New York Times Op-Ed Columnist*

*January 31, 2013*

** **

** **

Three years ago, a terrible thing happened to economic policy, both here
and in Europe.  Although the worst of the financial crisis was over,
economies on both sides of the Atlantic remained deeply depressed, with
very high unemployment.  Yet the Western world’s policy elite somehow
decided en masse that unemployment was no longer a crucial concern, and
that reducing budget deficits should be the overriding priority.****

** **

In recent columns, I’ve argued that worries about the deficit are, in fact,
greatly exaggerated — and have documented the increasingly desperate
efforts of the deficit scolds to keep fear alive.  Today, however, I’d like
to talk about a different but related kind of desperation: the frantic
effort to find some example, somewhere, of austerity policies that
succeeded.  For the advocates of fiscal austerity — the austerians — made
promises as well as threats: austerity, they claimed, would both avert
crisis and lead to prosperity.****

** **

And let nobody accuse the austerians of lacking a sense of romance; in
fact, they’ve spent years looking for Mr Goodpain.****

** **

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