Month: January 2018

Socialism from the Right

The Right’s celebration of the god of the Market and its Masters of the Universe promotes its own version of anti-democratic socialism

The “free market” label today is being used to promote a form of monopolistic anti-democratic socialism. It is anti-democratic because it is politically authoritarian in its use of the government to place more and more power into fewer and fewer hands. It is anti-democratic economically because the resulting extreme concentrations of power in market after market is limiting or even choking off competition in each of these sectors of the economy.

Luigi Zingales describes private firms “untrammeled by the need to compete” as “socialist islands in a free-market ocean.”[1] Zingales is a Professor at the Chicago Booth School of Business and Director of the Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, which “aims to promote and disseminate research on regulatory capture, crony capitalism, and the various distortions that special interest groups impose on capitalism,” according to its webpage.

Barry Lynn[2] is one of the most forthright in labeling the result of extreme concentrations of power “socialism.” He is also the clearest in spelling out how the resulting economies warrant the label. In each case the result comes closer to realizing planned economies in which the planners are those at the top of the pyramids of power. If there is “competition” between those pyramids of power it is the competition between so-called private but in fact political oligopolists, autocrats, capitalist empires. It is competition over who gets the spoils. In its most extreme form it is a competition of gangsters, what Matt Taibbi calls a “griftopia.”[3] It is decidedly not democratic market competition.

[1] Luigi Zingales, A Capitalism for the People: Recapturing the Lost Genius of American Prosperity, 2012, p. 43.

[2] Barry Lynn, Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction, 2010.

[3] Matt Taibbi, Griftpoia: A Story of Bankers, Politicans, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History, 2011.

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Despise not the day of small things

Naomi Klein has rightly said that confronting the climate crisis “not only requires a new economy but a new way of thinking.” (“The Change Within”). Bruno Latour’s latest book, Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime (2017), is a magnificent, path-breaking reconnaissance into the wilderness of that new way. It is no inspiration-of-the-moment magic bullet. Rather, it is the work of a scout who has been making forays into unknown terrain for over thirty years of single-minded, relentless labor at the grassroots-level as well as the highest levels of theory. The provisional, partial map of the wilderness drawn in Facing Gaia, based on the surveyor-detail sketches accumulating over the past decades, makes one of the most compelling cases I know for the kind of grassroots, experimental egalitarian organizing going on today. Latour’s work from the beginning has been a collaborative project on a heroic scale committed to reimagining democratic politics.

Posted by admin in Imagining, Reimagining Earth, 0 comments