Posted by: Doug Henwood | March 25, 2014

Who will defend The Market?

Speaking of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Ryan Cooper points to anxiety on the right about its considerable splash, and its rigorous argument for the tendency of wealth to concentrate over time. He quotes James Pethokoukis of National Review, who worries that a New Marxism is afoot:

John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek famously squared off in the 1930s, Left versus Right. But when Keynes published his revolutionary General Theory in 1936, Hayek went silent. It was a de facto retreat that helped give free rein to anti-market forces — even if that was not what Keynes intended — for decades until Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz wrote A Monetary History of the United States in 1963 and energized the intellectual fight against statism. Who will make the intellectual case for economic freedom today?

Pethokoukis, conceding that Piketty’s case is “well argued, [but] far from airtight,” doesn’t try the heavy lifting himself, though he does seem to be overdoing the threat to capitalism’s hegemony. Still, his anxiety is worth savoring.

The right-wing classics of the 1960s and 1970s—I remember them well, I was a follower for a bit—were published when their ideas were fresh arguments against a Keynesian orthodoxy. Fifty years later, with neoliberalism ideologically triumphant but presiding over vast social and ecological wreckage, it’s hard to imagine anything with the verve or persuasiveness of Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom being written (or tweeted) today.

Pethokoukis should also reflect on the remarkable things that Corey Robin got NR’s founder to say in Lingua Franca back in 2001:

William F. Buckley Jr. says, “The trouble with the emphasis in conservatism on the market is that it becomes rather boring. You hear it once, you master the idea. The notion of devoting your life to it is horrifying if only because it’s so repetitious. It’s like sex.”

Sex is actually much better than the market, but let’s bracket that and consider as well what Corey got Irving Kristol to say:

“American conservatism lacks for political imagination. It’s so influenced by business culture and by business modes of thinking that it lacks any political imagination, which has always been, I have to say, a property of the left. If you read Marx, you’d learn what a political imagination could do.”

And, Buckley again:

At the end of our interview, I ask Buckley to imagine a younger version of himself, an aspiring political enfant terrible graduating from college in 2000, bringing to today’s political world the same insurgent spirit that Buckley brought to his. What kind of politics would this youthful Buckley embrace? “I’d be a socialist,” he replies. “A Mike Harrington socialist.” He pauses. “I’d even say a communist.”

The challenge, though, Buckley disclosed, was “conjoining all of that into an arresting afflatus.” But it’s not clear that the right has one of those at the ready either.

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Posted by: Doug Henwood | March 25, 2014

I review Piketty

Bookforum has unleashed my review of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century. The opening:

The core message of this enormous and enormously important book can be delivered in a few lines: Left to its own devices, wealth inevitably tends to concentrate in capitalist economies. There is no “natural” mechanism inherent in the structure of such economies for inhibiting, much less reversing, that tendency. Only crises like war and depression, or political interventions like taxation (which, to the upper classes, would be a crisis), can do the trick. And Thomas Piketty has two centuries of data to prove his point.

 

 

Posted by: Doug Henwood | March 21, 2014

Fresh audio product

Just posted to my radio archives:

March 20, 2014 Anatol Lieven on Ukraine • Micah Uetricht, author of Strike for Americaon the Chicago Teachers Union

Posted by: Doug Henwood | March 14, 2014

Fresh audio product

Just added to my radio archives:

March 13, 2014 Andrew Ross, author of Creditocracyon debt and resistance • Evelyn McDonnell, author of Queens of Noiseon The Runaways

March 6, 2014 Greg Grandin, author of Empire of Necessityon the real history behind Melville’s Benito Cereno • Melissa Gira Grant, author of Playing the Whoreon sex work as work

Posted by: Doug Henwood | February 28, 2014

Fresh audio content

Just added to my radio archives:

February 27, 2014 George Ciccariello-Maher, author of We Created Chavez, on the unrest in Venezuela • Adolph Reed, author of this article, on the long, sad decline of the American left

Posted by: Doug Henwood | February 24, 2014

Fresh audio product

Just added to my radio archives:

February 20, 2014 Richard Walker, co-author with Suresh Lodha of The Atlas of Californiaon the Golden State’s physical and social geography, history, economy, ecology

Posted by: Doug Henwood | January 31, 2014

Fresh audio product

Sorry for the delay, but three shows freshly posted to my radio archives:

January 30, 2014 Laura Newland, author of Chasing Zeroeson how Wall Street is messing up college life • excerpts from Kshama Sawant’s response to the State of the Union • Tom Philpott on GMOs and ag tech

January 23, 2014 Christian Parenti on nature, capital, and the state • Anne Elizabeth Moore on political unrest in Cambodia

January 16, 2014 Stephanie Coontz on why men need feminism • Branko Milanovic on the world income distribution (paper here)

Posted by: Doug Henwood | January 13, 2014

Oops…

I forgot to change the year directory on the radio archive to /2014/, so the links I initially posted didn’t work. Now they do:

January 9, 2014 (back after holiday reruns) two interviews recorded on a visit to Lisbon: economist Ricardo Paes Mamede and labor historian Raquel Varela on Portugal and the eurocrisis

Posted by: Doug Henwood | January 13, 2014

Fresh audio product

I visited Lisbon the week after Christmas and two of my souvenirs are the interviews that make up this show, freshly posted to my radio archives:

January 9, 2014 (back after holiday reruns) two interviews recorded on a visit to Lisbon: economist Ricardo Paes Mamede and labor historian Raquel Varela on Portugal and the eurocrisis

Posted by: Doug Henwood | December 26, 2013

Fresh audio product

Just posted to my radio archives:

December 19, 2013 Sam Gindin, former advisor to the Canadian Auto Workers Union, on why unions need a left • Christy Thornton, grad student organizer at NYU, on unions and the corporate university

There was no December 12 show because KPFA was fundraising. The December 26 show is a rerun because of the holidays.

 

 

Posted by: Doug Henwood | December 7, 2013

Bill de Blasio’s continuing evolution

I’ve been a little distracted the last few days so I’m only catching up with the news that Bill de Blasio named Anthony Shorris as first deputy mayor. The Daily News described him as “a seasoned city government hand and veteran troubleshooter,” which is certainly one angle.

Another would be this: he worked in a couple of finance posts for Ed Koch, for Joel Klein at Bloomberg’s Board of Ed, and is now Vice Dean, Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff of the NYU Langone Medical Center and board member of the NYS Hospital Association. He’s also on the board of the Regional Plan Association, one of capital’s peak associations for the economic and physical development of the city and its inner suburbs, and is co-chair of its Fourth Regional Plan. So a real-estate friendly guy out of the medical-industrial complex.

De Blasio disappeared for a few weeks after the election. Now we know what he was doing – reassuring the FIRE elite that all that “tale of two cities” talk was just electoral hot air.

Cue the apologists and holders of feet to the fire….

Posted by: Doug Henwood | December 5, 2013

Fresh audio product

Just added to my radio archives:

December 5, 2013 Mark Fisher, author of “Exiting the Vampire Castle” and Capitalist Realismon Russell Brand, identitarianism, and depressive hedonia • George Scialabba, author of For The Republicon democracy & plutocracy

Posted by: Doug Henwood | November 21, 2013

Fresh audio product

Just posted to my radio archives:

November 21, 2013 Jennifer Silva, author of Coming Up Shorton the consciousness of younger working-class adults • Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute on what has and hasn’t been driving wage inequality (paper here)

November 14, 2013 Richard Seymour on the politics of austerity in the UK (here’s the pic of David Cameron preaching austerity from a gold lectern) • Arun Gupta looks behind the fast food workers organizing campagin (article here)

Posted by: Doug Henwood | November 7, 2013

Fresh audio product

Just added to my radio archives:

November 7, 2013 Max Blumenthal, author of Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israelon repression and daily life in that country

October 31, 2013 Michelle Chen, author of this article, on how drug companies use patents to screw the sick • Mark Ames on libertarianism and the Koch Bros. network

Posted by: Doug Henwood | October 25, 2013

Fresh audio product

Just posted to my radio archives:

October 24, 2013 Bruce Bartlett, former Republican, on the lunacy of his former party • Isaac William Martin, author of Rich People’s Movementson the history of popular mobilizations to untax elites (i.e., the Tea Party is nothing new)

October 17, 2013 Jodi Dean, professor of political science at Hobart & William Smith and author of The Communist Horizon, on the need for a left party • Kshama Sawant on her campaign as an open socialist for the Seattle city council

These programs mark a return to normalcy after some fundraising pre-emptions. If you want to keep these shows coming, please support KPFA and mention Behind the News when you do.

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