- Capitalism and Alternatives -

And some more...

Posted by: Red Deathy ( Socialist Party, UK ) on April 15, 1999 at 16:07:59:

In Reply to: More economics and ideology posted by Samuel Day Fassbinder on April 15, 1999 at 11:25:00:

: SDF: But isn't dogma a set of beliefs that has power over people?

Well, in that case we'd be best off discussing dogma, but I think ideology goes beyond that:

Two meanings (off teh top of my head) for Dogma:
1:The "official line" backed by sanction, such as in the religious origins of the word, teh catholic church.
2:An unreasoning creed.

My objection to 'ideology = Dogma' is that dogma is explicit, and in fact the ideology can more often be found in what a dogma doesn't say, than what it says. More below...

: SDF: Yes, fine, and Orwell notes this too, but this is different from the utter disregard for the problems of poverty that the mainstream media in the US project today. This is why we have idiocy such as the 1996 Welfare Bill today.

Yes, indeed, but part of his paternalism was a reactionary 'looking back' to teh sociability of feudalism, people knowing their place, social control rather than financial control, essentially his was a space outside capitalism, however capitalism has expanded and filled that space.

Some schollars (at my Uni) are talking about how capitalistic thinking, the market, the eroticisation and commodification has slipped beyond its traditional restrictions, and occupied everything in society, homes, sex, everything is part of the network of desire.- the posited reason, being, partly that older social forms have simply given up, and are used up (we're finally getting shot of the lards).

So where before we had the restricted, reserved spaces, that looked back to social values, hierarchies of value (ye olde worle metanarratives) they've now collapsed, and capitalism must have free reign.

I agree about that welfare bill, but isn't it just a return to the thirties, or for us, it seems with 'New' Labour the 1890's?, only more so 'first time as tragedy, second time as farce'?

: SDF: Precisely -- but mainstream politics is no longer offering hope because the official ideology has restricted the benefits of Keynesianism to the military sector of the US government, not necessarily because providing the poor with a decent subsistence is today a bad economic strategy for the elites. I'm not clear that there's any practical reason for the persistence of right-wing economic policy in terms of providing long-term prosperity for the ruling classes: Robert Brenner, both in his New Left Review issue 229 and here, points out that the IMF imposition of austerity has been disastrous (Brazil for instance, looks like a disaster in the making) but, even so, the ruling classes are unlikely to change course.

Disasterous for whom? For the nations involved, yes, for Western/Northern Capital, not really....again, the people in charge aren't being hurt, and evrything looks fine from their perspective, and they will do *anything* to stay in charge...

:After all, their enormous profits during the '80s and '90s have been made possible not by (minimal) economic growth, but by the race to the bottom in wages. Why should they change course now? Well, of course, there are objectively good reasons why they should change course now, for their sake and for everyone's, especially given the widespread criticism the IMF has received even within the ranks of the ruling class, but it's still not likely to happen. Why? Well, dogmas possess people, and right-wing monetarism is one such dogma.

And for another, I'd suggest, is that their immediate and narrow self interest, the very logic of capital, has them locked in, and they cannot escape. The machine has taken charge.

:For another example: let's take, for instance, the general failure of Western governments to bail out their economies after the Depression starting in 1929-1932. They were all afraid of inflation, weren't they? It also seems to me that the only thing ending Keynesian policy in the US was the double whammy of 1971's inflation and 1974's oil embargo, and that they would have gone on forever with Keynes, then, had there been no repercussions in terms of their rates of profit. Ruling classes in general will apparently stick with an economic ideology until its failings hit them over the head like a plyboard with a nail sticking out of it.

Exactly, because, by in large, the history of their investments makes it hard for them to change course, a change of course might mean losing too much money, they have to hold on, and try and ride out the storm: 'There is no freedom, even for the masters, among slaves' (Byron).

: SDF: Oh, but here in the States there's incredibly widespread self-congratulation amongst the rich, given the Dow Jones Industrial Average's daily smashing of record high stock values, the incredible inflation of Internet stocks, the accelerating trend in mega-mergers, the Clinton Administration's very high ratings in the opinion polls amidst distorted statistics "revealing" a robust consumer economy as they are reported on the evening news each day...

Yes, and we both, I'm sure, know about Marx's comments about fantasy...and you're the foucauldian- doesn't he (and I'm not crtain of my stuff here) suggest that people talk most and oftenest about the things that most concern them (That may be irrelevent, my knowledge of foucault is very poor), mighten't all their self-congratulatory talk, really be, covnersely, a sign of fear, and of impotence, talking instead of acting.

:they think they can bomb Belgrade into submission without so much as sending a battalion of troops into Kosovo, they're adding countries right and left to NATO, they've subdued Russia, photo-opped Africa, "saved" Brazil, made a new IMF loan to Russia, lowered the US crime statistics, gotten everyone off of welfare here... there's a lot of hubris out here, RD...

Indeed, but, given the recent defeat of plans to allow the military to 'suspend the constitution' in situations of terrorist attack, perhaps the people really in charge have an inkling of whats going down? Maybe the ideologists and the actors in our modern Thespocracies don't say it, but someone, somewhere, knows what the score is....

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