[OPE-L:6645] Re: John Strachey

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Sat Mar 02 2002 - 14:26:59 EST

>I have been reading John Strachey's The Nature of Capitalist Crisis 
>(Corvici, Friede, Inc., 1935). I would appreciate any comments or 
>criticisms of Strachey's work.  His criticisms of GDH Cole are quite 
>All the best, Rakesh

Strachey's critique of social democracy interests me. I think it is 
widely believed by the US populist left (by which I mean the readers 
of the Nation magazine or members of Green like parties) that 
capitalism could be stabilized on a high growth trajectory if wages 
were made higher through union pressure, progressive taxation, 
immigration restriction and protectionism against low wage imports.

For Strachey such conclusions in regards to the high wage path result 
from theoretical confusion, and strengthen support in the working 
class for demagogic, nationalist and authoritarian political 
movements which after all have a better chance of coming to power 
than leftists whose moral objections can only seem weak given all 
that they have themselves theoretically conceded in terms of the 
crisis-attenuating powers of an authoritarian state; moreover, since 
the basic abstractions of their Keynes-Marx synthesis such as the 
propensities to consume and invest are neutral in regards to leftist 
or rightist appropriation, they have left themsevles in a vulnerable 
position (still worth consulting is Erich Roll's piece on the eclipse 
of liberal economics in the first Modern Quarterly).

In the US Marxists themselves feed the illusions of the high wage 
path, publish and cite favorably authoritarian populists like Michael 
Lind, remained relatively silent about the unions' anti China 
bashing,  allowed the illusion that third world exports are the main 
drag on US wages to fester, and left largely unexplored the economic 
bases of the imperialist  power politics of their bourgeoisie in the 
Arab world (the word "oil" is invoked to explain all).

The US working class seems ripe for the picking by authoritarian, 
demagogic and nationalist statists, and I think US leftist 
intellectuals have done little--if not actually contributed--to this 
dire situation.


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