[OPE] conference on 'crisis of financialization?'

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@telfort.nl)
Date: Sun May 04 2008 - 06:38:45 EDT

I think there is quite some truth in what you say although through practical experience I have formed a very different perspective on it. 

I am not sure what you mean by radicalization. In Holland, the social democrats set up central and local government committees to monitor and combat radicalisation, and university chairs have been established to study radicalisation. But radicalisation, in this modern sense, means "extremism" of any kind. For example, there is now a lot of racism about religion and sexuality in society, and this is a powerful source of radicalisation among those who are the target of that racism. 

I do not see any evidence yet that the US or EU economy is "slumping or crashing", just the first signs of recessive conditions emerging. A true "slump" means negative real net output growth in aggregate for a least several quarters. A "crash" usually means a stock market crash, or a very sudden sharp drop in economic growth to near-zero level. But I think the most likely scenario is simply slower economic growth or relative stagnation qua output. The limit of debt-driven demand growth is the capacity to repay, and if for some reason that capacity stalls suddenly in a major way, then that can trigger a downturn. But this does not necessarily mean negative economic growth. It does mean that somewhat more of the new value and income generated has to be transferred from the poor to the rich to keep the system going.

In my own analysis, I distinguish sharply between "declining output growth" and "capitalist crisis". The one does not necessarily imply the other.

I realise that much of the Western Left looks for hope to Latin America, but that is just because they cannot make sense of their own countries. In reality, what happens politically in Latin America does not have much political effect on other continents. 

The critical factor as regards the intellectuals is not radicalisation I think, but the visibility of real conflicts emerging between social classes, for example, strikes, mass protests or social movements. If the conflicts are very visible, the intellectuals get very enthusiastic about class struggle ideas, and it seems to have a certain reality. But if they are not visible, then class theories do not seem to explain very much, and they lack credibility. But that is just to say that people typically view the world from the point of view of their own station in life.  


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