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AntiCapitalist Meet-up Hodge-podge

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Below is a collection of things that I’ve been saving up — including the problems of CV-19, MMT, neoliberalism, and other things relating pandemics to the economy. If there’s a point to this selection it is to remind ourselves what will happen in 2021 with Larry Summers now advising the Biden campaign — there’s still a lot of critical work to be done in 2020.

The week is about what looks like propaganda amplifying a RW selective reading and what spin looks like:

Hit—Dems Soft on China/CoronaKey Points:

● The Democratic party is soft on China and fails to stand up to them.

● Democrats called President Trump’s China Travel Ban xenophobic, even though that travel ban saved lives.

● Nancy Pelosi urged San Francisco to get out to Chinatown to celebrate, even though the virus was raging.

● Democrats are more obsessed with being politically correct and what we call the coronavirus than standing up to China and making sure this doesn’t happen again.

● Joe Biden, the Democratic Party Nominee, has been soft on China his whole career. He doesn’t even think China is a rival to us, and he brought his corrupt son Hunter on a taxpayer funded trip to China.

Key Facts:

● Joe Biden has been weak on China his whole career, and brought Hunter on a trip to China paid for by taxpayers .

● Nancy Pelosi called for people to come to Chinatown weeks after Trump’s China Travel Ban

● Democratic lawmakers have raised similar objections. “I’ve said it once & I’ll say it again loud enough for the @WhiteHouse, @FoxNews, & everyone else to hear: coronavirus does not discriminate. Bigotry against people of Asian descent is unacceptable, un-American, & harmful to our COVID-19 response efforts,” Sen.Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) tweeted Tuesday.…



Despite Trumpery, there are some underlying long-term issues that will not be solved with a change in POTUS even if it’s a move in the correct direction.


Foremost in mind on the left in recent decades is how far the US Democratic Party and the British Labour Party have travelled down the path  to  neoliberalism;  while  largely  disregarded  has  been  the  fact  that  this  was a common trajectory of all social democratic parties.


In contrast to the radical proposals for ‘taking capital away from capital’ that emanated from within European social democratic parties in the 1970s –  from  the  union-led  socialization  of  the  corporations  in  Sweden  to  the nationalization of the banks in France – the policies being advanced today by socialists inside the centre-left parties look very modest. The emulation of the glory days of the New Deal or of postwar social democracy is inherently limited by the impossibility of restoring the particular social and economic conditions of those days. The past four decades of the internationalization of capitalist states – not least through the removal of capital controls and the free trade agreements that codified their sponsorship of neoliberal globalization –  have  similarly  rendered  implausible  any  notion  of  merely  rebooting  the stifled socialist agendas that emerged within social democratic parties at the height of the crisis of the Keynesian welfare state in the 1970s.


Being  in  no  position  to  take  over  the  ‘commanding  heights  of  the economy’  –  or  even  to  introduce  capital  controls  without  immediately inducing more severe economic hardship than the austerity they are pledged to  end  –  such  a  government  would  of  necessity  tread  cautiously  through piecemeal interventions against capitalist power and advance reforms which risk  being overwhelmed  in  these  conditions. All this would sustain the very significant oppositional elements inside the centre-left parties at every level, and especially among the elected career politicians for whom a serious commitment  to  socialism, however  gradualist,  is  regarded  as  a  dangerous chimera.  This poses the questions of how the socialist leadership of such a government could sustain its long-term ambitions, and what would distinguish its policies from the types of reforms advanced by progressive liberals and moderate social democrats today.
In  addition  to  the  concern  to  break  with  austerity  and  implement  radical  reforms  to  the  immediate  benefit  of  working  people,  the  new  socialist discourse has focused considerably on the crucial issue of economic democratization. This has created important political space for casting a new challenge to capitalist control over investment, production, and distribution in  a  positive  light.  Yet  what  has  been  proposed  is  exceedingly  modest,  primarily  involving  various  schemes  for  partial  worker  ownership  and  participation in management at the level of the firm. This obviously reflects the current balance of class forces as well as the lack of strategic clarity and political capacities left forces can bring to bear today.
Moreover,  while  the  emphasis  on  policies  to  democratize  corporate  governance  is  driven  by  the  more  general  concern  to  democratize  the  economy,  the  focus  of  these  reforms  underestimates  the  potential  of  democratizing  workplaces  that  stand,  to  some  degree  at  least,  outside  the  competitive  discipline  of  profits  and  competition.
Elizabeth Warren  asserts  that  unlike  other  states  –  including  China,  Japan,  and  Germany – the US lacks a centralized industrial policy, with R&D programs fragmented across myriad state agencies. A new Department of Economic Development,  which  would  replace  the  Commerce  Department,  would  consolidate  these  efforts  and  develop  a  single,  coherent,  market-oriented  industrial  strategy.  That  this  agency  would  also  subsume  the  Office  of  the  US  Trade  Representative  reflects  Warren’s  concern  that  over  the  neoliberal  period,  the  power  and  autonomy  of  state  agencies  promoting  the  internationalization  of  capital  have  been  consistently  enhanced.*  In  Warren’s terms, this amounts to the empowerment of ‘government agencies that undermine sustainable American jobs’. By consolidating these programs and  offices  ‘in  one  place’,  she  hopes  ‘to  make  it  clear  that  the  unified  mission  of  the  federal  government  is  to  promote  sustainable,  middle-class  American jobs’. Her plan thus seeks to counteract financial short-termism by building the capacity within the state to systematically undertake long-term investment planning.
There  is  no  simple  technocratic  means  to  raise  government  revenues  either through taxation or the monetary financing of budgetary deficits. The redistribution  of  society’s  resources  is  inseparable  from  the  redistribution  of power. An over-riding limit in all the steps towards taking control over economic  life,  even  in  the  case  of  relatively  modest  expansions  of  social  provision, is the power of capital to exit and invest abroad (along with the refusal  of  capital  to  keep  coming  in).  Overcoming  that  threat  and  getting  control over the funds to complete the socialist project must, at some point, raise the necessity of imposing controls on finance. It is, however, critical to  see this not as merely ‘keeping capital at home’ along the lines of ‘economic patriotism’. If such controls are to be meaningful, they must extend to what happens to this capital even if it is forced to remain.…

*As discussed in Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin, The Making of Global Capitalism, London: Verso, 2013, chs. 10 and 11.


It seems likely that we will be in a environment of high unemployment even after a vaccine tames the virus. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) will be highly relevant in that environment.

Any recovery is a year away at best:

This is what the capitalists are predicting for the COVID crisis

Doubling or tripling testing (and seriology) is only a first step to recovery, especially since there are mutations and repeat infections for those who recover.


Dawkins coined “memes” to describe a unit of culture analogous to genes. But microbes & vitality may be closer to the mark.

During a pandemic ffs we have to be meticulous abt not spreading disinfo—a pathogen that spikes cortisol, suppresses reason & disinhibits behavior. 

Emphasizing again the radical MIT conclusion: Our brains *prefer*—short term—lies over truth, fiction over fact. Fiction is built with protagonists, antagonists, plot, heightened language. That's why Netflix is intensely calming these days. Facts are thorny. Fiction is organized.


Darn that barbarism and its masked face.



What’s interesting is what the Fed thinks a “narrative sign restriction” is.

The seeds of financial imbalances are sown in times of buoyant economic growth. We study the link between macroeconomic performance and financial imbalances, focusing on the experience of the United States since the 1960s. We first follow a narrative approach to review historical episodes of significant financial imbalances and find that the onset of financial disturbances typically occurs when the economy is running hot. We then look for evidence of a statistical link between measures of macroeconomic conditions and financial imbalances. In our in-sample analysis, we find that strong economic growth is followed by a build-up of financial imbalances across all dimensions of the National Financial Conditions Index. In our out-of sample analysis, we find that the link between strong economic performance and increases inn on financial leverage is particularly strong and robust. Using a structural VAR identified with narrative sign restrictions, we also demonstrate that business cycle shocks are important drivers of nonfinancial leverage.…

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