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Yanis Varoufakis: At the Kreisky Forum: Why have Europe's social democrats surrendered to the toxic logic of current policies? (7 December, 2012)
Europe's Left, at the time of the Rise of the Global Minotaur (i.e. from the late 1970s till 2008), increasingly forgot that

  • the more financialised capitalism becomes

  • the more labour is being treated like any other commodity

  • the more our societies rely on house price bubbles as a source of rents and debt

the more unstable, crisis-prone and, ultimately, uncivilised capitalism becomes.

Capitalism experienced its heyday under people like Kreisky: Politicians who understood the above; leaders who were intensely sceptical of capitalism; who understood the importance of keeping financialisation, labour exploitation and real estate bubbles on a tight leash.

So, the question remains: How come Europe's Left abandoned these cherished principles of a Bruno Kreisky, a Willy Brandt, and Olof Palme? Why has the Left fallen for the toxic economics and politics of our era? (E.g. the SPD today which is faithfully voting with Mrs Merkel come what may.)

My tentative answer is that Europe's Left fell for the Global Minotaur's old trick. They saw the rivers of privately minted money that the financial sector was printing (while labour was squeezed and real estate prices soared) and thought they could harness some of it in order to pursue social democratic policies! Rather than (as the social democrats of the previous, Kreisky era had to do) target the profits of industry, as a source of funding social programs, social democrats thought they could tap the rivers of cash produced in the context of financialisation. Let finance free to do as it pleased and then tap into some of its proceeds to fund the welfare state. That was their game and, at the time, it seemed to them a better idea, more fathomable, than having to be constantly in conflict with industrialists, seeking to tax them in order to redistribute. In contrast, bankers were quite easy going. As long as the `leftist' politicians let them do as they pleased, they were happy to give them some crumbs off their gargantuan dinner table.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 10th, 2012 at 04:31:19 AM EST
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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Dec 10th, 2012 at 06:23:36 AM EST
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