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Anglo Disease: The end of an era?

by Jerome a Paris Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 09:47:35 AM EST

A hard-hitting piece from a French-sounding guy in the Guardian:

The interwar crisis led to the second world war and the birth of Keynesianism. The less significant Opec crisis of the 1970s destroyed the social-democratic consensus and led to the triumph of neoliberalism. And this time? One thing seems certain: the neoliberal orthodoxy will be undermined.

(...)

The American model was celebrated by Thatcherites and New Labour alike, California worshipped as the model of the future, "Anglo-Saxon" embalmed as the fitting metaphor for the shared Anglo-American legacy, Europe denigrated and the rest of the world ignored. How perceptions of the US have changed: a country living beyond its means, dependent on large helpings of Asian credit, characterised by huge inequalities, its great financial institutions guilty of huge folly, forced to rely for their salvation on the sovereign wealth funds of China and elsewhere.


He also has these paragraphs on free-trade and liberalism, but I wonder if he's right about that:

When the free market and deregulation are the means by which the western world extends its global economic power over the developing world, then they are deemed highly virtuous, but it is a different matter when they become the instrument by which developing countries can extend their influence over western economies.

I think our elites mind when these tools are used for political purposes rather than for financial purposes, ie when the rules of the game are changed, so I don't quite agree that "these tools" are the instrument for reverse influence - rather, their "retooling" is. But the point about this being about power and domination remains.

This crisis, however, threatens to be even more fundamental. While the 1973 gyrations were the result of a temporary shift of power from the industrial world to Opec, the underlying cause this time is permanent and far-reaching - a fundamental shift in power from the developed world to the developing world, and above all China and India. We have not witnessed anything like this since the inception of the west as an industrial powerhouse in the 19th century.

This is a fashionable theory, but I'm not convinced yet that this can actually happen - because of resource constraints, because of deeper tensions and problems inside within these countries and, most of all, because in many cases their elites are as much trying to ape and join the global elite as they are trying to steer their countries towards prosperity or greater power.

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Just in case anyone is wondering: The French-sounding guy was the last editor of Marxism Today, the CPGB's theoretical journal, and the leading eurocommunist theorist in Great Britain back in the 1980s.


The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 09:58:58 AM EST
and certainly a relevant item of background to have. Thanks!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 10:17:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The resource restraints are certainly there: I recall the excellent diagram you posted a while back entitled 'How Long Will it Last?'

According to it: If the rest of the world uses resources at 1/2 the rate of the US, then we have only 4 years left of Indium - required for making LCD screens. Things like that stick in your mind ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 12:34:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but it's also worth pointing out that most of the Marxism Today people ended up signing the Euston Manifesto. Praising "muscular (neo)-liberalism for attacking the correct enemies, they failed to notice or even care who was in the driving seat or what the final destination might be.

Stalin had a phrase for them, "useful idiots".

I don't think Jacques went that far, but by being part of Demos he's certainly a paid-up Blairite. So he might as well have signed the damn thing.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 01:10:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I only recently noticed he's still writing (and didn't know about his involvement in Demos) - but he does seem to have distanced himself from blairism quite a lot lately: (1, 2 [scary title though])

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 02:11:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As the comemnts said.. he is a commie :)

But other than that... the fact that china and India will rise is independent of this crisis... actually, the only impediemnt to their growth in influence is the limit of resources... adn the local environment...w hile the rise of russia is precisely thanks to its resources.

the fianantial crisis (elite-oligarchy work) and the iraq war (geopolitical game of the neocons) has produced a faster shift of power 8who cares about the US in Asia any longer?)...a couple of decades earlier... like.. just right now...

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 10:04:15 AM EST
... the US to become the largest economy ... though it would do to check whether or not the Sino-Japanese productive zone is already larger than NAFTA or the EU, in PPP terms ...

There are no guarantees in how the long cycle plays out. It is a long term process that has been playing through what was originally the Euro-Atlantic region since shortly after the Americas began to be incorporated into the region, and once ... with Britain ... the dominant economy of one cycle succeeded itself, rather than giving way to another economy.

However, we are definitely nearing the end of the line for the technological regime that this cycle has been based upon, so that if China does not pass the US in size sometime in the next ten years, as expected, the US cannot rest secure that it remains the hegemon by default.

When a technological regime has played its course, there is no default ... everyone is forced to try to cope with the change in circumstances,  and some society will find that its economy has coped better than the rest.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 12:37:51 PM EST
Could resist to copy here a funny comment made at the Guardian, associated to the article, not in response to M.Jacques, but to a third person:

"Capitalism hasn't failed, comrades! It's never been tried!".

by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 12:50:09 PM EST
It is surprising how often I have read comments like this, but then serious, as response to the credit crisis, blaiming it on the Fed, and the Fed is the government is the socialists is TehEvil.
by GreatZamfir on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 01:12:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But the point about this being about power and domination remains.

Yes, this is my take as well.  It's really not about regional power and domination, it's about money and power by the elite.  

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 03:38:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a fashionable theory, but I'm not convinced yet that this can actually happen - because of resource constraints, because of deeper tensions and problems inside within these countries and, most of all, because in many cases their elites are as much trying to ape and join the global elite as they are trying to steer their countries towards prosperity or greater power.

Yes, that's the point isn't it. The rise of the third world isn't about creating an alternative economic organisation in competition with "Anglo-disease", it's just another limb succumbing to the body's wasting disease.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 01:13:09 PM EST
This is a fashionable theory, but I'm not convinced yet that this can actually happen - because of resource constraints, because of deeper tensions and problems inside within these countries and, most of all, because in many cases their elites are as much trying to ape and join the global elite as they are trying to steer their countries towards prosperity or greater power.

You words ought to be pasted up in front of every columnist and editor across the Western world, indeed, should be tatooed into their foreheads.

China and India are still predominantly Third-World countries. True, they are unusual in that they are very large and therefore offer large pools of cheap labour, and can sustain large 'wealthy' domestic populations.

But if inequality can screw up and derail the US, it can certainly prevent China or India from climbing to the top of the pile. Without imaginative leadership that envisages some alternative to simply slotting into the current world system on a subordinate basis, the fates of these nations are sealed.

by wing26 on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 06:00:55 PM EST


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