Chris Harman

Two faces of John Maynard Keynes

Issue section: 
Author: 

Economists, both left and right, are championing Keynes as the answer to the crisis. Since his theories do little to challenge the fundamental grip of capitalism, isn't it time for those on the left to recognise his flaws?

"Everyone is in thrall to the great economist now." So ran a piece in the Financial Times about John Maynard Keynes. And so it seems. The same message comes from US treasury secretary Hank Paulson and the Fed's Ben Bernanke at one extreme and from left wingers like Larry Elliot and Graham Turner at the other. Keynes showed in the 1930s how to stop crises, they all say, and his methods can work now.

Market madness

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

The ruling classes of the US and Britain are reeling in the face of the economic meltdown of their system and the real character of capitalism is exposed, writes Chris Harman

On Sunday 7 September the most right wing Republican administration in the US for three quarters of a century carried out the takeover of the mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. It was then what appeared to be the "greatest nationalisation in the history of humanity", as Nouriel Roubini, professor at New York University and former US government adviser, described it.

Chorus of hypocrites

Issue section: 
Author: 

It comes easy for liberal commentators to condemn some human rights abuses and invasions, but why do they always stop short of denouncing the outrages perpetrated by the Western powers?

What a year it's been for denunciations of oppression and militarism in the media, particularly the BBC. They have condemned the crimes of the Burmese junta, repression by Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, the Sudanese militias in Darfur, public hangings in Iran, Chinese repression in Tibet and now the Russian army in Georgia. Images of devastation have been accompanied by journalistic descriptions of brutality, denunciations by George Bush and Gordon Brown, Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, John McCain and Barack Obama - and demands from liberal commentators that "something must be done".

The emperors, and their clothes

Issue section: 
Author: 

Two new books on the state of the economy expose the speculation and greed that have propped up Gordon Brown's so-called boom years

What a difference a year makes. The conventional wisdom at the beginning of last summer was that the economy was performing wonders. Graham Turner, Larry Elliott and Dan Atkinson were among a small minority of economists and commentators prepared to say the emperor had no clothes. Now everyone can see that they were right.

The year before

Issue section: 
Issue: 

Grosvenor Square 1968 has become a common piece of historical shorthand (Feature, Socialist Review, May 2008).

There was a demonstration against the Vietnam War in March 1968 in London. It did not go to the US embassy. The battle of Grosvenor Square, when the police mounted full scale cavalry charges, was in October 1967.

The March 1968 effort was much larger but much more passive. Tariq Ali led it off to Hyde Park, and only the ultra-lefts (yes, I was one) went to Grosvenor Square, where we were totally outnumbered by the police (who didn't lose it this time). Apparently, at the end, they all sang Auld Lang Syne together (no, I didn't). There was none of that in 1967.

1968: The Year the World Caught Fire

Issue section: 
Issue: 

The events of 1968 inspired a generation and shaped struggles around the world for years to come. Chris Harman, a student activist at the time, looks back at this tumultuous year

Occasionally one year can cast a spell over the decades that follow. 1968 was such a year. Supporters of capitalism still bemoan its impact 40 years on. Nicolas Sarkozy on the eve of his election declared he aimed to eradicate the "harm" that it had done. Before him it had been Tony Blair who blamed "the 1960s" for what he sees as the ills of society today.

Workers' unity in the face of Enoch Powell's racism

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Socialists watched in despair when dockers and building workers marched in support of Enoch Powell's "rivers of blood" speech. But the tide turned and a few years later dockers were marching for Grunwick strikers.

This year the left will be commemorating the events of May 1968, when students and workers rose up in Paris.

But those events were preceded in Britain by a dismal affair. The gutter press and right wing politicians launched a huge campaign against Asian families fleeing persecution in East Africa. The Labour government and nearly all the Labour MPs joined in. They pushed a bill through parliament in just one day, removing the right of Asians to enter this country even through they held British passports.

The state of imperialism

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

If, as some people on the left claim, the term "imperialism" is out of date, who are the world's multinationals depending on to defend their interests?

A snippet of news can occasionally lift the veil off the real motives behind high politics. One such snippet was buried on the inside pages of the Guardian last month. It revealed details about breakfast meetings held in Downing Street in 2003 between Tony Blair and the ten-strong "Multinational Chairmen's Group", which included the heads of BP, Unilever, Vodafone, HSBC and Shell. They were invited to tell the prime minister how government policies affected British based international companies and air their grievances.

Economic crisis: Capitalism exposed

Issue section: 
Author: 

Every time economic crises develop they are described as aberrations in an otherwise rational and balanced system. Chris Harman looks at the roots and implications of the recent credit crunch, and explains why crises are in fact an intrinsic feature of capitalism.

"Investors are no longer worried whether certain banks have enough cash. They are worried about the risk of a US or even a global recession." So the Financial Times summed up the fear of those who live off capitalist profits on 18 January.

Mainstream economic commentators agree on one thing: the crisis that began in one section of the financial system last summer could be about to create chaos through much of the capitalist system which they support.

No saviours or substitutes

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

The words of the Internationale strike a chord for all socialists who believe society can only be transformed from below. It is a message that could not be more urgent than for today's working class in Venezuela and Bolivia.

No saviour from on high delivers
No faith have we in prince or peer.

So runs the second verse of the socialist anthem the Internationale. It is rarely sung in Britain. But the message is very important.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Chris Harman