During the Banking Crash of 2008/9, Firefighting’s authors, Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner and “Hank” Paulson, headed up the US Federal Reserve Board, the NY Federal Reserve Bank and the Whitehouse Treasury Department.
In the face of a constant barrage from the right wing of the Republican Party, these three were central in avoiding catastrophic meltdown of the global banking system. So, Firefighting’s claim to be “authoritative” is strong — if this word has a pejorative sense.
Kate Raworth’s “doughnut” refers to the dilemma currently facing capitalism and has, she claims, become an “iconic image” in the world of global development economics. The dough provides a “safe and just space for humanity”. The hole in its centre represents “critical human deprivation” while “critical planetary degradation” lies in the space beyond the outer crust. The dilemma is how to eradicate the former without exacerbating the latter.
This digest of 114 articles by 67 contributors from the US magazine In These Times (ITT) covers the years since its inception in 1976. David Graeber describes the massive increase in fortified borders that result when so-called free trade agreements simultaneously destroy traditional jobs in the global south and outsourced jobs in the north. Arundhati Roy’s opening paragraphs dismember the brutalities of neoliberalism with razor-sharp precision. In “Failed Prophet” (2009) Bernie Sanders rails against Chicago University’s neoliberal Milton Friedman Institute.
Michael Lavalette’s piece on Universal Basic Income (“Safety Net Without Stigma”, October SR) is spot on. And the two letters, one supporting the idea, one against (November SR), are an object lesson in our united-front politics.
We support transitional initiatives such as UBI with enthusiasm because they benefit our class and strike a crushing blow to austerity blame-culture.
This book’s opening chapter, with its genesis of Marx’s vision of a socialist society, contains surprises. How many socialists know of the influence of William Thompson or John Bray, who promoted major elements of communism well before 1848 or the Paris Commune of 1871?
Everyone remembers the 1,133 deaths from the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse. But who knows about Bangladeshi workers who earn just one euro cent for every 18 T-shirts they make, and take home €1.36 after a ten or 12 hour day?
Ultimate villains of this “super-exploitation” are corporate buyers from the Global North and race-to-the-bottom capitalist market competition.
Tom Kay’s “The united front in theory and practice” (March SR) was excellent and timely. United front work is not merely vital for revolutionaries, but equal in status to party-building. Without significant participation in left movements and campaigns, sect-like tendencies can creep in.
This book addresses many popular misconceptions about money and debt. Ninety seven percent of money that circulates within the economy has not actually been created by the state, but by private banks, out of thin air, as fractional reserve loans.
Without the constant rolling-over of this debt-based money, there would be no economy. So GDP growth depends on maintaining high public, corporate and individual debt. This is why any level of austerity is a fraud.