Economics

Alternatives to Neo-liberalism

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Advocates of the free market constantly repeat the refrain that 'there is no alternative'. Alex Callinicos believes that for the movement to be able to answer this claim, it needs to reassert the viability of democratic planning.

The tide of revolt against neo-liberalism continues to rise. In Europe this is most evident in France. Within the space of barely a year the neo-liberal pensée unique (sole ideology) suffered two stunning defeats - first the victory of the left No in the referendum on the European Constitution, then the social insurrection against the CPE law aimed at limiting the rights of young workers.

Criticising Capitalism in Order to Save It

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John Kenneth Galbraith, who died last month aged 98, received very mixed obituaries. This was because he challenged some of the conclusions of mainstream capitalist economics while continuing to accept many of its assumptions.

Karl Marx divided the history of mainstream economics into two stages. The first he called "classical political economy". It was the product of thinkers, most notably Adam Smith and David Ricardo, who identified with the capitalist model of society when it was battling to establish itself in place of the feudal society that preceded it. Their desire to push capitalism forward led them to investigate its fundamental features-especially sources of value in productive labour and, by implication, profits in exploitation.

A War Waged by the Wealthy

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Acclaimed Marxist geographer David Harvey talks to Joseph Choonara about the rise of neo-liberalism, and why it should be seen as a ruling class project.

In January New York based academic David Harvey spoke at a packed London School of Economics public lecture to promote his latest book, A Brief History of Neo-Liberalism. He set out, with characteristic precision, the story of three decades of assaults carried out by a global ruling class. These attacks, made in the name of neo-liberalism, have seen growing social polarisation, the rise of new elites and the impoverishment of many of those at the bottom of society.

Global Faultlines

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Chris Harman identifies three problems facing global capitalism.

The ruling classes of mainland Europe are now trying to recover from the shock which hit them in the early summer. Their central project of pushing through neo-liberalism was thrown into crisis by the No vote in the French and Dutch referendums.

Since the referendum all leaders of the European Union's mainstream parties have repeated the same refrain. Europe's economies, they say, have no future unless the mass of people are prepared to work harder, and for lower wages and pensions in order to cope with 'the challenge from India and China'.

I Predict a Riot

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Tensions are mounting as the housing bubble nears its limits.

Last February the sirens howled in Hollywood as the LAPD rushed reinforcements to the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Western Avenue. While a police captain barked orders through a bullhorn, an angry crowd of 3,000 people shouted back expletives. A passer-by might have mistaken the confrontation for a major movie shoot, or perhaps the beginning of the next great LA riot.

Bet your Bottom Dollar

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Bush's faces more problems in his second term than many realise, argues Chris Harman.

The re-election of George Bush at the end of last year has left many people, particularly on the US left, shellshocked. As they see it, an administration dominated by the neocons and bolstered up by the votes of the religious right can now get away with anything it wants for the next four years.

This ignores three things. First, the intractability of the position US imperialism faces in Iraq. It is bogged down in a ground war it did not expect and does not have sufficient troops easily to deal with, and which is paralysing its capacity to act elsewhere.

End of Empire: Spectre of Defeat

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Will the Iraqis humble the mighty US empire? Alex Callinicos investigates.

Something extraordinary has happened in the past three years. On 11 September 2001, we are endlessly reminded, the greatest military power in history was fiercely attacked before the eyes of the world. Its rulers reacted to this grievous humiliation by declaring a global 'war on terrorism' and conquering two 'rogue states' - Iraq and Afghanistan.

Obituary: Arrested Development

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Tom Hickey examines the key works of veteran left wing economist Paul Sweezy.

Consider the position of socialists at the end of the Second World War. The Cold War between East and West was congealing. It would devour millions in its bloody consequences in the decades to follow, in Vietnam and Indonesia, in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, across Africa and in Latin America. This could be avoided, many believed, because the system of capital that would spawn this barbarism could not survive. But survive it did. Indeed it flourished, growing faster in the next two decades than at any time in its history hitherto. How was this to be understood?

Will China Beat the US?

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China's embrace of the market is cited as evidence that this is the model for Third World countries. Chris Harman looks at the reality behind the hype.

China is suddenly at the centre of discussions over the development of the world economy. This is not surprising. It has been undergoing sustained economic growth for more than two decades, escaping the slump which hit the other 'newly industrialising' economies of East Asia in the late 1990s, and is now the world's biggest steel producer. Its exports have grown from about 1.2 percent of the world total in 1980 to about 5 percent today (about the same as Britain's).

Unfree and Unfair

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The aims of fair trade face a hostile system.

There are still people who see lack of clarity in the anti-capitalist movement as a positive thing. Even someone who has played such an important role as Vittorio Agnoletto of the Genoa Social Forum praises the lack of 'ideology'. But sometimes lack of clarity leads straight into traps set by the movement's bitterest opponents.

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