Friday, August 26, 2011

The current economic crisis: what are the causes and possible solutions?

28 September 2011 our first PCLP education meeting will take place at the PCLP offices in Morgan St Pontypridd starting at 19.00.

Labour Party members both from within and beyond the constituency are welcome to attend and take part in this blog as are local affiliated members and supporters.

Causes and solutions to the current economic crisis will be the first topic.

I've an old edition of a Left Book Club book called Man's Wordly Goods published in 1937 and written by an American socialist called Leo Huberman. I still think it is one of the most amazing and accessible books that I've read but look at this quote. The Hobson he refers to is John A Hobson who could be described as the left supporter of J M Keynes and Professor Hayek is non other than the inspirer of Thatcher and through Milton Freedman, neo-liberalism.

"And the interesting thing is that they are both right - and wrong. Hobson is right in arguing that higher wages and expanded social services would provide a necessary market for the increasing supply of commodities; he is wrong in that raising wages mean lowering the immediate profits of production. Hayek is right in arguing that lower wages and restricted social services would increase immediate profits of production; he is wrong in that lowering wages means destroying the market for the increased supply of commodities. Hobson is concerned with restoring the market (and so profitability) by increasing the purchasing power of the masses; Hayek is concerned with the restoring profitability by decreasing the purchasing power of the masses (wage-cuts).
And here, according to the followers of Karl Marx is the dilemma of capitalism - it cannot do both. Therefore, they argue, crises are inevitable under capitalism."

Written in 1937 - but eerily familiar to our ears in 2011. Here is our starting point: is this debate as relevant now as it sounded then?

What I'd like to suggest is that before and after the meeting on the 28th anyone who is interested might like to make a contribution through the comments section of this blog. Here are a few ideas and questions that it may be useful to follow through. Only suggestions mind - you might think of others.

The idea is that we could help each other by providing our favourite internet links or own text that help to come to grips with some key ideas and debates. Texts could be short and accessible or reference to key books and articles or you may prefer to provide your own words.

1. What is 'neo-liberalism' and how has it been applied over the last 40 years?
2. What is 'Keynesianism' and is it still relevant?
3. What is 'Marxism' is it relevant to us today and did it fail in the so called communist countries?
4. Does any of this still matter if they are all just concerned about growth and the consequence is climate change that will destroy us all?
5. Can democratic socialists draw anything out of these debates to support policies that will end the type of financial crisis we are currently experiencing?

Over to you...

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