Staying One Step Ahead
In a great piece for Foreign Policy in Focus (use my blog link and help support them), the always forward thinking Walden Bellow warns us to resist The Coming Capitalist Consensus. Starting from the premise that neo-liberalism is dead (sorry CB, I think this is a reality), he argues that a consensus is building towards a new regime of global social democracy. Perhaps best articulated by Gordon Brown but promoted daily by the likes of Jeffrey Sachs, George Soros, Joseph Stiglitz Paul Krugman, even Bill Gates, (though to varying degrees), GSD would be an "alliance capitalism..securing the benefits of the market while taming it's excesses." From CNN to the NewsHour, pundits have reached agreement on the need to "minimize the risk of disruptions, maximize opportunity for all" blah blah. Bad old Casino Capitalism, with its rogues and pirates, is suddenly chastised and calls for a reformed social order embraced. It is in essence a re-invigorated ideological consensus for global capitalism of which Bellow insists we must beware . Rather than settle for social management we must strive for social liberation.
Bellow points to the fallacy that "simply by adding the dimension of 'global social integration'( reducing inequality) ,an inherently socially and ecologically destructive and disruptive process can be made palatable and acceptable." I have written recently on the possibilities and limits of what might open up in this historical moment and have called for a deepening of the pension state as a way to re-awaken the public sphere. Perhaps these goals are to modest? What about the element of timing?
Bellow rejects such a compromising approach:
Fourth, GSD, while critical of neoliberalism, accepts the framework of monopoly capitalism, which rests fundamentally on deriving profit from the exploitative extraction of surplus value from labor, is driven from crisis to crisis by inherent tendencies toward overproduction, and tends to push the environment to its limits in its search for profitability. Like traditional Keynesianism in the national arena, GSD seeks in the global arena a new class compromise that is accompanied by new methods to contain or minimize capitalism’s tendency toward crisis. Just as the old Social Democracy and the New Deal stabilized national capitalism, the historical function of Global Social Democracy is to iron out the contradictions of contemporary global capitalism and to relegitimize it after the crisis and chaos left by neoliberalism. GSD is, at root, about social management.
Bellow is correct, our program must not be about a "settlement" but on consolidating gains and advancing the realm of the possible.