Archive for July 30th, 2009

Moral Rejection

LRB · Eric Hobsbawm: C (for Crisis)

Certainly, the crisis produced agreement among the articulate classes that the system couldn’t go on as before, either because of the basic flaws of capitalism or because of ‘The End of Laissez-Faire’ announced by Keynes in 1926, but discussions on the future shape of the economy, whether socialist or governed by a reformed, more interventionist and ‘planned’ capitalism, were strictly confined to minorities: the first of up to half a million in and around the labour movement, the second probably of a few hundred of what Gramsci would have called the ‘organic intellectuals’ of the British ruling class. However, memory suggests that Overy is right in thinking that the most widespread reaction to the troubles of the economy among the king’s non-writing subjects, outside the new wastelands of the old industrial regions, was not so much the feeling ‘that capitalism did not work, but that it should not work the way it did’. And insofar as ‘socialism’ reached beyond the activists into the 29 per cent of the British electorate which voted for the Labour Party at the peak of its interwar success, it was the result of a moral rejection of capitalism rather than a specific image of the future society.

The book looks good.

The Simple Things You See Are All Complicated

Here I shall do something very crude. I am somewhat pre-empting the conclusion to my planned 400-part series on the evolution of the meaning of the word ‘bourgeois’ in mah brane, but I was thinking this morning about Angela Davis’s remark (I think it was her anyway) that any time George Bush said ‘democracy’ you should replace it with ‘capitalism’ to understand the real meaning of what he was saying. I propose that if you are reading any Irish newspaper, a great deal of insight is to be gained, when reading political comment and opinion, by replacing the words ‘Ireland’ or ‘our country’ or ‘the Irish people’ or ‘the State’, with the word ‘bourgeoisie’.

For instance.

Government to publish Nama legislation today – The Irish Times – Thu, Jul 30, 2009

“We cannot go back to exchanging beans. A banking system, an efficient one that meets the needs of a growing economy is needed,” Dr Bacon told RTÉ’s Morning Bourgeoisie.

“The bourgeoisie can’t afford not to have an efficient, functioning banking system. If we went that course the result would be a stagnant economy into the long term future,” he added.

Moment of truth is fast approaching on pensions – The Irish Times – Wed, Jul 29, 2009

The bourgeoisie cannot be expected to fund pensions for everyone. Private pension provision for those who can afford it offers the only prospect of alleviating the burden on the bourgeoisie.

Findings almost irrelevant as perceptions rule – The Irish Times – Tue, Jul 28, 2009

I’m a short-term governance consultant for the World Bank and regularly, to the point of tedium, meet the “And what is going on in the Irish bourgeoisie!” question. There is the monotony of anecdotes from colleagues who have been to yet another presentation about compliance with international financial and banking benchmarks and how embarrassed they would be if they were Irish bourgeois. And so forth.

Now I’m not saying it always works, because it doesn’t, and of course it’s more complicated than that. But you’d be surprised at how often it does.

More Boston Than Berlin, After All

A similar story pertains in these parts, but without the stimulus. Or socialist octupi in government.

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July 2009
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