Has the Left given up on Economics?

With the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression continuing to slowly unfold, one of the most surprising consequences has been a non-event: the dearth of high-quality economic theorizing in leftist groups. [1] This is in spite of the opportunity the crisis presents for alternative economies, and in spite of the economic conundrum that developed economies find themselves in: too indebted for stimulus and too weak for austerity. This differend between austerity and stimulus indexes the insufficiency of either and yet few have taken up the necessity of thinking proper alternatives.

The leftist response to the economic crisis has instead been mostly been to focus on piecemeal reactions against government policies. The student movement arose as a response to tuition fee and EMA changes; the right to protest movement arose as a response to heavy-handed police treatment; and leftist parties have suggested a mere moderation of existing government policies. The project to bring about a fully different economic system has been shirked in favour of smaller-scale protests. There is widespread critique, but little construction.

Admittedly, the left is not entirely devoid of high-level economic theorizing. Rather, the more specific problem is that those few who do such work are a relatively tiny minority and are typically marginalized within the leftist scene. The attention and effort of the leading intellects of leftism (at least in the UK) are on social issues, race issues, rights issues, and identity issues. All important, to be sure, but there is no equivalent attention paid to economic issues.

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Ethics of Austerity 3: Cynicism, Sincerity and Fear

“You ain’t never been no virgin, kid, you were fucked from the start.”

-Titus Andronicus, “A Pot in Which to Piss

Police Vodafone protesters oxford street

Police protect Vodafone store from the threat of public exposure of truth.

And you have to wonder what it will take for serious people to realize that punishing the populace for the bankers’ sins is worse than a crime; it’s a mistake.

Paul Krugman

Of obedience, faith, adhesiveness;

As I stand aloof and look there is to me something profoundly

affecting in large masses of men following the lead of those who

do not believe in men.

-Walt Whitman, “Thought”

Hypothesis

The winter air has turned cold enough, has pressed in with its full weight, so that there is no more space for lies. The truth of crisis is that the powerful and the wealthy do not take responsibility, they assign it; they do not suffer their follies or their sins, they pay their penance in the currency of our lives.

We’ve spent the last few years living with the anxiety of impending doom, spurred on by hustlers of panic, addled prophets of economic Reformation, and Janus-faced managers of public interest.

Yet, despite the prolonged disaster-foreplay, the consummation of this crisis was always going to be “us against them” and never “we’re all in it together.” Continue reading