Economy

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Capitalism or Markets?: An Exchange
Bernard Stiegler and Scott Lash
Monday 9 January 2012, 5pm-6.45pm
Cinema, Richard Hoggart Building
Goldsmiths, London

What is critical political economy today? Has neo-liberalism produced a system of domination in which capital has reduced labour not just to an object but to what Heidegger called a 'standing reserve',: that is a Marxist ‘reserve army of labour’ that no longer has a stake in the productive system resulting in conflagrations like Tottenham 2011? Or does a new industrialism driven by technological media open up a possible political space of 'care', enabling open relations of bonding between humans and among human and code-driven machines? How would such a political economy address the emerging powers in an age when Obama is destined to be the last president of what will have been the world's most powerful nation? Is China (India) neo-liberal or is it possible to have the sociality of markets without capitalism? Is Foucault right to counterpose the positivity of a liberalism based in a classical political economy of Smith and Ricardo against the bio-poli! tical domination of a neo-liberalism and today’s neo-classical economics? Do we live in a post-industrial, knowledge society, or instead in the possibility of a new industrial order, in which industrial classes are pitted against the excesses of finance capital? Bernard Stiegler (Paris) and Scott Lash will address these and other issues in an exchange on 9 January in the second in the Goldsmiths’ Centre for Cultural Studies’ series of Interventions in Critical Political Economy.

Global Rebellion: The Coming Chaos?
William L. Robinson

As the crisis of global capitalism spirals out of control, the powers that be in the global system appear to be adrift and unable to proposal viable solutions. From the slaughter of dozens of young protesters by the army in Egypt to the brutal repression of the Occupy movement in the United States, and the water cannons brandished by the militarised police in Chile against students and workers, states and ruling classes are unable are to hold back the tide of worldwide popular rebellion and must resort to ever more generalised repression.

Simply put, the immense structural inequalities of the global political economy can no longer be contained through consensual mechanisms of social control. The ruling classes have lost legitimacy; we are witnessing a breakdown of ruling-class hegemony on a world scale.

Who Are the One Percent?
Suzy Khimm

Occupy Wall Street says their movement represent the “99 percent” of Americans who’ve been left behind, while a tiny minority of wealthy earners pull ahead. So who are the 1 percenters?

Taken literally, the top 1 percent of American households had a minimum income of $516,633 in 2010 — a figure that includes wages, government transfers and money from capital gains, dividends and other investment income.

That number is down from peak of $646,195 in 2007, before the economic crisis hit, all adjusted to 2011 dollars, according to calculations by the Tax Policy Center. By contrast, the bottom 60 percent earned a maximum of $59,154 in 2010, the bottom 40 percent earned a max of $33,870, while the bottom 20 percent earned just $16,961 at maximum. As Annie Lowrey points out, that gap has grown wider over time: “The top 1 percent of households took a bigger share of overall income in 2007 than they did at any time since 1928.” (And in New York City, it’s even more skewed: the top 1 percent have an average of $3.7 million in income.)

Occupy Student Debt! National Campaign Launch

On Monday, November 21, Occupy Student Debt is launching a national campaign of student debt refusal. This campaign is a response to the student debt crisis and the dependency of U.S. higher education on debt-financing from the people it is supposed to serve. There is no justice in a system that openly invites profiteering on the part of lenders. Education is a right and a public good, and it should be properly funded as such.

The campaign will consist of three pledges:

"A Gathering of the Tribe"
John Michael Greer

I walk half a mile through a chill autumn morning to the bleak little
cinderblock building that serves the old mill town where I live as a
train station. Wednesdays aren't usually busy, but close to a dozen
other passengers are waitinge before the train pulls up. I climb on
board, stash my duffel bag above my seat, get my ticket punched, and
then head forward to the lounge car. By the time we roll past Oldtown,
where the Shawnee once had a major village, I'm perched at a downstairs
table with a cup of tea, some Latin reference books, and the draft
translation of a Renaissance handbook on the art of memory, proving (if
there was any lingering doubt) that there are non-computer geeks as well.

Debtor's Revolution: Are Debt Strikes Another Possible Tactic in the Fight Against the Big Banks?
Sarah Jaffe

In the gorgeous, purple-and-green-lit Lower East Side headquarters of the Angel Orensanz Foundation, nearly 300 techies, activists and thinkers gathered, shouting out ideas for social justice-minded Web projects that they would break into small groups to attempt to hash out in a day.

A man in a plaid shirt stood up and told the moderator and the crowd, “I want to create a tool for organizing debt strikes.”

The man was Thomas Gokey, an artist and adjunct professor at Syracuse University, and his idea wound up one of the four “winners” at ContactCon, a conference hosted by Douglas Rushkoff that urged people to think of solutions to the problem of the corporate-controlled Internet—and by extension, the world. The project, nicknamed “Kick-Stopper,” is in the works, but Gokey notes that he's far from the only person out there suggesting, especially in the wake of Occupy Wall Street's successes, that it's time for some more serious, organized direct action around the issue of debt.

If This Analysis Is Correct, A Great Depression Is All But Inevitable
George Monbiot

I stumbled out into the autumn sunshine, figures ricocheting around in
my head, still trying to absorb what I had heard. I felt as if I had
just attended a funeral: a funeral at which all of us got buried. I
cannot claim to have understood everything in the lecture:
Sonnenschein-Mantel-Debreu Theory and the 41-line differential equation
were approximately 15.8 metres over my head {1}. But the points I
grasped were clear enough. We’re stuffed: stuffed to a degree that
scarcely anyone yet appreciates.

Professor Steve Keen was one of the few economists to predict the
financial crisis. While the OECD and the US Federal Reserve foresaw a
“great moderation”, unprecedented stability and steadily rising wealth
{2, 3}, he warned that a crash was bound to happen. Now he warns that
the same factors which caused the crash show that what we’ve heard so
far is merely the first rumble of the storm. Without a radical change of
policy, another Great Depression is all but inevitable.

Greek Referendum Roadshow Hits Cannes
Mihalis Panayotakis

As the Greek Prime Minister is already in Cannes to meet with the G20 leaders and “discuss” the prospect of a referendum on the rescue package, I’ll try to outline some possible outcomes originating from Papandreou’s decision, and hopefully start a discussion on the dynamic of the current situation as a whole…

Let me start with four presuppositions:

I still believe that Papandreou’s game is aimed internally at Greece and that he will fold tonight under G20 pressure (basically Merkozy).

"David Graeber on Debt, Deficit and Catastrophe"
Jay Kernis, CNN

Answering today’s [July 5, 2011] OFF-SET questions is David Graeber, who teaches anthropology at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He is the author of “Towards an Anthropological Theory of Value,” “Lost People,” and “Possibilities: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion and Desire.”

David Graeber studied 5,000 years of debt: real dirty secret is that if the deficit ever completely went away, it would cause a major catastrophe.

His new book is entitled “Debt: The First 5,000 Years,” and in it, Graeber indeed examines the historical significance of debt, the struggle between rich and poor, and the moral implications inherent in our ideas about credit and debt.

The U.S. Treasury Department last Friday reiterated its Aug. 2 deadline for raising the debt ceiling, and urged Congress "to avoid the catastrophic economic and market consequences of a default crisis by raising the statutory debt limit in a timely manner.” The White House wants a deal by July 22. If the debt ceiling isn't raised, the Treasury would not be able to pay nearly half of the 80 million payments it needs to make every month, according to an estimate by budget experts at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Q.: How did the United States get into this situation?

A: Because the Republicans are engaged in one of the most extraordinary campaigns of political recklessness in recent memory.

Prospects for Eco-Socialism
Saral Sarkar

I. The Question

In Beijing, one of the listeners of my lecture on Eco-Socialism said after hearing me that he was fully convinced, but, he asked, “When will eco-socialism come?” It was a very difficult question, a short answer to which was not possible. I only answered that I was not an astrologer. It was, however, an interesting question, though not exactly in this form. It is better to ask: what are the prospects for eco-socialism? Or: are there indications today that give us hope that the majority of the people of the world or of some countries would in the near future embrace eco-socialism and transform their capitalist society to an eco-socialist one? It is a question worth reflecting upon because, as the world situation is today, it cannot go on like this for long.

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