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Showing results by Randall Collins only

Although educational credential inflation expands on false premises—the ideology that more education will produce more equality of opportunity, more high-tech economic performance, and more good jobs—it does provide some degree of solution to technological displacement of the middle class. Educational credential inflation helps absorb surplus labor by keeping more people out of the labor force; and if students receive a financial subsidy, either directly or in the form of low-cost (and ultimately unrepaid) loans, it acts as hidden transfer payments. In places where the welfare state is ideologically unpopular, the mythology of education supports a hidden welfare state. Add the millions of teachers in elementary, secondary, and higher education, and their administrative staffs, and the hidden Keynesianism of educational inflation may be said to virtually keep the capitalist economy afloat.

As long as the educational system can be somehow financed, it operates as hidden Keynesianism: a hidden form of transfer payments and pump-priming, the equivalent of New Deal make-work setting the unemployed to painting murals in post offices or planting trees in conservation camps, Educational expansion is virtually the only legitimately accepted form of Keynesian economic policy, because it is not overtly recognized as such. It expands under the banner of high technology and meritocracy—it is the technology that requires a more educated labor force. In a roundabout sense this is true: it is the technological displacement of labor that makes school a place of refuge from the shrinking job pool, although no one wants to recognize the fact. No matter—as long as the number of those displaced is shunted into an equal number of those expanding the population of students, the system will survive.


link this to "learn to code"-style policies & skills-biased technological change

—p.54 The End of Middle-Class Work: No More Escapes (37) by Randall Collins 3 years, 2 months ago

Another estimate of the timing of future capitalist crisis is provided by world-system (W-S) theory. In earlier writing on the capitalist world-system, Wallerstein and colleagues presented a theoretical model of systemic long cycles. The core regions of the W-S in their expansive phase generate their advantage by resources extracted under favorable conditions from the periphery. Hegemony is periodically threatened by conflicts within the core, and especially by semiperipheral zones rising to threaten the hegemon. Eventually the core gets caught up with, just as increasing competition in a new area of entrepreneurial profit brings down the profits once gained by the early innovator; in this respect, the W-S operates like Schumpeter's cycle of entrepreneurship, but on a global scale. With each new cycle, new opportunities for expansion and profit arise, under the leadership of a new hegemon. The crucial condition in the background, however, is that there must be an external area, outside the W-S, which can be incorporated and turned into the periphery of the system. Thus there is a final ending point to the W-S: when all the external areas have been penetrated. At this point the struggle for profit in the core and semiperiphery cannot be resolved by finding new economic regions to conquer. The W-S undergoes not just cyclical crisis but terminal transformation.

can the new economic region be virtual?

—p.57 The End of Middle-Class Work: No More Escapes (37) by Randall Collins 3 years, 2 months ago

In the meantime a different kind of popular movement began emerging from the Right. The New Right snatched many of its tactics and even former activists from the dispirited New Left. This turn to the right marked the end of the long period dominated by class politics with its familiar symbols, tactics, and well-rehearsed rituals of bargaining. The political reaction flew the colors of identity, which introduced into politics a nastily passionate charge because matters of identity tend to be uncompromising and noanegotiable. The New Right came in two varieties, though often meshing in practice: ethnopatriotic or religious-patriotic fundamentalism and libertarian market fundamentalism. Both called for the militant defense of fundamental matters of faith—or whatever was claimed to be the founding identities in their societies. Notice that both fundamentalisms directed their ire at state bureaucracies, blaming them for being too secular, removed, devious and taxing. It tells us something important about Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and other contemporary fundamentalisms that their suspicions and phobias virtually everywhere went hand-in-hand with extolling the virtues of small business, small town life, and the patriarchal family.

The Left was precipitously declining across the board, leaving its place in the popular imagination to be filled with either apathy or fundamentalist anger. This reversal in mass politics opened the window of opportunity for conservative factions among the Western capitalist elites. Neoliberalism, yet another misnomer, in fact grows from the old ideological belief of modern capitalists that everyone would eventually benefit from letting them do whatever they deem necessary in the pursuit and disposal of profits. World progress, the purported laws of human nature, and supreme rationality are but the nineteenth-century intellectual supports to this faith. The fundamentalist character of the neoliberal movement is revealed in its adamant refusal to recognize as capitalism anything except the purest unregulated markets—just as religious fundamentalists recognize only their own radical brand of faith as true religion. History, however, shows that the type of free markets cannot be observed in any empirical situation; it is an ideological fantasy. Following in the footsteps of Fernand Braudel and Joseph Schumpeter, we argue that sustained profits always require a degree of state protection and market monopoly. Hegemonic monopoly is what in fact propelled the renewed surge of American power and finance at the turn the twenty-first century. [...]

idk what buddhist or hindu fundamentalisms they're talking about but for the Abrahamic religions, absolutely, it tells you something very important about the whole reason these religions were created in the first place

—p.169 Getting Real (163) by Craig J. Calhoun, Georgi Derluguian, Immanuel Wallerstein, Michael Mann, Randall Collins 3 years, 2 months ago

Are political hopes blurring our theoretical visions? Our answer is this: Reflexively admitting a connection between our hopes and our hypotheses is a necessary component of theoretical honesty in social science, especially when dealing with our own times. Social theory is often likened to lenses of various cuts that enable us to discern patterns in human action. When the lenses are cut solely to confirm one's faith and denounce whatever opposes it, the resulting vision is strictly ideological. Such lenses, commonly worn in politics and public debating, function more like blinders. Theory is different because it has to be testable. What constitutes tests in social science has been a matter of controversy. We are methodological pluralists insofar as we doubt attempts to legislate the one right way of doing social science. Yet we are not complete relativists. Different kinds of problems and scales of analysis leave researchers the choice of investigative techniques. Experiments and statistical correlations have an important place in the toolkit of social science but their role cannot be universal. Disciplined ethnographic observation is often more revealing in studying localized social environments. At the macrohistorical level, which is where we work, the main method might be likened to connecting the dots in a big puzzle. Another test for macrohistorical theory are counterfactuals, the alternative roads that seemed possible at one historical juncture but were not taken. In other words, we must show both how we get from one historical situation to another and what are the actual range of structural possibilities and the factors on which events turn. This is perhaps as close we can get to an experiment in our kind of research.

—p.188 Getting Real (163) by Craig J. Calhoun, Georgi Derluguian, Immanuel Wallerstein, Michael Mann, Randall Collins 3 years, 2 months ago

Capitalism is not a physical location like royal palace or financial district to be sized by a revolutionary crowd or confronted through an idealistic demonstration. Nor is it merely a set of "sound" policies to be adopted and connected, as prescribed in the business editorials. It is an old ideological illusion of many liberals and Marxists that capitalism simply equals wage labour in a market economy. Such was the basic belief of the twentieth century, on all sides. We are now dealing with its damaging consequences. Markets and wage labor and existed long before capitalism, and social coordination through markets will almost surely outlive capitalism. Capitalism, we contend, is only a particular historical configuration of markets and state structures where private economic gain by almost any means is the paramount goal and measure of success. A different and more satisfying organization of markets and human socety may yet become possible.

—p.7 The Next Big Turn (1) by Craig J. Calhoun, Georgi Derluguian, Immanuel Wallerstein, Michael Mann, Randall Collins 3 years ago

Showing results by Randall Collins only