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1

Introduction

10
terms
8
notes

how to define capitalism; cites Smith, Schumpeter, Weber, Keynes, etc. spends about 10 pages discussing Does Capitalism Have A Future? and unpacking their arguments

Streeck, W. (2016). Introduction. In Streeck, W. How Will Capitalism End? Essays on a Failing System. Verso, pp. 1-46

1

Capitalism has always been an improbable social formation, full of conflicts and contradictions, therefore permanently unstable and in flux, and highly conditional on historically contingent and precarious supportive as well as constraining events and institutions. [...] Capitalism promises infinite growth of commodified material wealth in a finite world, by conjoining itself with modern science and technology, making capitalist society the first industrial society, and through unending expansion of free, in the sense of contestable, risky markets, on the coat-tails of a hegemonic carrier state and its market-opening policies both domestically and internationally. As a version of industrial society, capitalist society is distinguished by the fact that its collective productive capital is accumulated in the hands of a minority of its members who enjoy the legal privilege, in the form of rights of private property, to dispose of such capital in any way they see fit, including letting it sit idle or transferring it abroad. One implication of this is that the vast majority of the members of a capitalist society must work under the direction, however mediated, of the private owners of the tools they need to provide for themselves, and on terms set by those owners in line with their desire to maximize the rate of increase of their capital. Motivating non-owners to do so – to work hard and diligently in the interest of the owners – requires artful devices – sticks and carrots of the most diverse sorts that are never certain to function – that have to be continuously reinvented as capitalist progress continuously renders them obsolescent.

—p.1 by Wolfgang Streeck 4 years, 10 months ago

Capitalism has always been an improbable social formation, full of conflicts and contradictions, therefore permanently unstable and in flux, and highly conditional on historically contingent and precarious supportive as well as constraining events and institutions. [...] Capitalism promises infinite growth of commodified material wealth in a finite world, by conjoining itself with modern science and technology, making capitalist society the first industrial society, and through unending expansion of free, in the sense of contestable, risky markets, on the coat-tails of a hegemonic carrier state and its market-opening policies both domestically and internationally. As a version of industrial society, capitalist society is distinguished by the fact that its collective productive capital is accumulated in the hands of a minority of its members who enjoy the legal privilege, in the form of rights of private property, to dispose of such capital in any way they see fit, including letting it sit idle or transferring it abroad. One implication of this is that the vast majority of the members of a capitalist society must work under the direction, however mediated, of the private owners of the tools they need to provide for themselves, and on terms set by those owners in line with their desire to maximize the rate of increase of their capital. Motivating non-owners to do so – to work hard and diligently in the interest of the owners – requires artful devices – sticks and carrots of the most diverse sorts that are never certain to function – that have to be continuously reinvented as capitalist progress continuously renders them obsolescent.

—p.1 by Wolfgang Streeck 4 years, 10 months ago
2

[...] for the vast majority of its members, a capitalist society must manage to convert their ever-present fear of being cut out of the productive process, because of economic or technological restructuring, into acceptance of the highly unequal distribution of wealth and power generated by the capitalist economy and a belief in the legitimacy of capitalism as a social order. For this, highly complicated and inevitably fragile institutional and ideological provisions are necessary. The same holds true for the conversion of insecure workers – kept insecure to make them obedient workers – into confident consumers happily discharging their consumerist social obligations even in the face of the fundamental uncertainty of labour markets and employment [...]

he goes on to state that early theories of capitalism were also theories of crisis (Ricardo, Mill, Sombart, Keynes, Hilferding, Polanyi, Schumpeter, who all thought capitalism would end imminently)

—p.2 by Wolfgang Streeck 4 years, 10 months ago

[...] for the vast majority of its members, a capitalist society must manage to convert their ever-present fear of being cut out of the productive process, because of economic or technological restructuring, into acceptance of the highly unequal distribution of wealth and power generated by the capitalist economy and a belief in the legitimacy of capitalism as a social order. For this, highly complicated and inevitably fragile institutional and ideological provisions are necessary. The same holds true for the conversion of insecure workers – kept insecure to make them obedient workers – into confident consumers happily discharging their consumerist social obligations even in the face of the fundamental uncertainty of labour markets and employment [...]

he goes on to state that early theories of capitalism were also theories of crisis (Ricardo, Mill, Sombart, Keynes, Hilferding, Polanyi, Schumpeter, who all thought capitalism would end imminently)

—p.2 by Wolfgang Streeck 4 years, 10 months ago

a school of social theory and philosophy associated in part with the Institute for Social Research at the Goethe University Frankfurt; consisted of dissidents who felt at home neither in the existent capitalist, fascist, nor communist systems that had formed at the time

3

The ‘Frankfurt School’ located ‘late capitalism’ (Spätkapitalismus) in the 1970s, having taken the place of liberal capitalism or free market capitalism after 1945.

footnote 8

—p.3 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 10 months ago

The ‘Frankfurt School’ located ‘late capitalism’ (Spätkapitalismus) in the 1970s, having taken the place of liberal capitalism or free market capitalism after 1945.

footnote 8

—p.3 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 10 months ago

(preposition) with due respect to (someone or their opinion), used to express polite disagreement or contradiction (e.g., "narrative history, pace some theorists, is by no means dead")

8

Mann believes, pace Wallerstein, that there is still enough new land to conquer and enough demand to discover and invent, to allow for both extensive and intensive growth

—p.8 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 10 months ago

Mann believes, pace Wallerstein, that there is still enough new land to conquer and enough demand to discover and invent, to allow for both extensive and intensive growth

—p.8 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 10 months ago

(noun) the lower middle class including especially small shopkeepers and artisans

9

the new petty bourgeoisie that is the very carrier of the neocapitalist and neoliberal lifestyle of ‘hard work and hard play’, of careerism-cum-consumerism, which, as will be discussed infra, may indeed be considered the indispensable cultural foundation of contemporary capitalism’s society

—p.9 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 10 months ago

the new petty bourgeoisie that is the very carrier of the neocapitalist and neoliberal lifestyle of ‘hard work and hard play’, of careerism-cum-consumerism, which, as will be discussed infra, may indeed be considered the indispensable cultural foundation of contemporary capitalism’s society

—p.9 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 10 months ago
10

[...] Following in Marx’s footsteps, he lists five ‘escapes’ that have hitherto saved capitalism from self-destruction, and then proceeds to show why they won’t save it any more. They include the growth of new jobs and entire sectors compensating for employment losses caused by technological progress (employment in artificial intelligence will be miniscule, especially once robots begin to design and build other robots); the expansion of markets (which this time will primarily be labour markets in middle-class occupations, globally unified by information technology, enabling global competition among educated job seekers); the growth of finance, both as a source of income (‘speculation’) and as an industry (which cannot possibly balance the loss of employment caused by new technology, and of income caused by unemployment, also because computerization will make workers in large segments of the financial industry redundant); government employment replacing employment in the private sector (improbable because of the fiscal crisis of the state, and in any case requiring ultimately ‘a revolutionary overturn of the property system’ [p. 51]); and the use of education as a buffer to keep labour out of employment, making it a form of ‘hidden Keynesianism’ while resulting in ‘credential inflation’ and ‘grade inflation’ (which for Collins is the path most probably taken, although ultimately it will prove equally futile as the others, as a result of demoralization within educational institutions and problems of financing, both public and private).

referring to section 277

—p.10 by Wolfgang Streeck 4 years, 10 months ago

[...] Following in Marx’s footsteps, he lists five ‘escapes’ that have hitherto saved capitalism from self-destruction, and then proceeds to show why they won’t save it any more. They include the growth of new jobs and entire sectors compensating for employment losses caused by technological progress (employment in artificial intelligence will be miniscule, especially once robots begin to design and build other robots); the expansion of markets (which this time will primarily be labour markets in middle-class occupations, globally unified by information technology, enabling global competition among educated job seekers); the growth of finance, both as a source of income (‘speculation’) and as an industry (which cannot possibly balance the loss of employment caused by new technology, and of income caused by unemployment, also because computerization will make workers in large segments of the financial industry redundant); government employment replacing employment in the private sector (improbable because of the fiscal crisis of the state, and in any case requiring ultimately ‘a revolutionary overturn of the property system’ [p. 51]); and the use of education as a buffer to keep labour out of employment, making it a form of ‘hidden Keynesianism’ while resulting in ‘credential inflation’ and ‘grade inflation’ (which for Collins is the path most probably taken, although ultimately it will prove equally futile as the others, as a result of demoralization within educational institutions and problems of financing, both public and private).

referring to section 277

—p.10 by Wolfgang Streeck 4 years, 10 months ago
13

For the decline of capitalism to continue, that is to say, no revolutionary alternative is required, and certainly no masterplan of a better society displacing capitalism. Contemporary capitalism is vanishing on its own, collapsing from internal contradictions, and not least as a result of having vanquished its enemies – who, as noted, have often rescued capitalism from itself by forcing it to assume a new form. What comes after capitalism in its final crisis, now under way, is, I suggest, not socialism or some other defined social order, but a lasting interregnum – no new world system equilibrium à la Wallerstein, but a prolonged period of social entropy, or disorder (and precisely for this reason a period of uncertainty and indeterminacy).

—p.13 by Wolfgang Streeck 4 years, 10 months ago

For the decline of capitalism to continue, that is to say, no revolutionary alternative is required, and certainly no masterplan of a better society displacing capitalism. Contemporary capitalism is vanishing on its own, collapsing from internal contradictions, and not least as a result of having vanquished its enemies – who, as noted, have often rescued capitalism from itself by forcing it to assume a new form. What comes after capitalism in its final crisis, now under way, is, I suggest, not socialism or some other defined social order, but a lasting interregnum – no new world system equilibrium à la Wallerstein, but a prolonged period of social entropy, or disorder (and precisely for this reason a period of uncertainty and indeterminacy).

—p.13 by Wolfgang Streeck 4 years, 10 months ago

lack of the usual social or ethical standards in an individual or group, which lessens social cohesion and fosters decline; popularized by French sociologist Émile Durkheim in his influential book Suicide

14

Durkheimians would here resort to the concept of anomy, signifying a less-than-normal condition of deficient social integration

footnote 17

—p.14 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 10 months ago

Durkheimians would here resort to the concept of anomy, signifying a less-than-normal condition of deficient social integration

footnote 17

—p.14 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 10 months ago

a discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject but wishing to establish the truth through reasoned arguments

18

Since 2008, we have lived in a fourth stage of the post-1970s crisis sequence, and the by now familiar dialectic of problems treated with solutions that turn into problems themselves is again making itself felt

—p.18 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 10 months ago

Since 2008, we have lived in a fourth stage of the post-1970s crisis sequence, and the by now familiar dialectic of problems treated with solutions that turn into problems themselves is again making itself felt

—p.18 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 10 months ago

a tool of unconventional monetary policy that has been proposed as an alternative to quantitative easing when interest rates are close to zero and the economy remains weak or enters recession; popularised by Milton Friedman in the form of dropping money on the ground (from a helicopter), though he didn't intend it as an actual policy

19

the last bullet of monetary policy, and perhaps of policy generally, would be dishing out ‘helicopter money’ to citizens, perhaps by sending each taxpayer a cheque of, say, $3,000, circumventing the banking system in the hope that this would, finally, result in a take-off of effective demand

footnote 25

—p.19 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 10 months ago

the last bullet of monetary policy, and perhaps of policy generally, would be dishing out ‘helicopter money’ to citizens, perhaps by sending each taxpayer a cheque of, say, $3,000, circumventing the banking system in the hope that this would, finally, result in a take-off of effective demand

footnote 25

—p.19 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 10 months ago
22

[...] As capital and capitalist markets began to outgrow national borders, with the help of international trade agreements and assisted by new transportation and communication technologies, the power of labour, inevitably locally based, weakened, and capital was able to press for a shift to a new growth model, one that works by redistributing from the bottom to the top. This was when the march into neoliberalism began, as a rebellion of capital against Keynesianism, with the aim of enthroning the Hayekian model in its place. Thus the threat of unemployment returned, together with its reality, gradually replacing political legitimacy with economic discipline. Lower growth rates were acceptable for the new powers as long as they were compensated by higher profit rates and an increasingly inegalitarian distribution. Democracy ceased to be functional for economic growth and in fact became a threat to the performance of the new growth model; it therefore had to be decoupled from the political economy. This was when ‘post-democracy’ was born.

cites Colin Crouch's Post-Democracy

—p.22 by Wolfgang Streeck 4 years, 10 months ago

[...] As capital and capitalist markets began to outgrow national borders, with the help of international trade agreements and assisted by new transportation and communication technologies, the power of labour, inevitably locally based, weakened, and capital was able to press for a shift to a new growth model, one that works by redistributing from the bottom to the top. This was when the march into neoliberalism began, as a rebellion of capital against Keynesianism, with the aim of enthroning the Hayekian model in its place. Thus the threat of unemployment returned, together with its reality, gradually replacing political legitimacy with economic discipline. Lower growth rates were acceptable for the new powers as long as they were compensated by higher profit rates and an increasingly inegalitarian distribution. Democracy ceased to be functional for economic growth and in fact became a threat to the performance of the new growth model; it therefore had to be decoupled from the political economy. This was when ‘post-democracy’ was born.

cites Colin Crouch's Post-Democracy

—p.22 by Wolfgang Streeck 4 years, 10 months ago

a slogan refering to globalization popularised by Margaret Thatcher; means that the market economy is the only system that works, and that debate about this is over

23

Over two decades, globalization as a discourse gave birth to a new pensée unique, a TINA (There Is No Alternative) logic of political economy for which adaptation to the ‘demands’ of ‘international markets’ is both good for everybody and the only possible policy anyway

—p.23 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 10 months ago

Over two decades, globalization as a discourse gave birth to a new pensée unique, a TINA (There Is No Alternative) logic of political economy for which adaptation to the ‘demands’ of ‘international markets’ is both good for everybody and the only possible policy anyway

—p.23 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 10 months ago
24

[...] Whereas the rights of the state people are grounded in national political status, or citizenship, the market people of international finance derive their claim on public policy from commercial contracts, which in an encompassing global market, where lenders have alternatives, tend to take precedence. By providing its customers with liquidity, the financial industry establishes control over them, as is the very nature of credit. Financialization turns the financial sector into an international private government disciplining national political communities and their public governments, without being in any way democratically accountable. [...]

—p.24 by Wolfgang Streeck 4 years, 10 months ago

[...] Whereas the rights of the state people are grounded in national political status, or citizenship, the market people of international finance derive their claim on public policy from commercial contracts, which in an encompassing global market, where lenders have alternatives, tend to take precedence. By providing its customers with liquidity, the financial industry establishes control over them, as is the very nature of credit. Financialization turns the financial sector into an international private government disciplining national political communities and their public governments, without being in any way democratically accountable. [...]

—p.24 by Wolfgang Streeck 4 years, 10 months ago
25

Marx was aware that one reason why British workers were able to get the Factory Act passed was that employers themselves were concerned about the ongoing destruction of labour in the ‘satanic mills’ of their factories. Exposed to competition, however, and only weakly organized, they could not act on what they knew should have been their rational interest [...]

footnote 35

—p.25 by Wolfgang Streeck 4 years, 10 months ago

Marx was aware that one reason why British workers were able to get the Factory Act passed was that employers themselves were concerned about the ongoing destruction of labour in the ‘satanic mills’ of their factories. Exposed to competition, however, and only weakly organized, they could not act on what they knew should have been their rational interest [...]

footnote 35

—p.25 by Wolfgang Streeck 4 years, 10 months ago

an ancient religious movement that has to do with duality? "an elaborate dualistic cosmology describing the struggle between a good, spiritual world of light, and an evil, material world of darkness"

36

Pace Wallerstein, the final Manichaean battle between Davos and Porto Alegre is not about to happen in the foreseeable future

—p.36 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 10 months ago

Pace Wallerstein, the final Manichaean battle between Davos and Porto Alegre is not about to happen in the foreseeable future

—p.36 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 10 months ago

(especially in Marxist theory) a way of thinking that prevents a person from perceiving the true nature of their social or economic situation (esp used to mislead members of the proletariat about their own exploitation)

38

Structuralist critique of false institutions may therefore have to be complemented by a renewed culturalist critique of false consciousness

—p.38 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 10 months ago

Structuralist critique of false institutions may therefore have to be complemented by a renewed culturalist critique of false consciousness

—p.38 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 10 months ago

the incessant product and process innovation mechanism by which new production units replace outdated ones; coined by Joseph Schumpeter in 1942 as "the essential fact about capitalism"

39

Disruption may be considered the neoliberal version of ‘creative destruction’: more ruthless, more out-of-the-blue, and less willing to take prisoners or accept delay in order to be ‘socially compatible’.

—p.39 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 10 months ago

Disruption may be considered the neoliberal version of ‘creative destruction’: more ruthless, more out-of-the-blue, and less willing to take prisoners or accept delay in order to be ‘socially compatible’.

—p.39 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 10 months ago
45

Summing up, social life and capital accumulation in the post-capitalist interregnum depend on individuals-as-consumers adhering to a culture of competitive hedonism, one that makes a virtue out of the necessity of having to struggle with adversity and uncertainty on one’s own. For capital accumulation to continue under post-capitalism, that culture must make hoping and dreaming obligatory, mobilizing hopes and dreams to sustain production and fuel consumption in spite of low growth, rising inequality and growing indebtedness. It must also provide technical assistance enabling people to keep themselves unreasonably happy, while at the same time producing a stream of incentives and satisfactions motivating them to constantly intensify their work effort regardless of stagnant or declining pay, unpaid overtime and precarious employment. Capitalism without system integration requires a labour market and labour process capable of sustaining a neo-Protestant work ethic alongside socially obligatory hedonistic consumerism. Enthusiastic hard work must be culturally defined and recognized as test and proof of individual value, corresponding to a meritocratic worldview that explains inequality with differences in effort or ability. For hedonism not to undermine productive discipline, as none less than Daniel Bell was confident would happen, the attractions of consumerism must be complemented with a fear of social descent, while non-consumerist gratifications available outside of the money economy must be discounted and discredited. All of this presupposes the presence of a broad middle class willing to seek social integration through the labour market, accepting as a matter of course expectations of employers for full identification with whatever jobs they may be assigned and taking for granted the need for social life to respect the primacy of dedicated work and the pursuit of, it is hoped, life-structuring careers.

yo

—p.45 by Wolfgang Streeck 4 years, 10 months ago

Summing up, social life and capital accumulation in the post-capitalist interregnum depend on individuals-as-consumers adhering to a culture of competitive hedonism, one that makes a virtue out of the necessity of having to struggle with adversity and uncertainty on one’s own. For capital accumulation to continue under post-capitalism, that culture must make hoping and dreaming obligatory, mobilizing hopes and dreams to sustain production and fuel consumption in spite of low growth, rising inequality and growing indebtedness. It must also provide technical assistance enabling people to keep themselves unreasonably happy, while at the same time producing a stream of incentives and satisfactions motivating them to constantly intensify their work effort regardless of stagnant or declining pay, unpaid overtime and precarious employment. Capitalism without system integration requires a labour market and labour process capable of sustaining a neo-Protestant work ethic alongside socially obligatory hedonistic consumerism. Enthusiastic hard work must be culturally defined and recognized as test and proof of individual value, corresponding to a meritocratic worldview that explains inequality with differences in effort or ability. For hedonism not to undermine productive discipline, as none less than Daniel Bell was confident would happen, the attractions of consumerism must be complemented with a fear of social descent, while non-consumerist gratifications available outside of the money economy must be discounted and discredited. All of this presupposes the presence of a broad middle class willing to seek social integration through the labour market, accepting as a matter of course expectations of employers for full identification with whatever jobs they may be assigned and taking for granted the need for social life to respect the primacy of dedicated work and the pursuit of, it is hoped, life-structuring careers.

yo

—p.45 by Wolfgang Streeck 4 years, 10 months ago