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185

Comment on Wolfgang Merkel, ‘Is Capitalism Compatible with Democracy?’

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terms
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notes

Streeck, W. (2016). Comment on Wolfgang Merkel, ‘Is Capitalism Compatible with Democracy?’. In Streeck, W. How Will Capitalism End? Essays on a Failing System. Verso, pp. 185-200

190

Capitalism and democracy, in short, are not two modules, like an engine and a steering system, to be combined or not depending on their technical compatibility. They are both, individually as well as in their respective combination, the outcome of specific configurations of classes and class interests as evolved in a historical process driven, not by intelligent design, but by the distribution of class political capacities. Thus post-war democratic capitalism was not a selection by skillful social engineers or concerned citizens from a range of less optimal alternatives, but a historical compromise between a then uniquely powerful working class and an equally uniquely weakened capitalist class that was as never before on the political and economic defensive – which was true in all capitalist countries at the time, among the winners of the war as well as the losers. [...]

—p.190 by Wolfgang Streeck 4 years, 9 months ago

Capitalism and democracy, in short, are not two modules, like an engine and a steering system, to be combined or not depending on their technical compatibility. They are both, individually as well as in their respective combination, the outcome of specific configurations of classes and class interests as evolved in a historical process driven, not by intelligent design, but by the distribution of class political capacities. Thus post-war democratic capitalism was not a selection by skillful social engineers or concerned citizens from a range of less optimal alternatives, but a historical compromise between a then uniquely powerful working class and an equally uniquely weakened capitalist class that was as never before on the political and economic defensive – which was true in all capitalist countries at the time, among the winners of the war as well as the losers. [...]

—p.190 by Wolfgang Streeck 4 years, 9 months ago
192

[...] Capitalism and democracy thus seem to simultaneously support and undermine one another: while an economic equilibrium is necessary for a democratic society to reap the collective benefits of private capital accumulation, it is put at risk by the very same policies that are needed to make private capital accumulation socially acceptable; and while a political equilibrium is needed to generate consent also with capitalism, it is threatened by the policies that are required for economic equilibrium. Democratic governments under capitalism, this implies, are faced with a dilemma between two systemic crises, one political, the other economic, where managing one of them is possible only at the price of rekindling the other, forcing politics to move back and forth between them, in the hope that the crisis cycle will allow them enough time to regroup for addressing the inevitably emerging new problem caused by the most recent solution

—p.192 by Wolfgang Streeck 4 years, 9 months ago

[...] Capitalism and democracy thus seem to simultaneously support and undermine one another: while an economic equilibrium is necessary for a democratic society to reap the collective benefits of private capital accumulation, it is put at risk by the very same policies that are needed to make private capital accumulation socially acceptable; and while a political equilibrium is needed to generate consent also with capitalism, it is threatened by the policies that are required for economic equilibrium. Democratic governments under capitalism, this implies, are faced with a dilemma between two systemic crises, one political, the other economic, where managing one of them is possible only at the price of rekindling the other, forcing politics to move back and forth between them, in the hope that the crisis cycle will allow them enough time to regroup for addressing the inevitably emerging new problem caused by the most recent solution

—p.192 by Wolfgang Streeck 4 years, 9 months ago

(noun) a group of unofficial often secret and scheming advisers / (noun) cabal

193

Of course, at present European institutions are ruled by a camarilla of national governments conspiring to hide from their citizens what they are doing in their name

—p.193 by Wolfgang Streeck
confirm
4 years, 9 months ago

Of course, at present European institutions are ruled by a camarilla of national governments conspiring to hide from their citizens what they are doing in their name

—p.193 by Wolfgang Streeck
confirm
4 years, 9 months ago