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1

Introduction

1
terms
6
notes

Lilley, S. (2011). Introduction. In Lilley, S. Capital and Its Discontents: Conversations with Radical Thinkers in a Time of Tumult. PM Press, pp. 1-26

accorded a great deal of respect, especially because of age, wisdom, or character

1

Venerated investment banks have vanished overnight

—p.1 by Sasha Lilley
notable
1 year, 7 months ago

Venerated investment banks have vanished overnight

—p.1 by Sasha Lilley
notable
1 year, 7 months ago
2

This is not, however, a book of prescriptions. No glorious blueprint for the left resides within its pages. Rather it brings together crucial perspectives for understanding capitalism and the world we inhabit. While the assessment of capitalism and its opponents may seem bleak, the conclusion of the book is not. The way forward is to be found by arming ourselves with unsparing analysis of the predicament we find ourselves in, while having the fortitude to once again think ambitiously about broad emancipatory change.

just inspiring

—p.2 by Sasha Lilley 2 years, 7 months ago

This is not, however, a book of prescriptions. No glorious blueprint for the left resides within its pages. Rather it brings together crucial perspectives for understanding capitalism and the world we inhabit. While the assessment of capitalism and its opponents may seem bleak, the conclusion of the book is not. The way forward is to be found by arming ourselves with unsparing analysis of the predicament we find ourselves in, while having the fortitude to once again think ambitiously about broad emancipatory change.

just inspiring

—p.2 by Sasha Lilley 2 years, 7 months ago
4

[...] the call remains for a return to the type of regulatory system of the Keynesian postwar welfare state, which ostensibly held the depredations of capital at bay. The rationale runs along these lines: in the 1940s, '50s, and '60s, corporations were kept in their place by a state that imposed checks on banking and manufacturing. Starting in the late 1970s, the state retreated and let the market run wild. If we could only return to the heyday of American capitalism, all would be well.

But is a return feasible, and if it were, would all be well? The present crisis and the limitations of such alternatives may be best grasped by examining the roots of neoliberalism in the crisis of capitalism in the 1970s, afflicting the system's vaunted postwar "Golden Age." The era that many on the left look back to with longing, combined a welfre state (to a greater extent in Europe and Canada and a lesser extent in the U.S.) and a Keynesian commitment to full employment in the Global North and varying degrees of state planning in the Global South. It was shored up by the international financial stability of Bretton Woods, which regulated the international monetary system with the U.S. dollar at its center. During its zenith, it delivered relative economic prosperity in the Global North and moderate development in the Global South.

Yet by the late 1960s the welfare state system was running out of steam. As the 1970s arrived, it sputtered out. The costs of the Vietnam War and domestic spending put significant strain on the U.S. dollar. [...]

not exactly new but it's useful to hammer that story in my head

—p.4 by Sasha Lilley 2 years, 7 months ago

[...] the call remains for a return to the type of regulatory system of the Keynesian postwar welfare state, which ostensibly held the depredations of capital at bay. The rationale runs along these lines: in the 1940s, '50s, and '60s, corporations were kept in their place by a state that imposed checks on banking and manufacturing. Starting in the late 1970s, the state retreated and let the market run wild. If we could only return to the heyday of American capitalism, all would be well.

But is a return feasible, and if it were, would all be well? The present crisis and the limitations of such alternatives may be best grasped by examining the roots of neoliberalism in the crisis of capitalism in the 1970s, afflicting the system's vaunted postwar "Golden Age." The era that many on the left look back to with longing, combined a welfre state (to a greater extent in Europe and Canada and a lesser extent in the U.S.) and a Keynesian commitment to full employment in the Global North and varying degrees of state planning in the Global South. It was shored up by the international financial stability of Bretton Woods, which regulated the international monetary system with the U.S. dollar at its center. During its zenith, it delivered relative economic prosperity in the Global North and moderate development in the Global South.

Yet by the late 1960s the welfare state system was running out of steam. As the 1970s arrived, it sputtered out. The costs of the Vietnam War and domestic spending put significant strain on the U.S. dollar. [...]

not exactly new but it's useful to hammer that story in my head

—p.4 by Sasha Lilley 2 years, 7 months ago
6

Neoliberalism also entailed the dispossession and incorporation of massive numbers of new workers into the waged labor force [...] The expansion of the global pool of labor has eroded labor's bargaining power, making it much harder for workers to demand higher wages without capital going elsewhere. [...]

—p.6 by Sasha Lilley 2 years, 7 months ago

Neoliberalism also entailed the dispossession and incorporation of massive numbers of new workers into the waged labor force [...] The expansion of the global pool of labor has eroded labor's bargaining power, making it much harder for workers to demand higher wages without capital going elsewhere. [...]

—p.6 by Sasha Lilley 2 years, 7 months ago
11

[...] the recognition of capitalism's bankruptcy does not ineluctably translate into anticapitalist politics [...]

The obstacles to conceiving a new emancipatory politics are formidable [...] Neoliberalism has meant a gloves-off form of class war, borne out by the assault on militant unions, relentless restructuring of employment, speed up, wage slashing, and intentional unemployment as a means of disciplining workers and breaking organinzed labor. [...] the increasing precariousness of employment has put a damper on workplace militancy, as workers are hesitant to take actions when they may easily be put out on their ears.

Yet neoliberalism has operated in other ways, which are subtler, but no less destructive. The enormous growth of finance over the past three decades and the integration of the working class into financial circuits, through pensions, mortgage, and credit card debt, have bound people into the system [...] This has been significant for the recent trajectory of capitalism, as more and more people kept the system afloat by borrowing money [...] it has caught workers up in the system, giving them a stake in its survival. The hope of individual advancement within the system, or simply hanging on, has become in many cases a substitute for collective social change. [...]

—p.11 by Sasha Lilley 2 years, 7 months ago

[...] the recognition of capitalism's bankruptcy does not ineluctably translate into anticapitalist politics [...]

The obstacles to conceiving a new emancipatory politics are formidable [...] Neoliberalism has meant a gloves-off form of class war, borne out by the assault on militant unions, relentless restructuring of employment, speed up, wage slashing, and intentional unemployment as a means of disciplining workers and breaking organinzed labor. [...] the increasing precariousness of employment has put a damper on workplace militancy, as workers are hesitant to take actions when they may easily be put out on their ears.

Yet neoliberalism has operated in other ways, which are subtler, but no less destructive. The enormous growth of finance over the past three decades and the integration of the working class into financial circuits, through pensions, mortgage, and credit card debt, have bound people into the system [...] This has been significant for the recent trajectory of capitalism, as more and more people kept the system afloat by borrowing money [...] it has caught workers up in the system, giving them a stake in its survival. The hope of individual advancement within the system, or simply hanging on, has become in many cases a substitute for collective social change. [...]

—p.11 by Sasha Lilley 2 years, 7 months ago
16

[...] Neoliberalism depended on drawing women into wage work, often low-wage service jobs, as falling salaries meant that the "family wage" of a single (male) wage earner could no longer support a family. [...] feminism left behind the social justice dimension of its earlier agenda to focus on women getting a leg up in the job market, breaking the glass ceiling, and finding emancipation through entry into the market. Undoubtedly this gave women a new sort of power, as members of the waged working and middle classes with the ability to act collectively in the workplace - as white- and blue-collar workers, women had a potential strength that differed from the atomized unwaged work of the home. But such priorities were no longer framed within an anticapitalist agenda or struggle, and overlapped easily with the drive to tap into a pool of labor hitherto outside of the market.

drawing on Nancy Fraser

something i just realised: how analogous is this to 'free software' getting co-opted (or overtaken, superseded, destroyed) by 'open source'? is that a useful comparison?

—p.16 by Sasha Lilley 1 year, 7 months ago

[...] Neoliberalism depended on drawing women into wage work, often low-wage service jobs, as falling salaries meant that the "family wage" of a single (male) wage earner could no longer support a family. [...] feminism left behind the social justice dimension of its earlier agenda to focus on women getting a leg up in the job market, breaking the glass ceiling, and finding emancipation through entry into the market. Undoubtedly this gave women a new sort of power, as members of the waged working and middle classes with the ability to act collectively in the workplace - as white- and blue-collar workers, women had a potential strength that differed from the atomized unwaged work of the home. But such priorities were no longer framed within an anticapitalist agenda or struggle, and overlapped easily with the drive to tap into a pool of labor hitherto outside of the market.

drawing on Nancy Fraser

something i just realised: how analogous is this to 'free software' getting co-opted (or overtaken, superseded, destroyed) by 'open source'? is that a useful comparison?

—p.16 by Sasha Lilley 1 year, 7 months ago
23

[...] It appears increasingly obvious that the ecological systems on which life depends cannot endure the ravages of capitalism indefinitely. To be sure, we need to guard against seeing the crises we are living through as automatically auspicious moments for radicals - after the deluge, us. Crises unleash many things, a great deal of them not the least bit amenable to the left, much less to an overarching radical vision of social transformation. Capital is in the process of resolving the crisis by imposing ever more neoliberal austerity, which ensures that the type of capitalism ahead will be a particularly unstable one. The triumphalism of capitalism, however, has crumbled away and pessimism may be lifting. The future is unwritten. One can only hope that a route out of the darkness will be navigated, where the discontents are finally able to seize control of their collective destinies.

pretty!

—p.23 by Sasha Lilley 1 year, 7 months ago

[...] It appears increasingly obvious that the ecological systems on which life depends cannot endure the ravages of capitalism indefinitely. To be sure, we need to guard against seeing the crises we are living through as automatically auspicious moments for radicals - after the deluge, us. Crises unleash many things, a great deal of them not the least bit amenable to the left, much less to an overarching radical vision of social transformation. Capital is in the process of resolving the crisis by imposing ever more neoliberal austerity, which ensures that the type of capitalism ahead will be a particularly unstable one. The triumphalism of capitalism, however, has crumbled away and pessimism may be lifting. The future is unwritten. One can only hope that a route out of the darkness will be navigated, where the discontents are finally able to seize control of their collective destinies.

pretty!

—p.23 by Sasha Lilley 1 year, 7 months ago