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Show #3: February 2, 2011

February 2, 2011

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This show is debuting on a day, February 2nd, 2011, when a historic uprising is taking place in Egypt and across North Africa, as people are rising up against autocratic regimes in the region – regimes, it is important to note, that have been supported by the dominant global superpower, the United States.

But what sparked these uprisings at this time?  In large part, it’s been the increase in economic insecurity that stemmed from a global economic crisis, itself sparked by the collapse of the housing market in the United States and the attendant financial crisis.  But even more fundamentally, the bubble that was the US housing market of the last decade was propping up an economic system in deep trouble – unable to deliver a standard of living for American households and many around the world, on the order of the prosperity that was established in the United States and elsewhere in the post-World War II economic boom.  In recent decades, the only way that even the appearance of such prosperity could be maintained was through the generation of bubbles like the US housing market.

From the late 1970s onward, the  economic regime promoted most memorably by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher was the “TINA” model.  “TINA” stands for “There Is No Alternative” – but to organize the economy around so-called “free markets,” and clearly to the benefit of private capital and the wealthy. It is a model that around the world has been called the Washington Consensus, or Neoliberalism.  But now, in the United States and across the globe, this economic regime is in clear crisis, seemingly unable to deliver even the illusion of prosperity any more.

On today’s show, we hone in on the economic crisis.  In obvious ways, the fact of the crisis provides ample opportunity and opening for the revival of the Left here in the United States and across the world – and yet, this has not the case.  And in particular,  there seems to be a dearth of ideas being put forward by the Left as how to respond to the economic crisis.

Is this so? Is there really such a dearth?  Or is it that they simply aren’t getting a hearing in the mainstream media?

Today we’ll hear from economists Robert Brenner, L. Randall Ray, Richard Wolff, and Dean Baker.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Hannah permalink
    February 3, 2011 10:24 am

    “Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.” – Aristotle

  2. February 3, 2011 11:51 am

    These topics need discussing, and I appreciate a serious look at the economy from a pro-working class perspective.

    However, I have to take issue with professor Wolf’s characterization of anarchists as disorganized. Individualistic, chaotic, lone actor anarchists are a minority within the anarchist movement. Anarchists are opposed to unjust hierarchies (the church, the state, the corporation). Anarchists are not opposed to participatory democratic organizations (labor unions, workers cooperatives, neighborhood councils, federations with recallable delegates, etc). Anarchists have a long history of effective working class organizations including the First International and the CNT/FAI. Several highly organized anarchists groups exist in the English speaking world (especially around anarch0-syndicalism and neo-platformism)–WSA, NEFAC, Fourstar Anarchist Organization, Liberty & Solidarity, Miami Autonomy & Solidarity, etc.

    I’d also like to add that while Mondragon is an inspiring example of a successful large scale cooperative within Spain, it’s international subsidiaries are not necessarily cooperatively run. It’s essentially a racist system. A robust cooperative system encompassing finance, education, and production within Spain, and traditional capitalist exploitation for the subsidiaries abroad that funnel wealth back to Spain.

    The IWW is one of the few unions that has successfully created many job shops run as worker’s self-managed cooperatives–Lakeside press, Praxia Tech, Red and Black Cafe, Red Emmas, etc. We mandate that our cooperatives (unlike Mondragon) consist of members who do not have a managerial class with hiring-firing power. These cooperatives are not just worker-owned, but worker-self-managed!

  3. RanDomino permalink
    February 3, 2011 5:27 pm

    Regarding Wolff… what an idiot. Not just an idiot, but a self-righteous egotistical idiot.

  4. February 5, 2011 3:35 pm

    Yea, to Richard Wolff for bringing in Mondragon and his other analysis. Alan, this is where I think an hour of KPFK programming each week needs to go, to publicizing and promoting worker co-ops, even if KPFK is not one itself.

    A lot of people can get behind a four day work week with a fifth day for managing and meetings about sustainability tweks and how to distirbute the surpluses generated, a positive vision!

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