After the pandemic: whither capitalism?

To understand what will happen to capitalism after this crisis, one needs to understand capitalism before it.

One of the catchphrases of the pandemic so far is that ‘crises change everything’. Of course, lots will change because of the precipitous economic disruption of the shutdown. Thousands of smaller businesses are already going under and may not return, and this could rise to hundreds of thousands unless the government acts immediately to deliver on its business-support pledges. If the government fails to support businesses and workers, in the same way it has been failing with virus testing and health workers’ protective equipment, millions of individuals and families will endure great hardship. Many may not get their old jobs back. Over the medium term, this can be a bad or a good change, depending on the quantity and especially the quality of new post-recession job opportunities.

However, despite the changes brought about by the economic dislocations, at this stage it is likely that much economic policymaking from the past will endure. This is because crises tend to change things only to the extent to which they draw extant socio-economic features to the surface and speed up pre-existing trends.

Read the full articel here.

Fully Automated Vulgar Marxism

Aaron Bastani’s much-hyped Fully Automated Luxury Communism: A Manifesto (FALC) woefully misunderstands Marx, capitalism and class struggle.

The immediate impression one is left with after reading FALC is that it appears to have had two authors. One is a techno-optimist; the other is autocratic, with firm views both about which technologies should be developed and which should be avoided – and also, more tellingly, about how people should live under them. Parts of the book anticipate a brave and exciting new world enabled by technological developments, while other parts are imbued with today’s illiberal and constraining zeitgeist. One author emphasises that the future is not determined, but can be shaped by politics, while the other sees capitalism as following a predetermined process of collapsing under its own contradictions. One pays homage to the ideas of the Enlightenment. The other’s prescriptions negate the Enlightenment ideals of liberty and risk-taking.

Read the full review here.