Krugman in New Republic

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sun Sep 27 06:31:20 PDT 1998

>Needless to say, Keynesianism is proving itself a weak tool in Japan to
>revive accumulation on which the fate of the peripheries tied to it
>presently depend. And this can't be blamed on those dark forces. Indeed if
>Krugman's mad advice were taken to inflate Japan out of its liquidity
>trap, the devalued yen would be sure to sink the peripheries and probably
>induce China to commence yen devaluations which could have the most
>horrific impact.

The only mad advice I can detect is Rakesh's, who is making impossible amalgams between an early 19th century bourgeois economist, Keynsianism, fascism, Paul Krugman, and anti-Semitism. This has become obsessional. What gets thrown in next? Louis Farrakhan's numerology? Ezra Pound's poetry? Victor Navasky? Paul Newman's spaghetti sauce to top it all off?

If Marxism is about anything, it is about the proposition that being determines consciousness. According to Marx:

"The production of ideas, of conceptions, of consciousness, is at first directly interwoven with the material activity and the material intercourse of men, the language of real life. Conceiving, thinking, the mental intercourse of men, appear at this stage as the direct efflux of their material behavior. The same applies to mental production as expressed in the language of politics, laws, morality, religion, metaphysics etc. of a people. Men are the producers of their conceptions, ideas, etc.—real, active men, as they are conditioned by a definite development of their productive forces and of the intercourse corresponding to these, up to its furthest forms. Consciousness can never be anything else than conscious existence, and the existence of men is their actual life-process. If in all ideology men and their circumstances appear upside-down as in a camera obscura, this phenomenon arises just as much from their historical life-process as the inversion of objects on the retina does from their physical life-process." (German Ideology)

What is missing from Rakesh's commentaries is any engagement with history. Ideologies go flying about without being attached to time and place. It has the effect of bats in a belfry. In order to discuss the debate between Marx and List intelligently, it has to be put in historical context. Marx was trying to break down illusions in the bourgeoisie. List was one such ideologist, as was just about everybody else. Michael Perelman's soon to be published book on Capital Accumulation deals with all these thinkers in their historical context, including James Steuart who was also somebody who bridled at the sort of free competition trumpeted by Adam Smith.

It makes no sense to draw a line between List and Hitler. If Neumann does it, this does not make it right. Neumann's intellectual roots are in the Frankfurt school, which although influenced by Marx, places an inordinate weight on psychology, culture and other "superstructural" phenomena. There is also a terrible fixation on the German national character in their writings, which can overlap with the sort of interpretation Goldhagen put forward.

In any case, I once again urge Rakesh to return to the road of Marxism. I know that his professional goal of entering the ranks of Mandarinism place enormous obstacles in the path of open admirers of Marx, but in the long run Marxism is the only thing that can liberate humanity.

Louis Proyect (

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