[lbo-talk] Democrats and government

Marv Gandall marvgand at gmail.com
Wed Aug 3 14:01:18 PDT 2011

On 2011-08-03, at 3:30 PM, Wojtek S wrote:

> Marv: "If Obama, with the political momentum and a Congressional
> majority, had pilloried and punished the bankers and imposed tough new
> restrictions on their activities, had steadfastly pinned
> responsibility for the crisis on the Republicans and Wall Street..."
> etc.
> [WS:] This is like arguing that had the pope mobilized all his
> divisions against the Nazis, WW2 would have had a different outcome.
> Can you name a single government in the developed world that stood
> against the neoliberal agenda of banks and corporations during the
> past decade or so? Whether socialist or conservative, they all lined
> up hats in hand to get the finance capital stamp of approval. You
> need a revolution to change that. Do not expect the POTUS or, for
> that matter, any other head of state to start one for you.

We have this ongoing disagreement of whether these options (reregulation of the financial industry, mortgage relief, stimulus directed at job creation, universal medicare, etc.) were open to the administration and were circulated within it and outside by ruling class commentators across the political spectrum. You find this difficult to accept because you misunderstand such proposals to be "revolutionary", whose effect would be to undermine the capitalist economy rather than to facilitate its recovery. This echoes the supply side reasoning which has guided the economic strategy of the administration, married to a political strategy designed to attract and occupy the space of moderate Republicans dismayed by the growing influence of the tea party. The past two years have witnessed the bankruptcy of both approaches. The same could be said of the hesitant steps taken by European leaders to end the eurozone crisis, which have instead exacerbated it at every stage. It's true there has not yet been "a single government in the developed world that has stood against the neoliberal agenda of banks and corporations", but you are too quick to discount the possibility that the American and European governments may yet be forced to take more decisive measures to effect a sustainable recovery from the crisis which will fall well short of the social revolution you see as the only way out.

I've suggested previously that your conviction that only a revolution can resolve the current crisis of capitalism is the flip side of a more deep seated pessimism about the possibility of reform, accompanied by a thinly disguised contempt for those fighting for reforms as hapless pawns of the liberal bourgeois parties in Western parliamentary democracies. You're not alone, as we know, in feeling this way on these lists and the left more generally.

But let's keep the conversation going. I'm still hoping for a reply to the question I posed to you a couple of weeks ago:


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