Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Wolfgang Streeck: capitalism will kill itself

Painting by Aafke Steenhuis

Wolfgang Streeck
On Friday, April 3, I wondered in my post "Is capitalism killing democracy?" whether capitalism was killing it and in my next post,"Is the ECB killing democracy?", I wrote that many years ago I had come to the conclusion that it indeed did kill democracy. In that same post I referred to Wolfgang Streeck, emeritus director of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, who had written the interesting article, "The Crises of Democratic Capitalism".

In a more recent article, How Will Capitalism End?, Wolfgang Streeck observes that "capitalism and democracy had long been considered adversaries" and that "only in the Cold War world did capitalism and democracy seem to become aligned with one another".

After an elaborate analysis of how capitalism succeeeded in conquering various crises over the last four decades, Streeck concludes that "the image [he has] of the end of capitalism—an end that I believe is already under way—is one of a social system in chronic disrepair".

The following conclusion of Wolfgang Streeck is pessimistic (or optimistic, if you wish):

"It seems, however, that disorganized capitalism is disorganizing not only itself but its opposition as well, depriving it of the capacity either to defeat capitalism or to rescue it. For capitalism to end, then, it must provide for its own destruction—which, I would argue, is exactly what we are witnessing today."

Let me give you one more, interesting quote from Streecks article How Will Capitalism End?:

"Contemporary capitalism increasingly suffers from global anarchy, as the United States is no longer able to serve in its postwar role, and a multipolar world order is nowhere on the horizon. While there are (still?) no great-power clashes, the dollar’s function as international reserve currency is contested—and cannot be otherwise, given the declining performance of the American economy, its rising levels of public and private debt, and the recent experience of several highly destructive financial crises. The search for an international alternative, perhaps in the form of a currency basket, is getting nowhere since the US cannot afford to give up the privilege of indebting itself in its own currency. Moreover, stabilizing measures taken by international organizations at Washington’s behest have increasingly tended to have destabilizing effects on the periphery of the system, as in the case of the inflationary bubbles caused in countries like Brazil and Turkey by ‘quantitative easing’ in the centre."

to be continued  

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