origin of science is the desire to
know causes; and the origin of all false science and imposture is in
the desire to accept false causes rather than none; or, which is the
same thing, in the unwillingness to accept our own ignorance."
-- William Hazlitt
Analyzing the neo-capitalist economy
2. Robert Reich
3. The Ehrenreichs and the
Rosa Luxemburg Foundation
As was the case the last days,
I again did not sleep enough because I got woken up by painful eyes - keratoconjunctivitis
sicca - which I probably got
because I watched too many videos while having the disease, and
therefore, like yesterday, this is only a brief Nederlog.
As regular readers of my
site probably know, I come from a truly communist family ,
and I gave up on communism and the Dutch CP in 1970, when I was 20, for
a number of reasons I probably should try to write out in English, and
never really did, though there are several essays in English and Dutch,
and a Dutch Nederlog series from May 2008:
There are quite a few
intellectual reasons, some of which appear in the
above threesome, but two of my emotional or moral reasons are that I
just don't like politics and that I concluded when 20 that emancipating
humanity happens by science, reason and rationality rather than by
engaging in politics and making revolutions.
However that may be - and
it may be that one is forced into politics by
the collapse or threatening collapse of society - I have read a fair
amount of economy: I read Marx, indeed quite a
lot, both economical and philosophical; I read Keynes, again more than most, for I
suppose I must be one of the few who read both "The General Theory" and
the "Treatise on Probability"; and I read neo- or post-marxists, like Sraffa, Morishima
and neo- or post-Keynesians like Galbraith,
and indeed some who belonged to both schools of thought, like Joan Robinson.
I learned quite a lot, but
my understanding of economics is like my
understanding of quantum mechanics, I think in the words of John
Wheeler: "If you think you understand it, you are certain to be
In fact, I think that
applies to everyone - that is: No one really
understands the economics of capitalist society, except in part, and
piece-meal: One can rather easily understand how firms work, and how
profits are made, and how wages may be settled, but how the process of
how many firms, trade unions, millions of workers and consumers,
political parties, ideologies and religions all interact to produce the
daily goings on and the tendencies one sees in society are not fully
understood by anyone, and indeed are also very complicated.
Meanwhile, having now
arrived at the
i.e. huge spending cuts by the US government, caused by political
blindness and irresponsibility, it may be time to look somewhat deeper
I have two references for
today, which I list because they seem
interesting, and not because I agree with them - which in fact I don't
really know, except that it is likely I agree more with the first than
My attention was drawn to Robert Reich by
Adam Curtis's "The century of the self", because he appeared there
several times and spoke like a sensible and intelligent man. I had
heard of Reich before, as I have heard of Krugman, but not being an
economist, nor being hugely interested in economy, I only had read a
little by or about them.
But Reich certainly is a
sensible man. The Wikipedia says - among other
things - this about him (minus links):
Robert Bernard Reich (..) born June 24, 1946) is an American
political economist, professor, author, and political commentator. He
served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy
Carter and was Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton from
1993 to 1997.
Reich is currently Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy
at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California,
Berkeley. He was formerly a professor at Harvard University's John F.
Kennedy School of Government and professor of social and economic
policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management of
He has his own site, with
an interesting series of posts:
He is certainly worth
reading and pondering, whether right or wrong.
And as I suggested, my own
firm guess is that no one really understands the relations between
economy and society, but some understand a lot more than others,
and that generally because they are more intelligent and know more -
and you certainly will nog get anything like the truth from
governmental, corporate or political spokesmen.
Ehrenreichs and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation
My attention was drawn to Barbara
Ehrenreich by one of the series on The Sixties the seeing of which
was not good for my eyes. She is an
American of Reich's and my generation (both are some years older than I
am) and is a leftist, also with a Wikipedia entry, that says - among
other things and minus links:
Barbara Ehrenreich (..) born August 26, 1941) is an American
feminist, democratic socialist, and political activist who describes
herself as "a myth buster by trade", and has been called "a veteran
muckraker" by The New Yorker. During the 1980s and early 1990s she was
a prominent figure in the Democratic Socialists of America. She is a
widely-read and award-winning columnist and essayist, and author of 21
In case you are interest in
a leftist analysis of the crisis, she and
Luxemburg Foundation (<- Wikipedia) may deliver some of it:
These are versions of the
same: The former is on Alternet, and
an abbreviation of the latter.
I do not know, but am
willing to suppose this is a serious leftist
analysis of the current crisis of capitalism.
Caveat: As I said, I
am mentioning this not because I endorse these
people or their ideas, but because they are serious and informed people
who try to make sense of things.
The "truly" is inserted
because most of my babyboomer generation who pretended to be leftists,
marxists, communist, revolutionaries or what not in fact were none of
these things, but fashionable careerists. Having arrived at their rich
pensions, they are mostly silent: Their lives were rich and
satisfactory, at the cost of destroying the Dutch educational system
through their populist leftist levelling.
And the "neo-" in "neo-capitalist" is inserted because it is new in at
least one sense, as compared with the years 1950-1980: It is deregulated on purpose, to make the
 There was at least one better edition
on another computer, but this is the best I can find now, in two parts,
as published in Nederlog in 2008, with Dutch comments. I will try to
find or make a better edition.