March 3, 2013

Crisis: Analyzing the neo-capitalist economy
"The 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


1. Analyzing the neo-capitalist economy
2. R
obert Reich
3. The Ehrenreichs and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation
About ME/CFS


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.

1. Analyzing the neo-capitalist economy

As regular readers of my site probably know, I come from a truly communist family [1], 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 Steedman, and neo- or post-Keynesians like Galbraith, Samuelson; 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 mistaken".

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 sequester i.e. huge spending cuts by the US government, caused by political blindness and irresponsibility, it may be time to look somewhat deeper into economics.

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 the second.

2. Robert Reich

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[4] and professor of social and economic policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management of Brandeis University.

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.

3. The 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 books.

In case you are interest in a leftist analysis of the crisis, she and the Rosa 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.


[1] 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 rich richer.

[2] 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.

About ME/CF (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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