Thu May 26th, 2011 at 07:14:15 PM EST
Krugman believes that liberalism can be restored to its 1950's health without the need for any new policies. However, 1950's liberalism was based on southern white racism and solid support from the unions, neither of which exists any more. There is no future in pure redistributional policies in the USA for this reason. Indeed, if one looks at other social democratic countries, almost all are moving from corporate liberalism to embrace new options, such as Sarkozy in France (French socialists have the same pathetic political sense as American liberals, and will share the same fate).
I am sorry that we can't do better than Krugman. There are very serious social problems to be addressed, but the poor, pathetic, liberals simply haven't a clue. Conservatives, on the other, are political sophisticated and hold clear visions of what they want. It is too bad that what they want does not include caring about the poor and the otherwise afflicted, or dealing with our natural environment.
from Gintis' Amazon review
of Krugman's book.
The review of Klein's "Shock Doctrine" is just as interesting.
On the other hand, it would be nice if Klein's alternative were generally viable. Thomas Jefferson's vision of forty acres and a mule would be vindicated, albeit in a more socially organized manner. But it is not. Worker's control is a great dream (I dreamed it myself for many years), but it founders on the reality of capital diversification, which the worker-owned firm cannot handle. Cooperative land holding is just a myth, pure and simple, and always has been, throughout human history.
Like many progressives, Klein's instincts are anti-market (although even her precious cooperatives are marketing cooperatives, after all). It is a plain-faced fact that poor countries that have attempted to compete in the world market place rather than shelter themselves from it have done quite well, China and India being the most prominent. The idea that socialist cooperatives might outcompete capitalist firms has little going for it. Perhaps a country with mountainous oil revenues can play at sounding anti-capitalist (e.g., contemporary Venezuela), but the future of prosperity in virtually all poor countries depends on developing markets and state institutions that support markets in a synergistic and democratic manner. It is up to us to dirty our hands (and hearts?) to help them attain this, rather than remaining pure but ineffectual, fighting for a socialist world that, far from struggling to be born, simply cannot exist.
Both reviews and the discussion following are thought provoking - at least to me. From my point of view, Gintis has two things wrong - one he totally overestimates the intellectual coherency of standard economics (which is surprising) and two, his annoyance the stupidity of "progressive" orthodoxy I think causes him to jump too far the wrong way. But - worth considering.
It does strike me that like most economists Gintis does not seem to know how manufacturing works and that he dismisses racism too easily - maybe he should get out of Northhampton now and then.