The economic crisis and the Left

Economist Doug Henwood writes about on the current economic crisis and what, if anything, the left can do out it in Gloomy, w/ a 15% chance of depression

He runs Left Business Observer, a left / socialist newsletter and listserv, has a show on WBAI, and is savvy enough about economics that he often gets quoted in the rarefied realms of Alan Abelson’s column in Barron’s. Interesting guy!

Which brings up another matter: what kind of regulation should the global left, such as it is, call for? Is the point to make the system work better, in the sense of being less crisis prone and more humane? Or is the point to renovate the whole thing? Could a wholesale renovation happen without the existing order collapsing or being torn down? Would we want to throw several hundred million out of work with the vague hope of making things better?

Just who is this left anyway, and what power do we have? Is our constituency the poorest of the world, to whom the financial system means next to nothing, or the middle ranks who have something but are always at risk of losing it—or the more enlightened elements of the bourgeoisie? All three? Or is it just idle wankery to dream that “we” have any influence, or that such a “we” even exists?

Back in the Gorbachev days, the anticommunist right loved to quote Tocqueville saying that the riskiest time for a bad regime is when it starts to reform itself. That’s where our regime is right now, and it’s a good time for us, whoever we are exactly, to go out and make it riskier. It’s going to get easier to win recruits as the ranks of the disappointed swell.

Of course, the disappointed and disaffected could go any direction, to the right as well as the left. So we need to be out there and active. Henwood’s points are quite valid, just what is the left now, and does it have any real coherence or power?

I’d say Yes, but it’s indirect influence as it filters out to the mainstream and not the real power that Gets Stuff Done. At least not yet.

The left can uses the economic crisis to gets its ideas into the mainstream. But it needs to mostly listen to what people are saying and ask what they want, not just preach a doctrinaire platform at them. Then it won’t be idle wankery but a genuine movement coming from the masses.

One comment

  1. Michael Pugliese

    The Left? Whazzat? too busy reading the David Korten crapola which Doug Henwood has decried for yrs. as petty-bourgeois utopianism to wax Marxist. All that go back to Adam Smith, “pure capitalism, ” nonsense the New age hippie tyopes push, along with Far Right wingnut Monetarary reform nonsense that Kucinich hawks , – Debunking the Federal Reserve Conspiracy Theories
    > – 3 visits – 10/5/08
    > Facts: Yes, the Federal Reserve banks are privately owned, but they
    > are controlled by the publically-appointed Board of Governors. The
    > Federal Reserve banks …

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