Juxtaposition and Critical Thinking
Continental European capitalism, which combines generous health and social benefits with reasonable working hours, long vacation periods, early retirement, and relatively equal income distributions, would seem to have everything to recommend it – except sustainability.
“Is Modern Capitalism Sustainable“– Kenneth Rogoff
Mike Konczal assembles some striking quotes from Federal Reserve transcripts showing how obsessed the monetary overlords are with keeping wages down. I won’t recycle any of the quotes—check out his post for the full flavor.
“The Fed and the Class Struggle” — Doug Henwood
Here’s an juxtaposition that might be used to teach critical thinking. The contrast between these two ways of seeing the economy isn’t simply a matter of right and wrong, yes and no, or even “subject positions,” although that certainly has a role. Rogoff is an academic at Harvard and a former IMF economist. It’s in his self-interest to support capitalism, of course, since he has so much riding on it. He’s no apologist though and he’s in a bleak mood. Henwood’s successful too, but far outside the academic charmed circle.
What’s interesting is that Rogoff seems at a loss for words when it comes to the crisis undergoing capitalism. The most generous forms, he says, without any explanation, are “unsustainable.” Reading Henwood next to Rogoff gives us a sense of the reality behind the assertion. No market is going to create what Rogoff calls “a better balance between equality and efficiency.” Once we pull back the curtain, it’s the political struggle over resources–aka the class struggle– that lies at the hear our current problems and our hope of any solution.