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.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and Smarthinking.com. I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol] writinginthewild.com

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