The Irish Left Review
March 26, 2010
Last week’s podcast from Doug Henwood’s Behind the News (embedded below) is definitely worth listening to. The entire show is dedicated to a discussion of the financial crisis with the political economists Greg Albo, Sam Gindin and Leo Panitch who are the co-authors of a new book In and Out of Crisis: The Global Financial Meltdown and Left Alternatives.
As it happens Doug Henwood wrote a blurb for the book, as he discusses in his radio program, which has been posted on the publisher PM Press’s website:
“Once again, Panitch, Gindin, and Albo show that they have few rivals and no betters in analyzing the relations between politics and economics, between globalization and American power, between theory and quotidian reality, and between crisis and political possibility. At once sobering and inspiring, this is one of the few pieces of writing that I’ve seen that’s essential to understanding – to paraphrase a term from accounting – the sources and uses of crisis. Splendid and essential.
In the interview the authors and Doug discuss the reverse class prejudice that is occurring in the wake of the financial crisis as political attacks increase on public sector unions and workers – this illustrates how the situation in Ireland is no different to what is happening in other countries. They discuss China, its continuing growth and the US as global hegemon and also suggest that much of the analysis of China tends to ignore the fact that much of its continuing growth comes from the rapid increase of foreign direct investment from the developed world.
“Contrary to those who believe US hegemony is on the wane, (…) the meltdown has, in fact, reinforced the centrality of the American state as the dominant force within global capitalism, while simultaneously increasing the difficulties entailed in managing its imperial role.”
In a particularly fascinating segment they talk about Greece, Germany and the imposing of austerity on those Eurozone countries that have weaker economies, like Ireland. Doug points out that contrary to what you would expect for a country that dominates the European economy Germany is refusing to spend. This leaves no room for movement for countries like Greece, assuming they are allowed to remain in the Euro, to implement anything but extreme – and arguably unbearable – austerity measures.
There is also discussion of the auto industry, but the last segment deals with real left-wing solutions to the crisis, the reason the authors wrote the book. In the case of the banking crisis, Panitch acknowledges nationalizing the banks was avoided and a recovery mechanism has been put in place that can’t be reversed – the bailout money is already spent, on bonuses largely.