Austerity: has it worked?

April 24, 2015

Michael Roberts Blog

Most governments in capitalist economies have engaged in what is loosely called ‘austerity’ policies since the end of the Great Recession in 2009.  More precisely, austerity policies are those where the government aims to reduce its annual deficit on spending and revenues and shrink the overall debt burden, plus introduce ‘reforms’ to weaken the labour rights and conditions at work to keep wage costs down for the capitalist sector.  The fiscal part of these austerity measures mainly involved cutting back on government spending, both in public sector employment, wages, public services and investment projects.

Those economists and governments that advocated austerity claimed that by getting debt ‘under control’, costs would be reduced and companies would invest, consumers would spend and economies would recover quickly.  Keynesians and others who opposed these measures reckoned that austerity would drive down ‘aggregate demand’ as government spending was cut, taxes raised and wages held down. …

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GCAS: 1st Annual World-Conference Athens July 16-19, 2015

February 18, 2015

this looks like it is going to be good

Reading Badiou’s METAPHYSICS OF REAL HAPPINESS (3): non-deterministic dialectics

January 28, 2015

sounds very interesting. Will post it to my blog. I am doing a similar project to Badiou, which I call the metaphysics of contingency


Badiou links the various anti-philosophical themes of chance, risk, freedom, and change to the notion of negation: “one can say that I am pursuing from one end of my philosophical enterprise to the other … a meditation on negation. I am simply trying to explain the possibility of change, the possibility of passing from a certain regime of laws of that which is to another regime, by the mediation of a protocol of a truth and of its subject. I am thus in dialectical thought, and in a dialectical theory of happiness, which is the paraconsistent negation of finitude by a complete infinite” (82).

So Badiou can say that his thought embodies a dialectics without determinism: “as my dialectical thought includes a figure of hasard, it is non determinist” (82).

Hegel’s Absolute is deterministic. Badiou argues that as he incorporates an element of chance in his system, his Absolute is…

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Behind the Spreading Butter Comes the Knife

January 15, 2015

So all the hurrah about low inflation from Osborne is followed by news that BP is cutting hundreds of jobs because of falling oil prices and the prospect of them staying low. This is the reality of a deflationary spiral and it could easily issue into a slump as personal indebtedness combined with low wages destroys demand. On radio 4 this morning the question was asked as to why deflation is so bad because Japan has been in it for 20 odd years. The point now is that it is a global phenomenon rather than just national. Aggregate global demand will slump and affect all of us.

Zizek and radical Islam

January 14, 2015

Just reading Absolute Recoil and Zizek’s description of the relationship between the West and radical Islam as resembling that between Nietzsche’s last men (the west afraid to risk anything, settling for consumerist quietism) and the Jihadis as failed Uebermenschen, desperate to risk everything for a cause. But as Zizek points out, this apparent radicalism is actually an expression of their weakness; of the fact that their view of society is in its death throes. Any group which can be threatened by such pathetic and actually quite juvenile things as Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons is doomed to disappear because what their radicalism actually represents is their own recognition that the West has won, that modern liberal western capitalism will prevail in some form or another.

They know that the whole world is infected with the quietism of the great last men and their radicalism is like the hyperactivity of zombie slayers, decapitating people in order to stop the spread of the infection.

Wouldn’t it just be best if they admitted defeat and laid down like the rest of us and accepted their own irrelevance, like the rest of us former revolutionaries have done?

My Poem?

January 14, 2015

I am doing some detective work. I found this poem in an old notebook and the scratchings out etc. make me think I must have written it but somehow I don’t recognise it at all. Anyone know if it is from someone else. It feels a bit Simon Armitage but I can’t find it in his work. I do love his poetry so maybe I just absorbed and reproduced his style. Any leads gratefully received:

Usually the words skip over your surface

Like flat stones

The surface tension of the alcohol keeps them out of you

Until exhausted, they sink, unpoliced, laying amongst the others

This time, sober, the thing I said,

Not flat but big and clumsy and brick

Hit you straight on

And opened you down to the bed, to the bone

And though the hole closed up again

The damage was done

And the word lay there

Distinct, visible and this time causing ripples


January 13, 2015

You really have to hand this year’s Oscar for Chutzpah to the UK Chancellor George Osborne, who is trying to claim the credit for an inflation rate that has today been declared as 0.5%. The target is 2% and the Governor of the Bank of England will have to write to the Chancellor (yes, the same Chancellor) to explain how things have gone wrong.

The point is that we are in a deflationary spiral that could be the precursor to a prolonged slump.

Deflation has several negative consequences: Spending dries up as people wait for prices to fall further and this applies to individuals as well as corporations and states. This means that economic activity slows down and production is not required and therefore redundancies increase. Capacity utilisation falls and is gradually liquidated and the downward spiral continues. At the same time, debt (both individual and state) becomes more of a burden as it does not decrease as wages and prices do.

it is difficult to overstate the seriousness of this crisis. If states do not do something to spend their way out of this deflationary spiral then it will issue into a generalized recession that will rip the whole world economy into a depression.

You read it here first! Well, perhaps not first.


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