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Commentary :: Globalization : Labor : Politics
The Keynesian past is past: Nostalgia is not the future
21 Mar 2012
Keynesian would be much better than austerity, but would do nothing to solve the underlying structural crisis of capitalism.
Human beings tend to divide on political questions into various camps; there is no surprise when so many theories contend in the debates over the causes of economic collapse and what should be done. Finance is a poorly understood subject shrouded in mystery, compounding the tendency toward multiple theories.

One common line of thought frequently heard in the United States — and among the most coherent, as it is based on reality unlike many competing theories — is that the two decades or so following World War II represent a "golden era," and point toward high taxation on the rich, high taxation on corporations and the far higher level of unionization as enabling a relatively more egalitarian distribution of income that fueled consumption and therefore production. That was an era of high government spending on investment, helping start entire industries.

But those more than two decades of economic boom was an anomaly that won't be repeated, and this time Keynesian spending can't save the day — the world capitalist system is undergoing a structural crisis in a time much different than the 1930s. Mid-20th century Keynesianism depended on an industrial base and market expansion. A repeat of history isn’t possible because the industrial base of the advanced capitalist countries has been hollowed out, transferred to low-wage developing countries, and there is almost no place remaining to which to expand.

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