Wednesday, March 18, 2015

"Let's save capitalism now, we can have socialism later": Don't consume after expiry date

Lapavitsas, state-of-the-art "socialism" in 2015:

Let me come clean on this. Keynes and Keynesianism, unfortunately, remain the most powerful tools we’ve got, even as Marxists, for dealing with issues of policy in the here and now. The Marxist tradition is very powerful in dealing with the medium-term and longer-term questions and understanding the class dimensions and social dimensions of economics and society in general, of course. There’s no comparison in these realms.

But, for dealing with policy in the here and now, unfortunately, Keynes and Keynesianism remain a very important set of ideas, concepts, and tools even for Marxists. That’s the reality. Whether some people like to use the ideas and not acknowledge them as Keynesian is something I don’t want to comment upon, but it happens.

So I cannot blame Varoufakis for that, for associating himself with Keynesians, because I’ve also associated myself with Keynesians, openly and explicitly so. If you showed me another way of doing things, I’d be delighted. But I can assure you, after many decades of working on Marxist economic theory, that there isn’t at the moment. So yes, Varoufakis has worked with Keynesians. But that isn’t really, in and of itself, a damning thing.

Of course you’re making a distinction between Marxism as an analytic tool and Keynesianism as a policy tool, but they also have different objectives, and Varoufakis has said explicitly that his objective is to save capitalism from itself. You don’t see that as a distinctive line of cleavage?

Oh yes, very much! Keynes is not Marx, and Keynesianism is not Marxism. Of course there’s a gulf between them, and it’s pretty much as you have said. Marxism is about overturning capitalism and heading towards socialism. It has always been about that, and it will remain about that. Keynesianism is not about that. It’s about improving capitalism and even rescuing it from itself. That’s exactly right.

However, when it comes to issues of policy such as fiscal policy, exchange-rate policy, banking policy, and so on issues on which the Marxist left must necessarily position itself if it is to do serious politics rather than denouncing the world from small rooms — then you will rapidly discover that, like it or not, the concepts that Keynes used, the concepts that Keynesianism has worked with, play an indispensable role in working out strategy, which remains Marxist [sic!!!!]

That’s the point I’m making. Unfortunately, there is no other way [sic]. And the sooner that Marxists realize that, the more relevant and realistic their own positions will become.


Before state-of-the-art scholarship on how to attain Marxist goals through Keynesian means:

Antonio Negri (1968) "Keynes and the Capitalist Theory of the State post-1929"

Well-known Greek (and Greek language) academic Marxist work professional economist Lapavitsas has apparently never heard of:

Giorgos Stamatis (2001): "Why is a Left Keynesian economic policy impossible?"
Giorgos Stamatis (2014): "The penetration of bourgeois ideology in the discourse of the Left"
Giorgos Stamatis (1986): "The economic crisis and the delusions concerning its overcoming"
Giorgos Stamatis (1988): Planning and the Market in Socialist Economies
Giorgos Stamatis (1984): "Proof of the logical consistency of the Marxist law of the falling rate of profit"

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