What led to the twentieth century’s rapid economic growth? And what are the prospects for that kind of growth to return?
Labor activists take steps to preserve the documents and strategies they use today, so future organizers will have a practical guide.
But for the merchants who were the primary promoters, financiers and often warriors on the English side, it was an economic war — if they had read von Clausewitz, they might have said that their war was business conducted by other means.
Over the course of the 20th century, capitalism preserved its momentum by molding the ordinary person into a consumer with an unquenchable thirst for more stuff.
Behind today’s ‘free market’ advocacy is the power of financial wealth to appropriate the political, fiscal and central planning role that Polanyi, Marx and other socialists hoped to see expanded in the hands of democratic government.
My previous post offered a retrospective take on my ‘Peasant’s Republic of Wessex’ post cycle that I completed a while back. I thought I might now turn to another such retrospective, this time on my recently-completed ‘History of the world’ cycle. So I’d like to offer a few thoughts on the way we think about history, with the help of a couple of books from my recent reading.
Sadly, A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things replaces concrete analysis with an artificial schema that reduces the complex organic relationship between society and the rest of nature to “cheap things.” It misrepresents or ignores ecological science. The programme it promotes is so vague that it can scarcely be called liberal.
So as I see it humanity now faces a choice. We can continue extolling the virtues of ‘development’, pin our hopes on a rapid decarbonisation of the energy system while retaining something like present levels of energy usage, and imagine that a further iteration of the capitalist economy will somehow overcome the grinding poverty that afflicts so many people in the world today. Or we could take the view that the forms of development offered by this ‘modernism’ have failed.