… and the prospects for socialism
Published on WSWS World Socialist Web Site:
Below we are publishing the first part of the opening report given by Nick Beams to an international school held by the International Committee of the Fourth International ICFI and the International Students for Social Equality ISSE in Sydney, Australia from January 21 to January 25, 2008.
Nick Beams is a member of the international editorial board of the World Socialist Web Site and the national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party of Australia …
… In an interview on her book, Klein made clear that she advocated a Keynesian mixed economy because she was a realist.
But there is nothing more unrealistic than the notion that it is possible to turn back the wheel of history and reinvent a twenty-first century version of the post-war boom.
First of all, the advocates of such a proposal ignore the fact that the boom did not arise because of Keynesian policies, but was bound up with vast changes in the structure of world capitalism, resulting, not least, from the violence and destruction wrought by World War II. And with the collapse of the boom – a result of objective processes – Keynesian measures were unable to alleviate the ensuing crisis. In some ways they worsened it, and thereby provided a social base in sections of the middle class for the offensive against the workers’ movement.
Secondly, even if a significant movement for social reform developed along the lines proposed by Klein and the other advocates of Keynesianism, it would very quickly run up against an entrenched a ruling elite determined to use all measures to defend its interests.
The proponents of such policies claim to be realists in opposition to the Marxists who insist that the only way forward is the mobilisation of the working class in a political struggle against the capitalist order and who undertake the fight for social consciousness on the basis of this perspective.
In fact, they follow the same procedure as the radicals criticised by Marx more than 150 years ago. That is, rather than examining objective processes and developments, and drawing out the necessary political program from such an examination, they work out a series of measures most convenient and most comfortable for them, and then proclaim that these measures are a universal solution.
The perspective of world socialist revolution and the reorganisation of world economy is not some distant perspective. An examination of the logic of objective economic processes and tendencies demonstrates that it is the only viable basis on which the working class and the mass of humanity can confront the deepening crisis of the global capitalist order and the catastrophes it is producing. Our task over the next five days is to undertake an important theoretical and political clarification in order to develop the political consciousness needed to take this struggle forward.