What is to be done?

Harold Meyerson:

Take it from a democratic socialist: Laissez-faire American capitalism is about to be supplanted not by socialism but by a more regulated, viable capitalism. And the reason isn’t that the woods are full of secret socialists who are only now outing themselves.

Judging by the failures of the great Wall Street investment houses and the worldwide crisis of commercial banks; the collapse of East Asian, German and American exports; the death rattle of the U.S. auto industry; the plunge of stock markets everywhere; the sickening rise in global joblessness; and the growing shakiness of governments in fledgling democracies that opened themselves to the world market — judging by all these, a more social capitalism is on the horizon because the deregulated capitalism of the past 30 years has blown itself up, taking much of the known world with it.

Wow, really? Funny, because looking out my window the world looks more or less the same as it did last month. And I’m up on the 44th floor, okay, so I can see quite a bit of it.

This is not merely facetiousness; rather, it is a key point. It’s odd that a “democratic socialist” would miss this point, but maybe, on consideration, it’s not. Let’s flesh it out.

Very, very wealthy people losing almost all their wealth — or, Madoff victims aside, losing more wealth than most of us could ever dream of, but still being immensely richer than the fantasy of that same dream — is not “taking much of the known world with it.” The same goes for once-powerful institutions such as commercial and investment banks. What on earth kind of socialist sees the fall of such “robber barons,” exploiters, real live capitalist pigs, as “taking much of the known world with it”? The bigger they are, the harder they fall, right?

An 8.1% unemployment rate is rotten, but “most of the known world” would seem to be some profound multiple of eight. Is the prospect of a massive reduction in the United Auto Worker’s cashflow, and its ability to finance its political projects, really the end of days?

Foreclosures on unreasonably overbuilt, stupidly overfinanced McMansions? That’s most of what world, exactly?

I’m not underplaying the economic crisis we’re going through now; but it is not quite the hoped-for collapse of capitalism that Marx, like a modern-day goldbug, predicted “any day now.” Obviously if the UAW takes it on the chin because of massive unemployment in Detroit, that is bad all around… in the near term.

On the contrary, this moment in economic history, and the reason it can and is taking place now, is as good a proof of the vitality of the market as there is. <Read the rest>

Originally posted on Likelihood of Success, Ron Coleman’s pretty good blog.

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