We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Spectre Haunting Europe: Debt Defaults, Austerity, and Death of the “Social Europe” Model

by Prof Michael Hudson and Prof. Jeffrey Sommers

Another title for this article might be, "A Tale of Two Economies". The one in Latvia which is a capitalist economy and the one in Belarus which appears to be like the former Soviet Union--a centrally controlled, bureaucratically managed economy.

I think that in order to make more sense of the post-war social democratic model that existed in Europe and its present dismantling by the Empire's neo-liberal model of capitalism, one must have a clearer understanding of capitalist history which is missing from the article. 

The Soviet economic model from its inception has been regarded with extreme hostility by capitalist ruling classes in the West. Fourteen Western countries invaded Soviet territory after WWI in order to overturn their revolution, but were unsuccessful. (This history has been nearly completely purged from sources available in the US. The best source is The Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1923, Vol. 3  by Edward Hallett Carr.) In spite of the authoritarian distortions that occurred in this revolution, it inspired workers everywhere in the world, and even more-so during the 1930s when workers in capitalist countries suffered from the effects of severe unemployment. After WWII the US made great efforts to restore European capitalist governments which contained strong social safety nets to counteract more leftist influences.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, neo-liberal capitalism has sought, and is succeeding, to eliminate these social supports in the never ending effort to feed their addiction to profits. 

Of course, there is a third alternative which must be implemented if we are to avoid the scourge of climate disasters and the impoverishment of working people: the inclusive democratic control of societies and the elimination of capitalism everywhere.

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