Monday, 6 April 2009

Capitalism or Socialism? - A forum with Michael A. Lebowitz

2pm Wednesday April 8 @ the Holme Common Room, Upstairs in the Holme Building. This meeting will be presented by Resistance (phone Simon 0421 231 011 for more info).

As the world economy spirals down into its deepest crisis since the great depression, the ideas of Karl Marx have never been so relevant. Michael A. Lebowitz is one of the world's most renowned Marxist economists. He is Professor Emeritus of Economics at Simon Fraser University, Canada, where he taught Marxian economics and Comparative Economic Systems.

Lebowitz has intimate knowledge of Venezuela's revolution: he is on the board of directors of the socialist government's think tank, Centro Internacional Miranda, in Caracas, where he directs a program on "Transformative Practice and Human Development". His writings have been widely published and distributed by the Venezuelan government.

A central theme of Lebowitz's work has been on Marx, methodology and crisis theory. He has also written extensively on the theory of a socialist economy, a topic attracting increasingly wide interest in the context of capitalism's current global crisis. He is the author of Beyond Capital: Marx's Political Economy of the Working Class (2003), which won the 2004 Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Memorial Prize for the best and most innovative writing in the Marxist tradition. His other works include Build it Now: Socialism for the 21st Century (2006), El Socialismo no Cae del Cielo and El Camino al Desarrollo Humano, both widely distributed in Venezuela. His Following Marx: Method, Critique and Crisis will be published by Brill Academic Press in 2009.

Michael Lebowitz will also be speaking at the World at a Crossroads conference. Sessions include "Capitalism's Crises and the Solutions" Friday April 10, 9.30am and "The Spectre of 21st Century Socialism" Saturday, April 11, 9.30am. For more information go to

1 comment:

bosnianXCII said...

The U.S.A. has practically become the U.S.S.A. Government spending is as high as it’s been since the second World War. Obamunism abounds. Socialism, has nearly set in. Unbeknownst to most, in our past, we already have been a socialist state. By any description socialism occurs when the government spends more than 50% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and it occurred at an interestingly similar period in our nations history. As we slip into what is inevitably another great depression, history presents us just one mere solution to our recessionary problem. Socialism.

There was no end to the depression in site, all social projects and government plans flailed for years with little to no avail. Then along came a blessing, WWII. With patriotic spirit a fervor and a 25% joblessness rate maintained for so long, the masses were eager to work. Starting from 19%, the 1941 fraction of the GDP spent by the government more than doubled to a whopping 50% by 1944, and peaked out at 53% in 1945. The war saved capitalism, by inducing a socialist state. So as this recession spreads across the globe (just like the Great Depression), with unemployment rising whilst international trade crumbles, our percent spent of the GDP for 2009 so far is at 45%. This is an 8% jump from the 2008 eight levels at 37%. Including Obama’s not so stingy nature towards government spending, the economic scale will clearly dip onto the socialist side in a matter of years.

Yet socialism scares the patriotic populace. Examples such as the Soviet Union, Cuba, and North Korea only heighten the fear of government control. Of course these nations were actually run by dictators and barely adhered to the manifesto. And of course fear sells in the media, making these the most largely known examples. However, by looking elsewhere, we can see the beneficial effects of incorporating socialism into one’s own economy.

The Human Development Index (HDI) measures the general prosperity of a country, factoring in life expectancy, education level, literacy rate, and monetary prosperity levels. Scandinavian Socialists Iceland and Norway tie for the top seat with a rating of .968 out of 1. Ireland 5, Netherlands 6, Sweden 7. And where lies the U.S.S.A.? 15tj place, below Finland, Denmark, and Canada. Also to be considered is the top 10 happiest countries in the world. From the prior list we see repeats Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Iceland and Finland. Socialism must be horrendous.

Life is awful when you have socialized medicine. Knowing that I can be financially crippled by an untimely accident helps me sleep at night. Furthermore, I would personally enter a state of crazed rage if I couldn’t pay the tens of thousands of dollars for tuition and instead had to attend for no charge. As our spending increases in our attempts to save capitalism, the 50% GDP spending barrier’s rupture will force the Americans to accept a previously unimaginable truth. We are socialists. So why hinder the inevitable, only to prolong the transformation. People value their securities far more than their freedom to fail, and as soon as we accept this, the speed limits on the road to recovery are receiving a speed boost, from 55, to 88.