Modern Imperialism and the Working Class

Modern ImperialismPublished: 6 July 2016.
Author: Michael Roberts.

The IIPPE workshop in London on modern imperialism, organised this week by Simon Mohun, Emeritus professor of political economy at QMC London University, was highly appropriate for two reasons.

First, it brought together those scholars with the latest works on modern imperialism. Both John Smith?s new book and that of Tony Norfield have been reviewed on my blog. Smith?s book has won the prize from the Monthly Review and Tony?s has been included on the short list for the Isaac Deutscher prize for the best Marxist book of the year, previously won by many eminent leftists and Marxists. And Lucia Pradella had a book Globalization and the Critique of Political Economy: New Insights from Marx?s Writings, Routledge, 2014 that was also shortlisted for Isaac Deutscher in 2015.

The other reason, of course, was Brexit. The decision of the British people to vote in a referendum to leave the EU brings into focus the history of British imperialism and its impact on the consciousness of the British people. And the workshop spent some time considering the importance of British imperialism in the 21st century. It may be only the 5th largest economy by GDP, but as Tony Norfield has shown, it is still second only to the US as an imperialist power, when finance and military might are considered. The split in the British ruling class between its past imperialist ambitions and its recent need to integrate with Europe has come to a head with Brexit.

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UK Labour’s New Economics ? Unfortunately Not So New…

The New EconomicsPublished: 2 June 2016
Author: Michael Roberts

Over 1000 people packed into a London college to take part in a day of analysis of the state of the British economy. And hundreds had been turned away. This was a conference called by the new left-wing leadership of the opposition Labour party in Britain. The hardworking and dedicated activists within the Labour party that had backed Jeremy Corbyn, the new leftist leader, had turned out in droves to discuss with due intent what is wrong with capitalism in Britain and what to do about it. It was an unprecedented event: the leadership of the Labour party calling a meeting to discuss economics and economic policy and allowing party members to discuss.

Labour?s finance leader, John McDonnell opened the conference by saying the aim of the various sessions was to see how Labour could ?transform capitalism? into delivering a ?fairer, democratic sustainable prosperity shared by all?. We needed to ?rewrite the rules? of capitalism to make it work for all. He argued the British capital was failing to invest for growth and jobs. We needed to break with the ?free market? ideology of the neo-liberal agenda and ?reshape the narrative? with ?new economics?.

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The World Elite Meets in Davos as the Richest 1% Now Own More Than the Rest of Humanity

Collage med res 2Published: 22 Jan 2016.
Author: Michael Roberts.
Intro by: TSN Editor.

The latest report from OXFAM shows that inequality between the rich and poor has sharply accelerated since the onset of the world economic crisis in 2008. The payment of the banks debts at the public?s expense, followed by the provision to them of cheap money from the central banks, have combined to massively boost the assets of the wealthy. This has been in stark contrast to the austerity imposed on working people internationally which has caused their living standards to fall dramatically.
… A key part of the story has been the use by the rich, the corporations and the corrupt of tax havens to hide their wealth and avoid paying taxes on it. OXFAM are running a campaign against these tax havens at “evenitup.org“.
… Below we publish a comment on OXFAM?s wealth report by Michael Roberts, the marxist economist. In it he defends the statistics in OXFAM’s report against its capitalist detractors.

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World Economy Today – A Poisonous Concoction

Published: 9 December 2015.
Author: Michael Roberts.
Intro by: TSN Editor.

Stock markets are falling around the planet as prices for raw materials – oil, metals etc. continue to fall. Is this a sign of an approaching international economic slump?

Here we publish the latest assessment from renowned marxist economist, Michael Roberts, which looks at what these falling commodity prices indicate for the world economy.

Oil Slides Again

Oil Crude oil prices have hit a seven-year low after last week?s decision in Vienna of OPEC, the oil cartel, not to put any limit on oil production next year.

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Debate: On British Labour?s New Economic Policy

mcdcorbPublished: 25 November 2015
Debate Participants: Themos Demetriou, Michael Roberts and Eric Andersson

“Where Michael Roberts is Wrong” by Themos

In one of his latest posts Michael Roberts questions the validity of the economic philosophy of the new Labour Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, as well as his marxist credentials. He points out that in his keynote speech on economics at the Labour Annual Conference he accepts Marx?s analysis of the capitalist system but distances himself from his conclusions about what to do. He goes on to criticise McDonnell?s decision to appoint Keynesian rather than Marxist economists to his panel of economic advisers and forecasts that ?Corbyn and McDonnell?s National Investment Bank will not be enough to deliver sufficiently faster growth as long as the UK economy is still dominated in its strategic sectors by capitalist profit-making companies in the City of London?.

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Final Invitation to the Socialist Network Annual Meeting 23-25 October in Athens, Greece

Network ConferenceThe Socialist Network Annual Meeting is just nine days away – it runs from Friday 23rd of October to Sunday 25th inclusive – and will be covering some of the key issues for the international left (see Agenda below).

This year the meeting is being held in Athens, Greece, which has seen such drama this year in the struggle against austerity being imposed by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Kicking off the meeting will be a speech from renowned socialist economist, Michael Roberts, who will analyse the causes of the capitalist crisis we are still passing through, and open up a discussion on the alternatives.

Building on this, Jonathan Clyne will be introducing his new version of the Socialist Manifesto which points to the kind of society we need to replace capitalism with.

On the second day of the conference we will be hearing from our Editor Pat Byrne on the national and international significance of the momentous election of left-winger Jeremy Corbyn as the leader of the British Labour Party. We will also hear a report from the international Campaign for a Democratic Public Banking Service which The Socialist Network has played a big part in launching recently.

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China: Is It All Over?

China crashPublished: 8 August 2015
Author Michael Roberts
Intro by: TSN Editor

The stock market in China has had a mighty fall in the last few weeks. Does this imply a coming economic crisis or is it just another bump in the road for China?s economic miracle?

 

In recent weeks, the Chinese stock market has taken a massive plunge and in July shares suffered their worse month in six years, falling by 29% from the peak in June. This followed a humungous boom in stock prices since the beginning of 2015. Indeed, since August of last year, the market index in Shanghai has risen 160%. And even after the collapse in the last month the index is still nearly 80% higher than this time in 2014.

This stock market bubble is of the proportion of the US in the 1920s that led to the crash of 1929 and the subsequent great depression. Is this what is in store for the Chinese economy as well?

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Ignore the Troika?s Blackmail, Vote No to Austerity and Start Building a Democratic Socialist Greece

Vote No 2Published: 30 June 2015.
Author: Michael Roberts.
Intro by: TSN Editor.

 The following is the first of a two-part article in which Michael Roberts examines the brutal austerity measures that the IMF and the EU leaders are trying to impose on Greece, and points the way towards an alternative democratic socialist economic plan for Greece and Europe.

Syriza, the Troika and the ironies

The ?impossible triangle? for the Syriza government was 1) reversing austerity 2) staying the Eurozone; and 3) Syriza staying in power (see my post: ‘Syriza, the economists and the impossible triangle‘). The Troika prepared to break that triangle. What the Troika wanted was a Greek government carrying out a full programme of austerity (running a government budget surplus in the middle of a depression) and ?structural reforms? (ending labour rights, deregulating services and finance and privatising state assets). The previous Samaras government got bailout funds in return for such ?conditionalities?. When Syriza wanted to change those conditions, not only did the Troika not concede, it actually tried to impose even harsher ones on Syriza.

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World Economic Outlook: Bubbles, Profits & Debt ? Look Out!

Stock market bubblePublished: 5 June 2015
Author: Michael Roberts

Stock markets in the major economies continue to hit new highs. At the same time, economic growth in the major economies is either slowing down or already at a relatively low level. The UN now forecasts that the global economy, including fast-growing India and high rate China, will expand in real terms (after inflation) by just 2.8% this year. Thus the UN joins the IMF and the World Bank in reducing its growth forecast for this year to around 3% for the world.

And in its semi-annual economic outlook released this week, the OECD has also reduced its forecast for global economic growth. It warned that weak investment and disappointing productivity growth risk keeping the world economy stuck in a ?low-level? equilibrium.

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Greece: Keynes or Marx?

Keynes or Marx coll

Published: 14 March 2015
Author: Michael Roberts

The Greeks are now in a so-called four-month breathing space – an extension of the existing ?bailout? programme that was agreed by the previous Conservative-led government with the Troika (the EU Commission, the ECB and the IMF).
Of course, this breathing space is already narrow and closing as the Greek economy continues to suffocate (see my post https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/greece-breaking-illusions/).

An interview with Costas Lapavitsas
But there is an opportunity to consider the way out for the Greek people when the four months are up. That?s what makes the recent interview in Jacobin with Syriza MP and Marxist economist, Costas Lapavitsas, a leading member of the Left Platform within Syriza, so interesting. (https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/03/lapavitsas-varoufakis-grexit-syriza/).

Costas Lapavitsas
Costas Lapavitsas

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