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Author: IPE


1642 English Revolution: liberalism; 1789 French Revolution: nationalism; 1848 revolutions: Marxism.

1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, London, as the high point of liberalism: steam engines; telegraphy; “perpetual peace”; gold standard; Royal Navy; imperialism of free trade.

August 1914: the collapse of the Victorian world system. The Universal State -> the Time of Troubles (Arnold Toynbee, The Study of History). The decline of Britain leads to the rivalry of Germany v. USA to become the new Universal State.

V.I. Lenin, Imperialism: the highest stage of capitalism. (1916) The First World War is caused by the export of capital and rivalry for foreign markets. Capitalism is permanent war between the great powers.

October 1917 Russian Revolution is “the revolution against Capital.” (Antonio Gramsci) The election of the Constituent Assembly -> the rule of the vanguard party; war production -> War Communism; the militarisation of politics -> the militarisation of labour; one party rule -> one man management. State capitalism, Taylorism and the factory society. Nikolai Bukharin and Eugeni Preobrazhensky, The ABC of Communism. (1920)

“I have seen the future and it works.” Lincoln Steffens (1920). The breakdown of the world market -> the rise of national autarchy. The Russian empire -> the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Socialism in One Country: state capitalism; central planning; nationalisation; protectionism; literacy campaigns; modernist art; feminism; anti-clericalism. The 1928-9 “scissors crisis”: too expensive industrial goods and low prices for agricultural products. The solution of Joseph Stalin: forced collectivisation; rapid industrialisation; slave labour; the Great Purge; ideological uniformity. Feudalism -> totalitarianism -> utopia. The Great Patriotic War 1941-5. The Russian becomes 2nd nuclear power in 1949.

Mao Zedong, Analysis of the Classes in Chinese Society. (1927). Chinese Communist Party: defeat in the cities -> guerrilla warfare in the countryside. 1949 Revolution is the precursor of the world revolution of the peasantry in the South. Peasant communes, self-sufficiency and the Yenan model v. American imperialism, Russian revisionism and “the capitalist roaders”. William Hinton, Fanshen. (1966) The 1958-60 Great Leap Forward and the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution. Che Guevara, guerrilla focos and the 1959 Cuban Revolution. The Vietnamese war of independence against French and American occupation 1945-75.

Rudolf Hilferding, Finance Capital. (1910) Liberal capitalism -> organised capitalism -> proletarian communism. The boom-and-bust business cycle: overproduction of capital and underconsumption of the workers -> the problem of “effective demand”. The 1929 Wall Street Crash and the 1930s Great Depression. Capitalism = poverty, unemployment, fascism, war and genocide. Social Democracy = the third way between liberalism and totalitarianism.

The rise of the welfare state: mixed economy; health care; education; culture; housing; transport. The “exercise of power” -> “the conquest of power” (Léon Blum) 1930s capitalist statism: British Conservatives; German Nazis; Japanese militarists. Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal in the USA. Michael Kalecki: welfare or warfare = rival solutions to the lack of “effective demand”.

John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. (1936) Reforms without revolution: pump-priming, the multiplier effect, public spending. Liberalism -> Fordism. Small firms and minimal state -> big business and big government. Second World War -> Cold War: the welfare-warfare state. The USA = the Third Way between chaotic markets and totalitarian planning. J.K. Galbraith, The Affluent Society. (1958)

W.W. Rostow, The Stages of Economic Growth: a non-communist manifesto. (1960) Traditional society -> “take-off” -> industrial society -> mass consumption society. US president John F. Kennedy’s government: “the best & the brightest”. The American economy is a programmable machine.

Bretton Woods: fixed currencies; IMF; World Bank: BIS; GATT. MIT modernisation theory: the Alliance for Progress, the Peace Corps and counter-insurgency. The North today is the South tomorrow.

The 1965 American invasion of Vietnam -> 1971 dollar inconvertibility -> 1974 Oil Shock -> the liberation of Saigon 30/04/1975. Stagflation and the crisis of Fordism -> the rise of Neo-liberalism.

Austro-Marxism v. the Austrian School in the land of Catholic fascism. Ludwig von Mises, Human Action: a treatise on economics. (1940) The “calculation debate”: state planning is irrational and wasteful -> market prices optimise the allocation of scare resources. War and socialism v. liberty and liberalism.

Friedrich von Hayek, The Road to Serfdom. (1944) Welfare spending is precursor of totalitarian repression. Freedom is spontaneous order of atomised individuals trading in the marketplace. Prices are information. Minimal state, limited democracy and the rule of law.

Joseph Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. (1942) Capitalism = “creative destruction”. Entrepreneurs innovate new techniques and new technologies within the economy. Desire for increased profits = discovery of more efficient allocation of the factors of production.

The Chicago School; Milton Friedman; George Gilder. National autarchy -> global marketplace. Bretton Woods -> floating currencies. Monetarism v. inflation. Unemployment v. labour unrest. Tax cuts v. welfare spending. Entrepreneurs v. activists. Privatisation v. nationalisation. Free trade v. protectionism.

Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet 1973-90; British prime minister Margaret Thatcher 1979-90; US president Ronald Reagan 1981-89. Strong state and free market. The end of the Cold War 1991 -> the epoch of globalisation. Russia and China take the capitalist road. The NICs of South East Asia. The Washington consensus: IMF and World Bank impose free movement of capital and privatisation on the South. Crony capitalism and off-shore banking business. The Silicon Valley model: information technologies; start-ups; IPOs; dotcom capitalism.

VC = Vietcong -> venture capitalist.

The Credit Crunch: Enron & WorldCom -> Bear Sterns -> Lehman Brothers -> the $500 billion bank bail-out. October 2008: Alan Greenspan (ex-head of US Federal Reserve Bank) admits that there could be something wrong with his ideology.

Within this MySpace version of the electronic agora, cybernetic communism was mainstream and unexceptional. What had once been a revolutionary dream was now an enjoyable part of everyday life.