Distinguishing social democracy

Distinguishing social democracy:

Under left-liberal (as opposed to soc dem) regimes, organized labor does not participate in mid- to longer-range socio-economic planning. However, left think tanks can contribute mid- to long-range planning analyses.

Conversely, there are a variety of ways in which business leaders contribute to public policy formation, because business (public and private, but not cooperative) is regarded by the lib-left govt as the engine of growth.

This exclusion of cooperatives from the field of perceived contributors to growth indicates that lib-left govts may also be distinguished from social democratic govts by an assumption that growth is a product of “efficient” social-hierarchy-inflating organizational forms.

In lib-left regimes, labor views its role, and the liberal government views labor’s role as (often obstructive) ballast to economic growth initiatives that are seen as the natural concern of business. That’s labor’s negative role. It’s not a leadership role.

Labor’s positive role in capitalist democracy thus largely devolves to delivering votes to the left-liberal govt, because although the lib-left does not regard labor as a central social or economic policy resource, as opposed to conservative govts the lib-left govt will not actively try to break organized labor and it may implement those modest proposals of labor that do not impede the business-driven growth planning.

Hence, with a range of ruling (capitalist) political perspectives that always preemptively block information from labor (except what little leaks obliquely through the market), we repeatedly sink into crisis cycles–crisis of profit begets > capital deregulation and overmobilization, working class overregulation, demobilization, and dispossession beget > speculative bubbles/primitive accumulation beget > underconsumption crisis begets > further primitive accumulation, repeat. We fixate on the speculative bubbles moment in the midst of all this autistic failure, hoard wealth, and laud ourselves endlessly for being such top-notch managers and philanthropistes.

This is why for Rawlsianism to work, socialist politics and the communist horizon must be more highly valued, and even defended– by liberals.
As far as I know, this seeming impossibility has only been (temporarily) accomplished in Scandinavia and Minnesota. (While Latin America leftists tried to forge a left-lib coalition from scratch, the US destroyed this effort and enforced conservative rule in Latin America, see Greg Grandin.)

In “Right-wing Rawlsianism: A Critique” (forthcoming in Journal of Political Philosophy) Samuel Arnold argues that if liberals agree that agency is the essence of justice, then liberals have to pick which side they are on–because economic democracy fosters more agency than Trickledown provides.

Arnold’s is a clever detonation of a bridge from liberalism to conservatism, using some of the bridge-builders’ own ideal theory tools. (Particularly with respect to Rawls’ difference principle: A liberal justice-maximizing directive to choose the political-economic system that maximizes the least-advantaged group’s expectations for an index of primary goods that include income and wealth, but also status (qua capacity for agency in the workplace and self-respect in society).)

Upon deriving the optimal realization of liberal justice (agency) in workplace democracy, Arnold concludes (p. 32),

Milquetoast liberal egalitarianism is unstable: liberal egalitarianism must move far to the left in order to avoid being jerked far to the right.”

We need to keep heaping on the demonstrations that economic democracy fosters more agency than GDP/GNP tumescence.

For one example, insofar as political-economic systems can be said to have intentions, how plausible is it that capitalism does not intend to support social pathologies (Arnold, p.29)? Studies of primitive accumulation, the WEB DuBois tradition, socialist feminists, Harvey et al have a lot to say about how capitalism “intends to” (is built and maintained to) and does depend upon and support social pathologies. This approach apprehends the connection between economic (eg. workplace) tyranny and racism, sexism, colonialism, etc., for a powerpunch assertion that inequality is both fundamental to capitalism (even if it is shifted around across some social groups, over time and space) and fatally (from the perspective of justice) undermines agency (power to).

…& on the matter of historical-materialism’s putative incapacity to deal with difference (from a postmodern POV), from Arnold (p. 29):

Patriarchy, discrimination against the weak or the different, pressure to conform, and countless other social practices that prevent people from realizing their full agential potential: how long can these pathologies withstand the countervailing winds of a social democracy, with its democratic workplaces, its flattened division of labor, its robustly egalitarian public institutions?”

Hobsbawm on the Vicissitudes of Left-liberalism

Hobsbawm, Eric. 2012. “After the Cold War: Eric Hobsbawm Remembers Tony Judt.” London Review of Books, April.

Beautifully-written rebuttal of the 20th century liberal rejection and condemnation of communism, as well as homage to civic courage. Crafting a story of intellectual and political maturation and redemption, Hobsbawm dissects how Tony Judt traversed from the Cold Warrior troops and conservative tooldom (as Judt started out trivially focused on critiquing dying French Left intellectualism) to trenchant critic of imperial Israeli apartheid politics.

Both Hobsbawm & Judt understood the twentieth century’s “basic passion: namely the belief that politics was the key to our truths as well as our myths.”

 …Judt “launched one of the most implacable attacks on (Hobsbawm) in a passage which has become widely quoted, especially by the ultras of the right-wing American press. It amounted to: ‘make a public confession that your god has failed, beat your breast and you may win the right to be taken seriously. No man who doesn’t think socialism equals Gulag should be listened to.’

 …after 1968 (Judt) became much more of a militant oppositionist liberal over Eastern Europe, an admirer of the mixed but more usually right-wing academic tourists who provided much of our commentary on the end of the East European Communist regimes. This also led him and others who should have known better into creating the fairy tale of the Velvet and multicoloured revolutions of 1989 and after. There were no such revolutions, only different reactions to the Soviet decision to pull out.

 …Four things shaped French history in the 19th and 20th centuries: the Republic born of the incomplete Great Revolution; the centralised Napoleonic state; the crucial political role assigned to a working class too small and disorganised to play it; and the long decline of France from its position before 1789 as the Middle Kingdom of Europe, as confident as China of its cultural and linguistic superiority. Denied a Lenin and deprived of Napoleon, France retreated into the last and, we must hope, indestructible redoubt, the world of Astérix. The postwar vogue for Parisian thinkers barely concealed their collective retreat into Hexagonal introversion and into the ultimate fortress of French intellectuality, Cartesian theory and puns. There were now other models in higher education and the sciences, in economic development, even – as the late penetration of Marx’s ideas implies – in the ideology of the Revolution. The problem for left-wing intellectuals was how to come to terms with an essentially non-revolutionary France. The problem for right-wing ones, many of them former communists, was how to bury the founding event and formative tradition of the Republic, the French Revolution, a task equivalent to writing the American Constitution out of US history. It could not be done…

 …Tony had so far made his name as an academic bruiser. His default position was forensic: not the judge’s but the barrister’s, whose objective is neither truth nor truthfulness, but winning the case. Faced with governments and ideologues who read victory and world domination into the fall of communism, he was honest enough with himself to recognise that the old verities and slogans needed to be junked after 1989. Probably only in the ever nervous US could such a reputation have been built so quickly on the basis of a few articles in journals of modest circulation addressed exclusively to academic intellectuals.

 …(Judt) was well aware of the risks, personal and professional, he ran in attacking the combined forces of US global conquest, the neocons and Israel, but he had plenty of what Bismarck called ‘civilian bravery’ (Zivilcourage) – a quality notably lacking in Isaiah Berlin, as Tony himself noted, perhaps not without malice. Unlike the ex-Marxist scholiasts and intellocrates on the Left Bank who, as Auden said of poets, made ‘nothing happen’, Tony understood that a struggle with these new forces could make a difference. He launched himself against them with evident pleasure and zest. This was the figure who came into his own after the end of the Cold War, widening his courtroom technique to flay the likes of Bush and Netanyahu rather than some political absurdity in the Fifth Arrondissement or a distinguished professor in New Jersey. It was a magnificent performance, a class act; he was hailed by his readers not only for what he said, but what many of them would not have had the courage to say themselves. It was all the more effective because Tony was both an insider and an outsider: English, Jewish, French, eventually American, but plurinational rather than cosmopolitan” (Eric Hobsbawm 2012).

Economic Leadership Today: A Report from the Trenches

 The tiny bit of progress in elite thought on institutionalized, socially-subsidized banking failure and Western working-class economic decline: Conservative economists and policymakers are finally acknowledging inequality, and vaguely entertaining the Occupy-introduced notion that inequality might not be all they fantasized for us after all.

Unfortunately, they have no conceptual tools or will to address it. Stale, refried 1991 Robert Reich (Such as is presented by the elite economic consensus in the OECD’s “Divided We Stand“. Yeah, that’s not a typo. Remember for capitalist conservatives, inequality is thought to create stability–by diversifying economic preferences and market niches.) aint going to do it.

I attended and wrote note notes last night at a panel on Canadian business’ relationship to inequality and Occupy protest, provided by the business school for the benefit of the business community in a Canadian city.

Businessmen in the audience said they wanted to stay with the “globalization makes inequality necessary” line. They like that, know it, don’t want to abandon it. Feels good.

 But it’s killing off your consumer market, and there can only be a few Walmarts in monopoly capitalism, replied the business profs. Can you businessmen at least think about maybe taking some of your profits and investing them in local charity works, or in Living Wages?

The progressive business profs tried to introduce the idea that inequality has costs, to human health,  to human capital, and economic costs in the form of consumer market decline.

The idea that inequality has human and economic costs did not appear to register with the businessmen and business students in the audience. On the one hand, the audience managed to respond that they expect the Chinese to replace failing Americans as the consumer market to the world; on the other hand, they expect to still keep super-exploiting starvation-wages Chinese labor. Cake; eat it too. So that’s the quality of plan you get from the leaders of a high-inequality regime.

The business school dean authoritatively lectured on how Canada should respond to economic inequality. He cribbed the OECD’s “Divided We Stand”. His takeaway OECD message? Stay the course; Occupy will fade; the problem is simply that some people just aren’t techno-skilled enough–ergo Canadian businesses should engage in more in on-the-job training. 

 It’s good to read this OECD report so you know how your elite are failing.

 The business dean refused to acknowledge parasitic over-financialization’s relationship to unyielding Western economic gout. Over-financialization, at the root of economic destruction and political sclerosis, is not on elites’ radar as a problem.

You might be interested in knowing that the business dean and business profs said that elites are hoping on securing the continued loyalty of the top 30-40% income earners, at least within Canada, to help maintain their order. Is that you?

 …Because I know 30-40%ers who are having their incomes actively suppressed right now by the neoliberal machinery in place. They’ve got big and growing education debt and housing debt–or they don’t live middle class in significant ways/aren’t bought off. Neoliberalism has a life of its own. The  middle class buy-off is in decline, and that means that the discipline that the middle class enforces is  slated to follow… and though they are still purportedly relying on it, this decline is off elites’ radar! Good thing they’re still over-“investing” in guard labor.

 Their leadership is not as irreplaceable as their money leads businessmen and their technocrati to believe they are.

What Is and Is Not Social Democracy

This Varoufakis political analysis applies as well to the federal-level, organized-labor-backed, social service NGO-backed liberal parties of North America. And kindly recall, North Americans, that simply sitting a bit to the left of one or even two conservative capitalist-dedicated parties, in no way qualifies a party for social democratic status in any historical-comparative empirical sense.

Social democratic historically meant, and in order to retain a sense of perspective and strategic possibility needs to continue to mean: Within capitalism, a) the parliamentary wing of b) an actual left, working class-for-itself social movement coalition that includes politicized, organized labor, pressing for, inter alia, socialism-building goals.  The moment you drop part b,  you are a liberal party. Possibly lefty-liberal in some fortuitous historical moments and on small  geographic scales, but liberal.

A liberal party champions (usually, the immediate) interests of politically-organized capital. The peripheral concerns of the welfare of the working class and the economic and geo-strategic health of the region cannot come into stable focus for a liberal or conservative party. That’s why, ironically, actual social democratic parties can manage the capitalist economy better than dedicated capitalist parties.

A social democratic party in capitalism is a party of internal tension. A social democratic party is a dialectical engine; a social democracy is a dialectical machine. The ultimate goal of social democratic parties is always their own aufhebung. The goal of a social democratic party is to work within capitalism to build the institutional and cultural conditions of socialism, see Rudolf Meidner. If that aint the goal, you’ve lost the tension. The bourgeoisie have successfully co-opted the party; and what you’ve got left there is a liberal party, not a social democratic party. At that point, you’re carrying the name “Social Democratic Party” for branding continuity only.

Social democratic parties differ from socialist parties in capitalism in that they are a coalition between socialists and lefty-liberals. Most social democratic parties, because they are coalitions of socialists and the lefty-liberal idealists of a kinder, gentler capitalist utopia that can never exist independently (because capitalism requires alienation and exploitation), shoulder relentless, organized capitalist pressure and undergo internal struggles over whether to turn away from the socialist horizon.

A social democratic culture then is a most peculiar balance of strategic thinking and pragmatism, sentimentalism, and egalitarianism and utopianism.

The Liberal Misrecognition of Social Democracy: Equilibrium Third-way Establishment Politics?

Barnard Europeanist Sheri Berman is also keen to distinguish social democracy from the many unmoored, opportunistic uses of the term.

“Correctly understood, social democracy is far more than a particular political program. Nor is it a compromise between Marxism and liberalism. And neither should it apply to any indivdual or party with vaguely leftist sympathies and an antipathy to communism” Berman “Understanding Social Democracy” XXXX: 4.

Berman argues that social democracy is distinguished from liberalism and communism by active political management of a capitalist market. The capitalist market is assumed to be required for provision of “the material basis upon which the good life could be built” and the promotion of “real growth” (Berman XXXX: 23). So the market is perhaps “traditionally accepted or tolerated,” but it is also effectively TINA, sacred to social democrats, just as it is as for laissez-faire liberals. Yet soc dems’ Nordic-cool dis-stance toward the sacred market uniquely requires a state capable of active market care and management, rather than liberals and conservatives’ preference: state capture. In Berman’s (Peter Evans-affine) view, the capitalist market is something like social democrats’ troublesome god.

Berman insists that armed with such a superior approach to capitalist market and society, social democracy is a third-way, in equilibrium. In such a perspective, active politics is institutionalized polity economic policy. Social movement, especially Marxism, is at most an initial condition to be overcome.

Berman’s is a laudable attempt to rescue social democracy from political obfuscation; it is a compelling narrative; and it jibes with some of some social democrat party members’ assumptions, actions, and strategic claims. However, to understand social democracy, we need to remedy Berman’s liberal oversights in terms of social democratic origins and active politics, as well as her equilibrium view of polity politics. When Berman attempts to understand social democracy, she tells us she will take us back to the origins of social democracy. And yet she does not.

Social movement is starkly missing from Berman’s origins narrative. Restoring the extra-establishment active politics is key to an holistic theoretical-empirical understanding of social democracy. There is a related problem with Berman’s static equilibrium view of polity politics: You cannot theoretically recognize or cogently explain both the rise and decline of social democratic institutions and culture –despite the many empirical indicators of such–unless you see social movements, including especially Marxist socialism, as central to not just the initiation, but also the ongoing development and robustness of social democracy–how it is resolved at critical junctures of essential class conflict.

In a better explanatory framework, social movement does not uniquely inhabit a disequilibrium state; rather, social democracy (like any other political regime), despite its impressive institutionalization, develops in tension and periodically arrives at critical disequilibria. The data better fit a more dynamic, dialectical conception of social democratic politics, where both the changing opportunity structure and extra-establishment social movement continue to matter profoundly to establishment polity political formation.

The Marxist Misrecognition of Social Democracy: Class Conflict Denial?

The notions that the capitalist market is a sacred tree (Yggdrasil, for example. An alternative to  Berman’s distemperate child-god metaphor.) to “true” social democrats (Norns perhaps), and that social democracy is a equilibrium-state third way, are widely-accepted theses. Too widely. I am sorry to say that most Western Marxists’ analysis likewise tends to collapse the historical social democratic internal tension. Like Varoufakis, such Marxists do not differentiate social democracy from liberalism. This is a conceptual error imparted especially to the Anglosphere by the Fabian tradition, which is the Revolution-poor British people’s approximation of social democracy, gelded of its socialism, but retaining a moral commitment to intervening in capitalist excess and crisis, for example with poor-relief social programs, taxation, and capital regulation.

Where Berman and the Fabians regard the capitalist market-as-sacred-tree approach to be ideal, most Marxists see it as an obstructionist, even Machiavellian form of liberalism. These Marxists regard social democratic parties as homogeneously-liberal “Decepticon” organizations in service of capital. They hold that social democrats use deceptive strategies–including the pacifying denial of class conflict–in order to compete for, absorb,  neutralize and betray working class energy. The reductive Marxist perception of social democracy as merely a competitive strategy to crowd out socialism is the crucial linchpin to these Marxists’ ad-hoc understanding of social democracy.

There are two obvious and curious side effects to this Marxist theoretical collapse. First, while they are periodically outraged by “social democracy,” Northern Marxists also misidentify semi-peripheral and peripheral social democratic societies as socialist societies, as in the case of Latin American countries such as contemporary Venezuela. This misrecognition clouds analytical and strategic judgment (More on that later).

Second, in reducing their conceptualization of social democracy to liberalism, most Western Marxists are completely, utterly uninterested in the experience, the tension of social democracy where it was most prominent and sustained, in 20th century Scandinavia. (Except to the extent that they can find an obliging Scandianvian to say that social democracy is reducible to Anglo Fabianism.) That is to say, they are completely uninterested in actually assessing social democracy.

They tend to discuss (complain about) social democracy as strictly something that happens to Canada, New Zealand, the UK, or Germany… or now, as with Varoufakis, southern Europe. These are countries and regions that in the best of cases have had an organized-labor-backed party that ceased to be social democratic in anything but name about a hundred years ago (eg. Germany). In the most far-fetched cases, the liberal parties Marxists call “social democratic” have never claimed to be social democratic, and may not even have much of a labor affiliation (Canada’s NDP is a great example). All we can say, rigorously, is that these parties have working-class electoral bases and are to some degree to the left of the US Democrat Party, which is saying profoundly little indeed. It is neither surprising nor is it hypocritical when liberal parties spearhead neoliberalism.

Exactly, swerve the Marxists. That is why social democratic strategists have nothing to offer, they insist. Marxists believe that the only thing to be done is revolution. There is, in their view, no possible route forward in an institutional coalition with any portion of the (unbounded) bourgeoisie, on any time or geographic scale. In effect, these Marxists have a priori determined that social democracy is impossible. Therefore, for such Marxists, social democracy only exists in places where it doesn’t. Such Marxists’ consistent geographic and historical displacement should immediately strike us as symptomatic of an insufficiently-valid analysis.

I think that there is no good (rational) reason why Marxism cannot accommodate a more valid, rigorous, empirically-embedded conceptualization of social democracy, related to but distinct from both liberalism and socialism. Marxists can start with a sober version of their recognition of the socialist strategies and goals of social democracies such as Venezuela, combined with a more sustained, empirically-observant modeling of how the incessant political power of capital tends to erode social democracy–by attacking its socialist backbone. The capitalist context is why social democratic coalition parties, while distinct from liberal parties, are vulnerable to liberal co-optation, rather than liable to reach the socialist horizon that distinguishes social democrats from liberals.

A more valid, change-sensitive (dialectical)  conceptualization would in fact contribute to Marxism, obviously. First, on the issues of social democracy and socialist strategy, it would bring Marxism out of the idealist ether, and back into its theoretical home territory–historical-materialist grounding.

Additional benefits for Marxists of improving their conceptualization of social democracy:

2) Improves our understanding of historical moments of collective class compromise. Permits Marxists to recognize a broader, yet still-robust and delimited coalitional (samarbete) strategy. For example, we can better recognize that the 20th century advancement of social citizenship owed its lifeblood to the existence of a credible communist threat/alternative. This allows us to demonstrate that capitalism’s non-capitalist and petite bourgeoisie adherents’ capitalist utopia (eg. historically, the US in the 1950s-1960s, or alternately, a racism/sexism/heterosexism/ablism/pollution-free capitalist utopia of the postmaterialist future) is dependent upon socialism and communism as a credible threat and alternative. In other words, it’s possible to make a hearty, unflinching argument to lefty liberals: If you pine for a(n imagined) capitalist utopia, and yet you aren’t among the top 1% wealth earners, you need socialism. They kind of know it; they need to be confronted with it.

3) Allows better analysis of the crucial points of social democratic breakdown. Liberal Swedes still don’t know that Swedish social democracy was slated to die in 1976 when their capitalists defeated Meidner’s proposal to socialize profits. In their triumphal co-optation of the Social Democratic Party (SAP), they are bereft of any idea of how to analyze the purportedly “social progressive” neoliberal policies today that steadily break down social democracy and class compromise, clearly reducing their co-opted SAP to impotent electoral rubble–precisely in the historical moment when the SAP utterly forgot both that it needs a socialist lodestar to exist and that its existence as an institution is not the point of its existence.

4) Stops Marxists from contributing to neoliberal obfuscation tactics that undermine organized labor and the working class.


Research Plan: Compare Anglo tradition (Fabianism & Keynes) with Scandinavian social democratic intellectuals (Meidner, Rehn)


Get to Know a Non-autistic Economist, for example this unique guy who understood social democracy:

Rudolf Meidner and his brilliant wage earner funds that could have saved the Swedish model from the dustbin of history.

(See also?: Whyman, Philip B. 2007. “A case for Swedish wage earner funds.” Journal of Post Keynesian Economics30 (2): 227-258.)

The US Model of Social Exclusion

Here is a link to Schmmitt & Zipperer’s “Is the US A Good Model for Reducing Social Exclusion in Europe?” (2006) CEPR.

Not so much, contend the authors, analyzing social exclusion through the variables of income inequality, poverty, education, health, crime and punishment, the labor market and finally, the coup de gras, social mobility.

Liberalism or Racism?

On the feeble accusation that Obama’s (the Dems’) much-abused base is unsupportive of his capitalist policies because the Democratic base is racist, in “Why Liberals Are Lame” (Naked Capitalism):

Choice cuts:

If anything, the fact that it took his diehards this long to figure out the Obama bait and switch is a proof of white liberal guilt, not bias…It took most people far too long to get that Obama was a phony because the presumption that a black man would be sympathetic to the fate of the downtrodden is a deeply embedded but never voiced prejudice (and this bias is exploited successfully by the right in depicting Obama as a socialist). “

“So (in a two-party system, the Dem Party’s) desperate need to maintain its increasingly phony ‘be nice to the rainbow coalition’ branding places a huge premium on appearances. It thus uses identity politics as a cover for policy betrayals. It can motivate various groups on narrow, specific issues, opening the way for the moneyed faction to get what it wants.”

“(T)raditional iconic symbols of liberalism – secular urban elitism, blackness, technocratic skill, micro-issue identity based political organizing groups – have been fully subverted in the service of banking interests. Obama is the ultimate, but not the only, piece of evidence that these symbols are now used simply to con the Democratic base out of their support and money. 

…The task of moving forward will require …(t)hose engaged in that effort … to become skilled in dealing with these liberal McCarthyite identity smears.”

Besides the rampant (not just by Dems), corrupt deployment of identity politics as cover for policy betrayal, the thing to bemoan is our hapless longing for a big daddy magical redeemer who will deliver us from intra-systemic conflict, and the capitalist politician’s opportunistic willingness to drape himself in the robes of the Great Populist-Black Hope to tap that longing. 

Obama is a lawyer; that is, he is specially trained to defend capitalist property.

In Black Obama’s defense: Despite the fun populist speeches that get penned from time to time, there has never been a national political regime in the United States that has had the power, the vision, and the autonomy to adequately oppose capitalists to defend the economy.

Roosevelt made the political class look strong when foreign war + communist threat semi-disciplined the capitalist class and rescued the economy. But because in capitalism, capitalists always hold the political reins, Roosevelt’s policy reforms were forged too weak to endure capitalist restoration. In contrast to Keynes’ proposals, the Roosevelt regime’s semi-disciplining policies were never strong nor built to last. They were just designed to rescue the economy so that American finance-and-military capitalists could dominate. 

Upperclass concessions could restore the economy; but it is capitalism, so once the economy is restored, the upperclass will have more power than ever to jettison the class concessions. At the consequent economic (just post-) apex, Nixon’s conservative regime then followed up with a full capital-appeasement strategy (progressively augmented by Reagan, Clinton, Bush, Obama) with a 30-year economic lifespan ending in a capitalist economic supernova. 

Unalloyed capitalist incentives, social stratification and culture geared to wealth appropriation by any means necessary cannot produce a healthy, sustained economy except under exceptional, temporary circumstances. Late 20th century American political leaders took advantage of those rare circumstances. Now they are over and done, and they will not be back for a long time, and not without global working class insurrection.
Now politicians and technocrats can do nothing but support economic collapse, because the fundamental capitalist interest–wealth appropriation (Not investment, which is simply one wealth appropriation strategy, along with the various forms of primitive accumulation (If you’ve got sufficient social power, hedge betting on the stock market and then having the state force the public to pay your losses+ is one famous form of PrimAcc.))–is not aligned with economic health, and there is no organized global political opposition–that is, there is no global socialism. There will be continuing economic collapse.

No overblown military-financial complex, and no liberal, and no conservative can deliver us from due economic collapse under the wealth-appropriating crush of the military-financial complex, and all politicians who must labor under the capitalist yoke are de facto liberal-conservatives. 

Without socialism (and unlike the iconoclast elite Keynes), no one in polite society today can intellectually or psychologically consider a critical, non-conservative political-economic analysis of Western economies. That’s why Rastani’s perspective was such a public scandal (It took a few minutes for the chattering classes to declare him not a member of polite society, and so irrelevant). That’s why we’re stuck with zombie economics, and why there will be no semi-bold policy innovations that could combine with fortuitous external events to restore the economy. That’s why China can play the West, but itself is hogtied by the arc of capitalism’s entropic appropriation of the environment.

The creative human labor (mental + physical) of everyone in an economy is the ultimate source of the economy in human societies. There are radical implications to this. Because they encompass both wealth appropriation and social legitimacy, capitalists are never disposed to let the radical implications see the light of day. This is a profoundly non-trivial, endemic problem that collective human agency is abjectly failing.