Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What It Takes to Make Keynes Work

John Ross wrote in the Guardian ("No Secrets to China's Success," 18 August 2009):
Keynes noted in the final chapter of his General Theory, in a point highly relevant to a situation where mass unemployment is again soaring, that "a somewhat comprehensive socialisation of investment will prove the only means of securing an approximation to full employment".

That "somewhat comprehensive socialisation of investment" is impossible in a private sector-dominated economy. The decisive advantage China has in the present crisis is that it does not have to rely only on indirect means (reduction of interest rates, budget deficits etc) to attempt to reverse the plunging investment that is the driving force of this as with every major recession. China can use its large state-owned company sector to increase investment and instruct its state-owned banks to lend. That is why its economy is growing, while Alistair Darling is still pleading ineffectually for UK banks to increase their lending and while UK investment in housing and transport is plunging by 30% and more.
A good point.

The thing about Keynes is that you can make Keynes work but not under a normal capitalist state in a normal capitalist market economy. It takes something like (1) China's one-party state or (2) war economy (of not capital-intensive wars like today's Afghanistan and Iraq wars but labor-intensive wars of total mobilization subordinating capital and labor alike to the state, like WW2) or (3) the working class so awesomely powerful that it might as well go ahead and do socialism instead of Keynes.

That's what typical Keynesians and typical anti-Keynesians (either of the Marxist or of the capitalist liquidationist kind) don't understand.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

OutRage!ous Censorship of "Gay Imperialism"

The reader of Critical Montages has long been familiar with the problem of Islamophobia in general and its unfortunate manifestations on the (broadly defined) Left in particular in the age of the "war on terror." The reader is also well acquainted with queer variants of it, such as attempts at gay-washing of Israel. Left-wing criticisms of these phenomena, especially by queers of color themselves, are indispensable to our struggle to displace the hegemony of liberal imperialism.

One such queer-of-color criticism of "gay imperialism," a collection of essays titled Out of Place: Interrogating Silences in Queerness/Raciality, however, is being censored in Britain, apparently by Peter Tatchell of OutRage!, who evidently felt his sensationalist brand of activism and rhetoric ought to be above critical scrutiny and got the publisher of the book to take the book out of circulation. For more information about this OutRage!ous censorship, see:
How can leftists beat this censorship? In addition to the actions recommended by Aren Aizura, I suggest a couple more, in the short term:
  • Hold public forums to discuss the censorship of queer-of-color criticism of "gay imperialism."

  • Open up your journals, classrooms, and so on (if you work in publishing, education, and related industries) to discussion of this problem.
In the long term, though, we need to work on creating a Queer Left, informed of Marxist Feminism, capable of discussing such questions as religion and sexuality in proper historical materialist fashion (i.e., supplying missing materialist foundations to Foucauldian critique of the dominant discourse on sexuality).