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TEH Meeting 81
WUK, Vienna

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From capitalism to where?

Lecture and discussion with Robert Misik


Staircase 5, Turkish space

Western capitalism is in a severe crisis – it’s a fact now so commonplace that it’s almost become a cliché. Economists and analysts with a neo-conservative, economically liberal mindset have nothing to add to our understanding of this. Their models simply cannot explain why a system based on de-regulated market activities can ever get into crisis. Economists and analysts tuned in to Keynesian and reformist thinking are much closer to reality: Their criticism concludes that the wrong kind of policies – deregulation of markets, liberalisation of the financial system, shrinking the state, and the scandalous growth in inequality – had already undermined the system’s stability. In short: The wrong policies have been pursued for 30 years, and moreover a disastrous set of policies has been enacted since the outbreak of the crisis. The system can only be stabilised once the right policies are in place. But what if both miss the point? What if the entire machine doesn’t work properly anymore? So the question is: What if Keynesian tools don’t do the trick anymore?

Reduced growth since decades, explosion of credit and indebtedness, a ‘permanent slump’ (Paul Krugman), ‘secular stagnation’ (Lawrence Summers), low rates of productivity growth, a ‘stationary state’ – these are just some symptoms suggesting that capitalism is on a brink, that it has become something like a ‘caputalism’. If such an analysis is accurate, what kind of transformation is possible?