Tue, Sep 04, 2018 - Page 9 News List

Timid left-wingers should be full of regrets over 2008

Capitalism’s near-death experience with the banking crisis was a golden opportunity for progressives — but they blew it

By Larry Elliott  /  The Guardian

However, even though the collapse of 2008 was the result of failed economics, those responsible for the duff theories remain well dug-in on university campuses. Progress has been slow.

A progressive political agenda starts at the top, with an over-arching critique, and works its way down to specific policies.

That was what worked in the 1940s, when the postwar consensus was built on a simple concept: never again. Control of the commanding heights of the economy and demand management flowed from that.

Progressives have to be clear about what they want. The left remains divided between three groups: Those who think — as former US president Bill Clinton and former British prime minister Tony Blair did — that the only choice was to work with the grain of global capitalism, those who think — as Roosevelt did — that a more root-and-branch approach is needed and those who think capitalism is so rotten that it is beyond saving.

“There was a very short period when the powers that be were on the back foot,” said David Hillman, director of Stamp Out Poverty and organizer of one of next month’s protests. “Progressive forces were not able to take advantage. Nothing substantial has changed and we are sleep-walking into another crisis.”

That just about sums things up. Progressives do not really deserve a second chance, but they might be presented with one all the same. The question is whether they will be better prepared to take it this time.

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