Philosophy Prof Misreads Capitalism

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

In the latest issue of The Chronicle Review, a professor from Adelphi University shows why it is dangerous to avoid the advice of conservative author and activist David Horowitz. Horowitz usually points out the danger of professors speaking on subjects that they are not credentialed in.

“Capitalism has been around for so many generations now, proving its vitality by displacing or absorbing all other social systems around the globe, that it seems a part of nature, irreplaceable,” Paul Mattick points out in The Chronicle Review.  “But its historical limits are visible in its inability to meet the ecological challenges it has produced; to generate enough growth to profitably employ the billions of people accumulating in slums in Africa, South America, and Asia, along with growing numbers in Europe, Japan, and the United States; and to escape the dilemma of dependence on a degree of state participation in economic life that drains money from the private enterprise system.”

“Just as the Great Recession has demonstrated the limits of the means set in place during the last 40 years to contain capitalism’s tendency to periodic disaster, it suggests the need finally to take seriously the idea, as the saying goes, that another world is possible.”

Actually, the fact that slums are easier to find than free markets in the continents Mattick names should give one pause. Even in supposedly capitalist countries, such as South Africa and the former Rhodesia when both were under European rule, the governments there relied heavily on so-called “parastatals,” or companies effectively run by the government.

He also has the displacement backwards, and Africa is a good example of same. Despite the protestations of generations of despots on the continent, socialism is not a natural outgrowth of Africa’s heritage.

The tribes there did not use money but they did trade and barter.  My brother-in-law, the late Ndabaningi Sithole, author of African Nationalism (Oxford University Press, 1959) wrote about them frequently.

By the way, Mattick elaborates on the “ecological challenges” he sees earlier in the article. “The rolling parade of disasters is, unfortunately, only getting started,” Mattick warns. “It will accompany a stagnant economy and only be exacerbated by the increased greenhouse-gas emissions that a return to true prosperity would bring.”

In other words, he is assuming that global warming exists and It is man-made. U. S. Sen. James Infhofe, R-Okla., who sits on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee,  keeps a running total of scientists who are backing off of both claims.

The one accurate note that Mattick makes is that after World War II, “In reality, crisis

management turned into a permanent state-private ‘mixed economy.’” What he gets wrong is what part of the mix the crisis came from. Perhaps this is why he never mentions Fannie Mae, Ginnie Mae or Freddie Mac.

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org

 

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