National commemorations of major historical events usually offer an incredible opportunity for the Right to showcase its jingoistic logorrhea about national identity and patriotism. Starting this coming August, the First World War centenary will most likely be no exception.
The Conservatives are battling on two different, though not unrelated, fronts. Contrary to what Max Hastings argues, it is the Right indeed who is “making an ideological argument out of World War I, as it does out of almost everything else in history.”
In a Telegraph article, David Cameron puts particular emphasis on commemorating, and even celebrating the break-out of World War I as a moment of national unity and cohesion, “a fundamental part of our national consciousness.”
The neoliberal capture of the state has laid the ground for the financialization of capitalism, a stage of capitalism that cannot be reversed without developing new methods of public provision in housing, education, health, pensions and the other sources financialization has used to create profit. This is the crux of the argument advanced in Costas Lapavitsas's latest work, Profiting without Producing: How Finance Exploits Us All.
With this book, Lapavitsas sheds much light into one of the most misunderstood processes in the evolution of capitalism, correcting in the process the tendency on the part of many "progressive" economists to regard regulation as the ultimate solution to the exploitative nature of finance capital. For Lapavitsas, the struggle against finance capital is simultaneously a struggle against capitalism and for democratic socialism.
Below are some extracts from a Truthout interview with Costas on his theory of financialization of capitalism - you can read the interview in full here.
C.J. Polychroniou: The landscape of contemporary capitalism has been shaped by neoliberalism, globalization and financialization. Your new book deals with the financialization of capitalism. First, what does financialization mean for you, and in what ways does it represent a new feature of capitalism?
Costas Lapavitsas: For me, financialization represents a new historical period in the development of capitalism. Marxist political economy typically recognizes three great periods: laissez-faire capitalism around the middle of the 19th century, monopoly capitalism toward the end of the 19th century and imperialism that lasted perhaps until the Second World War. The 70 years since the war have been very difficult to categorize, not least because of the extraordinary Long Boom that lasted until the early 1970s, with unprecedented growth rates, rising incomes and greater equality. The Long Boom has been followed by four decades of indifferent growth, often stagnant incomes and rising inequality. In my view, financialization is a term that adequately characterizes this period. Its dominant feature has been the extraordinary rise of finance, which has come to penetrate areas of economic and social activity previously relatively distant to it.
After provocatively arguing for photography as a civic practice capable of reclaiming civil power in Civil Imagination: A Political Ontology of Photography, Ariella Azoulay engages with the intersection between linguistics, heritage, and social justice in a searing memoir, Mother Tongue, Father Tongue. Azoulay thoughtfully and provocatively reminisces about her experience growing up as a Mizrahi woman in Israel, addressing the alienation, estrangement, and civil injustice that continues to plague equality in Israeli society.
In his rigorous review of Crisis in the Eurozone, written by Costas Lapavitsas and his colleagues from the Research on Money and Finance group, Alex Cistelecan bounces the book’s arguments off Jürgen Habermas’s The Crisis of the European Union.
What comes out of this skillful comparison is the depth of Lapavitsas’s arguments about the nature of the problems that the European Union is facing at the moment. Unlike Habermas, whose focus is mainly on the moral dimension of a problem not even dubbed a “crisis”, the kernel of Lapavitsas’s analysis is to emphasize “the profound and structural nature of these problems, and of the underlying contradiction built into the European legal and institutional construction.”