UK Politics and Global Capitalism

Interview with Bob Jessop, Conducted by Jerko Bakotin, for Jacobin. Recorded in Potsdam, Germany, 5 June 2015. This version may not be identical (for editing reasons) to the version on Jacobin.

How do you explain the Conservative’s triumph in British elections? What were the preconditions that set the stage for such a development?

We should not read this as a story of the fantastic success of the Conservatives, other than tactically, but as a very specific party-political conjuncture in which other parties did more or less badly. In terms of popular votes cast, let alone in terms of the total level of support in the country, it is not a particularly good result. Instead it is an artefact of our electoral system and the self-destruction of other parties. What Conservatives did successfully was to focus on winning marginal Labour seats, which is to be expected, and, more significantly, to deliberately target their former coalition allies, the Liberal Democrats, in the south-west of England to win their seats, marginal or not.

It is impossible to ignore the extent to which mainstream print media are very heavily biased towards the Conservatives and very strongly opposed to the Labour Party, trade unions, the welfare state, and so forth. In consequence, Ed Miliband was trying very hard to counteract that discourse and to prove that he is not ‘Red Ed’, the nick-name given to him by the press.

In addition, the Scottish nationalists achieved an outstanding success, winning all but one seat in Scotland. One result was that Labour lost 40 of the 41 seats it was defending in Scotland, worse than expected, but indicating nonetheless that it would need to try even harder in the rest of the UK. They more or less held on in the north, but lost the votes of white working-class men, especially those marginalized by deindustrialization who feel that nobody speaks for them and that the Labour party is too metropolitan, too aspirational, and too middle-class – a disaffection on which UKIP could seek to capitalize.

One of the reasons for the Labour’s plummet that Labour did not attack the coalition narrative – which claimed that the reason for Britain’s public debt is due to the excessive spending of the last Labour government and not to the coalition’s bail-out of the banks.

They did not attack it because they had welcomed the banking boom and profited from it in various ways. For example, if you consider the housing boom, Labour benefitted not just from the property sales tax but also from the economic boost from household expenditure associated with house purchases, rising equity in houses (creating an illusory wealth effect), and the feel good factor, which fed into electoral support. It meant that Labour did not need to raise the taxes because they had revenue coming in. Further, they really believed that, instead of investing in national industrial champions, you should promote their champion city, London, as a globally competitive economy. It was Labour that carried on with the deregulation of the City of London initiated by the Thatcher government. Recent major financial scandals have occurred overwhelmingly in London, even if it is an American, German, French, or Swiss bank at fault, because it is the least regulated international financial centre. Indeed, if Labour is to blame for the financial and debt crises, it is because of their deregulation of finance rather than their profligate spending.

Judging by the previous Tory-Libdem coalition, what is to be expected from the new Tory government – an even more radical deregulation and public sector cuts?

There are several policies that they would have liked to have implemented in the first government but could not do so because of opposition from their Liberal Democrat coalition partners. There is much talk about the massive austerity imposed by the outgoing coalition but the cuts was nowhere as great as the Conservatives would have liked – although it did establish the debt narrative. Now, given the commitment to a balanced budget in five years’ time, many more cuts will have to be introduced, most probably in the early years of the new government so that the electoral cycle can be primed for a third Conservative victory at the next general election.

You may expect to see them try to emasculate the BBC as the one remaining major national institution that has a constitutional commitment to even-handedness in public debate. There will also be further attempts to restrict the freedom of teaching and learning of university scholars and students. There will be further measures to privatize the National Health Service, particularly if they manage to introduce the TTIP and TiSA (the Trade in Services Agreement), which will open the doors for more American companies entering service markets. And there will be further moves to cut welfare expenditure on those in work even as the Conservatives protect pensions and pensioners – who are much more likely to vote and, more importantly, to vote Conservative. So, if they want to save £26bn as announced, they must attack the benefits for those in work. They will restrict the welfare benefits that a single family can receive to £23,000 instead of the current £26,000; they will continue to cap housing benefits, which will force welfare recipients to move from expensive areas in London to cheaper areas and from London in general to other cities. Indeed, some London local authorities are subsidizing moves elsewhere in order to reduce housing benefit payments and recover public housing for occupants who need smaller benefits or for privatization. This measure may help to resolve the housing crisis for aspirant middle classes, because more houses will become available. There are also vote-catching but economically irrational proposals to enable those who live in subsidized social housing to purchase their homes below the market price – without guarantees of replacing them.

More generally, but building on such initiatives, they will try to push, wherever possible, spending reductions into laws in order entrench them – the most obvious example is the proposed legislation to require governments to balance their budgets, so that, at the next election, an opposition party that proposes to repeal a given the law will be asked where it will find the money for this. Some acts of legislation are very much politically motivated in order to entrench conservative-neoliberal logic.

How would you describe the ideological positions of David Cameron and the current Tory party? His ‘Big Society’ project has been called a ‘post-Thatcherite’ conservatism inspired by communitarianism?

Cameron presents himself as a One-nation Tory and compassionate conservative but he is actually a Thatcherite with a One-nation face. Blair was a Thatcherite with a Christian-socialist face. Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ came to absolutely nothing – it failed where it was tried and has been exposed as an excuse to give some of his friends contracts to organize ‘Big Society’ initiatives in a more or less corrupt and ineffective way. As more and more people must take two jobs to survive on low wages and reduced benefits, or to pay for housing and fund childcare, they have no time to commit to ‘Big Society’ activities. Compassionate conservatism sounds nice, but if you look at the policies, nothing has changed.

Cameron’s ‘One-nation’ Toryism stands in a declarative opposition to the ideological beliefs of Thatcher herself, which you once described as dividing the population in ‘Two nations’ – ‘productive’ and ‘parasitic’ respectively.

Mrs. Thatcher never described herself as a ‘Two-nation’ Tory – that is my reading of the impact of her rhetoric. The term ‘One nation’ originally comes from Benjamin Disraeli, a future Conservative Prime Minister, who wrote a novel called ‘Sybil, or the Two Nations’ that was published in 1845 – in the same year, coincidentally, as Engels’s The Condition of the Working Class in England (published in German, of course). Disraeli’s theme was the need to overcome the division in England between north and south, industry and farmers, and to relieve the plight of the working classes. In the interwar period, and even more just after the Second World War, when Churchill lost the 1945 general election, the One Nation project became the response of reformist conservatives to counter the appeal of the Labour government. A party manifesto issued in 1947 committed it to ‘social democracy and jobs for all’ – and this was the Conservative party. There was a whole series of leftist conservatives committed thereafter to a One-nation strategy – Mrs Thatcher called them the ‘wets’ in contrast to the ‘dries’ who supported her brand of conservative politics.

‘One nation’ has generally been the identity of the left side of whatever the current division within the Conservative party might be in a given conjuncture in relation to social and economic policy. There are other divisions – pro and anti-European for example, but the idea of One Nation is to do one’s best to produce social cohesion rather than to exploit divisions. Ted Heath – who was in many ways Thatcher’s precursor in the terms of neoliberalism – always saw himself as One-nation conservative, as did Rab Butler (a potential Conservative PM and famous Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer – or Finance Minister) and John Major. Mrs. Thatcher was much more adept at finding „internal enemies“.

You will not find David Cameron talking about the ‘enemy within’ as Mrs Thatcher did about the unions – he is more concerned with the ‘enemy without’, like Islamic radicalism and the risks of radicalisation of Muslim youth at home, and that is enough to justify many things. But this does not mean that he will not push forward trade union reforms, emasculate the powers of doctors within the NHS and so forth. But this will be justified in the name of modernization and efficiency rather than an enemy within. We need to distinguish among rhetoric, brand differentiation, and what the policy really is.

As you mentioned, Tory press consistently referred to Ed Miliband as ‘Red Ed’. How much has the Labour in ideological terms really distanced itself from the ‘Third way’? Was the co-called ‘Blue Labour’ ever a sincere agenda for the party to return to representing the working class rather than the metropolitan middle-classes?

I don’t think that the Labour Party ever abandoned the Third way. What really survived were two interpretations of the Third way: Blairite and Brownite, i.e., supporters of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown respectively. Interestingly, David Miliband was a Blairite, Ed Miliband was a Brownite. There were many disputes in the Labour party about who was to blame for the loss of power in 2010 – was it Gordon Brown’s governance of the economy and lame-duck premiership, or Blair’s decision to side with George Bush and invade Iraq?

Blue Labour is an attempt to say ‘we are the Labour party after all and we should represent the working class rather than the party of the aspirant middle classes’. But this current does not take an idealized vision of the working class but refers to the actually existing working class – regarding it as socially conservative and nationalistic in the potential labour heartlands – at the same time as arguing against neoliberalism and for corporatist arrangements and local democratic socialism. It rejects the New Labour electoral strategy – which starts from the observation that the industrial working class increasingly does not vote so that it is necessary to chase swing voters by appealing to home-owning middle class and workers who aspire to home ownership. Blue Labour aims idea to regain lost Labour voters who have supported UKIP or support Conservative social policies or, increasingly, do not vote at all, but also suffer from neoliberal policies and the politics of austerity. This helps to explain the more radical guild socialist, corporatist, and localist agendas and the alliances with trade unions in the public services rather than the traditional (radically diminished) industrial working class. However, we should not overestimate Blue Labour – it is an alternative position within the Labour Party and a minority position. This will be seen in the list of candidates to replace Ed Miliband as party leader, who are likely to be just to the left or right of the current New Labour centre ground.

Note: after the interview conducted on 5 June, Jeremy Corbyn, MP, was nominated as a candidate for the party leadership. A supplementary question was asked when the transcript was being approved about his candidature: how significant is Corbyn’s nomination?

It was just two minutes before nominations closed that Jeremy Corbyn, a consistent left-wing politician and the MP for Islington was placed on the candidates’ list thanks to support from some MPs who do not intend to vote for him. They lent their support only because they considered that a left-wing candidate should be able to participate in the debate. The very fact that he entered the fight thanks to a ‘charitable’ act by centrist MPs tells us much about the current state of the Labour Party.

To which extent did the Labour Party lose working-class voters to UKIP?

They lost white working class men because UKIP is very much appealing to the disenfranchised industrial workers. Particularly if you have a trade or craft background, by the time you get to fifty you are unemployable full-time in these occupations, even in the south. Women were much more opposed to UKIP because Nigel Farage is a very masculine figure and, despite efforts to counter this in candidate selection, the party is also quite macho. It would be very difficult for immigrant workers or second-generation migrants to identify with UKIP because of its xenophobia.

If the Labour never distanced from the New Labour, and even Thatcher allegedly once said that her biggest success is Tony Blair, does that mean that Thatcherism is still the hegemonic paradigm that frames British politics?

Thatcherism is not self-identical. In a book on Thatcherism: A Tale of Two Nations (1988), which I wrote with three friends [Kevin Bonnett, Simon Bromley, and Tom Ling), we argued that Thatcherism passed through different stages. There was a precursor stage, then it was a social movement, then there was a point of no return when its eventual triumph seemed certain, then there was the electoral victory followed by a transition and struggle to consolidate its hold over government, and, once entrenched, there was a period of radical Thatcherism from 1986 until Mrs Thatcher’s forced resignation over Europe. When she stepped down, she was replaced by John Major – who was more of a consolidator of Thatcherism with some residual One Nation tendencies. You could say that Tony Blair reinvented a more radical Thatcherism. If you were to ask Blair what one of his biggest successes was, he might well say ‘Cameron’ – as the Blair equivalent in the Conservative party in terms of self-presentation as a compassionate Conservative who is actually a hard-line neo-liberal.

In short, I do not think you could say there is something called ‘Thatcherism’ which is just being there from 1975-1976 onwards. There is a core policy set to neoliberalism: liberalization, deregulation, privatization, market proxies in the residual public sector, internationalization, and reducing direct taxes on income and wealth. This is the defining economic policy set and it establishes the continuity of neoliberalism since Thatcherism and Reaganism came to office in the UK and USA respectively. In this sense, it is a trans-Atlantic phenomenon and can also be identified to some extent in Continental Europe, where these policies are sometimes introduced on pragmatic rather than principled grounds. Beyond this basic continuity, the other policies in the UK are much more variable – how do you deal with the welfare state, what are the appropriate levels of public expenditure, how do you deal with the north-south divide, and so forth?

I have no doubts at all that you will see that core set of economic policies continued under the new Conservative government and, indeed, the project requires that they be intensified. The discontinuities will be in more marginal areas where politicians could differentiate themselves from each other. So different Conservative ministers or their shadows in the Labour Party or Liberal Democrats will have their pet projects. But you won’t not find anybody saying that ‘We do not want more liberalization, deregulation, more market forces’, and so on. As these policies accumulate over time, this amounts to a massive attack on all of the institutions of the post-war settlement, the social democratic compromise, in favour of financial capital.

So Labour is playing by the same Thatcherite rules?

That is, in Gramscian terms, the dominant consensus and they have bought into it. In many respects, New Labour was a means to revive Thatcherism and the Labour party will probably again take that as the main framework – unless they come up with a very different interpretation of why they lost, a much more radical explanation then I currently expect of them. I am very interested to see what happens to Labour MP’s when they step down – they will take consultancies, non-executive directorships, they will start marketing their expertise in the commercialisation of health services, and so forth. None of them will start working for trade unions or grass-roots social movements. The New Labour mind-set is very much a metropolitan, neoliberal common sense that is no longer even seen as neoliberal – that is just the way the world is.

How do you see the possibilities for a reinvention of the left in Britain? Do you see it happening exclusively outside the Labour party, or it is possible that some inside circles would try to re-attach the party to the working masses?

The electoral base of the Labour party now is the north of England and London – with little presence elsewhere. In London it is a combination of really marginal workers, public sector employees, and actual or aspiring ‘champagne socialists’ – the last of these groups being social liberals rather than committed to the old Labour agenda. I cannot predict what is going to happen with the inquest into why did they lost – if they conclude that it was because the Party did not represent the aspirational middle classes, nothing will change. If they produce a more radical narrative of the defeat and relate it to losing contact with the working classes, we may see the more traditional Labour party that adapts old ideas and values to today’s increasingly polarized society with its politics of competitive austerity for workers and corporate welfare for finance and big capital.

They asked Jon Cruddas to lead the review into why the Labour lost. He is likely to come up with many radical solutions, but the outcome does not depend just on him. It also depends heavily on whether party leaders and members read the success of the SNP as that of an anti-austerity party and/or a nationalist party. We will see many social movements emerging in the context of austerity policies, and the strongest chance for a Labour would be that these movements develop programmes in areas such as housing, the environment, the health services and so forth that offer genuine and potentially popular alternatives to help to shape an emerging Labour party strategy.

I am much more in favour of the Green party but a major problem is that the financial crises completely took climate change off the mainstream political agenda. I think the red-green coalition would work but this requires changes in the first-past-the post electoral system. Without that it is more a question of putting some red blood cells into the Labour party.

But all of the contenders for the Labour leadership – like Andy Burnham – represent continuity, and not the break with the New Labour heritage?

All of the present contenders represent continuity. I think if the inquest is thorough than the more radical people stand a chance but they first have to get on the leadership ballot. If you really want to be a future radical Labour party leader and you thought strategically, you would try to intervene from the outside to whatever succeeds in this leadership contest. The Labour party will struggle to win the next elections for several reasons. The constituencies are going to be reorganized and Labour will lose twenty seats simply because of that. If the Conservatives play their cards right, especially if they front-load austerity, they would probably win the 2020 election, so you would not want to be the Labour party leader who leads it the defeat in five years’ time. In narrow realpolitik terms it would be better to declare in 2020 that ‘New Labour redux has failed’. Unfortunately, even if the balance of forces does shift, the structural effects of almost 40 years of neoliberalism will remain and limit room for manoeuvre for even a radical Labour Party.

How do you read the SNP’s success and did Labour definitely lose Scotland?

It would be a hard thing to read short of doing focus groups and much more. The Left wants SNP success to be seen as based on its anti-austerity platform – I would like to believe that too. For now, however, I have no basis for believing that anti-austerity was more important than nationalism.

The referendum campaign gave the real boost to a sense of national identity. That does not mean that people want to be separatist, but it does mean that they are beginning to see that they can get concessions from the Labour and Conservative parties who have neglected them for years. The Labour Party never had a strong organisation in Scotland – they just relied on the fact that people would never vote for the Conservatives, and if you were a militant, you joined a Scottish communist party. You should also remember that the SNP did not improve its popular vote by much compared with the referendum – but in the general election, opposition votes were divided between the three other parties, making it easier for the SNP to win all but one of the Scottish seats.

I am not sure if the Labour has definitely lost Scotland. Scotland actually does not have the resources to deliver many of the promises given by the SNP. If in the end they say ‘we cannot pursue our anti-austerity policy because oil income is falling’, that will be a big disappointment and could create an opening for the Labour to reassert itself. This would require a reinvigorated, and locally rooted, Labour Party to win over SNP supporters by promising that it can deliver the anti-austerity policies too and create alliances with English and Welsh voters too.

In the article titled ‘Left strategy’ you wrote that the current conjuncture is certainly not revolutionary but more like a Gramscian ‘war of position’. What does that mean for the left in general, i.e., what would be a correct strategy?

I follow Gramsci, Poulantzas and others by trying to periodize the changing conjuncture – is this a period when the bourgeoisie is on the offensive strategically or is the strategic offensive on the side of labour? If the former, what scope is there for a defensive strategy that relies on offensive tactics? There are areas where an offensive tactics by the left is possible, for example through mobilization – the Occupy movement is a good example. Many conservatives and neoliberals are beginning to worry aloud about the impact of extreme inequalities of wealth and income as a major threat to social order. Nonetheless, I think that these are tactical worries and that transnational capital, especially interest-bearing capital, and capital more generally remain on the offensive – at least in Europe and North America. We have to recognize that it is a defensive moment for the working classes. Defensive does not mean defeatist – what is required is a war of position to prepare for the conditions when it would be possible to go on the offensive strategically, and not just tactically, and to organize policies and programmes with this objective in mind.

For me that means that a red-green coalition needs to be built, because what will mobilize people is increasing inequalities in the wealth and income, a growing inability for most people to live a decent life, and the impact on the environment which affects everybody, but particularly poor people. One needs to prepare for disasters and crises in the near future, which could again be a major financial crisis with global dimensions. My prediction is sometime in 2016. In any case, the situation for the capital will not become better but worse, even on a global scale, let alone in the heartlands of neoliberalism. And the environmental crisis is already chronic and will become ever more severe. This will create the space for international solidarity movements that look beyond Eurocentric or Atlanticist horizons and take seriously the demands of activists from the global south. The solutions will be based on a redistribution to the least advantaged within a limited and sustainable growth trajectory.

This analysis is based very heavily on my reading of Gramsci and particularly Poulantzas’s analysis of the rise of fascism and his reading of the collapse of southern European dictatorships. On the latter, he asked whether this was a moment for an immediate transition to socialism — or a moment where the critical strategic priority was to form alliances to consolidate the transition to bourgeois democracy.

In any case those movements need to be transnational, since the post-war type of state in advanced capitalist economies, which you termed the ‘Keynesian Welfare National State’ no longer exists. It has been replaced, as you also stated in The Future of the Capitalist State (2002) by a ‘Schumpeterian Competition Post-National Regime’.

The problem with the struggle for rights today is that citizens’ rights and citizenship tend to be associated with the constitution and with the state, which would be fine if the national state remained the major institution in society. But with growing financialization and the increasing power of transnational capital in an ever more integrated world market, then demands should be for rights against financial capital rather than vis-à-vis the national state, because the territorial state is losing its territorial and temporal sovereignty – just think of TTIP, TPP, and, worse yet, TiSA (Trade in Services Agreement).

When I was writing my book on The Future of the Capitalist State, I was thinking in ideal-typical terms and aiming to identify what kind of economic policy and welfare regime would work for a knowledge-based economy. The latter notion still provided the hegemonic economic imaginary at the time. What we actually got was not the knowledge-based economy but finance-dominated accumulation. So today I would add that an alternative to the Schumpeterian competition workfare regime is a ‘Ricardian Workfare National State’ or, simply, a permanent state of austerity. Like Keynes and Schumpeter, Ricardo is the emblematic economist being invoked here. For David Ricardo is associated with an interest in the returns to different factors of production and, in terms of the international division of labour, recommended that countries mobilise their cheapest and most abundant factor of production. This is associated with downward pressure on wages – including the social wage – as a cost of (international) production and, in addition, the abundance of cheap labour in the global South (especially in China in the 1980s-2000s) was used rhetorically to attack unions, wage costs, and labour rights in the Atlantic Fordist economies. Thus ‘Ricardian’ could refer nowadays to labour power as a cost of production, wage cuts, pressure on flexible labour power (including zero hours contrasts, hire-and-fire labour markets, etc.), and reducing the social wage (i.e., targeted or general welfare cuts). That is quite different from Schumpeterian model, which sees a worker as more or less skilled human capital and recommends investment in the education sector as in areas like innovation and cooperative entrepreneurial regions.

In my work in the 1990s, I did not seriously consider the extent to which finance-dominated accumulation could be sustained through bailing out too big to fail financial institutions, quantitative easing, and zero interest rate policies – all at the expense of the popular masses. In addition, the rise of the national security state with its pervasive surveillance – as revealed by Edward Snowden among others – was not as visible or significant as it is now, with all that its growth expands for the decline of liberal democratic institutions. I had examined the Schumpeterian workfare post-national regime as an ideal-typical, rational and logically feasible solution to the crisis of Atlantic Fordism. Finance-dominated accumulation and permanent austerity was not on my horizon – even though it clearly was for interest-bearing capital and neoliberals.

Although transnational elites might be very international, they want competitive austerity, dividing and ruling national societies through the treadmill of competition and nationalist rhetoric, leading to beggar thy neighbour policies. This involves a very different kind of workfare from that I had envisaged and also requires a much stronger authoritarian state.

Contrary to many theories popular in the ’90s which declared the end of the nation-state, it still has a very important place in international order. Has it just changed its role?

The big problem for those who such arguments is that they identify the national state or nation-state with the particular form that it took in advanced capitalist economies during the post-war period. Then you had a relatively closed national economy managed by a national state using demand management, taking advantage of rising productivity and developing the welfare state as the basis for generalizing prosperity in a virtuous circle of mass production and mass consumption. This kind of state fell into crisis because of internationalization – you could no longer treat the wage primarily as a source of domestic demand, you could no longer see the welfare state as consolidating effectively the broad social-democratic base for the state, and you could no longer treat money as if it was controlled by the national state because it was increasingly created by banks and shadow banks and, when the US went off the gold standard in 1971, flows of international currencies overwhelmed the ability of national states to manage the economy in a Keynesian or indicatively planned manner. The KWNS was killed by internationalization, but that does not mean that the national state dies too. It means reinvent itself in order to be able to control the local economy within a much more open society. There is a role for national states, but now in terms of enhancing competitiveness and integration of a national economy in international economy rather than treating it as a relatively self-contained unit.

There is no such thing as a typical nation state. The US is busy pushing TTIP because it represents above all the interests of transnational and financial capital as class, and not just American capital. Some states are active promoters of transnationalization and some aim to resist it. Most states are in an ambivalent position – is it better to be on the inside and poor or on the outside and even poorer? If you are Poulantzasian or Gramscian or strategic-relational theorist, as I am, then the state cannot have a will of its own. State power is an institutionally-mediated condensation of a shifting balance of forces inside and beyond a particular state. The balance between state and the market is tilted, but the state still retains many powers that are exercised more on the behalf of international capital than on the behalf of defending the welfare state.

If the bourgeoisie is on the offensive both strategically and tactically, how do you see the chances of a Syriza government to resist the ‘Troika’ dictate of austerity?

Quite honestly I think they have almost lost. They have tried very hard, but the other side played really hardball. Also I think they have been relatively inexperienced in terms of strategy and tactics. On the other side I am firmly convinced that nobody wants Grexit. If they were given a breathing space – a lot of Greek debt is actually long-term debt – and if they could use this breathing space to begin to grow their way out of austerity, then they could at least save face and claim partial victory. At the moment they are in a poker game – the Troika does not want to give any concessions, but the actual crunch point is that the Troika still does not want Grexit and it is not in the interest of Greece to have Grexit, so I think both Syriza and the Troika will do everything they can to avoid it. Grexit is a technical possibility but it would have many nasty repercussions, not just economically but also politically and socially and not just within Greece but in the wider region and beyond. So I think the Greek population does not want this and I think it would be proven if the question was taken to a referendum.

That is reminiscent of Yanis Varoufakis’ statement – that the present temporary goal should be to save the capitalism, because the only ones who would profit from its destruction would be fascists?

That is right, fascists and speculators, and all of those Greeks who were rich and smart enough to take their money out of the Greek banking system and send it to Switzerland, and then bring it back after devaluation – and make enormous speculative gains.

I read Varoufakis’s Global Minotaur when it came out – it is an absolutely brilliant and accessible book and I think he is a very good critical economist. However, I am not sure whether he is a good political tactician. Also the financial institutions and bourgeois media have tried in various ways to undermine his credibility.

On what arguments do you base your prediction that next economic crisis is coming in less than a year?

Everything that appears to be going well is doing so on the basis of such a massive injection of liquidity without providing any real growth. This is the biggest stimulus package which has ever existed, it was not used as a Keynesian stimulus package, but for buying up toxic debt and it has even not been able to get 0,5 percent growth. Now there is an even bigger debt bubble than in 2007/2008 and the banks are even more concentrated than before the crash. If you look at the US stock market, you will see that firms are borrowing money in order to buy their own shares to maintain the prices, and not investing in any real economy. Unemployment is increasing, at least in the terms of real jobs rather than pseudo-jobs. The European economy is not really recovering, and there are also difficulties in China. These three areas amount to 60 percent or more of the world economy – and if each of them is fragile, it is plausible to conclude that we will have a new crisis.

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