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Saturday, 5 November 2016

Martin Wolf: the case against the collapse of capitalism

Martin Wolf: the case against the collapse of capitalism:

"Cometh the hour, cometh the cliché. In the case of Wolfgang Streeck, an influential German sociologist who is emeritus director of the Max Planck Institute in Cologne, that cliché is “the end of capitalism”. Countless intellectuals, including Karl Marx, have forecast the imminent or at least inevitable end of capitalism. Capitalism has always survived. This time, argues Streeck, is different. Capitalism “will for the foreseeable future hang in limbo, dead or about to die from an overdose of itself but still very much around, as nobody will have the power to move its decaying body out of the way”.

How Will Capitalism End?, a collection of somewhat overlapping essays, envisages a “society devoid of reasonably coherent and minimally stable institutions capable of normalising the lives of members and protecting them from accidents and monstrosities of all sorts”. This will offer “rich opportunities to oligarchs and warlords, while imposing uncertainty and insecurity on all others, in some ways like the long interregnum that began in the fifth century CE and is now called the Dark Age”.

Streeck is a mixture of the analyst, the moralist and the prophet. As an analyst, he challenges the stability of democratic capitalism. As a moralist, he dislikes a society founded on greed. As a prophet, he declares that the wages of this sin are death.

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