Is the Global Crisis Killing Neoliberalism?

Monday, July 12, 2021 - 1:00pm
Jerry Harris & Cliff DuRand

Historian Jerry Harris and philosopher Cliff DuRand examine the converging crises on a global scale that beset us. Economic crises, a climate crisis, a political crisis, social crises, and a pandemic on top of it all – adding up to a crisis of humanity. The old order can no longer hold and what new order, if any, can replace it is not clear. We find living in such an interregnum profoundly unsettling.

Jerry Harris and Cliff DuRand will discuss Jerry Harris' recent article, "Global Capitalism and the Battle for Hegemony," which you can read here.

The economic crisis in the 1930s led to a Keynesian welfare state that saved capitalism for a couple generations. But as that model reached its exhaustion in the 1970s, the state again saved capitalism with the neoliberal model. Democratic public policy was replaced by market forces promoted by the state. Underlying this was a basic crisis of overaccumulation, that is, more capital had been accumulated than could find ways to profitably invest. Globalization offered a temporary fix for this by offshoring production to the low wage global South. But this neoliberal globalization also met exhaustion in the financial crisis of 2007-08. Now the pandemic has further undermined it. And looming over all of it is a climate crisis generated by industrial capitalism that threatens civilization itself.

Whereas in the era of national capitalism states were able to restrain the destructive forces of the economy, in the era of global capitalism the reach of states is too limited. Indeed, liberal elites that have served capital so well have lost such legitimacy that the democratic political order is itself in crisis and states are unable to govern effectively and become authoritarian. In response to the crisis the capitalist class is attempting to rearrange its political alliances. Two competing power blocks are emerging – authoritarian capitalism and a neo-Keynesian state with green accumulation as its core strategy. The struggle for power is far from over. How can the Left respond in what may be a post-neoliberal world?