Research finding summaries

The class struggle over democracy

To understand democracy — to defend it and to deepen it — we should examine its long history rather than obsess about recent headwinds. In a recent article published in the American Journal of Sociology, I attempt to do just that. My research suggests that democratic progress over the last 150 years is the fruit of the changing character of class struggle over the state. Democracy has its origins in the capacity of the poor to disrupt the routines of the rich.

By |2019-05-31T09:54:44-04:00May 28, 2019|

Why Stagnation?

The neoliberal growth model generated intensifying contradictions over time. Household debt rose rapidly, eventually becoming unsustainable. The debt of financial institutions rose even more rapidly, giving rise to increasing financial fragility. Highly risky mortgage-backed securities spread throughout the financial system. The system became increasingly vulnerable to the inevitable deflation of an asset bubble. When the giant real estate bubble of the 2000s deflated in 2007, the major banks became insolvent. Households were no longer able to borrow and had to cut their consumer spending. Corporate managers slashed investment spending. The Great Recession and Financial Crisis had begun. The rate of profit in the U.S. bounced back quickly after 2009. In the following years it reached the highest level of the neoliberal era. This demonstrated that neoliberal capitalism continues to promote high profits, by maintaining capital in a strongly dominant position over labor. Yet capital accumulation did not respond to the rising rate of profit

By |2019-05-24T12:40:41-04:00May 24, 2019|

Survey Finds Economists’ Politics Loom Large in their Views of Capitalist Crises

We doubt the extent to which the Marxist tradition has developed an adequate social psychology of knowledge.  People’s politics cannot, of course, be simply read off their class position alone.

By |2019-03-28T20:01:03-04:00Mar 23, 2019|

Struggles New and Old: Yellow Vests, the French Revolution and 21-Century Anti-Capitalism

The yellow vest movement has displayed a curious mix of modern and pre-modern forms of struggle, some harking back to the French revolution. These old forms might very well become features of twenty first century anti-capitalist protest.

By |2019-02-26T13:06:53-05:00Feb 26, 2019|

Neoliberalism After Apartheid: From South Africa to Palestine/Israel

25 years after the end of apartheid, the lives of working-class black people remain extremely precarious in South Africa. What went wrong? And how can Palestinians avoid these pitfalls as they envision a post-apartheid future?

By |2019-01-30T18:08:45-05:00Jan 30, 2019|

Why no socialism in Sweden?

The Wage-Earner Funds in Sweden is one of the few serious attempts in an advanced capitalist society to socialize the means of production. While it is commonly believed that the plan failed due to intransigent and well-coordinated capitalist opposition, its failure was primarily due to the high degree of centralization of the labor unions pushing it.

By |2019-01-23T11:28:35-05:00Jan 23, 2019|

Green paradoxes: How climate change policy preserves climate change causes

Why are societies failing to effectively respond to climate change? Why is it that “environmental degradation increases amid the growth of environmental attention and concern”? Environmental sociologists have examined many possible confounding factors, including The inadequacy of mainstream climate policies. We build upon the latter analysis by drawing from the Marxist conception of ideology as ideas and practices that conceal social contradictions. We argue that dominant climate policy mechanisms (“green” markets, technology, and growth) are based on assumptions that conceal a “capital-climate contradiction” or a “technical potential-productive relations contradiction.”

By |2018-11-26T09:24:02-05:00Nov 26, 2018|