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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-17-10 09:53 AM
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Economic crisis and class struggle
from the International Socialist Review:

Economic crisis and class struggle
Are recessions better for the left or right, asks Phil Gasper?

The most fundamental argument in favor of socialism is that capitalism is an irrational system that over the long term cannot meet the basic needs of the majority of the population because of its tendency to go into economic crisis. But what if economic crisis leads not to the growth of the left but to the rise of the far right? This is the argument of the radical economist Doug Henwood in a short article published in May on the MRzine Web site.

Henwood begins by criticizing radicals have fantasized that a serious recessionor depressionwould lead to mass radicalization, and he goes on to argue that there is empirical support for the opposite viewthat economic crisis actually benefits the far right not the radical left. The evidence he cites is recent research by the economists Markus Brkner and Hans Peter Grner. Brkner and Grner studied sixteen European countries and discovered that between 1970 and 2002, every 1 percent decline in economic growth in these countries was associated with an increase in the vote share of far right and nationalist parties of between 1 and 2 percent.

By contrast, Brkner and Grner found no corresponding increase in electoral support for communist parties during the same periods of economic decline. Henwood concludes that recessions are not good for the left and are good for the right, and that Brkner and Grners research helps explain the rise of the Tea Partiers and other strange life forms on the right.

The first thing to note is that this is an incredibly narrow study on which to base the sweeping conclusion that recessions are not good for the left and are good for the right. In fact Henwood himself immediately notes one major exception, namely the United States during the Great Depression, when economic crisis led to a series of mass strikes, the birth of industrial unions, and the growth of the Communist Party to about 80,000 members. However, he adds that this was only because the scale of the crisis was so severe, with unemployment rates reaching 25 percent and, additionally, the Great Depression didnt do much for the left in Europe. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at:

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