When there’s no more room in hell, dead labour will walk the earth

by · October 29, 2010

Me on the ABC’s The Drum Unleashed, reviewing John Quiggin‘s latest book, Zombie Economics:

In seeking a progressive economics, Quiggin keeps skirting around some of the fundamental assumptions behind the ideas he critiques. So he portrays class as a social gradient rather than a power relation, the origins of value are left unexamined despite various value theories being trashed, and the state’s role is assumed as potentially neutral rather than as an instrument of domination. And while recognising the inequalities created by markets he has much less to say about growing micro-management and authoritarianism as capitalist logic intrudes not just into work life but every aspect of our “free time”, what has sometimes been called “Market Stalinism”. Despite being acutely sensitive to how certain theories are used to serve narrow interests, he cannot posit an approach that breaks out of this logic.

Filed under: John Quiggin

Discussion3 Comments

  1. Boris Kelly says:

    Hi Tad. As usual, this is a very provocative and interesting piece. You write well, your analysis is thorough and, dare I say it, novel; which is perhaps a sad indictment of the standard of public discourse because the tools of your analysis are certainly not new. What I find most intriguing about your work is the absence of a way forward. You take the antithetical position convincingly but your thesis is under developed. Or perhaps the tentative tone is a mark of a reluctance to show your hand. Clearly, yours is a revolutionary politics that draws on a Marxist critique of the relationship between class, capital and the state to implicitly advocate for their dismantling. You appear to eschew the parliamentary, reformist path in favour of some other course you never quite explain. The inference is a form of anarcho-socialism, in theory at least. How you imagine your inferences applied to reality is food for deep and uncomfortable thought.

  2. Dr_Tad says:

    Boris, I promise I'm not hiding anything from you. But I'm not sure what it is you think I'm not putting out there?One can read the Communist Manifesto and agree with it, but that doesn't solve the far more difficult problem of translating those ideas into the reality of Australia in 2010. There ain't no shortcut. We are starting at the beginning in many ways.

  3. Ben Courtice says:

    On that micro-management and authoritarianism as capitalist logic intrudes not just into work life but every aspect of our "free time" – consumerism is something the left has not often understood well, but it's crucial to capitalism. My take just published now at my blog: http://bccwords.blogspot.com/2010/10/consumerism-or-liberation.html