Wolfgang Streeck explains how to reform capitalism for a better 21st century

Summary: We have hundreds of ideas for small reforms of America, but few for radical reform of the capitalist system that runs it. As a demonstration of this problem, Wolfgang Streeck gives a profound critique of capitalism and Adam Tooze  one of the most powerful essays I have seen in a long time. This is part two; part one discussed how we drifted into this crisis of capitalism.

 

A General Logic of Crisis

By Adam Tooze,
London Review of Books, 5 January 2017.

Posted with his generous permission.

Review of Wolfgang Streeck’s How Will Capitalism End?: Essays on a Failing System.

Part two of two: looking at the end of capitalism, and beyond.

The publication of How Will Capitalism End?: Essays on a Failing System thus comes when Streeck has positioned himself as the leading intellectual proponent in Germany of a Gaullist vision of Europe from the left. Now that his cards are fully on the table it is a good moment to try to answer the question: how did Streeck turn critical theory into a vehicle for the assertion of the primacy of the nation?

In one respect at least the national turn has allowed Streeck to subsume what might once have been seen as a fatal weakness in his analysis into a consistent part of the argument. A truly remarkable thing about his work is that he discusses the future of capitalism entirely without reference to the place where the future of capitalism will surely be decided: Asia. That no doubt reflects the limitations of his professional specialisation – OECD industrial relations. China and India are beyond his ken.

But given the arguments he has been making, his Eurocentrism takes on a new meaning. If you are going to articulate the basic tension of the crisis as existing between a superficial, utilitarian universality on the one hand, and a ‘grandiose jointly produced diversity’ on the other, then Europe is, indeed, the classic terrain on which to make your case. Not that there isn’t nationalism elsewhere. But nowhere else has as many different nationalisms in such a tiny space and nowhere else has tried to merge them the way the EU has. India and China never subordinated themselves entirely to the dictates of neoliberalism, nor arguably has the United States: compared to the EU, Nafta was integration-lite. So if the EU stands for a peculiarly pure form of neoliberal capitalism – a basic contention of the Lexit camp – where better to make one’s stand than Europe? In rejecting the false capitalist homogeneity of the EU, one is saving Europe’s essence, namely its diversity. What could be a better expression of that grandiose diversity, after all, than the battle of Brexit, another round in the centuries-old cross-Channel struggle?

But Streeck is a political economist, so he isn’t content with civilisational arguments. He wants to talk about nuts and bolts, the real power behind the scenes. The particular vector of globalisation that has seized his imagination since 2008 is finance. As a somewhat surprised Martin Wolf remarked in the Financial Times, Streeck worries so much about debt you could mistake him for an Austrian economist. Debt, for Streeck, is an index of the unsustainable balance between democracy and capitalism. It’s the way the system borrows time. At times he takes this metaphor quite literally, describing credit as a mechanism through which ‘not-yet-existing virtual resources … are pulled forward from the future.’ Taken at face value that would suggest a very odd view of economic reality indeed.

Wolfgang Streeck

Wolfgang Streeck. Photo by Maria Camila Romero via Wikimedia Commons.

The people and the market-people.

Streeck is on more solid ground when he focuses on debt as a power relationship. All modern states have managed the ongoing crises of capitalism through public debt, and this constitutes a new type of dependency. Elected governments have to listen to two constituencies, their people – the Staatsvolk – and the markets. Streeck joins the two in a neologism, the Marktvolk.

The term Staatsvolk is standard in constitutional theory, but it invites the question of how a Volk is constituted. As German critics have pointed out, much of Streeck’s pessimism about the EU derives from his refusal to consider the possibility that a European Volk might actually be emerging in part as a result of the politics of the crisis. Streeck sees the euro as having produced only resentment and division – a conventional enough view.

What is not conventional – what is, indeed, frankly alarming – is Streeck’s extension of the term Volk. His coinage, Marktvolk, suggests the existence, opposed to the proper people, the Staatsvolk, of another Volk, one defined by its mysteriousness, its rootlessness and faithlessness, its commercialised and contractual approach to the world: the ‘market people’. For a critical sociology, it is no doubt important to anatomise the transnational financial elite. They form networks. And there are ways of studying those. But one thing that the operators of the financial markets are not, even in the loosest sense of the word, is a Volk, a national ethnic people, not unless one wants to evoke conspiracy theories favoured by the alt-right. One wouldn’t wish to impute that to Streeck. But his choice of words isn’t merely unfortunate: it also suggests a profound analytical misconception.

The two-Volk model doesn’t just conjure up a non-existent ‘market people’. It renders the rooted, national Staatsvolk neutral with regard to capital, or even leads one to imagine the two as juxtaposed. And yet when money moves against a democratically elected leftist government, as recently in Greece or Portugal, or in the 1980s in France, it isn’t just the rootless or foreign money that moves. The first to mobilise are generally disaffected wealthy locals who think the wrong side has won, and must be stopped. It is a nation’s own capitalists, after all, whose portfolios tend to be most heavily weighted towards local assets that may now be vulnerable to taxation or worse. They are also more likely to hold strong political views and are within easy reach of their vengeful opponents.

In 2015 it was domestic capital flight as much as international speculation that put pressure on Syriza. It was local oligarchs, not hedge funds in Connecticut, who sent death threats to intrusive tax inspectors. The ‘This is a Coup’ hashtag that went viral in the summer of 2015 was a metaphor. Actual coups, like the recent one in Brazil, are staged by people who are rooted, fully paid-up citizens, who for that very reason are ready to go to any lengths to defend their vested interests.

World money

Who are “the people”?

The weird geometry of Streeck’s Staatsvolk-Marktvolk juxtaposition points to an inconsistency at the heart of his agenda. When Streeck says he wants to put society in control he can expect general agreement. This, indeed, is pure Jürgen Habermas, reasserting the lifeworld against the system. It is the boilerplate of social democracy. But the question it dodges is the all-important one: who or what is ‘the social’?

The disagreement between Habermas and Streeck, put in Habermas’s terms, is whether to move up and forwards to a future cosmopolitan order, or down and backwards to the nation. But as Streeck himself asks when he has his critical sociology hat on, what about class divisions within the social, whether at the local, national or European level?

In some of the best passages in How Will Capitalism End? Streeck explains that the distinction between ‘society’ and ‘economy’ that has structured the discipline of sociology, the dyad that made it possible to speak so confidently of putting ‘society’ in charge of the ‘economy’, was in fact an artefact of the peculiar class balance of the 1950s and 1960s. Streeck’s entire narrative rests on the claim that this class balance was ruptured in the 1970s. Thatcher let the cat out of the bag with her declaration that ‘there is no such thing’ as society, just ‘individual men and women and … families’. To which the response of critical theory should not be a pantomimic ‘Oh yes there is and it should be in charge,’ but to ask what configuration of social forces made it possible for Thatcher to make that claim and how might it be reversed.

Instead of saying that national societies should be put back in charge of their economies, shouldn’t Streeck be saying – to put words in his mouth – that the aim of the game is to shift the balance of class forces, in such a way that one might once again meaningfully and optimistically talk about ‘society’ taking control? His wager seems to be that the struggle would best be conducted on a smaller scale and, given the legacies of history, that must mean the nation. He doesn’t argue the case for more local action in any depth. But he leaves us in no doubt that in his view the European Parliament is a sham and Eurocrats are corrupt, self-serving flunkies. His position is unambitious and nostalgic, in Habermas’s eyes.

Question Symbol

The key question.

But the more serious concern is that it poses the question Streeck himself puts so aggressively to the cosmopolitans: your vision may be attractive, but how are we to get from a to b and who is going to get us there? What is it about the current configuration of social forces that leads Streeck to believe a move back to the national level would enable democratic control of a renationalised economy and not result, say, in the kind of dirty backroom dealing that Downing Street appears to have done with Nissan to retain manufacturing jobs in a post-Brexit Britain?

Streeck criticises the cosmopolitans for their elective affinity with Davos man, but the worry about deglobalisation is that its primary movers would be even less attractive and might, despite their populist slogans, be just as closely associated with big business. The experience of the 20th century suggests that when trying to channel nationalists’ energies into progressive politics, it is crucial to be clear-headed about one’s objectives. When you say you want to put the nation in charge and to throw off the yoke imposed by the invisible power of the cosmopolitan ‘market people’, who do you expect to rally to your banner? Streeck may protest to sympathetic interviewers that when he advocates immigration restrictions that doesn’t make him a closet AfD {Alternative for Germany} supporter or a proto-fascist. But given Streeck’s slide from a conflictual notion of class to the idea of an integrated society and from there to an enthusiastic embrace of the nation, and all this against the backdrop of bona fide nationalist mobilisation, what does he expect?

More weaknesses in Steeck’s vision.

The weaknesses of Streeck’s Staatsvolk v. Marktvolk scheme don’t end there. It isn’t just that the two are entangled. It is also simplistic to imagine that the confrontation ever takes place in dyadic isolation. States aren’t simply bounced between citizens and markets. They have to deal with other states, which are themselves juggling their relations with citizens and markets. And the state, the Staat that constitutes the Staatsvolk, has an identity, logic and interests of its own and is itself tangled in a complex web.

In the face of Habermas’s normative cosmopolitanism and Streeck’s reductive economism, it is worth emphasising that the EU was conceived first and foremost as neither a moral nor simply an economic project, but as a power political vehicle to constrain West Germany while also enabling it to contribute to Cold War rearmament and reconstruction. In the 1990s the move to realise European Monetary Union was in part a neoliberal stratagem to install a permanent disinflationary regime. In part it was an effort to create a European society by stealth. But what moved it from the drawing board into reality was Helmut Kohl’s effort to reconcile France and the rest of the EU to German reunification and to bind a united Germany indissolubly to Europe.

Twenty-five years later the balance within Europe is continually shifting and so too, crucially, is the position of the US in relation to Europe. These complex forcefields won’t simply disappear in the face of deglobalisation. If you break up the Eurozone, you don’t exit the power-field and thus gain sovereign autonomy. You do change your position within it and your way of relating to it – and not necessarily to your advantage. If we were to step back from the Eurozone to a reborn European Monetary System, as Streeck advocates, that wouldn’t set France or Italy free, but would place them back in the unequal power relationship with Germany that they sought to escape in the 1980s. And to advocate doing this at precisely the moment when the gamble the non-Germans made on the ECB has paid off, when an American-trained Italian macroeconomist is floating the entire European bond market to the horror of German conservatives, is either naive with regard to the way European monetary politics work, or disingenuous.

About the banks.

The ECB, in Streeck’s eyes, is no more than a tool of the banks. When he mentions Draghi at all it is to describe him as a ‘financial functionary’ or to associate him with Goldman Sachs. This allows for no autonomy of the apparatus of government or the technicians who run it.

It’s true that the record of the ECB, particularly in the crucial period between 2008 and the autumn of 2011, gives little reason to think that central banks might play any constructive role in mediating between capital markets and democratically elected governments. Caught between Berlin, Paris, the Bundesbank in Frankfurt, the IMF and the US Treasury, clinging to its own deeply conservative vision of economic governance, refusing to face the entanglement of Europe’s banks both with US subprime assets and European sovereign debt, the ECB’s leaders delivered one of the most destructive and, in the end, self-subverting performances in the history of economic mismanagement. Streeck never identifies whose interests he imagines might have been served by this fiasco; he does no more than to gesture to ‘bankers’ and ‘German export interests’. But insofar as the markets have spoken, their judgment has been devastating. It was precisely the realisation of how deep the loss of confidence had become that prompted Draghi’s unscripted remarks – ‘Whatever it takes’ – in July 2012.

Of course central banks have major legitimacy issues. Their autonomy cannot be taken for granted; they are held in place by a complex geometry of forces. But saying that is quite different from generalising a moment of unprecedented panic and mismanagement into an insuperable dilemma for capitalist democracy. Thanks in large part to bond-buying by the Fed, the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan, the bond vigilantes have remained confined to the Eurozone.

The logic of crisis.

But, as has become clear since 2012, the careful calculation of options and precise analysis of the mechanics of crisis is not Streeck’s project. With a passion bordering on that of a convert, Streeck feels he has identified a general logic of crisis. The market and its functionaries have brought about an existential crisis of social and political life: they must be resisted by any means necessary. What’s more, the gravity and urgency of the situation make detailed tactical argument unnecessary. Indeed, it may even be unwise to be reasonable. As financial markets have shown again and again, panic is what gets you attention. As Streeck remarked in Buying Time: The Delayed Crisis of Democratic Capitalism

Greater agitation and unpredictability among the people – a spreading sense of the profound absurdity of the market and money culture and its grotesque claims on the human lifeworld – would at least be a social fact; it could come to be seen as the ‘psychology’ of citizens, alongside the psychology of markets and demanding as much attention … even though they have no banknotes as arguments but only words and (who knows?) paving stones.

To the Guardian he commented simply: ‘I think more such scariness must happen.’ The authorities should be ‘scared shitless’.

One can see his point, of course. And there are those who regard the ‘scariness’ of Brexit and Trump with a certain relish. But even if we were willing to treat this as a merely tactical question, if the left were to dispense with reason, it would need to be sure of the balance of power, sure that its words wouldn’t simply be laughed off and that the ‘paving stones’ wouldn’t be met with overwhelming counter-force. It is a gamble, to say the least.

Yet Streeck isn’t content to stop there. In the gloomiest pages of How Will Capitalism End?, as he takes an X-ray of the consumer culture that continues in his view to prolong capitalism’s survival, it isn’t just pragmatism and coping that come under suspicion, but hope too. For Streeck, coping and hoping aren’t simply habits characteristic of the modern subject: they have, under the sign of market society, taken on a specific ideological valence. For Streeck, ‘coping, hoping, doping and shopping’ form a behavioural structure that is fundamental to sustaining profit and accumulation:

“Life under social entropy elevates being optimistic to the status of a public virtue and civic responsibility. In fact, one can say that even more than capitalism in its heyday, the entropic society of disintegrated, de-structured and under-governed post-capitalism depends on its ability to hitch itself onto the natural desire of people not to feel desperate, while defining pessimism as a socially harmful personal deficiency.”

With that in mind, the extraordinarily bleak vista of a new ‘dark age’ with which Streeck begins the book reveals itself not just as a prediction, but as a critique of ideology. If we are to see clearly at all, we must get over our desire not to feel desperate. What Streeck is in search of are not intimations of the ‘presumably possible’ (Habermas), but a ‘new framework, away from wishful demonstrations of the possible to a realistic accounting of the real, to get ahead with the most urgent task for the left, which is sobering up.’

But if hope and wishful thinking are an opium of the masses, then the promise of a disillusioned realism, a realistic accounting of the real no less, isn’t without its ideological temptations either. Most obviously it can feed fatalism. But it can also do the opposite: sweeping historic gloom goes hand in hand with rebirth, a promise commonly vested in the nation. Such affinities are never necessary. There are pessimistic non-nationalist visions just as there are sunny versions of nationalism. But in the current moment Trump’s campaign rhetoric was striking precisely in its juxtaposition of an apocalyptic vision with the promise of national rebirth.

Streeck would no doubt be more comfortable being compared with Max Weber, the most respectable of all German sociologists, but also a nationalist and a prophet of the fin de siècle in whose rhetoric pretensions to steely realism, dark imagery and assertions of voluntarist will came together in an intoxicating mix. When Imperial Germany fell to disaster in 1918, Weber greeted the advent of the Weimar Republic as ‘a polar night of icy darkness and hardness’, and summoned his students to heroic acts of violent resistance against the Polish occupiers of Danzig.

But we are not in the early Weimar Republic, nor are we living through the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. We have our own problems and they are bad enough. The shocks of the financial crisis, the Eurozone crisis, Ukraine and the refugee crisis go deep. The Trump presidency may unleash even worse: the Iran nuclear deal was one of the rare achievements of EU foreign policy. The rallying of nationalism across Europe is undeniable and dangerous. The prospect of a Le Pen victory in France is one of real menace.

Is Streeck’s Gaullist manifesto for a Europe of the nations seriously intended to take the wind out of Le Pen’s sails? His polemics suggest as much, but there is nothing in his theoretical armoury that would allow him to elaborate the point. In Germany, the solidity of the checks and balances in its constitution and the sophistication of its democratic culture mean there is no real risk of a Trump, Le Pen, Brexit-style swerve to the right. How then could Streeck’s interventions make any difference?

Ahead of the German election in 2017 there are only two real options for the country: another coalition centred on Merkel, offering more of the same, or a novel ‘Red-Red-Green’ coalition of the SPD-Die Linke and the Greens. This has been a possibility since the 1990s and is the bugbear of all those determined to uphold the status quo inherited from West Germany. But if there is a political move that might break the roadblock in Germany and thus in Europe, ‘R2G’ is it. The history of the Cold War stands in its way, as do painful memories of Lafontaine’s split from the SPD and a fear on the part of the SPD and the Greens of losing bourgeois voters.

If Die Linke, driven by its Lexit wing and concerned with the threat to its voter base in the East from the AfD, were to swerve onto the protectionist, anti-EU line that Streeck and others have been advancing since 2013, it would be hugely counterproductive. It is here, operating within the delicate politics of a Red-Red-Green coalition, that Streeck’s intellectual authority and relentless advocacy of the Lexit position could do real damage. The result to be feared is not a new dark age, or the imminent collapse of capitalist democracy, the Eurozone or the EU, but merely the depressing continuation of both Europe and Germany’s failure to live up to their potential, the continued foreclosure of the ‘presumably possible’.

See yesterday’s part one: Wolfgang Streeck looks at capitalism’s future.

————————————————————————

Adam Tooze

About the author

Adam Tooze is a Professor of History at Columbia. He researches the fields of twentieth-century and contemporary history. From a start in modern German history with a special focus on the history of economics and economic history his interests have widened to take in a range of themes in political, intellectual and military history, across a canvass stretching from Europe across the Atlantic.

See his bio here, and his major books: The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931 and The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy.

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7 thoughts on “Wolfgang Streeck explains how to reform capitalism for a better 21st century

  1. Pingback: Wolfgang Streeck explains how to reform capitalism for a better 21st century – Fabius Maximus website (blog)

  2. Pingback: Wolfgang Streeck asks “How will capitalism end?” – Fabius Maximus website (blog)

  3. douglasproctor

    A society is, in Thatcher’s term, an emergent entity resulting from the combined characters of individuals. Culture, however, is how we describe what those characteristics are. It is trite but antiliberal to say that all cultures are mutually compatible.

    Globalization works with the Universal Man with a universal culture. This is the world of Star Trek. But is it a reasonable concept?

    China has attempted to create a one-Chinese culture as well as society. So far it looks like only the annihilation of other “individual” will achieve this. People resist assimilation.

    But perhaps this is a transition? Perhaps globalization will work once everything “settles out”, when the lifestyle of Detroit more than less equals that of Juarez? But can it? Environments – like winter – say no. Levelling has limits.

    A structured, hierarchical society is thought to develop organically when a population reaches some number. 10,000? 50,000 seems high. Regardless of the number, it occurs in a fashion that works with the environment, its access to resources, other groups etc. And according to the nondestructive peculiarities of its members. Differences solidify; a culture is born.

    But is the drive to cultural differentiation a function of historical chance or (at least in part) due to local conditions and individual variations with the potential for self-association? Will a billion people naturally self-segregate into competitive groups seeking their own self-interest? If so, globalization and the Universal Man, the common culture, all seeking a personal good equal to the common good won’t -can’t – happen.

    The nation may be the natural result of varying environments and the breadth of human variability. A gay community will automatically develop when there is a sufficiently large number of gay people. A redneck one will develop when there are enough beer-swilling, truck driving gun enthusiasts around – regardless of their skin color.

    Not everyone wants to be a German in the cultural sense. Or an Iraqi. Is a nation a reflection of a human desire to associate with others of similar outlook – even if that outlook is principally “not theirs”, a statement of individuality more than ideology?

    I think the nation is a concept we are all driven to. Subcultures like geeks playing video games are just an expression of this drive on the smaller stage. We have to draw boundaries to stabilize social functioning, to settle down with rules that work for specific, individualized, “cultural” groups. Cross-boundary movement reduces internal conflicts by giving the disaffected a positive option out. The universal man or culture in my opinion is a dangerous, naive dream of the idealistic academic. It encourages the introduction of side-by-side worlds we currently see in France, England and Germany

    In the Star Trek universe there were Romulans as well as Vulcans. The best they could do was respect their areas of interest and set up rules of engagement. The idealists might agree this is true on a galactic scale. But what if, for humans, this is the truth when our numbers are not 20 billion but 600 million? What if Europe is already beyond its capacity for “universal” values and behavior?

    Fences make good neighbors. All suburban families know this. Our governors need to figure out where the fences go, not whether they are needed.

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    1. Editor of the Fabius Maximus website Post author

      Doug,

      “Globalization works with the Universal Man with a universal culture.”

      Can you cite someone who believes a “universal culture” is part of globalization? The usual definition of globalization is that in this IMF report “Globalization: Threat or Opportunity?“, 12 April 2000.

      “Economic “globalization” is a historical process, the result of human innovation and technological progress. It refers to the increasing integration of economies around the world, particularly through trade and financial flows. The term sometimes also refers to the movement of people (labor) and knowledge (technology) across international borders. There are also broader cultural, political and environmental dimensions of globalization that are not covered here.

      “At its most basic, there is nothing mysterious about globalization. The term has come into common usage since the 1980s, reflecting technological advances that have made it easier and quicker to complete international transactions—both trade and financial flows. It refers to an extension beyond national borders of the same market forces that have operated for centuries at all levels of human economic activity—village markets, urban industries, or financial centers.”

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    2. douglasproctor

      I wrote a long (brilliant) response to your question as to the source of my comments. It disappeared, I guess. Blame my stubby fingers. But in essence:

      I have no “source”: understanding is based in insight, after all, not authority.

      In my observation, globalization works only with a global culture or, if pursued effectively, produces a universal culture. The Universal Man is the social product. It does this because global economic agreements require a level playing field: no one will play if an advantage is held by one party. The effort to level the field inevitably levels cultural values.
      A simple example: an Iranian Shiite wishes to be able to sell his crockery to Jews in London. In return the London Jews want to be able to sell their tablecloths to Iranian Shiites. The trade agreement is struck. In the moment Jews just got equal legal AND social status in the marketplace as Muslim Shiites.

      Already international trade agreements force cultural leveling. Death penalties? Not if you are to be part of the EU. Free movement, labour and settlement of migrants? Yes if you want to be in the EU. Human rights? Banking rules and others of commerce lead to extradition on common understandings of illegalality: the Asian who scams your American shareholder has to be accountable whether in Asia or America, regardless of the cultural (Asian) view of proper treatment of fools and the naive.

      Piece by piece we become the Universal Man on a universal culture. Tje Untouchables in India receive the same wages as the “touched” because a company who pays one caste less than the others has an unfair advantage through descriminatory practices. Legal and social equality is forced upon the prevailing cultural pattern.

      Environmental protection, tax treatment to enhance local employment, women’s rights, religious equality, the secular dominance of law – all.these things will shift to allow a level playing field for commerce between nations. Boko Haram, ISIS and North Korea know that you cannot maintain your cultural uniqueness of you allow the Outsider to be an equal operator in your country. As did China and Japan – gunboats were needed to open up both, recall.

      There is a saying that when you look into the abyss, the abyss looks back.

      Now, the question was, is the nation-state still necessary? I’m saying it is IF you want to avoid becoming part of a Universal Culture. But it means that globalization of anything won’t happen. Culturally determined advantages of one sort or another will get in the way. Protect your French dairy farmers? Not if you don’t want your French wine to have equal access to Californian buyers who also export Californian cheese.

      But I also asked if peoples naturally breakdown into competitive or antagonistic groups simply because as mobile, numerically significant numbers they can by preferred self-association. Is this what we are seeing in Marseille, certain Departments of Paris and elsewhere? I wonder.

      The Star Trek universe on Earth (the Federation) is pure America. Outside the Federation there are still Romulans, Cardasians and the Borg, who will not play nicely. The lib-progressives like to think the Federation is the way if History, with Romulans at al backward cousins. What if self-association is numerical? What if Europe at 500 odd millions is already at that number? Migrants WON’T assimilate and Poland WON’T act like good Germans? What if a universe with Captain Kirk’s Federation AND the Romulans making trouble is the dominant pattern?

      If these conjectures are true, we need nation-states because we need fences to keep conflicts to a minimum. Which means globalization has its limits.

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  4. peteybee

    Fascinating collection of views… I have a hard time understanding Streeck’s political vision in concrete terms, based on the critical review here, but I suppose that’s why the book is there. I’ll check it out.

    I have to wonder, though, if the revival of the nation-state as the primary political unit is now “baked in the cake”? If so, shaping the “regression” into nation-scale political power, to be more or less social-democratic and culturally tolerant seems like a valid path. (with different situations in different European countries, per their relative level of power, economic situation, etc)

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