Transitioning to Geocratia — the People and Planet and Not the Market Paradigm — First Steps

Parting from the fact that saving Planet Earth, our home, changes everything, we need to build a new ethos where the majority of humankind commits to a system whose only purpose is the pursuit of the welfare of people and Planet Earth. This requires that all Earth resources necessary for the enjoyment of life of all living things be managed to achieve true long-term sustainability. — Álvaro J. de Regil

Capitalism of Dispossession in the Palm Oil Plantations in the Countries of the Global South

The commodification of land has deepened the ecological, social and economic crises. The unprecedented global pandemic of the covid-19 virus comes from the destruction of the habitats of species of wild animals and plants and the subsequent migration to humans. The neoliberal model is unsupportable in the sustainable conservation of nature and the planet's economy. A change in the capitalist economy is urgently needed. — Nubia Barrera Silva

Back to Production: An Analysis of the Imperialist Global Economy

Debating whether or not this “guarded globalisation” is really happening is beyond the scope of this paper. But the worries are clear: capital wants to make sure that multinational corporations can engage in capital accumulation without significant disruptions. This shows that, despite their relentless attention to the market, the focus lies on global capital’s effort to export capital through various means, including by outsourcing their production to the global South. Thus, if we want to critically evaluate “globalization,” we cannot merely see the transactions that happen in the marketplace. Instead, we have to go to where commodities are produced, or – as Marx famously said – to the hidden abode of production. — Intan Suwandi

COVID-19 and Catastrophe Capitalism — Commodity Chains and Ecological-Epidemiological-Economic Crises

COVID-19 has accentuated as never before the interlinked ecological, epidemiological, and economic vulnerabilities imposed by capitalism. As the world enters the third decade of the twenty-first century, we are seeing the emergence of catastrophe capitalism as the structural crisis of the system takes on planetary dimensions. — John Bellamy Foster and Intan Suwandi

An Eco-Revolutionary Tipping Point?

Just a couple decades ago, we were told that neoliberal capitalism marked the “end of history.” Now it appears that the system’s ideologues may have been right, but not in the way they envisioned. The system of fossil-fuelled neoliberal capitalism is indeed moving toward an end of history, but only in the sense of the end of any historical advance of humanity as a productive, political, and cultural species due to the increasingly barbaric socio-economic and environmental conditions the system creates. There is now no alternative to the end of history as we know it. — Paul Burkett

Marxism and Ecology: Common Fonts of a Great Transition

This essay unearths the deep ecological roots of Marx’s thought, showing how he brought an environmental perspective to bear on the overarching question of social transformation. From there, it traces the evolution of Marxian ecology, illuminating its profound, formative link to modern ecological economics and systems ecology. It concludes by discussing the wider project of building a social movement broad and deep enough to halt and reverse ecological and social destruction. — John Bellamy Foster

To Die for Wall Street — Coronavirus, Social Classes and the Prevailing Culture

The COVID-19 epidemic has clearly revealed the process of decomposition—progressively accelerated over the past half century—of the capitalist system in its political, economic, social and cultural aspects. The leading political elites that presented themselves as—and long ago were to a certain extent—mediators between the economic power and society, have ceased to be so and, with nuances, are now simply transmission belts of real power: towering financial, industrial and commercial capital. — Alejandro Teitelbaum

Labour Value Commodity Chains — The Hidden Abode of Global Production

As in V. I. Lenin’s conceptualisation, imperialism can be broadly defined as the complex intermingling of economic and political interests, related to the efforts of large capital to control economic territory. Imperialism has several interrelated aspects: (1) geopolitical (including military) struggle by nation-states for positions within the international hierarchy of the system, encompassing the control of colonies or neo-colonies, (2) dispossession of petty producers outside of capitalist production, and (3) global exploitation (along with expropriation—or appropriation without an equivalent) of labour in capitalist production, particularly under the domination of multinational firms emanating primarily from the core of the system. This work focuses almost entirely on the third aspect, without in any way denying the significance of the other two. — Intan Suwandi

The Expropriation of Nature

To understand these rapidly changing conditions, it is necessary to dig much deeper than before into capital’s external logic of expropriation, as it was first delineated in Marx’s writings during the Industrial Revolution. Most important, because at the root of the problem, is the extreme expropriation of the earth itself and the consequent transformation in social relations. — John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark

The Underlying Causes of Immigration from Mexico to the United States

This paper focuses on the underlying causes of immigration from Mexico to the United States from a political and socio-economic viewpoint. However, the root causes behind the flows of emigrants in other regions of the world are consistently the same. They result from the impact of powerful geo- political interests on the general population of both the emitting and the receiving countries of the millions of migrants in their escape from unbearable conditions and in pursuit of a dignified life. From this perspective, we will uncover and review the underlying causes of immigration from Mexico to the US, which are structural, in an effort to shed light onto their real solution. — Álvaro J. de Regil

The Underlying Causes of Immigration from Mexico to the United States

English-language version of the presentation offered at the conference organized by the School of Mangement of California Lutheran University in October 2019. - Álvaro J. de Regil

Invisible Exploitation — How Capital Extracts Value Beyond Wage Labour

Capitalists have always used more than the wage form alone to extract surplus product from workers. However, this century is particularly distinguished by its growing reliance on alternate methods of extracting surplus. It’s time for Marxists to rethink our preoccupation with the wage and develop a theory encompassing a common ground of exploitation across a wide variety of extractive relations under capitalism. A recognition of that shared exploitation may prove key if the exploited “class-in-itself” is to become a “class-for-itself,” able to unite and act in solidarity. — Eva Swidler

Global Commodity Chains and the New Imperialism

This paper enlightens with rather strong evidence, anchored on theoretical and empirical research of commodity-chain analysis, our argument that the main driver of social inequality between North and South is the deliberate system of “Modern Slave Work”; a system imposed in the global South by the elites of both the centre and the periphery of the global capitalist system, to exploit the labour-value commodity chains to perpetuate what could best be described as a new global colonialism or imperialism. — Intan Suwandi, R. Jamil Jonna and John Bellamy Foster

"Representative" Democracy in a State of Advanced Decomposition

It is increasingly evident that the myth of"representative"or delegating democracy"as some call it, is in a state of advanced decomposition. Said democracy, where that citizens are periodically called upon to choose between different names that appear on the ballots and choose who they believe—after having suffered brainwashing during the election campaign—who will be the people who will best represent their interests and opinions, delegating in them—without limitation or some subsequent control—the power to decide on everything that may affect in one way or another their own existence. — Alejandro Teitelbaum

Where there is no vision, the people perish: a utopian ethic for a transformed future

This paper argues that thinking about our ethical responsibilities in the present and for the future is helped by looking through the lens of Utopia. I have addressed the plethora of uses of the term Utopia elsewhere, in The Concept of Utopia, and more recently the merits of Utopia as a sociological method in Utopia as Method: The Imaginary Reconstitution of Society; this paper draws substantially on these books. The imagination of a potential, different society in the future draws attention to the need for change, offers a direction towards that change, and a stimulus to action in the present. — Ruth Levitas

The Pharmaceutical Industry in Contemporary Capitalism

The pharmaceutical industry has remained near or at the top of the list for profitability for many decades. The myth is that its profits come from producing and selling the many therapeutic advances that industry research has generated, but the reality is far different. In the first place, after tax deductions only about 1.3 percent of the money that the industry spends actually goes into basic research, the type of research that leads to new medications. Second, most of the new medicines that come from the pharmaceutical corporations offer little to nothing in the way of new therapeutic options. — Joel Lexchin

Debunking the myths behind US malice towards Mexico

The US narrative plays it as if Mexico’s northern neighbour has had nothing to do with this. Now Trump has vitriolically defamed Mexico by trying to exponentially exploit the worst and least sustainable stereotypes of Mexico and its people. This paper debunks all the deliberately malicious myths advanced by the US’ elites with a vested interest in denigrating its southern neighbour and presents the true facts behind the lies. — Álvaro J. de Regil

The New Imperialist Structure

Contemporary capitalism is a capitalism of generalised monopolies. As a system, generalised and globalised monopoly capitalism ensures that these monopolies derive a monopoly rent levied on the mass of surplus value (transformed into profits) that capital extracts from the exploitation of labor. To the extent that these monopolies operate in the peripheries of the globalised system, this monopoly rent becomes an imperialist rent. The capital accumulation process—which defines capitalism in all of its successive historical forms—is consequently governed by the maximisation of monopolistic/imperialist rent. — Samir Amín

The Precariat: Today’s Transformative Class?

Since 1980, the global economy has undergone a dramatic transformation, with the globalisation of the labour force, the rise of automation, and—above all—the growth of Big Finance, Big Pharma, and Big Tech. The social democratic consensus of the immediate postwar years has given way to a new phase of capitalism that is leaving workers further behind and reshaping the class structure. The precariat, a mass class defined by unstable labor arrangements, lack of identity, and erosion of rights, is emerging as today’s “dangerous class.” As its demands cannot be met within the current system, the precariat carries transformative potential. To realise that potential, however, the precariat must awaken to its status as a class and fight for a radically changed income distribution that reclaims the commons and guarantees a liveable income for all. Without transformative action, a dark political era looms. — Guy Standing

What are we saying when we talk about sustainability? — An Ecological Political Proposal

If you consider 1987 (the Brundtland Report) as the official beginning of the idea of sustainability, the term has made a brilliant journey of almost three decades and is still alive. In its evolution, it has become at the same time a concept, paradigm, theoretical framework, technical instrument, utopia, pretext, ideology and many other things, but above all it has become the word that contains a vague desire of the educated and privileged masses of the planet for a better world in which the human race rediscovers itself ideally with nature and with social justice. Beyond the ideological dimension, and its multiple and ungraspable interpretations, this essay focuses on sustainability as a scientific concept that springs from an interdisciplinary vision of reality, and that for many authors achieves the status of a new paradigm. — Víctor M. Toledo

Why Ecosocialism: For a Red-Green Future

The capitalist system, driven at its core by the maximisation of profit, regardless of social and ecological costs, is incompatible with a just and sustainable future. Ecosocialism offers a radical alternative that puts social and ecological well-being first. Attuned to the links between the exploitation of labour and the exploitation of the environment, ecosocialism stands against both reformist “market ecology” and “productivist socialism.” By embracing a new model of robustly democratic planning, society can take control of the means of production and its own destiny. Shorter work hours and a focus on authentic needs over consumerism can facilitate the elevation of “being” over “having,” and the achievement of a deeper sense of freedom for all. To realise this vision, however, environmentalists and socialists will need to recognise their common struggle and how that connects with the broader “movement of movements” seeking a Great Transition. — MIchael Löwy

Absolute Capitalism

The French poet Charles Baudelaire wrote in 1864 that “the cleverest ruse of the Devil is to persuade you he does not exist!” I will argue here that this is directly applicable to today’s neoliberals, whose devil’s ruse is to pretend they do not exist. Although neoliberalism is widely recognised as the central political-ideological project of twenty-first-century capitalism, it is a term that is seldom uttered by those in power. In 2005, the New York Times went so far as to make neoliberalism’s nonexistence official by running an article entitled “Neoliberalism? It Doesn’t Exist.” Behind this particular devil’s ruse lies a deeply disturbing, even hellish, reality. The goal is nothing less than the creation of an absolute capitalism. All of this serves to heighten the extreme human and ecological destructiveness that characterises our time. — John Bellamy Foster

Why Corporate Social Responsibility is a Hoax?

If we had truly democratic societies, CSR would not exist, nor would it have to. Instead, we would have a global binding regulatory system of business practice determined by the people, not by multilateral organizations, corporate lobbyists, and revolving-door politicians. The usurpation of the democratic ethos was inevitable because capitalism and real democracy are inherently incompatible and thus cannot coexist. Consequently, we cannot pretend to fix the problems inherent to capitalism without replacing capitalism... Rather than corporate redesign, we need a social contract redesign. — Álvaro J. de Regil

Unequal Exchange

This Brief assesses economist Arghiri Emmanuel's theory of Unequal Exchange, to delve, from an economic analysis angle, into TLWNSI's central argument: that we endure a North-South system of exploitation, which, among other features, has a direct and premeditated impact on the misery wages paid in all countries in the South. This unequal exchange constitutes a trade imperialism that historically has generated vast earnings for the North, greater than the interests recovered by banks and the profits obtained by transnationals. — Claudio Jedlicki

Keynesian Economics and the Welfare State

This work explains in detail the emergence of the new Keynesian economic paradigm as a consequence of the experience of the Great War and the Great Depression and the results obtained through government intervention during the New Deal. The goal here is to show how the post-war era, with the government in the driver's seat of the economy, provided the greatest period of progress in the welfare of both rich and poor nations, in spite of the very powerful interests that continuously moved in the opposite direction. The essay opens by stating that the war economy pulled the capitalist world out of depression. — Álvaro J. de Regil

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Research and analysis to provoke public awareness and critical thinking

We contribute to the liberalisation of the democratic instituions of society, for they have been captured by the owners of the market. They work in tandem with their market agents, who, posing as public servants, are entrenched in the halls of government. The political class has betrayed its public mandate and instead operates to impose a marketocratic state to maximise the shareholder value of the institutional investors of international financial markets. They own the global corporations and think they own the world on behalf of their very private interest.

Our spheres of action: true democracy – true sustainability – living wage – basic income – inequality – ecological footprint – degrowth – global warming –human development – corporate accountability – civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights, responsible consumption, sustainable autonomous citizen cells...

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Parting from an ethos of true democracy and true sustainability, We, the citizenry, work to advance the paradigm whose only purpose is to go in pursuit of the welfare of People and Planet and NOT the market.

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2020 Report: Living-wage assessment – PPP Wage rate gaps for selected "developed and emerging" economies for all employed in manufacturing workers (1996 up to 2018).

Our 2018 assessment reports divergent outcomes among selected economies that were predominantly the result of a meaningful increase of hourly wages in local currency (or lack of it), exchange rates and changes in their PPP cost of living. Six economies improved their position, four lost ground and four did not change. France, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Singapore and Australia improved their equalisation index (Eq-Idx). Canada, United Kingdom, Spain and Turkey lost ground compared to their 2017 position, whilst Brazil, Mexico, Japan and South Africa experienced no change.

Among the six economies that improved their living-wage equalisation position, the main factors were the substantial increase of their hourly rates in local currency combined with a revaluation of their currency or a decrease in their cost of living in PPP terms for private consumption. In the case of the three euro-area countries (France, Germany and Italy), it was specifically the combination of the increase of their hourly wage rates with a revaluation of the euro. This allowed France, Italy and Germany to increase their equalisation Eq-Idx. This combination served to offset their increase of their PPP cost of living, and increased their advantage over the increase of the US hourly rates in real terms. A similar behaviour took place in the case of Singapore and South Korea. In this way, they clearly outperformed the increase of the US hourly rate in manufacturing and thus increased their equalisation Eq-Idx In fact, Singapore’s Eq-Idx is its best recorded since 1996. Australia, in contrast, devalued its currency, but it achieved the highest improvement of its equalisation Eq-Idx among all 41 economies in our reports, which is equal to its best position previously achieved in 2014. This was the result of a strong increase of its hourly rate in local currency and a currency devaluation, which contributed to a drop of its PPP cost of living.

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2020 Report: Living-wage assessment – New assessment of Argentina's wage rate gap 1996-2018

Our analysis of Argentina’s living wages in the manufacturing sector from a global perspective (purchasing power parities) no longer assumes that Argentina’s government will continue to regard the appreciation of real wages as a fundamental element of its economic policy. As expected, the Macri government did everything possible to resume the old centre-periphery relationship that applies a neocolonial ethos to Argentina’s economic policies. Unfortunately, his economic policies have proven disastrous, and in his four years, inflation and devaluation have exploded, the country fell into default of its sovereign debt, real wages collapsed and poverty increased very meaningfully. One clear direct consequence is that the equalisation indices for at least the 2018 - 2020 period will drop dramatically, from 50 in 2017 to low to mid 30s, which is tantamount to the levels prevalent during the 1996 - 2000 period.

After the staunchly neoliberal Macri government left Argentina’s socio-economic conditions in dire shambles, the new Fernández government is doing its best to recover the gains for the common citizen of the preceding Kirchner-Fernández governments, which will be a rather daunting task, given the recurring crises since the start of this century. For now, living wage equalisation in the manufacturing sector vis-à-vis equivalent US wages has collapsed and is destined to drop to levels reminiscent of the 2002 crisis before it begins to recover.

The new government of Alberto Fernandez immediately implemented a countercyclical package to return to demand-side policies aimed at reducing as much as possible Macri’s neoliberal ethos and his economic policy errors. Some of these are tax hikes on foreign currency purchases, agricultural exports, wealth, and car sales as well as labour protections to increase compensation for unjustified work dismissals. Also, as it happened at the start of the century, Argentina was forced to default on its foreign debt, and has just reached an agreement with vulture funds and other foreign creditors that, for the most part, fulfils their demands and not those of Argentinians. Moreover, Argentina is once again under negotiations with the IMF to reduce its never ending sovereign foreign debt. Furthermore, the economic crisis has been convoluted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which will clearly exacerbate Argentina’s deep recession. So far, inflation appears to be substantially lower in 2020 than in 2019, at 13,5% for the first six months, but expected to hover at 30% by the end of the year, despite the effect of the pandemic on an already depressed demand. As with the rest of the world, GDP will fall drastically, at least 11% and then gradually recover, more as a technical rebound rather than as true growth in 2021. All of these factors will make it difficult for Argentina to recover real wages in manufacturing and gradually bring them to their previous equalisation position relative to the 2002 crisis.

Parting from this rather negative context, the socio-economic picture for Argentina looks a lot like a loss of two decades. This would entail a colossal hardship particularly for the lower ranks of society. One of the greatest benefits of the appreciation of real wages of any country –in the context of a living wage ethos in a market society– is the direct impact on the eradication of the conditions of inequality and exclusion; conditions that have prevailed in Argentina for many decades and were only reduced substantially between 2004 and 2015. It remains to be seen if the new government is capable of performing a successful balancing act between the different variables in an extremely complex scenario.


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2020 Report: Living-wage assessment – New assessment of Brazil's wage rate gap 1996-2018

Temer’s supply-side economic policies that continues with Bolsonaro’s government, have stopped any effort to improve the labour’s share of income and clearly reflect a policy of deliberate wage contention. Temer’s government passed a new law (PEC 55) that freezes all public spending for 20 years, which implies that constitutionally-protected government expenditures in the areas of health, education and other social sectors would remain stunted until 2036. This has ended Brazil’s commitment to sustain its minimum wage appreciation policy, after the minimum wage had more than doubled in real terms since 1996. As for manufacturing wages, they actually lost ground since 1996, which partially recovered from the recession at the start of the century, until the minimum wage appreciation policy had a positive influence from 2010 onwards that is now receding once again. Yet, with a renewed recession during the 2014-2016 period, that only began to subside in 2017 and will fall back into a deep recession due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the staunchly neoliberal and predatory supply-side approach followed by Bolsonaro’s government, Brazil will not resume any gains in real terms from a domestic perspective nor will it resume the closing of its Eq-Idx, from a global perspective, for the foreseeable future. In fact, it is likely to actually increase its equalisation gap with comparative wages in the US in the coming years.

For the entire 24-year period (1996-2018), living wage equalisation of manufacturing hourly wages have not made any improvement whatsoever, and they are slightly lower than in 1996. The hourly rates recovered gradually after the turn of the century recession but by 2018 their equalisation with equivalent US wages are down to a 32 index relative to the 34 index of 1996. Our estimate for 2019, indicates that their Eq-Idx would drop to 31 as the result of a meagre increase estimate in local currency, the actual erosion of the BRL and an increase of the PPP cost of living in local currency. The compounding effect of Bolsonaro’s government predatory economic policy that is clearly anti-labour and the COVID-19 pandemic, make any change for the better rather unlikely for the foreseeable future. Hence, the prospect for living wage equalisation appears grim.

Parting from the implications carried by the shift from demand-side to supply-side economic policy in Brazil’s current government, it appears to be unlikely that any meaningful progress will be achieved in increasing manufacturing wages and wage rates for the entire economy in real terms. In the best case scenario, wages will keep their current value. All of this is further complicated by the deep recession triggered by the pandemic.

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Textile Sweatshops in the US
Textile Sweatshops in the US
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Living-wage assessment – Table T5: 1996-2018 Real wage-gap rates for fourteen selected economies, in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms, for all employed in manufacturing. *(The base table used for all PPP real-wage gap analysis)

Our 2018 assessment reports divergent outcomes among selected economies that were predominantly the result of a meaningful increase of hourly wages in local currency (or lack of it), exchange rates and changes in their PPP cost of living.

Germany continues to have the best position with an increasing equalisation advantage over the US in real PPP terms in its hourly wage rates, followed by France with a four-point advantage over US wage rates. All other countries continue to record wage gaps vis-à-vis equivalent manufacturing wage rates in the US. Six out of the twelve countries improved their position in 2018 vis-à-vis 2017 by increasing their advantage (Germany and France) or decreasing their wage gaps (Italy, Singapore, South Korea and Australia). Brazil and Mexico remained with the same gap since 2016. Only Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain and Turkey increased their gaps from the previous year. Mexico and Brazil continue reporting the greatest wage gaps.

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2020 Report: Living-wage assessment – New assessment of Mexico's wage rate gap 1996-2018

The staunchly predatory, corrupt and fraudulent governments of Mexico, imposed a policy of wage erosion and containment at an extremely precarious level in manufacturing and all economic sectors, as one of the pillars of their economic policy for nearly 36 years. With the current government, this appears to be changing.

Mexico’s track record since 1996 exposed a deliberate state policy of maintaining modern-slave-work real wages between 1996 and 2015. However, their wage policy appears to have changed in 2017 after the execution of consistent supply-side policies over more than three decades. For the first time the federal minimum wage was increased above inflation in 2017 and 2018. Through a so-called “Independent Recovery Amount”, the minimum wage for 2017 was increased arbitrarily by 9,6%, including 3,9% to offset the estimated CPI inflation rate. The same criterion was applied for 2018, for a total minimum wage increase of 10,4%, including a 3,9% increase to offset CPI inflation. In 2019, Mexico’s new government, vowing to implement a strong minimum wage recovery policy, increased the minimum wage by 16,2%, including a 5% increase to offset inflation and by 20% in 2020, including 5% to account for inflation. This changes appear to have a direct positive impact on manufacturing wages in real terms and on its equalisation with comparative US wages. Between 2015 and 2018 the manufacturing hourly rate in local currency increased 43,6%, and by 18,3% in US dollars after accounting for an erosion of the peso, which allowed the PPP conversion factor for private consumption to drop. The combination of these components allowed the Eq-Idx to gain five points in 2016 and then remain at this level in 2017 and 2018.

After two years, it remains to be seen if the government follows this path or resumes abiding by supply-side criteria. Mexico has the worst wages in Iberian America. We have observed 36 years of a deliberate policy of wage pauperisation that has forced a huge population to join the ranks of the precariat. While minimum wage policy appears to be moving on the right track, there are many instances of public matter with the government clearly siding with the interest of capital and not with the people. If, at the end, the labour’s share of income does not improve steadily and shows a marked increase by the end of 2024, we would have to conclude that the only goal of the government was to mitigate the worst characteristics of exploitation and not to change the structures that sustain them.

On the other hand, if the government complies with its campaign promises, it will take decades to both achieve a living-wage ethos and to close the gap with equivalent wages in the manufacturing sector, under the equal pay principle. At the very least, it will take five six-year terms to fulfil this expectation under the presumption that the current government sets the path and materialises the progress that can be achieved by 2024, as illustrated in our projections.

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2020 Report: Living-wage assessment – New assessment of Spain's wage rate gap 1996-2018

In 2018 Spain widened the gap of its equalisation index (Eq-Idx) after a meaningful four-point gain in 2017. The increase in its gap was largely the result of the combined effect of a drop of its hourly rate in euros and a meaningful increase of its cost of living in purchasing power parity terms, with the latter being in turn a consequence of the revaluation of the euro for the most part, since consumer prices increased less than two percent.

Since Spain joined the €uro area, hourly manufacturing wage rates generally performed better than the minimum wage, with rates consistently moving above CPI inflation, whilst the minimum wage increased at lower rates and lost value in real terms between 2001 and 2004. It was only until 2017 and 2018 that the minimum wage outperformed manufacturing wages in real terms relative to CPI inflation, ending 16% above the CPI versus only 9% for the manufacturing hourly rate. Undoubtedly, Spain’s minimum wage will greatly outperform manufacturing wages in 2019 and 2020. We will see to what extent manufacturing wages are influenced by the pressure exerted by the increases to the minimum wage when the hourly manufacturing rates become available. The government has pledged to push for powerful increases to the minimum wage in the next three years for a total increase of 26% by 2023. Yet mounting opposition from employers already forced them to increase the rate in 2020 at half of what they pretended. According to the government, the 2019 minimum wage of Spain was still below the average for the rest of Europe at 80,6%. For now, inflation has not been impacted whatsoever by the unprecedented minimum wage increase. As for unemployment, it continued to drop in 2019, from 26% in 2013 to 13,8% by the end of 2019. But, as could be expected, by second quarter 2020, it has climbed to 15,3% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Living-wage assessment (1996-2018) twenty-eight European economies.

For the 28 European economies in our reports, far more economies increased their Eq-Idx with equivalent hourly wages of US workers than experienced a set back in 2018. As in the vast majority of cases
in the 41 economies included in all our reports, our assessment among European economies found divergent outcomes that were predominantly the result of a meaningful increase of hourly wages in local currency (or lack of it), combined by the behaviour of their exchange rates and their cost of living in purchasing power parity terms for private consumption.

The best performers in increasing their Eq-Idx among European economies in 2018 were Estonia (+6), Ireland (+4), Romania (+4) and Slovakia (+4), whilst the major under performers were Switzerland ((-7) and Hungary (-5). All European economies that improved their living wage equalisation index (Eq-Idx) with equivalent US workers, was primarily the result of significant increases of their hourly compensation wage rates in local currencies—vis-à-vis the US hourly wage rate increase of 1,8%— combined with the revaluation of the euro (4,79% or their national currency). This clearly offset their increase in their PPP cost of living and produced increases of their Eq-Id., Conversely, practically all under performers that widened their wage gap with US hourly compensation wage rates, increased their hourly rates in local currency less than the US hourly rate of +1,8% or actually decreased their hourly rate: Croatia (-1,4%), Hungary (-8,1%), Spain (-0,6%), Switzerland (-7,8%) and UK (+0,7%). Lithuania was one exception due to a high increase of its cost of living (+6,7%) despite its hourly rate increase of 2,6%, and Turkey that suffered a steep devaluation of 24,4% that offset its hourly rate increase of 13,2%.

•Among the 16 euro-zone economies, nine increased their Eq-Idx, Austria, Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands and Portugal did not change and Lithuania and Spain widened their living-wage gap. The combination of the same variables described above for all Europe drew similar results in euro-zone countries: (1) a meaningful increase in the hourly compensation wage rate in local currency (averaging 4,5%), combined with (2) the significant revaluation of the euro against the dollar of 4,8%, were sufficient in most cases to offset the increase in their PPP for private consumption cost of living (averaging 4,9%) and the increase of 1,8% of the US hourly wage rate. This resulted in a 9,5% average increase in the hourly rate of the 16 euro economies in US dollars. Some economies experienced extremely strong increases of the hourly rate in local currency. Estonia recorded the strongest increase at 17,8% in local currency —which translated into a 23,5% increase of its hourly rate in US dollars and on its Eq-Idx, equivalent to a six-point gain, from 43 to 49— followed by Slovakia at 16,8% and Ireland at 11,4% in US dollars. Only Spain and Lithuania increased their living wage gaps due to increases of 4,1% and 7,5% in US dollars that were offset by increases of their PPP cost of living of 5,9% and 6,7%, respectively.

•Among the 12 Eastern European economies, including the euro-zone economies of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia, a marked improvement in their Eq-Idx is evident as a continuation of a powerful trend that has been closing the Eq-Idx gap since 1996, with Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia, more than doubling their 1996 Eq-Idx. The best performers in 2018 were Estonia (+6), Romania and Slovakia, with 4 points each, and The Czech Republic and Poland with 3 points each. Overall, performance was very positive for the 12 economies, once again as a result of the combination of the same variables with the same behaviour: (1) a strong increase in the hourly compensation wage rate in local currency (averaging 7,6%), (2) small change in their PPP for private consumption cost of living (averaging 3,7%), (3) a meaningful revaluation of their currencies against the dollar of 2,3%, which resulted in a strong increase of their wage rates in US dollars (averaging 9,8%), enough to offset the 1,8% increase of the US wage rate and thus increase the Eq-Idx for eight of the 12 economies. If we exclude the euro-zone economies in Eastern Europe, the gains are also considerable for Bulgaria (+1), Czech Republic (+3), Poland(+3) and Romania (+4), Conversely, Croatia, Hungary and Turkey lost ground, with Hungary recording the worst performance as the result of the steep drop of its rate in local currency (-8,1%) and increase of PPP (3,4%) and small revaluation of only 2,6%, which resulted in a drop of 6,6% in its US dollar rate and a loss of 5 points in tis Eq-Idx. Turkey recorded a steep devaluation of 24,4% but its hourly rate increase of 13,2% and the drop of 14,4% in the PPP cost of living allow it to lose only one point in its Eq-Idx.

•The United Kingdom lost two points in its Eq-Idx due to little change in its local currency wage rate (0,7%) and an increase of 4,2% of its PPP despite a 3,7% pound revaluation. Surprisingly, Switzerland recorded the worst performance in all of Europe due to a steep drop of its hourly rate in local currency of -7,8% and little change of its exchange and PPP rates, which resulted in a drop of -7,2% of its rate in US dollars and a loss of seven points.

•Scandinavia, including euro zone Finland, recorded a positive performance. Denmark gained three points, followed by Norway and Sweden with +1 in their Eq-Idx, Only Finland recorded no change. It is worth noting that Denmark, Norway and Sweden have Eq-Idx above 100 and only Finland lags with a 92 Eq-Idx.

 

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Living-wage assessment (1996-2018) eight Asia and Oceania economies.

In 2018 Australia, Singapore, South Korea and New Zealand improved their equalisation index (Eq-Idx) in manufacturing, Japan recorded no change and China and India
experienced slight set backs. All gains are largely the result of increases of their hour wage rates in local currency in manufacturing, combined with currency devaluations or decreases in their PPP cost of living for private consumption. Conversely, set backs are, for the most part, the result of decreases in the hourly wage rates in local currency.

•In 2018, Australia recorded the best performance of its Eq-Idx among all 41 economies in our reports by increasing it nine points to a 90 Eq-Idx, which is equal to its best position previously achieved in 2014. This was the result of a strong increase (6,6%) of its hourly rate in local currency and a 2,5% currency devaluation, which contributed to a drop of its PPP cost of living of 2,9%.

•Singapore also recorded a strong performance with a six-point gain as the result of an increase of its hourly wage rate in local currency of 6,6%, a revaluation of its currency of 2,4% and minimal increase of only 0,4% of its PPP cost of living. In this way, Singapore clearly outperformed the 1,8% increase of the US hourly rate in manufacturing and thus increased its equalisation by six points to an 89 Eq-Idx, its best position ever and the second best performance after Australia in 2018.

•South Korea followed with a similar behaviour of the key indicators, gaining three points to a 72 Eq-Idx due to a 5,9% increase of its hourly rate in local currency and a 2,7% revaluation of its currency, which was enough to offset the 2,8% increase of its PPP cost of living.

•New Zealand gained one point in its Eq-Idx (56) due to a 1,8% increase of its hourly rate in local currency, a currency devaluation 2,6% and a drop of 3,5% of its cost of living.

•Japan experienced no change in its Eq-Idx (65) due to a PPP increase of 1,3%, little increase of its hourly wage rate in local currency (0,9%) and a currency revaluation of 1,6%.

•India recorded a one-point loss in its meagre Eq-Idx (14) due to a drop of its hourly wage rate in local currency of 1,7%. India recorded a meaningful currency devaluation of 4,8% and a 2,5% drop of its PPP cost of living, but they were not enough to offset the drop in its hourly wage rate and the 1,8% increase of the US hourly wage rate.

•China also lost one point in its meagre Eq-Idx (18) due to the scant increase of only 1,5% of its hourly wage rate in local currency and a very strong increase of its PPP cost of living of 10,3%, the strongest by far among the 41 economies in our reports.

•As for the Philippines, it has not reported yet an update to its “Compilation of Industry Statistics on Labour and Employment”.

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Living-wage assessment (1996-2018) – the four largest economies in the Americas (Canada, Brazil, Mexico and Argentina).

2018 in the Americas exhibits a clear set back or a stagnation in living-wage equalisation for the four economies in this assessment, with a dramatic loss for Argentina, also a loss for Canada and no
change for Brazil and Mexico in their equalisation indices (Eq-Idx) with comparable US hourly rates in manufacturing.

Canada lost a very meaningful three points in its Eq-Idx drop as the direct result of a rare drop of its hourly rate in manufacturing in local currency, with minimal change in its PPP cost of living and exchange rate. This puts Canada at an 82 Eq-Idx, which is one of the lowest positions recorded since 1996.

•Argentina has experienced a gradual erosion of its Eq-Idx as the direct result of incontrolable high inflation rates since 2008. This erosion began to deepen with the Macri government. In 2017, there was a slight recovery, just before the supply-side staunchly neoliberal economic policies of the, at the time, new government began to dramatically reverse the gains in real wages and labour’s share of income delivered by the previous governments. Contrary to its vow to reduce inflation, which averaged 25,6% in the previous government, the policies of Macri´s government averaged 41,4% in CPI inflation during its four years (2016-2019) and the Argentine peso devalued by 81%. Hence, as expected, in 2018 Argentina’s equalisation index collapsed by dropping 8 points, equivalent to a loss of 16%, the worst performance by far among the 41 economies included in our reports. A new economic crisis exploded closely resembling the 2002 collapse, and all wages have dropped dramatically. In 2018 the minimum wage increased 12,9% but inflation reached 47,8%. In 2018, manufacturing hourly rates increased 26,1% in pesos, but the 41% devaluation produced a drop of 25,7% of its hourly rate in US dollars. Thus, despite a drop of 13% in its PPP cost of living, Argentina’s equalisation index recorded a very steep drop and in 2019 will drop even more, as inflation and devaluation rates became even worse, at 54% and 42% respectively. This will take Argentina back to conditions reminiscent of its previous crisis of 2002-2004.

•After Brazil widened its manufacturing wage gap in 2014 and 2016, due to the devaluation of its currency since 2010 under a sustained recession, it managed to keep its Eq-Idx stable in 2017 and 2018, despite the fact that the neoliberal government of Michele Temer passed a law that put a freeze on public spending effectively ending compliance with the minimum wage appreciation law. Minimum wage policy serves as an indicator for all other wages and directly influences manufacturing wages. End of year inflation rates for 2015, 2016 and 2017, added up to 21%, but manufacturing hourly rates in local currency increased only 15,9% during the 2016-2018 period, As for exchange rates, Brazil’s real has managed to experience a minimal loss of only 4,5% during the same period. This has allowed Brazil’s manufacturing Eq-Idx to suffer a minimal erosion, from 32,2 to 31,6 for the same period, given that Brazil’s cost of living in PPP terms dropped 11,6% in 2018. However, Brazil’s Real lost 7,4% in 2019 and has lost 29,2% in 2020 up to the end of August. Thus the combination of Brazil’s increase in currency erosion and Bolsonaro’s reckless deepening of the anti-labour policies initiated by the Temer government, is bound to widen Brazil’s manufacturing hourly wage rates gap, in real terms, with comparable rates in the US in 2019 and 2020.

•After more than three decades of deliberate state policies to impose modern-slave-work wages, Mexico appears to be gradually reversing such policies. This has resulted in the increase of the minimum wage in real terms beginning in 2017 and 2018 with the previous government, a directive that has been reinforced in 2019 and 2020 with the present government. In 2016, Mexico’s Eq-Idx jumped to an unprecedented level of 24, an increase of 21,2% from 2015, as the result of the combination of a 15,1% currency devaluation, a low inflation (2,7%) and a nominal increase in pesos of 27,7%, which resulted in an increase of 8,4% in US dollars despite Mexico’s peso erosion. As for 2017 and 2018, the hourly rate has increased only 5,7% and 6,4% in nominal terms, somewhat above inflation rates of 2,8% and 6% respectively, resulting in a slight increase in its Eq-Idx from 23,6 in 2017 to 24,1 in 2018. It seams clear that, as expected, the government’s demand-side minimum wage policy is gradually pushing wages up in manufacturing and all sectors. 2019 should show this more clearly for the minimum wage increased 16,1%, inflation 3,6%, the peso only slid 0,1% and the US hourly rate in manufacturing increased only 0,8%, which should increase the manufacturing Eq-Idx at least one point.




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Wellbeing Matters — Tacling growth dependency

An economy that works

Economists have known for more than eighty years that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is not a good measure of social progress. Numerous attempts have been made to establish alternative indicators of progress. Recently, there have been several policy initiatives to articulate a different kind of economy in which the pursuit of wellbeing takes precedence over the pursuit of growth in GDP.

For the most part, UK policy still proceeds as though growth in GDP is the most important determinant of political and economic success. In the context of declining growth rates across the advanced economies and the need to tackle urgent challenges such as climate change, biodiversity lossand social inequality, this strategy is at best short-sighted and at worst disastrous both for societal wellbeing and for long-term sustainability.

This policy briefing highlights some alternatives to the conventional approach. It presents a three-fold strategy for moving beyond GDP by: changing the way we measure success; building a consistent policy framework for a ‘wellbeing economy’; and addressing the ‘growth dependency’ of the economy.

These strategies are exemplified through various initiatives from around the world which are described in the briefing. The APPG on Limits to Growth seeks to bring these developments o the attention of Parliament and to encourage similar initiatives for the UK. In particular, this briefing recommends:

➡ a determined effort to develop new measures of societal wellbeing and sustainable prosperity;

➡ the full integration of these measures into central and local government decision-making processes;

➡ the alignment of regulatory, fiscal and monetary policy with the aims of achieving a sustainable and inclusive wellbeing economy;

➡ the establishment of a formal inquiry into reducing the ‘growth dependency’ of the UK economy;

➡ the development of a long-term, precautionary ‘post-growth’ strategy for the UK.

In this briefing note, we propose three strategies in response to this dilemma. The first is to integrate better indicators of prosperity into policy. The second is to use these new measures to move society away from an economy defined by the limitations of GDP and towards a ‘wellbeing economy’. The third is to address and reduce the ‘growth dependency’ of the economy. The aim of this briefing is to describe these three strategies in more detail.

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(Un)witting Servitude and Minds Manipulation

Despite the profound crisis of the capitalist system, which is now more evident than ever in all aspects of social and individual life, there is no organised anti-establishment reaction from the majorities nor a rigorous and coherent discourse. A messenger, without populist or opportunistic concessions of a revolutionary ideal, is conspicuously absent. The collapse of real socialism and the fictitious and corrupt “socialism of the 21st century” have also contributed to a conditioned rejection of the idea of a socialist transformation of society.

With this combination of circumstances, and on the basis of the almost absolute control of the instruments and means of production and communication, the latter with a practically unlimited capacity for the manipulation of minds, the dominant system is winning the battle. We hope that, sooner rather than later, this balance of power, which is disastrous for the future of humanity, will radically change.

The ideas of the ruling class are the dominant ideas in every epoch; or the class which exercises the dominant material power in society is at the same time its dominant spiritual power. The class which has at its disposal the means of material production has at the same time at its disposal the means of spiritual production, so the ideas of those who lack the means of spiritual production are at the same time, on the average, subjected to it. (Marx and Engels, German Ideology, 1846. On the Production of Consciousness).

This was first described by the Roman poet and writer Juvenal 2000 years ago in his Satires when he coined the expression “Bread and Circus”, where he attributes the apathy of the Roman people in the face of the abuses of power to the fact that power hands out food and organises grandiose spectacles. As long as the people have enough to eat (from time to time) and have fun, power can do what it pleases. Juvenal’s vision of the relationship between power and people has strengthened a lot since then: the means used by power to manipulate minds are now very sophisticated. And the “bread” that the people receive today—relative to the exponential growth of different basic needs (food, health, housing, education, healthy environment, etc.)—is proportionally less today than in the time of the Roman Empire.
 

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2021!
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Democracy, Condorcetism and Popular Participation

an innovative institutional structure

The rightful preamble is that since I am Italian and a simple observer of the surrounding reality, this short essay on democracy takes up and integrates a text conceived and written in 2016 for Italy, to which it also refers. However, I believe that democracy is a universal concept: although the context is Italian, the proposal transcends its boundaries. And the one outlined here is an operational proposal. In this sense, with due correlation, it may contain universally valid ideas. It can certainly be the blueprint for the institutional set-up of a new society. For me, therefore, it is the institutional set-up to go with the new philoponic society.1

A great political legacy runs through the history of humankind: democracy. From the ancestral nucleus of the Indo-Europeans and through Pericles’ Athens, which became its hallmark, democracy appears as a founding concept of society. But what is democracy? Or rather, what democracy?

The two great contenders today are the concepts of representative democracy and direct democracy.2 And it is important to discuss highly technical aspects such as the form of democracy because the shift to the Anthropocene has a new form of society as its only way out. And while the discussion about the new society involves mainly social, environmental and economic aspects, the political aspect is also important.

Parting from the fact that the Anthropocene has pushed us beyond the limits of Mother Earth’s resilience, it is urgent to impose strict rules in order to curb the overflowing anthropic impact that is leading us towards an unknown that appears, alas, sadly known to us.

It is in this context—the imposition of insuperable limits—that politics becomes fundamental. At first glance, the most appropriate political form to impose strict rules is certainly not a democracy; any form that allows for a more centralised power - from the direct election of the ‘leader’ to dictatorship, and the various other attributes of ‘-cracy’ - is easier than true democracy proper.

My conviction, however, is that the new society must be established by deliberation, not by imposition. In this sense, it is democracy that these pages will deal with; trying also to overcome the dispute between representative and direct democracy. I advocate for the proportional system,3 considering it the maximum representation of elective democracy.

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The Preemptive Counterrevolution and the Rise of the Far Right in Brazil

Finally, the scum of bourgeois society forms the holy phalanx of order and the hero Crapulinski installs himself in the Tuileries as the “saviour of society.

—Karl Marx

In 1964, after a period of intense capitalist development that significantly expanded the process of industrialisation, Brazil suffered a lasting political trauma. Politically unable to ensure their interests within the demarcations of bourgeois democracy, the ruling class turned to manu militari. A military coup was set and the dictatorship lasted until 1985.

In 1989, the first direct presidential election took place since the end of the dictatorship. At the beginning of the 1990s, neoliberalism effectively began to be introduced in Brazil with the electoral victory of Collor de Mello (1990–92), a sort of unqualified civilian semi-bonaparte. Its main consequences—which, it should be noted, occur in all countries in which this nefarious pragmatic ideology is installed—were: the increased hegemony of financial capital, the rise in profits and gains for capital, the significant expansion of privatisation of state-owned companies, and the near total dismantling of workers’ rights and regulations. All of this resulted in a significant increase in the concentration of wealth in the country, especially during the presidency of Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1994–2002), since Collor was impeached in 1992.

In the 1990s, Brazil lived through a process I have called neoliberal desertification. Its state-owned productive sectors were heavily privatised, workers’ rights legislation was gradually deregulated, and the financial sector was monopolised, enormously expanding the hegemony of Cardoso’s government in the steering of economic policies. Not only was anticapitalist opposition gradually deconstructed, but so was reformism (which had emerged especially during João Goulart’s government between 1961 and 1964), which had been defending agricultural, urban, and tax reforms that were eliminated, little by little, from the Brazilian political scene. In this way, neoliberalism was consolidated in Cardoso’s two terms.

In 2002, all signs pointed toward Brazil changing its path. But when the Workers’ Party (PT) won the presidency in 2002, electing its main metalworker-union leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (“Lula”), it was no longer the party it had once been. Transformism, a concept richly developed by Antonio Gramsci in The Prison Notebooks, had already hit what had been the strongest feature of the party: its popular and working-class social origins This complex mutation was the founding cause of the policies developed by the PT during the governments of Lula (2003–11) and Dilma Rousseff, known simply as Dilma (2011–16). But at their root, their actions were characterised much more by continuation, rather than rupture, with neoliberalism.

Almost thirty years later, Jair Bolsonaro took on the role of supposed underdog and, in the face of the collapse of the other center and right-wing bourgeois candidates, became the only one capable of countering the risk of the “PT and the reds’ victory. His bid for the presidency found its ideal moment in the international scenery: Trump in the United States, Brexit in the United Kingdom, neo-Nazism in Germany, Viktor Orbán in Hungary, and Matteo Salvini, the all-powerful neofascist minister, in Italy. The list of aberrations perpetuated by the right around the world is extensive. We are then entering a new cycle of counterrevolution that refuses any form of conciliation. As a metaphor, it can be said that platform capitalism, the capitalism of the digital, information, and financial era, has some similarities with early forms of capitalism. There seems to be something in common between the capitalism of the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, and the capitalism of the twenty-first century.

Will the left be capable of radically altering the political course it is currently on, which is mostly relegated to institutions and elections? If, throughout the twentieth century, the epicentre of the left’s actions was institutional and parliamentary action, the biggest challenge in this period will be found elsewhere, somewhere different from that which has dominated and exhausted the left until now. It is imperative to reforge the organic ties between the labor and social movements, with their mosaic of multiple tools and without previous hierarchical structures, taking as a starting point the concrete actions of the working class. If we are on the side of reason and revolution,an indispensable beginning is to ascertain, in a Lukácsian way, what are the vital questions of our time if we want to walk together, in solidarity, toward a new, emancipated way of life.

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The Post-Growth Challenge

Secular Stagnation, Inequality and the Limits to Growth

Critics have long questioned the feasibility (and desirability) of exponential growth on a finite planet. More recently, mainstream economists have begun to suggest some ‘secular’ limits to growth. Sluggish recovery in the wake of the financial crisis has revived discussion of a ‘secular stagnation’ in advanced economies, in particular. Declining growth rates have in their turn been identified as instrumental in increased inequality and the rise of political populism.

This paper explores these emerging arguments paying a particular attention to the dynamics of secular stagnation. It explores the underlying phenomenon of declining labour productivity growth and unpacks the close relationships between productivity growth, the wage rate and social inequality. It also points to the historical congruence (and potential causal links) between declining productivity growth and resource bottlenecks. Contrary to some mainstream views, this paper finds no inevitability in the rising inequality that has haunted advanced economies in recent decades, suggesting instead that it lies in the pursuit of growth at all costs, even in the face of challenging fundamentals. This strategy has hindered technological innovation, reinforced inequality and exacerbated financial instability. At the very least, this paper argues, it is now time for policy to consider seriously the possibility that low growth rates might be ‘the new normal’ and to address carefully the ‘post-growth challenge’ this poses.

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 The Underlying Causes of Immigration
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2020 Report: Living-wage assessment – PPP Wage rate gaps for selected "developed and emerging" economies for all employed in manufacturing workers (1996 up to 2018).

Our 2018 assessment reports divergent outcomes among selected economies that were predominantly the result of a meaningful increase of hourly wages in local currency (or lack of it), exchange rates and changes in their PPP cost of living. Six economies improved their position, four lost ground and four did not change. France, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Singapore and Australia improved their equalisation index (Eq-Idx). Canada, United Kingdom, Spain and Turkey lost ground compared to their 2017 position, whilst Brazil, Mexico, Japan and South Africa experienced no change.

Among the six economies that improved their living-wage equalisation position, the main factors were the substantial increase of their hourly rates in local currency combined with a revaluation of their currency or a decrease in their cost of living in PPP terms for private consumption. In the case of the three euro-area countries (France, Germany and Italy), it was specifically the combination of the increase of their hourly wage rates with a revaluation of the euro. This allowed France, Italy and Germany to increase their equalisation Eq-Idx. This combination served to offset their increase of their PPP cost of living, and increased their advantage over the increase of the US hourly rates in real terms. A similar behaviour took place in the case of Singapore and South Korea. In this way, they clearly outperformed the increase of the US hourly rate in manufacturing and thus increased their equalisation Eq-Idx In fact, Singapore’s Eq-Idx is its best recorded since 1996. Australia, in contrast, devalued its currency, but it achieved the highest improvement of its equalisation Eq-Idx among all 41 economies in our reports, which is equal to its best position previously achieved in 2014. This was the result of a strong increase of its hourly rate in local currency and a currency devaluation, which contributed to a drop of its PPP cost of living.

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Marx’s Open-ended Critique

Two hundred years after Marx’s birth, the real struggle is only just beginning...

Two hundred years after Karl Marx’s birth, the influence of his critique of capital is now as great as ever, in the context of what has been called the “Marx revival.” For those who believed that Marxism had simply died out with the fall of the Berlin Wall, a casualty of what Francis Fukuyama pronounced “the end of history,” this is no doubt a startling development. In 1942, during what he dubbed the “Marxian revival” of his own day, the great conservative economist Joseph Schumpeter wrote that

Most of the creations of the intellect or fancy pass away for good after a time that varies between an after-dinner hour and a generation. Some, however, do not. They suffer eclipses but they come back again, and they come back not as unrecognisable elements of a cultural inheritance, but in their individual garb and with their personal scars which people may see and touch. These we may well call the great ones—it is no disadvantage of this definition that it links greatness to vitality. Taken in this sense, this is undoubtedly the word to apply to the message of Marx.

I will argue that the “greatness” and “vitality” of Marxian social science that Schumpeter notes derives primarily from its inner logic as a form of open-ended scientific inquiry. Against attempts in the dominant ideology to characterise Marx as a rigid, dogmatic, deterministic, and closed thinker, it is precisely the open-endedness of his “ruthless criticism of all that exists”—an open-endedness inherently denied to liberal theory itself—that accounts for historical materialism’s staying power. This openness can be seen in the Marxism’s ability constantly to reinvent itself by expanding its empirical as well as theoretical content, so as to embrace ever larger aspects of historical reality in an increasingly interconnected world.6

This open-endedness of historical materialism has long been understood by the most critical thinkers—Marxists and non-Marxists alike—and has been the basis for extensions of its dialectical vision made by such revolutionary thinkers as V. I. Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, Antonio Gramsci, and Che Guevara. However, in the last few decades, the work of the Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe (MEGA) project, dedicated to publishing Marx and Frederick Engels’s complete manuscripts, has further impressed on scholars the lack of any final closure in Marx’s thought.7 The MEGA initiative has highlighted as never before the inherent incompleteness of Marx’s critique of political economy—a result not only of the inability of any single person to bring such a vast project to completion, but also of the project’s materialist-scientific character, which required unending historical and empirical research that could not be foreshortened by the imposition of suprahistorical abstractions.

 

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2021!
Castellano The Underlying Causes of Immigration