Lawrence Summers: “Only if the system is preserved can its future be debated”
Few individuals are more apt icons of neoliberalism than Lawrence Summers. In the 90’s he was a chief economist at the World Bank and held senior positions at the Treasury Department. He was Secretary of the Treasury at the turn of the century and was appointed Director of the National Economic Council in 2008 by Barack Obama. Throughout his career he’s been a primary force behind the disastrous right wing “Washington Consensus” policies of, in his words, “privatization, stabilization, and liberalization”. The creed for which he speaks remains the universal religion among the elites who rule this world despite its abject failure for the great majority.
Summers presents us with an article in the FT today that closes with a seemingly profound thought:
“Only if the system is preserved can its future be debated”.
While the specific topic of the article is the European Union, the “system” itself is global capitalism of which the EU is but a part. What can we make of this “system”? A reasonably objective look around would see majorities in the world living in poverty and insecurity, a very small minority running things and living like lords, “middle classes” fearing for their retirements and facing ever declining living standards, high percentages everywhere un / under employed, and a planet facing a dangerous environmental crisis. Meanwhile, war and risks of ever more war remain front and center in our lives. Other than a couple good decades after World War II, crisis has defined the global system since the beginning of the 20th century. And before that. What kind of “system” can this be?
Any sane person should completely reject the statement by Summers as utter foolishness and instead completely reverse it to something like:
Only if the future is debated can we decide if the system should be preserved.