Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Recession benefits from Left perspective

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-03-20

My series on the benefits of a (hopefully long and shallow) Australian recession has so far concentrated on right-wing/capitalist perspectives, but now it’s time to start covering leftist/progressive aspects.

It’s high time that the misplaced trust of barely-regulated capitalism in essential goods and services (including infrastructure) was corrected.  Hopefully, the citizenry will wake up sooner rather than later, and drag politicians ("following" is the "New Leadership") along.

It’s worth considering a recent VoxEU post "Democratising Recessions" (2008-02-28) which has a geographical emphasis implied by it’s subtitle Recessions open a window of opportunity for democratic change in sub-Saharan Africa, but probably has much wider implications.

According to the economic theory of political transitions as developed by Acemoglu and Robinson (2006), economic shocks are one important factor. They show that democratisation becomes more likely after transitory, negative shocks." These shocks give rise to a window of opportunity for citizens to contest power, as the cost of fighting ruling autocratic regimes is relatively low.

For "ruling autocratic regimes" we could read "ruling plutocratic regimes".

Perhaps the current shocks in a world that has abrogated the responsibility to provide for citizens, surrendering them to predators, will promote a backlash against the unwarranted belief in the power of greed to bring good.

Another item of interest in the VoxEU post is the influence of bad weather on democratic progress – which, while again referring to Africa, possibly rings true for the recent federal election here:

Pick the five years with least and most rainfall for each Sub-Saharan African country." It turns out that the five years where rainfall was scarcest were followed by twice as many transitions to democracy as the five years with most rainfall.

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