Pension funds are now huge forces in Anglo-American financial markets. Could they become levers of radical socialization, if their nominal collective ownership were activated from below? Henri Jacot of the French CGT doubts it. Robin Blackburn develops his argument that they might be unexpected sources of social change.
REPLY TO HENRI JACOT
I am grateful to Henri Jacot for his critical reflections on my proposals for pension reform. Pension funds are a form of capitalist property, albeit a rather strange one. It might seem to some socialists that such funds should simply be abolished and that there is therefore something paltry about a mere programme for their reform. I am therefore pleased that Jacot notes the radical nature of the package I recommend. It aims to create a quite new pension fund regime—one entirely distinct from that associated with pension funds as we know them today, whether in the UK, the US, Chile or the Netherlands. In these countries, and a widening circle of imitators, large tax breaks are given to pension funds and professional fund managers, subject to the narrowest commercial objectives, supplant both policy-holders and any wider notion of the public interest.
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Founding editor of NLR, pioneer of Cultural Studies, early analyst of Thatcherism, theorist of Caribbean identities, nuncio of New Times—Robin Blackburn remembers Stuart Hall.
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Alexander Cockburn, 1941–2012
A tribute to Alexander Cockburn—director of CounterPunch, Marxian environmentalist, long-standing editor of New Left Review. Robin Blackburn traces his path from County Cork to Soho, Havana to Manhattan, the Florida Keys to California’s Lost Coast.
Atlantic economies remain mired in unemployment and stagnation three years on from 2008. Diagnosing the underlying causes of the crisis as global over-capacity, deficient demand and anarchic credit creation, Robin Blackburn explores proposals for a genuine exit from it to the left.
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Robin Blackburn on Samuel Moyn, The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History. Demystifying the origins and ideological ascendancy of human-rights discourse.
State of the Union
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In answer, Blackburn explores the paradoxes of fictitious capital, underwritten by super-exploitation of China’s producers. A public-utility credit system, democratic forms of nationalization and mechanisms to socialize investment as steps towards financial dual power.