Göran Therborn on Robin Blackburn, Banking on Death. The fate of pensions in the future of capitalism, as political struggles over them escalate in North and South alike.
CAPITAL’S TWILIGHT ZONE
Second only to war, pensions have become the most divisive—and, perhaps, the most decisive—issue of contemporary politics. Massive popular mobilizations on the question during the nineties brought down Silvio Berlusconi’s government in Italy (1994–95) and Alain Juppé’s in France (1995–96). In the summer of 2003, it poses the most direct political challenge to ruling parties of every hue: German Social Democrats, French neo-Gaullists, Austrian Christian Democrats and the newly elected pt in Brazil. Returned to power, Berlusconi is lobbying for a ‘Maastricht del welfare’, a Europe-wide downsizing of public pensions that would have, according to the Corriere della Sera, ‘the same binding force as Maastricht has had for the common currency’. Across the Atlantic, the mayor of Mexico City Andrés Manuel López Obrador is using Latin America’s second oldest (after Cuba) universal pension system—financed, within a pre-given budget framework, through more effective property management and by ‘republican austerity’ cutting bureaucratic perks—as a promising springboard for a possible presidential bid.
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By the same author:
Dynamics of Inequality
Behind the political upsets in the Atlantic world lie far-reaching shifts in the distribution of global wealth. Göran Therborn assesses the path-breaking research of Branko Milanovic on world income trends.
An Age of Progress?
Contradictions of social evolution: climate change, stagnant incomes and social exclusion entwined with rising per capita GDP and lengthening life-spans, challenges to racism and sexism, and a mounting capacity for the human species to take control of its destiny.
What social forces are likely to challenge the supremacy of capital in the coming decades? An assessment of potential bases of resistance—from traditional communities overrun by the global market to factory workers and an expanding yet amorphous middle class.
Class in the 21st Century
From São Paulo to Beijing, a rising middle class has been hailed by liberal commentators as a bulwark for consumption and democracy in the decades ahead. Taking stock of these claims, Göran Therborn offers a magisterial overview of the global class landscape and the still prodigious numerical weight of manual workers within it.
Göran Therborn on Heinsohn, Söhne und Weltmacht. Political demography of the Mid-East youth bulge as threat to Western power.
The dramatic trajectories of Tbilisi, Baku and Yerevan, and differing roles in the present. Göran Therborn tracks the fortunes of Georgia’s capital, seat of monarchs and Mensheviks, through alterations in its physical fabric, setting these alongside the metamorphoses of its Caucasian counterparts.
Göran Therborn offers a panoramic survey of left social theory since the fall of Communism. The vicissitudes of modernity as contested temporal narrative, and the divergent thematic paths—religion, Utopia, class, sexuality, networks, world-systems—that are emerging in the new landscape.
A Liberal Provoked?
Is patriarchy a structure of power in the family or something wider? Is it largely a pre-capitalist phenomenon? What have been the principal forces dissolving it—commodity relations, liberal ideas, or radical political action? Where are negative rates of reproduction in advanced societies likely to lead? A sharp exchange of ideas beween Nicky Hart and Göran Therborn.
Into the 21st Century
States, markets, firms, classes, movements—how are they inter-related and where are they moving in the new century? Göran Therborn offers a panorama of global politics that amounts to a powerful and original alternative to all existing readings of the state of the world.
Göran Therborn on Noel Parker, Revolutions and History, and Fred Halliday, Revolution and World Politics. Two new contributions to the literature on revolution—where does it stand today?