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UK Politics and Global Capitalism

Bob Jessop

British Marxist Bob Jessop on David Cameron, New Labour, and the best way to take on global capitalism.

British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks at a rally in May 2010. Conservatives / Flickr

Interview by
Jerko Bakotin

As Britain’s recently reelected Conservative government prepares to pass £12 billion in welfare cuts, under the ruse of a “stability” budget, the Labour Party is looking to fill the spot at the top of the party leadership, while at the same time conducting an inquiry into the reasons for the election failure.

Jacobin recently sat down with Marxist economist and sociologist Bob Jessop to better understand the long-term tendencies and ideological narratives inside the main UK parties, tracing the history and relationship between the concepts of “New Labour,” “one-nation,” and “Thatcherism.” Jessop also discussed the possibilities for the reinvention of the Left in Britain — inside or outside the Labour Party.

Famous for his contributions to state theory as well as research into varieties of contemporary capitalism, Jessop also talked about the strategy the Left should apply when world capital is on the offensive and the role of nation-states is shifting.

He was interviewed for Jacobin by Jerko Bakotin, a journalist based in Berlin.


JB

Judging by the previous Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition, what is to be expected from the new Tory government — public-sector cuts and an even more radical deregulation?

BJ

There are several policies that they would have liked to have implemented in the first government but could not do so because of opposition from their Liberal Democrat coalition partners.

There is much talk about the massive austerity imposed by the outgoing coalition, but the cuts were nowhere as great as the Conservatives would have liked — although it did establish the debt narrative. Now, given the commitment to a balanced budget in five years’ time, many more cuts will have to be introduced, most probably in the early years of the new government so that the electoral cycle can be primed for a third Conservative victory at the next general election.

You may expect to see them try to emasculate the BBC as the one remaining major national institution that has a constitutional commitment to even-handedness in public debate. There will also be further attempts to restrict the freedom of teaching and learning of university scholars and students.

There will be further measures to privatize the National Health Service, particularly if they manage to introduce the TTIP and TiSA (the Trade in Services Agreement), which will open the doors for more American companies entering service markets. And there will be further moves to cut welfare expenditure on those in work even as the Conservatives protect pensions and pensioners — who are much more likely to vote and, more importantly, to vote Conservative.

So, if they want to save £26 billion as announced, they must attack the benefits for those in work. They will restrict the welfare benefits that a single family can receive to £23,000 instead of the current £26,000; they will continue to cap housing benefits, which will force welfare recipients to move from expensive areas in London to cheaper areas, and from London in general to other cities.

Indeed, some London local authorities are subsidizing moves elsewhere in order to reduce housing benefit payments and recover public housing for occupants who need smaller benefits or for privatization. This measure may help to resolve the housing crisis for aspirant middle classes, because more houses will become available. There are also vote-catching but economically irrational proposals to enable those who live in subsidized social housing to purchase their homes below the market price — without guarantees of replacing them.

More generally, but building on such initiatives, they will try to push, wherever possible, spending reductions into laws in order entrench them — the most obvious example is the proposed legislation to require governments to balance their budgets so that, at the next election, an opposition party that proposes to repeal a given law will be asked where it will find the money for this. Some acts of legislation are very much politically motivated in order to entrench conservative-neoliberal logic.

JB

How do you explain the Conservatives’ triumph in British elections?

BJ

We should not read this as a story of the fantastic success of the Conservatives, other than tactically, but as a very specific party-political conjuncture in which other parties did more or less badly. In terms of popular votes cast, let alone in terms of the total level of support in the country, it is not a particularly good result. Instead it is an artifact of our electoral system and the self-destruction of other parties.

What Conservatives did successfully was to focus on winning marginal Labour seats, which is to be expected, and, more significantly, to deliberately target their former coalition allies, the Liberal Democrats, in the southwest of England to win their seats, marginal or not.

It is impossible to ignore the extent to which mainstream print media are very heavily biased towards the Conservatives and very strongly opposed to the Labour Party, trade unions, the welfare state, and so forth. In consequence, Ed Miliband was trying very hard to counteract that discourse and to prove that he is not “Red Ed,” the nickname given to him by the press.

In addition, the Scottish nationalists achieved an outstanding success, winning all but one seat in Scotland. One result was that Labour lost forty of the forty-one seats it was defending in Scotland, worse than expected, but indicating nonetheless that it would need to try even harder in the rest of the UK.

They more or less held on in the North, but lost the votes of white working-class men, especially those marginalized by deindustrialization who feel that nobody speaks for them and that the Labour party is too metropolitan, too aspirational, and too middle-class — a disaffection on which the UK Independence Party could seek to capitalize.

JB

One of the reasons for Labour’s plummet was the fact that Labour did not attack the coalition narrative — which claimed that the reason for Britain’s public debt is due to the excessive spending of the last Labour government and not to the coalition’s bailout of the banks.

BJ

They did not attack it because they had welcomed the banking boom and profited from it in various ways. For example, if you consider the housing boom, Labour benefitted not just from the property sales tax but also from the economic boost from household expenditure associated with house purchases, rising equity in houses (creating an illusory wealth effect), and the feel-good factor, which fed into electoral support.

It meant that Labour did not need to raise the taxes because they had revenue coming in. Further, they really believed that, instead of investing in national industrial champions, you should promote their champion city, London, as a globally competitive economy.

It was Labour that carried on with the deregulation of the City of London initiated by the Thatcher government. Recent major financial scandals have occurred overwhelmingly in London, even if it is an American, German, French, or Swiss bank at fault, because it is the least regulated international financial center. Indeed, if Labour is to blame for the financial and debt crises, it is because of their deregulation of finance rather than their profligate spending.

JB

How would you describe the ideological positions of David Cameron and the current Tory party? His “Big Society” project has been called a “post-Thatcherite” conservatism inspired by communitarianism.

BJ

Cameron presents himself as a one-nation Tory and compassionate conservative but he is actually a Thatcherite with a one-nation face. Blair was a Thatcherite with a Christian socialist face. Cameron’s Big Society came to absolutely nothing — it failed where it was tried and has been exposed as an excuse to give some of his friends contracts to organize Big Society initiatives in a more or less corrupt and ineffective way.

As more and more people must take two jobs to survive on low wages and reduced benefits, or to pay for housing and fund childcare, they have no time to commit to Big Society activities. Compassionate conservatism sounds nice, but if you look at the policies, nothing has changed.

JB

Cameron’s one-nation Toryism stands in opposition to the ideological beliefs of Thatcher herself, which you once described as dividing the population into two nations — “productive” and “parasitic.”

BJ

Thatcher never described herself as a “two-nation Tory” — that is my reading of the impact of her rhetoric. The term “one-nation” originally comes from Benjamin Disraeli, a future Conservative prime minister, who wrote a novel called Sybil, or the Two Nations that was published in 1845 — in the same year, coincidentally, as Engels’s The Condition of the Working Class in England (published in German, of course).

Disraeli’s theme was the need to overcome the division in England between North and South, industry and farmers, and to relieve the plight of the working classes. In the interwar period, and even more just after the Second World War, when Churchill lost the 1945 general election, the one-nation project became the response of reformist conservatives to counter the appeal of the Labour government.

A party manifesto issued in 1947 committed it to “social democracy and jobs for all” — and this was the Conservative Party. There was a whole series of leftist conservatives committed thereafter to a one-nation strategy — Thatcher called them the “wets” in contrast to the “dries,” who supported her brand of conservative politics.

One-nation has generally been the identity of the left side of whatever the current division within the Conservative Party might be in a given conjuncture in relation to social and economic policy. There are other divisions — pro- and anti-European for example, but the idea of one-nation is to do one’s best to produce social cohesion rather than to exploit divisions. Thatcher was much more adept at finding “internal enemies.”

You will not find David Cameron talking about the “enemy within” as Thatcher did about the unions — he is more concerned with the “enemy without,” like Islamic radicalism and the risks of radicalization of Muslim youth at home, and that is enough to justify many things.

But this does not mean that he will not push forward trade union reforms, weaken the powers of doctors within the National Health Services, and so forth. But this will be justified in the name of modernization and efficiency rather than an enemy within. We need to distinguish among rhetoric, brand differentiation, and what the policy really is.

JB

As you mentioned, Tory press consistently referred to Ed Miliband as “Red Ed.” How much has the Labour in ideological terms really distanced itself from the “Third Way”? Was so-called Blue Labour ever a sincere agenda for the party to return to representing the working class rather than the metropolitan middle classes?

BJ

I don’t think that the Labour Party ever abandoned the Third Way. What really survived were two interpretations of the Third Way: Blairite and Brownite, i.e., supporters of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, respectively.

Interestingly, David Miliband was a Blairite, Ed Miliband was a Brownite. There were many disputes in the Labour Party about who was to blame for the loss of power in 2010 — was it Gordon Brown’s governance of the economy and lame-duck premiership, or Blair’s decision to side with George Bush and invade Iraq?

Blue Labour is an attempt to say, we are the Labour Party after all, and we should represent the working class rather than be the party of the aspirant middle classes. But this current does not take an idealized vision of the working class but refers to the actually existing working class — regarding it as socially conservative and nationalistic in the potential Labour heartlands — at the same time as arguing against neoliberalism and for corporatist arrangements and local democratic socialism.

It rejects the New Labour electoral strategy, which starts from the observation that the industrial working class increasingly does not vote so that it is necessary to chase swing voters by appealing to home-owning middle class and workers who aspire to homeownership. Blue Labour aims to regain lost Labour voters who have supported UKIP or support Conservative social policies or, increasingly, do not vote at all, but also suffer from neoliberal policies and the politics of austerity.

This helps to explain the more radical guild socialist, corporatist, and localist agendas and the alliances with trade unions in the public services rather than the traditional (radically diminished) industrial working class. However, we should not overestimate Blue Labour — it is an alternative position within the Labour Party and a minority position. This will be seen in the list of candidates to replace Ed Miliband as party leader, who are likely to be just to the left or right of the current New Labour center ground.

JB

To what extent did the Labour Party lose working-class voters to UKIP on the Right?

BJ

They lost white working-class men because UKIP is very much appealing to the disenfranchised industrial workers. Particularly if you have a trade or craft background, by the time you get to fifty you are unemployable full-time in these occupations, even in the South.

Women were much more opposed to UKIP because its leader, Nigel Farage, is a very masculine figure and, despite efforts to counter this in candidate selection, the party is also quite macho. It would be very difficult for immigrant workers or second-generation migrants to identify with UKIP because of its xenophobia.

JB

If Labour never distanced itself from New Labour, and even Thatcher allegedly once said that her biggest success was Tony Blair, does that mean that Thatcherism is still hegemonic in British politics?

BJ

Thatcherism is not self-identical. In a book on Thatcherism, titled Thatcherism: A Tale of Two Nations (1988), which I wrote with three friends [Kevin Bonnett, Simon Bromley, and Tom Ling), we argued that Thatcherism passed through different stages.

There was a precursor stage, then it was a social movement, then there was a point of no return when its eventual triumph seemed certain, then there was the electoral victory followed by a transition and struggle to consolidate its hold over government, and, once entrenched, there was a period of radical Thatcherism from 1986 until Mrs Thatcher’s forced resignation over Europe.

When Thatcher stepped down, she was replaced by John Major — who was a consolidator of Thatcherism with some residual one-nation tendencies. You could say that Tony Blair reinvented a more radical Thatcherism. If you were to ask Blair what one of his biggest successes was, he might well say Cameron — as the Blair equivalent in the Conservative party in terms of self-presentation as a compassionate Conservative, but who is actually a hardline neoliberal.

In short, I do not think you could say there is something called “Thatcherism” which is just being there from 1975–76 onwards. There is a core policy set to neoliberalism: liberalization, deregulation, privatization, market proxies in the residual public sector, internationalization, and reducing direct taxes on income and wealth. This is the defining economic policy set, and it establishes the continuity of neoliberalism since Thatcherism and Reaganism came to office in the UK and USA, respectively.

In this sense, it is a trans-Atlantic phenomenon and can also be identified to some extent in Continental Europe, where these policies are sometimes introduced on pragmatic rather than principled grounds. Beyond this basic continuity, the other policies in the UK are much more variable — how do you deal with the welfare state, what are the appropriate levels of public expenditure, how do you deal with the North-South divide, and so forth.

I have no doubts at all that you will see that core set of economic policies continued under the new Conservative government and, indeed, the project requires that they be intensified. The discontinuities will be in more marginal areas where politicians could differentiate themselves from each other.

So different Conservative ministers or their shadows in the Labour Party or Liberal Democrats will have their pet projects. But you won’t find anybody saying, “We do not want more liberalization, deregulation, more market forces,” and so on. As these policies accumulate over time, this amounts to a massive attack on all of the institutions of the postwar settlement, the social-democratic compromise, in favor of financial capital.

JB

So Labour is playing by the same Thatcherite rules?

BJ

That is, in Gramscian terms, the dominant consensus and they have bought into it. In many respects, New Labour was a means to revive Thatcherism, and the Labour Party will probably again take that as the main framework — unless they come up with a very different interpretation of why they lost, a much more radical explanation than I currently expect of them.

I am very interested to see what happens to Labour MPs when they step down — they will take consultancies, non-executive directorships, they will start marketing their expertise in the commercialization of health services, and so forth. None of them will start working for trade unions or grassroots social movements.

The New Labour mindset is very much a metropolitan, neoliberal common sense that is no longer even seen as neoliberal — that is just the way the world is.

JB

How do you see the possibilities for a reinvention of the Left in Britain? Do you see it happening exclusively outside the Labour Party, or it is possible that some inside circles would try to reattach the party to the working masses?

BJ

The electoral base of the Labour Party now is the north of England and London, with little presence elsewhere. In London it is a combination of really marginal workers, public-sector employees, and actual or aspiring “champagne socialists” — the last of these groups being social liberals rather than committed to the old Labour agenda.

I cannot predict what is going to happen with the inquest into why they lost. If they conclude that it was because the party did not represent the aspirational middle classes, nothing will change. If they produce a more radical narrative of the defeat and relate it to losing contact with the working classes, we may see the more traditional Labour Party that adapts old ideas and values to today’s increasingly polarized society, with its politics of competitive austerity for workers and corporate welfare for finance and big capital.

It also depends heavily on whether party leaders and members read the success of the Scottish National Party (SNP) as that of an anti-austerity party and/or a nationalist party. We will see many social movements emerging in the context of austerity policies, and the strongest chance for Labour would be that these movements develop programs in areas such as housing, the environment, the health services, and so forth that offer genuine and potentially popular alternatives to help to shape an emerging Labour Party strategy.

I am much more in favor of the Green Party, but a major problem is that the financial crises completely took climate change off the mainstream political agenda. I think the red-green coalition would work but this requires changes in the first-past-the post electoral system. Without that it is more a question of putting some red blood cells into the Labour Party.

JB

What do you think the results of the internal inquiry will be? What do you make of Jeremy Corbyn’s nomination — does he as an unfailing leftist stand a chance?

BJ

I think if the inquest is thorough then the more radical people stand a chance, but they first have to get on the leadership ballot. If you really want to be a future radical Labour Party leader and you thought strategically, you would try to intervene from the outside to whatever succeeds in this leadership contest.

The Labour Party will struggle to win the next elections for several reasons. The constituencies are going to be reorganized, and Labour will lose twenty seats simply because of that. If the Conservatives play their cards right, especially if they front-load austerity, they will probably win the 2020 election, so you would not want to be the Labour party leader who leads it to defeat in five years’ time.

In narrow realpolitik terms, it would be better to declare in 2020 that “New Labour redux has failed.” Unfortunately, even if the balance of forces does shift, the structural effects of almost forty years of neoliberalism will remain and limit room for maneuver for even a radical Labour Party.

Just two minutes before nominations closed, Jeremy Corbyn, a consistent left-wing politician and MP for Islington was placed on the candidates’ list, thanks to support from some MPs who do not intend to vote for him. They lent their support for this purpose because they thought that a left-wing candidate should be able to participate in the debate. The very fact that he entered the fight thanks to a charitable act by centrist MPs tells us much about the current state of the Labour Party.

JB

How do you read the Scottish National Party’s success, and did Labour definitely lose Scotland?

BJ

It would be a hard thing to read short of doing focus groups and much more. The Left wants SNP success to be seen as based on its anti-austerity platform — I would like to believe that too. For now, however, I have no basis for believing that anti-austerity was more important than nationalism.

The Labour Party never had a strong organization in Scotland. They just relied on the fact that people would never vote for the Conservatives, and if you were a militant, you joined a Scottish communist party. You should also remember that the SNP did not improve its popular vote by much compared with the referendum — but in the general election, opposition votes were divided between the three other parties, making it easier for the SNP to win all but one of the Scottish seats.

I am not sure if Labour has definitely lost Scotland. Scotland actually does not have the resources to deliver many of the promises given by the SNP. If in the end they say, “We cannot pursue our anti-austerity policy because oil income is falling,” that would be a big disappointment and could create an opening for Labour to reassert itself.

This would require a reinvigorated, and locally rooted, Labour Party to win over SNP supporters by promising that it can deliver the anti-austerity policies too and create alliances with English and Welsh voters.

JB

In the article titled “Left Strategy,” you wrote that the current conjuncture is certainly not revolutionary but more like a Gramscian “war of position.” What does that mean for the Left in general — i.e., what would be a correct strategy?

BJ

I follow Gramsci, Poulantzas, and others by trying to periodize the changing conjuncture — is this a period when the bourgeoisie is on the offensive strategically, or is the strategic offensive on the side of labor? If the former, what scope is there for a defensive strategy that relies on offensive tactics?

There are areas where offensive tactics by the Left is possible, for example through mobilization — the Occupy movement is a good example. Many conservatives and neoliberals are beginning to worry aloud about the impact of extreme inequalities of wealth and income as a major threat to social order.

Nonetheless, I think that these are tactical worries and that transnational capital, especially interest-bearing capital, and capital more generally, remain on the offensive — at least in Europe and North America. We have to recognize that it is a defensive moment for the working classes. Defensive does not mean defeatist. What is required is a war of position to prepare for the conditions when it would be possible to go on the offensive strategically, and not just tactically, and to organize policies and programs with this objective in mind.

For me that means that a red-green coalition needs to be built, because what will mobilize people is increasing inequalities in the wealth and income, a growing inability for most people to live a decent life, and the impact on the environment which affects everybody, but particularly poor people.

One needs to prepare for disasters and crises in the near future, which could again be a major financial crisis with global dimensions. My prediction is sometime in 2016. In any case, the situation for capital will not become better but worse, even on a global scale, let alone in the heartlands of neoliberalism. And the environmental crisis is already chronic and will become ever more severe.

This will create the space for international solidarity movements that look beyond Eurocentric or Atlanticist horizons and take seriously the demands of activists from the Global South. The solutions will be based on a redistribution to the least advantaged within a limited and sustainable growth trajectory.

JB

In any case those movements need to be transnational, since the postwar type of state in advanced capitalist economies, which you termed the “Keynesian Welfare National State” no longer exists. It has been replaced, as you also stated in The Future of the Capitalist State by a “Schumpeterian Competition Post-National Regime.”

BJ

The problem with the struggle for rights today is that citizens’ rights and citizenship tend to be associated with the constitution and with the state, which would be fine if the national state remained the major institution in society.

But with growing financialization and the increasing power of transnational capital in an ever more integrated world market, demands should be for rights against financial capital rather than vis-à-vis the national state, because the territorial state is losing its territorial and temporal sovereignty — just think of TTIP, TPP, and, worse yet, TiSA.

When I was writing my book The Future of the Capitalist State, I was thinking in ideal-typical terms and aiming to identify what kind of economic policy and welfare regime would work for a knowledge-based economy. The latter notion still provided the hegemonic economic imaginary at the time. What we actually got was not the knowledge-based economy but finance-dominated accumulation.

So today I would add that an alternative to the Schumpeterian competition workfare regime is a “Ricardian Workfare National State” or, simply, a permanent state of austerity. Like Keynes and Schumpeter, David Ricardo is the emblematic economist being invoked here. He is associated with an interest in the returns to different factors of production and, in terms of the international division of labor, recommended that countries mobilize their cheapest and most abundant factor of production.

This is associated with downward pressure on wages — including the social wage — as a cost of (international) production and, in addition, the abundance of cheap labor in the Global South (especially in China in the 1980s–2000s) was used rhetorically to attack unions, wage costs, and labor rights in the Atlantic Fordist economies.

Thus “Ricardian” could refer nowadays to labor power as a cost of production, wage cuts, pressure on flexible labor power (including zero-hours contracts, hire-and-fire labor markets, etc.), and reducing the social wage (i.e., targeted or general welfare cuts). That is quite different from the Schumpeterian model, which sees a worker as more or less skilled human capital and recommends investment in the education sector as in areas like innovation and cooperative entrepreneurial regions.

In my work in the 1990s, I did not seriously consider the extent to which finance-dominated accumulation could be sustained through bailing out too-big-to-fail financial institutions, quantitative easing, and zero-interest-rate policies — all at the expense of the popular masses. In addition, the rise of the national security state with its pervasive surveillance — as revealed by Edward Snowden, among others — was not as visible or significant as it is now, with all that its growth expands for the decline of liberal democratic institutions.

I had examined the Schumpeterian workfare post-national regime as an ideal-typical, rational and logically feasible solution to the crisis of Atlantic Fordism. Finance-dominated accumulation and permanent austerity was not on my horizon — even though it clearly was for interest-bearing capital and neoliberals.

Although transnational elites might be very international, they want competitive austerity, dividing and ruling national societies through the treadmill of competition and nationalist rhetoric, leading to beggar-thy-neighbor policies. This involves a very different kind of workfare from that I had envisaged and also requires a much stronger authoritarian state.

JB

Contrary to many theories popular in the ’90s that declared the end of the nation-state, it still has a very important place in international order. Has it just changed its role?

BJ

The big problem for those who make such arguments is that they identify the national state or nation-state with the particular form that it took in advanced capitalist economies during the postwar period. Then you had a relatively closed national economy managed by a national state using demand management, taking advantage of rising productivity, and developing the welfare state as the basis for generalizing prosperity in a virtuous circle of mass production and mass consumption.

This kind of state fell into crisis because of internationalization — you could no longer treat the wage primarily as a source of domestic demand, you could no longer see the welfare state as consolidating effectively the broad social-democratic base for the state, and you could no longer treat money as if it was controlled by the national state because it was increasingly created by banks and shadow banks and, when the US went off the gold standard in 1971, flows of international currencies overwhelmed the ability of national states to manage the economy in a Keynesian or indicatively planned manner.

The Keynesian welfare national state was killed by internationalization, but that does not mean that the national state dies too. It means it reinvents itself in order to be able to control the local economy within a much more open society. There is a role for national states, but now in terms of enhancing competitiveness and integration of a national economy in an international economy rather than treating it as a relatively self-contained unit.

There is no such thing as a typical nation state. The US is busy pushing TTIP because it represents above all the interests of transnational and financial capital as class, and not just American capital. Some states are active promoters of transnationalization, and some aim to resist it. Most states are in an ambivalent position — is it better to be on the inside and poor or on the outside and even poorer?

If you are Poulantzasian or Gramscian or a strategic-relational theorist, as I am, then the state cannot have a will of its own. State power is an institutionally mediated condensation of a shifting balance of forces inside and beyond a particular state. The balance between state and the market is tilted, but the state still retains many powers that are exercised more on the behalf of international capital than on the behalf of defending the welfare state.

JB

If the bourgeoisie is on the offensive both strategically and tactically, how do you see the chances of a Syriza government resisting the troika dictate of austerity?

BJ

Quite honestly I think they have almost lost. They have tried very hard, but the other side really played hardball. Also I think they have been relatively inexperienced in terms of strategy and tactics. On the other side I am firmly convinced that nobody wants Grexit. If they were given a breathing space — a lot of Greek debt is actually long-term debt — and if they could use this breathing space to begin to grow their way out of austerity, then they could at least save face and claim partial victory.

At the moment they are in a poker game. The troika does not want to give any concessions, but the actual crunch point is that the troika still does not want Grexit, and it is not in the interest of Greece to have Grexit, so I think both Syriza and the troika will do everything they can to avoid it. Grexit is a technical possibility, but it would have many nasty repercussions — not just economically but also politically and socially, and not just within Greece but in the wider region and beyond.

JB

That is reminiscent of Yanis Varoufakis’s statement — that the present temporary goal should be to save capitalism, because the only ones who would profit from its destruction would be fascists?

BJ

That is right, fascists and speculators, and all of those Greeks who were rich and smart enough to take their money out of the Greek banking system and send it to Switzerland, and then bring it back after devaluation — and make enormous speculative gains.

I read Varoufakis’s The Global Minotaur when it came out. It is an absolutely brilliant and accessible book, and I think he is a very good critical economist. However, I am not sure whether he is a good political tactician. Also the financial institutions and bourgeois media have tried in various ways to undermine his credibility.

JB

On what arguments do you base your prediction that next economic crisis is coming in less than a year?

BJ

Everything that appears to be going well is doing so on the basis of such a massive injection of liquidity without providing any real growth. This is the biggest stimulus package which has ever existed. It was not used as a Keynesian stimulus package, but for buying up toxic debt, and it has even not been able to get 0.5% growth.

Now there is an even bigger debt bubble than in 2007–8, and the banks are even more concentrated than before the crash. If you look at the US stock market, you will see that firms are borrowing money in order to buy their own shares to maintain the prices, and not investing in the real economy. Unemployment is increasing, at least in terms of real jobs rather than pseudo-jobs. The European economy is not really recovering, and there are also difficulties in China.

These three areas amount to 60 percent or more of the world economy — and if each of them is fragile, it is plausible to conclude that we will have a new crisis.