Kalecki’s “Political Aspects of Full Employment”

In my previous post, it was mentioned in passing that although Kalecki agreed with a “solid majority” of economists that, economically, full employment could be maintained through a government spending program, he argued in his famous 1943 essay, Political Aspects of Full Employment, that political factors would prevent such a policy from being viable under capitalism. He then used this argument to explain what is now known as the ‘political business cycle’. Here, I will just focus on Kalecki’s explanations for political opposition to full employment. Although I don’t necessarily agree with his conclusions on this point, I do think he identifies genuine political obstacles that help to explain resistance to full-employment policies.

In what follows, I provide only a brief outline of Kalecki’s argument along with a few observations. Kalecki’s essay has been frequently cited by critics of the job-guarantee program advocated by leading MMT economists. For this reason, some of the MMTers have responded in considerable depth on the issue. Bill Mitchell, for example, wrote a post back in August last year that explains his position in some detail.

Kalecki observes that capitalists frequently oppose full-employment policies. This is the case even though, as Kalecki’s own analysis of the profit equation shows, budget deficits add positively to aggregate profits. He writes:

The reasons for the opposition of the ‘industrial leaders’ to full employment achieved by government spending may be subdivided into three categories: (i) dislike of government interference in the problem of employment as such; (ii) dislike of the direction of government spending (public investment and subsidizing consumption); (iii) dislike of the social and political changes resulting from the maintenance of full employment. (emphasis in original)

Regarding (i), the capitalist dislike of job creation policies per se, Kalecki notes that in the absence of such policies, output and employment fluctuate with business sentiment and private investment.

This gives the capitalists a powerful indirect control over government policy: everything which may shake the state of confidence must be carefully avoided because it would cause an economic crisis.

In other words, under laissez faire, capitalists can hold government and the rest of society to ransom through their investment decisions. If capitalists dislike the direction things are going – maybe they are not getting their way on tax policy or regulation – they can go on an investment strike. The resulting unemployment will jeopardize the government’s re-election prospects. This threat is no longer credible once responsibility for realizing full employment is taken out of the capitalists’ own hands:

[O]nce the government learns the trick of increasing employment by its own purchases, this powerful controlling device loses its effectiveness.

Therefore, from the perspective of capitalists, such policies need to be discredited:

The social function of the doctrine of ‘sound finance’ is to make the level of employment dependent on the state of confidence.

Regarding (ii), opposition to the direction of government spending, Kalecki argues that capitalists are wary of public investment and loathe subsidies for mass consumption.

Kalecki suggests that capitalists will only tolerate public investment to the extent that it does not compete with private enterprise and threaten profitability. He lists hospitals, schools and highways as examples. He argues that:

[T]he scope for public investment of this type is rather narrow, and there is a danger that the government, in pursuing this policy, may eventually be tempted to nationalize transport or public utilities so as to gain a new sphere of investment.

Of the two claims stated in this passage – “the scope for public investment of this type is rather narrow” and “there is a danger that the government … may … gain a new sphere of investment” – personally I only find the second one convincing. It seems clear that capitalists will resist governments moving into what they consider “their territory”. But I see little basis for asserting that the scope for public investment is narrow, even allowing for a class-interested or ideological decision by government not to encroach on existing private-sector activity. There are all sorts of activities that could be pursued that are not – and are not likely to be – pursued by private enterprise. I think closer to the truth is that capitalists would like to keep the “scope for public investment” narrow and so will oppose attempts by government to broaden social and economic activity on the alleged grounds that there is “no scope” for such public investment.

On this latter point, Kalecki provides what I consider to be an important footnote:

It should be noted here that investment in a nationalized industry can contribute to the solution of the problem of unemployment only if it is undertaken on principles different from those of private enterprise. The government must be satisfied with a lower rate of return than private enterprise, or it must deliberately time its investment so as to mitigate slumps.

This is clearly correct. And this is presumably why capitalists oppose the broadening of economic activity away from what is profitable. They would prefer the government to make additional activities more favorable for capitalists to undertake, through business-friendly policies, corporate welfare, etc., rather than undertake activities itself on terms that are perhaps more favorable to the general population.

However, from the perspective of society as a whole, profitability is frequently not a good basis for determining benefit (or cost). For one thing, profitability of various activities merely reflects the prevailing distribution of income, and this entails inequalities that have no legitimate basis. For another, profitability will be a bad criterion when considering any activity with a public good aspect or involving an externality.

Kalecki turns to the question of whether subsidized consumption, such as family allowances or subsidies for certain goods and services, might be preferred by capitalists. Since workers in aggregate save very little and their consumption expenditure ends up in the hands of the capitalist class as a whole, it might seem that such policies would be viewed more favorably.

In practice, however, this is not the case. Indeed, subsidizing mass consumption is much more violently opposed by these experts than public investment. For here a moral principle of the highest importance is at stake. The fundamentals of capitalist ethics require that ‘you shall earn your bread in sweat’ – unless you happen to have private means.

I doubt the “moral principle” to which Kalecki ironically refers has much to do with anything other than as a propaganda tool along similar lines to “sound finance”. If capitalists thought it was to their benefit, they would hardly be dissuaded by their “moral” scruples. More likely is that subsidizing consumption somewhat weakens the compulsion for workers to sell their labor power to capitalists in exchange for a wage, and if this approach were to be taken much further – e.g. the instituting of a basic income guarantee – this compulsion would be entirely removed.

Kalecki’s most fundamental argument seems to be (iii), which is concerned with the capitalist dislike of the social and political changes brought about by ongoing full employment.

[U]nder a regime of full employment, the ‘sack’ would cease to play its role as a disciplinary measure. The social position of the boss would be undermined, and the self-assurance and class-consciousness of the working class would grow. Strikes for wage increases and improvements in conditions of work would create political tension. It is true that profits would be higher under a regime of full employment than they are on the average under laissez-faire; and even the rise in wage rates resulting from the stronger bargaining power of workers is less likely to reduce profits than to increase prices, and thus adversely affects only the rentier interests. But ‘discipline in the factories’ and ‘political stability’ are more appreciated than profits by business leaders. Their class instinct tells them that lasting full employment is unsound from their point of view, and that unemployment is an integral part of the ‘normal’ capitalist system.

There seems little doubt that capitalists, on the whole, did despise the post-war era of full employment, and worked hard to end it. In an earlier post, I linked to a feature-length documentary (previously discussed at billy blog) that traces the way in which capitalists and capitalist governments in New Zealand deliberately created mass unemployment. The documentary, In a Land of Plenty, traces the quite deliberate and conscious steps that were taken to undermine organized labor, create large-scale unemployment and unleash strong downward pressure on wages. The same process has no doubt occurred in many countries, although New Zealanders seem to have a special talent for neo-liberalism.

Briefly, the strategy involved the following sequence: (i) create mass unemployment through austerity and high interest rates (this was resisted in the earliest worker protests and strikes on the grounds of the right to employment); (ii) argue that the deliberately engineered high unemployment is evidence that wages are excessive and so must be reduced, achieved primarily through the weakening of organized labor (all this based of course on a fallacy of composition); (iii) with wages successfully reduced but unemployment still high, argue that unemployment benefits are too generous relative to wages, creating a disincentive to work (even though the earliest protests were against the lack of jobs); (iv) with jobless benefits cut but unemployment still high, require more draconian eligibility requirements and job search activity tests to increase “job readiness”, etc., with the supposed aim of eradicating unemployment through supply-side measures, but really with the purpose of wearing down benefit recipients to the point of leaving the labor force (relinquishing benefits), provoking them into breaches of their benefit conditions (again causing their benefits to be relinquished), and in extreme cases, knowingly causing mental health problems and suicide (murder, really).

The entire process feeds on itself, with downward pressure on unemployment benefits putting renewed downward pressure on wages (bargaining power of workers is reduced due to the increased cost of losing a job) and none of this helping in the least to eliminate unemployment, the latter being a macroeconomic problem deliberately caused by austerity.

In view of this, I don’t doubt that Kalecki is correct in his identification of various motives for capitalist opposition to full employment. However, just because capitalists don’t like something doesn’t mean we have to let them get their way. There are more of us than them. If we put our collective foot down, we can have full employment, and lots of other stuff as well. Maybe I am just being an optimist, but then, Kalecki was a pessimist, so we’re even.

The point is, what happens is socially contestable, including under capitalism.

At the end of his essay, Kalecki considers the deeper question of whether an ongoing progression towards economic democracy will ultimately undermine capitalism itself. In reflecting on the viability of ongoing full employment under capitalism, he makes the following intriguing remark:

‘Full employment capitalism’ will, of course, have to develop new social and political institutions which will reflect the increased power of the working class. If capitalism can adjust itself to full employment, a fundamental reform will have been incorporated in it. If not, it will show itself an outmoded system which must be scrapped.

This passage seems very insightful in the light of MMT, which does in fact emphasize what I believe to be a “fundamental reform”, even though it has not been widely understood as such: the move, with the breakdown of Bretton Woods, to currency sovereignty in many nations. I have argued here and especially here that flexible exchange-rate fiat currencies open up enormous social possibilities, irrespective of the political persuasion of a given society. A possibility stressed by the leading MMT economists is of course a job guarantee. Equally, there is scope for a basic income guarantee. And many other possibilities could emerge. Much more than under alternative monetary regimes, a flexible exchange-rate fiat currency system is particularly suited to any mix of public/private activity a given society might desire.

Needless to say, the opening up of social possibilities creates both opportunities and dangers. Kalecki’s closing paragraph would still seem timely if written today, given the increasing resort to police-state measures to quell dissent:

But perhaps the fight for full employment may lead to fascism? Perhaps capitalism will adjust itself to full employment in this way? This seems extremely unlikely. Fascism sprang up in Germany against a background of tremendous unemployment, and maintained itself in power through securing full employment while capitalist democracy failed to do so. The fight of the progressive forces for full employment is at the same time a way of preventing the recurrence of fascism. (emphasis in original)

Right now, there is mass unemployment globally. MMT indicates there are many positive ways forward, according to political preference, for those nations with sovereign currencies. There is no reason people who want work should be denied the right to have it. There is no reason for poverty amidst plenty.

Capitalists might not like it. So what?

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10 thoughts on “Kalecki’s “Political Aspects of Full Employment”

  1. “There is no reason people who want work should be denied the right to have it. There is no reason for poverty amidst plenty.

    Capitalists might not like it. So what?”

    It is not a question of “like”. It is a question of the social model of production and fruition of the product that goes much beyond “likes” or “dislikes” to class survival.

    I depart from the following definition of capitalism: a stage of evolution of societies where the employer-employee relationship is prevalent.

    Full employment implies that the terms of fruition of the product would become inexorably more favorable to labor. This, “capital” could dislike but adapt to through accepting smaller returns on capital or “investment”, as the growing product could warrant not diminishing (and even growing) life standards.

    Problem is this is just a first moment. The power law section of the income distribution curve would shrink to a lower power.

    In the second moment, the power law itself would vanish. If labor would not be under the threat of unemployment and prosperity would be generalized…

    …labor could come to the understanding that the employer-employee relationship is not necessary for production to be effected and product distributed (or income to be earned).

    Production organizations can be privately owned by all laborers, jointly assuming costs / liabilities and jointly distributing profits /assets, without wages or salaries, employers or employees needed.

    And, curiously the the transition could go in a unstoppable, peaceful way… Partnership or “peership” would become the prevalent social relationship.

    That being so, one could paraphrase Kalecki as

    “Capitalism will show itself an outmoded system which must be scrapped.”

    And a next stage of social evolution entered…

  2. Thanks for your comment. Very interesting.

    I take your point about it not being a matter of like or dislike, rather a matter of class survival. This doesn’t make the outcome any more predetermined, which was the point I was trying to make in those closing couple of sentences; i.e. that full employment being a threat to the survival of the capitalist class is not a convincing argument against full employment.

    That being so, one could paraphrase Kalecki as

    “Capitalism will show itself an outmoded system which must be scrapped.”

    And a next stage of social evolution entered.

    I do think this is a likely meaning of Kalecki’s essay. In view of that, it is interesting that critics of the job guarantee proposals so often have cited the essay, especially considering the final paragraph in which the fight for full employment is identified as a way of preventing fascism.

  3. Thanks PeterC for another extremely interesting point (and your own comments in it and in reply to PG’s also very good one).

    I’ll have to give it a lot of thought before making further comments, but I’d like to ask you guys a question, related closely to the “power law section of the income distribution curve”:

    Even though during the 1950s and 1960s there wasn’t a full jobs guarantee/income guarantee anywhere in the world, things, even in Anglo-Saxon countries, approached that stage reasonably well: in Australia, for instance, unemployment was under 2% (TWO PERCENT, you read it well!!!), the “power law section of the income distribution curve” did shrink, as PG said; but that situation proved to be short-lived, as in NZ.

    What this means (and maybe I am really pessimistic, like Kalecki seemed to be) is that those changes are reversible. So, if changes could be reversed once, is there any reason to believe those changes could not be reversed again?

    Note also that in the previous question I am making a heroic assumption: that something like MMT and job guarantee/income guarantee could be applied in the not so distant future.

    And that seems like a really heroic assumption to me, right now.

    Good point about fascism, too.

  4. Magpie, I agree with you on both points. First, near full employment was achieved in the immediate post-war period in numerous countries (a notable exception was the US). This was basically achieved by the government implicitly acting as employer of last resort. There was no formal job guarantee, but the government did more or less play the role of employer of last resort.

    Second, I strongly agree that any social gains we make are very much reversible. Capitalists worked hard to undermine the full-employment policies of the immediate post-war period. They also worked hard to undermine the welfare state and other worker-friendly policies. I think hard-won gains will continue to be reversible even in a future socialist society, at least at first. It seems likely that the elites of the previous system will work hard to undermine any social progress that does not suit them.

  5. After some reflection, I think I have some considerations to make about this subject.

    Let’s proceed by steps.

    The first thing is to recognize the empirical fact that employers do oppose full employment in the favourable terms implied by a Job Guarantee (JG, for short); in fact, they oppose much more limited goals, as the US example illustrates.

    In his article, which I just finished reading, Kalecki proposes some explanatory alternative hypotheses to what I call the default explanation: capitalists do not understand what a JG is all about. (Incidentally, in my opinion –and perhaps, judging by his own text, Prof. Mitchell would agree with it– Kalecki is a bit vague and general in his own alternative explanations. But my opinion is not an issue here).

    The next step is Prof. Mitchell’s critique of Kalecki’s explanations.

    A good general point Prof. Mitchell makes is to note that capitalists benefit from a JG (a point Kalecki himself conceded: “Clearly, higher output and employment benefit not only workers but entrepreneurs as well, because the latter’s profits rise”).

    It’s not possible to make full justice to Prof. Mitchell’s argument here. So, I’ll only mention a few of the points he makes: (1) JG workers constitute a threat to private sector workers (thus, avoiding wage increases, benefitting capitalists); (2) after WWII a period of full employment coincided with strong investment and presumably profits (thus, capitalists could benefit from another such period); (3) JG would be offered in areas “neglected or harmed by capitalist growth”, so that there would not be much overlap between JG sector and private sector (thus, JG would not create pressures on private sector industrial relations), etc.

    With these points, intended to dismiss Kalecki’s explanations, Prof. Mitchell demonstrates why capitalists should not oppose a JG. What he does not do is to explain why they actually oppose it.

    So, if we accept Prof. Mitchell’s argument, then Kalecki is wrong, after all. But Prof. Mitchell’s arguments do not advance our understanding about why capitalists oppose a JG.

    Are we then to accept the default explanation: i.e. capitalists do not understand the JG?

    Perhaps the key to Prof. Mitchell’s understanding of this problem lies towards the end of his text:

    “Finally, but looking to the future, those who criticise the Job Guarantee from a Kaleckian viewpoint have to address the issue of binding constraints. Kalecki comes from a traditional Marxian framework where industrial capital and labour face each other in conflict. The goals of capital are antithetical to those of labour. (…)
    “The concept of natural capital, ignored by Kalecki and other Marxians, is now becoming the binding constraint on the functionality and longevity of the system.
    “It doesn’t really matter what the state of distributional conflict is if the biosystem fails to support the continued levels of production. The research agenda for Marxians has to embrace this additional factor – natural capital.”

    Unfortunately, Prof. Mitchell wasn’t explicit in this point and I rather not speculate on what it seems to me he means.

    What do you guys think?

  6. “Are we then to accept the default explanation: i.e. capitalists do not understand the JG?”

    My personal feeling is that the explanation boils down to natural human short-sightedness.

    In other words capitalists would rather have the biggest mud hut on the Savannah, than a fractionally better Lear Jet in an airport full of Lear Jets.

    It’s always seems to be about relative wealth rather than absolute wealth – the biggest slice of the current pie rather than making the pie bigger for everybody.

    “JG would be offered in areas “neglected or harmed by capitalist growth”, so that there would not be much overlap between JG sector and private sector”

    This is where I feel the JG’s weakness is. That requires a ‘wisdom of Solomon’ decision by somebody, and the public sector is a notorious elephant that struggles with the concept of avoiding standing on the ants. Civil servants wouldn’t recognise a start-up business area if it bit them on the backside.

    Why not instead just subsidise all jobs to the same amount – a Universal Pension in other words paid to everybody who works unless exempted by age or infirmity.

  7. Hi Neil,

    “My personal feeling is that the explanation boils down to natural human short-sightedness.”

    That’s certainly a possibility.

    But whatever the reason (inability to understand what a JG is, any of the Kaleckian explanations, or short-sightedness, or a combination of them), the end result is the same: capitalists themselves consider that “the goals of capital are antithetical to those of labour”, to paraphrase Prof. Mitchell.

    I don’t know if you have some background on Marx, but I find it intriguing that MMT seems to offer a way to overcome the basic and radical opposition between proprietors of the means of production and workers, on an strictly technical basis.

    This is what I consider the fundamental weakness of MMT: it overlooks extra economic issues.

    It does however illuminate the workings of modern economies.

  8. Some very interesting points, guys. There are a lot of issues in there. I’ll only touch on a few of them in this comment.

    Magpie wrote:

    This is what I consider the fundamental weakness of MMT: it overlooks extra economic issues.

    The way I see it, MMT is open on socio-political questions. It does not tell us whether capitalists are likely to oppose full employment or why they oppose it. However, it is possible to develop theories on these questions within the framework. For example, I think Marx’s class analysis can be situated within the framework without contradicting MMT, but so can other theoretical approaches. I also think that the MMT economists have tried to anticipate some of these considerations in their design of the JG.

    Prof. Mitchell … [notes] that capitalists benefit from a JG (a point Kalecki himself conceded …).

    Both Mitchell and Kalecki are in agreement on the technical point that budget deficits add to aggregate profits. This is Kalecki’s profit equation. But as Magpie mentions, Mitchell takes issue with Kalecki on the impact of full employment, particularly in his observation that the reserve army of labor will function more effectively for capitalists if it is employed by a JG rather than remaining idle, losing skills and confidence, etc.

    Even here, though, it is interesting to note an element of agreement. Both Mitchell and Kalecki appear to accept (following Marx) that a reserve army of labor is functional for capitalists. The discussion then becomes whether the reserve army is more functional employed or unemployed. And here, strictly speaking, Mitchell and Kalecki are not actually considering the same choice. Kalecki, in his essay, is considering unemployment versus employment in general, whereas Mitchell is discussing unemployment versus JG employment. This makes a difference, and in this sense it may not be completely obvious whether Kalecki would disagree with Mitchell’s analysis.

    In particular, the JG provider does not compete on wages with employers in the regular economy. Kalecki discusses public works and so forth as a way of creating employment, but does not explicitly consider this design feature that is fundamental to the JG proposal of the MMT economists. This is one feature of the JG that makes it more functional to capitalists than full employment in general.

    Even so, there is still the bigger question raised by Kalecki concerning the social and political changes that would likely accompany ongoing full employment, even if through a JG. I don’t know that it is easy to say anything definitive about why capitalists dislike these changes, but many possibilities come to mind.

    To take just one example, there appears to be a strong attempt made by capitalists and capitalist governments to create division within the general population (i.e. divide and conquer). The media plays a strong role in this as well. Maybe capitalists consider it easier to exploit divisions between the employed and unemployed than between the employed and the JG employed. In the former, the unemployed can be demonized as lazy good-for-nothings sponging off hard-working taxpayers, etc. This kind of propaganda is pushed in crass form on high-rating “current affairs” TV programs, for instance. The antagonism this may help to create and maintain between the employed and unemployed then presumably makes it politically easier to cut unemployment benefits and conditions, which in turn makes it easier to cut wages at the lower end of the income scale, which in turn exerts downward pressure on all wages. More generally, I think the idea is to get workers competing against each other. That way, they take pleasure in the misfortune of others not living as comfortably as themselves, rather than recognizing the squalor of their own existence. It always reminds me of this quote:

    You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. (Revelation 3:17)

    Neil wrote:

    “JG would be offered in areas “neglected or harmed by capitalist growth”, so that there would not be much overlap between JG sector and private sector”

    This is where I feel the JG’s weakness is. That requires a ‘wisdom of Solomon’ decision by somebody …

    Why not instead just subsidise all jobs to the same amount – a Universal Pension in other words paid to everybody who works unless exempted by age or infirmity.

    It does seem difficult to understand capitalists’ opposition to subsidized consumption, since under private provision of goods and services this is spending that ends up in the hands of the capitalist class as a whole. As mentioned in my post, I found Kalecki’s reasoning unconvincing on this point. He basically put it down to capitalist “morality”, but didn’t provide much detail. It seemed to be little more than an ironic quip in the essay. Maybe capitalist opposition comes back to the point that the cost of unemployment for the worker is reduced to the extent consumption is subsidized.

    Although I do agree that capitalists dislike government encroaching on any area they consider could be made profitable through business-friendly government policies, I think their bigger fear longer term may be that government policy broadens social horizons in non-materialistic directions. The more people are freed from narrow economic activity (production of stuff for market) and able to engage in non-economic interaction that is not for profit or material gain but rather emotional, intellectual, spiritual or social enrichment in its broadest sense, the more people may get an appetite for this. Capitalists are against this process occurring any faster than it can be commodified. In this respect, capitalist social relations are regressive. They hold back social progress until and unless it can be carried out in a manner profitable to capitalists.

  9. The other huge benefit of a JG or Universal pension is that it instantly sorts the ‘feckless’ from the genuine disadvantaged and allows you to legitimately refuse state support for the ‘feckless’ – since all they need do to get paid is turn up and be ‘ready and willing’ to work.

    It is very difficult to paint somebody as work shy when they present themselves diligently for work every morning.

  10. “The way I see it, MMT is open on socio-political questions. It does not tell us whether capitalists are likely to oppose full employment or why they oppose.”

    That’s true, as well. I remember seeing some time ago (but I don’t remember who wrote it or when) that MMT could be useful even to right-wingers who rush to criticize it, as MMT describes the workings of a fiat money economy without establishing what objectives are desirable: a bit the positive vs normative Friedman distinction.

    As a description of the workings of an economy, MMT is a positive theory.

    However, to promote the JG falls into the normative aspect. It might be very well founded in a technical/positive sense, but this is where the general socio-political feasibility becomes important.

    Note as well that, even if Kalecki wasn’t an orthodox Marxist, his theories broadly appear to point to Marx’s own conclusions: it’s unlikely that capitalists will accept improvements to the situation of the working class (as a JG), even if this improvement is also theoretically beneficial to them.

    And here I’d guess Kalecki and Mitchell would probably disagree.

    “In particular, the JG provider does not compete on wages with employers in the regular economy.”

    That point is well explained in Prof. Mitchell’s article.

    However, JG would create a floor for wages. This may be functional for capitalists as a class, but not necessarily for individual capitalists wishing to lower their wage bills: a version of the Tragedy of the Commons scenario.

    “Even so, there is still the bigger question raised by Kalecki concerning the social and political changes that would likely accompany ongoing full employment, even if through a JG. I don’t know that it is easy to say anything definitive about why capitalists dislike these changes, but many possibilities come to mind.
    “To take just one example, there appears to be a strong attempt made by capitalists and capitalist governments to create division within the general population (i.e. divide and conquer)”

    That’s a very good point. To the employed vs unemployed confrontation, I would add migrant workers vs locals, male vs female and public vs private, as well.

    “It does seem difficult to understand capitalists’ opposition to subsidized consumption, since under private provision of goods and services this is spending that ends up in the hands of the capitalist class as a whole. As mentioned in my post, I found Kalecki’s reasoning unconvincing on this point. He basically put it down to capitalist ‘morality’, but didn’t provide much detail.”

    Here I am not sure I agree. I mean, ideology too could be behind capitalists’ behaviour.

    And I am probably contradicting myself, but it’s hard to distinguish between what’s deliberate distortion and what’s simply a matter of irrationality. At times, it seems like all statements from capitalists are self-serving, dishonest sophistry, deliberately concocted to mislead; at other times, it seems genuine and honest stupidity.

    I think progressives often assume the latter and forget about the former.

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