WELFARE CAPITALISM--AND AFTER by Bert Cochran

WELFARE CAPITALISM--AND AFTER

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A postwar growth and stagnation scenario, never mind the title. Using Britain as a case study in a mature capitalist system with a welfare commitment, the French as a case of half-hearted planning, and the US as the site of rapid growth and multinational corporations, Cochran (Labor and Communism) paints an unexceptional picture of the limits of capitalist development. The British Labour Party intended nothing but ""lemon socialism"" since only the moribund, outdated sectors and industries were nationalized. British postwar economic growth was not bad, considering the age of its production facilities, the archaic thinking of its industrial managers, etc.; but the commitment to capitalist profits meant that when funding for the welfare system became a problem, wage-earners were bound to bear the brunt, leading to political turmoil and inequity. The French, meanwhile, approached postwar planning with technocratic zeal but with a similar commitment to the system. The vaunted method of indicative planning was in reality a method of channeling investment into high-profit sectors (not a way to allocate resources for balanced development). What both these countries, and the US, have in common is a preference for short-term domestic solutions and a de facto commitment to beggar-thy-neighbor international policies. Multinational corporations, sometimes seen as mitigating factors, are shown by Cochran to be, for the most part, US corporations whose investment policies have contributed to the stagnation of US industrial technology, if not to domestic joblessness. (Cochran is noncommital on that one, though he's sure multinationals have created joblessness somewhere.) Speculating on the future, Cochran loses his international focus--and his solid footing. Planning will somehow become democratic (drawing on the Yugoslav experience, taking heed from the Soviet one); multinationals will not be eliminated but tamed. All this and more will contribute to an environment of negotiation and debate in which all interests are considered and the economy is planned accordingly. In terms of a theme or a thesis, negligible; otherwise, a decent review of British postwar economic development, with useful sketches of French planning and multinationals.

Pub Date: Jan. 2nd, 1983
Publisher: Schocken