THE NEXT LEFT: The History of a Future by Michael Harrington

THE NEXT LEFT: The History of a Future

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Yet another book from Mr. American Socialist, in which he attempts to lecture American leftists on their opportunities for power following the Reagan era. This is Harrington's 13th book, and one is tempted to make reference to the curse of that number. Suffice it to say that this is the book that Harrington has written 12 times before. Basically, Harrington argues that the nature of economic growth has changed but that Reagan misunderstands why. Harrington sees our present era as having put to rest the dominant trend which has stood behind the economy for the past half-century--what he calls ""Fordism."" No, that's not Gerald, but Henry, whose system of production and higher wages, Harrington (echoing Gramsci), calls a ""programmed capitalism."" Fordism created economic miracles between 1945 and 1975, but was finally killed by stagflation. Reagan et al. blamed this on government intervention ""killing the goose that laid the golden egg."" Harrington disagrees, stating that ""the government is responsible for the crisis because it acted in the interests of capital rather than in the interest of the vast majority of the society."" Reagan succeeded in his first couple of years through a ""Keynesianism by mistake."" But Harrington feels that will also be the prime source of the downfall of his idea. This isn't Harrington's best effort. It often reads as if the reader has smeared butter over his glasses and has to continually doubletake to recapture a thought. His own downfall, though, is in telling his tale in internationalist terms, that gainsays the facts, which are that France, for instance, is only now ready to embark on its own Reagan-style revolution with Mr. Chirac and that Mrs. Thatcher still holds sway for the foreseeable future in Britain. A change in 1988, barring economic catastrophe, is less likely to be ideologically-based than it will be personality-based.

Pub Date: Feb. 20th, 1986
Publisher: Henry Holt