29 may 2018

Ya llega! 21 de junio

El Roto explica a El Roto

Hay pocos genios, él es uno
Tres minutos con El Roto, acá

26 may 2018

Lo personal es político

Texto de Carol Hanisch, que dio origen a la frase (y explicación de la autora, acá)

The Personal Is Political

by Carol Hanisch
February, 1969
For this paper I want to stick pretty close to an aspect of the Left debate commonly talked about—namely “therapy” vs. “therapy and politics.” Another name for it is “personal” vs. “political” and it has other names, I suspect, as it has developed across the country. I haven’t gotten over to visit the New Orleans group yet, but I have been participating in groups in New York and Gainesville for more than a year. Both of these groups have been called “therapy” and “personal” groups by women who consider themselves “more political.” So I must speak about so-called therapy groups from my own experience.
The very word “therapy” is obviously a misnomer if carried to its logical conclusion. Therapy assumes that someone is sick and that there is a cure, e.g., a personal solution. I am greatly offended that I or any other woman is thought to need therapy in the first place. Women are messed over, not messed up! We need to change the objective conditions, not adjust to them. Therapy is adjusting to your bad personal alternative.
We have not done much trying to solve immediate personal problems of women in the group. We’ve mostly picked topics by two methods: In a small group it is possible for us to take turns bringing questions to the meeting (like, Which do/did you prefer, a girl or a boy baby or no children, and why? What happens to your relationship if your man makes more money than you? Less than you?). Then we go around the room answering the questions from our personal experiences. Everybody talks that way. At the end of the meeting we try to sum up and generalize from what’s been said and make connections.
I believe at this point, and maybe for a long time to come, that these analytical sessions are a form of political action. I do not go to these sessions because I need or want to talk about my ”personal problems.” In fact, I would rather not. As a movement woman, I’ve been pressured to be strong, selfless, other-oriented, sacrificing, and in general pretty much in control of my own life. To admit to the problems in my life is to be deemed weak. So I want to be a strong woman, in movement terms, and not admit I have any real problems that I can’t find a personal solution to (except those directly related to the capitalist system). It is at this point a political action to tell it like it is, to say what I really believe about my life instead of what I’ve always been told to say.
So the reason I participate in these meetings is not to solve any personal problem. One of the first things we discover in these groups is that personal problems are political problems. There are no personal solutions at this time. There is only collective action for a collective solution. I went, and I continue to go to these meetings because I have gotten a political understanding which all my reading, all my “political discussions,” all my “political action,” all my four-odd years in the movement never gave me. I’ve been forced to take off the rose colored glasses and face the awful truth about how grim my life really is as a woman. I am getting a gut understanding of everything as opposed to the esoteric, intellectual understandings and noblesse oblige feelings I had in “other people’s” struggles.
This is not to deny that these sessions have at least two aspects that are therapeutic. I prefer to call even this aspect “political therapy” as opposed to personal therapy. The most important is getting rid of self-blame. Can you imagine what would happen if women, blacks, and workers (my definition of worker is anyone who has to work for a living as opposed to those who don’t. All women are workers) would-stop blaming ourselves for our sad situations? It seems to me the whole country needs that kind of political therapy. That is what the black movement is doing in its own way. We shall do it in ours. We are only starting to stop blaming ourselves. We also feel like we are thinking for ourselves for the first time in our lives. As the cartoon in Lilith puts it, “I’m changing. My mind is growing muscles.” Those who believe that Marx, Lenin, Engels, Mao, and Ho have the only and last “good word” on the subject and that women have nothing more to add will, of course, find these groups a waste of time.
The groups that I have been in have also not gotten into “alternative life-styles” or what it means to be a “liberated” woman. We came early to the conclusion that all alternatives are bad under present conditions. Whether we live with or without a man, communally or in couples or alone, are married or unmarried, live with other women, go for free love, celibacy or lesbianism, or any combination, there are only good and bad things about each bad situation. There is no “more liberated” way; there are only bad alternatives.
This is part of one of the most important theories we are beginning to articulate. We call it “the pro-woman line.” What it says basically is that women are really neat people. The bad things that are said about us as women are either myths (women are stupid), tactics women use to struggle individually (women are bitches), or are actually things that we want to carry into the new society and want men to share too (women are sensitive, emotional). Women as oppressed people act out of necessity (act dumb in the presence of men), not out of choice. Women have developed great shuffling techniques for their own survival (look pretty and giggle to get or keep a job or man) which should be used when necessary until such time as the power of unity can take its place. Women are smart not to struggle alone (as are blacks and workers). It is no worse to be in the home than in the rat race of the job world. They are both bad. Women, like blacks, workers, must stop blaming ourselves for our “failures.”
It took us some ten months to get to the point where we could articulate these things and relate them to the lives of every woman. It’s important from the standpoint of what kind of action we are going to do. When our group first started, going by majority opinion, we would have been out in the streets demonstrating against marriage, against having babies, for free love, against women who wore makeup, against housewives, for equality without recognition of biological differences, and god knows what else. Now we see all these things as what we call “personal solutionary.” Many of the actions taken by “action” groups have been along these lines. The women who did the anti-woman stuff at the Miss America Pageant were the ones who were screaming for action without theory. The members of one group want to set up a private daycare center without any real analysis of what could be done to make it better for little girls, much less any analysis of how that center hastens the revolution.
That is not to say, of course, that we shouldn’t do action. There may be some very good reasons why women in the group don’t want to do anything at the moment. One reason that I often have is that this thing is so important to me that I want to be very sure that we’re doing it the best way we know how, and that it is a “right” action that I feel sure about. I refuse to go out and “produce” for the movement. We had a lot of conflict in our New York group about whether or not to do action. When the Miss America Protest was proposed, there was no question but that we wanted to do, it. I think it was because we all saw how it related to our lives. We felt it was a good action. There were things wrong with the action, but the basic idea was there.
This has been my experience in groups that are accused of being “therapy” or “personal.” Perhaps certain groups may well be attempting to do therapy. Maybe the answer is not to put down the method of analyzing from personal experiences in favor of immediate action, but to figure out what can be done to make it work. Some of us started to write a handbook about this at one time and never got past the outline. We are working on it again, and hope to have it out in a month at the latest.
It’s true we all need to learn how to better draw conclusions from the experiences and feelings we talk about and how to draw all kinds of connections. Some of us haven’t done a very good job of communicating them to others.
One more thing: I think we must listen to what so-called apolitical women have to say—not so we can do a better job of organizing them but because together we are a mass movement. I think we who work full-time in the movement tend to become very narrow. What is happening now is that when non-movement women disagree with us, we assume it’s because they are “apolitical,” not because there might be something wrong with our thinking. Women have left the movement in droves. The obvious reasons are that we are tired of being sex slaves and doing shitwork for men whose hypocrisy is so blatant in their political stance of liberation for everybody (else). But there is really a lot more to it than that. I can’t quite articulate it yet. I think “apolitical” women are not in the movement for very good reasons, and as long as we say “you have to think like us and live like us to join the charmed circle,” we will fail. What I am trying to say is that there are things in the consciousness of “apolitical” women (I find them very political) that are as valid as any political consciousness we think we have. We should figure out why many women don’t want to do action. Maybe there is something wrong with the action or something wrong with why we are doing the action or maybe the analysis of why the action is necessary is not clear enough in our minds.

Plebiscito en Irlanda sobre el aborto.

Se viene. Impresionante evento en el país que era el más católico-conservador de Europa, y hoy ha devenido en país liberal
alguna info, acá

22 may 2018

Libro de casos

Hecho por amigos y colegas de la U. de Tucumán, con la coordinación de O. Flores, felicitaciones! (puede bajarse desde acá)

La muerte de Stalin

Desde los tiempos de Monty Phyton que no se veía un retrato tan ácido de la política del tiempo . Porque es Stalin, pero también es la Rusia de hoy, y por qué no la vida pública de la era: arbitrariedad; obsecuencia, docilidad con el poderoso, obediencia; justificación de lo injustificable; violencia contra los críticos; rastros de una política patética. A manos en este caso del director escocés Armando Iannucci.

19 may 2018

Una democracia limitada

(publicado hoy en la revista Ñ)

La democracia constitucional argentina nació vistiendo un traje institucional estrecho. El traje original fue diseñado en 1853, por la elite liberal-conservadora que gobernaba entonces, y desde ese momento permanece, más allá de los cambios que recibiera, en lo esencial inmodificado. Todavía seguimos disponiendo un Poder Ejecutivo fuerte (que cuenta, por ejemplo, con la capacidad para participar decisivamente en la selección de jueces y en la firma de tratados internacionales; para ordenar la intervención en las Provincias; para promover un estado de sitio; para designar a miles de funcionarios públicos; para definir los lineamientos del presupuesto y ejecutar partidas presupuestarias; para controlar la fuerza pública; etc.); con un Poder Legislativo pensado para el siglo XVIII (con una sociedad relativamente simple, dividida en pocos grupos, internamente homogéneos y con intereses opuestos); y con un Poder Judicial organizado de espaldas a la ciudadanía, y sin canales apropiados para la comunicación o el diálogo con ella.

Decir que nuestra democracia constitucional nació con un “traje estrecho” implica decir que, desde su nacimiento, el mismo no estuvo bien preparado para dar cabida a la diversidad, intensidad e importancia de las demandas sociales existentes. Por ello es que desde que tomó fuerza efectiva el voto popular –la democracia de la regla de la mayoría, a comienzos del siglo XX- el sistema institucional estalló, y sucesivos golpes de estado, a lo largo del siglo, se propusieron introducir por fuerza a la sociedad, otra vez, dentro de ese “traje estrecho”.

En 1983, esa regla maldita de los golpes de estado y los gobiernos democráticos que no podían terminar su mandato, perdió –en buena medida- su vigencia. Pero lo que se terminó entonces fue algo bien específico, esto es, el recurso, hasta ese momento habitual, a las fuerzas militares, para forzar la interrupción de gobiernos elegidos por el voto popular. No se acabaron, en cambio, las desigualdades económicas y políticas que generaban zozobra social; ni la concentración del poder; ni la inflexibilidad del sistema político; ni la insensibilidad de nuestra democracia constitucional para dar cabida a voces y demandas diversas; ni su incapacidad para procesar los desacuerdos y conflictos. Por eso es que el Presidente Alfonsín tampoco pudo terminar su mandato; por eso la caída de De la Rúa; por eso los cinco Presidentes en cuestión de días; por eso el fantasma de la inestabilidad permanente –que vuelve a resurgir ahora-; y por eso también el recurso a la “mano dura” o a la autoridad discrecional, excesiva, absurda, que fuera propia de los gobiernos menemistas y kirchneristas (tiempos de “decido solo, en secreto y por sorpresa”, o “si no le gusta alguna política, cree su propio partido y gánenos”).

Frente a lo dicho, la pregunta acerca de si la democracia constitucional argentina se encuentra en deuda, debe ser respondida enfáticamente, y por la afirmativa. Sin dudas que lo está, desde el mismo momento de su nacimiento! Ella no organizó una democracia para el acuerdo, la conversación y la mutua corrección; sino un sistema orientado, en el mejor de los casos, para contener el conflicto, permitiendo –como dijera Juan Bautista Alberdi en Las Bases- que el Presidente se convirtiera en “rey” apenas el conflicto se desmadrara y retorna así la amenaza inquietante de la “anarquía”.

No contamos, por lo demás, con mucho de lo que institucionalmente resulta más importante. Carecemos, sobre todo, de mecanismos adecuados para discutir; herramientas apropiadas para decidir; y frenos suficientes para controlar, corregir y sancionar a los funcionarios públicos que merecen nuestro reproche. El sistema representativo sigue estando basado en la idea de la “separación”, más que en la del “vínculo” entre electores y elegidos. Los representantes saben que, una vez que son escogidos, las oportunidades de que los aperciban institucionalmente son ínfimas: de allí que les importe mucho más estar en buenas relaciones con las autoridades de su partido, que mantener las promesas hechas con su electorado. Ocurre algo muy similar con el Poder Judicial: el sistema de incentivos existente provee a los jueces de estímulo para “no crear olas,” no llamar la atención, bajar el perfil, y tender lazos con las autoridades de turno, que son las únicas que pueden motorizar alguna sanción en su contra. 

La única novedad relevante dentro de nuestra democracia constitucional, desde 1853 hasta hoy, estuvo dada por la larga lista de derechos sociales, económicos y culturales, incorporados a la Constitución a mediados del siglo XX, a los que se sumaron luego los derechos humanos consagrados a nivel constitucional hacia finales del siglo XX. Sin embargo, dicha innovación normativa fue tan significativa por lo que incluyó –los nuevos derechos- como por lo que omitió incluir, esto es, reformas en la otra parte de la Constitución, que es la que organiza el poder. Quiero decir: se ampliaron al extremo las promesas constitucionales en materia de derechos, pero se mantuvieron intocadas las estructuras de poder necesarias para poner a dichos derechos en movimiento. Pasamos a tener, desde entonces, Constituciones con “dos almas”: un alma innovadora, audaz, democrática y social, propia del siglo XXI (la sección de los derechos), y otra que pone en pie una estructura de poder arcaica, verticalista, de corte elitista y autoritario, propia del siglo XIX (la organización del poder). Mientras no resolvemos dicha tensión, y modifiquemos de una vez por todas ese “traje chico”, para tornar a nuestra vida pública más inclusiva, abierta y participativa, seguiremos viviendo a la democracia como frustración y asfixia, y no como definitiva posibilidad emancipatoria.

18 may 2018

En la radio: variaciones en torno al constitucionalismo latinoamericano

Gracias Emiliano!
(desde la hora quince, aprox.).

17 may 2018

16 may 2018

Turbulencia económica argentina: ya estaba escrito

De Rubén Lo Vuolo, publicado acá

Hace un año, en un artículo publicado en este mismo diario, señalaba que la Argentina estaba repitiendo una nueva fase de las inconsistentes políticas del aperturismo de la ortodoxia neoliberal, que históricamente siguen a las crisis del expansionismo proteccionista (“populismo”). Los acontecimientos de estas semanas demuestran, una vez más, la inconsistencia de esta historia repetida.

Señalaba allí que los ciclos de apertura neoliberal se montan en la recesión heredada para justificar la apertura económica prometiendo que la entrada de capitales estimulada por la alta renta financiera garantizada el Estado, se traduciría en inversión que fomentará el crecimiento económico.

Al inicio: “la entrada de capitales es mayor que el déficit de cuenta corriente y se acumulan reservas. Pero con el tiempo crece el déficit de la balanza comercial y más tarde el de la cuenta corriente. Así se inicia la reversión del ciclo con erosión de liquidez, caída de precios de activos, pérdida de reservas, etc.” Característica de la fase neoliberal es la escalada del endeudamiento que se justifica en el déficit fiscal heredado, pero que en realidad ayuda a empujar a la economía y ganar elecciones. Pero, en un momento, los operadores financieros resuelven que las inconsistencias acumuladas son muchas y empiezan a irse.

Entonces, el Gobierno “intenta recortar el déficit público y eventualmente se devalúa”, iniciándose una fase contractiva que “se refuerza porque sube aún más el riesgo país y la tasa de interés, hasta que finalmente se profundiza la crisis financiera y del mercado de cambios con caída de reservas del Banco Central”.

Las causas son las políticas domésticas, pero “la intensidad de estos ajustes depende del circunstancial escenario internacional … Lo más dudoso es la duración de las fases históricas de este ciclo reiterado (que depende más de factores externos que internos)”.

Las turbulencias financieras en las últimas semanas corroboran este análisis. El gobierno de Cambiemos se creyó que el resultado positivo en la última elección le daba poder para rebajar la tasa de interés, ampliar las metas de inflación y seguir con cierto expansionismo fiscal con impacto electoral.

Llamativamente, algo parecido quiso hacer el gobierno “populista” de Dilma Rousseff en Brasil, cuando intentó bajar las tasas de interés y alterar los acuerdos que había mantenido el PT con la ortodoxia monetaria y financiera desde la asunción de Lula. Ambos intentos duraron poco: los operadores financieros les recordaron que en una economía abierta y endeudada los que mandan son los acreedores. Y que independientemente de la ideología del gobierno, ambos habían prometido abrazar la ortodoxia monetaria y garantizar renta financiera para que ellos vinieran a apoyarlos y generar “confianza”.

El intento fracasado de Cambiemos aceleró el fin del auge: la tasa de interés voló a niveles superiores a las que se necesitaron para salir del cepo cambiario heredado del gobierno anterior. Pero ya no puede seguirse echándole la culpa a la herencia. Los problemas son la combinación de creciente déficit externo con endeudamiento y déficit fiscal con política de metas de inflación que decidió abrazar este Gobierno.

Si además se hacen promesas de bajar impuestos (cuando sube el peso de los servicios de la deuda y la economía se frena), la proyección de déficit fiscal y atraso cambiario es explosiva.

En lugar de seguir criticando a la herencia populista, el gobierno de Cambiemos debería entender que el populismo logra apoyos gracias a las reiteradas y fracasadas políticas neoliberales (maquilladas o no). Y lo mismo es cierto para el populismo “progresista” cuyas inconsistentes políticas económicas crean las condiciones para el advenimiento del neoliberalismo.

El gobierno debería reflexionar sobre esto porque se terminó el breve auge y viene mayor recorte de gastos públicos (¿dónde?) y otro freno económico. Los impactos sociales serán más negativos que hasta aquí y la populista “pobreza cero” prometida por Cambiemos ya no servirá ni siquiera para el “relato” oficial.

Afirmar, como lo han hecho sus antecesores de igual prosapia, que se seguirá por el mismo camino -y con la tutela del FMI-, no ayuda a olvidar los fantasmas del pasado. Mejor sería que el Gobierno busque la forma de cambiar las políticas que generaron este escenario para no seguir repitiendo la historia. De lo contrario, es razonable pensar que estamos mal y no vamos bien.

Rubén Lo Vuolo es economista y director del Centro Interdisciplinario para el Estudio de Políticas Públicas (Ciepp)

15 may 2018

Renunció el Juez Caldas a la Corte IDH

Eran 7 jueces, 6 hombres, sólo 1 mujer. 1 acaba de renunciar por acusaciones de acoso sexual. De los 5 que quedan 2 deberían renunciar por abierta parcialidad política. De los 3 que deberían quedar...

La interpretación del derecho latinoamericano en estas manos.


 San José, Costa Rica, 15 de mayo de 2018.- El pasado viernes 11 de mayo la Corte Interamericana recibió, por parte del Juez Roberto F. Caldas, una solicitud de licencia indefinida. Posteriormente, el día de ayer, lunes 14 de mayo de 2018, se recibió su renuncia formal al cargo de Juez de la Corte Interamericana. 
 De conformidad con el artículo 21 del Estatuto de la Corte, el Tribunal aceptó y dio efectos inmediatos a dicha renuncia. En consecuencia y de manera definitiva, Roberto F. Caldas dejó de formar parte de este Tribunal. Siguiendo el procedimiento estatutario, el Presidente de la Corte notificó la decisión del Tribunal al Secretario General de la Organización de los Estados Americanos para los efectos consiguientes. 
 Tal como es de conocimiento público, Roberto F. Caldas fue denunciado por supuestos actos de violencia intrafamiliar en instancias judiciales brasileñas. En cuanto a estas acusaciones, el Presidente de la Corte Interamericana resaltó la importancia de que se investiguen los hechos de manera diligente, pronta y oportuna en el marco de un debido proceso. Sin perjuicio de lo anterior, condena todo tipo de violencia contra la mujer. 
 Roberto F. Caldas fue elegido Juez de la Corte Interamericana por la Asamblea General de la OEA para el mandato del 1 de enero de 2013 al 31 de diciembre de 2018. La Corte agradece las labores desempeñadas durante el ejercicio de su mandato como Juez, Vicepresidente y Presidente. 
El presente comunicado fue redactado por la Secretaría de la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, por lo que es de responsabilidad exclusiva de la misma. 

13 may 2018

Hacia una caracterización del gobierno de Cambiemos. Para una crítica de la política económica


del espacio autónomo de pensamiento crítico

Mayo de 2018

En el primer documento de análisis crítico de la gestión de Cambiemos, difundido en febrero de este año, nos ocupamos de la política en materia de derechos humanos y de seguridad ciudadana. En el presente documento nos interesa abocarnos a presentar un análisis crítico de su política económica.
Tal como dijimos en aquel primer documento, es en el área económica donde el gobierno de Cambiemos utiliza con mayor insistencia la coartada de la “herencia recibida” para justificar los resultados más negativos de su gestión. En esa línea, también sostuvimos que no hay dudas de que los problemas económicos heredados del gobierno anterior eran numerosos: economía estancada y sin acceso al financiamiento internacional, alto y creciente déficit presupuestario financiado por expansión monetaria, sostenida y elevada inflación, mercados de cambio paralelos, creciente déficit externo con ineficaces controles de movimiento de capitales y mercaderías, drenaje de reservas, creciente costo de subsidio a los servicios públicos sin retornos ni en eficiencia ni en inversión. A esto se sumaba un “default selectivo” de la deuda, un nivel de pobreza por ingresos creciente y muy superior a las cifras oficiales, nula creación de empleo privado y marcado deterioro de los servicios sociales públicos.

Sin embargo, a más de dos años de la nueva gestión, muchos de estos problemas no sólo persisten, sino que además las políticas actuales generaron otras dificultades que van delineando un preocupante proyecto económico y social. Entre las políticas emblemáticas que vienen mostrando fracasos preocupantes cabe mencionar la política monetaria de metas de inflación, el estímulo oficial a la renta financiera por emisión de deuda, el descontrolado ajuste de las tarifas públicas sin mejoras en la producción, inversión y prestación de servicios, la errática política cambiaria, el creciente endeudamiento y su impacto cada vez más preocupante en las cuentas públicas, el persistente desbalance de las cuentas externas, la política en materia salarial, etc.

Las políticas del gobierno de Cambiemos indican que tiene más en claro los errores del gobierno anterior que los errores de gobiernos que han aplicado políticas económicas neoliberales en el pasado y en otras latitudes. En realidad, no estamos frente a un ensayo novedoso y original: la historia argentina muestra recurrentes ciclos que van de la crisis de políticas de “expansionismo proteccionista” a la crisis de políticas de “aperturismo neoliberal”. En esa línea, el gobierno de Cambiemos resucitó visiones y políticas cuya inconsistencia se ha probado de modo acabado en el pasado, tanto aquí como en otras economías; políticas que llevan a mayores desigualdades distributivas y que tarde o temprano terminan en crisis del sector externo, monetarias y fiscales. 

Desde esta perspectiva, consideramos que debería analizarse el estrecho y confuso debate entre “gradualismo” y “shock” que aparentemente enfrenta a quienes buscan imponer el modelo aperturista neoliberal en el país. Este debate sobre los “ritmos” o la “velocidad” de los procesos en realidad oculta lo verdaderamente importante: los objetivos que buscan dichos procesos. El problema es que el gobierno busca imponer un modelo que profundiza un régimen económico liderado por las rentas extractivistas - ligada a los recursos naturales-, la renta financiera y las ganancias de las corporaciones más concentradas del poder económico. Es en este sentido que hay que entender la “normalización” de la economía de la que constantemente habla el gobierno. 

La cuestión de las tarifas de los servicios públicos, y en especial respecto de la energía, ejemplifica lo anterior. La política oficial pretende “recomponer las señales de los precios”, afirmando que así recuperará producción, inversión y autoabastecimiento. Equivoca el camino: la energía y los recursos naturales son bienes comunes, lo cual implica reafirmar su carácter colectivo, colocarlos al servicio del conjunto del sistema económico y social, en una línea de respeto y cuidado por el ambiente. Si bien se trata de un sector económico mercantilizado, su carácter estratégico es evidente a poco que se piense que es un insumo de uso generalizado e ineludible por todos los agentes económicos, por lo cual la política debe contemplar los intereses del conjunto y no sólo de las corporaciones directamente vinculadas al mismo. Lejos de entenderlo así, el gobierno coloca el conjunto del sector energético al servicio de las ganancias corporativas, tal como lo muestra el subsidio a los hidrocarburos, muy especialmente orientados a los no convencionales. Esto explica los resultados desesperantes: sube la inflación y a su vez, baja la producción y la inversión. En otras palabras, con la política oficial los recursos públicos se orientan hacia uno de los sectores más ricos y concentrados de la economía con resultados negativos, mientras resta fondos para sectores socialmente críticos –como la educación y la salud-, a la vez que se incrementan los daños ambientales, tanto a nivel local como global (cambio climático).

Ante las repercusiones negativas de su política, el gobierno pretende compensar el impacto de la suba de tarifas con baja de impuestos sobre los servicios públicos. O sea, para garantizar las ganancias de las corporaciones y sin que se sepa muy bien a cambio de qué, el gobierno alienta la inflación y pierde recursos públicos. Lo anterior no pretende defender la carga impositiva regresiva sobre los consumos energéticos ni tampoco sugiere que debería continuar la política de subsidios del gobierno anterior. Lo que busca es señalar que una vez más la política en esta área estratégica está plagada de contradicciones y al servicio de grupos de interés sectoriales. 

Por otra parte, es sabido que la reforma impositiva es una deuda pendiente de nuestra democracia. Más allá de las declamaciones, ningún gobierno se ha abocado seriamente a realizar una reforma progresiva. Así, cualquier gobierno que apuntara a ella, debería efectivamente preocuparse por bajar impuestos regresivos, compensando dicha baja con el aumento de impuestos progresivos, por ejemplo, a los grandes patrimonios de los que parecen disfrutar muchos de los actuales y exfuncionarios públicos, a la elevada renta financiera que garantiza el propio estado, a las grandes herencias, entre otros. No sólo que esta reforma no figura en la agenda de Cambiemos sino que su insistencia en la necesidad de bajar impuestos tiende a agravar el déficit fiscal que sigue en niveles similares al del gobierno anterior. El análisis comparado muestra que el problema no es el nivel de presión tributaria, sino su sesgo regresivo. Y no es este sesgo el que busca cambiar el gobierno que ofreció uno de los blanqueos de capitales más vergonzosos de la historia. 

Desde la perspectiva descripta debe comprenderse el fracaso de la política oficial contra otro emblema del pensamiento ortodoxo: la inflación. Aquí no puede fingir “fallas de mercado” ni “herencia recibida”. La persistente inflación se vincula directamente con su ineficaz política monetaria, el crecimiento de los precios de los servicios públicos, la libertad de las corporaciones para formar precios, la errática política cambiaria, entre otros. Es muy preocupante observar que, ante el fracaso de sus políticas contra la inflación, el gobierno sólo propone la baja de salarios reales, el ajuste de beneficios sociales y la mayor suba de tasas de interés. Parece que para el gobierno, para bajar la inflación hay que flexibilizar el trabajo (bajar salarios) y aumentar la renta financiera, mientras se suben tarifas y se bajan impuestos (mayor déficit fiscal).

Otro argumento reiterado por este tipo de ensayo económico es que todo se normalizará cuando lleguen las inversiones externas, gracias a la confianza recuperada en el país. No sólo que las turbulencias financieras recientes contradicen esta expectativa, sino que además la experiencia dice que la inversión productiva depende de elementos que por ahora no están presentes. ¿Quiénes van a invertir genuinamente con una política tan errática y proclive a generar altas rentas financieras de corto plazo?  ¿Cómo se va a generar confianza de largo plazo si la competitividad que se pretende pasa por la vía de menos impuestos y más ajuste de costo laboral? Finalmente, ¿quién va a invertir en un país con endeudamiento, desequilibrios en cuentas externas y fiscales y un gobierno que no logra coordinar su política monetaria y cambiaria? En esta línea, no es extraño que los propios ministros del gobierno declaren tener la mayor parte de su riqueza en el exterior, argumentando que no tienen confianza en que la política oficial cambie las condiciones económicas del país.

Que no se repatrien los recursos de los propios funcionarios de gobierno parece una consecuencia natural de un contexto en donde las políticas agravan cada vez más el déficit en el sector externo, algo que -la historia nos enseña también- representa otra marca registrada de políticas de aperturismo neoliberal. Mientras tanto, sigue creciendo el consumo de argentinos en el exterior, siguen aumentando las importaciones y la salida de capitales (por cierto, otro ejemplo del poco éxito de la confianza que supuestamente generaría el publicitado blanqueo de capitales). Efectivamente, el crecimiento de las reservas solo se debe a la entrada de capitales financieros, los cuales sabemos, tarde o temprano saldrán en busca de “calidad” en el exterior.

A estas preocupaciones se suma la riesgosa apuesta por las inversiones en infraestructura mediante contratos de participación público-privada. El argumento oficial señala las ventajas de corto plazo: son los privados los que gastan en obras de gran necesidad y visibilidad. Pero lo cierto es que hay muchos costos que son inciertos y se transfieren a futuro, como los de financiamiento y ajuste hasta el final de las obras, sin considerar que otra vez el gobierno compromete múltiples “incentivos fiscales” (desgravaciones y diferimientos de IVA y Ganancias) más avales y garantías que comprometen recursos públicos. Una vez más, la experiencia comparada, fundamentalmente en países con gobiernos afines a la ideología neoliberal de Cambiemos, no es muy positiva en la materia.

También preocupa las reiteradas políticas regresivas en el área laboral. Una vez más se afirma que el empleo debe estar atado al crecimiento, el cual vendría con las inversiones. En su favor, el gobierno esgrime los datos positivos del último año. Sin embargo, la experiencia indica que se trata de un rebote de los pisos previos, el cual está alentado por el empuje de la demanda proveniente del ingreso de capitales, antes que por un resultado de inversión productiva. Además, el empleo que (lentamente) se ha recuperado es sobre todo informal y precario, a lo que se suma la presión por negociar salarios por debajo de la inflación culpando al “costo laboral” de los problemas de competitividad del país. En todo caso, un planteo progresivo apuntaría a estrechar la dispersión productiva y salarial, no a bajar los salarios de quienes menos ganan; basta mirar la experiencia de los países nórdicos para entender que éste es el camino para una economía innovadora, competitiva y sobre todo, más igualitaria.

Otro tema preocupante se advierte en relación con las políticas sociales, tema que merece un documento en sí mismo. En realidad, en este análisis nos interesa destacar la “funcionalidad” que adquiere la política social dentro del esquema propuesto por Cambiemos. El gobierno reivindica hasta aquí la continuidad de algunas políticas sociales de la gestión anterior, reclamando un costado “social”, que supuestamente lo diferenciaría de experiencias neoliberales previas. Sin embargo, los cambios aplicados hasta la fecha están ampliando la dispersión de beneficios, al tiempo que exigen más condiciones de acceso y refuerzan la fragmentación institucional de los beneficios. Así, se profundiza la tendencia heredada del gobierno anterior de degradación de servicios públicos de salud y educación junto con políticas asistenciales cada vez más condicionadas. En esa línea, el gobierno corrobora que las políticas asistenciales heredadas en el área social tenían y continúan teniendo la función de legitimar socialmente la consolidación de un régimen económico liderado por las ganancias y las rentas financieras de las grandes corporaciones.

En suma, basta mirar la historia para alarmarse respecto de los objetivos y los resultados que trae consigo este nuevo ciclo de aperturismo económico neoliberal, sustentado en políticas públicas que favorecen el endeudamiento, el desfinanciamiento fiscal, la renta financiera y las ganancias corporativas. Así, más allá de los matices o especificidades, la historia enseña que con dichas políticas resulta muy difícil que la inversión productiva se recupere, que una política monetaria atenta a garantizar la renta financiera remueva las raíces de la inflación, que la promoción de las rentas extractivas de bienes naturales mejore la desestructuración productiva y la inserción subordinada del país en la economía internacional. Queda claro que, en el área económica, el gobierno de Cambiemos, lejos de representar un gran cambio, sintetiza una fase más, adaptada a los tiempos presentes, de los típicos ciclos de apertura económica neoliberal que suceden a la crisis de un ciclo de expansionismo proteccionista en nuestro país.

La actual crisis y la vuelta el FMI dan cuenta de los problemas estructurales de la estrategia económica del gobierno hasta aquí reseñada. Al igual que sucedió en otras crisis de regímenes neoliberales, el gobierno de Cambiemos reacciona tardíamente a los cambios internacionales, no entiende que la tasa de interés no es un instrumento antiinflacionario en economías como la argentina y tampoco pondera que la política de endeudamiento con desequilibrios estructurales lo vuelve muy vulnerable a los arbitrajes de los especuladores financieros. Tampoco parece comprender que el mercado interno necesita una reactivación que no se va a lograr con erráticas políticas que alteran la relación de precios para cualquier productor. Finalmente, vuelve a cometer un error ya reiterado al pretender que el “riesgo país” se puede bajar con discursos abstractos promercado en lugar de políticas consistentes. Los ajustes circunstanciales del tipo de cambio, la suba del riesgo país, el crecimiento de la inflación son expresión de un conjunto de inconsistencias de la política económica y no de medidas aisladas. 

Todo lo dicho hasta aquí arroja conclusiones claras sobre el carácter de este gobierno, reflejado en su política económica: por un lado, se trata de una política abiertamente desigualadora, que genera mayores brechas sociales y beneficia a los sectores más concentrados; por otro lado, sin siquiera garantizar inversiones, consolida una política muy vulnerable por su fuerte dependencia de los mercados financieros y por el sostenimiento de las ganancias a las grandes corporaciones. El reciente anuncio de un acuerdo con el FMI para “apalancar” la continuidad de la política monetaria y financiera es el lamentable broche de un gobierno perdido en su propio laberinto y que lejos de apuntar al futuro retrotrae al país a repetir frustrantes experiencias pasadas. Se termina así el breve auge de crecimiento económico empujado por capitales de préstamo y déficit público. En un país cada vez más endeudado, nuevamente se fortalecen los acreedores y los certificados de buena conducta del FMI. Los impactos negativos en materia económica y social son por demás conocidos. El ciclo económico al que parece condenado el país en la democracia argentina vuelve a repetirse.

Rubén Lo Vuolo, Roberto Gargarella, Maristella Svampa, Beatriz Sarlo, Gabriela Massuh, Alicia Lissidini, Patricia Pintos, Enrique Viale

Adhesiones a: espaciopensamientocritico@gmail.com

Proclama urgente contra la violencia institucional

10 may 2018

En caso de crisis: protocolos y consultas, antes que celeridad y concentración del poder

Ahora que algunas voces, frente a la crisis, urgen por la toma de decisiones rápidas y concentradas en el Ejecutivo (por ejemplo, Carlos Pagni, acá), valga volver sobre esta historia. La hija del profesor Stephen Holmes sufrió una terrible desgracia, años atrás, al caer de un segundo piso, por la ventana que ella estaba reparando (ahora, anticipo, ella está bien). En ese momento, su cabeza se partió, y tuvo un desprendimiento craneal, y si algo la salvó fue que el equipo médico que llegó para socorrerla, bien organizado, siguiendo protocolos muy precisos, tomó decisiones paso a paso, a pesar de que la gente que los rodeaba gritaba "acción", "acción," y urgía que se apurasen.

Holmes tomó esa historia como lección de vida, y escribió algunos textos fantásticos sobre el tema, a la hora del 11/9, y frente la desesperación del Poder Ejecutivo y sus abogados, desde entonces, por "decidir todo, y decidir rápido".

Abajo pego un link a uno de  los artículos de Holmes sobre el tema, publicado en la California Law Review del 2009, y copio también la introducción de su texto, en donde da detalles del accidente, y de los modos apropiados de reacción, en caso de urgencias (como decía Napoleón: "vísteme despacio, que estoy apurado").

In Case of Emergency: Misunderstanding Tradeoffs in the War on Terror
Several years ago, my daughter (now fully recovered) lay in a coma after a serious fall. At a crucial moment, two nurses rushed into her hospital room to prepare for a transfusion. One clutched a plastic pouch of blood and the other held aloft my daughter's medical chart. The first recited the words on the bag, "Type A blood," and the other read aloud from the file, "Alexa Holmes, Type A blood." They then proceeded, following a prepared and carefully rehearsed script to switch props and roles, the first nurse reading from the dossier, "Alexa Holmes, Type A blood," and the second reading from the bag, "Type A blood." Emergency-room personnel are acutely aware of the serious risks posed by excessive delay. Though they understand the need for immediate and unhesitating action, they nevertheless routinely consume precious time to follow protocols drilled into them and practiced in advance. Why do they do this? They do it to minimize the risk of making fatal-but-avoidable mistakes under the psychologically flustering pressures of the moment.

Frente a la crisis (cualquier crisis) es muy importante tomar nota de la necesidad de "parar la pelota," pensar y decidir conforme a protocolos estudiados (algo que el gobierno no hace), y no pasar a la acción "urgente y concentrada" que aconsejan periodistas y académicos.

En la discusión académica internacional, es interesante seguir la trayectoria de los Schmittianos de hoy, como Eric Posner y Adrian Vermeule, en textos como The executive unbound, o (terrible) Terror in balance (ya hablamos de esos textos, en su momento). Necesitamos, más que nunca, resistir estos nuevos gritos de guerra.

8 may 2018

Pronunciamiento contra los mensajes y acciones que profundizan las políticas punitivistas

Declaración conjunta


En los últimos meses, desde instancias diferentes, se desplegaron mensajes punitivos y políticas públicas que ponen en duda y debilitan acuerdos básicos que hacen posible la construcción de la vida democrática, y por los que hemos luchado desde 1983. Por ello los/as abajo firmantes, organizaciones y personas comprometidas con los derechos humanos, consideramos necesario reafirmar:

1. La clara separación entre asuntos de defensa y asuntos de seguridad. Los intentos de involucrar a los militares en la seguridad interior imitan experiencias lamentables de otros países, que tienen consecuencias graves tanto por la generación de violencia como por la degradación de las Fuerzas Armadas. Constituyen, una forma de evitar un debate serio y plural sobre una política de defensa y sobre cuál debe ser el rol de las Fuerzas Armadas en un país democrático.

2. La protección del derecho a la vida debe ser la prioridad del Estado. Por eso, es fundamental regular y limitar el uso de la fuerza policial. Sostener que se debe investigar el uso de la fuerza y sancionarlo cuando no se ajusta a la legalidad implica sostener que el Estado debe cumplir con los estándares mínimos para la actuación de las policías en regímenes no autoritarios. Que sea el mismo Estado el que alimenta la idea de impunidad para los policías y penitenciarios que trasgreden estos límites es un mensaje muy preocupante que promueve la violencia institucional.

3. La protección del derecho a la protesta en sus diferentes variantes. Las manifestaciones públicas en las calles, así como las huelgas son los recursos con los que cuentan distintos actores (trabajadores, mujeres, indígenas, etc.) para visibilizar sus reclamos e interpelar a las autoridades. Si el Estado busca reducir su frecuencia e intensidad debería habilitar canales de negociación política sustantivos y no sólo formales. Reprimir, judicializar y deslegitimar a los actores que protestan son prácticas que degradan la calidad de la democracia, entendida no sólo como un conjunto de reglas e instituciones sino también como una práctica cotidiana.

4. El compromiso del sistema político con la prohibición del uso de las agencias de inteligencia para el espionaje político y contra las organizaciones y referentes sociales. Los mensajes punitivos y de ampliación de las capacidades estatales para interferir en la vida de las personas también se traducen en dar mayor poder a las agencias de inteligencia sin exigir ningún control. La histórica crisis del sistema de inteligencia se ha traducido en un grave problema institucional que se materializa en abusos y violaciones de derechos como la inteligencia ilegal sobre organizaciones y referentes sociales o la filtracion de escuchas. La discusión sobre la violencia institucional y el sistema de seguridad no puede dejar de lado este aspecto del problema.

La protección de los derechos humanos requiere un compromiso firme con estos principios básicos que implican orientar las políticas a la limitación de la violencia estatal.

Primeros firmantes

Victoria Donda Pérez - Nilda Garré - Leo Grosso – Estela de Carlotto - Nora Cortiñas- Laura Conte - Beatriz Sarlo – Dora Barrancos – Juan Carlos Schmid- Agustin Rossi – Felipe Solá - Horacio Verbitsky – Adolfo Pérez Esquivel –Hugo Yasky - León Carlos Arslanian - Juan Gabriel Tokatlian –– Esteban Gringo Castro– Daniel Arroyo – Margarita Stolbizer – Alberto Rodriguez Saá – Antonio Bonfatti - Cecilia Moreau - Lucía de Ponti - Juan Grabois - Luis Cáceres - Victorio Paulón - Jorge Ceballos - Maristella Svampa – Sofía Tiscornia – Alcira Argumedo – Paula Abal Medina - Diana Kordon - Rocío Alconada Alfonsín – Gustavo F. Palmieri – María Victoria Pita - Enrique Font - Marcelo Sain – Alberto Binder – Manuel Garrido – Carlos H. Acuña – Sabina Frederic – Fernando “Pino” Solanas – Horacio Pietragalla – Elizabeth Jelin – Pilar Calveiro – Catalina Smulovitz – Roberto Gargarella – Máximo Sozzo – Rut Diamint

Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo - Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) – Madres de Plaza de Mayo Línea Fundadora – Serpaj - Colectivo Ni Una Menos – CTA de los Trabajadores - CTA Autónoma –- CTEP – ATE – SIPREBA - Mov. Evita – Barrios de Pie - TECHO – Greenpeace – Amnistía Internacional Argentina - Asociación Miguel Bru – Asociación Pensamiento Penal (APP)

7 may 2018

El Congreso tiene la obligación de tratar las tarifas

"El Congreso no tiene por qué tratar las tarifas", advierten desde la Mesa Nacional de Cambiemos

Marx/ Lo vivo y lo muerto del pensamiento de Marx (según Jon Elster)

Luego de escribir su monumental "Making Sense of Marx" Jon Elster completó una serie de trabajos más breves sobre Marx, con su elegante "An Introduction to Karl Marx."  Esta visión resumida sobre el pensamiento de Marx concluye con un capítulo didáctico, polémico, provocativo y a la vez muy interesante, sobre lo que queda vivo y lo que ya no vive del pensamiento de Marx, que siempre quise tener cerca y conmigo. Luego de un buen tiempo, y en homenaje a Marx, conseguí una copia, en inglés, de ese capítulo final, que incluyo aquí. Transcribo ese capítulo (que lamentablemente no encuentro con acceso simple en español), introducido por una "lista-resumen" de lo que, en opinión de Elster, ha muerto y queda vivo de la teoría de Marx. Coincidiendo con algunas cosas y no con otras, el resumen de Elster me parece fabuloso, en tanto "destilado" de décadas de estudio sobre "todo Marx" (libros, cartas, comentarios, etc.), y todo lo escrito y relacionado con Marx. Por ello, uno puede desacordar enojosamente con Elster, pero no negar su tremendo esfuerzo por entender a Marx, pasándolo por un "cedazo analítico". El trabajo de Elster en esta materia (su trabajo general, ya que este capítulo ofrece simplemente unas grajeas) resulta, para mí, de los más importantes que se han escrito sobre Marx hasta el presente. Este resumen, por lo demás, muestra a Elster, todavía, con una gran carga de admiración, afecto y simpatía por la impresionante obra de Marx.


1. Scientific socialism is dead. 
2. Dialectical materialism is dead. 
3. Teleology and functionalism are dead. 
4. Marxian economic theory is dead, with one important exception: the theory of technical change. 
5. The theory of productive forces and relations of production perhaps the most important part of historical materialism - is dead. 
6. Other parts of Marx's theory can be declared neither unambiguously dead nor unambiguously well and alive. The theories of alienation, exploitation, class, politics, and ideology are to some extent vitiated by wishful thinking, functional explanation, and sheer arbitrariness, but they also offer vital, even crucial insights. Rather than discussing under separate headings what is dead and what is alive, I consider these aspects together below. 


1. The dialectical method, or at least one version of it, is certainly alive. 
2. The theory of alienation is living, as is, correlatively, Marx's conception of the good life for man. 
3. The theory of exploitation is living, as is, correlatively, Marx's conception of distributive justice. 
4. Marx's theory of technical change is definitely living. 
5. Marx's theory of class consciousness, class struggle, and politics is vibrantly alive, although it is generally recognized that it does not provide the full answer to the questions that motivate its construction. 
6. The theory of ideology is not particularly well and alive, but I believe it can and should be resurrected



THE title of this chapter is adapted from Benedetto Croce's book, What Is Living and What Is Dead in the Philosophy of Hegel? There is little new in it, compared to the preceding chapters. Its task is to dot the /'s and cross the t's, so as to provide the reader with a convenient summary. In order to avoid ending on an anti- climactic note, I reverse the order of the title. I first consider the elements of Marx's thought that in my opinion are dead, including some that are artificially kept alive and ought to be buried. I conclude by discussing elements that I consider to be alive, including some that are widely believed to be dead and hence in need of resurrection. 

There are several grounds on which one can argue a theory to be dead. First, it may be inapplicable today, even though correct when first stated. Because society changes, statements that were true a hundred years ago may be false today. Second, the theory may have been false even when originally formulated, although by no fault of its author. If his theory was the best that could be stated given the data or the analytical techniques available at the time, one should not blame him if it is superseded in the light of later developments. Third, the theory may have been false at the time of inception, in the light of the available data and techniques. A special case is when the theory can be shown to be false on purely logical grounds, prior to the inspection of data. In the evaluation of Marx's theories carried out here, all of these criteria are invoked. Sometimes more than one of them applies to a given theory. It would be pointlessly pedantic to spell out in each particular case what criteria are being used in what combination, but the reader should keep the distinction in mind. 


To illustrate the distinction, consider three cases. It can be argued that mid-nineteenth-century Europe was historically unique in several respects. It realized the pure concept of property, as full and exclusive jus uti et abuti, whereas at all earlier and later times the property of a thing has been conceived as a bundle of rights (and obligations) that could be and usually was split among several persons. It allowed for a maximum of separation between the economic and the political spheres, as a distinction among different sets of people, whereas in earlier and later societies the distinction has been one among roles or even aspects of roles. It brought class struggle to the forefront as the main determinant of social conflict, whereas at earlier and later times issues of cultural identity - race, nation, gender, language, religion - have been no less important. It approximated to a high degree the pure model of a competitive market economy, whereas in earlier and later modes of production cartels, monopolies, and state intervention have been much more prominent. These statements, which I believe to be at least roughly true, suggest that Marx sometimes erred because he did not recognize what an exceptional society he was observing. Much of what he said may have been approximately true at the time, but the backward and forward extensions were frequently less successful. 

Next, consider Marx as an economic historian. We know today that his views on the Asiatic mode of production, shared by many of his contemporaries, rested on inadequate information, although probably the best available at the time. We are in a much better position than he was to assess technological change during the Middle Ages, and as a result we can discard his views that essentially no innovation occurred from late antiquity until the modern age. We know that his views about the relation between the eighteenth-century British enclosures and the supply of labor to industry, though shared by all economic historians until recently, are in fact false. The enclosures, far from being labor-saving, were labor-using; the industrial work force grew out of a general population increase. We can hardly blame Marx for not considering monopoly behavior as a possible explanation of the employers' interest in a reduction of the working day, because the analytical tools for the study of monopoly did not exist at his time. All of these are examples of what, in the above classification, corresponds to the second kind of mistakes: Marx was wrong, but it is hard to see how he could have done much better. 

The third kind of mistakes are the most disturbing, in that they reflect upon the quality of Marx's judgment. There is some dishonesty in his handling of empirical evidence, as when Marx updates British economic statistics when it suits him but retains the older figures when they support his case. Certainly there is no trace in his writings of the scholarly practice known as playing the devil's advocate. There are strong elements of wishful thinking, which, if morally less deplorable than dishonesty, probably had a more destructive impact on the quality of his work. Moreover, there are many examples of prejudice, as in his attitude toward Napoleon III or Lord Palmerston. Finally, his economic theories abound with purely logical mistakes. The labor theory of value and the theory of the falling rate of profit are very poor specimens of deductive reasoning. 

Against all this, we need to remind ourselves that although Marx's passion often clouded his judgment it also sustained his sometimes superhuman efforts and his genuinely great achievements. On the one hand, motivation and good judgment both contribute to success; on the other hand, motivation easily subverts judgment. To wish for the first effect of motivation without the second may be to ask for the impossible. Beliefs born of passion serve passion badly, but if lack of passion is a condition for impartial judgment, as some recent psychological findings suggest, the price may be higher than we want to pay. 


1. Scientific socialism is dead. There is no way in which a political theory can dispense with values and rely instead on the laws of history operating with iron necessity. There exists no intellectually respectable argument for the view that history is subject to a progressive pattern that can be detected in the past and extrapolated into the future. To disprove this view, it is sufficient to point to the possibility of a nuclear war, leading to the extinction of mankind. 

How could historical materialism offer an a priori refutation of this possibility? Moreover, there is no reason to expect history to have the property of homeorhesis, or dynamic stability. Think of a ball rolling down the bottom of a valley. The process is dynamically stable, because if the ball is pushed off course and sent up the hillside it will sooner or later return to the bottom again - unless the push is a very strong one, so that the ball is sent over into the adjoining valley. A nuclear war would certainly be a very strong push. Without dynamic stability, however, even small pushes could change the course of history. 

A special case is "the role of the individual in history." Any deterministic macrohistorical theory must deny that the actions of a single individual can influence history in a significant way, but denial is not enough; an argument is also required. None has been forthcoming. Tolstoy's mathematical analogy in War and Peace, that individuals are like infinitesimally small magnitudes whose actions are aggregated into history by a process akin to mathematical integration, is very much in the spirit of scientific socialism. It is also very misleading, because social interaction is not an additive process. The action of one individual can make a small or a large difference to the outcome, depending on his place in the network of social relations. 

Scientific socialism is also flawed in its treatment of values. The horns of the dilemma are well known. Either the laws of history operate with such iron necessity that political action is superfluous - communism will somehow come about "by itself without propaganda, leadership, or mass action - or, if this view is discarded, as it must be, political action must be guided by values. One might think that communism, though ultimately inevitable, is also undesirable and therefore try to stave it off for as long as possible. If one thinks communism is desirable, value problems may also arise. To say, with Marx, that the role of action is to "shorten and lessen the birth pangs" is to beg the question, for what if the choice is between a short, violent delivery and a long, more peaceful one? In that case, what are the principles that allow one to choose between different courses of action? Are they purely utilitarian ones, or are they to some extent also constrained by individual rights? Uncertainty and moral responsibility are part and parcel of political action. To deny that they are testifies to intellectual hubris and moral blindness. 

2. Dialectical materialism is dead. This doctrine, like scientific socialism, is mainly associated with Engels, but it is also a minor strand in Marx's thought. In the first place, there is no coherent and interesting sense in which any of the central views in Marxism are "materialist." No Marxist philosopher has offered any useful insights on the problems of philosophical materialism, such as the mind-body problem, the sense-data problem, and the like. And even if Marxism had a specific, well-defined, and well-defended version of philosophical materialism, it would bear no interesting relation to historical materialism. In vague and general terms, both doctrines can be summarized in the statement, "Being determines consciousness." As soon, however, as one attempts to make the statement more precise, the similarity disappears. According to historical materialism, ideas are both separate from and capable of having a causal impact on the economic structure; no similar statement would hold for any form of philosophical materialism. 

In the second place, the form of dialectics codified in dialectical materialism is quite trivial. Sometimes it amounts to little more than a statement of the general interconnections among all things, and at other times it is used as a fancy phrase for feedback processes. The "laws of dialectics" stated by Engels are somewhat less vacuous, although far from laws in the ordinary sense of the term. They can serve as useful reminders that some natural and historical processes are irreversible, nonlinear, and even discontinuous. "Mechanical materialism," a phrase used as the antonym of di- 
alectical materialism, might then be defined as the view (or implicit assumption) that all processes are reversible and linear, except that the term "materialism" does not serve any useful purpose here. 

3. Teleology and functionalism are dead. In Marx's thought, a teleological philosophy of history became wedded, in an apparently paradoxical way, to scientific socialism. The paradox is that teleology explains everything by backward connections, from the end to be realized to the means that realize it, whereas science proceeds by forward connections from cause to effect. In the theological tradition that forms the backdrop to Marx's thinking, the paradox is readily acknowledged. As Leibniz wrote, "There are two realms, that of efficient causes and that of final causes, and each is sufficient to explain everything in detail, as if the other did not exist." When God created the universe, he set up the causal chain that would best realize his goal, so that each link in the chain can be explained both as the effect of its predecessor in the chain and as being part of an optimal chain. 

This reconciliation of teleology and causality presupposes theological premises and, in particular, the existence of a divine subject. For Leibniz, history had a goal and a creator. These two, of course, go together. Hegel has been praised for seeing that history 
is a process without a subject. Yet he also retained, disastrously, the idea that history has a goal, as if the concept of a goal had a meaning apart from a subject for whom it is a goal. This Hegelian vision retained a strong grip on Marx's thinking, at least in many 
of his writings. The main exception is The German Ideology, which espouses a robustly antiteleological view. In the major economic writings, he reverted to the Hegelianism of his early youth, arguing that the immanent purpose of history was to carry mankind through the Purgatory of alienation and class conflict toward communism, because full unity could not be achieved in any other way than by a temporary loss of unity. This is individual rationality writ large, as if Humanity were a supraindividual actor with the capacity to defer gratification. 

Another supraindividual entity mysteriously endowed with powers to act is Capital. The numerous instances of functional explanation in Marx's writings usually take the form of arguing that some institution or behavioral pattern works to the benefit of capital and then simply assuming that these benefits provide a sufficient explanation for its presence. Examples include the explanations of social mobility, physiocrat doctrines, labor-saving technical change, state power, the British Ten Hours Bill, and the prevalence of crime under capitalism. (The last-mentioned account, in Theories of Surplus-Value, is offered as a parody of Mandeville's "private vices, public benefits" and is not in itself evidence for a tendency to rely on unsupported functional explanation. Yet later Marxist criminologists have taken it seriously and written about the benefits of crime against property to the property-owning class.) 

The point is not that these accounts are necessarily false but that Marx does not provide us with any reasons for thinking that they are true. There exist forms of functional explanation that do not rely simply on the presence of benefits but either specify a mechanism by which the benefits maintain their causes or provide law- like statements that, even in the absence of knowledge of the mechanism, could be used to back the explanation. Marx and most of his followers have not, unfortunately, felt any need or obligation to justify their use of functional explanation. 

4. Marxian economic theory is dead, with one important exception: the theory of technical change. (This exception is discussed in the section "What Is Living?") The labor theory of value is intellectually bankrupt. The very concept of the labor content of a commodity is ill defined in the presence of heterogeneous labor or heterogeneous work tasks. Even assuming that the concept could be defined, it has no useful role to perform. The equilibrium prices and rate of profit can be determined without invoking labor values. If any connection obtains, it is rather the other way around: Prices must be known before we can deduce labor values. The labor theory of value does not provide a useful criterion for the choice of socially desirable techniques, nor does it explain the actual choice of technique under capitalism. It vitiates the otherwise important theory of fetishism and detracts from the otherwise effective criticism of vulgar economy. Nor does the labor theory of value offer any useful insights into the possibility of stable exchange rates and of surplus. 

The other main pillar of Marxian economic theory, the theory that the rate of profit tends to fall as a result of labor-saving technical change, is equally untenable. Although superficially attractive because of its pleasingly "dialectical" appearance, it turns out to have a number of fatal flaws. Most importantly, Marx neglected the fact that even labor-saving technical change has the indirect effect of depreciating the value of constant capital, thereby counteracting and possibly offsetting the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. Moreover, Marx offers no argument for the view that technical change tends to be labor-saving. The other crisis theories sketched by Marx are even less convincing, because they are not even stated with sufficient precision to allow for evaluation or refutation. The theory of the falling rate of profit passes this test: It is falsifiable, and indeed false, contrary not just to intuition but to truth as well. 

5. The theory of productive forces and relations of production perhaps the most important part of historical materialism - is dead. This obituary may be more controversial than the others; there is probably more room here for reasonable doubt. The main objection to the view that property relations rise and fall according to their tendency to promote or hinder the development of the productive forces is that it has no microfoundations. Marx does not explain how the tendency is translated into a social force, sustained by the motivations of individual men. Moreover, the view is inherently less plausible than an alternative account, according to which property relations are determined by their tendency to promote or hinder surplus maximization. Individuals have a motive to maximize surplus; only Humanity, in its striving toward communism, has a motive to maximize the rate of innovation. 

In addition to being unsupported and implausible, Marx's doctrine is inconsistent with what he actually writes about the various historical modes of production. As he describes it, the transition from slavery to feudalism did not go together with an increase in the rate of innovation. His account of the transition from feudalism to capitalism relies more on surplus maximization than on innovation. His predictions for the transition to communism invoke the suboptimal use of techniques under capitalism rather than their suboptimal rate of change. One might almost say that the obituary for the general theory, as stated in the 1859 preface to A Critique of Political Economy, has already been written by Marx himself, for he consistently refuses to adopt it in his own historical studies. 

6. Other parts of Marx's theory can be declared neither unambiguously dead nor unambiguously well and alive. The theories of alienation, exploitation, class, politics, and ideology are to some extent vitiated by wishful thinking, functional explanation, and sheer arbitrariness, but they also offer vital, even crucial insights. Rather than discussing under separate headings what is dead and what is alive, I consider these aspects together below. 


1. The dialectical method, or at least one version of it, is certainly alive. Not everything Marx learned from Hegel led him astray. Although Hegel's Logic is among the most obscure books ever written, The Phenomenology of Spirit is vastly more valuable, which is not to say that it is easy reading. Marx was under the influence of both. Sometimes he seems to espouse the doctrine of the Logic, that the world is contradictory in the sense that two mutually inconsistent statements can both be true. This view, frankly, is nonsense. Other analyses seem to draw on the Phenomenology, which offered an account of real contradictions that does not commit one to this absurd view. What Marx refers to as social contradictions correspond both to a certain type of logical fallacy ("the fallacy of composition") and to the perverse mechanisms whereby individually rational behavior generates collectively disastrous outcomes. Before Keynes, he diagnosed an essential paradox of capitalism in the fact that each employer wants his workers to have low wages and those employed by all other capitalists to have high wages. The theory of the falling rate of profit, though mathematically unsound, rests on a structurally similar mechanism. Against Adam Smith's view that the self-interest of the individual and the collective interest of society need not conflict but that, on the contrary, the latter can often be realized only through the former, Marx was more impressed by negative unintended consequences and by the self-defeating rationality of the Prisoner's Dilemma. 

2. The theory of alienation is living, as is, correlatively, Marx's conception of the good life for man. By emphasizing the ideal of the self-realization of the individual, Marx wanted to mark his distance from two rival conceptions. First, the emphasis on the self-realization of the individual excludes any conception that places the self-realization of mankind at the center. Although Marx's commitment to methodological individualism was intermittent at best, his ethical individualism was unwavering. He hailed the contributions to science and culture made by class societies in general and by capitalism in particular, but he also recognized that they were achieved at the expense of lack of self-realization for the vast majority. Second, the emphasis on the self-realization of the individual excludes any conception of the good life as one of passive consumption, however enjoyable. His was an Aristotelian conception of the good life for man, as one in which men bring to reality their "species powers/' that is, their creative potentialities. He did not ask or answer the question of why men ought to develop their species powers, but some responses can be suggested. Because of the economies of scale involved in self-realization, it is inherently more satisfactory than consumption. Also, self-realization allows the development of self-respect, without which even consumption loses most of its attractions. Finally, to the extent that self-realization leads to more people engaging in creative activities, others will benefit from what they create. 

If properly modified and restricted, Marx's theory of self-realization is a good guide to industrial reform and, more ambitiously, to large-scale social and economic change. Some of the modifications are the following. It will not turn out to be possible for everybody to develop all their abilities, if only because this would prevent exploitation of the economies of scale. Nor can one expect that everyone will be able to find satisfaction in a restricted form of self-realization. Because it is difficult to know what one's abilities will turn out to be, there is always the risk that one may embark upon a mode of self- realization that is either too easy or too difficult, leading to boredom or frustration. Moreover, self-realization is demanding in that it requires some delay of gratification; not everyone might be willing to wait, especially as there is some uncertainty as to whether the result will be worth the sacrifice. Finally, it is uncertain to what extent complex industrial societies can be reorganized so as to allow universal scope for self-realization. 

3. The theory of exploitation is living, as is, correlatively, Marx's conception of distributive justice. Although exploitation is not a fundamental moral concept, as it would be if exploiting someone ipso facto was doing something morally wrong, the theory provides a robust guide to what is right and wrong in a large number of standard cases. These arise when people perform more labor than is needed to produce the goods they consume, for any of the following reasons: physical coercion, as in slavery and feudalism; economic coercion, as when employers interfere with alternative employment opportunities for workers; or economic necessity, as when people, by no fault of their own, are forced to sell their labor power. The underlying principle of distributive justice is "To each according to his contribution," deviations from which can be justified only on grounds of special needs. Neither the contribution principle nor the principle whereby needs justify deviations from it is clearly stated by Marx, although, again, they can serve as useful first approximations. 

To see why exploitation is not a fundamental moral concept, consider two cases. Imagine first that current injustices have been eliminated and that society can start from a clean slate, whatever that means. (What it means would depend on which finer approximation to distributive justice one adopts.) If under these conditions some people save more than others, who prefer immediate consumption over delayed consumption, and if the former offer jobs to the latter that would involve exploiting them, on what grounds could anyone object to such "capitalistic acts among consenting adults"? It would seem perverse to punish practices that do not impose harm on anybody and that are the result of freely undertaken, mutually beneficial contracts. Although some of the arguments developed with respect to other "victimless crimes," such as gambling or prostitution, might sometimes apply here, one can also think of circumstances in which they would not be relevant. Second, imagine that the persons who own most of the capital also have a very strong preference for consumption over leisure, in which case one can construct cases in which the rich will offer themselves out for hire to the poor, who do not want to use even what little capital they have. Although strictly speaking the poor would then exploit the rich, they would not be doing anything morally wrong. Exploitation, when wrong, is wrong not just because it is exploitation but because of some further features. Hence, the concept of exploitation has mainly a descriptive and heuristic function, which, in any actual inquiry into social in-justice, can be a very important one. 

4. Marx's theory of technical change is definitely living. Some of the most exciting chapters of Capital I are those in which Marx dissects the relations among technology, profit, power, and property rights at the level of the firm. When the capitalist confronts his workers, he does not simply deal with a "factor of production" that is to be combined optimally with other factors of production. The workers have a capacity for individual and collective resistance, which can be affected by the specific organization of the work process, including the choice of technology. Because their capacity for resistance affects the wage the capitalist has to pay the workers, the effective cost of employing them is partly decided within the firm, not only by outside market conditions. Hence, the employer may have an incentive not to introduce new technology if it goes together with a physical reorganization than enhances the solidarity or bargaining power of the workers or if it involves prohibitively high costs of supervision. (On the other hand - and this is an aspect that Marx did not stress - the workers may have an incentive to restrict their freedom of action, so that the capitalists will not be deterred from introducing new techniques that allow scope for improvement for both parties.) This problem may create a free-rider difficulty among the employers, if the solidarity- enhancing effect of new technology occurs only if it is widely adopted. 

5. Marx's theory of class consciousness, class struggle, and politics is vibrantly alive, although it is generally recognized that it does not provide the full answer to the questions that motivate its construction. At the most general level, one would expect a theory of classes to provide some flesh and blood for the abstract theory of productive forces and relations of production. If this was Marx's intention, he failed to carry it out. The latter theory fails, as noted, precisely because Marx did not show how social classes and the individuals who make them up would want to link their fate with a new social arrangement just because it promises a higher rate of innovation. 

At another level, Marx believed that his theory of class offered the key to the understanding of social conflict. He thought deeply about the conditions under which members of a class were likely to act in a concerted way, that is, to become collective actors in the arena of social conflict. He emphasized, among other things, spatial isolation, high turnover rates, and cultural heterogeneity as obstacles to class consciousness. He had, moreover, pioneering insights into the nature of class conflict, class cooperation, and class coalitions. Because members of different classes may have 
common interests and common enemies, one cannot take it for granted that the class struggle is one of implacable opposition, at least not in the short or medium term. Today we would emphasize more than Marx did that the class struggle is also blurred by thepresence of other, cross-cutting conflicts. There is no doubt that class is one important source of social conflict in Northern Ireland, South Africa, or Poland, but one would have to be very dogmatic to assert that it is the only or the dominant element. Religious, racial, and nationalistic sentiments have proved to be independent focuses of loyalty and organization. Marxism is not really able to come to grips with this fact, except by the somewhat desperate measure of arguing that in the very long run, defined by the emergence of a new mode of production, these cultural struggles have little importance - a statement that seems both false and somewhat irrelevant. 

Finally, Marx wanted the class theory to provide an explanation of political phenomena and in particular of the behavior of the state in capitalist societies. The theory for which he is best known, that the state is "nothing but" a tool for the collective class interests of the capitalists, is one that he himself abandoned early on, when it was disproved by the turn of events in the main European countries around 1850. Instead, he proposed an "abdication theory" of the state, according to which the state is allowed to have some autonomy but only because it suits the interests of the capitalists. A closer look at this theory, however, shows that the autonomy granted to the aristocratic-feudal-bureaucratic governments in England, Germany, and France was quite substantial. Indeed, it would not be a great exaggeration to say that in Marx's historical writings, as opposed to his more theoretical pronouncements, the autonomy of the modern state is a cornerstone. The reason why Marx did not fully acknowledge this fact must be sought partly in his reluctance to abandon his general theory of history, in which the derivative nature of the political superstructure was equally much of a cornerstone. In part it may also be found in his insufficient grasp of the strategic nature of politics and of the fact that a political system can assign power in ways that do not correspond to the prepolitical resources of the actors. These flaws should not, however, obscure Marx's insight that the state depends structurally on the capitalist class, simply because its self- 
interest compels it to take some account of the interest of that class. How much account it must take is a strictly empirical matter, which cannot be prejudged by appealing to the general statements of historical materialism. 

6. The theory of ideology is not particularly well and alive, but I believe it can and should be resurrected. Of all Marxist doctrines, this more than any other has been brought into disrepute by the arbitrary procedures adopted. Sometimes functional explanation has been the culprit, sometimes the even less intersubjectively valid method of looking for "similarities" between economic and mental activities. The first step to remedy the situation must be to draw upon the rich insights of cognitive psychology and its accumulated evidence about the motivational and cognitive processes that distort belief formation and preference formation. In fact, there could potentially be a two-way influence. The Marxist tradition in the sociology of knowledge might be able to suggest some specific hypotheses that could be tested by rigorous experimental procedures. One might, for instance, try to specify in a testable way the idea that the economic agents' perception of economic causality depends on their location in the economic system. Similarly, some forms of hot ideology formation, such as the motivated preference for some economic theories rather than others, would not seem to be outside the reach of experimental research. These are proposals for the future. The immediate task is to achieve recognition for the fact that the theory of ideology must have microfoundations if it is to go beyond its present stage, which is partly anecdotal, partly functionalist, partly conspiratorial, and partly magical. 

Above all, the sheer vitality of Marx's thinking makes it impossible to think of him as anything but alive. His endless curiosity, vast culture, burning commitment, and brilliant intellect combined to create a mind with whom we can still communicate across the century that has passed. Commitment, of course, is not a value in itself; commitment to the wrong goals can be disastrous. Marx's goals were generous and liberating: self-realization for the individual, equality among individuals. His Utopian attitude and lack of intellectual control prevented him from carrying out the theoretical and practical tasks he had set for himself, but without these qualities he would not even have tried. He suffered the cost; we are the beneficiaries.