[Solved] A century old 'prediction' by progressive economist
Wow, mind boggaling. Thorstein Veblen, another genius from the Gilded Age, and beyond. Thanks for bringing this insightful article up, iogazer...
The thing that stands out the most to me in regard to the world then at the dawn of the 20th century, and now in the present, is the global population. In the year 1900, the estimated world population was 1.6 billion... in 1960 it was 3 billion. Today in 2019 it is estimated at almost 8 billion people. Quite an explosion in just decades!
Perhaps this has some bearing on how (after WWI especially) our "class-structures" have changed. But what hasn't changed is that primal need for people to have power over each other.
I wonder what Veblen would have thought of WWII and the rise of fascism via Hitler? And T***p, who idolizes him?
"In this way, a more peaceable, communal existence had evolved into the grim, combative industrial age in which he found himself: an age shadowed by predators seeking only profits and power, and putting down any workers who tried to stand up for themselves. To Veblen this change was not merely “mechanical.” It was a spiritual transformation."
Great share, thanks.
I do find it a bit irreconcilable to compare the present (even with certain parallels) with the 'Gilded Age', and on into the 1930's era.
After WWl brought down the British aristocracy with such huge casualties of the first and second sons, and even the titled heads of the families, it was the demarcation point for the end of the era. Also the take over of the Bolsheviks in Russia and the destruction of the Romanovs... crazy times.
The rise of Utopian socialism was an interesting development, with the likes of Einstein and Tesla in that camp... does it appear that Thornstein Veblen might have had that leaning as well?
Based on the article, Veblen felt that capitalism would fail repeatedly and be replaced with ever more fascistic forms of government. He believed only socialist-democracy would be a benefit to humanity. It's an interesting view, especially given that he wasn't an intuitive - just super smart. I think his theories are holding up quite well (unfortunately for those of us alive at this time).
I had the good fortune (many years ago) to take my economics degree at a school that had preserved some respect for Veblen and the Institutional school of economics that he founded. The Institutional school as such has faded over the years, but it lives on as an influence on some contemporary thinkers. One important recent innovation is Modern Monetary Theory, which brings some important new ideas to the table. Broadly, it refutes the 'austerian' theories of neoclassical economics that are used to justify policies that increase inequality and human suffering in the name of 'fiscal responsibility'. Here are a couple of brief intros to MMT.