Saturday, April 12, 2008



Nobody loves me but my mama -- and she may be jivin' too. -- BB King


At April 13, 2008 8:36 AM, Blogger David Devine, Paris, France said...


Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys & Goose-Stepping Nazi Trade Unionists Don't Understand Godly Free Enterprise, Says Foreign Policy-Newsweek Exposé

[Dear Progressive Review Readers, Alas, the decadent Europeans haven't been following the outstanding
scholarship in biblical criticism and Near Eastern archeology conducted by
American economists, who have uncovered the missing Mosaic commandments,
which have been hitherto thought to number only ten. Moses inadvertently
hid from posterity some of Yahweh's tough-love admonitions, including "Thou
Shalt Revere Greed as the Highest Good," "Thou Shalt Screw the Poor if No
One, Save I, Is Looking," and "Mammon Ain't So Bad, So Thou Shalt Accumulate
It As a Sacrifice Most Pleasing to Me." A University of Chicago-convened
Jesus Seminar has thoroughly discredited the socialistic, pacifistic
blatherings of Jesus as counterfeit interpolations of first-century C.E.
Bolsheviks. Additional scholarly findings from
the Hebrew Bible and New Testament may be found in just about any American
economics journal or New York Times editorial. N.B. Paul Krugman's
scribblings are an abomination unto the Lord. -- David Devine, Paris, France]


Monthly Review, "Notes from the Editors" (April 2008, v.59, n.11)

The United States and the world economy are now experiencing a major
economic setback that began in the financial sector with the bursting of the
housing bubble, but which can ultimately be traced back to the basic
problems of capitalism arising from class-based accumulation (see the Review
of the Month in this issue).

Things are clearly much worse, with respect to the general public
understanding of these problems, here in the United States, the citadel of
capitalism, than elsewhere in the world. We were therefore bemused by an
article entitled "Europe's Philosophy of Failure" by Stefan Theil, Newsweek'
s European economics editor, appearing in the January-February 2008 Foreign
Policy. Theil writes of the "prejudice and disinformation" incorporated in
French and German secondary school textbooks dealing with economics. Such
textbooks he complains "ingrain a serious aversion to capitalism."

We quote here, for your amusement and information, some key passages in
which Theil displays his outrage over what he calls the "biased commentary
on the destruction wreaked by capitalism" to be found in European

a.. "Economic growth imposes a hectic form of life, producing overwork,
stress, nervous depression, cardiovascular disease and, according to some,
even the development of cancer," asserts the three volume Histoire du XXe
siècle, a set of texts memorized by countless French high school students as
they prepare for entrance exams to...prestigious French universities. The
past 20 years have "doubled wealth, doubled unemployment, poverty, and
exclusion, whose ill effects constitute the background for a profound social
malaise," the text continues....Capitalism itself is described at various
points in the text as "brutal," "savage," "neoliberal," and "American."
b.. In another textbook, students actually meet a French entrepreneur
who invented a new tool to open oysters. But the quirky anecdote is followed
by a long-winded debate over the degree to which the modern workplace is
organized along the lines imagined by Frederick Taylor, the father of modern
scientific management theory.
c.. French not learn economics so much as a very specific,
highly biased discourse about economics. When they graduate, they may not
know much about supply and demand, or about the workings of a corporation.
Instead, they will likely know inside-out the evils of "la McDonaldisation
du monde" and the benefits of a "Tobin tax" on the movement of global
d.. If there's one unifying characteristic of German textbooks, it's the
tremendous emphasis on group interests, the traditional social-democratic
division of the universe into capital and labor, employer and employee, boss
and worker....Even a cursory look at the country's textbooks shows that many
are written from the perspective of a future employee with a union
contract....One 10th-grade social studies text titled FAKT has a chapter on
"What to do against unemployment."
e.. Equally popular in Germany today are student workbooks on
globalization. One such workbook includes sections headed "The Revival of
Manchester Capitalism," "The Brazilianization of Europe," and "The Return of
the Dark Ages."
In contrast to what he calls the "dangerous indoctrination" of such French
and German economic textbooks, which spread "ideology," "bias,"
"disinformation," and a "doctrine of dissent," Newsweek'sEuropean economics
editor praises the realism, conformity to "conventional wisdom," and
non-ideological nature of U.S. secondary school economics texts. Thus Theil
notes that European economic textbooks are "a world apart from what American
high school students learn." In the United States "most classes are based on
straightforward, [neo-]classical economics. In Texas, the state prescribed
curriculum requires that the positive contributions of entrepreneurs to the
local economy be taught." (We do not doubt for a second that the section of
the Texas curriculum on Enron embodied in secondary texts is particularly
non-ideological and straightforward!) It is such responsible education in
economic basics, Thiel tells us, that helps explain "American success" and
"European failure."

What is most interesting of course is the timing of this Foreign Policy
article by Newsweek's European economics editor. Published on the cusp of a
worldwide economic reversal, in which the instability and exploitation
associated with capital accumulation are coming alive for everyone to see,
the attack on European "anti-capitalism" appears to be an exercise in
ideological indoctrination of an old-fashioned capitalist kind. The goal of
course is to put a stop to all critique of the system. The French and
Germans, Theil concludes, should "start paying more attention to what their
kids are learning in the classroom." The same might be said with
considerably more validity and for entirely different reasons of U.S.
classrooms. Few in this country are equipped by the schools to understand
the harsh realities of capitalism-or the need to rid the world of it.


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