Just some notes of clarification on Nayar:

1) As Losurdo demonstrated, the original liberalism was born in order to defend cattle slavery against serf labor. The first use of the word "liberalism" he found was in Spain, a letter to king Phillip, from the beginning of the 16th Century, and its meaning undoubtedly meant the defense of freedom to move property (i.e. slaves). The key is that the serf could not be moved from one piece of land to another, because he was tied to the land; one of the greatest, if not the greatest, philosopher or the original liberalism was John Locke;

2) What we call nowadays "liberalism" is actually liberal radicalism, racial liberalism or radicalism, which was a schism of original liberalism after the French Revolution of 1789. Some time before or after the Revolution, France had temporarily lost many or all of its colonies, leaving it with no benefit of the cattle slave system; they then decided that, if they could not, nobody should be able to benefit from it. The Irish question was also of interest, as they were de facto slaves of the English, their archenemy. Radicalism (which the Europeans and Americans now call liberalism) was thus born;

3) Stalin definitely did not have anything to do with the failed German Revolutions (1918 and 1923). He did not consolidate power until at least 1928. The concept of social-fascism, if memory doesn't fail me, is from the early 1930s. Either way, it was the Social-Democrats who crushed the 1918-1919 Revolution, not the KPD; indeed, the KPD was a consequence of that episode, not the cause. The 1923 was a completely artificial and minor attempt by the KPD, but it was defended and supported mainly by Zinoviev, Radek and Trotstky, not Stalin. Indeed, at the time, Stalin was the only one who realized communist revolutions were not going to happen in Europe -- this was one of the main factors he, and not the others, succeeded Lenin;

4) From the Marxist point of view, the apex of capitalism the system was during the mid 19th Century and not the Postwar Period. Postwar capitalism was completely mixed with socialists elements, therefore not pure enough. Systems do not die suddenly and clearly: they die by one thousand cuts. Antiquity didn't die in 475: it died almost 200 years before, with the Diocletian Reforms (hence the "Late Antiquity" debate among historians).

Long story short, Marxists do not consider the postwar miracle the apex of capitalism; what happens is that the people who write History since that period -- a very particular cosmopolitan middle class, made mainly by university professors and other professional researchers -- consider the postwar miracle the apex of capitalism because they are the ones who benefited the most from it. But from the point of view of capitalism itself, the purity of the system, capitalism had its apex somewhere during the Victorian Era up until no after 1914, e.g. so anything between the very late 18th Century and WWI -- probably around the year of 1851, where the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace serves as a mnemonic mark.

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Thanks for the review, enjoying it as usually. Writing from the perspective of Poland - the idea that the success of capitalism and its "human face" phase was owed, at least partly, to the rivalry with communism has long been obvious and common knowledge here. The capitalism that reached Poland was already in its neoliberal form (still, experienced as a great boon in the 90's).

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Brilliant, thank you very much. Very much my thoughts as well. And yes, it is fascism light, no doubt. If you take Michael Mann's definition of fascism, we are halfway there already, and under Dimitrov's definition probably 2/3rds of the way.

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May 4, 2023·edited May 4, 2023

I totally support the following. I have been thinking for a long time now that, at least for those of us who lived in Germany in the 80ies and 90ies, this should be obvious:

"the success of Western capitalism in the period 1945-1980 cannot be explained without taking into account the pressure that came on capitalism both from the existence of the Soviet Union as an alternative model of society, and from strong left-wing parties linked with trade unions in major European countries. In that sense the period of les trente glorieuses which is now considered as the most successful period of capitalism ever occurred against the normal capitalist tendencies. It was an anomaly. "

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Good review of a book I'll read. But the claim that Marcuse was not aware that --

"The size of the working class had declined, real incomes have risen, the power of trade unions was vanishing, large companies no longer exerted the role which they had in the past, and perhaps most importantly the technological change became very different from the technological progress that was known in the 19th and early 20th century." --

is simply mistaken. Marcuse accepted the thesis of "First World" working class integration into mid-20th c. capitalism, as did many other Marxists (even the editors of Monthly Review, Baran and Sweezy, apparently subscribed). That's why he looked to other groups -- repressed minorities, students, Third World militants, feminism -- for a revolutionary impulse. It's also why he ranged further, and clumsily, to talk about escaping the dominance of Oedipal structures over "polymorphously perverse" instincts -- currently making Marcuse a steady target of rightists -- and also tried to find sparks in aesthetics. As with other members of the Frankfurt School during that period, the shock of the Nazi extermination camps and revelations of Stalin's terror combined with the apparent success of Keynesian economic management to encourage a resigned retreat from customary left politics.

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Joachim Fest was a serious moral conservative. However much he defended capitalism, the bildungsburgertraum descends from something older. Vulgar materialism it ain't. His father's contempt for German fascism parallels the Jewish neo-Kantian contempt for Zionism.

Nayar's book seems obvious to me, but that's just me. Cosmopolitanism exists when individualism, self-interest, greed, and sociability, obligation, loyalty, exist in the same people, who enjoy their freedom and the things that bind them to others.

The market requires an adversary. The older sense of commerce never escaped the relation of money to shit: business is vulgar but necessary. Liberalism combined self-interest and optimism. If greed is a given, then through through the optimism of science, it became a good. I don't think Fest thought greed was a good. The pessimist's defense of capitalism is the acceptance of it, not the celebration.

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Is there any comment in the book on the experiences of the countries whose economic systems fell somewhere in between the two main ones, e.g. Yugoslavia?

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Thank you very much for the review, your insights, and the links to other material.

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Great stuff, as always.

As to, "if capitalism continues along the current trajectory that Nayar believes almost preordained, it must again produce instability and rejection. And that would—again--play into the hands of right- wing movements," it would indeed, and will, given the West's enthusiastic support for Ukraine Nazism.

There's another possibility, and one that Beijing has worked hard to make possible: like the Pied Piper, China will lead the developing world to the economic uplands to their mutual benefit. The MENA deal was of that nature.

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"The question which is on everybody’s mind after having read Nayar’s book is, What next?"

In the 19th century we tried socialism=democracy against capitalism, in the 20th century we tried capitalism=democracy against socialism.

I think it is time to put democracy first.

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