Looking beyond Capitalist Democracy

In “The Crisis of Capitalist Democracy,” from Telos 152 (Fall 2010), Adrian Pabst “charts the rise of capitalist democracy” in its conceptual and historical origin, and then in its empirical and contemporary manifestation, before presenting an alternative. This alternative seeks the re-emergence of an autonomous realm of “civil society” that is not subsumed by either the free market or the liberal democratic state. Pabst begins by sketching the collusion of capitalism and democracy and their subsequent fusing into modern “market-states.” Representative democracy, in the same way that free-market capitalism creates abstract, virtual value from local and material processes, “tends toward the formalization and abstraction of politics from the people it purports to represent.” The collusion, therefore, of democratic states with free-market capitalism has led to a third-way combination of “some of the worst elements of the left and the right.”

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Community After Capitalism

When Karl Marx described the commodity, he invoked the language of faith. For him, the commodity remained “a very strange thing, abounding in metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties.”[1] Marx, a dedicated secular economist, hesitated to pinpoint the exact power of the commodity. He could not fully understand it without recourse to a mythology he abhorred, one that far predated his radical recasting of accepted historical narratives. Here religion colors economics: the logic of exchange resembles a curious mysticism.

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Germany and the Struggle for Reform

As an occasional feature on TELOSscope, we highlight a past Telos article whose critical insights continue to illuminate our thinking and challenge our assumptions. Today, Johannes Grow looks at Pierluigi Mennitti’s “Germany in Decline,” from Telos 127 (Spring 2004).

In “Germany in Decline,” from Telos 127 (Spring 2004), Pierluigi Mennitti addresses Berlin’s inability to enact “true” reforms, which has subsequently led to a decline in its economic, geopolitical, and cultural influence. Through an examination of a contemporaneous Der Spiegel article, Mennitti demonstrates the reluctance of the Federal Republic to accept such thoroughgoing Reformen, which would allow it to crawl out of its then apparent decline and to depend far less on the economic strategies propounded during the so-called “economic miracle” of the post-1949 era. Although it would seem to have been premature to write off Germany as the “economic engine” in Europe, his article nevertheless offers several accurate points. For example, Mennitti asserts that Germany

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