Robert Brenner

Robert Brenner is a professor and Marxist historian. He is the author of the Brenner Thesis as a part of the debate surrounding the "Transition From Feudalism to Capitalism." Controversial Economist.

 

"Why, then, did this not happen in the seventies, as the U.S. economy went through a bruising series of shocks and declines? In an irony of position, Brenner's history from the left approaches, as if the political spectrum were a torus, the far right ideas of the Austrian School of Economics (in particular their 'liquidationist' belief that the government should never intervene against the failure of businesses, lest inefficiencies be unnaturally preserved). But Brenner is less interested in libertarian prescriptions than in a fact-based description of what happened and why. He persuasively debunks the idea that industrial profits were squeezed by wages; indeed, real wages have stagnated and even decreased in the last four decades. This has been concealed only in the sphere of rhetoric: Statistics about 'household earnings' desperately hope you won't notice that households now require multiple incomes to keep up. That wasn't feminism sending women into the tender mercies of the labor market — or rather, it was, but at the same time the migration to the workplace was part of a protracted disaster for the working classes, masquerading as opportunity. And even while working more and harder, households have increasingly found themselves obligated to take on debt to stay afloat."

- Joshua Clover, "Autumn of the Empire", Los Angeles Review of Books