Buried in a footnote of a critical discussion of Perry Anderson's relaunching of the NLR in 2000 by Gilbert Achcar is this comment:
“One striking aspect of Perry Anderson’s ultra-pessimism is the way in which he raises very high the bar for a new modification of the balance of forces acting against neo-liberalism, succumbing thereby to a particularly crude economic determinism. Thus, according to him, the present balance of forces ‘will probably remain stable so long as there is no deep economic crisis in the West’ (“Renewals”, op cit, p19). Following this, he goes one step further and adds: ‘Little short of a slump of inter-war proportions looks capable of shaking the parameters of the current consensus’ (ibid). Apart from its exaggerated character, this judgement carries a surprising reading of
history from the pen of such a far-sighted historian. Quite the opposite is needed: let us wish that the new period of economic growth is consolidated so that the new wave of radicalisation which appears to be taking shape is strengthened. The long recessions of the inter-war period and of the last quarter of the 20th century led to a significant worsening of the balance of forces. Conversely, even Durkheim understood that boom phases are favourable to radicalisation of demands because of the expectations they raise. Besides, a new expansion under the present neo-liberal conditions of development in global capitalism clearly could not reproduce the ‘virtuous circle’ which flattered the Western working class during the long post-war boom.” (my italics)
I suppose it is this kind of suspicion that makes me unsure that the current credit crunch will have the effects of disenchantment and radicalisation that might be supposed. In the case of Argentina the collapse of the banking system appeared to produce a temporary radical effloresence that all too rapidly faded. Of course perhaps a "world" crisis would mean these effects couldn't be contained, but that is not yet self-evident. I hope I'm wrong.