Today Tonight’s James Thomas put together “Changing Times”, an excellent program on what a Depression is like, and the danger that we may be facing one today.
The centrepiece of the story was an interview with Eric Aarons, who at almost 90, lived through the Great Depression. His recollections frame an item that includes archival footage of the then Labor Party Prime Minister Scullin describing the turmoil of 1929 with the words “Australia is facing today the gravest financial crisis in its history”.
Plus ca change…
If you haven’t seen Changing Times yet, please do so.
PS Eric Aarons is a renowned sculptor and author–I will be launching his latest book Marx and Hayek at Gleebooks on April 24th. In an earlier phase in a long and rich life, he played a pivotal role in the Communist Party of Australia, from its inception to its voluntary liquidation in the early 1990s. The ABC produced a documentary on the Aarons family in its Dynasties series which described it as “the royal family of Australian Communism”.
Eric and I met in an incidental way via his excellent memoirs of that lifetime in the Left, What’s Left? I happened to read it while doing my PhD on modelling financial instability, and I was struck by both its wisdom and humanity.
Then some years later, Eric read my book Debunking Economics. This was primarily a critique of neoclassical economics, but it also contained a critique of conventional Marxism in a chapter entitled “Nothing to lose but their minds”. In it I argued that Marx’s philosophical logic in fact contradicted the labor theory of value, which was a linchpin of the case for socialism; with that linchpin shown to be false, so too was the case for socialism as an alternative to capitalism.
He contacted me to discuss my argument, with which he agreed. We became firm friends, and we regularly consult each other on economics, politics and philosophy. I hope that I live as long and as productive a life as has Eric–but even if I do, I will never be the artist he has become. Watch the program for its insights, but also take a close look at the magnificent Eternal Conversations that is Eric’s masterpiece in a long career as a sculptor.