The End of the ‘High Wage, High Work, High Consumption’ Deal

The last meeting (and breakup) for this year of the 17 Group will take place on Wednesday the 4th of December at 7 pm in unit 6 at 20 Drury St West End. It will be on the topic:

The End of the ‘High Wage, High Work, High Consumption’ Deal. The speaker will be Dave Eden, author of the book Autonomy: Capital, Class & Politics.

Dave’s summary:

How can we understand the nature of the dynamics driving Australian society, and how can we assess the possibilities and opportunities for emancipatory politics? The typical explanations to be found of the Left focus on bad people and bad ideas often under the rubric of ‘neoliberalism’. Here I wish to look at the material dynamics of capital accumulation in Australia, address their limitations and barriers and draw out contradictions and struggles.

I’ll be arguing that the long mining boom allowed a very unique situation to develop in Australia where capital was able to offer a ‘high wage, high work, high consumption’ deal to labour. This deal has been key to winning the consent the vast majority of Australians to capital’s course. But in the context of the global financial crisis this mining boom is over and the possibility of continuing this deal is becoming increasingly shaky. What then may the future hold?

This presentation will draw on my research available at

Short biographical note:

Dave Eden writes at and His book Autonomy: Capital, Class & Politics was published by Ashgate in 2012.

Leon is interested in the topic of course but may, just may , he says, have some line-dancing or bingo commitments on the actual night. He’ll do his best, he hastens to reassure, even if it means turning up a bit late. He has himself written on this sort of thing, and in fact began quoting from memory what turned out to be from the introductory part of his article “The Curve of Capitalist Development”, from April 1923:

“Trade-industrial cycles are of different character in different periods. The chief difference between them is determined by quantitative interrelations between the crisis and the boom period within each given cycle. If the boom restores with a surplus the destruction or constriction during the preceding crisis, then capitalist development moves upward. If the crisis, which signals destruction, or at all events contraction of productive forces, surpasses in its intensity the corresponding boom, then we get as a result a decline in economy. Finally, if the crisis and boom approximate each other’s force, then we get a temporary and stagnating equilibrium in economy. This is the schema in the rough.”

“It just so happens”, Leon went on to say “that there’s a diagram that I drew up ‘at the risk of incurring the theoretical ire of the opponents of ‘economism’ ‘, as I put it at the time, which depicts arbitrarily a curve of capitalist development for a period of ninety years along the above mentioned lines. If by any chance I don’t turn up, you may find it useful.” Then he handed us this:

Do the sums. 1923 plus 90. It’s still valid, or at least it was up till July of this year! Can you afford to miss this one?

At the risk of incurring the the

oretical ire of opponents of “economism” (and partly with the intention of provoking their indignation) w

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