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Alternatives to Neoliberalism

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Super Capitalism as Imperialism Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism America’s Financial Oligarchy   Disaster capitalism Neoliberalism as a Cause of Structural Unemployment in the USA Neoliberalism and inequality
Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime Harvard Mafia Friedman --founder of Chicago school of deification of market Republican Economic Policy Monetarism fiasco Small government smoke screen The Decline of the Middle Class
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Adapted from: The Legitimation Crisis of Neoliberalism The State, Will-Formation, and Resistance Alessandro Bonanno 9781137592453 Amazon.

Resistance to neoliberalism remains weak

Despite the fact that necoliberalism brings poor economic growth, inadequate availability of jobs and career opportunities, and the concentration of economic and social rewards in the hands of a privileged upper class resistance to it, especially at universities, remain weak to non-existent.

The first sign of high levels of dissatisfaction with neoliberalism was the election of Trump (who, of course, betrayed all his elections promises, much  like Obama before him).

Delegitimization of neoliberal ideology after 2008 was not complete. myth about the efficient and effective functioning of the market (ideological legitimization) was discredited by still was propagated by all major  MSM. Wealth redistribution practices (redistribution of wealth up) are still continued to be socially acceptable even after 2008 crisis.

It is clear why the resistance to neoliberalism remains weak -- the level of surveillance  of population after 2008 became equal or exceed the level practiced by STASI.

Strategies and actions of proponents of neoliberals also adapted to the situation. They have shifted neoliberal propaganda from the sphere of labor to that of the market creating a situation in which the idea of the superiority and desirability of the market is shared by the majority of population, including some oppositional groups.

Even emancipatory movements such as women, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation have espoused individualistic, competition-centered, and meritocratic views typical of neoliberal discourses. They served as a wedge to split working class and lower middle class and to prevent forming  a unified opposition to the neoliberal state. Moreover, MSM has been banned from publishing views of  oppositional groups and movements.

However, as systemic instability of neoliberalism is impossible to hide. Given the weakness of opposition, neoliberal forces and financial oligarchy attempts to mitigate socio-economic contradictions. The crisi of neoliberal ideology since 2008 and unavailability of strong arguments and ideological mechanisms to legitimize neoliberal arrangements motivates dominant social actors to make marginal concessions to oppressed group and fisrt of all to blue-collar workers, which considered by neoliberals the most dangerous. These changes, however, will not alter the corporate co-optation and distortion of discourses that historically nutered left opposition t neoliberalism in the USA.

As contradictions continue to exist and  their manifestations increase in severity, however, their unsustainability will represent a real possibility for the creation of a viable anti-neoliberal movement, despite the power of financial oligarchy. Brexit and recent revolt in France are two confirmation of this fact.

The Literature on the Crisis of Neoliberalism

The argument of the Ыюк is based on, and adds to, the now vast literature on the crisis of neoliberalism. The Great Recession of 2007-08 engendered a number of stuthes that proposed the thesis of the unsustainability and imminent end of the neoliberal regime. Consequendy, however, as neoliberalism did not end, a wave of works stressed its enduring power. This literature can be organized into two groups.

One of them contains analyses that stress neoliberalism’s economic contradictions (e.g., Bellamy Foster and McChesney 2012; Dumenil and Levy 2011; Kotz 2015; Lapavitsas 2012; Ovcrbcck and van Apcldoom 2012; Stieglitz 2013, 2016).

The primary strength of these works rests on the accuracy of their analyses of the economic limitations of neoliberalism. Emphasizing the so-called retreat of the state, they contend that while social programs have been drastically reduced and the economy deregulated, the state remains a necessary actor in the functioning of the "free" market. Yet, the intent to address crises through the creation of new markets creates disequilibria that the state cannot control.

The gist of these works is that the economic proposal of neoliberalism is now exhausted.

 

Possible Alternatives

Among the stuthes on the crisis of neoliberalism, the most interesting group is the group of researchers which investigate the the issue of post-neoliberalism. Which entrain proposing and analyzing possible alternatives to the current situation.

This group is exemplified by the works of Kotz (2015) and Crouch (2011, 2013). A supporter of the idea that neoliberalism has reached its final crisis, the objective of Kotz’s cconomic-oricntcd study is to uncover the roots of the unsustainability of neoliberalism. He contends that this is a structural crisis of capitalism for it cannot be resolved cither through the implementation of new' forms of financial regulation or traditional Keynesian policies.

Neoliberalism’s growing inequality, large asset bubbles, and speculative and risk-seeking financial activities gave rise to the long-term trends that generated the 2007-08 crisis and the post-crisis stagnation. These conditions, he contends, cannot be changed because they constitute the essence of the neoliberal model that replaced Fordism.

In this model, reduced wages and restructured social spending engendered raising profit and stable capital accumulation at first stage of the development of neoliberalism.  However, they also signified the switch to consumer spending based on personal debt. As a series of financial bubbles begun to emerge in the 1980s and continued to destabilize the economy in the following decades, wages and social spending did not grow allowing the destabilizing growth of personal debt. Once the expansion of debt reached unsustainable levels, the crisis emerged in all its seriousness.

Given the fact that, at least in the USA, different administrations have not been able to alter the power of financial actors and the conditions that allow their domination of the economy, the current instability is destined to continue. Yet, for Kotz, four future scenarios are possible. The first consists of the reproduction of the status quo with the continuation of neoliberalism. The second involves the introduction of a “business regulated capitalism” which rests on the corporate regulation of the economy. The third scenario calls for the establishment of a social democratic capitalism reminiscent of the Fordist regime.

The final scenario consists of the establishment of a socialist experiments in Latin America (Venezuela and Bolivia). Both are interesting developments,  but as a scenarios for the future displacement of neoliberalism they do not look too attractive.

Accordingly, the proposition of these alternatives ultimately remains highly abstract.

Underscoring the social and ideological dimensions of the crisis of neoliberalism, the analysis proposed by Collin Crouch (2011, 2013) indicates that, despite the financial collapse of 2007-08, neoliberalism has grown stronger for the post-crisis reorganization of the economy. This paradoxical result  has been based on the continuous application of the neoliberal ideology to the solutions for the crisi of 2008.

Due to that  market principles continue to represent the dominant standards for the functioning of virtually all social, political, and economic institutions while monetary transactions and payments represent the moral foundations of society. While neoliberals claim that the state should not address socio-economic issues, the intervention of the state is fundamental for the existence and domination of neoliberalism.

Moreover, he contends, the dominant idea that the government must adapt to the market in order to be effective and efficient conceals a reality in which governments arc actually adapting to the interests of large corporations. Rather than the marketization of the economy and society, neoliberalism consists of the corporatization of the economy and society.

In the neoliberal society, corporations dominate by defining the ideological conditions of its functioning and allowing debt to be the dominant form through which people arc controlled. As this domination is difficult to oppose, the contradictions of corporate neoliberalism are severe and the system experiences a crisis. While Crouch \icws the limits of the political left as the major obstacle to the construction of a substantive alternative, he hopes that forces in the civil society will create an effective opposition. In his view, the real alternative to neoliberalism is represented by the construction of a social democratic society. As in the case of the analysis of Kotz, however, it remains unclear how' a social democratic system could be transformed from a hope into an attainable outcome.

Thk Limits of the Left and Suggestions to Overcome Them

Another group of scholars provides similar critiques of the characteristics of neoliberalism but adds by focusing on the limits of the left opposition and suggesting corrections to its anti-ncolibcral strategics. Philip Mirowski (2014; see also Mirowski and Plehwe 2009) is an exemplary' representative of this group. Like in the case of Crouch, his analysis of the ideological characteristics of neoliberalism is incisive and, like in the ease of Kotz, his review of the economic conditions that destabilize neoliberalism is to the point. Also like Crouch, Mirowski belongs to that group of critics that underscore how the crisis of 2007-08 and the Great Recession that followed did not alter the economic and ideological domination of neolibcralism. Central among the points that he makes is his argument about the limits of the economic theory of the traditional left. In particular, he criticizes mainstream left economists, such as Nobel laureates Paul Krugnian and Joseph Stiglitz, for proposing established forms of state directed economic intervention to rectify the problems generated by the implementation of neoliberalism. He contends that the state is a ncolibcral state and, as such, docs not, by itself, represents an alternative to neoliberalism.

Dwelling on a detailed analysis of the evolution of neoliberal theory, he stresses the constructionist character of neoliberalism. For ncolibcrals, Mirowski points out, markets are socially created and the role of the state is to maintain and create new markets. Simultaneously, the so-called impartiality of the functioning of the market argued by neoliberals is, for Mirowski, one of the most deceiving elements of this theory, for ncolibcralism constructed a system that not only benefits exclusively the upper class but also effectively justifies this outcome. By stressing the effectiveness of competition and the desirability of individual action, socio-economic inequality, concentration and centralization of capital, and the political and social domination of the upper class are presented as normal outcomes of the functioning of the free market.

Employing this analysis, Mirowski contends that there is nothing liberal about neoliberalism. The constructionist approach that neoliberals employhas allowed them to build a system that is illiberal, highly authoritarian, and oppressive.

Additionally, they implemented a system of domination centered on the development of the technology' of the control of the self. This new system of control gives the illusion of emancipation while the internalization of the ideology of the market and the fragmentation of social relations work to reproduce neoliberal domination.

In this context, neoliberalism was able to co-opt ideological spaces and discourses that have traditionally been included in the patrimony of the left and use them as ways to promote the ideology of the market. Faced with these formidable opponents and with inadequate responses, the crisis of the left is obvious.

For Mirowski, the corrective recommendation is to unmask the pseudo-emancipatory' posture of neoliberalism and move in the opposite direction. The failure of the Occupy movement, he contends, is precisely legitimization of neoliberalism rests on the unquestionability of economic rationality'. As contradictions continue to mount and the questioning of the system is not allowed, this crisis will continue. Resistance, he argues, should be expected and the left should exercise it at the individual and state levels for these are all relevant spheres where the power of neoliberalism is exercised. Concerned with an ideological critique of neoliberalism, Davies ends up not tackling the issue of the social forces and processes that should transform the system’s contradictions into substantive opposition.

Neo-Fordist Proposals and the Return to the Nation-State

An additional group of analyses of the crisis of neoliberalism consists of works that propose a return to regulated capitalism such as the one that characterized the Fordist era. Authors included in this group contend that neoliberalism can be opposed by a stronger role played by the nation-state.

As indicated above, left-leaning institutional economists such as Krugman (2013) and Stiglitz (2013, 2016) have forcefully argued for the introduction of socio-economic reforms centered on Keynesian economics and the associated state control of capitalism. This neo-Fordist proposal is based on the denunciation of the significant limits of the neoliberal system. In particular, these authors stress the dangerous consequences created by the growth of socio-economic inequality. Stiglitz (2013, 2016), for instance, identifies income inequality as the major characteristic and problem of neoliberal capitalism.

Contrasting the post-World War II era with the second decade of the twenty-first century, lie stresses that postwar state investment in productive infrastructure and education created economic opportunities for the middle and working classes. These actions translated into significant economic expansion, social stability, and gains by members of all classes.

In the case of the contemporary economy and society, conversely, neoliberalism has promoted trickle-down economics that has not worked bur instead has concentrated wealth in the hands of the upper class and has engendered economic stagnation, social instability, economic uncertainty, and lack of jobs and economic opportunities for the rest of society. Promoted by large tax cuts for the rich, the privatization of gains, and the socialization of losses, the growth of inequality is a politically generated process. Because it is a political process rather than an inexorable law of economics, it can be reversed precisely through political action.

Calling for a return to a lair market system, Stiglitz contends that the state should implement reforms such as those that would ensure that the rich pay their fair share of taxes, corporations arc regulated, speculators are con- trolled, the poor are helped, the middle class is supported, and investment to improve education and infrastructure is carried out. While this cannot be a solution for all problems, he concludes, it can bring about diat sense of hope and dignity that neoliberalism has erased from contemporary society. Echoing this analysis, Krugman (2013) stresses the importance of state spending as a solution to the economic problems facing the USA and other countries. His argument centers on a critiques of austerity policies that have accompanied neoliberalism.

Austerity has been one of the major arguments in favor of the reduction of social spending and the elimination of programs that benefitted the lower and middle classes. Coupled with inadequate state intervention, such as in the case of the anti-Great Recession stimulus in the USA, limited state spending prevents a recovery Or the economy and maintains its current stagnant conditions. As these neo-Fordist positions have been criticized by neoliberals for not taking into consideration the continuous high level of state spending and state inefficiency and waste, the major limit of this proposal rests on the lack of discussion on the very issues that engendered the crisis of Fordism.

Problems such as the fiscal crisis of the state, the capitalist class resistance to taxation and social spending, and inflation are not addressed. Moreover, globalization has altered the ability of the nation-state to control the economy, making the call for a nation-state-centered reform problematic.

The argument about the importance of a nation-state-centered reform has not been exclusively made in reference to the US state. Addressing the financial crisis of the EU, Lapavitsas (2013a, b), for instance, contends that the growth of the financial sector promoted by neoliberalism has engendered instability and the creation of antidemocratic institutions.

In his opinion, the EU is an instance of a supranational form of the state run by bureaucrats that have virtual no connections with local constituencies. Supporting anti-austerity critiques, he views the EU imposed financial constraints on member countries such as native Greece, Spain, Italy, and Portugal not only as economically ineffective but also as politically authoritarian. Democracy, he argues, has been suspended in the name of the good functioning of the economy. In this context, returning greater power to the nation-state not only can address some of the economic problems affecting contemporary society but can also democratize decision-making processes.

Agreeing with Lapavitsas on the relevance of a return to full national sovereignty of EU countries and disagreeing with Jurgen Habermas (2012) and other supporters of the existence of the EU and the Euro, critical theorist, Streeck (2014) stresses that the crisis of neoliberalism is a crisis of legitimization. In his view' and since the 1970s, capitalism has experienced a constant crisis of legitimization that has been addressed through the implementation of measures that were only temporarily and partially successful.

The partiality of these measures makes the resolution of the crisis of legitimization of neoliberalism, he contends, continuous and particularly difficult to achieve. He argues that the contradictions engendered by state intervention and the social spending of the Fordist era were temporarily addressed through the creation of inflation.

However, when inflation translated into the fiscal crisis of the state and the state was not able to effectively intervene to address the crisis of accumulation, Fordism dissolved.

Again opposing Habermas (1975), for Streeck the end of Fordism was not the result of disturbances of the system. But rather it was engendered by the reaction of the capitalist class against the power held by labor. In the 1980s, the capitalist class was able to defeat labor and the left through investment strikes that generated unemployment and devitalized the effectiveness of traditional forms of opposition. On the strength of this victory, the establishment of neoliberal measures reignited profit making through deregulation, tax reforms, and the reduction of social spending.

The ensuing social instability was addressed through the rising of public debt that, however, reached an unsustainable level in the 1990s. At the time, the demand for social programs and the issue of working and middle-class consumption were addressed through the expansion of individual debt promoted by the deregulation of the financial sector. This solution was, eventually, made ineffective by the 2007-08 crisis that required massive state intervention. State-promoted quantitative casing programs and the sustained intervention of central banks avoided the collapse of the economy.

However, they did not address the socio-economic instability of the system that continues as inequality, limited growth, and uncertainty characterize the present situation. Given the strength of the capitalist class and neoliberal forces, Streeck concludes, a democratic solution to this new crisis of legitimization appears problematic.

More plausible is the acceptance of the neoliberal separation between capitalism and democracy that calls for the primacy of market justice over substantive justice. While cogent, Streeck’s analysis underplays the negative effects of the system contradictions on the rate of profit and the overall interests of the capitalist class. As it gives too much power to the capitalist class, currently unresolved issues such as those associated with the environment, labor under-remuneration, migration, socio-economic instability, and uncertainty limit the accumulation of capital and have already forced this class to grant some — albeit limited — concessions to subordinate groups such as increases in wages, efforts to diminish pollution, and recognition of the importance of quality production.

Defenders of neoliberalism sophistry

This idea that neoliberalism is too powerful to be defeated is stressed by an additional group of theorists (e.g., Block and Somers 2014; Brown 2015; Dardot and Laval 2013). Basing their analyses on the seminal work of Foucault (2004) and classical critiques of the free functioning of the market such as that of Polanyi (2001 [1944]), these authors highlight the fundamental tenets of neoliberalism and its significant differences with classical liberalism.

They try to promote false idea that  the self-regulation of the capitalist economy legitimizes neoliberalism. This sophistry was crashed in 2008.

Another sophistry is that in spirit of classical laissez-faire, the defenders of neoliberalism try to promote  the idea that impersonality of the market justifies its desirability over decisions made through the discussions and negotiations sanctioned by the polity. They falsely claim that the decisions made through the state apparatus can never be superior to those that derive from the free functioning of the market. In this context, the market establishes the true values of ideas and goods, generates a highly desirable “world without politics,” and makes democracy purely procedural. For neoliberals, they add, the actions of individuals are paramount.

Another myth promoted by defenders of neoliberalism is the myth of human capital. Individuals, they argue, are endowed with human capital that they employ not only to compete but also to constantly improve their competitive skills. Following Foucault, they underscore the novel notion of labor capital entailed in the neoliberal proposal. If for classical liberals as well as for Marx, labor is exchanged for a wage, for neoliberals the capacity to labor remains continuously attached to the individual ands constitute their capital. Individuals, therefore, are required to deploy this capital, but also improve it via training and fining new  suitable for them specialties and occupations, their capacity to labor the ability to win the competition between atomic individuals in labor market.

As socio-economic and political outcomes depend on individual competition, structural issues such as high inequality are viewed by apologets of neoliberlaims as secondary at best. Accordingly, for neoliberals, socio-economic inequality is considered a legitimate outcome of the free functioning of the market, the result of difference in individual efforts and accomplishments, and an item that justly rewards those who are meritorious.

As tar as the future of neoliberalism is concerned, these authors point out that the power of the ideology of the impartiality of the market, its promise of a world without politics, and the lack of substantive opposition will allow for the continuous domination of the neoliberalism.

As for the ease of Streeck, this group of authors’ analysis of the power of neoliberalism is not accompanied by a consideration of the fact that its contradictions affect capital accumulation and promote calls for change not only from subordinate classes but also from the capitalist class.

 

Neoliberalism leads to neofascism: Neoliberal globalization as a catalyst for the rise of ultra-nationalism and neo-fascism

Historically connection of neoliberalism and neo-fascism is extremely strong: one of first experiments in introduction of neoliberal ideology (Pinochet putsch in Chile) has definite neo-fascist colors.

The worst violence occurred in the first three months of the coup's aftermath, with the number of suspected leftists killed or "disappeared" (desaparecidos) soon reaching into the thousand.[6] In the days immediately following the coup, the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs informed Henry Kissinger, that the National Stadium was being used to hold 5,000 prisoners, and as late as 1975, the CIA was still reporting that up to 3,811 prisoners were still being held in the Stadium.[7] Amnesty International, reported that as many as 7,000 political prisoners in the National Stadium had been counted on 22 September 1973.[8] Nevertheless, it is often quoted in the press, that some 40,000 prisoners were detained in the Stadium.[9] Some of the most famous cases of "desaparecidos" are Charles Horman, a U.S. citizen who was killed during the coup itself,[10] Chilean songwriter Víctor Jara, and the October 1973 Caravan of Death (Caravana de la Muerte) where at least 70 persons were killed.[11] Other operations include Operation Colombo during which hundreds of left-wing activists were murdered and Operation Condor, carried out with the security services of other Latin American dictatorships.
Memorial to victims of the Dirty war in Chile

Following Pinochet's defeat in the 1988 plebiscite, the 1991 Rettig Commission, a multipartisan effort from the Aylwin administration to discover the truth about the human-rights violations, listed a number of torture and detention centers (such as Colonia Dignidad, the ship Esmeralda or Víctor Jara Stadium), and found that at least 3,200 people were killed or "disappeared" by the regime.

A later report, the Valech Report (published in November 2004), confirmed the figure of 3,200 deaths but dramatically reduced the alleged cases of disappearances. It tells of some 28,000 arrests in which the majority of those detained were incarcerated and in a great many cases tortured.[12] Some 30,000 Chileans were exiled and received abroad,[13][14][15] in particular in Argentina, as political refugees; however, they were followed in their exile by the DINA secret police, in the frame of Operation Condor which linked South-American dictatorships together against political opponents.[16] Some 20,000-40,000 Chilean exiles were holders of passports stamped with the letter "L" (which stood for lista nacional), identifying them as persona non grata and had to seek permission before entering the country.[17] Nevertheless, Chilean Human Rights groups maintain several hundred thousand were forced into exile.[14]

According to the Latin American Institute on Mental Health and Human Rights (ILAS), "situations of extreme trauma" affected about 200,000 persons; this figure includes individuals killed, tortured (following the UN definition of torture), or exiled and their immediate relatives.[citation needed] While more radical groups such as the Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR) were staunch advocates of a Marxist revolution, it is currently accepted that the junta deliberately targeted nonviolent political opponents as well

A court in Chile sentenced, on March 19, 2008, 24 former police officers in cases of kidnapping, torture and murder that happened just after a U.S.-backed coup overthrew President Salvador Allende, a Socialist, on September 11, 1973.[18]

Neo-fascist putsch in Chile got stamp of approval personally from Milton Friedman, who actually was instrumental in moving Chile into neoliberal orbit (Neoliberalism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia):  

In 1955, a select group of Chilean students (later known as the Chicago Boys) were invited to the University of Chicago to pursue postgraduate stuthes in economics. They worked directly under Friedman and his disciple Arnold Harberger, while also being exposed to Hayek.

When they returned to Chile in the 1960s, the Chicago Boys began a concerted effort to spread the philosophy and policy recommendations of the Chicago and Austrian schools, setting up think tanks and publishing in ideologically sympathetic media. Under the military dictatorship headed by Pinochet and severe social repression, the Chicago boys implemented radical economic reform. The latter half of the 1970s witnessed rapid and extensive privatization, deregulation, and reductions in trade barriers.

In 1978 policies that would reduce the role of the state and infuse competition and individualism into areas such as labor relations, pensions, health, and education were introduced.[2] These policies resulted in widening inequality as they negatively impacted the wages, benefits and working conditions of Chile's working class.[49][50] According to Chilean economist Alejandro Foxley, by the end of Pinochet's reign around 44% of Chilean families were living below the poverty line.[51] In The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein argues that by the late 1980s the economy had stabilized and was growing, but around 45% of the population had fallen into poverty while the wealthiest 10% saw their incomes rise by 83%.[52]

Two decades after it was first used by pro-market intellectuals in the 1960s, the meaning of neoliberalism changed. Those who regularly used the term neoliberalism in the 1980s typically applied it in its present-day, radical sense, denoting market fundamentalism.

In 1990 the military dictatorship ended. Hayek argued that increased economic freedom had put pressure on the dictatorship over time and increased political freedom. Many years earlier, in The Road to Serfdom (1944), Hayek had argued that "economic control is not merely control of a sector of human life which can be separated from the rest; it is the control of the means for all our ends."[53] The Chilean scholars Javier Martínez and Alvaro Díaz reject that argument pointing to the long tradition of democracy in Chile. The return of democracy had required the defeat of the Pinochet regime though it had been fundamental in saving capitalism. The essential contribution came from profound mass rebellions and finally old party elites using old institutional mechanisms to bring back democracy.[54]

The essence of neoliberalism is globalization of corporatism, which previously have distinct national boundaries and some forms of which were rabidly nationalistic (for example German national socialism). Just imagine a single global state with the capital in Washington with the typical for such a superstate flow of people to capital and you essentially catch the essence of the USA elite neoliberal dream -- Pax Americana.  There are also second class cities such as London, Berlin, Tokyo, etc which while not as attractive are much better then the "deep province", such as Prague, Warsaw or Sanct-Petersburg. to say nothing about impoverished "countryside" such as Kiev, Tallin, Riga, Vilnus, etc.

So the flow of people and commodities (and first of all oil) has distinct direction from the periphery to the center. To keep each country in the line and this flow of commodities uninterrupted, this "Capitalist International" relies on the part of national capitalist class and elite which is connected to international corporations serving the same role as Communist Parties or Communist International. Such as part is often called Compradors or Fifth Column of Globalization

And this "international elite" is even more responsive to pressure from Washington,  as its fortunes and often families reside if "first class cities" of G7. This way neoliberalism is able to suppress the other part of the elite of particular country which favors "national" development and typically resides inside the country. As a PR smokescreen neoliberalism pay lip service to national development, but in essence it is hostile to it and favor "underdevelopment" of nations outside G7. It's anti-social and has distinct schadenfreude attitude to weak nations: it derives pleasure from seeing the misfortunes of other nations and it try to exploit such moments ("disaster capitalism"). Vae victis as Romans used to say (Victor's justice).

And the winner in neoliberal revolutions is not the middle class and lower strata of population (although they might be sold on it and fight for it, being deceived by propaganda as is the case with the current generation of Americans), but international and local oligarchy represented via international corporations and banks. For bottom 90% population the hangover after the neoliberal revolution comes really quick. This affect was clearly visible after successful color revolution in Serbia, Georgia and Ukraine.

In cases of Georgia and Ukraine the neoliberal leaders lost power after their term and there were efforts to put them in jail for abuse of power and corruption, which were not successful only due to USA pressure (only former Ukrainian Prime Minister Julia Timoshenko, the Joan of Arc of Orange revolution was jailed). In any case popularity of leaders of neoliberal revolutions drops to almost unheard levels with Victor Yushchenko commanding 2% approval rating in Ukraine before the end of his term.

Neoliberalism also has common with fascism "white man burden" syndrome (I cite Neoliberalism is fascism):

One last prefatory remark: I think it is important to recognize that fascism (forms of contemporary conservatism) is a result of neoliberal thought. It is not simply a supplement that aims to save neoliberalism from itself. So, even as forms of religious fundamentalism provide supplements to the extremes of neoliberalism, neoliberalism on its own has horribly conservative effects. The passage below comes from:

TCS Daily - House of Pain: Why Failure Is Important.

Every successful society has devised ways of separating incompetent or systematically unlucky people from the control of valuable resources. (That's why civilized nations provide children and legally incompetent individuals with guardians and trustees.) This is an essential process for all but the most wealthy of nations, e.g., those cursed by great oil wealth. (This windfall wealth situation is the national analogue of individuals winning the lottery; a harbinger of bad things that follow the lack of a need to husband resources.)

A society's economic success is increased if it has sure and quick ways to accomplish this separation, however painful to those who suffer losses. While there will be political pressures to buffer folks from the consequences of economic folly or bad luck, it is socially dangerous to do so. Reality checks should have force, so that those who fail to prudently manage resources will not keep control over them.

Let's identify the problems with the passage. First, failure is a matter of incompetence or bad luck. Although bad luck is qualified with the term 'systemic,' the writer's flip attitude overlooks systemic forms of exclusion like race, sex, or citizenship. It occludes as well the impact of inherited wealth (a form of the systemic protection of the incompetent) and generational poverty. Second, incompetence and bad luck are equated with being civilized. To be unlucky, then, is to be childlike, immature, incompetence, and barbaric (attributes long associated with justifications for colonialism). I'm going to skip the section on oil wealth, although I would think that people with more knowledge of the Middle East and the ways that the Mid East figures in neoliberal rhetoric would have interesting things to add here.

In 2014 a lot of people here condemned excesses of Ukraine nationalism, especially the part of Galician nationalism the has clear neo-fascist flavor and that now attempts to colonize South and Eastern Ukraine in a kind of replay of Drang nach Osten.

But rise of nationalism is a pan-European phenomenon now. And it is observable in almost any county, including but not limited to France, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Greece, and even UK.

Is not this is a (somewhat pervert) reaction to excesses of neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization? In other words is not the key side effects of neoliberal globalization is the rise of ultra nationalist and neo-fascist movements all over the world?  Many researchers think that yes (Globalization, ethnic conflict and nationalism Daniele Conversi - Academia.edu):

The force of nationalism has spread well over the nineteenth century into the age of globalization. There are thus parallels between modernization and globalization as sti-mulating factors for nationalism and ethnic conflict. Although the reach of globalizationis historically unprecedented, some of its features accompanied the rise of modernity andthe advent of the modern nation state. In particular, both resulted in the demise of older boundaries and the construction of new ones. Whereas industrialization destroyed localand regional boundaries by superimposing national boundaries on them, globalizationdestroyed national boundaries by superimposing a plethora of supra-national and corpo-rate networks on them, including mafias, organized crime, and multi-national corpora-tions (MNCs), none of which are as easily identifiable on a political map as sovereign, countries still are. The adoption of planetary rules to comply with the standards set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank has unsurprisingly resulted in global disempowerment, at least according to the perception of influential NGOs activists (Korten 2001).

Has all this also led to a decline in national identities? Not at all. Partly because nationalcultures have been seriously damaged or reshaped by globalization, we have seen a global intensification of ethnic belligerence. Moreover, the formation of new elites and the spread of capitalist wealth have led to nationalist self-assertion, while cultural impoverishment spurred a generalized need for compensatory ethnic assertiveness.

... ... ...

If nationalism cannot be explained independently from the onset of modernity andmodern state-making, both are enmeshed in the expansion of warfare. Nationalism manifested itself in an era of inter-state competition, the collapse of boundaries, economic expansion, mass migration, general insecurity, political centralization, obsessivelaw-making, societal policing, and drastic militarization, finally leading to war. In them eanwhile, the Pax Britannica ensuing Waterloo provided the impetus for colonialexpansion while fomenting inter-imperial rivalries and competition (Conversi 2007).Thus, just as Europe was accumulating wealth, power, and armaments in anticipation of the unprecedented conflagration, its global economic reach affected broader and broader areas of the world. Economic competition and destructive warfare were just beingexported beyond European borders. Linda Colley notes:

the profit and the price of this hundred-year partial European peace was unprecedented Western, and especially British, freedom to concentrate on global empire. In 1800, the European powers, together with Russia and the United States, laid claim to some 35 percent of the globe’s total land area. By 1914 [their] proportion of the globe … had risen to 84 percent (Colley 2002:311).

By 1914, the West had also accumulated enough economic wealth and weapons of mass destruction to unleash the greatest manslaughter in human history. The totalitarian era following the First World War has been described as the culmination of a pattern of mass dislocation founded on modernity (Arendt 1958; Bauman 1989). As we shall see later, the emergence of totalitarianism in Europe coincided with the first wave of deep Americanization, including the triumph of Hollywood, cigarette consumption, the car culture, and other US products meant for mass distribution.

... ... ...

The expansion of nationalism throughout the globe is hence the spreading out of aWestern idea. In other words, nationalism is an essential component of Westernization.As I have argued, nationalism cannot be understood outside the devastating impact of modernity, particularly industrialization, with its demise of traditional lifestyles, skills,cultures, and communities (Gellner 2006). Such a devastation was suciently all-pervasiveto argue that the victory of nationalism represented the victory of a surrogate sense of community, which for some was a colossal
‘ fraud’ (Gellner 2006) or an invented tradition (Hobsbawm 1983). Thus, for Gellner the nationalists spoke in defence of a hypo-thetical Gemeinschaft, but actually practiced the construction of a novel Gesellschaft, the two being largely incompatible. For both Gellner and Hobsbawm nationalism was not much less than a form of cultural
brainwashing. For others, the whole process was not only counterfeit, it was based on the conspiracy of emerging rapacious economic and political elites, which used selected elements of popular tradition while invoking nationhood, just as populists often invoke the defence of the people. For instance, the role of secret societies like the Italian carbonari is a widely known and omni-present feature of nineteenth-century century mobilization. Secret paramilitary groups of patriots played a pivotal role in the spread of most nationalist movements. Karl Marx’s characterization of nationalism as a form of false consciousness manipulated by the bourgeoisie is a well-known example of this conspiracy approach. Traditionalist, anarchical, conservative, and even liberal approaches often share similar views of nationalism as a strategy of elites. The broader trend is often known as instrumentalism(Smith 1998),because it emphasizes the mere instrumentality of nationhood. Nations do no exist assuch; they are simply cultural tools in the hands of elites or proto-elites who seek to mobilize the masses on the basis of an emotional appeal to a common but fictitious nationality.

As we shall see, in its current shape cultural globalization is often understood as a one-way importation of standardized cultural items and icons from a single country, the United States of America, to the rest of the world regardless of the fact that most of theitems are actually made in China. For many, globalization is synonymous with Westernization (la Branche 2003, 2005, Latouche 1996) or, more accurately, Americanization.The international consequence of Americanization is a widespread sense of cultural insecurity vis-à-vis an unfathomable force that nobody seems capable of containing(Amin 2004). Because this perception has been so far unable to produce organized, rational and universal responses, it tends to express itself through visceral, rudimentary,and unpredictable forms of anti-Americanism (Barber 1995).

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright showed insights about the US full-spectrum dominance cultural policy when she said that Cultural factors play a pivotalrole in many of the international challenges we face
our cultural programs are central -- and I underline that —  central to the success of American foreign policy
(Albright2000). Once out of office, she adopted a more cautious position, considering the risks and damages infl
icted by extreme forms of Americanization. For Bacevich (2002), the economic openness implicit in neoliberalism produces a form of globalization that is inevitably synonymous with Americanization, since it is predicated on a national security approach founded on global dominance.


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Old News ;-)

[Jan 29, 2019] For all practical purposes Communism never existed – and probably never will. Only Socialism existed in one form or another in few dozen countries. Hitler attacking Russia because they were communist is like US attacking France because they are capitalists. Total propaganda BS on the part of the Nazis – calling themselves Socialists .

Notable quotes:
"... Those who really, really didn't want socialism, thought that it would be a great idea to fake it – so people won't miss it so much. Prime examples of this great idea – fake it, so hopefully you won't have to make it – are Nazi Germany and currently – the greatest democracy. ..."
Dec 17, 2018 | www.unz.com
Cyrano , December 17, 2018 at 9:27 pm GMT

Marks **** s Hitler, but Hitler was pretty good at *** ing Marks too. Listen to this logic: The party that Hitler belonged to, was called National-Socialist, yet he hated communist and attacked Russia.

Communism and socialism are the same. There never was communism – that's what they were "aspiring" to become in some distant utopian future. So Hitler attacking Russia because they were communist is like US attacking France because they are capitalists. Total propaganda BS on the part of the Nazis – calling themselves "Socialists".

The whole last century has been spent on one major task by the west: Combat socialism. Mainly by wars, but propaganda also. And yet, socialism refuses to die. And the idea will never die. I know, someone will say, where have you been in the last almost 30 years? Capitalism defeated socialism in the cold war. Not so fast. Capitalism may have scored a major victory but it may have sustained a mortal self-inflicted wound of propaganda nature. In the last 100 years 3 major ways to fight socialism domestically were discovered:

FDR approach – include little bit of socialism into capitalism, to prevent a lot of socialism (total takeover). Nazi Germany approach – include none of socialism, but only use its name for propaganda and pretend that all is hunky-dory, and that "socialism" is already here. US approach – include a little bit of fake socialism in order to prevent a lot of real socialism from taking over. That's how multiculturalism came into being.

Again, I must say that the best approach was FDR's. If capitalism wants to survive – that's the way to go. Despite all the numerous wars against socialist countries, US haven't been able to erase the idea of socialism like they were hoping for.

If you want proof of this, just look at the last US election. Along comes Bernie Sanders, just mentions the name socialism few times – claiming himself to be one – socialist, and wins the primaries, only to be robbed by the Democratic mafia bosses who couldn't stand the idea of "socialist" running for president – after all the US has done to destroy socialism.

By the way, I think that Bernie is a good guy, but he is probably as much socialist as Adolf used to be. It still demonstrates the power of the socialist idea to attract people. Pretty clever propaganda ploy on Bernie's part, but there was no chance in hell the "democrats" would let him run for president on that platform.

And he would have defeated Trump. Talking about exercise in futility – US trying to erase the idea of socialism. That's what made them inflict the mortal wound of fake socialism on themselves and might in the end destroy them. FDR approach was the best – little bit of socialism to prevent a lot of it.

The other 2 ideas are self-destructive.

Kratoklastes , says: December 18, 2018 at 12:07 am GMT

@Cyrano

Communism and socialism are the same.

How about " Nope ". Communism is an end ; Socialism is a means that Marx considered the most likely to enable the end-point to be achieved. It's akin to saying that a mall (the end) and a car (the means) are "the same thing", on the basis that a car is an efficient way to get to the mall.

To flesh it out: Communism is explicitly anarchic, and is mainly characterised by

This all seems slightly silly when you write it down, so Marx recognised that there had to be a ' radical transformation of consciousness ' whereby people didn't want what they couldn't have.

He reckoned that the best way was to entrust an enlightened clique (the ' vanguard of the proletariat ') to take control, and to force society towards the 'end' by coercion – until such time as the end was in sight, whereupon the enlightened vanguard would relinquish control and society would be on a glide path to utopia.

And doing that specifically requires that the 'vanguard' controls production and allocation decisions during the transition – which he thought (wrongly) means that the means of production must be owned by the State.

Hence Socialism.

His end is correct so long as you add one adjective. A society free of artificial stratification is a desirable end. His means were totally wrong because he was a fucking idiot (as well as being a parasitic charlatan). The State would not relinquish control under any circumstances, and will actively undermine any mechanism that raises everyone (because that would narrow the gap between the political class and the demos can't have that).

A society free of artificial stratification is where we will end up once technological progress gets past its next 'knee' (' The Singularity ') it would be hastened if the parasites in the global political class are put to the sword.

Cyrano , says: December 18, 2018 at 12:47 am GMT
@Kratoklastes

I don't think you understood my argument here. You are correct. Socialism and Communism are not the same in philosophical sense. My argument was that for all practical purposes Communism never existed – and probably never will. Only Socialism existed in one form or another in few dozen countries.

Those who really, really didn't want socialism, thought that it would be a great idea to fake it – so people won't miss it so much. Prime examples of this great idea – fake it, so hopefully you won't have to make it – are Nazi Germany and currently – the greatest democracy.

[Jan 13, 2019] Opinion The Case for a Mixed Economy by Paul Krugman

So this neoliberal stooge woke up and started advocating mixed economy. Very interesting.
Notable quotes:
"... What we see right away is that even now, with all the privatization etc. that has taken place, government at various levels employs about 15 percent of the work force – roughly half in education, another big chunk in health care, and then a combination of public services and administration. ..."
"... Follow The New York Times Opinion section on ..."
"... Twitter (@NYTopinion) ..."
"... , and sign up for the ..."
"... Opinion Today newsletter ..."
Dec 22, 2018 | www.nytimes.com

Maybe not everything should be privatized. There are private activities that could plausibly be made public, like utilities, which in some cases are publicly owned already.

There are private activities that could plausibly be made public, like utilities, which in some cases are publicly owned already. Credit Eric Thayer for The New York Times

A mind is a terrible thing to lose, especially if the mind in question is president of the United States. But I feel like taking a break from that subject. So let's talk about something completely different, and probably irrelevant.

I've had several interviews lately in which I was asked whether capitalism had reached a dead end, and needed to be replaced with something else. I'm never sure what the interviewers have in mind; neither, I suspect, do they. I don't think they're talking about central planning, which everyone considers discredited. And I haven't seen even an implausible proposal for a decentralized system that doesn't rely on price incentives and self-interest – i.e., a market economy with private property, which most people would consider capitalism.

So maybe I'm being dense or lacking in imagination, but it seems to be that the choice is still between markets and some kind of public ownership, maybe with some decentralization of control, but still more or less what we used to mean by socialism. And everyone either thinks of socialism as discredited, or pins the label on stuff – like social insurance programs – that isn't what we used to mean by the word.

But I've been wondering, exactly how discredited is socialism, really? True, nobody now imagines that what the world needs is the second coming of Gosplan. But have we really established that markets are the best way to do everything? Should everything be done by the private sector? I don't think so. In fact, there are some areas, like education, where the public sector clearly does better in most cases, and others, like health care, in which the case for private enterprise is very weak. Add such sectors up, and they're quite big.

In other words, while Communism failed, there's still a pretty good case for a mixed economy – and public ownership/control could be a significant, although not majority, component of that mix. My back of the envelope says that given what we know about economic performance, you could imagine running a fairly efficient economy that is only 2/3 capitalist, 1/3 publicly owned – i.e., sort-of-kind-of socialist.

I arrive at that number by looking at employment data . What we see right away is that even now, with all the privatization etc. that has taken place, government at various levels employs about 15 percent of the work force – roughly half in education, another big chunk in health care, and then a combination of public services and administration.

Looking at private sector employment, we find that another 15 percent of the work force is employed in education, health, and social assistance. Now, a large part of that employment is paid for by public money – think Medicare dollars spent at private hospitals. Much of the rest is paid for by private insurers, which exist in their current role only thanks to large tax subsidies and regulation.

And there's no reason to think the private sector does these things better than the public. Private insurers don't obviously provide a service that couldn't be provided, probably more cheaply, by national health insurance. Private hospitals aren't obviously either better or more efficient than public. For-profit education is actually a disaster area.

So you could imagine an economy in which the bulk of education, health, and social assistance currently in the private sector became public, with most people at least as well off as they are now.

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Then there are other private activities that could plausibly be public. Utilities are heavily regulated, and in some cases are publicly owned already. Private health insurance directly employs hundreds of thousands of people, with doubtful social purpose. And I'm sure I'm missing a few others.

By and large, other areas like retail trade or manufacturing don't seem suitable for public ownership – but even there you could see some cases. Elizabeth Warren is suggesting public manufacture of generic drugs , which isn't at all a stupid idea.

Put all of this together, and as I said, you could see an economy working well with something like 1/3 public ownership.

Now, this wouldn't satisfy people who hate capitalism. In fact, it wouldn't even live up to the old slogan about government controlling the economy's "commanding heights." This would be more like government running the boiler in the basement. Also, I see zero chance of any of this happening in my working lifetime.

But I do think it's worth trying to think a bit beyond our current paradigm, which says that anything you could call socialist has been an utter failure. Maybe not so much?

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook , Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram , and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter .

Paul Krugman has been an Opinion columnist since 2000 and is also a Distinguished Professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He won the 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on international trade and economic geography. @ PaulKrugman


Avraam Jack Dectis Universe Du Jour Jan. 2

. Dr. Krugman missed the largest communist socialist organization in the USA - the military! The live on communes called bases. They have everything provided including clothes, housing, food and training. They get routine exercise as they prepare to defend the country in a world with no credible threat. It is like summer camp year round. The biggest irony? This communist orgsnization fought and trained for conflicts with communists. .

Reply 2 Recommend
Michael Dulin Cranbury NJ Jan. 1

To see what the government can do to support the economy we don't need to look farther than our own borders. The government has been crucial to the development and maintenance of many economic activities as they exist today. Much of our shiny technology owes its existence to government investment. Government investment was crucial to the development of flat screens and touch screens. GPS based products rely for their operation on continued government support. Mariana Mazzucato makes the point more completely in her book "the Entrepreneurial State." We should re-examine many areas of the economy to see where the government already has a positive impact. Where we find positive effects, we should try to extend those effects in the same and other enterprises - we should also look to see what is not working and eliminate or curtail the negative impacts of those activities. Outdoor recreation and tourism is another area of the economy that thrives on government support. Those activities contribute far more to the local economy of many rural areas than what they currently rely on in extractive activities like mining, oil and gas production and logging. Expanding outdoor activities and tourism will also require finding ways to reduce the risk of fires in many remote areas, which will also create jobs. (anyone for raking?) So thank you Professor Krugman for highlighting the possibilities of a mixed economy, but as you suggest, we need to broaden our imagination.

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BoulderDad Colorado Dec. 30, 2018

Can the state be a better capitalist? I always hear how Norway has done an amazing job of creating a sovereign wealth fund, funded by their petroleum production taxes and fees. Last I checked, the US produces a lot of petroleum, but we don't have a sovereign wealth fund with $165,000 per person. Do we see our severance fees and royalties in other ways or do socialist economies do a better job in managing the funds?

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Excellency Oregon Dec. 28, 2018

Capitalism can be a bit of a boxing match. Not everything needs to be (should be?) a boxing match. A little Fri nite music for Krug - Alison Krause doing Simon & Garfunkel https://youtu.be/hci5q3G6-FA

Reply 1 Recommend
Ellen San Diego Dec. 28, 2018

Dr. Krugman - Please provide concrete examples of how other nations deal with such concepts as public/private in realistic ways that help the ordinary citizen. Bashing what we've got without profiling meaningful reforms only goes so far.

Reply 2 Recommend
DFWcom Canada Dec. 28, 2018

The roots of capitalism lie in how we create capital - on the basis of debt and, for the most part, by private sector banks. It's done using fractional reserve banking - taking money created by the state (promissory notes) and lending it over and over - by a factor of around eight times. The key - money is only created on the promise of a "profit", ie, economic growth. It's why GDP growth is always the measure of "progress". As this system becomes ever more dysfunctional and our thoughts turn to sustainability, it is logical we need to think about different systems of creating money. Why not by the state? 2008 is the answer to anyone who says it won't work - private sector banks created commercial paper out of fraudulent debt - not rational, efficient, or fair by any measure. China is an example of an economy where the state creates commercial money. It seems to be doing rather well, especially in building infrastructure that benefits peoples lives. Of course, we criticize China for not playing by the "rules" - our rules, of course, rules that are driving us over a cliff. I believe it's fundamental that we think of ways in which we can reduce the amount of commercial money created for profit by private sector banks in favour of money created for the common good. A nice side effect will be the increasing irrelevance of private-sector "wealth" - a way of scaling back inequality.

Reply 3 Recommend
Meredith New York Dec. 27, 2018

Krugman the liberal with a conscience, wouldn't go so far as to point out the many pros vs the cons of the EU social democracy systems. That would be going too far. The Democratic Party still need to raise plenty of corporate money to run in 2020. He'll continue with the anti Trump, anti GOP tirades. And write MAYBE not everything should be privatized as a profit center---in an operating democracy. Americans will still be left uninformed about what they should be demanding from the govt they stand in long lines to elect. Thus be left more vulnerable to GOP propaganda and maybe even future Trumps, now swimming up from the swamp.

Reply 4 Recommend
Meredith New York Dec. 26, 2018

So why doesn't our liberal with a conscience make concrete comparisons in real people terms with our PAST GENERATIONS when the middle class was expanding, and with other capitalist democracies now? American past examples are all there---upward mobility, unions, secure pensions, high tax rates on the wealthy, better regulations, infrastructure and highway building, low cost college tuition at state universities--etc etc . .... etc. The data is all there, as would befit an economist who won a special Nobel in economics. And who now works with an institute at City University of NY that studies income inequality. For more informative reading instead, read Leonhardt's column--When the Rich Said No to Getting Richer. And the recent Edsall column on big money influence in our politics. That's a topic most columnists and pundits avoid, except for 1 line occasionaly to show they're hip to it. Then they go on to something else to stay safe and centrist in line with our warped political spectrum. As our columnists stay careful in our FOX News/GOP/corporate political culure, we get more realistic, informative mini columns from many reader commenters instead of the columnists. It's the reader commenters, not the columnists who up the sales of the NYTimes.

Reply 3 Recommend
Meredith New York Dec. 26, 2018

I read that Canada avoided our 08 crash because it had earlier refused to merge with US banks. Maybe that's sensible 'conservativsm'--- to conserve their more balanced banking system and economy. Bernie Sanders once had a senate hearing on health care with witnessess from Canada and 4 other countries on how they pay for and use health care for all. Our media ignored it---I happened to catch it on cspan. Is Krugman even aware of this? Citizens of dozens of other countries wouldn't put up even with Obamacare, which is a vast improvement over the previous non system. But it keeps insurance profits subsidized by our taxes. Abroad, if not single payer, then their govts regulate premium prices for their citizens with insurance mandates. If they didn't the citizens would vote them out. This difference should rate a few columns by Krugman the economist, concerned about inequality. But he avoids these comparisons. It's how he and the NYT are positioning themselves in our politics---humanitarian, but not too much. At least we have reader comments to give some realistic data on other countries to Americans who are mostly kept in the dark by their media.

Reply Recommend
Citixen NYC Dec. 27, 2018

@Meredith I'm sorry Meredith, but your charge is unfair. I don't know how long you've been reading Krugman's column in the NYT, but he's literally published DOZENS of them comparing our healthcare 'system' with that of other countries, before, during, and after the implementation of Obamacare. And then there's his NYT blog, where wrote similarly but on a more advanced level. The last thing you could say about Krugman is that he's been 'captured' by the wealthy elite. Anything but.

Reply 2 Recommend
Meredith New York Dec. 27, 2018

@Citixen.....reading long time. Little about abroad. How about a link or 2?

Reply Recommend
morgan kansas Dec. 26, 2018

re: the case for a mixed economy The choice of markets or public ownership or any combination of the two is not the answer or even the question. By the way communism has never been given a fair shot. You mentioned the key to any discussion of economics... self-interest. Communisms downfall has always been self-interest (GREED). Greed comes in a number of guises. Military dictatorships or the NYSE. Capitalism's dead end is its ultimate goal... One conglomeration with one CEO.

Reply 1 Recommend
Citixen NYC Dec. 27, 2018

@morgan If Communism had a downfall, then it had a shot, and it failed. There's no reason to think that, as a system run by fallible human beings, the outcome would EVER be any different. Capitalism, on the other hand, has many flavors, almost all of which we ignore here in the USA, except the one that seeks to destroy our public institutions in the name of an extreme libertarianism masquerading as a Utopia of 'free markets'. Whether by committee or by the wealthy, redistribution of wealth by the few has always been a fool's game. Regulatory vigilance, constant reform, and transparent oversight, has proven itself the best partner of capitalism in every case. There IS a middle ground with capitalism that we ignore for the extremes of either wealth, or control.

Reply 2 Recommend
Meredith New York Dec. 26, 2018

Krugman says "But have we really established that markets are the best way to do everything? Should everything be done by the private sector? I don't think so." Gosh, don't THINK so? Krugman cautiously asks the question. He doesn't want to offend any centrist Democratic party leaders needing campaign money, and one of them may someday pick him as Treasury Secretary. CNN's Ali Velsh who is from Canada, stated flatly on TV that free market health care has never worked in any country. The incentives are not aligned to provide care that was deemed a right in most modern nations in 20th Century. But not deemed a right in USA. Krugman, as a winner of a special Nobel prize in economics, might actually compare the international GINI Score ranking of countries on their citizens' economic moblity. Americans ranks behind other democracies---that are also capitalist countries. Othe countries like profits too, but profits are not prioritized above all else like here. But to criticize this underlying causation is to look too left wing liberal socialist unAmerican, etc etc. Krugman shies away. That would seem the perfect topic for a Krugman-type columnist who titles himself a liberal with a conscience.

Reply 3 Recommend
Meredith New York Dec. 26, 2018

Hey, where's the usual easy Trump bashing that gives us all such emotional catharsis? Is Krugman realizing his anti Trump/Gop columns aren't enough, that we actually need more? Such as questioning the basic tenets of our political culture? That it's not only Trump that is weakening our democracy? This column is just a start---Krugman stays careful not to go too far to criticize our warped norms.

Reply 1 Recommend
Meredith New York Dec. 26, 2018

Omg! Warrens idea of public mfgr of generic drugs "isn't a stupid idea"? Is that all you can think up to say, PK? Tell us why it ISN'T stupid. PK wants to look like a humanitarian but still stick with the main Democratic party positions---but this party has to vie with GOP for campaign money. And PK is seen by the Times as its prestigious 'liberal' columnist. To not look too liberal by our warped standards, PK in effect helps to marginalize any ideas that are truly progressive and needed. They're not stupid, but are they smart? For whom? Policies that are called progressive in the US, are centrist in other capitalist democracies--- but keep that dark. Hey, 'liberal', where's your conscience you told us about? Talk not about those who hate capitalism, but those who want to keep it, if it is properly regulated by elected govt. Talk about how our politics are regulated by corporations --through donor money and norm setting, esp for the media. It's obvious--our columnists are careful to stay safe within the guidelines set up. There are many ways to influence 'free speech' without actual govt censorship. We see this daily in our news media, careful to stay within guidelines.

Reply 4 Recommend
John Mullen Gloucester, MA Dec. 26, 2018

Economies are human, social creations, they are not at all like solar systems, for example. As human creations, they should serve human interests. That will not happen independent of the political system of democracy. In the US, democracy is seriously corrupted by the power of oligarchs, so the failures of the US economy to do its job cannot be solved by purely economic re-arranging. Assuming that power is back in the hands of people, what should we expect from an economy? Three things: 1. sufficient production of goods and services (this is the free market's strong point), 2. fair (not necessarily equal) distribution of these (this a the free market's weak point), and 3. jobs that satisfy workers' needs for sociability and dignity. (This is a strong point of Marx's thought.) # 2 and 3 require an intelligent, well-functioning democracy. Framing this in old, worn out terms like capitalism and socialism, terms undermined by decades of rhetorical conflict, is not helpful...

Reply 4 Recommend
Miguel Madeira Portugal Dec. 26, 2018

A perhaps implausible proposal for a decentralized system that doesn't rely in a market economy with private property (which most people would consider capitalism): - The Firm in Illyria: Market Syndicalism, by Benjamin Ward, published in The American Economic Review , Vol. 48, No. 4 (Sep., 1958).

Reply 1 Recommend
tomster03 Concord Dec. 26, 2018

I remember seeing Dr Krugman in a Sunday TV panel discussion on US economic and tax policy. During his turn he spoke strictly in terms of the merits as policy. His fellow panelist George Will followed him and wisely avoided expressing any opinions about economic policy and instead made a sarcastic remark about the political chances of implementing the policy being discussed. I like to think we can discuss policy proposals whether or not they have a chance politically to become law. The alternative might not even appeal to George Will.

Reply Recommend
NYT Reader Walnut Creek Dec. 26, 2018

Hey, I think you are talking about China....the proportions are not quite what you suggest (1/3 public) but by incorporating capitalism into a communist model, they are able to get the benefits of both.

Reply Recommend
MS Norfolk, VA Dec. 26, 2018

Public manufacture of generic drugs... Where, without competition, would be the incentive for maintaining quality and/or efficiency? Where would be the incentive for improvement of the drugs themselves - increased effectiveness, less side effects, etc? Orwell's horse ("I must work harder!") was a figment of his imagination. Krugman forgets just what is the part of capitalism that brings the most to the table, competition.

Reply Recommend
Sandy BC, Canada Dec. 26, 2018

@MS Competition for what? Wealth, of course. And we're back to those whose greed will never be satisfied. Why not "cooperation"? A competition for who can do the most good for humanity.

Reply 1 Recommend
MK Kentucky Dec. 27, 2018

@MS Is MS really think that competition among the drug lords of big pharma is truly competition ? Reminds me of the book on Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations with a photo of a huge factory belching smoke on his cover. When Adam Smith wrote his book in the late 18th century, a factory was ten people making pins.

Reply Recommend
Robert Wood Little Rock, Arkansas Dec. 26, 2018

As I understand it, most, if not all, of the attempts at creating a "socialist" economy haven't really merited the name. They've tended to be autocratic regimes that falsely used the term "socialism" as a means of suggesting to their citizens that they would have a more participatory government. They were cynical charades. I would love to see a true socialist element in our economy, i.e., one that actually placed the needs of the citizens above the needs of plutocrats. Healthcare, in particular, seems to be an ideal candidate for public ownership. Too many companies today in the field are unnecessarily driving up the cost of care for all of us.

Reply 3 Recommend
Sandy BC, Canada Dec. 27, 2018

@Robert Wood A thousand recommends , if I could.

Reply 1 Recommend
gary e. davis Berkeley, CA Dec. 26, 2018

Krugman's thought experiment here seems to too readily accept that the questioner of "capitalism" knows what they're asking about, deflected by wanting speculation about whatever else -- supplements? ("mixed economy") Alternatives? I've spent many years with this issue, if I may say so. One aspect that ready critics of "capitalism" don't seem to appreciate is the difference between capital-intensive business and capitalISM. The latter is about profit at any cost and tends to be predatory. The former is normal business whose investors accept a reasonable margin and sustain concerns about employee quality of life, corporate citizenship, professional ethics, etc. as part of normal business. Normal business accepts a degree of regulatory constraint for the sake of a level playing field and reliable futures market (in an idiomatic sense), which is required for long-term investment. Libertarian Republicans apparently regard all regulation as "Socialist," but actually socialism is just a bad theory of democratic republicanism (small-d, small-r). If one examines the history of so-called "socialism," it's a history of desire for a democratic republic without much sophistication about making an economy innovative, resiliant, etc.; and a bad sense of government that enables prosperity. Questioning whether "capitalism" has run its course is an unwitting invitation to have one's sense of economics and good government enlightened.

Reply Recommend
Ed F Tavares FL Dec. 26, 2018

"Everything For Sale" by Robert Kuttner, 1996. The same idea in specific areas of the economy. Recommended reading.

Reply Recommend
John Brews ..✅✅ Reno NV Dec. 26, 2018

It's shocking that an economist finds a mixed economy has to "have a case made for it". It is very obvious that the private sector is not going to undertake any endeavor that helps everybody and not just its own competitive advantage. And it's obvious that regulating the private sector doesn't put them on the right road; just from running amok. Infrastructure, healthcare, education, environment, climate change -- the private sector -- you kidding?? And of course we have the great benefits of Citizens United to thank for assisting corporations to focus our politics upon what needs to be done. The GOP has succeeded beyond all expectations in ruining the country by doing favors for corporations.

Reply 3 Recommend
observer Ca Dec. 26, 2018

Socialized agriculture, socialized defense companies, socialized churches, socialized border security walls and socialized tax cuts are what america has. Republicans are hypocrites. Without the huge government subsidies that farmers get-many many billions, including but not limited to the 12 billion from trump after china imposed soyabean tariffs, the farmers would all be out of business by now. Defense companies are financed by ten and even hundreds of billions of pentagon spending. They can't survive on exports to saudi arabia alone. The pentagon gets hundreds of billions from government when there has been no war since world war 2, other than the ones it created in vietnam and iraq. Evangelical churches, GOP enterprises. are financed by tax charity, basically by government and they are socialist organizations. Trump wants to spend 5 billion of tax payer money for a border wall, after talking nonsense about making mexico paying for it-it would be a socialist border wall. The 2017 gop tax cut is socialist welfare for billionaires and corporations. It has added 1 trillion to the federal deficit. Trump and his party are the socialist party serving the top 0.1 percent of the wealthiest.

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observer Ca Dec. 26, 2018

A mixed economy is the best economic model. Capitalism is purely about profit. A purely private economy would create a society with a handful of ultrawealthy people, a small middle class and many tens or hundreds of millions of poor people with no basic health and education services- a system like the one that existed in the king, baron and serf era in england, and in many developing countries. We would have a trump tower with a corrupt and criminal politician and businessman sitting in it, and homeless people and slums surrounding the building for miles. Companies would pollute and destroy the air and water with impunity. The air in the cities would be hard to breathe, and the water would contain poisonous chemicals. Many millions would starve, be unable to go to school and get health services, and live in dirt and squalor. Global climate change would accelerate and the human species would soon be extinct. All relations with friends and allies alike would be purely business transactions and russia, china and hackers would be an much bigger threat than they are. saudi arabia can murder journalists-we will look the other way, just selling them arms and buying their oil.A purely public economy would give us job security for life, and cheap products and services, but they would all be poor in quality, and at the cost of higher taxes.When people want free electricity, and the local politician wants to give it to them,the utility company goes bankrupt.There will be no innovation

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Tdub Piedmont, CA Dec. 26, 2018

For me this is one of the long awaited topics that I have been hoping Krugman would engage; Now more than ever we need discussions of alternatives to the capitalism we have evolved to with its tacit assumption that it is the best of all possible models and that growth is essential. Paul do you really believe that growth can be endless without environmental consequences? I would like to see Krugman wade in on this and especially address newer discoveries of the de-growth movement embodied in stock flow consistent modeling done by Tim Jackson (Prosperity without Growth) and others that show that virtually zero growth can be sustainable and perhaps more stable than our current system.

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Michael Cohen Brookline Mass Dec. 25, 2018

There are 3 basic methods in a modern industrialized societies in which ownership of the means of production can be accomplished. 1. Ownership by a special group, called capitalists, or rentiers is apart from labor in enterprises which produce goods and services. 2. The government can own enterprise and employees like in the British Health Service can be state employees. The state can run the enterprise at a profit or run it paid for partially or completely by the taxpayer. 3. As in Germany in Part labor can have a voting share either complete as in a cooperative such as the Spanish Mondragon and ownership can be by the workers with a lead worker or even Union Official managing the company. Many mixes are possible and all posibilities need to be seriously considered. This has yet to be done in a serious or empirical fashion

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John Big City Dec. 25, 2018

What is the end game for right wingers? If everything is privatized and jobs are insecure, people will be afraid to spend. And we'll live in a feudalistic society. Think about that before you take away working class pensions to give tax cuts to the rich.

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observer Ca Dec. 25, 2018

One of the biggest socialist enterprises in america is the federal reserve board. They poured 4.5 trillion into banks and the economy to lower interest rates. It has turned out to be welfare for wall street and corporations. Trump and the wall street journal editors are complaining about this socialism for corporations when they attack and criticize the fed chief. The fed needs to go back to their main role-containing inflation. Let the stocks drop by 40 percent. The market will eventually adjust. With no place for their money, and low bond and cd rates, the investors will go back into stocks. After all the fed money sloshing around in the system has dried up banks and corporations will go back to paying mom and pop investors like you and me 5 percent. It will be great for financial stability as well. People have been forced to take too much risk in the stock market for years because of near zero interest savings and cd rates. Safe cds should pay interest rates well above inflation. Mortgage rates were low in 2008 even before the fed intervened. There was no need for the fed to pour in trillions. Fed intervention made sense till two years ago. No longer-it is just socialism for billionaires. They should have raised interest rates much faster than they have in the last two years and got out in a hurry. The interest rates are still too low. Mom and Pop investors are making a sacrifice to make hedge fund managers and CEOs even wealthier.

Reply 2 Recommend
Craig Hill Wintering in AZ Dec. 25, 2018

Actually Krugman sells socialism in America short, as practiced before our Founders formally engraved it in the Constitution with government operation of the mail. Before the term socialism was coined there were socialized sidewalks, public schools, socialized fire departments, socialized police departments ET CETERA! with no one back then dissenting from necessary partial socialist governance. It was only after the Civil War in the rightwing drift against socialism caused by the desires of massive private concentrated wealth that the socialist menace began to be a thing. It isn't, it never was, tho it, socialism in practice, will continue, the alternative being the alt-truth of for-profit governance, i.e. Medieval Feudalism sane peoples have long jettisoned as the ne plus ultra of concentrated wealth incarnate. That's how absolute monarchs appointed themselves as heads of state, rule by the wealthiest pirates (e.g. Donald Trump) of their time for which little-s socialism has always been the NECESSARY CORRECTIVE.

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Anon Brooklyn Dec. 25, 2018

The rich people want to privatize more and make more money for themselves. Privatizing puts them beyond public scrutiny and we wont really understand when they are failing us. We have to protect our democartic institutions and make income distribution more equal.

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asell1 scarsdlae ny Dec. 24, 2018

Technology is about to change society in a most drastic way. Unless the transformation is properly controlled the outcome could be disastrous. This enormous task cannot succeed without the government setting the strategy and providing the resources necessary to implement if The Chinese government has defined the goals and is engaged in working out a process of implementation. They have so far produced a successful version of a mixed economy. We may adopt perhaps a different mix but their example is worth to learn from

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Jerryg Massachusetts Dec. 24, 2018

It's an indication of how far we've fallen that an article like this has to make a case for a mixed economy. Even for Adam Smith it was self-evident that government had a key role to play. When Smith talked the value of free markets he was not talking about an uncontrolled private sector. He was talking about a new and better system that could be achieved if government would stop the private sector from perverting the markets--through monopoly behavior and influence over government policy. He was FIGHTING the kind of nonsense we have today. Krugman is actually arguing for the mainstream against the lunatic fringe. The idea that the liberated private sector is going to solve all problems has no basis in historical fact. The strength of capitalism is its efficiency in achieving its own ends. It will not miraculously assure the well-being of the population if government doesn't make it. It will not defend the environment or educate the population. It will not even provide the resources for its own success. The should be no question about the need for a mixed economy. It's the only way to get the job done.

Reply 16 Recommend
BWGIA Canberra Dec. 24, 2018

I work for a government agency. I have worked for private enterprise in the past. In a very simplistic way, I think the main difference between the two is that private enterprise takes in money, uses it to purchase goods and services and outputs something with the purpose to generate more money. Public 'enterprise' takes in money, uses it to purchase goods and services and outputs something with the purpose of improving (or if you like, maintaining) society. The issue is that money is easy to count, while literacy and good roads are much more difficult to quantify. Also, I'm always struck by how private enterprise can do whatever it likes because it has the freedom to completely fail. I think it's easy to use this metric to see where private enterprise is not really appropriate. National parks, national defense, public infrastructure and so on; we don't want more money from these things, and they can't fail like Nokia. What is really lacking is a public willing to have an extended and thoughtful discussion on what we want as public goods, and what we think they are worth.

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David Staszsk Saranac Lake NY Dec. 24, 2018

My real challange for Proff Krugman is to explain how an economy with zero or declining population would work it seems to me that our capitalistic system needs an ever increasing population.

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Citixen NYC Dec. 25, 2018

That is the big, unspoken, truth about the industrialized world that no one wants to talk about or acknowledge: material wealth tends to lower birth rates. Like climate change, the deniers would have you believe something different, that the world is overpopulated today and exploding tomorrow. The truth is, while global population is indeed increasing, the rate of increase is slowing down dramatically, as people exit systemic poverty and enter into relative wealth that is a consequence of industrialization. The implication is obvious even in our times of protectionism and manufactured xenophobia: if a market economy is to be maintained and there are limited supplies of workers, we either need to encourage domestic birth rates, or accept the idea of immigration and worker productivity (and just compensation) as a necessary part of transitioning to a sustainable human presence on this planet. There is no way out of this conundrum. Just as with climate change, hard choices will need to be made--our desires, wishes, and pet ideologies won't matter if we wish to provide a decent future for our children and their children. Else, what is this all for?

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Craig Hill Wintering in AZ Dec. 26, 2018

@David Staszsk : We're approaching 350 million at what seems like breakneck speed. Aren't you confusing the US with Italy, where the birth rate is barely equal to the death rate?

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Citixen NYC Dec. 27, 2018

@Craig Hill But it isn't. While most of the industrialized West is at or below the replacement rate (births/deaths), the US is one of the few that doesn't have to worry (as much). Why? Our heretofore open attitude toward immigration. But, like everything else, Trump and the GOP is destroying that advantage as well. Talk to a fruit farmer and ask them about their harvest plans. Their loss of income due to an inability to hire labor is just the beginning.

Reply 1 Recommend
observer Ca Dec. 24, 2018

Some industries require heavy investment that only Government can provide. How would America produce stealth fighters and aircraft carriers, and operate them, without many tens of billions of Government spending on a handful of private companies that produce defense products like Northrop and Boeing ? The pentagon greatly wastes money because of government throwing money at them with no accountability whatsoever, producing 20,000 dollar toilet seats. The GOP and their supporters do all that while they deny unlucky and disabled people food stamps. China's massive government investment in the last 40 years, in their export oriented industries, education and defense has been a huge success for them. The US has been on the decline for 40 years now, because of it's overdependance on private investment. The US Government needs to invest a lot more in it's people-in education, health care and by attracting immigrants to cover labor shortages in some areas, to compete with China in the 21st century, but with the 21 trillion debt and many GOP reactionaries(basically ignorant and some crazy and misguided people calling it 'socialism'). Private companies lead America's innovation and create new services and jobs, but Government and it's enterprises play a crucial role. If Obama had not intervened in 2008 GM and Ford would only be found in history books.

Reply 4 Recommend
observer Ca Dec. 24, 2018

Why do we need government ? Companies and their shareholders only care about profit. Left to themselves rapacious and unethical corporations adopt unfair and monopolistic practices, produce poor quality and overpriced products, and provide substandard services and cheat consumers. Historically, they have even hired armies, and occupied and impoverished countries in the European colonial era. Companies, when there is no regulation, heavily pollute the air and water, pouring industrial waste into the oceans and our drinking water. Global climate change and deforestation, worsened by non-government and destructive government policies is causing wild fires, floods, droughts and hurricanes, melting polar ice caps, rising sea levels, and higher carbon monoxide levels, and accelerating at an unprecedented pace. Corporations, overall, do not protect us from our enemies and from hackers(except for a few defense and software companies).Drug companies and insurance companies keep hiking the prices of even generic drugs that have been in the market since the 1950s and 70s.Public steel, utility and telecommunication companies. and collective farms have been a failure however.Often, there is no real accountability for Government money and services, and employees are not motivated, knowing their jobs are secure even if they don't show up,and a lack of competition results in shoddy products and poor service. But public schools,universities and local government provide good,low cost services.

Reply 1 Recommend
Xav Lampi Palo Alto, CA Dec. 24, 2018

Implausible or not, Parecon (for Participatory Economy), a proposal described in the book The Political Economy of Participatory Economics by Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel, is a decentralized system that doesn't rely on price incentives and self-interest,

Reply Recommend
Sagebrush Woonsocket, RI Dec. 24, 2018

The perfect example of the advantages of public ownership is the Los Angeles power company. In 2001, Enron wreaked havoc (and profited from it) in California's newly deregulated private electricity markets. The targeted manipulations sent prices skyrocketing, and triggered rolling blackouts elsewhere throughout the state, while Los Angeles remained untouched by any of it. Prices in LA remained stable, and power was uninterrupted. Another benefit came from Los Angeles Water & Power's independence from a profit motive. Faced with growing power demand, instead of building a new plant (which would have ensured growing revenues to a private power company), LA W&P paid for each household to receive a compact fluorescent bulb. The resulting reduced consumption by its more than 1 million housing units reduced LA W&P's income, but eliminated the need for a new plant.

Reply 6 Recommend
MarkerZero Jacksonville, Fl Dec. 24, 2018

Thanks for motivating me to read again a clearly written clear-headed history of, and manifesto for recovering, the achievements of our "mixed economy" - Hacker and Pierson, American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper (2017).

Reply 1 Recommend
Michael Shirk Austin, Texas Dec. 26, 2018

@MarkerZero it is great that you appreciate Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson. I very much have been influenced by them and quoted them in my post as well. Check out Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson; Making America Great Again: The Case for the Mixed Economy" - Foreign Affairs - May/June 2016) https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2016-03-21/making -...

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Odd Arne Jakobsen Bergen, Norway Dec. 24, 2018

"Put all of this together, and as I said, you could see an economy working well with something like 1/3 public ownership. Now, this wouldn't satisfy people who hate capitalism." Perhaps not, but would it satisfy ""capitalists" who hate socialism? Over the years I have had the pleasure of meeting Americans visiting in Norway who, rather that finding the socialist hell-hole they expected to encounter, found that things they'd brand socialism worked surprisingly well here. What has often intrigued me has been their unwillingness to apply, even as an experiment, the "Norwegian way" in their own country. Is there an inherent fear in Americans of being proven wrong that they cannot live with? Case in point: every year in the wake of snowstorms and rainstorms hundreds of thousands of people across America lose their power for days and weeks. Why don't they put their cables in the ground where the wind cannot get to them? Why do they insist on paying over and over and over again to put the cables in the air? Is there some particular capitalist "intelligence" that dictates that is better to pay $100 ten times over than to pay $500 once and be done with it?

Reply 8 Recommend
thomas jordon lexington, ky Dec. 24, 2018

Our government built the interstate highway system using competitive bidding with private sector contractors. The deign specs and overall management was the government's responsibility. A fantastic success. WW II was successfully executed by our government overseeing the military/allies and the private economy to defeat two powerful enemies. They did for the COMMON GOOD of the world not to maximize profits. When government works it can implement grand achievement. When corrupted by free marketeers nothing gets done.

Reply 7 Recommend
Yves Leclerc Montreal, Canada Dec. 24, 2018

In fact, a mixed or (better) hybrid economy should include three sectors of unequal but flexible size: a. the private market-oriented, profit-driven system, b. the public service-oriented and social equity-driven system, and the cooperate-associative, proximity-oriented and non-profit system. Each answers a clear needs of human societies, each corresponds to a basic instinct of the species: the aggressive acquisitive drive of the meat-eating killer, the stability expected by the family-breeding tribe member, the solidarity and cooperation needed by the pack-hunter. The first is essentially dynamic, geared for progress and growth, the second is basically static, geared for fairness and predictability, the third is adaptive and responsive to immediate needs. Their relative sizes should be allowed to vary according to the evolution of social and political life, science and technology, and material survival conditions -- and political rules should make sure that each survives and plays its role.

Reply 11 Recommend
ursamaj Montreal, Canada Dec. 24, 2018

@Yves Leclerc I couldn't have said it better myself. Joyeuses fêtes, fellow Montrealer. & while we're at it, let's raise a glass for Hydro-Quebec, our much-maligned healthcare system & the non-profits who contribute so much to making our lives easier in our wonderful city. La Porte Jaune, I'm thinking of you.

Reply 3 Recommend
John Murphysboro, IL Dec. 24, 2018

We should make public all those things necessary for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that, were they left to the free market, would not be available to one and all equally. We already do that with police and fire protection and public infrastructure. We should also add health care and education at all levels to that list, for a start.

Reply 7 Recommend
John Upstate NY Dec. 24, 2018

You have to start by completely discarding the word "socialism." It aborts every potentially useful exploration of any kind of concept. I know that's not justified, but it's the sad truth. Lots of good ideas could be aired out fairly if called by some other names and discussed in terms that specifically denounced "socialism."

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Mattie Western MA Dec. 31, 2018

@John Call it capitalistic humanism, or humanistic capitalism. It should put needs of people before (or at least on equal footing with) needs of profit. As we used to say in the old days....

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Sarah Oakland Dec. 24, 2018

Maybe Prof. Krugman owes an apology to Bernie Sanders, whose plan for Sinle Payer Healthcare he derided as "rainbows and puppy dogs" during the last presidential campaign.

Reply 1 Recommend
DCW Port St Lucie, FL Dec. 24, 2018

I found this entry by Krugman is awfully weak, but it's not too surprising. Robert Reich, for instance, has a recent short video out about this issue of when to privatize and when not to, and it's more thought out. I hate to think this, but Krugman's apparent weakness on this issue seems to reflect what I see is a major problem with the "big media" like the NYT. It's mostly all Republicans all the time, even if it's total criticism of Republicans, and harsh criticism of Republicans is not the same as developing alternative views (e.g., Rachel Maddow nonstop criticism of Republicans). You just never hear sustained coverage about serious alternative ideas and the groups working on them. You have to go somewhere else to see that sort of news. There's hardly any sustained investigation into what you could call progressive left views, ideas, and actions. The big media is incredibly biased in this regard, and so it's not too surprising that Krugman, for some reason, seems so incapable of expressing alternative ideas to privatization and capitalism.

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PhredM67 Bowie, Maryland Dec. 24, 2018

Averous and greed are what drive capitalist economies. But there is nothing in the book of human nature that says they must be the only characteristics that drive capitalist economies. Why not compassion and empathy?

Reply 3 Recommend
Tom Carney Manhattan Beach California Dec. 24, 2018

Hey Paul, Do not cut your "life time" short. Problem with economists or whatever your called is that you can not see what's coming because you are sworn to look through those broken glasses. Capitalism and for that matter PRIVATE OWNERSHIP OF PROPERTY, are two of the most ridiculous delusional concepts that selfishness has ever conned us with. I mean, really Paul, how can somebody who is going to be dead eventually own any "THING". We can not even own our own bodies for that long. All so, this ridiculous notion is that there is not ENOUGH therefore we have to hoard what we have... BTW Paul, there are an estimated 8,000,000 people starving to death in just in that Nation that the Saudis want to own. Come on, Paul. It just makes sense for everyone to have what they need regardless of what some billionaire might thik he/she "owns".

Reply 3 Recommend
C. M. Jones Tempe, AZ Dec. 24, 2018

It's been my experience that markets are really good at what they do up until the point at which they are really bad. I keep a running list of market failures, which includes but is not limited to: police departments, fire departments, public health departments, pharmaceuticals, journalism, and education. Pharmaceuticals: The fact that we are running out of new antibiotics is a market failure which can be solved be subsuming new drug development into public health departments (most drug development is government funded US university backed research anyway). Journalism: The market solution to journalism is the cable news business model which prizes infotainment, eye balls on the screen, and click bait above real journalism. Real journalism is funded by charitable donations like paying $44 per month to The New York Times, for example. The market solution for education is that rich people get really good schools and poor people get really bad schools. If you live in a state with a high GDP per capita you get better schools than poorer states, for example see the state Arizona. What is the business model for education? If the thing you are producing cannot be exchanged in a market it has no value. Even pro-free market economists recognized that light houses were considered public goods and that by collectively allocating public resources for them they facilitated commerce and increased wealth. The fact that most republicans ignore this today is purely spiteful.

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Mark Goldes Santa Rosa, CA Dec. 24, 2018

The Second Income Plan provides a Third Path - having the advantages of capitalism while sharply reducing inequality and many other disadvantages. It can be combined with a Universal Basic Income with no net cost to the treasury. See: SECOND INCOMES at aesopinstitute.org Here is a path to ending concern about the stock market that makes possible greater returns. 85-90% of an individual's funds should be invested in Treasury Bills, the safest place to put money on this planet. The remaining funds can best be invested with modest amounts, as highly leveraged as possible, in a substantial number of high risk opportunities (ideally an Angel investment portfolio). This is the prescription for investors by Nassim Taleb in his book - THE BLACK SWAN: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. (See page 205)

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louis v. lombardo Bethesda, MD Dec. 24, 2018

Thank you Prof. Krugman. But please recognize the basic need of the people for governance that is not corrupt. Elizabeth Warren has a bill addressing corruption. See https://www.vox.com/2018/8/21/17760916/elizabeth-warren-anti-corruption-act-bill-lobbying-ban-president-trump https://www.warren.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/2018.08.21 %20Anti%20Corruption%20Act%20Summary.pdf

Reply 1 Recommend
M. J. Shepley Sacramento Dec. 24, 2018

what about CA taking over PG&E?

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Suzanne Wheat North Carolina Dec. 24, 2018

Dr. Krugman has had an epiphany!

Reply 1 Recommend
Jenifer Wolf New York Dec. 24, 2018

Most sensible article you've written to date

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Good John Fagin Chicago Suburbs Dec. 24, 2018

" For-profit education is actually a disaster area." The City University of New York is an obviously a prime example of the excellence of public education if it employs a professor of your obvious ineptitude. BTW, where did you matriculate? If, by picking any one of a dozen private, for-profit, rip-off colleges you are making a case for public education, you obviously haven't been working with public school students lately. In my upper middle class community, the public high school, fed by a half dozen public grade schools, is, with numerous exceptions, nevertheless graduating students who have a mediocre grade school education. And at least a dozen of the teachers, highly paid and highly protected, couldn't pass an ordinary, private university entrance exam. I never cease to be amazed at the astounding ineptitude of the public education system, while the private, Catholic system continues to roll out educated citizens. (I'm not Catholic). A generalization like yours is certainly indicative of the failure of Yale University.

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Mitch Lyle Corvallis OR Dec. 24, 2018

@Good John Fagin Assertions are not facts. Please, some data on how your local public high school is putting out mediocre students.

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ursamaj Montreal, Canada Dec. 24, 2018

@Good John Fagin That's odd. So many other countries are doing a much better job in public education. Check out the OECD PISA results if you want to see how your argument against public education holds up.

Reply 1 Recommend
Tatateeta San Mateo Dec. 24, 2018

Re:Elizabeth Warren's idea of the US government manufacturing generic drugs -it is a great idea. According to Ralph Nader most of our antibiotics are manufactured in China. That worries me and it should worry you.

Reply 2 Recommend
Sparky Brookline Dec. 24, 2018

Let's face it, healthcare is undoubtedly the 800 pound gorilla in the room when it comes to a debate on the relationship between public and private economies. Many NYT commenters want to see Medicare for All become a reality in order to cut out all the profiteering in healthcare, and so that we would have a universal national one size fits all healthcare system. To this I say that Medicare profiteering is rampant with waste fraud and abuse by doctors and hospitals accounting for as much as 40% of Medicare's costs. So, if we really want to socialize healthcare, and take care of everyone, and control the costs we already have a national healthcare system. It is called the VA. In the VA the government owns all the hospitals and all the medical staff are government employees. We really need VA healthcare for everyone. Again, if one believes that socialism is the answer to solving our largest crisis, healthcare, and we also believe that no one should ever profit from providing healthcare, then VA healthcare for all is the only option.

Reply 1 Recommend
Bob Aceti Oakville Ontario Dec. 24, 2018

One important rule to understand the capitalist-socialist dichotomy: Capitalism has no national allegiance; socialism is required to adhere to political allegiances

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Studioroom Washington DC Area Dec. 24, 2018

Why we need public funding? Long term stability.

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Jerryg Massachusetts Dec. 24, 2018

It might be pointed out that even Adam Smith would have supported most of this. His primary thesis was that government has to set the rules or the private sector will go off perverting the free market he so valued. He also had no illusions about the private sector delivering education, social services, or other necessary functions. This idea that the unchained private sector is the solution to all problems is not free market economics -- it's wildly radical nonsense. The private sector, left to its own devices, will undermine the free market and the conditions needed for its success.

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GRW Melbourne, Australia Dec. 24, 2018

Well, my view is that "capitalism" and "socialism" (or "communism") do not exist and never could - over the longer term. The flirtation with "communism" was (or is) a "flash in the pan" relatively speaking and pure "capitalism" would be similarly disastrous if tried - consider the near attempt of the contemporary United States. In other words a "mixed economy" or "social democracy" is a "no-brainer" - and I think it a major embarrassment to the humanity that any of us thought differently in this our modern era. We are unfortunately seemingly naturally inclined to "black and white" or "all or nothing" thinking - but we can be schooled to overcome it for our own benefit if we so allow. Much of the sad experience of the last 150 years - and particularly the last 80 - could have been avoided if one Karl Marx had not been a chauvinistic and egotistical nationalist who wanted to go down in history as the father of a revolution in Germany that would be much bigger and better than the one in France. He wanted the "workers of the world' to "unite" simply for his glorification I contend. We might have had no fascist reaction, no fog of cold war. And a lot less dead in hot ones. Imagine. Much of the world now could have been an international association of interconnected and peace-loving social democracies of highly educated, civilised and ecologically concerned citizens like Denmark and Sweden. Imagine again. All lost because of one man's intellectual dishonesty and obstinacy.

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Bartolo Central Virginia Dec. 24, 2018

"And I'm sure I'm missing a few others." Banking, for goodness sake. The idea is catching on, so get out of the way. For starters, how about allowing the Post Office to do some local loan business to take away the awful people who do payday lending at very high interest rates? Lobbyists for that lot should be thrown out.

Reply 4 Recommend
MJ India Dec. 26, 2018

@Bartolo Indian government just inaugurated India Post Payments bank. India Post is equivalent of USPS. Virtually every village has a post office. Banking reaches everyone. Profits - minimal. But with limited options (savings, CDs, monthly income scheme, pension distribution , small loans only), to ensure the private banking can continue with all the fancier products, bigger loans etc.

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Tatateeta San Mateo Dec. 24, 2018

Socialism isn't a failure in happier countries than ours: Sweden, Denmark, Finland, for instance. They have a mix of private and public ownership of essential services like healthcare and education. And social services. For profit healthcare is an oxymoron. Profit always wins over good healthcare and slicing and dicing services and procedures to squeeze every nickel and dime out of them leads to very bad medicine.

Reply 4 Recommend
ALM Brisbane, CA Dec. 24, 2018

The worst part of capitalism is extreme concentration of wealth in a few hands, further aggravated by foolish taxation policies. Quality of education is uneven because of wide variation in local resources. Uniform federal funding of education would solve this problem. Same applies to healthcare. Equal level of healthcare is possible only by a single payer system such as Medicare. Public health which ranges from providing clean food, clean air, clean water, and vaccinations to garbage collection and dispositions is a matter that is better publicly handled. Continuous reeducation of workers displaced by automation or outsourcing is another matter that capitalism has ignored. Cremation or burial need to be publicly funded for those considered indigent when they were alive.

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Brookhawk Maryland Dec. 24, 2018

The devil would be in the political mayhem that would take place as we decide what should be capitalist and what should be socialist. Even if you base the decision on answering the question "What does every person need to live in this world?" you will have massive disagreements. Insurance is inherently socialist - it requires everyone contribute so that the ones who need $ can get it when the need it, on the theory that sooner or later we're all going to need it - but look at how insanely people (and corporations) have resisted Medicare for all and even Obamacare. On the other hand, the liquor industry doesn't need to be socialist - everybody doesn't need it and won't need it if they don't want it.

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ursamaj Montreal, Canada Dec. 24, 2018

@Brookhaw Ever consider checking out how other countries do things? You can't skew the statistics forever by stacking everything in the hands of the top 20-30% & still consider that on average, you're doing better than everybody else. The success of a few outliers do not a functional country make & no, you don't need the oil revenue of Norway to make sure that the basic needs of all citizens are met. It may not be easy & it's probably too late for the USA, as it takes generations of stability & hard work to pull it off, but the most successful countries in the twenty-first century either did just that or are trying very hard to do this well.

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JoeG Houston Dec. 24, 2018

Socialism works if you have oil like in Norway where there's a trillion in surplus in profit. With 5 million population you could have train service everywhere and elder care wherever you look. Wait they do have poverty. Never mind. Democratic Socialism, neither Democratic or Socialist, could be done here. But when the deficit reaches a gazillion and Alexandra Ocasio Cortez appointee's are running Ford and trying to select next years colors and mpg ratings why not cancel the government debt. It's not new it's even in the - you guessed it, the Bible. Wait a second being a billionaire is so common. Who wants to be a trillionaire?

Reply Recommend
Truthseeker Great Lakes Dec. 24, 2018

I hate capitalism. I want something better. Capitalism is greedy, completely materialistic and gives no regard for human values. The earth and human civilization cannot survive unregulated capitalism, and capitalists don't care. Either we will create new ways of living or catastrophic environmental collapse will bring human civilization as it exists today to an end.

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Bruce USA Dec. 24, 2018

This is where liberals lose me. Sure there are areas of the economy that should be run by the government. Health care definitively is one of them (or at the very least a public option) But advocating socialism as opposed to social democracy is a NO NO. Last country that when full blast socialism was Venezuela 20 years ago and look at the results. Many other disastrous examples abound, Cuba any one?

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Ed Watters San Francisco Dec. 24, 2018

Capitalism's strength is wealth creation in the hands of the few, who then use this wealth to further enhance their wealth via control of governmental policy - all of which is contrary to the needs of the many. People who think a lot deeper than Krugman question whether it makes sense to talk about democracy in a capitalist society - and there are academic studies that support this. See: https://www.thenation.com/article/noam-chomsky-neoliberalism-destroying-democracy / https://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/mgilens/files/gilens_and_page_2014_-testing_theories_of_american_politics.doc.pdf Regarding socialism, the concept implies bottom-up control of policy which has only been achieved briefly, on very small scale in societies and in history of which most are unaware. Dominant capitalist societies have attacked countries economically and militarily that have tried a socialist model. Whether these would have eventually adopted a bottom-up power structure is unclear.

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Bob Aceti Oakville Ontario Dec. 24, 2018

I agree with Paul Krugman, generally. But the issue respecting 1/3rd socialism and 2/3rds capitalism is that the socialist sector would be the servant of the capitalist sector that would suck the life blood (tax revenues) needed to sustain a productive health and education sector. One only need look at the military-industrial complex (MIC) to support my observation. The DoD spends "Huge" taxpayer funds to support global military dominance. How much of that (socialist) military budget is contrived by capitalist politician-lobbyists and over-spent with the blessing of the (socialist) military establishment that is recharacterized as "profit" is anyone's guess. The socialist Defence Budget, and privatized NASA budget, fall outside the normal bounds of markets as the buyers of these goods and services tend to be sovereign governments and sovereign corporations - TBTF. Eventually, retiring military leaders that sanction budget directives that enrich capitalist corporations that make these military 'assets', end up post-retirement as directors or officers of the MIC - i.e. Dick Chaney did well swinging socialist government business toward his business interests. I accept Krugman's estimation that a minor portion of government-associated business can cut-out the middleman and become more transparent and cost-effective producer of social goods and services - but only if there is an independent board and executive team NOT expecting "fringe benefits" doing so.

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Doug VT Dec. 24, 2018

Well, let's be honest, the "socialism is failure" paradigm is based on the corrupt and totalitarian regimes of the Soviets and Eastern Europe. Yes, they failed. We know that. But Jesus, can we advertise the successes of Socialism for a damn second!!!! C'mon, use the old brain. It is mixed economies that have yielded the best set of results in the modern era. There is no question about that. Can we stop with the inane arguments! A certain amount of socialism is good! Let's debate the right balance. Fine. But I'm sick of litigating the idea that some socialism is good.

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Chris Winter San Jose, CA Dec. 24, 2018

One question that I think doesn't get enough attention is: Can capitalism exist without the need for constant growth? My intuition is that it can, but most people regard the assumption of constant growth as a law of nature.

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John Upstate NY Dec. 24, 2018

I am happy to see someone point this out. The mantra of growth is, ironically, the one thing agreed upon by all political persuasions, but it's actually the least sustainable approach that could be imagined. I'd like to hear how capitalism might exist without it, but even more I'd like to hear of any long-term workable system that's compatible with a steady state rather than unlimited growth.

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Pinewood Nashville, TN Dec. 24, 2018

@Chris Winter and John Steady-state economics has been seriously proposed. There is a non-profit dedicated to its theory and implementation: the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy, https://steadystate.org/discover/steady-state-economy-definition /

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Bob in NM Los Alamos, NM Dec. 24, 2018

Every human activity needs some sort of regulation to prevent exploitation of the vulnerable. Also, those portions of incomes so high that they can't possibly be spent need to be transferred to those who will spend them. That keeps the money circulating so that everyone benefits. This is what is needed, not arguing about public vs. private. Every activity can be private; that's fine. But every activity also requires oversight to prevent harm to others. Unfortunately, people will tend to misbehave if they can get away with it.

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John Griswold Salt Lake City Utah Dec. 24, 2018

"Maybe not everything should be privatized"? No maybe involved, NOT EVERYTHING should be privatized! See how easy that is?

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David Pittsburg, CA Dec. 24, 2018

What is ignored in this innocent debate is the finicky nature of politics. The political swings from say, Kennedy era public spending to Reagan era private enterprise along with a degraded view of government, can wreak havoc on those dependent on "government". I think of my friend who benefited for years on a "minority owned business" provision to get contracts for his business. He believed it was an entitlement. Then the Bush Administration cut out that provision and he ended up living out of his car. The lesson is always: Don't get dependent on government.

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BB Accord, New York Dec. 24, 2018

The argument against socialism is totally disingenuous and purely tactical. "Socialism" has been purposefully cast as the "other" in financial systems, exactly the same as foreigners have been cast as the "other." Socialism has always been a part of our democratic (not capitalistic) system. Building infrastructure, public education, public transportation, public health, public law enforcement are all socialism. Anti-monopoly laws are socialism. One can be reasonably certain that as soon as labels are used to evaluate policy rather than content and benefits it is a "red herring" argument to distract from opportunism by the perpetrators.

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SteveT Silver Spring, MD Dec. 24, 2018

@BB It could be argued that the United States was built through socialism. The Founding Fathers enshrined a national, government-run mail delivery system in the Constitution that united the states. President James Monroe expanded the mission of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from building coastal forts to surveying and improving inland waterways in 1824, helping to open the western frontier to expansion. President Abraham Lincoln and Congress provided taxpayer-funded grants and government-backed bonding as incentives for private companies to build transcontinental railroads and telegraph lines, uniting the continent. President Franklin Roosevelt used taxpayer funding to subsidize the expansion of electricity into rural areas, bringing large portions of the country into the 20th century. President Dwight Eisenhower proposed a taxpayer-funded interstate highway system that made America's a truly national economy.

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Awake New England Dec. 24, 2018

I suspect the only segment which can tolerate the inefficiency of humans is the government. Private firms will always seek the most efficient means to provide goods and services, thus the push to automate and deploy AI. There is nothing wrong with this, for example, the time saved using self checkout with portable scanners is wonderful, of course there are displaced workers.

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Ralph Bentley Portland Oregon Dec. 24, 2018

@Awake Private firms always seek the most efficient way to make money. The mission is to make more money than last year. To increase shareholder value. That is the extent of it.

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Dink Singer Hartford, CT Dec. 24, 2018

@Awake You apparently have never worked for a large corporation. I have worked for three different corporations that had annual budgeting procedures that were so inefficient it was often well into March before workers had anything to do. As a contract consultant I spent eight months on contract doing nothing while management considered which of two alternatives plans to implement. I have worked for a corporation where the internal charge for parking within the basement of a company owned building was far higher than the rates at commercial parking garages within a few blocks, so the manager of the department with the most company cars moved them saving his department money but decreasing the company's bottom line. I worked for a company where it became fashionable for executives to send documents to one another via FedEx overnight instead of via interoffice mail. Sorting took place in Memphis instead of the basement and the documents arrived two or three hours later or if the documents were ready early enough in the day, twenty hours later.

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John M Oakland Dec. 24, 2018

@Dink Singer: As you correctly note, large bureaucracies have inefficiencies regardless of whether they're publicly owned or privately owned. The Dilbert strip shows private enterprise, after all...

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Tom from North Carolina Dec. 24, 2018

From a cost efficiency standpoint, more public control of some industries is easily justified. The part of the puzzle that hasn't been solved is innovation. Without incentives brought about by capitalism, Google search, smart phones, YouTube, tablets not to mention thousands of applications making your phone or tablet or PC so useful, would not arrive in 100 years let alone one generation.

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Chris Herbert Manchester, NH Dec. 24, 2018

@Tom from The most patient investor in R&D is the federal government. For the obvious reason that more than 90% of R&D just proves what does not work. The CIA helped fund some of the original research that ended up being Google, and an Italian college professor (paid for by government money) made an important breakthrough as well. Read Mariano Mazzucato's The Entrepreneurial State.

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John Griswold Salt Lake City Utah Dec. 24, 2018

@Tom from Chris below goes no where near far enough. The entire technological platform on which Google, smart phones, YouTube and the rest rely would have taken at least decades longer to develop without Government action and support. There quite literally would not have been a "Silicon Valley" without the massive government investment in aerospace and defense in the 50's and 60's.

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Allan Dobbins Birmingham, AL Dec. 24, 2018

@Chris Herbert - Exactly right. The initial spadework -- fundamental research in materials, computing, biology that has led to technological revolutions, was funded by the government usually without any vision whatsoever of the end application. It is this that we are in great danger of getting away from, in doing applied research with an immediate end in mind (e.g. magic bullet drugs for cancer).

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1stPlebian Northern USA Dec. 24, 2018

A more realistic solution that wouldn't require the consent of our lawmakers would be to set up private companies that don't operate soley on the profit margin, and instead work to provide a good or service to the public better than the current players; treat their employees well and not pollute, cheat, steal, etc.; and provide a reasonable rate of return for investors (7% or so), with any extra profits being split up and reinvested, given as bonuses to workers, investors, and consumers, etc. by a predetermined formula. Western Europe gives lie to the argument that socialism doesn't work, but anybody who has been paying attention knows lawmakers and their handlers will not abide by it, and sabotage it first chance they got. Instead we can set up a sort of private socialist system, to compete in areas where the profit motive doesn't provide for the best outcomes, in areas like alternative energy, internet cooperatives, drug discovery and manufacture, insurance cooperatives, etc. Graduate schools could be set up as such allowing people to use their school money and the assets of the school to invent new products that could be then brought to the public under such rules. The private sector would be free to compete, but the profit motive wouldn't be the only game in town.

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hestal glen rose, tx Dec. 24, 2018

I have imagined a pair of such systems. One can't exist without the other. They are called Faction-Free Democracy and Democrato-Capitalism. They are based on the fact that our supply of money is unlimited. I have been preaching this gospel for years, including comments on this blog. I finally wrote a book about it called "Faction-Free Democracy." You can look it up. It provides government funding for almost everything, and models the government on the democracy of ancient Athens. Many people call it "socialism" but in fact it is a real democracy instead of the phony one we have now, which is, according to the Framers, a republic. Yes, it is possible to have a government modeled on Athenian democracy. Computers don't you know. We could have a world-wide democracy if we wished. It provides a Social Security Lifetime Supplement of $36,000 per year per citizen from birth to death. Don't be scared, check it out. To paraphrase Keynes: "The new ideas expressed here are extremely simple and should be obvious. The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones, which are now intertwined in every corner of our minds, and do not wish to be disturbed."

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mauouo10 Roma Dec. 24, 2018

If what Prof. Krugman were to happen in the US, it would just make them a bit more similar to European nations. Nothing revolutionary in European views, but definitevely so for the American mindset. I think it would also make the US a stronger a more cohesive nation. But expect private interests getting in the way of that by all means.

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Enri Massachusetts Dec. 24, 2018

Private individuals and self interest are of course abstractions that do not stand by themselves in reality, apart of the common sense ideology. They are mediated by social activities (via exchange -selling my capacity to work or buying what I need in the market). I don't produce something to consume it myself, as in earlier economies of self subsistence. The computer I'm writing on was made by others. Therefore I depend on others' products to live in society as I am not capable of producing my own means of subsistence. The social wealth (all the products of use) produced by the collective worker (all of those who work for a wage) is though appropriated by private individuals. But that is only a phenomenon that exists in a society where the means of production are individually appropriated. This happens even in China despite its "socialist" or mixed "economy." So socialism is not just the collective ownership of production means. It is the democratic control of the same, which does not happen under the regime of capital accumulation (even in those 'state owned enterprises'). The baptism of fire of capital was the dispossession of lands held in common by peasants in England starting in the xv century They were freed from their means of production and forced to work for others. This operation has been repeated since then-even in China as recent as a decade ago. Those cities, roads, and factories were made with the work of newly "freed" labor from the soil they used to till.

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Enri Massachusetts Dec. 24, 2018

Krugman says socialism is an utopia or it does not work based on the experience of the former Soviet Union or currently in China. Both are examples of centralized economies rather than socialism where the means of production (land, factories, technologies, etc) are democratically controlled. Indeed, this centralization has favored the concentration of wealth produced in those two areas of the world. The Russian oligarchs and the Alibabas come from somewhere, and the state has been there to help them along. So let's keep apart the idea of socialism as a way of producing and appropriating this product from the form of government that either fosters or suppresses it. There is not a clear example of the former. All the existing governments have so far mostly suppressed socialism as a mode of production despite their name. The so called mixed economies were the result of the truce between capital and labor after ww2. After that truce ended in the 1970s with low profitability capital has taken the offensive with both neoliberalism and globalization, which ran out of steam in 2008. We are now facing the dystopia of a capital regime in trouble and unable to deal with catastrophic climate change, the global poverty it has produced, the millions unemployed in the global south or precariously living in the midst of concentrated wealth like in the US, and the demoralization produced by this social malaise Economists need to deal with this dystopia and stop living in denial.

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Ejgskm Bishop Dec. 24, 2018

Professor Krugman are you not looking at the data? Total federal, state and local government spending was 37.9% of GDP in 2014 ( https://data.oecd.org/gga/general-government-spending.htm ). The largest shares go to my mom and my kids (thanks taxpayers!). Government expenditure is not the same as GDP but are you saying we should shrink government by 15% (5% of GDP) or grow it? If more money flows through DC (or, for this Californian, Sacramento), will additional lobbying for regulation delivering rents to unions and corporations be worthwhile? Lack of antitrust enforcement is doing more for the top .1% and to the bottom 10% than anything but maybe our silly tax code. Please think and write more about that.

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Robert Bott Calgary Dec. 24, 2018

I think many sectors could benefit from a greater role for cooperatives: one-member-one-vote rather than one-share-one-vote. Also, there could be mandatory inclusion of labor and public members on corporate boards. The current private sector model is focused on growth, rather than service or maintenance, and typically has a very short time horizon. If our goal is sustainability over the longer term, we need a better mix of governance and finance than at present. I completely agree with Dr. Krugman about the need for better structures to meet public purposes such as health, education, utilities, and a basic social safety net including housing.

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eben spinoza sf Dec. 24, 2018

The positive feedback loops of so-called network effects are concentrating economic and political power into black holes of incredible wealth. When things get too out-of-balance, society, like an ecology, disintegrates. A mixed economy can help maintain that balance. But, as things are going, it looks increasingly like many, many people are going to suffer first until some form of balance, social, economic and ecological, is restored.

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Ed Larchmont Dec. 24, 2018

My suggested guideline is simple. If an organizations highest priority should be to be the public it should be socialized (tax supported). If an organizations highest priority is profit its private. A healthy mixed economy is in our future. We just have to make it happen.

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John Brews ..✅✅ Reno NV Dec. 24, 2018

It is amazing that Paul is a bit embarrassed to say the private sector isn't able to do everything well. It is sooo clear that most of the big problems of this Country are a consequence of government being unable to do what has to be done. Of course, the GOP doesn't want to do anything. But infrastructure, opioid addiction, health care more generally, education, research, the arts, foreign policy, and politics in general are not where capitalism shines. In fact, simply making a profit very often isn't a good motivator when it makes providing goods and services simply an expense instead of an objective. Facebook, Google, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram are cases in point, where the money motive has corrupted large portions of these enterprises, driving out responsibility.

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Ed Larchmont Dec. 24, 2018

The issue we need to discuss first is corruption. What else can you call the fact that our representatives are for sale to the highest bidder? We the public are clearly not capable of being represented in that system. Thus we are not. The issue of socialism vs capitalism is totally misrepresented by most commentators and media. If we define socialism as taxpayer funded programs for the public we've had the mixed economy Paul suggests for many years. Social security and medicare are the most referenced but there are many more; public schools, the post office, libraries, museums, highways and roads, water, sewage, parks, local police and government services..... But our unrepresentatives have shifted socialism on behalf of the public to socialism for the corporations, subsidizing many industries like oil and agriculture while vilifying socialism on behalf of the public. The military and the banking system are the most aggregis of the socialized, consuming over half our GDP. None of this will change until we deal with the corruption of our representatives. Paul is stating the obvious, a mixed economy currently serves both the public and private sectors, but is under relentless pressure to go private. Public institutions like schools and prisons have already been privatized. But when we get our representatives back we have to decide what it makes sense to socialize and privatize. My suggested guideline is simple.

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1stPlebian Northern USA Dec. 24, 2018

@Ed...if we get our representatives back. Absent another FDR and an overhaul of the democratic party that will embrace a New Deal, the democrats will not dominate our governments and remain beholden to the same interests that prioritize short-term gain over even their own long-term interests.

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DeclineAndFall Washington, DC Dec. 23, 2018

According to my cable-internet installer, a) Ethernet has defeated all other network protocols, b) Ma Bell was broken up over long distance, a topic no one cares about anymore, c) no one can make money delivering generic IP packets, so d) the government should re-create a national monopoly on fiber to homes and businesses, and e) bid out the installation and operation to local contractors. This would allow one big govt-run system (furnace) and all the installers and network operators would still have jobs. Happy Holidays.

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carl bumba mo-ozarks Dec. 23, 2018

Protecting our natural and cultural resources will unfortunately require a degree of protectionism. But this is a more sustainable solution for both our country AND the rest of the world. If we can favor LOCAL COMMERCE through local/municipal, county and state governments that preferentially support local/small-scale business, our carbon footprints and carbon sequestration figures, for examples, would improve. Federal-/national-level governance and multinational capitalism are, in concert, destroying the planet. Fortunately, our resource-richness allows us NOT to have to compete with the world's lowest bidders, in terms of exploitation of workers and the environment.

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1stPlebian Northern USA Dec. 24, 2018

@carl bumba, Yes we should try to think more locally, but moneyed interests think and act in concert globally, and a local mindset where we ignore issues that don't affect us directly leaves us all at the mercy of the globalists.

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carl bumba mo-ozarks Dec. 24, 2018

@1stPlebian They ain't gonna hurt us any.

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Ed Moise Clemson, SC Dec. 23, 2018

In the 1920s, the British government initiated what was in effect an experiment comparing public and private design and manufacture of an airship. This was before improvements in airplanes made airships obviously uncompetitive. The government designed and built one airship, the R101, while a private corporation designed and built another, the R100. The government airship was a disaster, literally. 48 people were killed when it crashed on its first attempt at a really long flight, in October 1930. Neville Shute Norway, an engineer who had worked on the R100, later said he believed one of the big advantages of the private airship was that it was under the scrutiny of suspicious government safety inspectors. The engineers building the government airship were not subjected to the same hostile scrutiny by the government--after all they were the government--so they were able to get away with things that should not have been permitted.

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Michael Shirk Austin, Texas Dec. 23, 2018

Neither pure 'capitalism' nor pure 'socialism' (or whatever may lie at the other end of the spectrum) have existed for centuries. The unregulated seeking of profits, just as a centrally controlled economy, would be disastrous in any country and we do well to understand the benefits of a mixed economy. The political economist Charles Lindblom "once described markets as being like fingers: nimble and dexterous. Governments, with their capacity to exercise authority, are like thumbs: powerful but lacking subtlety and flexibility. The invisible hand is all fingers. The visible hand is all thumbs. One wouldn't want to be all thumbs, of course, but one wouldn't want to be all fingers, either. Thumbs provide countervailing power, constraint, and adjustment to get the best out of those nimble fingers." (Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson; Making America Great Again: The Case for the Mixed Economy" - Foreign Affairs - May/June 2016) https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2016-03-21/making-america-great-again

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American in Austria Vienna, Austria Dec. 23, 2018

In comparative economics courses at US universities during the 1970s, large utilities experiencing decreasing long-run average costs (like power generation/distribution; telephone companies; certain aspects of airliners; etc) and certain other production where firms might have large numbers of employees, were hinted-at as prime candidates for being [quasi-]publicly sourced. What the resulting system was called seemed less important than output and cost (Pareto, Nash, other) efficiencies. In some countries, such industries flip back and forth between private and public production (or finance) over the decades, rendering those nations characterized as more or less socialistic or capitalistic at the time, depending on how the highest profile firms are supported by whatever prevailing administration (or ownership group) has power. This also can do wonders for public deficits and accumulated debt in a very short period of time.

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Bill Cape Town Dec. 23, 2018

What about the broadcasting industry? Imagine watching television with programs not being broken up by commercials. Nowadays is seems as if half of program time is taken up with commercials. Imagine having the quality of news, public affairs, and entertainment approaching that of the BBC. A very intelligent and competent television producer reminded me many years ago, "Television is not an information and entertainment medium, it's an advertising medium." We almost had a total national public broadcasting system instead of the small sliver we have today . Congress narrowly supported the private system when the issue was decided in the 1920's. Too bad it went that way.

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carl bumba mo-ozarks Dec. 24, 2018

@Bill So true. Then maybe we shouldn't reflexively trust corporate news, like NYT, to provide us with unbiased truth. For example, many people here seem to adopt views about "fly-over country" without ever really knowing it, firsthand. Likewise, readers' opinions here seem to be frequently formed by comparisons between REAL people (who are not Trump supporters) and DEPICTIONS of real people (who are Trump supporters). This is problematic.

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Frank Monachello San Jose, CA Dec. 23, 2018

Paul's totally on target and the timing just might be perfect. Hopefully, he and others can build on this with actual examples of other modern countries that have made this transformation successfully and the Democratic Party could finally UNITE around a prudent vision for the voters .. . the two key words? Prudent and UNITE.

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harvey wasserman LA Dec. 23, 2018

this brilliant and important piece misses a key phrase: the natural ecology. under pure capitalism the earth & the life support systems it provides have no monetary value. therefore they exist merely to be exploited (and destroyed) for private profit. in the long run such a system will doom us all. in fact, you could say in the short term it's already doing just that.

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Michael Shirk Austin, Texas Dec. 23, 2018

@harvey wasserman that is exactly the point. The single greatest negative externality of unregulated, profit-maximizing business, is global collapse.

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Don St Louis Dec. 23, 2018

The primary arbiter of the effectiveness of free markets must be the presence of effective competition. If natural forces or regulation do not insure effective competition in a market segment then the interests of the consumer must be enforced by regulation. If regulation does not suceed public ownership is the most obvious alternative. The common belief that, if unregulated, markets will function to the benefit of consumers and, on a larger scale, societies, is woefully misguided.

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James W. Russell Portland, Oregon Dec. 23, 2018

Retirement is a major area that could benefit from public ownership and control. Think of how much 401(k) gains are lost to the private financial services industry. Think about how much lower administrative overhead Social Security has than private financial service industry companies. Think what an expansion of the Social Security social insurance model could do to resolve the retirement crisis.

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PJM La Grande, OR Dec. 23, 2018

As a teacher of economics I am wondering the same thing. Are we at a point where economies are so large and complicated, and prosperity is so great (though not for realized for everyone), that some new economic system is called for. Call it "creative destruction" turned towards the economic system itself.

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rick Brooklyn Dec. 23, 2018

Just by the mention of a ratio of 2/3:1/3, Mr. Krugman illuminates his belief that, no mater what perils capitalism may bring, it is still twice as better than an economy that is heavily controlled by a government that is by and for the people. Eventually, we may have a government capable of leading the economy, but for now, and without any evidence, commentators like Mr. Krugman, cynically let us know that we should mostly just stay the course and give our money to the profit seekers. here's another way to think about this: not only could all the people working in health care be public employees, but they and the people who need medical care (all of us) could have our care subsidized by the creators of the drugs and diagnostic tools that save us. It is important to remember that in health care there are statistics that show specific percentages of those subjected to certain drugs or tests are actually harmed by those drugs and tests. It seems reasonable that those manufacturers should be in partnership with the government for (and on the hook for) costs associated with their imperfect products. That is more of a real public interest led economy where capitalism, because it harms people (as part of its nature), is humbled by the public good to subsidize their mistakes and support the health of the citizenry.

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Sam Song Edaville Dec. 24, 2018

@rick Let's see. You want the drug companies to underwrite the cost of patients who would receive their products. I think the drug producers would love that scheme.

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Bob Aceti Oakville Ontario Dec. 23, 2018

The socialist-capitalist, mixed economy, discussion in America is long overdue and, contrary to Prof. Krugman's guess that it would be "probably irrelevant", quite relevant indeed. The Chinese economy is the leading capitalist-socialist economy: "Real GDP Growth YoY data in China is updated quarterly, available from Mar 1992 to Sep 2018, with an average rate of 9.2 %." https://www.ceicdata.com/en/indicator/china/real-gdp-growth The World Bank illustrates the difference in GDP percentage growth since 1960 for the U.S. and China. Clearly, the Chinese will over-take U.S. economy (GDP) in a matter of decades - likely when a millennial becomes President of the U.S. and China. https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.KD.ZG?locations=CN-US Despite the evidence, Americans still think that the U.S. will defeat the historic odds and remain the world's leading economy and military power that it is today. In a world of increasing militarism, the future is uncertain. With unabated sustainable growth of GHG emissions, millennials will need to get involved in politics sooner than any prior generation: their standard of living is at real risk, they are part of the solution. The present U.S. Trump administration's denial of the science behind global warming and climate change is the problem.

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sgbotsford Warburg, Alberta, Canada Dec. 23, 2018

Some areas should be free market: Any area where there is clear competition -- e.g. automobiles. Some areas should be either government owned, or tightly regulated: Utilities fall in this category, as it is very inefficient to have competition in electricity, water, sewer, or wired communication. Cable TV would have fit in here 20 years ago, but there are enough other alternatives that this is no longer the case. Some areas where the industry has an impact on the common good -- businesses that pollute come to mind -- need regulations that govern that aspect. Any business that is "too big to fail" should get bailed out once: And then broken up into at least 3 smaller companies. Other areas of regulation: Overlapping directorships within an industry. Banks should not be in the insurance business. Nor in the stock selling business.

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JJ NVA Dec. 23, 2018

Krugman fails to mention the that most of the 2/3 capilaist portion of the ecomony he talks about isn't really capitalism, it dominated bystate sanctioned monopolies. No one really believes in a ture capilaist economy, if they did they would be arguing for the elimination of the largest distortions to a capitalist economy in the United States; tradmarks, patent, and limited liability corporations. these three distort from a freemarket truely capitalist economy much more than wlefare, public education, regulated healthcare. The government regulation inflicted by these three government mandates is much greater than Obama care and welfare ever could be.

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JJ NY Dec. 23, 2018

The question of "how discredited is socialism?" is odd. "Discredited" by whom? and in what context? Ronald Reagan crisscrossed the country on behalf of the AMA, fear-mongering about ending freedom forever because the AMA hated the idea of socialized medicine: Medicare. Today, many Americans seem not to know that original Medicare is a government-run program (socialized insurance, not socialized medicine) -- less expensive to run, higher quality results, better at controlling costs -- far better than the wolf-in-sheep's clothing Medicare Advantage programs that socialize risk, privatize profits, and make mountains of money for shareholders/execs. Polls show Americans have become far more comfortable with govt-run healthcare -- hence its importance in Nov18 ... and likely continued importance in 2020. And, last time I checked, Warren's drug manufacture plan included more than generics -- e.g., new drugs with insufficient profit potential -- for rare diseases, or that cure, or that will be used rarely (like new antibiotics). I'd prefer Prof. Krugman spend more time on economic explanations -- not worrying so much about political feasibility, prognosticating, and inflammatory labels. Maybe then he'd discuss economic, public policy -- and moral -- benefits of the NY Health Act, "Improved Medicare for all NYers," better than any current public or private insurance. If it becomes law in 2019, the feasibility of national single-payer will no longer be in question...just the terms.

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Theodore Minnesota Dec. 23, 2018

Capitalism begins to look a lot like state socialism when there is heavy concentration in the industry, for example, only one commercial jet manufacturer or only one military fighter jet manufacturer or High tech controlled by Amazon, Google, Apple, FaceBook. Capitalism works when there is competition, not monopoly. We are not as purely capitalistic as we like to think.

Reply 10 Recommend
Kodali VA Dec. 23, 2018

Free education for all advanced by Bernie Sanders is a first step that is needed. This is neither a socialism nor a capitalism. We have Medicaid to take care of poor. It is just a matter of adequately funding it. Next, setup public works program where unemployed can work for food stamps. Provide more public housing. This guarantees the basic necessities of food, shelter, education and health care. Pay for it by reverting to taxation of 60s. I don't know whether it is socialism or capitalism, but it certainly is a basic function of the government to take care of its own citizens.

Reply 8 Recommend
Steven Marfa, TX Dec. 23, 2018

We're at a point where a globalized administrative and distributive system can be successfully implemented. The only thing in the way is capitalism, and private ownership of the existing first steps, twisted to the will of the super-elite. All we need to do is turn that system into a global, public set of utilities, whose purpose is service, not profit. When the need for capital accumulation grows to handle macro problems, it can be managed more efficiently this way, without the massive drain of corruption that has heretofore hobbled all such efforts. The truck is going to be to make this system responsive and coherent, and that will involve far greater integration of existing financial systems and processes into other service organizations, to make them useful platforms for exchange management instead of the bubble casino fantasies built for the few they are today. This is an entirely feasible proposition, and is only impossible because of the desperate, self-serving greed of those now owning it all. Remove them, and their ownership, as a significant first step, and the rest becomes far more obvious soon thereafter. Or, continue living in the clouds hoping a few useless tweaks will fix a broken global capitalist order. The stay will, however, be short, and the fall is a long distance.

Reply 1 Recommend
Fred Up North Dec. 23, 2018

The fundamental problem with the idea of a mixed economy maybe be with the politicians who are advocating for it. Consider at this moment, Jeremy Corbyn in the UK and the Brexit mess. No one has contributed less to that problem than Corbyn and the Labour Party. Or here at home, Bernie Sanders. Nice guy whose ideas harken back to Norman Thomas -- a wonderful man and perennial candidate for POTUS who never won. The message about a mixed economy has and has lacked a spokesperson who can make its case and get people to vote for them.

Reply 3 Recommend
Neal Arizona Dec. 23, 2018

The problem as I see it, Professor Krugman is that there ARE people who believe that Gosplan and the Great Leap Forward, or their equivalents, are the answer. While most are in College classrooms there are an increasing number of 20-something congresspersons among them. They are too inexperienced and uninformed even to imagine the ways in which their cherished solutions are and have been disasters. We are currently living through a national nightmare with thuggish real estate developers in charge of things, but coming out the other side into someone's rosy vision of the Worker's Paradise is certainly not the answer.

Reply 1 Recommend
Marc Hall Washington DC Dec. 23, 2018

I would like you to include a small sliver for co-operatives. I grew up in a farm community where a a co-op was a major source of seed etc. Later I lived in a cooperative community where both our homes and local grocery store was a co-op. These are just a few examples of how co operatives are used to supply basic and essential components of daily life without a profit margin.I even get a check now and then when the grocery has a "profit."

Reply 4 Recommend
ImagineEquality Bellingham, Wa Dec. 23, 2018

I grew up in a military family that has fought every American war in history. Healthcare for us was provided by the public, not private. The military provided public, not private education. Is the military socialist?? No. It's a combination of socialism and capitalism, and it works.

Reply 13 Recommend
James Osborn La Jolla Dec. 23, 2018

Advances in medicine is an area that works amazing well through a public-private hybrid. In fact, biotech and big Pharma companies even lobby for strong public sector funding for basic medical research. Why is that? Well, basic research has been the economic driving force of this country where all the most important scientific advances have come from. However, it makes no sense for the private sector to fund basic research (unless they are a charity) because it is unclear whether advances will quickly generate a profit. However, without such advances, the private sector will dry up because they won't fund this type of research. See where this is going. On the other hand, it is easy to justify public funding of basic research because 1) it trains our next generation of cutting edge scientists and engineers; 2) nearly all discoveries that power the next "big thing" that transforms our economy comes from basic research; 3) many basic discoveries are quickly converted into products and companies, again, driving the economy; 4) the most competitive countries have strong basic research. Even China, which is notorious for stealing technology and violating IP, is investing heavily in basic research. This is just a model where even the private sector says the role of the public sector is essential. If we can accept this fact, why can't we accept the fact that there are other areas that can't be done as well in the private sector as it can in the public sector?

Reply 6 Recommend
John FL Dec. 23, 2018

Professor, you're position is actually a restatement of "Rockefeller Republicanism." Named after Nelson Rockefeller (former Vice President and NY Governor), Rocky's version of Republicanism believed that the government that governed least, governs best, but with a big "however." Rockefeller knew that the markets we're imperfect, did not address every American's needs or desires, and in some cases, failed miserably. He believed government had a role in the economy, but that did not necessarily translate into large government organizations employing large numbers of public employees. Rocky pioneered (at the time) new, innovative ways to address market failures like the quasi-government corporation. They worked by the government setting up a publicly owned corporation, loaning the entity tax dollars "start-up" finds, and giving it a clear, simple mission. Take the NYS Thruway Authority. Before there was an interesting highway system, there was the Thruway Authority commissioned with construction, operation and management of limited access high-speed roads to connect the state's major urban areas. The initial taxpayer funded investment was repaid via tolls paid by users. Expansion and maintenance was done by floating binds on public markets to be repaid by toll revenues. When the bonds were paid off, tolls were mandated to drop (they did). This system worked without the "for profit" incentives of the private sector that raises costs to users. Rocky Republicanism works.

Reply 4 Recommend
gnowell albany Dec. 23, 2018

"Socialization of investment" is necessary to keep investment flowing when the private sector is in full retreat due to the paranoia du jour. Some public needs, such as health care and housing, are too important to be left to the individual calculations of firms with short term views and short term bottom lines.

Reply 4 Recommend
Subhash Garg San Jose CA Dec. 23, 2018

The key to success in any form of enterprise is motivating the leaders. Corporate CEOs respond to bonuses and options; lower level managers respond to promotions. What are the corresponding lures in public-sector enterprises? Altruism doesn't quite cut it. Maybe China has an answer?

Reply 1 Recommend
Claes Gothenburg Dec. 23, 2018

@Subhash Garg You may establish government-owned companies that are legally normal companies but mainly or fully national owned. In this way, you can ensure that CEO get bonuses if they do well etc., but the difference being that the top CEO salaries will not be 50 MUSD, but a fraction of that. Personally, I think it is possible to find someone doing a good job as a CEO for a 1 MUSD salary.

Reply 3 Recommend
John Griswold Salt Lake City Utah Dec. 23, 2018

@Subhash Garg Largely the same, good salaries and bonuses for effective employees and managers. Don't see why cutting out absent shareholders and incestuous "rock star" CEOs wouldn't help.

Reply 4 Recommend
abigail49 georgia Dec. 23, 2018

None of us lives our own lives by one pure ideology or rigid set of values. Why should we insist that one economic system will serve our needs, now, tomorrow and forever? Of course, it depends on what our goals and values are. If we believe that acquiring great wealth is the purpose of life and work, we will have a purely capitalist system where a few achieve that goal. If we believe that living comfortably with a modicum of security in a stable, healthy society where everyone has enough, we will want that "mixed" system. I prefer the latter.

Reply 4 Recommend
JPK NY Dec. 23, 2018

Krugman describes some of continental Europe. I am not saying it's good or bad, but there is something out there to see how that kind of mixed economy works.

Reply 4 Recommend
Doug Terry Maryland, Washington DC metro Dec. 23, 2018

Private, corporate interests should be put on notice: if you can't get the job done efficiently at a reasonable cost with on-going respect for privacy rights and without endangering large numbers of the population, someone else is going to step in. That someone else is all of us. Instead, things now are the other way around: the Republican hidden "master plan" is to privatize as much of government functions as possible so that massive profits can flow from the billions spend. The other view, the other side, should be a clear threat to private enterprise and intentionally so: do it well with respect for human decency or you will be replaced.

Reply 10 Recommend
Jackson Virginia Dec. 24, 2018

@Doug Terry. Apparently you are the only one who knows of a GOP master plan. You can't possibly believe big government does anything better.

Reply Recommend
carl bumba mo-ozarks Dec. 23, 2018

.... When life expectancies are declining, despite our tremendous resources and wealth, a degree of protectionism is in order. Local, small-scale interaction, both public and private - need to be promoted and supported, over the long-term. Our 'sustainability' depends on us protecting our cultural and natural resources.

Reply 2 Recommend
carl bumba mo-ozarks Dec. 23, 2018

Dr. Krugman misses the most important parameter for hierarchical social organization, which is the LEVEL of interaction. The public/private debate here contrasts ONLY federal or national-level public institutions with private sector alternatives, both at the national-level, e.g. power and telecommunication utilities, and local businesses and contractors. Sure, "central planning" is widely discredited (and "decentralized" programs rely on market forces). But, historically, most of these organizations were HIERARCHICAL networks; governments were not hubs of unstructured networks, but the top of pyramids of organizational levels. Governments that plan and operate at the LOCAL level through local, public institutions and elections, in support of local commerce and businesses, are not so easily discredited. The Washington swamp DOES need draining (for want of a biology-grounded metaphor). Municipal, county and (to a lesser extent) state governments need to be EXPANDED. We are the only superpower, BY FAR. We don't need to have extensive military commitments and alliances throughout the world anymore. These are NOT required for national security. This is an excuse; they protect our domination of the global marketplace. We don't need more national and multinational corporations. BOTH agribusiness, corporate franchises, etc. AND federal programs are terrible for life in middle America. When life expectancies...

Reply 1 Recommend
DBman Portland, OR Dec. 23, 2018

The criteria for public regulation/ownership should be whether the goods or services that a business provides are deemed either unethical to withhold from all citizens, or where the deprivation of those goods or services to some citizens adversely affects all citizens. Clearly health care and education fall into that category. Nobody would make the argument that it is ethical to deprive a child of education or health care because the parents were too poor to afford them. But uneducated or sick citizens is not just an ethical failure. There is significant economic damage to everyone if large segments of the population are sick and uneducated. Besides education and health care, other businesses with a compelling public interest come to mind. Mr. Krugman mentioned utilities (no one wants people denied access to clean water or electric power). But a free and open internet is, or should be, an area where the public has a compelling interest. Progressives should make the case why there is a compelling public interest to take ownership of, or regulate, these industries. Then the political climate would be more favorable to, for example, Medicare for all.

Reply 12 Recommend
Jeff M CT Dec. 23, 2018

So can Prof. Krugman explain why public is more efficient only it isn't? If a private concern can sell something for $10 with a $1 profit, then a public concern could sell it for $9. Seems elementary to me. Public companies can use the same techniques as private ones to determine demand. The profit motive is societal. It's not elemental.

Reply 2 Recommend
Phyllis Mazik Stamford, CT Dec. 23, 2018

There is no sense in having a committee of communists decide how much milk should be on the grocery store shelf. Capitalism is golden at responding to supply and demand. Yet, basics like roads, public safety, protection of our country (military), parks, education, healthcare, and basic protections for the young, sick, disabled and elderly should be the collective responsibility of all our citizens mainly through our local, state and federal governments. Quality of life should be the goal of humanity. It is also high time for Peace on Earth Good Will Toward Man.

Reply 16 Recommend
Ted Portland Dec. 23, 2018

Dr. K. Your best column since your call over a decade ago about a possible looming meltdown with your prescient observation re " they are selling each other condos down there in Florida". I would only disagree that it should be a greater figure for government running business, not only does this create better paying jobs for a greater number of people hopefully with benefits, but so much of the economy today allows private interests to capitalize on public investment not only resulting from public funded infrastructure but R and D by government entities that private interests were allowed, or lobbied into, reaping the enormous profits from. Forty years of runaway capitalism has produced little other than extreme inequality, the time is long overdue to correct these inequities, another thing that needs to be addressed is vulture capitalism that has seen so many mergers and acquisitions turn into little more than grand theft done by lawyers and bankers as they buy or gain control of one company after the other, fire millions in the name of efficiency, load it up with debt to pay themselves huge sums and dump the carcass on shareholders, fully fifty percent of these deals are bad for the companies not to mention the lives ruined, there is in my opinion a very good case these " venture capitalists" should be in prison. China with its central planning has done a good job in this area as well, people get to greedy they are executed, good riddance.

Reply 4 Recommend
Lee Herring NC Dec. 24, 2018

@Ted OK Ted, make the case: What law did they break? "there is in my opinion a very good case these " venture capitalists" should be in prison." I'll leave this absurd statement for another day: "Forty years of runaway capitalism has produced little other than extreme inequality"

Reply Recommend
dajoebabe Hartford, ct Dec. 23, 2018

A paradigm that says "Anything you could call socialist has been an utter failure". Interesting thinking. Medicare. Social Security. Failures? Hmmnn. Wall Street has been an utter failure, destroying the economy in the Great Depression and nearly doing so Great Recession--which was saved by public programs, policies, and very public bailouts. And Wall Street doesn't do a whole lot of good (when the bad is included) on an ongoing basis. (I can hear the right-wingers howling on that one--innovation, start-ups, and yada, yada). Privatization of prisons and schools has been a disaster. Privately--owned utilities are generally a ripoff. The US health insurance system is a disaster. Several western European and Scandinavian countries have done quite well with public ownership of the healthcare system, and ownership (and real) regulation of others. It won't happen here, though, as Greed runs the show.

Reply 14 Recommend
ppromet New Hope MN Dec. 23, 2018

"...Private insurers don't..provide a service that couldn't be provided..by national health insurance. Private hospitals aren't obviously either better or more efficient than [their] public [counterparts] "So you could imagine..health..currently in the private sector [becoming] public, with most people at least as well off as they are now..." [op cit] -- Yes, by all means! -- For example? Check out what's already in place: the VA healthcare [totally government run] System, where I'm enrolled, as a veteran... -- And do you know what I think? 1. It words, "just fine." 2. It's cost efficient, as far as I can tell. 3. And I'm not complaining at all. 4. In fact? I'm grateful! *** "...Also, I see zero chance of any of this happening in my working lifetime..." [op cit] -- Too bad! -- Because when you consider that most of our "advanced" Neighbors have long since instituted "Socialized Medicine," it begs the question: 1. "What do they know, that we don't?" 2. And, "Why haven't we done likewise?" *** It's become apparent, that Americans have a penchant, for re-living the glory days of our past -- That is, debunking "progress," in favor of ways that have always been familiar, and still seem to work -- Want to be relegated to history's, "Junk-heap?" It's oh, so easy! Just keep on resisting -- 1. Better ideas. 2. Obvious examples, that work(!) 3. Sound advice, from those in the know. *** "Good luck," I say, heading into the future-- And may God help the hard-headed among us !

Reply 5 Recommend
Davide San Francisco Dec. 23, 2018

Three "human rights": education, health care and housing. They should be guaranteed by the government, that is us, and taken away from the unavoidable profiteering that is implicit with private sector enterprise. It would make for better economies and a more just society.

Reply 2 Recommend
DL Berkeley, CA Dec. 24, 2018

@Davide How can housing be guaranteed? Say all 320 million people would want to live in the Bay Area. There is not enough space to guarantee housing here. If not, then you have winners and losers no matter what type of housing distribution you adopt like by birth, lottery or anything else.

Reply Recommend
russ St. Paul Dec. 23, 2018

Very helpful. Wouldn't it be a good idea for insurance of all types - auto, home, life - to be a government run, not for profit, sector? What added value does a private insurance company give to anyone but the owners?

Reply 4 Recommend
David Gregory Sunbelt Dec. 23, 2018

The whole socialism/capitalism thing is so muddied it would be hard to get a clear eyed view to compare. So called private entities get subsidies of varying kinds and many state owned enterprises are run more like for profit ventures. Companies have become so used to subsidy that they often get it without even asking for it. An example of the mess is my employer- a private, faith based hospital system. The building that houses the facility is city owned and leased to the private company in a sweetheart deal and it also receives a subsidy in the form of a city sales tax that is used for capital expenses. In addition, the operator gets a tax exemption as a "faith based not for profit". It also gets discounts on some supplies and other subsidies as part of various government programs. The recent Apple expansion in Austin, Texas was announced and it comes with subsidies. The Amazon expansion involves massive subsidy to get jobs in Virginia and New York that according to this paper were the obvious places to put them. Billionaire team owners routinely ask the city, county or state to fund new stadiums. While we are at it, there are even more forms of subsidy. Comcast & AT&T have copper or fiber running in my back yard without my permission or compensation. CenterPoint Energy has a natural gas line running underground in my yard and I get no compensation for it. Entergy has an underground power line and - you guessed it- they do not pay me a cent for it.

Reply 12 Recommend
Purity of Essence Dec. 23, 2018

America actually has a gigantic state sector: the military-industrial complex. We also have a huge, and bloated bureaucracy - not so much at the federal level - but at the state and municipal level, where nothing of real importance is done but where we still expect to pay middle-class salaries to these low-level civil servants on the backs of working-class taxpayers. Most of what the federal government does should remain as government work. But the state and municipal governments should be substantially reduced: very few jobs at that level are necessary or valuable to society, and there are far-too many mid-level managers in state and municipal government that are sucking the taxpayer dry. They take all the money that the taxpayer would like to give to the struggling, the young, and the disabled, and they use it to pay themselves handsome salaries. That certainly should end.

Reply 1 Recommend
5barris ny Dec. 23, 2018

@Purity of Let me make the argument that water and sewer services operated by municipalities are the most important components of good health followed rapidly by fire safety services offered by code enforcement officers and fire departments.

Reply 7 Recommend
Profbam Greenville, NC Dec. 23, 2018

@Purity Let me remind you that the majority of municipal/state employees are educators from k-graduate school. Then of course police, jailers and sanitation. The middle managers that you are complaining about are very small item in these budgets.

Reply 8 Recommend
Walter Reisner Montreal Dec. 23, 2018

Maybe internet services like Facebook and Google should be turned into public utilities.

Reply 10 Recommend
William Smith United States Dec. 23, 2018

I thought the US was already mixed?

Reply 2 Recommend
Networthy SF Dec. 23, 2018

Yeah, because private high schools and private universities are so horrible compared to the public alternatives...

Reply 2 Recommend
Kb Ca Dec. 24, 2018

@Networthy Our local private high school had a credentialed math teacher teaching U.S. History and a science teacher teaching A.P. English. Quality!

Reply Recommend
ES Philadelphia, PA Dec. 23, 2018

You and David Brooks should get together and write a collaborative column. David advocated for a similar mix in a recent column. Great minds thinking alike?

Reply 2 Recommend
Terry Krohe Fairbanks AK Dec. 23, 2018

I have often wondered ... what would "society" be if it followed the military model: everybody has a MOS (job), food, housing, health care, retirement ...

Reply 4 Recommend
Winston Adam Chicago Dec. 24, 2018

@Terry Krohe It would be a military dictatorship.

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random Syrinx Dec. 23, 2018

A large share of the commenters here seem to not remember or be aware of some of the "features" of socialism that capitalism effectively saved us from. A key rule to remember of government, no matter how benign - you don't get a choice. You don't choose how much to contribute (taxes), you don't choose your service provider (no competition), and you have limited ability to effect a change (and only if you are lucky enough to live in a socialist system that is also a democracy.). Take a look at the history of the 70s US and Britain before the market reforms in both countries...

Reply 1 Recommend
Profbam Greenville, NC Dec. 23, 2018

@random I drive to work on paved roads with functional traffic lights, although they could be better synchronized, and if I saw an accident, I could call 911and get a trained operator who would dispatch the appropriate well trained and equipped first responders. I choose to pay for this through my votes on City Council and County Board members. If you do not want to pay for that, take the license plate off of your vehicle and stay off the roads.

Reply 10 Recommend
Lee Herring NC Dec. 24, 2018

@random Anyone remember the hated HMOs from the 90's? Today, you want an MRI you get it in the morning, whether you need it or not. Put all medical care under the g'ment, care will be rationed by time rather than dollars- you may get that MRI or joint replacement in 4 months by the Dr. of a bureaucrat's choice. It's going to be really difficult to unwind the choice of today to that system.

Reply Recommend
Roland Alden California Dec. 24, 2018

Most of your points are not really true; but especially so if you consider free migration. One of the side-effects of widespread xenophobia is to gerrymander the world by blocking that most basic form of voting; voting with your feet.

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Walter Bolinas Dec. 23, 2018

Firemen are honored, and esteemed, by both sides of the political fence. But fire departments are socialist government in the sense that they are there, paid by all for the good of all, because if one house burns, the fire may spread. It used to be, however, that in the USA in the 19th century, firemen were paid by private insurance companies, and there were competing fire companies who would not put out your fire if you had not signed with them. We are glad now that that period is over. But the situation with health care today is identical. When will we Americans learn that the health of each of us impacts the whole. You have to put out a house on fire even if the residents have not paid insurance, because the fire can spread (infection) and damage the whole town (body).

Reply 9 Recommend
CMK Honolulu Dec. 23, 2018

So, we're looking for some kind of equilibrium with public and private control of the means of production. I think that is going on. And, it changes with each new generation, the goal posts move. The pendulum swings between the public and private. It is burdened by history. For me, I am not an economist I'm a LiArt guy, I am a cog in this system, and, it took me a while to accept that. But, having accepted that, I set my own economic goals and have achieved much of it. Healthcare was a no-brainer, I paid for and have had health insurance for myself and family all my working life. I am retired now, am comfortable, still working to leave something of a legacy for my children. This is something to think about. What is the right mix? Everything economic requires conscious effort. Capitalism and democracy work together and we are constantly looking for that equilibrium. I don't think it can be reduced to a nice, neat formula. It is dynamic and everything can be fungible. Of course, there may come a time when I won't care one whit about anything. That is when my long-term disability insurance should kick in, but, who knows, really, and I probably will not care.

Reply 1 Recommend
Ghost Dansing New York Dec. 23, 2018

This should be a blinding statement of the obvious with historical data to demonstrate the statement's truth. Decades of Republican propaganda exploiting the quasi-intellectual concepts of the libertarian laissez faire economics has created a mantra for "conservatives" that is in serious need of challenge. Good on Paul Krugman for confronting Republican economic theory.

Reply 6 Recommend
Taxidermitist New York Dec. 23, 2018

Why no mention of the fact the marginal cost of education should be 0 and education free?

Reply 1 Recommend
michaeltide Bothell, WA Dec. 23, 2018

@Taxidermitist, probably because "free" is a chimera. Schools need to be maintained and upgrades. Teachers need to be paid (a lot more then at present) and textbooks need to be printed. The cost of all these things comes from the taxes that most citizens regularly vote against. It behooves us as a nation to provide the highest quality education at the lowest possible cost – hence the public option is the most pragmatic, as well as the most practical. I think most people would support a public service requirement for graduates to spend x number of years in national service (not necessarily military) in exchange for their "free" education. "Free" is a loaded word, as well as being misleading.

Reply 2 Recommend
Michael W. Espy Flint, MI Dec. 23, 2018

Thank you Paul. Progressives must make the case that in order for Market Capitalism to be sustainable; Public sharing of Health Care, Education, Retirement Security, and National Park Lands with Environmental Protections must be part of our Common Goods we all need to exist. Progressives do not need to demonize Big Multinational Business. Just appeal to their own self interest by stating that if we share the risks of Health, Ed, and Retirement, Markets will be free of areas that they inherently fail at, and people will have more resources and time for pursuit of Free Enterprize.

Reply 15 Recommend
Lee Herring NC Dec. 23, 2018

@Michael W. Espy. Business pays for most non research healthcare today. Commercial insurance pays a premium so Medicare can pay direct costs only and Medicaid pays a fraction of actual costs.

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Hornbeam Boston, MA Dec. 23, 2018

It seems to me that focusing on public or private ownership, exclusively, misses the boat. Enterprise size is the issue. Could anything be more wasteful than the Pentagon or more socially destructive than Amazon? Small and medium sized enterprises (schools, towns, water departments, farms, factories, retail, etc) may be less efficient than large ones in some measures, but they may also avoid the externalities of big ones, so should be better for society on balance -- including geographic equity (i.e., they can make it outside of the coasts). But bigness can only be controlled through regulation, which has almost no friends and is more vilified than socialism.

Reply 4 Recommend
stan continople brooklyn Dec. 23, 2018

The reason for privatization has always been the obscene profits available to those few at the top, not "efficiency". Even with a 2/3 private, 1/3 public economy, the income distribution would remain vertiginously skewed on the private side, with some making billions and other pennies. The money will be used, as ever, to buy power, posing a continuous threat to the system. Let's get money out of politics first and then see what new economic equilibrium we settle in to.

Reply 12 Recommend
paladco New York Dec. 23, 2018

I have always felt that we should let the government do what it does best and let the private sector do what it does best. Mr. Krugman makes a valid case for the "mixed economy," but right-wing conservatives, who benefit the most from private ownership that is subsidized with huge tax benefits, will howl at the thought. It's Socialism! That term has become a pejorative for anything that smacks of the government taking over what the private sector has been doing, even when done poorly -- think providing adequate medical care for all Americans. Just look what's happened with so-called Obamacare. A sitting President had the courage to tackle this problem and he lost both houses of Congress. Did the Republicans who control Congress try to fix the broken system? No, they made political hay by voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act more than 50 times.

Reply 8 Recommend
NP Santa Rosa Dec. 23, 2018

The utilities sector too. It makes no sense to privatize things for which there can be no meaningful competition. What we actually find is that services and price controls are strictly controlled by public utility commissions. So what was the point of it being a private enterprise?

Reply 7 Recommend
Miriam Chua Long Island Dec. 23, 2018

Totally agree; the profit motive does not bode well for public benefit. Two points: 1) My husband was on dialysis for ten months, and had a kidney transplant in January 2009, paid for by the government. 2) Does anyone believe that the private sector will send a letter across the country, indeed halfway around the world (think Guam) for 55 cents? We must not let the Postal Service be privatized! It pays for itself, and cannot be duplicated by the private sector.

Reply 15 Recommend
ER Almond, NC Dec. 23, 2018

We're in a mixed economy, already. Although not to the level that Krugman proposes. It's been a series of back and forth, with the Republicans curtailing taxpayer public social investments -- only if it does not serve their purposes (or there could be potential sizable donations as a result). It's a matter of keeping this in perspective: That is already the US economy -- we just have to make sure it is working for the public good instead of tax dollars and national heritages (public lands and resources) supporting private interests. Do more of this where it makes sense? Absolutely. Not in Krugman's working lifetime? Maybe not -- there's new blood with the desire to do the monumental task of mobilizing America and the world with a New Green Deal. That's just scratching the surface. And, they are definitely not afraid of the word socialism. Mixed economy it is and will be -- in spite of Trump and the Republican party.

Reply 8 Recommend
Timo van Esch Brussels, BE Dec. 23, 2018

As a European I live under a system where [still] many public services are without a doubt public: healthcare, infrastructure, education. Even utilities & public transport, although privatized, are mainly private monopolies, coming forth out of public services. For me it's simple: you don't make a profit off the back of the sick, the poor and the children. And infrastructure is a necessary evil that needs to be public, too. I don't mind private clinics, as long as public service offers the basics needed to keep people healthy. Extra care, softer pillows, luxury rooms and caviar for breakfast; if you want it, pay for it. Why not? The same for utilities (which should be public & non-profit, to my opinion) and education. If making a profit on the service hurts the economy (which is the case with education, health care, utilities and infrastructure), then it should be a non-profit, public service. And it doesn't hurt to have private companies doing the bidding for the subcontracts/services; as long as it's an open and transparent process, not a corruption. Simply put: if it is essential to our well-being, for our basic needs, make it public (or subsidize the rents, f.i.). Leaves us with the question: what is essential? - Water, electricity (gas for heating?), healthcare, education, infrastructure, public transport. What else? - Housing? For sure. Public housing for the poorest is essential. - Internet/TV/Radio/Telephone? Not sure. What do I miss?

Reply 21 Recommend
michaeltide Bothell, WA Dec. 23, 2018

@Timo van Esch, in this excellent and very complete list, you missed the courts, which in the US are a mechanism for extracting revenue from those who can least afford it. Our prisons are overflowing with people unable to pay fines, who are being charged rent for their incarceration. "If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed," if an oft quoted part of people being informed of their rights. What is not stated is that they will be presented with a bill for services - even from the Public Defender's office, and charged interest and penalties for failure to pay – even additional imprisonment in a vicious circle.

Reply 1 Recommend
carl bumba mo-ozarks Dec. 24, 2018

@michaeltide Very interesting, I had no idea a bill followed. I guess it's safe to say that public legal service rates are lower than than market rates! (By the way, Michael, to answer your earlier question: Trump supporters voted for Trump to be president, to solve our current problems, NOT to be our friend, neighbor, role model or have Camelot-charm/sex appeal.)

Reply Recommend
Truthseeker Great Lakes Dec. 24, 2018

@michaeltide It's a crime to be poor in America.

Reply 1 Recommend
MM Bound Brook, NJ Dec. 23, 2018

"Now, this wouldn't satisfy people who hate capitalism." No, Paul, it wouldn't -- as someone who hates capitalism myself, I can corroborate your claim. But what you have set forth here is a real start, too. People who hate capitalism tend to be people who hate the predatory, rent-seeking, deregulated and rigged capitalism practiced now, the kind that has slowly turned our country, as the systemic level, into an anti-democratic oligo-pluto-kakistocracy with the rhetorical trappings of a legitimate republic. Those who are arguing that greed is what demolishes both socialism and capitalism miss the salient point that capitalism (as we know it) is exhausting itself in part because it has nearly fulfilled its own logic: the more we automate, the less money we spend on salaried employees; the fewer salaried employees, the smaller the workforce, the bigger the bottom line, but the bigger the underclass of unemployed and potentially unemployable poor. Marx spoke often about the "means of production"; the transformation and partial, if not total, automation of these means seem to me inevitable, and profoundly dangerous for all but a tiny elite. There are those of us who would back any step in the right direction. The best analogy, perhaps, is in American healthcare policy. Those of us who lean left of Sanders believe, almost unanimously, that a single-payer system is the only one befitting a civilized nation. But the ACA was a start, and improvement. If you're game, I'm game.

Reply 8 Recommend
random Syrinx Dec. 23, 2018

@MM Greed is what makes capitalism work where it does. Human nature is the failure of socialism...

Reply 1 Recommend
edtownes kings co. Dec. 23, 2018

Mr. Krugman is almost as savvy re politics as he is with economics - I am sincere ... and it's high praise, of course. So, to bandy about words like socialism and even communism - words which almost everyone agrees are "fighting words" is either horridly insensitive or a rare lapse in judgment on his part If there WERE op-eds like is "behind what used to be called the Iron Curtain," they might score almost as many debating points about the failure of capitalism as Mr. Krugman strews as he basically finds nice things to say about what he calls socialism. I disagree very strongly with him that education is an area where the "public model" can take a bow. The Lincolnesque photo of him indicates that he probably was schooled (publicly ?) long enough ago so that oh-how-far-it's-fallen may not be apparent to him. As a guess, he has grand children who either live in a 1% type community or attend private school. (Not snide - just trying to fathom how he could be SO out-of-touch.) In fact, that's what's so awful about the "public model" - people not accountable to anyone really, holding jobs for life. It surely had a lot to do with the collapse of countries like East Germany ... and bodes ill if, say, utilities are de-privatized. OTOH, I think he is uncharacteristically tepid when it comes to our health care vs. most other (mostly) comfortable societies. Our bang-for-the-bucks is appalling. Obamacare's lack of a "public option" cemented a miserable status quo for anyone not rich.

Reply 1 Recommend
Pottree@aol.com Joshua Tree Dec. 23, 2018

we have a mixed economy now: it's good for the rich and bad for everyone else. and with President Trump's goverment shutdown, we're on the way to realizing a long-held Republican goal: a return to slavery, starting with government employees working for nothing right before Christmas.

Reply 3 Recommend
BG USA Dec. 23, 2018

Many who love the market system are either autocrats and boards of autocrats running their companies or the politicians bought and paid for by such. The market system definitely has its place but I am not sure that it has the ability and the patience to develop what truly reorients mankind's progression. The Greeks instauration to democracy, the Renaissance, the Moon program, the Genome project, were not created by the market, nor was the big data revolution and A.I. which were driven by the emergence of neural networks, birthed in universities. Neither will the market bring about the proper approach to climate change and population control. Now, once a direction with potential is determined then the market knows how to implement it. Socialism and Market economy are words mostly used by people in tribal camps who, for the most part, are useless in the long run. I do not think that rats like the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, or Carl Icahn and others (such as Trump) contribute anything to society. They are worse than Clorox!

Reply Recommend
Newsbuoy NY Dec. 23, 2018

A mind is a terrible thing to waste, especially if the mind in question is an economist. But we are here to bury capitalism not to praise it dear Brutus [sic]. We already have a mixed economy. Communism for bankers and the ultra-rich and capitalism for the once great middle-class, and fascism for the poor. Do try to think a bit beyond our current predicament even if those stock buy-back strategies didn't workout so well.

Reply 3 Recommend
trillo Massachusetts Dec. 23, 2018

1)I really dislike how the meaning of the term "socialism" has been undermined by its repeated use as a pejorative. Any public-sector activity the right doesn't like is labelled "socialist." Now we're stuck trying to explain what it actually is to a bunch of people who still support the gold standard. Gah. 2)The idea of the government taking back its patents on generic drugs makes perfect sense. I'd rather have the federal government manufacturing insulin than watch more price fixing by a cartel of private companies, which is what we have now.

Reply 7 Recommend
DAM Tokyo Dec. 23, 2018

With rising profits, and declining services, there's a lot of room for Government to be competitive with the public sector. If you scratch the surface of a large company, you will find the same inefficiency as in government, only higher salaries and profit (some of which is guaranteed through 'government work'. Lots of good 'in-house' work has been provided by the state and federal government in engineering, research, ship repair and consumer protection. I worked for Alaska Railroad when it was owned by Department of Transportation, and it was pretty good. Probably a money-loser, but people liked that you could pull the string and get off where you liked, or stop the train and get on in the bush. You had to sign a paper saying you'd take to the hills and fight if the Russians attacked. There's nothing like that at Facebook.

Reply 1 Recommend
Arthur NY Dec. 23, 2018

The entire 20th century was a search for the balance between public and private economy in democratic societies throughout the world. Japan, South Korea, Uruguay, Chile, Germany, Canada, Sweden -- any number of nations demonstrate different ways to balance it all. Their experimentation is there recorded and available for anyone to study. Do you think anyone in the US government does? While this column is welcome, America seems doomed to debate the knowledge of the middle of the last century over again, as if it had never happened -- in economics as in all things -- why? Because History and other knowledge has been replaced by Ideology through Paid Commercial Media, both legacy and digital. This helped accomplish the great dumbing down initiated by the Reagan administration to cut pell grants and essentially as much education funding as possible. Replacing scholarships into a monetized banking scam. Aided and abetted by Democrats who controlled the house and had no interest in educating the voters that Republican Ideology wasn't based on truth. A whole generation of college professors didn't happened, or rather the more intelligent candidates were systematically replaced by the more wealthy candidates. This process has brought reduced elite education to nothing more than a fetishized luxury good -- credentials replacing achievement as a career goal. The triumph of nepotism then follows logically. The telegenic filled in for leadership for both parties.

Reply 2 Recommend
Albert Neunstein Germany Dec. 23, 2018

What we have to overcome, is this childish idea, capitalism would be a sort of natural law that will provide for us all! Eventually! i.e. something like god's little brother. The problem is not so much that free markets don't work, but that some markets are not, and will never be free e.g. health (people will pay anything for a treatment if it means life or death, and nothing if they don't need that treatment; lower prices will not increase demand); food (people have to eat; their demand can not drop to zero); ditto housing; and especially labour (people have to work to provide for themselves; the so called Manchester capitalism throve exactely on that) N.B.: A free market is a market in which supply and demand float freely, coupled by the price, not a market without any regulations! That would be a lawless market i.e. a gold digger town economy. Such markets tend not to remain free for long. Furthermore, please remember: A free market produces an equilibrium, and that's it! The point of equilibrium might still be unacceptable for moral reasons e.g such an equilibrium could very well be high unemployment, or a food shortage. And about privatisation: Even microeconomic science tells us that things will become more efficient if there is competition, not just because the players are private. A private monopolist is as bad, or even worse than a public one.

Reply 5 Recommend
Frake PNW Dec. 23, 2018

Jeff Bezos collects almost 9 million dollars an hour at his job while I make 15 dollars an hour at mine. I spend every dollar I make to survive, which makes my economic worth zero. Bezos collects his dollars into the billions and has a gigantic economic worth. Because I live my life without enough money it's easy for me to forget that we are not economic things and that our value and worth cannot be summed by economic terms. I don't have any value or worth, I am not a commodity, I am not a variable or a statistic. I am not a cog in a wheel or a rat in a race. None of us are, but our culture conditions us to accept ourselves as consumers and nothing else. When we worry about our worth and value as people we are using incompatible terms. Bezos is not worth more than me or anyone else. He is not more valuable than anyone else. The only difference between Bezos and myself is that his ability to consume is off the charts and mine is minimal. If we really are economic entities then I am an earthbound worm eating dirt while Bezos exists as a tremendous black hole consuming matter, light, and everything else. I don't want to be a black hole. I want to create, like the burning stars, shedding heat and light as I consume what I am. It's a choice to be a black hole or a star. Create more, consume less.

Reply 10 Recommend
Keld Hansen Washington Crossing PA Dec. 23, 2018

It appears you are advocating the Scandinavian model ?

Reply 2 Recommend
VK São Paulo Dec. 23, 2018

The United States of America of today has effectively two systems: capitalism - the main one -, and socialism, in the Pentagon (which is between one tenth and one quarter of the American economy, depending on how you want to count it). The Pentagon is effectively socialist because, given the sui generis nature of the defense sector and the advanced level of the American capitalism, it runs, internally, a perfectly planned economy. How is it done? It receives unconditional and unlimited amounts of money-capital directly from the USG. Yes, the "outside world" is still capitalist, and many Pentagon contracts end up fueling the capitalist part of the country - and that's why the capitalist part of the USA is still the hegemonic one - but, in its inner logic, it is socialist. Why the USA accepts a big chunk of its economy to be socialist? Because the use value of national security requires absolute efficiency in terms of logistic readiness and lethal efficacy: you can't not bomb country X simply because the quantity of missiles Y would not be on a scale sufficient large enough to meet the necessary profit rates of supplier Z. No, if you need 1 missile Y at exact time W to achieve a military victory against country X, you bet your life the Pentagon will have it -- regardless if it is "cost effective" from the capitalist point of view. The only other time the USA was as socialist was during FDR: this reveals the American pragmatism towards the overall survival of capitalism.

Reply 1 Recommend
Mark Goldes Santa Rosa, CA Dec. 23, 2018

What the late Louis Kelso, inventor of the Employee Stock Ownership Plan used by 11,000 companies, called The Second Income Plan, deserves consideration. See SECOND INCOMES at aesopinstitute.org for a description. This is a Third Way that captures the advantages of capitalism while overcoming many of the disadvantages.

Reply 2 Recommend
Cdb EDT Dec. 23, 2018

Capitalism suffers from the tragedy of the commons in virtually every aspect.

Reply Recommend
Joe Blow Kentucky Dec. 23, 2018

I believe that a combination of Capitalism & Socialism can work & is already working ,like the VA, which I use & i'm completely satisfied. Social security doesn't pay all my bills, but without it I would depend on the one day old Doughnut Company to eat. Having said all of the above, what made America Great is incentive, motivation & creativity that is the result of Capitalism. Socialism must be used in Education, rather then the insurance loan that put Graduates in debt for years. It should not be an open door to higher education, but given to only those that are qualified. Universal Health care has to be Socialized, & given only to the needy. Neither Socialism or Capitalism is the answer when used without the other, together it's not perfect but better than alone.

Reply 1 Recommend

[Jan 11, 2019] Blowback from the neoliberal policy is coming

Highly recommended!
Seeing Tucker Leaders show no obligation to American voters suggest that the collapse of neoliberalism is coming...
Notable quotes:
"... Excessive financialization is the Achilles' heel of neoliberalism. It inevitably distorts everything, blows the asset bubble, which then pops. With each pop, the level of political support of neoliberalism shrinks. Hillary defeat would have been impossible without 2008 events. ..."
Jan 11, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

bruce wilder, January 11, 2019 at 2:17 pm

Barkley insists on a left-right split for his analysis of political parties and their attachment to vague policy tendencies and that insistence makes a mess of the central issue: why the rise of right-wing populism in a "successful" economy?

Naomi Klein's book is about how and why centrist neoliberals got control of policy. The rise of right-wing populism is often supposed (see Mark Blyth) to be about the dissatisfaction bred by the long-term shortcomings of or blowback from neoliberal policy.

Barkley Rosser treats neoliberal policy as implicitly successful and, therefore, the reaction from the populist right appears mysterious, something to investigate. His thesis regarding neoliberal success in Poland is predicated on policy being less severe, less "shocky".

In his left-right division of Polish politics, the centrist neoliberals -- in the 21st century, Civic Platform -- seem to disappear into the background even though I think they are still the second largest Party in Parliament, though some seem to think they will sink in elections this year.

Electoral participation is another factor that receives little attention in this analysis. Politics is shaped in part by the people who do NOT show up. And, in Poland that has sometimes been a lot of people, indeed.

Finally, there's the matter of the neoliberal straitjacket -- the flip-side of the shock in the one-two punch of "there's no alternative". What the policy options for a Party representing the interests of the angry and dissatisfied? If you make policy impossible for a party of the left, of course that breeds parties of the right. duh.

Likbez,

Bruce,

Blowback from the neoliberal policy is coming. I would consider the current situation in the USA as the starting point of this "slow-motion collapse of the neoliberal garbage truck against the wall." Neoliberalism like Bolshevism in 1945 has no future, only the past. That does not mean that it will not limp forward in zombie (and pretty bloodthirsty ) stage for another 50 years. But it is doomed, notwithstanding recently staged revenge in countries like Ukraine, Argentina, and Brazil.

Excessive financialization is the Achilles' heel of neoliberalism. It inevitably distorts everything, blows the asset bubble, which then pops. With each pop, the level of political support of neoliberalism shrinks. Hillary defeat would have been impossible without 2008 events.

At least half of Americans now hate soft neoliberals of Democratic Party (Clinton wing of Bought by Wall Street technocrats), as well as hard neoliberal of Republican Party, which created the " crisis of confidence" toward governing neoliberal elite in countries like the USA, GB, and France. And that probably why the intelligence agencies became the prominent political players and staged the color revolution against Trump (aka Russiagate ) in the USA.

The situation with the support of neoliberalism now is very different than in 1994 when Bill Clinton came to power. Of course, as Otto von Bismarck once quipped "God has a special providence for fools, drunkards, and the United States of America." and another turn of the technological spiral might well save the USA. But the danger of never-ending secular stagnation is substantial and growing. This fact was admitted even by such dyed- in-the-wool neoliberals as Summers.

This illusion that advances in statistics gave neoliberal access to such fine-grained and timely economic data, that now it is possible to regulate economy indirectly, by strictly monetary means is pure religious hubris. Milton Friedman would now be laughed out the room if he tried to repeat his monetarist junk science now. Actually he himself discarded his monetarist illusions before he died.

We probably need to the return of strong direct investments in the economy by the state and nationalization of some assets, if we want to survive and compete with China. Australian politicians are already openly discussing this, we still are lagging because of "walking dead" neoliberals in Congress like Pelosi, Schumer, and company.

But we have another huge problem, which Australia and other countries (other than GB) do not have: neoliberalism in the USA is the state religion which completely displaced Christianity (and is hostile to Christianity), so it might be that the lemming will go off the cliff. I hope not.

The only thing that still keeps neoliberalism from being thrown out to the garbage bin of history is that it is unclear what would the alternative. And that means that like in 1920th far-right nationalism and fascism have a fighting chance against decadent neoliberal oligarchy.

Previously financial oligarchy was in many minds associated with Jewish bankers. Now people are more educated and probably can hang from the lampposts Anglo-Saxon and bankers of other nationalities as well ;-)

I think that in some countries neoliberal oligarchs might soon feel very uncomfortable, much like Soros in Hungary.

As far as I understood the level of animosity and suppressed anger toward financial oligarchy and their stooges including some professors in economics departments of the major universities might soon be approaching the level which existed in the Weimar Republic. And as Lenin noted, " the ideas could become a material force if they got mass support." This is true about anger as well.

[Dec 31, 2018] Manifesto for the democratisation of Europe - Le blog de Thomas Piketty

The Democratization Treaty is available on-line at www.tdem.eu
When a state is captured by neoliberals, it is naive to think that they will abandon their power without a fight.
Notable quotes:
"... transnational, political space ..."
Dec 31, 2018 | blog.lemonde.fr

Our proposals are based on the creation of a Budget for democratization which would be debated and voted by a sovereign European Assembly. This will at last enable Europe to equip itself with a public institution which is both capable of dealing with crises in Europe immediately and of producing a set of fundamental public and social goods and services in the framework of a lasting and solidarity-based economy. In this way, the promise made as far back as the Treaty of Rome of 'improving living and working conditions' will finally become meaningful.

This Budget, if the European Assembly so desires, will be financed by four major European taxes, the tangible markers of this European solidarity. These will apply to the profits of major firms, the top incomes (over 200,000 Euros per annum), the highest wealth owners (over 1 million Euros) and the carbon emissions (with a minimum price of 30 Euros per tonne). If it is fixed at 4% of GDP, as we propose, this budget could finance research, training and the European universities, an ambitious investment programme to transform our model of economic growth, the financing of the reception and integration of migrants and the support of those involved in operating the transformation. It could also give some budgetary leeway to member States to reduce the regressive taxation which weighs on salaries or consumption.

The issue here is not one of creating a 'Transfer payments Europe' which would endeavour to take money from the 'virtuous' countries to give it to those who are less so. The project for a Treaty of Democratization ( www.tdem.eu ) states this explicitly by limiting the gap between expenditure deducted and income paid by a country to a threshold of 0.1% of its GDP. This threshold can be raised in case there is a consensus to do so, but the real issue is elsewhere: it is primarily a question of reducing the inequality within the different countries and of investing in the future of all Europeans, beginning of course with the youngest amongst them, with no single country having preference. This computation does exclude spending that benefit equally to all countries, such as policies to curb global warming. Because it will finance European public goods benefiting all countries, the Budget for democratization will de facto also foster convergence between countries.

Because we must act quickly but we must also get Europe out of the present technocratic impasse, we propose the creation of a European Assembly. This will enable these new European taxes to be debated and voted as also the budget for democratization. This European Assembly can be created without changing the existing European treaties.

This European Assembly would of course have to communicate with the present decision-making institutions (in particular the Eurogroup in which the Ministers for Finance in the Euro zone meet informally every month). But, in cases of disagreement, the Assembly would have the final word. If not, its capacity to be a locus for a new transnational, political space where parties, social movements and NGOs would finally be able to express themselves, would be compromised. Equally its actual effectiveness, since the issue is one of finally extricating Europe from the eternal inertia of inter-governmental negotiations, would be at stake. We should bear in mind that the rule of fiscal unanimity in force in the European Union has for years blocked the adoption of any European tax and sustains the eternal evasion into fiscal dumping by the rich and most mobile, a practice which continues to this day despite all the speeches. This will go on if other decision-making rules are not set up.

[Dec 26, 2018] Neoliberalism as Structure and Ideology

The hypothesis is that due to emergence of mutual funds and other financial instruments the capitalist class became more homogeneous in its interests and more united with financial oligarchy.
Notable quotes:
"... In such a situation there were significant divisions within the capitalist class that attenuated its overall political clout. Industries divided according to policy preferences, and political parties, which were essentially interest group coalitions, attracted different segments of this class. (In the US the Republicans were just as much an interest group coalition as the Democrats, just different interests like small retail business, domestic mining, nonunion manufacturing, etc.) Public policy in this dispensation, whatever its ostensible justification, reflected sectoral influence. ..."
"... Since the early 1970s capital ownership has become substantially more fungible in every respect. Equity funds of various sorts established themselves as institutional players, allowing individual capitalists to diversify via investment in these funds. Regulatory restrictions on capital movements were dismantled or bypassed. New information technology dramatically reduced (but not eliminated!) the fog of all financial markets. ..."
"... The other side of the coin was political influence over ideas. Intellectuals who advanced the positions we now call neoliberal were rewarded with research funding, jobs and influence over government policy. ..."
"... Lending conditionality reproduced in developing countries the same incentives that had shifted the intellectual environment in the core capitalist world. ..."
"... This hypothesis -- and it's important to be clear that's what it is -- also gives us an explanation for why the 2008 crisis, while it did provoke a lot of reconsideration by intellectuals -- did not result in meaningful institutional or policy change: the underlying political economic factors were unaltered . And it implies that further intellectual work, necessary as it is, will not be enough to extricate us from the shackles of neoliberal political constraints. For that we need to contest the power that undergirds them. ..."
"... The alliance (in the US, the focus of my comments) of the monied interests, providing the financial resources and seeking the repeal of the social and fiscal policies of the New Deal, and the heavily Southern-based evangelical/religious right, providing the voting bloc and seeking to turn back the progress of minorities and women in achieving more equal social and political rights -- created the powerful political base from which the revisionist onslaught was mounted. Reagan then provided the smiling face to sell the proposition that "government isn't the solution to your problems; government IS the problem" that effectively neutered the one institution capable of regulating the monied interests. ..."
"... Neoliberalism is a dialectic between them more than it has been a fixed doctrine. The remarkable power and resistance to outside critique is attributable to the insular nature of that dialectic. ..."
"... Where we are -- neoliberalism triumphant albeit spent ..."
Dec 26, 2018 | econospeak.blogspot.com

... ... ...

A standard narrative is that the Keynesian postwar order cracked up over the crisis of inflation during the mid-1970s. A conservative alternative that trusted markets more and government less was vindicated by events and established its intellectual dominance. After a lag of a few years, policy followed along. One can critique this on matters of detail: economic growth remained stronger during the 70s than it would be thereafter, anti-Keynesians did not have a superior understanding of economic developments, and no intellectual revolution was complete within the space of just a few years. But the deeper problem, it seems to me, is that this attributes vastly exaggerated agency to coteries of intellectuals. Do we really think that the elections of Reagan and Thatcher, for instance, were attributable to a shift in grad school syllabi in economics and related fields?

I propose an alternative hypothesis. From the end of WWII to the collapse of the Bretton Woods monetary system, a large portion of capital was illiquid, its value tied to its existing use. The rich sought to diversify their portfolios, of course, but there were limits. Stock market transactions were beclouded by large information costs, and share ownership tended to be more stable and concentrated. Fortunes were rooted in specific firms and industries. In such a situation there were significant divisions within the capitalist class that attenuated its overall political clout. Industries divided according to policy preferences, and political parties, which were essentially interest group coalitions, attracted different segments of this class. (In the US the Republicans were just as much an interest group coalition as the Democrats, just different interests like small retail business, domestic mining, nonunion manufacturing, etc.) Public policy in this dispensation, whatever its ostensible justification, reflected sectoral influence.

Since the early 1970s capital ownership has become substantially more fungible in every respect. Equity funds of various sorts established themselves as institutional players, allowing individual capitalists to diversify via investment in these funds. Regulatory restrictions on capital movements were dismantled or bypassed. New information technology dramatically reduced (but not eliminated!) the fog of all financial markets. And firms themselves became separable bundles of assets as new technology and business methods allowed for more integrated production across ownership lines. The combined result is a capitalist class with more uniform interests -- an interest in a higher profit share of income and greater freedom for capital in every respect.

The crisis in real returns to capital during the 1970s, the true economic instigator, galvanized this reorganization of the political economy. (In the US the S&P peaked in 1972 and then lost almost half its inflation-adjusted value by the end of the decade. This is not an artifact of business cycle timing.)

Of course, all understanding of the world is mediated by the way we think about it. The wealthy didn't say to themselves, "Gee, my assets are taking a hit, so the government needs to change course." They turned to dissident, conservative thinkers who explained the "failures" of the 70s as the result of too little concern for the engine of growth, which (of course) was understood to be private investment. Market-friendly policy would, it was said, reinvigorate investment and spur economic growth. Keynesianism was seen as having failed because it took investors for granted, taxing and regulating them and competing with them for finance; politicians needed to show respect. It's understandable why capitalists would interpret their problems in this way.

The other side of the coin was political influence over ideas. Intellectuals who advanced the positions we now call neoliberal were rewarded with research funding, jobs and influence over government policy. When the World Bank and the IMF were remade in the wake of the 1982 debt crisis, this influence was extended internationally. Lending conditionality reproduced in developing countries the same incentives that had shifted the intellectual environment in the core capitalist world.

This hypothesis -- and it's important to be clear that's what it is -- also gives us an explanation for why the 2008 crisis, while it did provoke a lot of reconsideration by intellectuals -- did not result in meaningful institutional or policy change: the underlying political economic factors were unaltered . And it implies that further intellectual work, necessary as it is, will not be enough to extricate us from the shackles of neoliberal political constraints. For that we need to contest the power that undergirds them.

Cinclow20 said... December 18, 2018 at 5:30 PM

... ... ...

The alliance (in the US, the focus of my comments) of the monied interests, providing the financial resources and seeking the repeal of the social and fiscal policies of the New Deal, and the heavily Southern-based evangelical/religious right, providing the voting bloc and seeking to turn back the progress of minorities and women in achieving more equal social and political rights -- created the powerful political base from which the revisionist onslaught was mounted. Reagan then provided the smiling face to sell the proposition that "government isn't the solution to your problems; government IS the problem" that effectively neutered the one institution capable of regulating the monied interests.

2slugbaits said...December 18, 2018 at 7:10 PM

An interesting discussion of the roots, differences and similarities between neoliberalism and ordoliberalism. And believe it or not, the many comments raise some interesting points. Only one real gaslighting comment.

mainly macro Ordoliberalism, Neoliberalism and Economics

Bruce Wilder said... December 24, 2018 at 2:01 PM
... ... ...

One thing Barkley said should be repeated: neoliberalism has opposing poles quite a distance apart. Neoliberalism is a dialectic between them more than it has been a fixed doctrine. The remarkable power and resistance to outside critique is attributable to the insular nature of that dialectic. The neoliberal right has chosen its interlocutors, the centrist "left" very well, which is an important reason that the non-neoliberal real Left is emerging now from the sojurn in the politics of cultural critique where it went in the 1960's with no knowledge or interest in economics.

It does not take a genius to see that human civilization and the natural ecology can only survive if people somehow manage to produce a rational architecture for political economy deliberately and on an unprecedented scale and level of sophistication. Where we are -- neoliberalism triumphant albeit spent and a Left at peak consciousness -- is exactly the wrong place to be in the political cycle.

[Dec 25, 2018] If we are reaching neoliberal capitalism's end days, what comes next by John Menadue

Right now neo-fascism is the most probably scenario of the social system after the decline of neoliberalism.
Notable quotes:
"... But, in Europe, there has always been a deep distrust of the Anglo-American celebration of "possessive individualism" and its repudiation of community and society. Remember Margaret Thatcher's contempt for the idea of "society"? So, it is unsurprising that neoliberalism's advocates dismiss recent European analyses of local, regional and global economies as the nostalgia of "old Europe", even as neoliberalism's failures stack up unrelentingly. ..."
"... The consequences of these failures are largely unseen or avoided by policymakers in the US and their camp followers in the UK and Australia. They are in denial of the fact that not only has neoliberalism failed to meet its claimed goals, but it has worked devastatingly to undermine the very foundations of late-modern capitalism. The result is that the whole shambolic structure is tottering on the edge of an economic abyss. ..."
"... If Streeck is correct, then we need to anticipate what a post-capitalist world may look like. He thinks it will be terrible. He fears the emergence of a neocorporatist state and close crony-like collaboration between big capital, union leaders, government and the military as the consequence of the next major global financial crisis ..."
"... Jobs will disappear, Streeck believes. Capital will be intensely concentrated in very few hands. The privileged rich will retreat into security enclaves dripping with every luxury imaginable ..."
"... Meanwhile, the masses will be cast adrift in a polluted and miserable world where life – as Hobbes put it – will be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. ..."
"... As Piketty and Streeck are pointing out to us, the post-neoliberal era has started to self-destruct. Either a post-capitalist, grimly neo-fascist world awaits us, or one shaped by a new and highly creative version of communitarian democracy. It's time for some great imagining. ..."
Feb 05, 2017 | theconversation.com
It is unfashionable, or just embarrassing, to suggest the taken-for-granted late-modern economic order – neoliberal capitalism – may be in a terminal decline. At least that's the case in what former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott likes to call the "Anglosphere" .

What was once known as the Chicago school of economics – the neoclassical celebration of the "free market" and "small government" – still closes the minds of economic policymakers in the US and its satellite economies (although perhaps less so in contemporary Canada).

But, in Europe, there has always been a deep distrust of the Anglo-American celebration of "possessive individualism" and its repudiation of community and society. Remember Margaret Thatcher's contempt for the idea of "society"? So, it is unsurprising that neoliberalism's advocates dismiss recent European analyses of local, regional and global economies as the nostalgia of "old Europe", even as neoliberalism's failures stack up unrelentingly.

The consequences of these failures are largely unseen or avoided by policymakers in the US and their camp followers in the UK and Australia. They are in denial of the fact that not only has neoliberalism failed to meet its claimed goals, but it has worked devastatingly to undermine the very foundations of late-modern capitalism. The result is that the whole shambolic structure is tottering on the edge of an economic abyss.

What the consequences might be

Two outstanding European scholars who are well aware of the consequences of the neoliberal catastrophe are French economist Thomas Piketty and German economist Wolfgang Streeck.

Piketty's 2013 book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century , charts the dangers of socioeconomic inequality in capitalism's history. He demonstrates how this inequality can be – and has been over time – fundamentally destructive of sustained economic growth.

Most compellingly, Piketty documented in meticulous detail how contemporary neoliberal policies have constructed the worst forms of socioeconomic inequalities in history. His analysis has been underlined by the recent Oxfam report that showed a mere eight multi-billionaires own the equivalent amount of capital of half of the global population.

Despite Piketty's scrupulous scholarship, Western neoliberal economies continue merrily down the road to nowhere. The foundations of that road were laid by the egregiously ideological policies of Thatcher and Ronald Reagan – and slavishly followed by Australian politicians on all sides ever since.

Streeck's equally detailed scholarship has demonstrated how destructive of capitalism itself neoliberal policymaking has been. His latest book, How Will Capitalism End? , demonstrates how this neoliberal capitalism triumphed over its opponents (especially communism) by devouring its critics and opponents, obviating all possible alternatives to its predatory ways.

If Streeck is correct, then we need to anticipate what a post-capitalist world may look like. He thinks it will be terrible. He fears the emergence of a neocorporatist state and close crony-like collaboration between big capital, union leaders, government and the military as the consequence of the next major global financial crisis .

Jobs will disappear, Streeck believes. Capital will be intensely concentrated in very few hands. The privileged rich will retreat into security enclaves dripping with every luxury imaginable .

Meanwhile, the masses will be cast adrift in a polluted and miserable world where life – as Hobbes put it – will be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.

What comes next is up to us

The extraordinary thing is how little is known or understood of the work of thinkers like Piketty and Streeck in Australia today.

There have been very fine local scholars, precursors of the Europeans, who have warned about the hollow promises of "economic rationalism" in Australia.

But, like the Europeans, their wisdom has been sidelined, even as inequality has been deepening exponentially and its populist consequences have begun to poison our politics, tearing down the last shreds of our ramshackle democracy.

The time is ripe for some creative imagining of a new post-neoliberal world that will repair neoliberalism's vast and catastrophic failures while laying the groundwork for an Australia that can play a leading role in the making of a cosmopolitan and co-operative world.

Three immediate steps can be taken to start on this great journey.

First, we need to see the revival of what American scholar Richard Falk called "globalisation from below" . This is the enlivening of international civil society to balance the power of the self-serving elites (multinational managers and their political and military puppets) now in power.

Second, we need to come up with new forms of democratic governance that reject the fiction that the current politics of representative government constitute the highest form of democracy. There is nothing about representative government that is democratic. All it amounts to is what Vilfredo Pareto described as "the circulation of elites" who have become remote from – and haughtily contemptuous of – the people they rule.

Third, we need to see states intervening comprehensively in the so-called "free market". Apart from re-regulating economic activity, this means positioning public enterprises in strategic parts of the economy, to compete with the private sector, not on their terms but exclusively in the interests of all citizens.

As Piketty and Streeck are pointing out to us, the post-neoliberal era has started to self-destruct. Either a post-capitalist, grimly neo-fascist world awaits us, or one shaped by a new and highly creative version of communitarian democracy. It's time for some great imagining.


This article is based on an earlier piece published in John Menadue's blog Pearls and Irritations.

[Dec 24, 2018] Neoliberalism is being rejected around the world Can genuine progressives capitalize Salon.com

Dec 24, 2018 | www.salon.com

At the same time, however, it seems fair to point out that Trump and López Obrador both represent what the Times described as "a global repudiation of the establishment." Indeed, this fact could actually help to distinguish between the two leaders (along with other populist leaders) and their competing worldviews. While they stand on opposite sides of the political spectrum, both Trump and López Obrador are part of the global revolt against what critics call neoliberalism, and this is important for understanding our current era.

The past 30-plus years has been defined by the political project of neoliberalism, spearheaded by the U.S. government and international financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, with the utopian aim of creating a global capitalist economy perfectly guided by the invisible hand of the market (for neoliberals and free-market fundamentalists, the invisible hand is an almost divine concept, worshipped in economics departments around the country). The neoliberal era peaked in the 1990s, and in America it was Democratic President Bill Clinton who accomplished neoliberal "reforms" that right-wingers had long dreamed of, including financial deregulation, NAFTA and "ending welfare as we knew it" (he would probably have privatized Social Security too had it not been for Monica Lewinsky).

Though the 1990s is often remembered as the beginning of our hyper-partisan age (demonstrated by the Clinton impeachment scandal), the irony is that Democrats and Republicans became closer than ever before on economic issues during this decade. The "Washington consensus" dominated this period, and it took a Democrat to pass a Republican trade deal and other conservative economic policies. (Not surprisingly, the Democratic Party's shift to the right simply resulted in the GOP shifting even further to the right.)

Neoliberalism was a global project advanced by economic elites. Not surprisingly, then, the neoliberal policies of the past few decades have benefited those who pushed for them, creating enormous wealth for the richest individuals while leaving the world grossly unequal. According to Oxfam, 82 percent of the wealth created in 2017 went to the top one percent , while the poorest half got nothing. In America alone, inequality is at historic levels and more than 40 million people live in poverty; a UN report from last month notes that the U.S. "now has one of the lowest rates of intergenerational social mobility of any of the rich countries," and zip codes "are tragically reliable predictors of a child's future employment and income prospects."

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In Europe, Latin America, Asia and the United States, the status quo is no longer acceptable to a populace that has been betrayed time and again throughout the neoliberal era. Leaders who represent this status quo are being thrown out of office left and right. Those who have challenged the "establishment" have been labeled "populists" by the press, of course, and thus are categorized more for what they stand against than what they stand for (this would be like identifying the Soviet Union and the U.S. for their anti-fascism, rather than their communism or capitalism).

Some dispute the characterization of right-wing populists as anti-neoliberal, and correctly point out that most of the Trump administration's economic policies have actually been neoliberalism on steroids (e.g., the GOP tax bill, deregulation, etc.). Right-wing populism is purely about racism and xenophobia, these critics insist, and to make it about economics is to ignore these ugly realities. But as Thomas Frank pointed out in The Guardian back in 2016, "trade may be [Trump's] single biggest concern -- not white supremacy."

"It seems to obsess him," wrote Frank, who watched several hours of Trump's speeches. "The destructive free-trade deals our leaders have made, the many companies that have moved their production facilities to other lands, the phone calls he will make to those companies' CEOs in order to threaten them with steep tariffs unless they move back to the US."

Say what you will about Trump's tendency to lie and spew falsehoods, but on the issue of trade he has actually been pretty consistent since entering the White House, and free trade is one of the staples of the neoliberal project. On the left, free trade deals like NAFTA and TPP have also been major talking points, as we saw with Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign in 2016. There are other economic issues where some agreement exists, and right-wing populist parties in Europe are even more likely to be anti-neoliberal on economic issues. Marine Le Pen's National Front, for example, opposed austerity cuts and promised to increase welfare for the working class (at least for French citizens), while lowering the retirement age and increasing tariffs to benefit French companies (and, the claim goes, workers too).

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Still, the left- and right-wing alternatives to neoliberalism are poles apart, and the differences between left-populists like López Obrador and Sanders and right-populists like Trump and Le Pen are hard to overstate. To appreciate just how different their worldviews are, it is worth considering how the left and right have historically understood themselves in relation to the Enlightenment and modernity.

Throughout the modern era progressives and reactionaries have more or less rejected the status quo, with thinkers from both sides offering critiques of the modern world. The fundamental difference was that the left considered itself a part of the Enlightenment tradition, while the right was part of the "counter-Enlightenment" (this goes back to the French Revolution, when revolutionaries sat on the left side of the Estates General and royalists sat on the right).

The left criticized modernity not because it rejected the modern world, but because it saw the Enlightenment project as incomplete. Karl Marx praised the bourgeoisie and called capitalism a "great civilizing influence," considering it to be a positive development in history. He also wrote the most influential critique of capitalism to date, and while he acknowledged that capitalism was progress over feudalism, he also believed that it must eventually be replaced with socialism to realize the goals of the Enlightenment. Put simply, Marx and other leftists believed in the idea of progress, long associated with the Enlightenment.

On the right, criticisms of modernity came from a very different perspective. Reactionaries did not see the modern world as progress over the pre-modern world; rather, they saw it as a decline. Driven by nostalgia and resentment, reactionaries romanticized the past and believed that the ills of modernity could be cured by simply turning back the clock and restoring the status quo ante.

In his classic book " Escape from Freedom ," the psychiatrist and social philosopher Erich Fromm attempted to make sense of the rise of fascism in the early 20th century, and in doing so offered a penetrating analysis of modernity. While the modern world had liberated men and women from social conventions of the past and various restrictions on the individual (i.e., "freedom from"), it had also severed what Fromm called "primary bonds," which gave security to the individual and provided meaning. Forced from their communities into urban and industrial environments, modern men and women were left alienated and rootless, feeling powerless and purposeless in the new world.

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There were two ways that people could respond to this situation, Fromm argued; either they could reject freedom altogether and embrace counter-Enlightenment movements like fascism, or they could progress to a "positive freedom," where one can relate oneself "spontaneously to the world in love and work."

"If the economic, social and political conditions on which the whole process of human individuation depends, do not offer a basis for the realization of individuality," wrote Fromm, "while at the same time people have lost those ties which gave them security, this lag makes freedom an unbearable burden." Freedom, he continued, "becomes identical with doubt, with a kind of life which lacks meaning and direction. Powerful tendencies arise to escape from this kind of freedom into submission or some kind of relationship to man and the world which promises relief from uncertainty, even if it deprives the individual of his freedom."

The reactionary impulse would be to "escape from freedom" and restore the conventions and "primary bonds" of the past, while the progressive impulse would be to progress to a more complete and dynamic kind of freedom.

The reader may be wondering where all of this fits in with the current revolt against neoliberalism. Put simply, the neoliberal age has left many people with the same kind of doubts and anxieties that Fromm discussed in his book almost 80 years ago. Numerous articles have been written in recent years about how the policies of neoliberalism have worsened stress and loneliness , exacerbated mental health problems , driven rising rates of suicide and the opioid crisis, and left people feeling desperate and hopeless in general. Globalization, deindustrialization, consumerism and "financialization"; all these economic trends are contributing to the breakdown of our democratic society, leading some to embrace authoritarian alternatives, as many did in Fromm's day.

From this point of view, the global rise of populism that continued with López Obrador isn't much of a surprise. The popular rejection of neoliberalism around the world is undeniable at this point, but it is still unclear whether this rejection of the status quo will lead to reactionary or progressive change in the long run. López Obrador represents progressive change, as does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's surprise primary victory in New York's 14th congressional district. Trump and other far-right populists like Le Pen represent something very different.

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It will ultimately come down to which side can offer the more appealing alternative, and the left should recognize that the more realistic and "pragmatic" approach isn't always the most politically persuasive. One of the most common criticisms of populists has been that they are selling a pipe dream, which to an extent is true -- especially for right-wing populists who base their entire worldview on falsehoods. If the left wants to stop reactionary populism, however, it will have to adopt an unapologetically populist approach of its own, and reject the dogma of neoliberalism once and for all.

[Dec 17, 2018] What economic philosophy will come after neoliberalism

Dec 17, 2018 | thequestion.com

Jana Bacevic 59 2 years ago PhD researcher at the University of Cambridge, Department of Sociology; sociology of knowledge, social theory, political economy of knowledge production.

This is an extremely interesting and important question. In the past years, critics are increasingly proclaiming that neoliberalism has come to an end , or at least become too broad or too vague to be used as an explanatory term.

Yet, neoliberalism has proven to be remarkably resilient. This, as Jamie Peck has argued, may be due to its propensity to 'fail forward', that is, perpetuate rather than correct or reverse the mechanisms that led to its failures in the first place – the economic/fiscal policies following the 2008 economic crisis are a good example. Or it may have to do with what Boltanski and Chiapello have dubbed 'the new spirit of capitalism', meaning its capacity to absorb political and societal challenges and subsume them under the dominant economic paradigm – as reflected, for instance, in the way neoliberalism has managed to coopt politics of identity.

But the success of neoliberalism has arguably less to do with its performance as an economic philosophy (at least after 2008, that is patently not the case – even IMF has admitted that neoliberal policies may be exacerbating inequality), and more to do with what seems to be the consensus of political and economic elites over its application. Neoliberalism allows for the convergence of financial, governmental, military, industrial and technological networks of power in ways that not only make sustained resistance difficult, but also increasingly constrain possibilities for thinking about alternatives.

This is not to say that heterodox economic ideas are lacking. Alternatives to mainstream (or neo-classical) economics range from Marxist and Keynesian approaches, to post-Keynesian, participatory, or 'sharing' economies, and the philosophy of degrowth. Yet, in the framework of existing system of political and economic relations, successfully implementing any of these would require a strong political initiative and at least some level of consensus beyond the level of any single nation-state.

In this sense, the economic philosophy to succeed neoliberalism will be the one that manages to capture the 'hearts and minds' of those in power. While the Left needs to start developing sustainable economic alternatives, it seems that, in the short term, economic policies will be driven either by some sort of authoritarian populism, (as for instance in Trump's pre-election speeches), or a new version of neoliberalism (what Will Davies has called "punitive" neoliberalism). Hopefully, even from such a shrunk space, alternatives can emerge; however, if we are to draw lessons from the intellectual history of neoliberalism , they will require long-term political action to seriously challenge the prevailing economic order.

5 Lucas Diaz-Molaro a year ago

This isn very important question that i try to answer in my books. I think regulation and taxation are key, as well as moving toward a more local circular economy. You can download the books for free at

endneoliberalism.org

[Dec 03, 2018] The problem with giving any novel political idea a really extended trial is that you have to try it out on live human beings.

Dec 03, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

MatthewBall -> Rainborough , 8 Jun 2013 14:19

@Rainborough -

How many alternative economic systems would you say have been given a fair trial under reasonably favorable circumstances?

A good question. Answer: admittedly, not a huge number - but not none either. Feudalism held sway in the middle ages and mercantilism in the 18th century, before both fell out of fashion. In the 20th century Russia stuck with communism for 74 years, and many other countries tried it for a while. At one time (around 1949-89) there were enough countries in the communist block for us to be able to say that they at least had a fair chance to make it work - that is, if it didn't work, they can't really blame it on the rest of the world ganging up on them.

Lately, serious challengers to the global economic order have been more isolated (Venzuela, Cuba, North Korea?) - so maybe you could argue that, if they are struggling, it is because they have been unfairly ganged up on. But then again, aren't they pursuing a version of socialism that has close affinities to that tried in the Soviet Union?

The problem with giving any novel political idea a really extended trial is that you have to try it out on live human beings. This means that, once a critical mass of data has built up that indicates a political idea doesn't work out as hoped, then people inevitably lose the will to try that idea again.

So my question is: are critics of the current world economic order able to spell out exactly how their proposed alternative would differ from Soviet-style socialism?

[Aug 13, 2018] The Self-Imposed Impotence of the Russian and Chinese Governments by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

The key problem is technological dependence on the West and the fact thet there no viable alternative to neoliberalism yet. Resotration of New Deal is impossible as management and professional classes are now allied with capital owners. So while those Philippics are entertaining, in reality Russian needs to suffer and try to grow its economics and raise the standard of living of people without rocking the boat too much. China too.
Notable quotes:
"... The Russian and Chinese governments are puzzling. They hold all the cards in the sanction wars and sit there with no wits whatsoever as to how to play them. ..."
"... The Russians are also convinced that they should freely trade their currency, thereby subjecting the ruble to manipulation on foreign exchange markets. If Washington wants to bring a currency crisis to Russia, all the Federal Reserve, its vassal Japanese, EU, and UK central banks have to do is to short the ruble. Hedge funds and speculators join in for the profits. ..."
"... Why don't the Russian and Chinese play their winning hands? The reason is that neither government has any advisers who are not brainwashed by neoliberalism. The brainwashing that Americans gave Russia during the Yeltsin years has been institutionalized in Russian institutions. Trapped in this box, Russia is a sitting duck for Washington. ..."
Aug 12, 2018 | www.globalresearch.ca

The Russian and Chinese governments are puzzling. They hold all the cards in the sanction wars and sit there with no wits whatsoever as to how to play them.

The Russians won't get any help from the Western media which obscures the issue by stressing that the Russian government doesn't want to deprive its citizens of consumer goods from the West, which is precisely what Washington's sanctions intend to do.

The Russian and Chinese governments are in Washington's hands because Russia and China, thinking that capitalism had won, quickly adopted American neoliberal economics, which is a propaganda device that serves only American interests. For years NASA has been unable to function without Russian rocket engines. Despite all the sanctions, insults, military provocations, the Russian government still sends NASA the engines. Why? Because the Russian economists tell the government that foreign exchange is essential to Russia's development.

Europe is dependent on Russian energy to run its factories and to keep warm in winter. But Russia does not turn off the energy in response to Europe's participation in Washington's sanctions, because the Russian economists tell the government that foreign exchange is essential to Russia's development.

As Michael Hudson and I explained on a number of occasions, this is nonsense. Russia's development is dependent in no way on the acquisition of foreign currencies.

The Russians are also convinced that they need foreign investment, which serves only to drain profits out of their economy.

The Russians are also convinced that they should freely trade their currency, thereby subjecting the ruble to manipulation on foreign exchange markets. If Washington wants to bring a currency crisis to Russia, all the Federal Reserve, its vassal Japanese, EU, and UK central banks have to do is to short the ruble. Hedge funds and speculators join in for the profits.

Neoliberal economics is a hoax, and the Russians have fallen for it.

So have the Chinese.

Suppose that when all these accusations against Russia began -- take the alleged attack on the Skirpals for example -- Putin had stood up and said:

"The British government is lying through its teeth and so is every government including that of Washington that echoes this lie. Russia regards this lie as highly provocative and as a part of a propaganda campaign to prepare Western peoples for military attack on Russia. The constant stream of gratuitous lies and military exercises on our border have convinced Russia that the West intends war. The consequence will be the total destruction of the United States and its puppets."

That would have been the end of the gratuitous provocations, military exercises, and sanctions.

Instead, we heard about "misunderstandings" with out "American partners," which encouraged more lies and more provocations.
Or, for a more mild response, Putin could have announced:

"As Washington and its servile European puppets have sanctioned us, we are turning off the rocket engines, all energy to Europe, titanium to US aircraft companies, banning overflights of US cargo and passenger aircraft, and putting in place punitive measures against all US firms operating in Russia."

One reason, perhaps, that Russia does not do this in addition to Russia's mistaken belief that it needs Western money and good will is that Russia mistakenly thinks that Washington will steal their European energy market and ship natural gas to Europe. No such infrastructure exists. It would take several years to develop the infrastructure. By then Europe would have mass unemployment and would have frozen in several winters.

What about China? China hosts a large number of major US corporations, including Apple, the largest capitalized corporation in the world. China can simply nationalize without compensation, as South Africa is doing to white South African farmers without any Western protest, all global corporations operating in China. Washington would be overwhelmed with global corporations demanding removal of every sanction on China and complete subservience of Washington to the Chinese government.

Or, or in addition, China could dump all $1.2 trillion of its US Treasuries. The Federal Reserve would quickly print the money to buy the bonds so that the price did not collapse. China could then dump the dollars that the Fed printed in order to redeem the bonds. The Fed cannot print the foreign currencies with which to purchase the dollars. The dollar would plummet and not be worth a Venezuelan bolivar unless Washington could order its pupper foreign central banks in Japan, UK, and EU to print their currencies in order to purchase the dollars. This, even if complied with, would cause a great deal of stress in what is called "the Western alliance," but what is really Washington's Empire.

Why don't the Russian and Chinese play their winning hands? The reason is that neither government has any advisers who are not brainwashed by neoliberalism. The brainwashing that Americans gave Russia during the Yeltsin years has been institutionalized in Russian institutions. Trapped in this box, Russia is a sitting duck for Washington.

Turkey is a perfect opportunity for Russia and China to step forward and remove Turkey from NATO. The two countries could offer Turkey membership in BRICS, trade deals, and mutual security treaties. China could easily buy up the Turkish currency off foreign exchange markets. The same could be done for Iran. Yet neither Russia nor China appear capable of decisive action. The two countries, both under attack as Turkey is from Washington, sit there sucking their thumbs. (See this )

See also

This article was originally published on the author's blog site: Paul Craig Roberts Institute for Political Economy.Paul Craig Roberts is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

[Aug 02, 2018] The "pension reforms" are an Atlanticist trojan horse to erode the legitimacy of the government and not a necessary "reform".

Aug 02, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

jnewman , 3 hours ago

Putin needs to get himself a good monetary economist not affiliated or influenced by the Chicago School. The "pension reforms" are an Atlanticist trojan horse to erode the legitimacy of the government and not a necessary "reform".

Putin has made his reputation "allocating real resources to the common people of Russia, he should continue to do that.

[Jul 03, 2018] With some exceptions Putin practices "national neoliberalism" in Russia

Notable quotes:
"... Since the start of Putin's tenure, Russia re-nationalized, that is returned to the state control or ownership, an enormous number of truly strategic companies. ..."
"... These are hardly signs of neoliberalism, not to mention that Russia, rightly so, is considered one of the most protectionist nations in the world. This is if to discount all this theoretical and metaphysical mambo-jumbo on the obvious fact that neoliberalism is dead, together with its founding Free Trade gospel, and stinks to heaven, poisoning surroundings. And, yes, I am sure Russian State has no control over Novatek (it is a bad joke). ..."
"... Kudrin's audit committee looks like being FAS Mark 2. He has been given the tools to take Sechin and other state moguls apart. Will he get to the Rotenbergs/Gazprom? ..."
Jul 03, 2018 | www.unz.com

Andrei Martyanov June 29, 2018 at 7:36 pm GMT

Karlin,

The same "fifth column" that has over the past 18 years also forced Putin into adopting a flat tax, liberalizing land sales, monetizing benefits, and now pensions reform.

If Putin still hasn't managed to get rid of them, then what the hell is he good for? ... Reality is, all of those were great successes. Putin is an economic neoliberal and that is a good thing .

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-06-07/putin-s-under-the-radar-nationalization-of-russia-s-private-banks

Even if Bershidsky gets it, however in the field which doesn't require any serious skills, except for good accounting. Now, you don't want me to refer to Russia's actual industries, especially hi-tech, which are nationalized, do you? Does the title Rostec ring a bell? What is remarkable, founding of Rostec somehow coincided with Putin's Munich Speech--both events are hardly any evidence of neoliberalism. Is Putin a liberal? Yes, but to a degree and political mostly--his progression from liberal economic model to a mixed model since 2014 is visible to people with even rudimentary knowledge of Russia. This is not to mention that Russia, quoting even Wiki:

Russia has an upper-middle income mixed economy with state ownership in strategic areas of the economy.
Some private bank is not a "strategic" area, nor is "liberalization" of land sales, resources and real hi-tech sector, however, together with agriculture, are. Since the start of Putin's tenure, Russia re-nationalized, that is returned to the state control or ownership, an enormous number of truly strategic companies. In fact, whole industries. Putin recently himself clearly stated that, especially pointing out a bonanza Russian State got from 2008 collapse and from sanctions.

These are hardly signs of neoliberalism, not to mention that Russia, rightly so, is considered one of the most protectionist nations in the world. This is if to discount all this theoretical and metaphysical mambo-jumbo on the obvious fact that neoliberalism is dead, together with its founding Free Trade gospel, and stinks to heaven, poisoning surroundings. And, yes, I am sure Russian State has no control over Novatek (it is a bad joke).

Philip Owen , June 29, 2018 at 10:12 pm GMT

The picture is mixed. The Federal Antimonopoly Service has been given real teeth since its humiliation by the Customs Service under Medvedev. It goes beyond antimonopoly. For example, it reviews incoming foreign investment in the 42 strategic industries. This was originally a protectionist committee. It gave Pepsico a hard time for buying Wimm-Bill-Dann, clearly a military asset. These days its approach to foreigners is "How can I help you? Do you want money?" It is frequently chaired by Putin.

Kudrin's audit committee looks like being FAS Mark 2. He has been given the tools to take Sechin and other state moguls apart. Will he get to the Rotenbergs/Gazprom?

Their behaviour is outrageous. Certainly not the kind of corporate governance required for a competitive market. e.g. Gazprom Bank has a Rotenberg son in charge of loans. Gazprom lent another Rotenberg son the money to build Aviapark. No Rotenberg capital at risk during the whole process. Now a $1 Bn asset. Kudrin has a target rich environment. Will he settle out of court or make some high level examples?

Anatoly Karlin , Website June 29, 2018 at 9:11 pm GMT

@Andrei Martyanov

Rostek, run by Chemezov, whose main qualification is being buddies with Putin in 1980s East Germany, famous for passing off an unsuccessful and outdated Taiwanese manufactured and American designed device as an example of "Russian innovation" [at pilfering government money].

But you are of course correct. Russia is of course not neoliberal so far as Putin's kleptocratic chums are concerned. Fortunately, overall domestic economic policy (with said exceptions) is neoliberal, which rules out a Venezuelan scenario in Russia. That is a good thing.

Andrei Martyanov , Website June 29, 2018 at 9:28 pm GMT
@Anatoly Karlin

But you are of course correct. Russia is of course not neoliberal so far as Putin's kleptocratic chums are concerned.

Exactly, nor do you have any qualifications nor skills to write about Russia since, and I quote Margo Simonyan describing your kind.

Maybe you will finally understand that you do not believe us not because we lie, but because you know horseradish (dick) about surrounding world, because you are badly educated, do not read much and when do, do not read what is needed, you visit all the wrong places and communicate with the same small bunch of prejudiced and/or mental people, who only reinforce your condescending ignorance.

https://ria.ru/analytics/20180625/1523351567.html?referrer_block=index_only_ria_1

I guess we have an overwhelming empirical evidence supporting these claims, don't we?

[Jun 16, 2018] The Soviet Union has been gone for more than a quarter of a century and yet it is - to borrow a phrase from a popular Soviet song - is more alive than the living. The Soviet period has become a sort of a yardstick against which the modern Russia is compared in every area: culture, economy, moral climate, everything.

Notable quotes:
"... It is not "misunderstood" -- it is a complete caricature which now blows into the faces of those who helped to create it. Western Russia "expertise" is pathetic and some exceptions merely confirm the rule. Generally, the term "Russia scholar" when applied to most, in our particular case American, experts should be treated as a bad joke. This is not to mention that most of those "scholars" (with the exception of predominantly Jewish Soviet emigres, such as moron Max Boot) can not even speak, forget a complete command, Russian language. ..."
"... Quite a few grant-eating "liberals" inside Russia speak the language, but this does not make them any more competent. Basically, they illustrate the saying that "he, who pays the musicians, calls the tune". The same applies to "Russia scholars" residing in the US, regardless of their language proficiency. ..."
Jun 16, 2018 | www.unz.com

EugeneGur


The point is that Putin realizes that the Orthodox faith is the cultural framework of the Russian nation; its development historically, socially and culturally rest in the hands Orthodox Christianity.
No, it's not. No one can enter the same river twice. Russia will thankfully never go back to its Orthodox roots completely, although Orthodoxy will co-exist peacefully within the secular society. Putin's public insistence on rituals of the Orthodox faith is one of his least attractive features.

Thankfully that chapter of history is over
It's not over until it's over. This sentence of yours simply shows how misunderstood the Soviet period of the Russian history is in the West.

The Soviet Union has been gone for more than a quarter of a century and yet it is - to borrow a phrase from a popular Soviet song - is more alive than the living. The Soviet period has become a sort of a yardstick against which the modern Russia is compared in every area: culture, economy, moral climate, everything.

It is a universal agreement that in many areas Russia doesn't measure up to the Soviet standards - culture and education are the prime examples. Hardly anyone in Russia would disagree that in 25 years Russia hasn't produced anything even remotely comparable with the Soviet achievements in this spheres. Until it does - the Soviet Union will live one.

Andrei Martyanov , Website June 15, 2018 at 5:20 pm GMT

@EugeneGur

It's not over until it's over. This sentence of yours simply shows how misunderstood the Soviet period of the Russian history is in the West.

It is not "misunderstood" -- it is a complete caricature which now blows into the faces of those who helped to create it. Western Russia "expertise" is pathetic and some exceptions merely confirm the rule. Generally, the term "Russia scholar" when applied to most, in our particular case American, experts should be treated as a bad joke. This is not to mention that most of those "scholars" (with the exception of predominantly Jewish Soviet emigres, such as moron Max Boot) can not even speak, forget a complete command, Russian language.

AnonFromTN , June 15, 2018 at 5:46 pm GMT
@Andrei Martyanov

Quite a few grant-eating "liberals" inside Russia speak the language, but this does not make them any more competent. Basically, they illustrate the saying that "he, who pays the musicians, calls the tune". The same applies to "Russia scholars" residing in the US, regardless of their language proficiency.

Andrei Martyanov , Website June 15, 2018 at 6:00 pm GMT
@AnonFromTN

Quite a few grant-eating "liberals" inside Russia speak the language, but this does not make them any more competent. Basically, they illustrate the saying that "he, who pays the musicians, calls the tune". The same applies to "Russia scholars" residing in the US, regardless of their language proficiency.

Here, I have to politely disagree since Russian "liberals" both grant-supported and ones that are not is a separate animal altogether. First, most of them, grants or no grants, are the real deal, they got grants because they are the real deal, not the other way around, and causality in this case really matters.

I don't need even to know if Mr. Nekrasov or Gozman are grant-eaters, their hatred of everything Russian is palpable. The only weaker feeling than hatred they have is contempt. This cannot be hidden–it shines through. They do it for the idea and grants are just a bonus. It all goes back to Russian "Westerners" and liberals about whom Tyutchev (IIRC) left a profound paragraph.

[Jun 16, 2018] Current Russian regime got bad roots. It cares not for people. Current increase of retirement age is another testament to this

Russia still is a neoliberal country. What do you expect ?
It is interesting that Russia which oppose neoliberal globalization in foreign policy, implements neoliberal reforms within the country. The current pensoin reform is clienly neoliberal in spirit, even if it does not include privatization. there is a big different between those who work at factories and those who work at offices.
Notable quotes:
"... I don't share your and some other commenters' fixation on Jews. I believe it's a red herring. Elites, Jewish and gentile, are equally repulsive and guilty of most ills that afflict our world. Despite its many failings, one of the redeeming qualities of communism was that it called for confiscation of the possessions of moneyed elites. In reality, they were mostly hanged or shot. Considering what they are doing to the US and other countries, this was amply justified. ..."
"... Basically there were real issues behind those color revolutions in Ukraine and elsewhere but without progressive force caring about people there were ulterior forces that led those eruption of real grievances and these grievances are caused by the system of capitalism you have just described. Yours and other former Soviet citizens excellent education is another testament to communism regime. ..."
"... Regarding new found religious feelings. it is obviously all fake. ..."
"... I can't say that today's Russia is all bad or all good. I think open borders is a huge achievement. People have a chance to see the reality with their own eyes: wherever you go in Europe or Asia now, you meet lots of people from Russia, which means that they have the money to travel and an interest in other cultures, as you meet them in museums and at historical sites all over Europe. ..."
"... I do resent what current authorities did to the education system: they degraded it, ostensibly in an attempt to reform and make it more Western-like. I think these "reforms" were extremely ill-conceived, the school is becoming much worse (in fact, American-like, although it must be degraded a lot more to sink all the way down to the US level). ..."
"... I resent than instead of improving Russian Academy of Sciences (it was pretty bad in the USSR) they essentially emasculated it. If you go by publications, there is less decent research in Russia now than there was in the USSR. ..."
"... Huge inequality is another negative, especially considering that most oligarchs got rich by looting state property, and now continue to enrich themselves the same way (heads of most Russian corporations, state-owned and private, are nothing but thieves). That made Russia more US-like, but I consider that regress rather than progress. ..."
"... On the other hand, I consider it a huge achievement that in international affairs Russia today is pursuing its own interests, rather than engaging in a thankless task of saving the world. I subscribe to the Protestant dictum that "God helps those who help themselves", so whoever is worth saving will save themselves, and the rest be damned. ..."
Jun 16, 2018 | www.unz.com

AnonFromTN , June 15, 2018 at 2:40 am GMT

@Frankie P

Maybe it is presumptuous to express my opinion about another person's faith, but let me remind you that Putin was a KGB officer and a member of the communist party. As such, he was (or pretended to be) a militant atheist. Now he publicly goes to church and remains there throughout the service (mind you, Russian Orthodox Christmas and Easter services are all-night affairs). Thus, he either lied then or is lying now about his faith. Take your pick.

Yes, Orthodox Christianity was one of the pillars of Russian culture. But again, let me remind you that one of the greatest Russian writers, Leo Tolstoy, was excommunicated by the church. What's more, current patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox church, was photographed with a watch worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, owns an apartment in the center of Moscow, likely worth millions of $, and a collection or rare books in this apartment with a huge value. If you are a Christian, you should know that "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:24; also Mark 10:25).

I don't share your and some other commenters' fixation on Jews. I believe it's a red herring. Elites, Jewish and gentile, are equally repulsive and guilty of most ills that afflict our world. Despite its many failings, one of the redeeming qualities of communism was that it called for confiscation of the possessions of moneyed elites. In reality, they were mostly hanged or shot. Considering what they are doing to the US and other countries, this was amply justified.

Sergey Krieger , June 15, 2018 at 9:25 am GMT
@AnonFromTN

I frankly do not think that communism requires redemption. It was first attempt at moving humanity towards next step in social evolution and it did not happen under the best conditions. It happened in the country ridden with accumulated problems from previous regime mishandling the country for a couple of centuries with those issues coming to a head and after so much pressure it resulted in massive eruption of violence which would have been even worse without Bolsheviks as it would lead to Russia disintegration and Russian state death., There would have happened something similar to modern Ukraine.

Basically there were real issues behind those color revolutions in Ukraine and elsewhere but without progressive force caring about people there were ulterior forces that led those eruption of real grievances and these grievances are caused by the system of capitalism you have just described. Yours and other former Soviet citizens excellent education is another testament to communism regime.

Current Russian regime got bad roots and I do not believe anything good will come out of these bad roots. The system is freakish and rotten at the core. It care s not for people. Current increase of retirement age is another testament to this. Bolsheviks when they started made their intentions rather obvious in destroyed and poor country. They assured real human rights while current system removed those rights and there is no guarantees that we as a soviet citizen used to enjoy. Obviously things were not perfect. They never are.

Regarding new found religious feelings. it is obviously all fake.

I also wonder what do you think of spontaneous life appearance? I read some books on this issue including Dawkins' and Behe, but considering your experience and professional background it would be very interesting to hear your thoughts.

AnonFromTN , June 15, 2018 at 4:21 pm GMT
@Sergey Krieger

I can't say that today's Russia is all bad or all good. I think open borders is a huge achievement. People have a chance to see the reality with their own eyes: wherever you go in Europe or Asia now, you meet lots of people from Russia, which means that they have the money to travel and an interest in other cultures, as you meet them in museums and at historical sites all over Europe.

I do resent what current authorities did to the education system: they degraded it, ostensibly in an attempt to reform and make it more Western-like. I think these "reforms" were extremely ill-conceived, the school is becoming much worse (in fact, American-like, although it must be degraded a lot more to sink all the way down to the US level).

I resent than instead of improving Russian Academy of Sciences (it was pretty bad in the USSR) they essentially emasculated it. If you go by publications, there is less decent research in Russia now than there was in the USSR.

Huge inequality is another negative, especially considering that most oligarchs got rich by looting state property, and now continue to enrich themselves the same way (heads of most Russian corporations, state-owned and private, are nothing but thieves). That made Russia more US-like, but I consider that regress rather than progress.

On the other hand, I consider it a huge achievement that in international affairs Russia today is pursuing its own interests, rather than engaging in a thankless task of saving the world. I subscribe to the Protestant dictum that "God helps those who help themselves", so whoever is worth saving will save themselves, and the rest be damned.

[Apr 24, 2018] The Varieties of Russian Conservatism by Paul Grenier

Notable quotes:
"... Times Literary Supplement ..."
"... sine qua non ..."
"... The common good "cannot be reduced to the goods of individual private parties, and cannot be deduced from them. Just as the sum of the parts does not make up the whole, in the same way the sum of private interests may sometimes work even against itself it is the state that represents the common good." Isn't this something we can learn from in the West today? ..."
"... Russia's "[Christian] Orthodox spirit and the ethic of solidarity ..."
"... Like the Catholic Church, the Russian Orthodox Church has recently forged its own Social Concept of the ROC, which fleshes out this call for fairness as an aspect of human dignity. ..."
"... The City of Man ..."
"... Among Russia's virtues, it must be emphasized, is a far greater freedom of speech than it is typically given credit for. Russian participants in the Kaliningrad conference demonstrated a boldness of imagination, a variety and depth of thought on alternate futures for their country that is by no means always evident in political speech even in the United States. ..."
"... The author would like to thank Dr. Adrian Walker, Matthew Cooper and especially Dr. Matthew Dal Santo for their valuable suggestions and comments on an earlier draft. ..."
"... Paul Grenier is an essayist and translator who writes regularly on political-philosophical issues. ..."
Jun 19, 2015 | www.theamericanconservative.com
A staunchly traditional society grapples with modernity's disruptions, seeking conservatisms far beyond Putinism.

It's a truism that America is a liberal place. Americans emphasize the importance of the individual and tend to reject notions of hierarchy and authority. Russia by contrast is known to be a more conservative society, one where the interests of the group come ahead of those of the individual; and where, for centuries, respect for hierarchy and authority has usually been the norm.

All the same, the "news" of Russia's return to conservatism has hit many observers in the West like the proverbial ton of bricks. The typical response has been to blame the Russian president for steering Russia away from the liberal path, the path of becoming a " normal country" with "Western values."

Others have sought to understand Russian political culture on its own terms. A recent analysis ("The New Eurasians," Times Literary Supplement , May 13, 2015) stands out from the crowd by making a serious effort to read present-day Russian conservatism in its historical context. Lesley Chamberlain dismisses the glib reduction of Russia to its present-day leader. Russia, she writes, is not ruled by Vladimir Putin: to the contrary, "the power that rules Russia is tradition." Far from it being the case that a benighted Russian public is being led to conservatism artificially by its government, the reverse is the case: the vast majority of Russians, perhaps eighty percent "are intensely conservative."

Like most in the commentariat, Chamberlain finds cause for alarm in Russia's return to type. She worries about a Russia seeking to create "an alternative version of the contemporary Christian, or post-Christian, world, contiguous with but distinct from the West."

Chamberlain reduces today's incarnation of Russian conservatism to the more or less vague bundle of geographic and neo-imperial notions that goes by the name Eurasianism, often linked with the name of Alexander Dugin.

To be sure, anti-Western Eurasianism is part of contemporary Russian conservatism. But it is only one part. Excessive focus on this angle has created the impression that Dugin-esque Eurasianism is the only game in town when it comes to Russian conservatism. It isn't. It's not even the only version of what might be called the 'Russian national greatness' school of conservatism.

If we wish to understand Russia in something like its true complexity, we have to take the trouble to listen to it, to let it speak in its own voice instead of constantly projecting onto it all our own worst fears. Precisely because Eurasianism has already hogged all the attention, I won't deal with it here.

... ... ...

Liberal Conservatism

Some participants straddled several categories of conservatism at once. In other cases, for example that of the above-mentioned Makarenko, their thought fit neatly within a single category -- in his case, that of liberal conservatism.

For Makarenko, modern Russian political practice has far too utilitarian an attitude toward rule of law and democracy. If it can be demonstrated that the latter support state sovereignty, then all is well and good; but whenever either are perceived as a threat to the state -- then democracy and rule of law are always the ones that have to suffer. From his perspective, Russia would do better to learn from Burke, who looked not so much to the sovereignty of the state as to the sovereignty of the parliament .

Matveichev, no doubt the most eclectic thinker in the group, on certain subjects occupied the liberal end of the spectrum. For example, in an essay on corruption and the state, he approvingly cites the work of Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto to make the point that rule of law -- as it is practiced, nota bene , in the United States -- is the sine qua non of economic prosperity. What I found fascinating about Matveichev's position is that he then takes his argument in a Hegelian and Platonic direction.

It is the state -- not the market on its own -- that provides these all important forms , and bad as the corruption of state institutions may be, a bad form is nonetheless better than no form at all -- including for business. The common good "cannot be reduced to the goods of individual private parties, and cannot be deduced from them. Just as the sum of the parts does not make up the whole, in the same way the sum of private interests may sometimes work even against itself it is the state that represents the common good." Isn't this something we can learn from in the West today?

Left Conservatism

The "left conservatives" at the conference -- represented most prominently by Dr. Alexander Schipkov, an expert on Church-state relations -- are critical of liberal capitalism and indeed are also critical of the current Russian state to the extent that its "conservatism" is reducible merely to "family values" without including the all-important component of economic fairness. His views are close to that of Catholic Distributists as well as to those of "radical orthodox" theologians like William Cavanaugh and John Milbank.

According to Schipkov, Russians of various backgrounds (left and right, secular and religious, red and white) need to forge a common ethic. But in truth, Russia already has such an ethic, one that unifies all the disparate phases in its often tragic and contradictory history. Consciously playing off of Weber, Schipkov refers to Russia's "[Christian] Orthodox spirit and the ethic of solidarity ." In a fascinating essay on this same subject, Schipkov makes clear that his concept of solidarity owes much to the writings of the early 20th century German philosopher Max Scheler, who likewise had such a big impact on the thought of Pope John Paul II.

Though the Russian Church continues to play a defining role in the ethical formation of the nation -- no other pre-1917 institution, after all, still exists -- over time it will be replaced by other institutions, according to Schipkov. Like the Catholic Church, the Russian Orthodox Church has recently forged its own Social Concept of the ROC, which fleshes out this call for fairness as an aspect of human dignity.

Creative Conservatism

Because it tends to evoke the disastrous social and economic effects of "liberalisation" during the 1990s, the term "liberal" has become something of a swear word in today's Russia. But what, exactly, does this much reviled "liberalism" consist in? In my own presentation (English translation forthcoming at SolidarityHall.org ) I suggested that Russians need to define liberalism -- and conservatism -- more carefully, while distinguishing both from their ideological perversions.

To his credit, Oleg Matveichev has taken the trouble to craft a precise definition of the liberal doctrine of human nature in terms worthy of a Pierre Manent ( The City of Man ). According to Matveichev, liberalism reconceives the very essence of man as freedom, self-sufficiency, and self-definition. Seen through this liberal prism, the goal of our existence becomes self-emancipation from the chains of the past and the dead weight of tradition.

Having redefined the meaning of history, Matveichev continues, the "liberals" then set about condemning those who would thwart its "progress," dismissing them as "conservatives" and "reactionaries." Is it not time, Matveichev asks, to throw off the chains of this label invented for us by our adversaries? Why define ourselves as mere "conservatives"? Why not creatively reimagine an alternative 'meaning of history" ourselves?

Can conservatism be "creative?" And if so, how? Mikhail Remizov, president of the National Strategy Institute, answered, in effect, "how can it be anything else?" Critics on the left sometimes attack conservatism by saying, that conservatives do not preserve tradition, they invent it. Remizov dismisses the implied insult, because it demonstrates a misunderstanding of how traditions work: (re)invention " is the normal, creative approach to tradition." Remizov agrees with Hans-Georg Gadamer that sharply contrasting tradition and modernity is a silly and flat-footed way of looking at tradition, because the latter is always in any case a complex creative task of making adjustments and dialectical zig-zags. Such an understanding of culture and tradition as creativity fits, of course, quite nicely with the philosophy of Nicholas Berdyaev. It is hard to think of another thinker for whom creativity plays a more central role.

Alexei Kozyrev, associate dean of the philosophy department at Moscow State University, illustrated the same creative conservative principle when he spoke of the Russian Orthodox Church's Social Concept. The task of modern man, according to that document, is to find creative ways to retrieve the thought of the Church Fathers, for example that of Gregory of Nyssa, who counseled demonstrating our human dignity "not by domination of the natural world but by caring for and preserving it." The Social Concept likewise calls for defending the dignity of the unborn embryo and of the mentally ill. Here, in an unexpected twist, the Western environmental movement meets the pro-Life movement, challenging perhaps our own ideological boundaries.

... ...

Dialogue with Russia?

Lesley Chamberlain claimed that Russia is not a puzzle. In fact that is precisely what it is. As should be clear even from the above very partial survey, Russian conservatism, like Russia itself, embraces a contradictory collection of flaws and virtues. Both the flaws and the virtues are large.

Among Russia's virtues, it must be emphasized, is a far greater freedom of speech than it is typically given credit for. Russian participants in the Kaliningrad conference demonstrated a boldness of imagination, a variety and depth of thought on alternate futures for their country that is by no means always evident in political speech even in the United States.

For Western liberals, it is tempting to present Russian conservatism as always intrinsically dangerous. But I believe the loss is ours. Russian conservatism -- or at any rate important elements of it -- contains something potentially valuable to the West as it seeks to forge a strategy for dealing with the growing disorder in the world. What justifies engagement with Russia is before all else its ability to contribute to solving the problem that all of us face: how to devise a softer version of western modernity, one which allows for the preservation of tradition while simultaneously retaining what is most valuable in the liberal tradition.

The author would like to thank Dr. Adrian Walker, Matthew Cooper and especially Dr. Matthew Dal Santo for their valuable suggestions and comments on an earlier draft.

Paul Grenier is an essayist and translator who writes regularly on political-philosophical issues.


Andrew W June 19, 2015 at 9:03 am

@JonF

The presumption amongst Russian conservatives is not that Russia is perfect as it is but that Russia's foundational values are good. This is something they have in common with American conservatives, British Conservatives like Peter Hitchens, and probably most conservatives in most societies. They would also lament their social ills.

I am not going to accuse you of not having read the article, but that comment of yours could easily have been made by someone who simply read the title and jumped to the comments section.

Joseph Kellner , says: June 19, 2015 at 4:53 pm
The author's point on free speech is an important one – there is a lot of very deep and open discussion in Russia at the moment about the country's direction (including even television debates with ten times the intellectual content of what we find in the States). Putinism is not a clear ideological system, and for the most part there is no official orthodoxy being pressed on scholars or the public, many currents exist. Most of the major viable currents, as this article suggests, are variants of conservatism; Western-style liberal democracy has (at the moment) lost nearly all it's appeal to the intelligentsia and the average person alike.

Re: Jon F's comment – unfortunately, in my view he is right. We shouldn't believe that Russia is a place of thriving family values simply because they say it more often and louder. Statistics are not the best way to see this – I personally believe (from experience in the capital and the provinces) that if Russians divorce less, they cheat more. If they have fewer abortions, they have more children born into undesirable childhoods. Russian conservatism does have its virtues and the country must to admire, but respect for women and children are far from a given.

Cornel Lencar , says: June 21, 2015 at 3:26 pm
The tendency to see Russia in black/white only, with a pre-imposed bias is no different than the tendency to see the US (and sometimes the west) and its values in similar manichean perspectives. Adding depth and colour to the other takes work, and especially the willingness to empathise, even for a little while, in order to gain more understanding, before employing a critical eye. And from this perspective I think the article does a good job.
Paul Grenier , says: June 22, 2015 at 7:21 pm
W. Burns: I don't recall that specific issue raised at the conference, but the Revolution and subsequent experience is much debated, including in other writings by the participants, e.g. by Shchipkov (his preferred spelling btw, not my Schipkov), whose take is much like that of Berdyaev: the communist experience is in partial continuity with aspects of Russia's tradition, e.g. of economic 'fairness' (equalizing plots on the peasant commune, etc.) and privileging the group over the individual. I started with the analysis by L. Chamberlain in part because her wide lens-perspective helps make sense of that experience.
David Naas and Cornel Lencar: I wish there were more who shared your perspective. Thanks.
Regarding Russian values vs. practice, aspirations vs. real-world problems. Who among us is without sin? Is U.S. practice so pristine that we should disdain talking to the Russian side? That is the material point.
Since the conference I have continued reading the work of these (and other conference) attendees meant for a Russian audience. They are very, very far from smug about their internal problems; quite the contrary.
Dave P.: As far as I know, the conference Proceedings so far are only in Russian, but there are pretty detailed English-language abstracts. Try contacting ISEPR (their site, ISEPR.ru, also has an English-language version).

[Sep 18, 2017] Looks like Trump initially has a four point platform that was anti-neoliberal in its essence: non-interventionism, no to neoliberal globalization, no to outsourcing of jobs, and no to multiculturism. All were betrayed very soon

Highly recommended!
Jun 02, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

It looks like Trump initially has a four point platform that was anti-neoliberal in its essence:

  1. Non-interventionism. End the wars for the expansion of American neoliberal empire. Détente was Russia. Abolishing NATO and saving money on this. Let European defend themselves. Etc.
  2. No to neoliberal globalization. Abolishing of transnational treaties that favor large multinationals such as TPP, NAFTA, etc. Tariffs and other means of punishing corporations who move production overseas. Repatriation of foreign profits to the USA and closing of tax holes which allow to keep profits in tax heavens without paying a dime to the US government.
  3. No to neoliberal "transnational job market" -- free movement of labor. Criminal prosecution and deportation of illegal immigrants. Cutting intake of refugees. Curtailing legal immigration, especially fake and abused programs like H1B. Making it more difficult for people from countries with substantial terrorist risk to enter the USA including temporary prohibition of issuing visas from certain (pretty populous) Muslim countries.
  4. No to the multiculturalism. Stress on "Christian past" and "white heritage" of American society and the role of whites in building the country. Rejection of advertising "special rights" of minorities such as black population, LGBT, etc. Promotion them as "identity wedges" in elections was the trick so dear to DemoRats and, especially Hillary and Obama.

That means that Trump election platform on an intuitive level has caught several important problem that were created in the US society by dismantling of the "New Deal" and rampant neoliberalism practiced since Reagan ("Greed is good" mantra).

Of cause, after election he decided to practice the same "bait and switch" maneuver as Obama. Generally he folded in less then 100 days. Not without help from DemoRats (Neoliberal Democrats) which created a witch hunt over "Russian ties" with their dreams of the second Watergate.

But in any case, this platform still provides a path to election victory in any forthcoming election, as problems listed are real , are not solved, and are extremely important for lower 90% of Americans. Tulsi Gabbard so far is that only democratic politician that IMHO qualifies. Sanders is way too old and somewhat inconsistent on No.1.

Frank was the first to note this "revolutionary" part of Tramp platform:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/07/donald-trump-why-americans-support

Last week, I decided to watch several hours of Trump speeches for myself. I saw the man ramble and boast and threaten and even seem to gloat when protesters were ejected from the arenas in which he spoke. I was disgusted by these things, as I have been disgusted by Trump for 20 years. But I also noticed something surprising. In each of the speeches I watched, Trump spent a good part of his time talking about an entirely legitimate issue, one that could even be called left-wing.

Yes, Donald Trump talked about trade. In fact, to judge by how much time he spent talking about it, trade may be his single biggest concern – not white supremacy. Not even his plan to build a wall along the Mexican border, the issue that first won him political fame.

He did it again during the debate on 3 March: asked about his political excommunication by Mitt Romney, he chose to pivot and talk about trade.

It seems to obsess him: the destructive free-trade deals our leaders have made, the many companies that have moved their production facilities to other lands, the phone calls he will make to those companies' CEOs in order to threaten them with steep tariffs unless they move back to the US.

[Jun 09, 2017] Return to the New Deal capitalism is impossible but neoliberalsm have no solution to the current economic problems iether

Notable quotes:
"... No I want the return on New Deal Capitalism. But this is impossible as managerial class changed it allegiance and the political block that made the New Deal possible no longer exists. ..."
"... I do not see the alternative to neoliberalism right now. Soviet style "state capitalism" (which some call socialism) is definitely worse. Over centralization proved to be really deadly for large states. ..."
"... Left is not panacea for solving economic problems. Neither is the US style neoliberalism. There is probably "golden level" in redistributive policies like in tennis: if you hold the racket too tightly you can't play well; if you hold it too lose (deregulation) you can't play well either. ..."
Jun 09, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
mulp, June 09, 2017 at 11:47 AM
So, you want Chavez style government with all the wealth redistributed to the masses and the central bank printing money like crazy so everyone is able to consume far more than is produced?

Or do you blame Obama for US oil production doubling while oil demand was cut by efficiency and alternatives thus destroying half the wealth in Venezuela, the half Chavez hadn't yet redistributed?

I can't figure out which is worse, the free lunch right-wing or the free lunch leftist.

TANSTAAFL.

libezkova said in reply to mulp..., June 09, 2017 at 01:10 PM
"So, you want Chavez style government with all the wealth redistributed to the masses and the central bank printing money like crazy so everyone is able to consume far more than is produced?"

No I want the return on New Deal Capitalism. But this is impossible as managerial class changed it allegiance and the political block that made the New Deal possible no longer exists.

I do not see the alternative to neoliberalism right now. Soviet style "state capitalism" (which some call socialism) is definitely worse. Over centralization proved to be really deadly for large states.

As for Venezuela we simply do not know what part of their problems were created externally (being of the same continent with Uncle Sam and not to dance to his neoliberal tune is a dangerous undertaking, if you ask me). Please note the Argentina and Brazil already folded and neoliberal governments are in power again, and not without help from Uncle Sam.

And what part are internal and rooted in mismanagement of the economy due to corruption within the left government and or unrealistic redistribution policies.

Left is not panacea for solving economic problems. Neither is the US style neoliberalism. There is probably "golden level" in redistributive policies like in tennis: if you hold the racket too tightly you can't play well; if you hold it too lose (deregulation) you can't play well either.

[May 03, 2017] How Norway Shows the Limits of Civilized Capitalism and Social Organization by manic greed and cocaine fever and are looking for the big quick payoff, which is why they do so much damage.

May 03, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Joey , May 3, 2017 at 7:53 am

Excellent post. Especially the subtle notation that states and corporations are in same power strata.

icancho , May 3, 2017 at 2:35 pm

Readers might like to know that Davis Sloan Wilson is a fervent champion of the importance of group selection in evolution, a possible mechanism (differential survival among groups, distinct in genetically-based socially-mediated characters) often deployed as an 'explanation' for altruistic behaviours. He also sees an understanding of group selection as crucial to the solution of myriad human social ills: "Evolutionary science," Wilson argues, "will eventually prove so useful on a daily basis that we will wonder how we survived without it. I'm here to make that day come sooner rather than later, starting with my own city of Binghamton [NY]."

After decades of effort, he has so far failed to make many converts, and the prevailing view is that, while group selection is indeed a mechanism that might possibly operate in some circumstances, those circumstances are generally very limited in most organisms, and, moreover, the strength of group selection will almost always be much lower than that operating among individuals. As Jerry Coyne put it in a commentary on Wilson's "Neighbourhood Project" in the NYT: "Group selection isn't widely accepted by evolutionists for several reasons. First, it's not an efficient way to select for traits, like altruistic behavior, that are supposed to be detrimental to the individual but good for the group. Groups divide to form other groups much less often than organisms reproduce to form other organisms, so group selection for altruism would be unlikely to override the tendency of each group to quickly lose its altruists through natural selection favoring cheaters. Further, little evidence exists that selection on groups has promoted the evolution of any trait. Finally, other, more plausible evolutionary forces, like direct selection on individuals for reciprocal support, could have made humans prosocial." see http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/11/books/review/the-neighborhood-project-by-david-sloan-wilson-book-review.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all

[Apr 12, 2017] soaring inequality

Apr 12, 2017 | www.theguardian.com
almost all the increment in incomes has been harvested by the top 1%. As values, principles and moral purpose are lost, the promise of growth is all that's left.

You can see the effects in a leaked memo from the UK's Foreign Office: "Trade and growth are now priorities for all posts work like climate change and illegal wildlife trade will be scaled down." All that counts is the rate at which we turn natural wealth into cash. If this destroys our prosperity and the wonders that surround us, who cares?

We cannot hope to address our predicament without a new worldview. We cannot use the models that caused our crises to solve them. We need to reframe the problem. This is what the most inspiring book published so far this year has done.

In Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist , Kate Raworth of Oxford University's Environmental Change Institute reminds us that economic growth was not, at first, intended to signify wellbeing. Simon Kuznets , who standardised the measurement of growth, warned: "The welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from a measure of national income." Economic growth, he pointed out, measured only annual flow, rather than stocks of wealth and their distribution.

Raworth points out that economics in the 20th century "lost the desire to articulate its goals". It aspired to be a science of human behaviour: a science based on a deeply flawed portrait of humanity. The dominant model – "rational economic man", self-interested, isolated, calculating – says more about the nature of economists than it does about other humans. The loss of an explicit objective allowed the discipline to be captured by a proxy goal: endless growth.

The aim of economic activity, she argues, should be "meeting the needs of all within the means of the planet". Instead of economies that need to grow, whether or not they make us thrive, we need economies that "make us thrive, whether or not they grow". This means changing our picture of what the economy is and how it works.

The central image in mainstream economics is the circular flow diagram. It depicts a closed flow of income cycling between households, businesses, banks, government and trade, operating in a social and ecological vacuum. Energy, materials, the natural world, human society, power, the wealth we hold in common all are missing from the model. The unpaid work of carers – principally women – is ignored, though no economy could function without them. Like rational economic man, this representation of economic activity bears little relationship to reality.

So Raworth begins by redrawing the economy. She embeds it in the Earth's systems and in society, showing how it depends on the flow of materials and energy, and reminding us that we are more than just workers, consumers and owners of capital.

--> , Joshua Chen , 12 Apr 2017 19:06
If people can:
1. understand the nature of money which is in fact energy
2. bypass fiat currencies and therefore Immune to all the misery from these fake money (such as unfair wealth distribution...etc)
3. have some elementary-math understanding about energy constraint by https://1drv.ms/o/s!AlY9OXkn9NHujFuH2HElKWc3WgeJ

then we are all done

, Deenmat , 12 Apr 2017 18:59
A proper land tax, progressive taxation and a utter ruthless pursuit of those that don't pay their share. Oh and, here's a thought, corporation tax not set at a pissy ridiculous level. But then the great British public always vote for the opposite of all these things. Well done! Reply Share
, GimmeHendrix , 12 Apr 2017 18:48
Let down in the last few sentences. Idealised models are all well and good but the crucial issue is the current wealth distribution and the unequal power that stems from it. We now live in an era of nationalist autocracies, a necessary carapace for post capitalism but definitely not a prerequisite for the kind of model you describe. Reply Share
, brovis , 12 Apr 2017 18:39
Zeitgeist not looking so crazy these days eh? Reply Share
, aarthoor , 12 Apr 2017 18:35
Hmmm, donut..... Reply Share
, jackrousseau , 12 Apr 2017 18:33
Constant economic growth also necessitates a pyramid scheme of constant population growth to supply labor.

In Western countries with low birth rates and high salaries, this translates into our oligarchs adopting the neoliberal model of immigration, globalization, and free trade.

From a certain perspective, all the recent political upheaval in the West (Brexit, Trump, Etc.) can be described as the working classes realizing what "constant growth" and resulting neoliberalism means for them and their children personally.

, Snowshovel , 12 Apr 2017 18:27
Why is it circular? Reply Share
, RadLadd , 12 Apr 2017 18:27
Nice looking diagrams. What do they mean? Reply Share
, Laurens Rademakers , 12 Apr 2017 18:23
*"general economics" Reply Share
, RadLadd Laurens Rademakers , 12 Apr 2017 18:37
I took it as "funeral". Reply Share
, Laurens Rademakers , 12 Apr 2017 18:20
Another interesting model is that of the Gift-economy, the system that dominated the world during millenia (and persists somewhat today). In its extreme form - the potlatch - an entire society's drive is based on how much wealth it can give away, not take. Georges Bataille described this as "feneral economics" whereas academic economists' mumblings he called "restricted economics", a purely useless attempt to erase life. Time to read him and the anthropologists (Mauss, Bloch, Mead, Levi-Strauss) who described this, again.
, spareusthelies , 12 Apr 2017 18:15

State-owned banks would invest in projects that transform our relationship with the living world,

State owned banks? As in a nationalised banking alternative....in Britain?

Mention the word "nationalisation" in London and the Home Counties and everyone, from the middle-classes upwards, immediately assumes this must mean a return to Miners strikes, a three day week, power cuts, flared trousers, beer and sandwiches, formica kitchen workops, the lot!

, TerryMcBurney spareusthelies , 12 Apr 2017 18:22
State-owned banks is what we got after the 2008 banking crisis. But if your suggestion is that politicians can make better investment decisions than commercial banks and with access to all the money printing power of the economy then that would be truly scary. Reply Share
, Gegenbeispiel spareusthelies , 12 Apr 2017 19:04
Nothing wrong with flared trousers or miners' strikes ot Formica. And even power cuts would be tolerable if they meant absence of HIV, 3-day weeks and a thoroughly humiliated, depressed Establishment - my idea of heaven :) Reply Share
, vulgarius , 12 Apr 2017 18:08
This looks like an extension to John Elkington's triple bottom line model published in 1997, updated to embrace the advance of social enterprise and to acknowledge the ever greater impact of global warming.

I'd will have to read the full book to understand this new model better. It would be interesting to see how any government, in power or in waiting, could articulate real objectives associated with this model to give a sense that we were on a better economic journey than present.

, tjt77 , 12 Apr 2017 18:06
Thoughtful and well presented article.. BUT...Until money and the worship of power it creates is relieved of its God like status..the 'opening' towards a more sustainable values system continues to be a very tough sell...in essence, the door remains closed.. Reply Share
, RadLadd tjt77 , 12 Apr 2017 18:39

.Until money and the worship of power it creates is relieved of its God like status

What does that mean? Reply Share

, ConflictedTaoist , 12 Apr 2017 18:04
... Reply Share
, TerryMcBurney , 12 Apr 2017 17:56
An economic model is supposed to describe way the economy actually works, not the way you would like it to work. To judge that I suppose I will have to read the book and perhaps some critical reviews, since you can't get and sense of that from Monbiot's article. Does it provide a better forecast about the effect of Brexit for example? would it have predicted the financial crash of 2008? If it can't do these things then it isn't an economic model but it might be a philosophy or belief system like Zen Buddhism and should be treated with the same level of detachment we would apply to such faiths, including that of Monbiot.
, alfredolouro TerryMcBurney , 12 Apr 2017 18:14
What model did you have in mind that predicted the 2008 financial crash? Reply Share
, TerryMcBurney alfredolouro , 12 Apr 2017 18:26
That's my point, if the new 'model' is no improvement then it is useless as a model Reply Share
, KatieL alfredolouro , 12 Apr 2017 18:34
One where people were incentivised to mis-price assets and not de-incentivised from doing so.

Because one of the rules of an economic model is that people respond to incentives.

People declaim that "economics" is dead as proved by 2008, whereas what the crash actually proves is that ignoring some of the incentives means you don't understand what people are doing.

"Economics" is not the model, it's the modelling process. Climatology, to pick another modelling discipline, has produced some astoundingly wrong results in the past -- the 1970s cooling hypothesis, for example -- but we don't declare it dead, we let it have more goes in the hope of getting outputs which help us understand the world.

, Delkhasteh , 12 Apr 2017 17:55
Also, I suggest to look at this article, which introduces a new economic model:

What Is the Economy of Tawhid?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mahmood-delkhasteh/economy-of-tawhid_b_4301192.html Reply Share

, TheSpiritofCanuck61 Delkhasteh , 12 Apr 2017 18:35
I mistakenly gave you a thumbs up before I realized that "tawhid" refers to the monotheistic belief that muslims adopted from the older Jewish religion (islam and christianity both being Jewish religions). Just religious propaganda on your part, in other words. Religion is a load of crap so I take back my thumbs up. Fuck "God". Fuck religion.

Your earlier post about the interview with Banisadr looks more interesting.

, mrjonno , 12 Apr 2017 17:54
We are converging on a realisation that we have things catastrophically wrong and continue to do so. George understands, Kate clearly understands and Peter Joseph more than understands to create a movement. I've hopefully tried to connect Peter and Kate through Twitter, Kate has responded favourably.

Currently reading ' The New Human Rights Movement' and have 'Doughnut Economics' on order. We have solutions but will we overcome resistance in culture due to ignorance and religion? I hope so but have little 'faith' in the way that humanity is conducting itself with regard to itself and the planet.

Tell it how it is Peter and Kate. We need a new direction toward happiness, sustainability and understanding. Our current power structures are crumbling and rightly so...

, mrsdoom mrjonno , 12 Apr 2017 18:42
Sadly it will probably take a catastrophic collapse before any new model is implemented. It was only in the wake of WW2 that social welfare systems and health services were set up in western countries. I am fearful of what we might have to endure before a political consensus emerges that a new economic model is needed. Reply Share
, Gegenbeispiel mrsdoom , 12 Apr 2017 19:16
>"It was only in the wake of WW2 that social welfare systems and health services were set up in western countries."

Grossly untrue. Such systems, albeit primitive compared to the NHS but not the state pension, were pioneered by Bismarck (a conservative!) in Germany around 1870. The German healthcare system still suffers from a "first adopter" syndrome.

, PATRICKNEWMAN , 12 Apr 2017 17:54
"then demand that those who wield power start working towards its objectives:" - I am very willing. Do you think an email will do the trick? Reply Share
, spotthelemon , 12 Apr 2017 17:52
I think this probably counts as an interesting economic description but I don't see it as a great leap forward of understanding at the practical level.
The advice for how an economy should be run as opposed to the current approach doesn't change. Forget deficits and surpluses, forget growth and don't obsess about inflation, in a well run economy, these things will look after themselves. A well run economy is one which maximises its main potential, which is its workforce by trying to ensure they're in gainful employment (less than 2% unemployment) . Gainful employment means not massaging the numbers by making delivery drivers self-employed or using zero hours contracts but having people do useful work for proper wages and if the private sector can't always supply it then the public sector should - that is real work not just New-Labour bean counting (measuring what other people do). Do that and you will always (by definition) have enough growth and whilst at times you will (if you bother to check) run big public deficits, you are also likely to find yourself running occasional public surpluses.
Beyond that you want to encourage work which utilises renewables &/or recycling and discourage plundering natural resources - including foreign resources, the tax system can help with that, make the polluters & plunderers subsidise the recyclers, as well as other , currently seen as a sin, government interference in markets.

A new progressive agenda?

, globular546973 spotthelemon , 12 Apr 2017 18:18
Sounds nice but...what about about automation destroying lots of the lovely jobs you're talking about? It seems to me that a crucial question for our times is whether in the face of the latest wave of automation, AI and machine learning, the lump of labour fallacy will still hold true. If it doesn't, I forecast a lot of violence and death in addition to the violence and death that climate change and antibiotic resistance are already causing and which I respectfully suggest is going to grow exponentially.
, KatieL spotthelemon , 12 Apr 2017 18:38
"not massaging the numbers "

Unemployment isn't measured by what the government says it is. It's measured by phoning people up and asking them if they think they're in work. In order to get the figures down, you'd have to get a bunch of unemployed people to say they were in work in order for them to help out a government they presumably don't think much of.

, Gegenbeispiel KatieL , 12 Apr 2017 19:18
I don't think that's true at all, but will look up the ONS and OECD methodologies. Reply Share
, Delkhasteh , 12 Apr 2017 17:49
I think my interview with Iran's former president, Banisadr who lives in exile, can enrich the argument. Especially the part, which talks about the structural problems with capitalism and the way to overcome it:

https://www.opendemocracy.net/mahmoud-delkhasteh/populism-terrorism-and-crisis-in-western-democracies-interview-with-iran-s-former

, Frances56 , 12 Apr 2017 17:46
The donut diagram looks like a political centrifuge. Reply Share
, logos , 12 Apr 2017 17:44
We also need a society which meets our psychological needs as well as our material and environmental needs on a sustainable basis. Thankfully the fairly new field of positive psychology is now showing us how to do this and there have recently been prestigious conferences in London and Dubai involving the OECD and government personnel around the world centred on adapting policies to meet these needs. This is the missing ingredient that can help us create a better world. But it will require a mass movement focussing on these three elements to galvanise opinion formers and the political community into taking the necessary action.
, logos logos , 12 Apr 2017 18:01
Here's a link to the London conference http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/research/wellbeing / Reply Share
, Ignore logos , 12 Apr 2017 18:22
Positive psychology, while admirable in it's goals, has suffered from a lack of empirical data to support it's theories. For ages it was focused on theories and half assed science (admittedly it's been a while since I visited it). They have had the positive influence in that people are researching topics in parallel with positive psychology. Though many researchers still try to distance themselves from that field due to the lack of empiricism* that was rife.

It has potential though, I'll say that, and it's aims are admirable.

*I don't know if that's still the case!! It just used to be one of it's many criticisms. I heard a research proposal recently investigating resilience using fMRI, and many of the proposal's themes resonated with positive psychology. When I brought that up, there were a few raised eyebrows and a sigh of relief when I pointed out that it was simply a comment on the parallelism...

, Ignore logos , 12 Apr 2017 18:37
It basically drifts far too close to pseudo-psychology to be taken serious. If it could rain that in and pull itself towards a more empirical approach then people within the scientific community would be more willing to engage. Otherwise you might as well get tips on how to fold your arms (and what that conveys) from Cosmopolitan, or engage in 'power stance' to feel more 'confident'... both perfect examples of pseudo-psychology.

Again, these are general (and fair) criticisms of positive psychology. It does have aspects I like, for example they try to develop techniques for improving mental health (or well-being as they would maybe refer to it as) that don't require a physician or a psychologist. Ones that you can do on your phone and what have you. Which would be great if there was sufficient evidence that their techniques work.

, DCarter , 12 Apr 2017 17:43
Everybody knows that a real doughnut has jam in the middle, not a hole. How does that fit with this theory. Reply Share
, KatieL DCarter , 12 Apr 2017 18:39
There will be jam in the middle, but only for Party members. Reply Share
, richard213 , 12 Apr 2017 17:42
I'm bemused by Mr Monbiots arguments. He seems to be railing against the monitizing of society, and yet moans about the lack of money for carers? This caring argument seems to include housework, a lot of which is done by women, though why or who would pay for this type of caring is always unexplained. I'd have thought that just being human demands a certain level domestic care from everyone ? Then there's the community energy idea. It sounds lovely and cosey, if a bit Royston Vasey, but doesn't he wonder why the old local authority power generators stopped working, and a National Grid was developed? What's called the After Diversity Maximum Demand, on an electrical system might give him a clue as to why big generators and a transmission system beats lots of little generators hands down.
, KatieL richard213 , 12 Apr 2017 18:41
It's the irony of the modern left. On the one hand, bemoaning the rich for always wanting more money and on the other, demanding more money.... Reply Share
, Gegenbeispiel KatieL , 12 Apr 2017 19:23
The example you give, the National Grid, was a socialist creation, stolen from the UK people by the vile, despicable and fortunately very dead Margaret Thatcher, the worst thing to have happened to Britain since Adolf Hitler. Reply Share
, Els Bells , 12 Apr 2017 17:36
This:

The aim of economic activity, she argues, should be "meeting the needs of all within the means of the planet".

is a paraphrase of the most likely criminal and bankster gofer Maurice Strong's "definition" of sustainability.


"Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

as filtered through the openly Communist UN Bruntland Commission.

It is a Technocratic, UN- corporatist- global governance-based ideology that -- to nobody's surprise -- Monbiot thinks is newly-baked and right out of the oven.

And the radical new doughnut way of looking at global development is straight out of UN Agenda 21/30.

i.e. variations of these:

http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Sustainable+Development+Venn+Diagram&id=4C02342CBA5AE76BC4C08F4985B05FCB242D500C&FORM=IDBQDM

and this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Circles_of_Sustainability_image_(assessment_-_Melbourne_2011).jpg

The undercooked intellectual pudding Monbiot is slopping about in and describing as the finest chocolate mousse since sliced bread, is just an old and rejected 1930's version of Technocracy, which was revised in the 1970s, and then, again in the 1990s, and which, at its heart, is nothing but the call for the institution of a fascistic world government that will, we are assured, give us more social justice than we could ever need.

If the author of the reviewed book hasn't made these attributions, and is passing this global governance schematic and MO off as her own, then she's plagiarizing.

, PATRICKNEWMAN Els Bells , 12 Apr 2017 17:56
Oh what a relief. I can choose the do nothing option! Reply Share
, Els Bells PATRICKNEWMAN , 12 Apr 2017 18:54

Oh what a relief. I can choose the do nothing option!

If you like what you see, sure.

[Mar 10, 2017] The Case a Return to a New Deal Ethos

Mar 10, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Peter K. : March 09, 2017 at 01:45 AM

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/07/us/politics/charles-peters-washington-monthly.html

A Lefty Legend Pleads for a Return to a New Deal Ethos

By JONATHAN MARTIN

MARCH 7, 2017

WASHINGTON - Charles Peters, the renowned Washington Monthly editor, is going on 91, does not get around very easily and was disgusted enough by President Trump's address to Congress to let loose a few profanities in his gentle West Virginia drawl.

But Mr. Peters remains an optimist, believing that salvation is still possible if the country returns to the true faith of his New Deal youth.

"Maybe I'm old," he said in an interview in his living room here last week, "but I'm forever hopeful about the Democratic Party."

Mr. Peters has spent much of his life in and around politics. He was once a young state legislator who thought he wanted to be governor. Then he felt the tug to the nation's capital, where he was one of the first executives of the Peace Corps.

Eventually he founded and ran a feisty, liberal-leaning policy magazine perhaps best known for launching the careers of dozens of prominent journalists, including James Fallows, Jon Meacham, David Ignatius and Katherine Boo. Now he has written a book that some of those old charges think amounts to a last testament.

To hear Mr. Peters himself tell it, though, the book, "We Do Our Part," is a desperate plea to his country and party to resist the temptations of greed, materialism and elitism - vices he believes have corroded the civic culture and led to the Democrats' failure last year.

"I'm trying to grab people by the lapels and say, 'We've got to change,'" he said. "And I feel that there is a realism to that hope because of the shock of this election."

Mr. Peters's book - the title is taken from the motto of the New Deal's National Recovery Administration - is not a memoir. But his own formative experiences are at the core of his cri de coeur.

Democrats, Washington and too much of the country, he argues, have drifted from the sense of shared purpose that lifted America out of the Depression, created the will to win World War II and fostered the rise of a more egalitarian, if still inequitable, society.

Mr. Peters saw it firsthand. As a child, he witnessed his parents hand food to hungry strangers who came to the back door of their Charleston, W.Va., home.

Later, as a young lawyer, he oversaw the local presidential campaign of a Catholic senator hoping to win over a largely Protestant state. The success of John F. Kennedy in the 1960 Democratic primary there helped forge a conviction that Mr. Peters feels his party must not lose sight of today, even as more working-class whites drift from what was the party of their class.

"The better angels of the state's voters had won out, engraving on me the lesson that prejudice can be overcome," he writes.

Mr. Peters's idealism is undiminished: He thinks that the sort of blue-collar white voters who just rejected Hillary Clinton in his native state, where she lost by 42 percentage points, can be won back if Democrats are again seen as the party of the common man rather than the liberal professional class. But he spends much of 274 pages outlining why that may prove so difficult.

Through a series of anecdotes, statistics and other plucked-from-the-news items that will be familiar to anyone who read his "Tilting at Windmills" column in Washington Monthly, Mr. Peters recounts how liberals were once invigorated with the public-spirited fervor of the New Deal and New Frontier, but sold out. Race-baiting conservatives then swooped in, he says, and the country was left the worse for it.

"Our national problem is that too many of our cultural winds are blowing us in the direction of self-absorption, self-promotion, and making a barrel of money," he writes.

He piles up the evidence, reserving most of his scorn for the liberal meritocratic class that he believes has allowed Democrats to be depicted as out of touch.

...

[Feb 27, 2017] February 24, 2017 at 3:39 pm

Feb 27, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

For those of you who are interested in a brief, but quite penetrating introduction to Marx's overall project (I realize this may seem like an acquired taste), as understood and elaborated upon by Harvey, might I suggest watching this lecture? It includes a (newly developed) visualization of how capital circulates through its various moments (resources, labor power, commodities that then have to be sold, etc.), analogous to how water goes through the various stages listed in the water cycle: David Harvey, Visualizing Capital .
Main problem with it: 'taxes funds govt spending' - he should really talk to Michael Hudson about this.

[Feb 21, 2017] Our situation with neoliberalism reminds me lines from the Hotel California

Feb 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
libezkova -> libezkova... February 20, 2017 at 08:36 PM , 2017 at 08:36 PM
Our situation with neoliberalism reminds me lines from the "Hotel California " ;-)

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/eagles/hotelcalifornia.html
== quote ==
Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
"Relax, " said the night man,
"We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave! "

[Feb 21, 2017] Will neoliberalism outlast Bolshevism which lasted 74 years

Feb 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

im1dc -> libezkova... , February 20, 2017 at 07:16 PM
We can agree that all politico-economic systems tried thus far by man have fatal flaws. Ours just works better, or has, for longer than any other, so far that is.
libezkova -> im1dc... , February 20, 2017 at 07:18 PM
Very true.
libezkova -> libezkova... , February 20, 2017 at 08:36 PM
Out situation with neoliberalism reminds me lines from "Hotel California ;-)

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/eagles/hotelcalifornia.html
== quote ==
Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
"Relax, " said the night man,
"We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave! "

cm -> im1dc... , February 20, 2017 at 08:56 PM
It has worked for longer than its contemporary contenders. E.g. the Roman empire could point to more centuries of existence. When would you say "this system" started? E.g. is the current US a smooth continuation of the late 1700's version, or were there "reboots" in between? How about a continuation of British capitalism (also 1700s or earlier)?
libezkova -> cm... , February 21, 2017 at 07:23 AM
I think his point was that the USA (1776 - current)=="USA capitalism" which is around 200 years old outlasted Bolshevism which lasted for only 74 years.

Of course, British capitalism is as long existing as the US capitalism (probably slightly longer, as we can view period of slave ownership as "imperfect" or mixed capitalism).

In other words capitalism in its various forms is a relatively long term social system. Which experienced several, often dramatic, transformations along the way. Probably all post Napoleonic years can be viewed as years of existence of capitalism. So the USA is as old as capitalism itself.

Of course various forms of capitalism are short lived:

  • New Deal capitalism (1933-1980) lasted around 47 years.
  • neoliberalism (around 1980-current) is approximately 37 years old.

In this sense Bolshevism (which Chinese viewed as a form of imperialism ;-) which lasted 74 years or so outlasted them.

[Feb 12, 2017] T he british welfare state, the war on poverty/great society policy era, and the scandinavian social model are not replacements for capitalism. They are forms of capitalism

Feb 12, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
yuan -> Jim Harrison ... , February 10, 2017 at 12:34 PM
"Does anybody around here have anything useful to suggest"
both demonstration and general strikes are powerful ways to express popular outrage. one is planned on for the 17th (too soon) and another more organized one is being planned for march.

http://f17strike.com/

"but you have no more of an idea of a global replacement for capitalism"


so the british welfare state, the war on poverty/great society policy era, and the scandinavian social model are unpossible pipe dreams because...

Jim Harrison -> yuan... , February 10, 2017 at 01:46 PM
"the british welfare state, the war on poverty/great society policy era, and the scandinavian social model are" not replacements for capitalism. They are forms of capitalism. And the sorts of policies that go with these versions of conventional social democracy are...pretty much the platform articles that Clinton ran on. Which is the serious reason the American right despised Hillary. They, at least, didn't have any trouble telling the candidates apart.

There are two problems with storming the Winter Palace. First, you won't have a decisive majority of Americans behind you. Second, you have no idea what you'd do if somehow did seize the Winter Palace. You could conceivably solve the first problem by going balls out demagogue a la Hugo Chavez; but, like Chavez, you'd have to dispense with democracy to keep power because you have no solution to the second problem. For my money, a decent social democracy-universal healthy care, more progressive taxes, a higher minimum wage, more affordable college education, etc.- is plenty hard enough to secure.

yuan -> Jim Harrison ... , February 10, 2017 at 04:50 PM
"They are forms of capitalism."

Before the long-decline began in the 70s, a large fraction of the UK's economic activity was chartered, regulated, and/or managed for the people. That's not capitalism, by definition. (Socialism was a market/trade-based system at its inception. The tendencies with alternative economic models came later.)

Some history:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clause_IV

And Corbyn has returned labor to its socialist roots: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyn-to-bring-back-clause-four-contender-pledges-to-bury-new-labour-with-commitment-to-10446982.html


"And the sorts of policies that go with these versions of conventional social democracy are...pretty much the platform articles that Clinton ran on."


I guess I missed Clinton advocating for the nationalization of health care, education, energy production, and transportation.

And the "welfare state" has little to do with "social democracy" (whatever that recent nonsense phrase means), all of them were developed by socialist movements.

[Feb 11, 2017] The Paradox of Financialized Industrialization

Notable quotes:
"... More than any other economist of his century, Marx tied together the three major kinds of crisis that were occurring. His Theories of Surplus Value explained the two main forms of crises his classical predecessors had pointed to, and which the bourgeois revolutions of 1848 were fought over. These crises were the result of survivals from Europe's feudal epoch of landed aristocracy and banking fortunes. ..."
"... Financially, Marx pointed to the tendency of debts to grow exponentially, independently of the economy's ability to pay, and indeed faster than the economy itself. The rise in debt and accrual of interest was autonomous from the industrial capital and wage labor dynamics on which Volume I of Capital focused. Debts are self-expanding by purely mathematical rules – the "magic of compound interest." ..."
"... Industrial companies profit from labor not only by employing it, but by lending to customers. General Motors made most of its profits for many years by its credit arm, GMAC (General Motors Acceptance Corp.), as did General Electric through its financial arm. Profits made by Macy's and other retailers on their credit card lending sometimes accounted for their entire earnings. ..."
"... This privatization of rents and their transformation into a flow of interest payments (shifting the tax burden onto wage income and corporate profits) represents a failure of industrial capitalism to free society from the legacies of feudalism. ..."
"... Marx expected economies to act in their long-term interest to increase the means of production and avoid unproductive rentier income, underconsumption and debt deflation. Believing that every mode of production was shaped by the technological, political and social needs of economies to advance, he expected banking and finance to become subordinate to these dynamics. ..."
"... It seemed that the banking system's role as allocator of credit would pave the way for a socialist organization of economies. Marx endorsed free trade on the ground that industrial capitalism would transform and modernize the world's backward countries. Instead, it has brought Western rentier finance and privatization of the land and natural resources, and even brought the right to use these country's currencies and financial systems as casinos. And in the advanced creditor nations, failure of the U.S. and European economies to recover from their 2008 financial crisis stems from leaving in place the reckless "junk mortgage" debts, whose carrying charges are absorbing income. Banks were saved instead of industrial economies, whose debts were left in place. ..."
"... No observer of Marx's epoch was so pessimistic as to expect finance capital to overpower industrial capitalism, engulfing economies as the world is seeing today. Discussing the 1857 financial crisis, Marx showed how unthinkable anything like the 2008-09 Bush-Obama bailout of financial speculators seemed to be in his day. "The entire artificial system of forced expansion of the reproduction process cannot, of course, be remedied by having some bank, like the Bank of England, give to all the swindlers the deficient capital by means of its paper and having it buy up all the depreciated commodities at their old nominal values." [6] ..."
"... Marx wrote this reductio ad absurdum not dreaming that it would become the Federal Reserve's policy in autumn 2008. The U.S. Treasury paid off all of A.I.G.'s gambles and other counterparty "casino capitalist" losses at taxpayer expense, followed by the Federal Reserve buying junk mortgage packages at par. ..."
"... The failure to socialize banking (or even to complete its industrialization) has become the most glaring economic tragedy of Western industrial capitalism. It became the tragedy of post-Soviet Russia after 1991, letting its natural resources and industrial economy be financialized while failing to tax land and natural resource rent. The commanding heights were sold to domestic oligarchs and Western investors buying on credit with their own banks or in association with Western banks. This bank credit was simply created on computer keyboards. Such credit creation should be a public utility, but it has broken free from public regulation in the West. That credit is now reaching out to China and the post-Soviet economies as a means of appropriating their resources. ..."
"... Note: Marx described productive capital investment by the formula M–C–M´, signifying money (M) invested to produce commodities (C) that sell for yet more money (M´). But the growth of "usury capital" – government bond financing for war deficits, and consumer lending (mortgages, personal loans and credit card debt) – consist of the disembodied M–M´, making money simply from money in a sterile operation. ..."
Jan 26, 2017 | newscontent.cctv.com
RGC -> RGC... January 26, 2017 at 05:44 AM

The Paradox of Financialized Industrialization
By Michael Friday, October 16, 2015

These remarks were made at the World Congress on Marxism, 2015, at the School of Marxism, Peking University, October 10, 2015. The presentation was part of a debate with Bertell Ollman (NYU). I was honored to be made a permanent Guest Professor at China's most prestigious university.

When I lectured here at the Marxist School six years ago, someone asked me whether Marx was right or wrong. I didn't know how to answer this question at the time, because the answer is so complex. But at least today I can focus on his view of crises.

More than any other economist of his century, Marx tied together the three major kinds of crisis that were occurring. His Theories of Surplus Value explained the two main forms of crises his classical predecessors had pointed to, and which the bourgeois revolutions of 1848 were fought over. These crises were the result of survivals from Europe's feudal epoch of landed aristocracy and banking fortunes.

Financially, Marx pointed to the tendency of debts to grow exponentially, independently of the economy's ability to pay, and indeed faster than the economy itself. The rise in debt and accrual of interest was autonomous from the industrial capital and wage labor dynamics on which Volume I of Capital focused. Debts are self-expanding by purely mathematical rules – the "magic of compound interest."

We can see in America and Europe how interest charges, stock buybacks, debt leveraging and other financial maneuverings eat into profits, deterring investment in plant and equipment by diverting revenue to economically empty financial operations. Marx called finance capital "imaginary" or "fictitious" to the extent that it does not stem from within the industrial economy, and because – in the end – its demands for payment cannot be met. Calling this financial accrual a "void form of capital." [1] It was fictitious because it consisted of bonds, mortgages, bank loans and other rentier claims on the means of production and the flow of wages, profit and tangible capital investment.

The second factor leading to economic crisis was more long-term: Ricardian land rent. Landlords and monopolists levied an "ownership tax" on the economy by extracting rent as a result of privileges that (like interest) were independent of the mode of production. Land rent would rise as economies became larger and more prosperous. More and more of the economic surplus (profits and surplus value) would be diverted to owners of land, natural resources and monopolies. These forms of economic rent were the result of privileges that had no intrinsic value or cost of production. Ultimately, they would push up wage levels and leave no room for profit. Marx described this as Ricardo's Armageddon.

These two contributing forces to crisis, Marx pointed out, were legacies of Europe's feudal origins: landlords conquering the land and appropriating natural resources and infrastructure; and banks, which remained largely usurious and predatory, making war loans to governments and exploiting consumers in petty usury. Rent and interest were in large part the products of wars. As such, they were external to the means of production and its direct cost (that is, the value of products).

Most of all, of course, Marx pointed to the form of exploitation of wage labor by its employers. That did indeed stem from the capitalist production process. Bertell Ollman has just explained that dynamic so well that I need not repeat it here.

Today's economic crisis in the West: financial and rent extraction, leading to debt deflation Bertell Ollman has described how Marx analyzed economic crisis stemming from the inability of wage labor to buy what it produces. That is the inner contradiction specific to industrial capitalism. As described in Volume I of Capital, employers seek to maximize profits by paying workers as little as possible. This leads to excessive exploitation of wage labor, causing underconsumption and a market glut.

I will focus here on the extent to which today's financial crisis is largely independent of the industrial mode of production. As Marx noted in Volumes II and III of Capital and Theories of Surplus Value, banking and rent extraction are in many ways adverse to industrial capitalism.

Our debate is over how to analyze the crisis the Western economies are in today. To me, it is first and foremost a financial crisis. The banking crisis and indebtedness stems mainly from real estate mortgage loans – and also from the kind of massive fraud that Marx found characteristic of the high finance of his day, especially in canal and railroad financing.

So to answer the question that I was asked about whether Marx was right or wrong, Marx certainly provided the tools needed to analyze the crises that the industrial capitalist economies have been suffering for the past two hundred years.

But history has not worked out the way Marx expected. He expected every class to act in its own class interest. That is the only way to reasonably project the future. The historical task and destiny of industrial capitalism, Marx wrote in the Communist Manifesto, was to free society from the "excrescences" of interest and rent (mainly land and natural resource rent, along with monopoly rent) that industrial capitalism had inherited from medieval and even ancient society. These useless rentier charges on production are faux frais, costs that slow the accumulation of industrial capital. They do not stem from the production process, but are a legacy of the feudal warlords who conquered England and other European realms to found hereditary landed aristocracies. Financial overhead in the form of usury-capital is, to Marx, a legacy of the banking families that built up fortunes by war lending and usury.

Marx's concept of national income differs radically from today's National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA). Every Western economy measures "output" as Gross National Product (GNP). This accounting format includes the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) sector as part of the economy's output. It does this because it treats rent and interest as "earnings," on the same plane as wages and industrial profits – as if privatized finance, insurance and real estate are part of the production process. Marx treated them as external to it. Their income was not "earned," but was "unearned." This concept was shared by the Physiocrats, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill and other major classical economists. Marx was simply pressing classical economics to its logical conclusion.

The interest of the rising class of industrial capitalists was to free economies from this legacy of feudalism, from the unnecessary faux frais of production – prices in excess of real cost-value. The destiny of industrial capitalism, Marx believed, was to rationalize economies by getting rid of the idle landlord and banking class – by socializing land, nationalizing natural resources and basic infrastructure, and industrializing the banking system – to fund industrial expansion instead of unproductive usury.

If capitalism had achieved this destiny, it would have been left primarily with the crisis between industrial employers and workers discussed in Volume I of Capital: exploiting wage labor to a point where labor could not buy its products. But at the same time, industrial capitalism would be preparing the way for socialism, because industrialists needed to conquer the political stranglehold of the landed aristocracy and the financial power of banking. It needed to promote democratic political reform to overcome the vested interests in control of Parliaments and hence the tax system. Labor's organization and voting power would press its own self-interest and turn capitalism into socialism.

China has indeed exemplified this path. But it has not occurred in the West.
All three kinds of crisis that Marx described are occurring. But the West is now in a chronic depression – what has been called Debt Deflation. Instead of banking being industrialized as Marx expected, industry is being financialized. Instead of democracy freeing economies from land rent, natural resource rent and monopoly rent, the rentiers have fought back and taken control of Western governments, legal systems and tax policy. The result is that we are seeing a lapse back to the pre-capitalist problems that Marx described in Volumes II and III of Capital and Theories of Surplus Value.

This is where the debate between Bertell Ollman and myself centers. My focus is on finance and rent overwhelming industrial capitalism to impose a depression stemming from debt deflation. This over-indebtedness is making the labor/capital problem worse, by weakening labor's political and economic position. To make matters worse, labor parties in the West no longer are fighting over economic issues, as they were prior to World War I.

My differences with Ollman and Roemer: I focus on non-production costs
Bertell follows Marx in focusing on the production sector: hiring labor to produce products, but trying to get as much markup as possible – while underselling rivals. This is Marx's great contribution to the analysis of capitalism and its mode of production – employing wage labor at a profit. I agree with this analysis.

However, my focus is on the causes of today's crisis that are independent and autonomous from production: rentier claims for economic rent, for income without work – "empty" pricing without value. This focus on rent and interest is where I differ from that of Ollman, and also of course from that of Roemer. Any model of the crisis must tie together finance, real estate (and other rent-seeking) as well as industry and employment.

The rising debt overhead can be traced mathematically, as can the symbiosis of the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) sector. But the interactions are too complex to be made into a single economic "model." I am especially worried that Roemer's model might be followed here in China, because it overlooks the most dangerous tendencies threatening China today: Western financial practice and its pro-rentier tax policy.

China has spent the last half-century solving Marx's "Volume I" problem: the relations between labor and its employers, recycling the economic surplus into new means of production to provide more output, higher living standards, and most obviously, more infrastructure (roads, railways, airlines) and housing.

But right now, it is experiencing financial problems from credit creation going into the stock market instead of into tangible capital formation and rising consumption standards. And of course, China has experienced a large real estate boom. Land prices are rising in China, much as they are in the West.

What would Marx have said about this? I think that he would have warned China not to relapse into the pre-capitalist problems of finance funding real estate – turning the rising land rent into interest – and into permitting housing prices to rise without taxing them away.

Soviet planning failed to take the rent-of-location into account when planning where to build housing and factories. But at least the Soviet era did not force labor or industry to pay interest or for rising housing prices. Government banks simply created credit where it was needed to expand the means of production, to build factories, machinery and equipment, homes and office buildings.

What worries me about the political consequences of Roemer's model is that it focuses only on what Marx said about the production sector and employer-labor relations. It does not ask how "endowments" come into being – or how China has changed so radically in the past generation. It therefore neglects the danger of industrial capitalism lapsing back into a rent-and-interest economy. And by the same token, it underplays the threat to China and other socialist economies of adopting the West's surviving pre-feudal practices of predatory Bubble Finance (debt leveraging to raise prices) and wealth in the form of land-rent charges.

These two dynamics – interest and rent – represent a privatization of banking and land that rightly are public utilities. Marx expected industrial capitalism to achieve this transition. Certainly socialist economies must achieve it!

China has no need of foreign bank credit – except to cover the cost of imports and the foreign-exchange cost of investment in other countries. But China's foreign exchange reserves already are large enough to be basically independent of the U.S. dollar and euro. Meanwhile, the American and European economies are suffering from chronic debt deflation and depression that will reduce their ability to serve as markets – for their own producers as well as for China.

Today's debt-wracked economies throw into question just what kind of crisis the capitalist countries are experiencing. Marx's analysis provides the tools to analyze its financial, banking and rent-extraction problems. However, most Marxists still view the 2008 financial and junk mortgage crash as resulting ultimately from industrial employers squeezing wage labor. Finance capital is viewed as a derivative of this exploitation, not as the autonomous dynamic Marx described.

The costs of carrying the rising debt burden (interest, amortization and penalties) deflate the market for commodities by absorbing a growing wedge of disposable business and personal income. This leaves less to be spent on goods and services, causing gluts that lead to crises in which businesses scramble for money. Banks fail as bankruptcy spreads. By depleting markets, finance capital is antithetical to the expansion of profits and tangible physical capital investment.

Despite this sterility, finance capital has achieved dominance over industrial capital. Transfers of property from debtors to creditors – even privatizations of public assets and enterprises – are inevitable as the growth of financial claims surpasses the ability of productive power and earnings to keep pace. Foreclosures follow in the wake of crashes, enabling finance to take over industrial companies and even governments.

China has largely solved the "Volume I" problem – that of expanding its internal market for labor, investing the economic surplus in capital formation and rising living standards. It is confronted by Western economies that have failed to solve this problem, and also have failed to solve the "Volumes II and III" problem: finance and land rent. Yet few Western Marxists have applied his theories to the present downturn and its rentier problem. Following Marx, they view the task of solving this problem to be solved by industrial capitalism, starting with the bourgeois revolutions of 1848.

Already in 1847, Marx's Poverty of Philosophy described the hatred that capitalists felt for landlords, whose hereditary rents siphoned off income to an idle class. Upon being sent copies of Henry George's Progress and Poverty a generation later, in 1881, he wrote to John Swinton that taxing land rent was "a last attempt to save the capitalist regime." He dismissed the book as falling under his 1847 critique of Proudhon: "We understand such economists as Mill, Cherbuliez, Hilditch and others demanding that rent should be handed over to the state to serve in place of taxes. That is a frank expression of the hatred the industrial capitalist bears towards the landed proprietor, who seems to him a useless thing, an excrescence upon the general body of bourgeois production." [2]

As the program of industrial capital, the land tax movement stopped short of advocating labor's rights and living standards. Marx criticized Proudhon and other critics of landlords by saying that once you get rid of rent (and usurious interest by banks), you will still have the problem of industrialists exploiting wage labor and trying to minimize their wages, drying up the market for the goods they produce. This is to be the "final" economic problem to be solved – presumably long after industrial capitalism has solved the rent and interest problems.

Industrial capitalism has failed to free economies from rentier interest and rent extraction
In retrospect, Marx was too optimistic about the future of industrial capitalism. As noted above, he viewed its historical mission as being to free society from rent and usurious interest. Today's financial system has generated an overgrowth of credit, while high rents are pricing American labor out of world markets. Wages are stagnating, while the One Percent have monopolized the growth in wealth and income since 1980 – and are not investing in new means of production. So we still have the Volume II and III problems, not just a Volume I problem.

We are dealing with multiple organ failure.

Instead of funding new industrial capital formation, the stock and bond markets to transfer ownership of companies, real estate and infrastructure already in place. About 80 percent of bank credit is lent to buyers of real estate, inflating a mortgage bubble. Instead of taxing away the land's rising rental and site value that John Stuart Mill described as what landlords make "in their sleep," today's economies leave rental income "free" to be pledged to banks. The result is that banks now play the role that landlords did in Marx's day: obtaining for themselves the land's rising rental value. This reverses the central thrust of classical political economy by keeping such rent away from government, along with natural resource and monopoly rents.

Industrial economies are being stifled by financial and other rentier dynamics. Rising mortgage debt, student loans, credit card debt, automobile debt and payday loans have made workers afraid to go on strike or even to protest working conditions. To the extent that wages do rise, they must be paid increasingly to creditors (and now to privatized health insurance and drug monopolies), not to buy the consumer goods they produce. Labor's debt dependency thus aggravates the "Volume I" problem of labor's inability to purchase the products it produces. To top matters, when workers seek to join the middle class "homeowner society" by purchasing their homes on mortgage instead of paying rent, the price entails locking themselves into debt serfdom.

Industrial companies profit from labor not only by employing it, but by lending to customers. General Motors made most of its profits for many years by its credit arm, GMAC (General Motors Acceptance Corp.), as did General Electric through its financial arm. Profits made by Macy's and other retailers on their credit card lending sometimes accounted for their entire earnings.

This privatization of rents and their transformation into a flow of interest payments (shifting the tax burden onto wage income and corporate profits) represents a failure of industrial capitalism to free society from the legacies of feudalism.

Marx expected industrial capitalism to act in its own self-interest by industrializing banking, as Germany was doing along the lines that the French reformer Saint-Simon had urged. However, industrial capitalism has failed to break free of pre-industrial usurious banking practice. And in the sphere of tax policy, it has not shifted taxes away from land and natural resource rent. It has inverted the classical reformers' idea of "free markets" as being free from economic rent and predatory moneylending. The slogan now means economies free for the rentier class to extract interest and rent.

Mode of production or mode of parasitism?

Instead of serving industrial capitalism, today's financial sector is bleeding it to death. Instead of seeking profits by employing labor to produce goods at a markup, it doesn't even want to hire labor or engage in the process of production and develop new markets. The epitome of this postindustrial economics is Enron: its' managers wanted no capital at all – no employment, only traders at a desk (and crooked accountants).

Today's characteristic mode of accumulating wealth is more by financial than industrial means: riding the wave of debt-financed asset-price inflation to reap "capital" gains. This seemed unlikely in Marx's era of the gold standard. Yet today, most academic Marxists still concentrate on his "Volume I" crisis, neglecting finance capitalism's failure to free economies from the rentier dynamics surviving from European feudalism and the colonial lands conquered by Europe.

Marxists who went into Wall Street have learned their lessons from Volumes II and III. But academic Marxism has not focused on the FIRE sector – Finance, Insurance and Real Estate. It is as if interest and rent extraction are secondary problems to the dynamics of wage labor.

The great question today is whether post-feudal rentier capitalism will stifle industrial capitalism instead of serving it. The aim of finance is not merely to exploit labor, but to conquer and appropriate industry, real estate and government. The result is a financial oligarchy, neither industrial capitalism nor a tendency to evolve into socialism.

Marx's optimism that industrial capital would subordinate finance to serve its own needs

Having provided a compendium of historical citations describing how parasitic "usury capital" multiplied at compound interest, Marx announced in an optimistic Darwinian tone that the destiny of industrial capitalism was to mobilize finance capital to fund its economic expansion, rendering usury an obsolete vestige of the "ancient" mode of production. It is as if "in the course of its evolution, industrial capital must therefore subjugate these forms and transform them into derived or special functions of itself." Finance capital would be subordinated to the dynamics of industrial capital rather than growing to dominate it. "Where capitalist production has developed all its manifold forms and has become the dominant mode of production," Marx concluded his draft notes for Theories of Surplus Value, "interest-bearing capital is dominated by industrial capital, and commercial capital becomes merely a form of industrial capital, derived from the circulation process." [3]

Marx expected economies to act in their long-term interest to increase the means of production and avoid unproductive rentier income, underconsumption and debt deflation. Believing that every mode of production was shaped by the technological, political and social needs of economies to advance, he expected banking and finance to become subordinate to these dynamics. "There is no doubt," he wrote, "that the credit system will serve as a powerful lever during the transition from the capitalist mode of production to the production by means of associated labor; but only as one element in connection with other great organic revolutions of the mode of production itself." [4]

The financial problem would take care of itself as industrial capitalism mobilized savings productively, subordinating finance capital to serve its needs. This already was happening in Germany and France.

It seemed that the banking system's role as allocator of credit would pave the way for a socialist organization of economies. Marx endorsed free trade on the ground that industrial capitalism would transform and modernize the world's backward countries. Instead, it has brought Western rentier finance and privatization of the land and natural resources, and even brought the right to use these country's currencies and financial systems as casinos. And in the advanced creditor nations, failure of the U.S. and European economies to recover from their 2008 financial crisis stems from leaving in place the reckless "junk mortgage" debts, whose carrying charges are absorbing income. Banks were saved instead of industrial economies, whose debts were left in place.

Irving Fisher coined the term debt deflation in 1933. He described it as occurring when debt service (interest and amortization) to pay banks and bondholders diverts income from being spent on consumer goods and new business investment. [5] Governments use their tax revenues to pay bondholders, cutting back public spending and infrastructure investment, education, health and other social welfare.

No observer of Marx's epoch was so pessimistic as to expect finance capital to overpower industrial capitalism, engulfing economies as the world is seeing today. Discussing the 1857 financial crisis, Marx showed how unthinkable anything like the 2008-09 Bush-Obama bailout of financial speculators seemed to be in his day. "The entire artificial system of forced expansion of the reproduction process cannot, of course, be remedied by having some bank, like the Bank of England, give to all the swindlers the deficient capital by means of its paper and having it buy up all the depreciated commodities at their old nominal values." [6]

Marx wrote this reductio ad absurdum not dreaming that it would become the Federal Reserve's policy in autumn 2008. The U.S. Treasury paid off all of A.I.G.'s gambles and other counterparty "casino capitalist" losses at taxpayer expense, followed by the Federal Reserve buying junk mortgage packages at par.

Socialist policy regarding financial and tax reform

Marx described the historical destiny of industrial capitalism as being to free economies from unproductive and predatory finance – from speculation, fraud and a diversion of income to pay interest without funding new means of production. On this logic, it should be the destiny of socialist economies to treat bank credit creation as a public function, to be used for public purposes – to increase prosperity and the means of production to give populations a better life. Socialist nations have freed their economies from the internal contradictions of industrial capitalism that stifle wage labor.

China has solved the "Volume I" problem. But it still must deal with the West's unsolved "Volume II and III" problem of privatized finance, land rent and natural resource rent. Western economies seek to extend these neoliberal practices to use finance as a lever to pry away the economic surplus, to finance the transfer of property at interest, and to turn profits, rent, wages and other income into interest.

The failure to socialize banking (or even to complete its industrialization) has become the most glaring economic tragedy of Western industrial capitalism. It became the tragedy of post-Soviet Russia after 1991, letting its natural resources and industrial economy be financialized while failing to tax land and natural resource rent. The commanding heights were sold to domestic oligarchs and Western investors buying on credit with their own banks or in association with Western banks. This bank credit was simply created on computer keyboards. Such credit creation should be a public utility, but it has broken free from public regulation in the West. That credit is now reaching out to China and the post-Soviet economies as a means of appropriating their resources.

The eurozone seems incapable of saving itself from debt deflation, and the United States and Britain likewise are limping along as they de-industrialize. That is what leads them to hope that perhaps socialist China can save them – as long as it remains free of the financial disease. asset stripping and debt deflation. Western neoliberal economists claim that this financialization of erstwhile industrial capitalism is "progress," and even the end of history. Yet having watched China grow while their economies have remained stagnant since 2008 (except for the One Percent), their hope is that socialist China's market can save their financialized economies driven too deeply into debt to recover on their own.

Note: Marx described productive capital investment by the formula M–C–M´, signifying money (M) invested to produce commodities (C) that sell for yet more money (M´). But the growth of "usury capital" – government bond financing for war deficits, and consumer lending (mortgages, personal loans and credit card debt) – consist of the disembodied M–M´, making money simply from money in a sterile operation.

Footnotes

  • [1] In Volume III of Capital (ch. xxx; Chicago 1909: p. 461) and Volume III of Theories of Surplus Value.
  • [2] Karl Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy [1847] (Moscow, Progress Publishers, n.d.): 155.
  • [3] Karl Marx, Theories of Surplus Value III: 468
  • [4] Capital III (Chicago, 1905), p. 713.
  • [5] See Irving Fisher, "The Debt-Deflation Theory of the Great Depression," Econometrica (1933), p. 342. Online at http://fraser.stlouisfed.org/docs/meltzer/fisdeb33.pdf. He used the term to refer to bankruptcies wiped out bank credit and spending power, and hence the ability of economies to invest and hire new workers. I provide a technical discussion in Killing the Host (ISLET 2015), chapter 11, and "Saving, Asset-Price Inflation and Debt Deflation," in The Bubble and Beyond, ch. 11 (ISLET 2012), pp. 297-319.
  • [6] Capital III (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1958), p. 479.

http://michael-hudson.com/2015/10/the-paradox-of-financialized-industrialization/

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> RGC... January 26, 2017 at 07:32 AM

THANKS! It was awesome, Dude and easy enough to read.

[Feb 01, 2017] Is some form of socialism now again a viable alternative to neoliberalism

Notable quotes:
"... The other is that the centre-left (aka 'soft" neoliberals) took economic growth largely for granted. New Labour believed that if it could provide stable macroeconomic policy and an attractive location for investment then growth would follow. That might have been the case in the 90s. But it isn't true in our new era of secular stagnation. We need supply-side socialism. ..."
"... Obama averaged 1.7 percent annual growth over 8 years after an epic financial crisis. ..."
"... As Dillow points out, economic stagnation causes politics to get meaner. ..."
Feb 01, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Peter K. : February 01, 2017 at 04:53 AM , 2017 at 04:53 AM
Good post by Chris Dillow who comes out of the closet and names the opposition (foe?) of neoliberalism which is socialism.

"The victories of Trump and Brexit, and rise of the National Front in France and AfD in Germany all vindicate Ben Friedman's point that economic stagnation makes people meaner. It causes a rise in right-wing extremism, not leftism.

...

The other is that the centre-left (aka 'soft" neoliberals) took economic growth largely for granted. New Labour believed that if it could provide stable macroeconomic policy and an attractive location for investment then growth would follow. That might have been the case in the 90s. But it isn't true in our new era of secular stagnation. We need supply-side socialism. "

This is what Krugman is missing with his discussion of being near full employment with Trump planning fiscal expansion. This is what the Fed is missing with its determination to "normalize."

(I hate to be divisive and criticize Krugman.)

Maybe he's right and we won't have another major financial crisis in a while. We'll move off of the ZLB as a mild recession is followed by more growth and above target inflation. It's possible. I hope he's right. But the history is one of a shampoo economy: bubble, bust, repeat where growth after the bust is too slow and recoveries are too shallow. And labor gets the shaft.

Peter K. -> Peter K.... , February 01, 2017 at 04:56 AM
Obama averaged 1.7 percent annual growth over 8 years after an epic financial crisis. This what we'd be talking about if not for President Insane Clown Posse and his Juggalos.

(It wasn't all Obama's fault of course, but in a way it doesn't matter whose fault it was. As Dillow points out, economic stagnation causes politics to get meaner. )

New Deal democrat -> Peter K.... , February 01, 2017 at 05:13 AM
Here is an article I think you will find of interest:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2017/01/29/could_someone_like_john_edwards_have_saved_the_democrats_132926.html

The white working class, even outside the south, has been moving away from the Democratic Party for 20 years. Check out the graph.

I disagree on one point: economic hard times cause a rise in *both* right wing (e.g., Trump) and left-wing (e.g., Bernie) populism.

The U.S. working class will careen back and forth between the parties until one of them actually delivers for them on the economy.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> New Deal democrat... , February 01, 2017 at 05:18 AM
Yep.
Peter K. -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , February 01, 2017 at 05:27 AM
See Varoufakis above:

"Bon courage, Benoît! As Ali said: "Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing."

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Peter K.... , February 01, 2017 at 05:50 AM
Sure, I always like Yanis Varoufakis. THANKS!

There is a stronger tradition of social democracy in the EU that could coalesce around a candidate such as Benoît Hamon than there is here in the US. FDR was a long time ago and still rather conservative by post WWII European standards until Thatcherism caught on there. You will note how much more support that Sanders got from millennials than from our generations. It will take more time here.

Peter K. -> New Deal democrat... , February 01, 2017 at 05:22 AM
Good point, but in recent years it has been the populist right who has really been the beneficiary in the U.S. and Europe, with their scapegoating of globalization and immigrants.

"If the national Democratic Party had more cultural appeal to working-class whites, they might have been able to stop the bleeding enough to hold states like Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin or North Carolina."

Yeah you won't cultural appeal but not so much that you abandon your principles. Calling them deplorable doesn't help.

I feel the Democrats need to better appeal to them more on the economic front. Instead of giving speeches at Goldman Sachs functions, campaign in Michigan and Wisconsin.

Instead of an infrastructure proposal of $275 billion over 5 years, go big like Bernie or the Senate Democrats with $1 trillion over 10 years. Trump went big with his rhetoric. We'll see if he delivers anything.

Mike S -> New Deal democrat... , February 01, 2017 at 06:01 AM
"The white working class, even outside the south, has been moving away from the Democratic Party for 20 years. Check out the graph."

Agreed. I travel (a lot) and every hotel I stay at has Faux News in the lobby (a large percentage don't even have MSNBC as part of the cable in the room upstairs, every restaurant/bar I go to has Faux News on. There are no liberal talk radio programs (outside of Sirius), so every plumber, sales guy driving to their next client, taxi driver, et al, only hear a right wing message. Anyone who disagrees with them is part of the "lame-stream media".

Undeniably, they control the messaging.

This is why they believe the economy was still bad last qtr, that Democrats raised taxes, etc.

Of all the ways Reagan ruined our country, I'd argue the worst thing he did (besides tripling the debt) was getting rid of the "fairness doctrine" which required presenting both sides of a discussion equally. This gave rise (IMO) to the hate radio and the alt-fact universe we now live in.

New Deal democrat -> Mike S... , February 01, 2017 at 06:24 AM
Agreed re the fairness doctrine.

And agreed re Fox news too. When it is on, I always ask the desk clerk to change to something nonpolitical like the Weather Channel or ESPN. I've never had them refusse. On Inauguration Day I had to do that at a sports bar! The bartender actually thanked me.

DrDick -> New Deal democrat... , February 01, 2017 at 07:30 AM
"The white working class, even outside the south, has been moving away from the Democratic Party for 20 years."

Thanks to Bill Clinton and the Democratic shift away from class based economic programs to an exclusive focus on identity issues. This is not an either/or choice, as Dillow points out in his piece, and the Democrats did both successfully for about 20 years in the 19560s-1970s. The DLC Democrats, like the Clintons, abandoned economic justice/labor issues in the mid-70s in order to attract more wealthy donors and overcome the overwhelming fundraising advantage of the Republicans at that time.

New Deal democrat -> DrDick... , February 01, 2017 at 09:54 AM
>>a ... focus on identity issues [vs. economic issues] ... is not an either/or choice,<<

Agreed. I think the Democratic "elevator pitch" ought to be "A Fair Shake for the Average American." That encompasses both parts nicely.

libezkova -> New Deal democrat... , February 01, 2017 at 11:27 AM
I think move to the right might continue for some time. Clinton Democrats betrayal of working class give far right a huge boost, to say nothing about paving way to Caesarism and discarding the Democratic governance like used shoe box.

From comments:

"what is termed the Right is pretty much what would have been [neoliberal] centre leftism not that long ago.

In practical terms there is nothing between the governments of Cameron or May vs those of Blair.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Peter K.... , February 01, 2017 at 05:28 AM
"...And the likely failures of Brexit and Trumponomics might well cause some kind of backlash.

There is, however, a more pessimistic reading.

For one thing, we might not see the sort of backlash we want..."

[That is what we have gotten already, backlash against center left neoliberal mediocrity. Still with no other game in town and a POTUS bound and determined to motivate liberal voters any way that he can then a return to a center left voting public and the policies that it will tolerate is not so unlikely.]

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , February 01, 2017 at 05:29 AM
The center left will still need to do something about low wages, shitty jobs, and the high cost of higher education if it wants to hang around for very long though.

[Feb 01, 2017] Rendezvous with destiny

Notable quotes:
"... While this act was sweeping and lacked finesse, operationally clumsy to say the least, the reaction to it was just about as dramatic, including tears. Well, that's politics in the 21st century. And I am sure we will see much more of this sort of thing over the next few years. ..."
Feb 01, 2017 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

While this act was sweeping and lacked finesse, operationally clumsy to say the least, the reaction to it was just about as dramatic, including tears. Well, that's politics in the 21st century. And I am sure we will see much more of this sort of thing over the next few years.

We are going to learn more about ourselves than we may have expected. There is nothing new in this; it is the particular experience of about every other generation and their own 'rendezvous with destiny.' How can we be content when the choices are between the 'lesser of two evils.' They are both evil, and many including me are not happy about it- but it is what it is.

mulp said... January 31, 2017 at 10:20 AM Where are all the "uncertainty" Chicken Littles that were running around during the Obama administration screaming about all the job killing regulations mandating paying lots more workers causing uncertainty and no job creation?

Now we have Trump uncertainty of promising job killing deregulation in some places that will be clogged up in court or uncertain times, plus the uncertainty of random irrational new job killing regulations of obstacles to international business.

Trump campaigned on unpredictable chaos to create uncertainty.

Is it ironic that Trump is being more Obama, and Carter, than Obama or Carter, and his supporters praise that?

I note with amusement that Trump defenders cite their two worst presidents ever as providing the template and justification for Trump's executive actions. Carter and Obama were the worst at not keeping America safe, so Trump is doing immigration bans based on the failed policies of Carter and Obama, polices that failed to keep America safe. And Trump defenders point to the Bernardino shooter coming from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan as the justification for banning immigrants from seven nations that are NOT Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. After all, Obama did not include Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in his failed policy, so Trump is not including them in his correction because failed Obama excluded them.

Progressives are just so dumb.

How can they let Republicans justify policies of Obama based on Trump or Republicans doing them?

They should be emphasizing how much Trump and Republicans are now advocating and doing the "failed" policies of Obama. Peter K. said in reply to mulp... They should treat Trump like a regular Republican whose trickle-down economic ideas doesn't work and has never worked. Trump promised his voters something different.

Clinton did win the popular vote. Reply Tuesday, January 31, 2017 at 10:33 AM mulp said in reply to Peter K.... But she lost the Rust Belt which Obama tried to address by failed stimulus spending on infrastructure which Clinton doubled down on.

Trump alone can fix things because doubling down on Clinton's doubling down on Obama's failed infrastructure spending will work because he is a Republican, not a radical leftist socialist Democrat doing it.

Why, because Trump will spending a trillion dollars on infrastructure but it won't cost a penny because he is using tax cuts and the free market, and the free in free market means free trillion dollar infrastructure.

Progressives are not liberals because they adopted voodoo free lunch economics after the 80s. Obama was a liberal who understands TANSTAAFL and called for paying for things. Trump is the anti-Obama in that where Obama policy and action cost, Trump can do exactly the same for free, at no cost to anyone. Bernie was more like Trump in promising trillions in spending at no cost, for free.

"They should treat Trump like a regular Republican whose trickle-down economic ideas doesn't work and has never worked." Which Republicans in the "they" believe free lunch economics don't work? Which conservatives in the "they" believe voodoo economics don't work?

"They" criticize/defend policies based on the identity of the policy makers, not based on logic, fact, reason.

Republicans/conservatives justifying policies based on Obama doing them or advocating them is just so absurd, and so easy to eviscerate. "Are you saying Obama's policies and selections of nations as sources of terrorist threats were the best at keeping America safe?" "If Obama failed to keep America safe because he picked the wrong nations, why are you using Obama's wrong list of nations?" Reply Tuesday, January 31, 2017 at 11:15 AM anne said... Important and finely written analysis. Judging from the politically adamant president and close advisers, the openings for Fed executives from the beginning, there is a significant danger of the independence of the Federal Reserve being compromised. Reply Tuesday, January 31, 2017 at 10:43 AM


[Feb 01, 2017] Is an oppressive authoritarian state the next stop after neoliberal oligarchy with a veneer of democracy

Notable quotes:
"... In the declining years of the British empire, some of its politicians flattered themselves that they could be "Greeks to their Romans" - providing wise and experienced counsel to the new American imperium. ..."
"... But the Emperor Nero has now taken power in Washington - and the British are having to smile and clap as he sets fires and reaches for his fiddle. ..."
"... imo, the risk of the USA becoming an oppressive authoritarian state (as opposed to an oligarchy with a veneer of democracy) is being willfully ignored by the the serfs, the bourgeoisie (e.g. EV commentators), and our oligarch lords and masters. ..."
"... spectacle of obvious lies being peddled by the White House is a tragedy for US democracy. ..."
"... While Trump immigration act was sweeping and lacked finesse that just is not important. This was what people who elected him expected from him. Be prepared for more. Trump administration can allow to be operationally clumsy the first 100 days, to say the least. Breaking things is a part of politics as Bismarck once noted: "The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood." ..."
"... I am still waiting for neocons purge in the State Department and departure of Victoria Nuland. And I hope we will see much more of this sort of thing over the next few years. ..."
"... So those neoliberals who shed crocodile tears about Big, Bad Trump now should better be prepared :-) About every other generation has its own 'rendezvous with destiny.' Remember Great Depression, WWII, Vietnam War... ..."
"... "We are going to learn more about ourselves than we may have expected. There is nothing new in this; it is the particular experience of about every other generation and their own 'rendezvous with destiny.' How can we be content when the choices are between the 'lesser of two evils.' They are both evil, and many including me are not happy about it- but it is what it is." ..."
Feb 01, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
dilbert dogbert : , January 31, 2017 at 12:09 PM
Gideon Rachman weighs in:
https://www.ft.com/content/bbd596d8-e14e-11e6-8405-9e5580d6e5fb
Peter K. -> dilbert dogbert ... , January 31, 2017 at 12:35 PM
This one?

https://www.ft.com/content/fde7616a-e6cf-11e6-967b-c88452263daf

Donald Trump is a disaster for Brexit

Britain cannot look to the US for support after its divorce from the EU

Gideon Rachman

For the most ardent supporters of Brexit, the election of Donald Trump was a mixture of vindication and salvation. The president of the US, no less, thinks it is a great idea for Britain to leave the EU. Even better, he seems to offer an exciting escape route. The UK can leap off the rotting raft of the EU and on to the gleaming battleship HMS Anglosphere.

It is an alluring vision. Unfortunately, it is precisely wrong. The election of Mr Trump has transformed Brexit from a risky decision into a straightforward disaster. For the past 40 years, Britain has had two central pillars to its foreign policy: membership of the EU and a "special relationship" with the US.

The decision to exit the EU leaves Britain much more dependent on the US, just at a time when America has elected an unstable president opposed to most of the central propositions on which UK foreign policy is based.

During the brief trip to Washington by Theresa May, the UK prime minister, this unpleasant truth was partly obscured by trivia and trade. Mr Trump's decision to return the bust of Winston Churchill to the Oval Office was greeted with slavish delight by Brexiters. More substantively, the Trump administration made it clear that it is minded to do a trade deal with the UK just as soon as Britain's EU divorce comes through.

... ... ...

Britain could defend free-trade far more effectively with the EU's bulk behind it - and could also start to explore the possibilities for more EU defence co-operation. As it is, Britain has been thrown into the arms of an American president that the UK's foreign secretary has called a madman.

In the declining years of the British empire, some of its politicians flattered themselves that they could be "Greeks to their Romans" - providing wise and experienced counsel to the new American imperium.

But the Emperor Nero has now taken power in Washington - and the British are having to smile and clap as he sets fires and reaches for his fiddle.

yuan -> dilbert dogbert ... , January 31, 2017 at 01:10 PM
an optimistic take on things.

imo, the risk of the USA becoming an oppressive authoritarian state (as opposed to an oligarchy with a veneer of democracy) is being willfully ignored by the the serfs, the bourgeoisie (e.g. EV commentators), and our oligarch lords and masters.

Peter K. -> yuan... , January 31, 2017 at 01:28 PM
"our oligarch lords and masters."

You sound like Bernie Sanders. As Bernie said if the Republicans become increasingly successful in suppressing and limiting the vote, we could be in trouble. And/or if they continue to corrupt and strip away campaign finance rules like with Citizens United. But the demographics are against them.

Peter K. -> dilbert dogbert ... , January 31, 2017 at 01:34 PM
sorry

https://www.ft.com/content/bbd596d8-e14e-11e6-8405-9e5580d6e5fb

Truth, lies and the Trump administration

Falsehood cannot be the basis for US foreign policy

JANUARY 23, 2017 by: Gideon Rachman

The man from the BBC was laughing as he reported the White House's false claims about the size of the crowd at Donald Trump's inauguration. He should have been crying. What we are witnessing is the destruction of the credibility of the American government.

This spectacle of obvious lies being peddled by the White House is a tragedy for US democracy. But the rest of the world - and, in particular, America's allies - should also be frightened. A Trump administration that is addicted to the "big lie" has very dangerous implications for global security.

... ... ...

libezkova -> Peter K.... , January 31, 2017 at 08:16 PM
"Falsehood cannot be the basis for US foreign policy"

should probably be

Falsehood was the basis for US foreign policy for too long"

;-)

John M : , January 31, 2017 at 12:48 PM
Serious issue: true, his credibility is utterly gone in the reality-based community, but seriously, what about the general populace at large?

Remember the Reagan and Bush Jr. Administrations. The presidents themselves were as oblivious to reality as Trump appears to be, yet their credibility wasn't totally demolished to a big portion of the populace. Why should Trump fail where others have succeeded?

There's also mainstream media credibility, VSP credibility, and (yes) Clinton credibility.

After all, there's the "credibility" of the Ruskie hacking of our election.

Paul Krugman's credibility took a hit for me sometime around a year ago, and as long as he keeps writing things like the "Trump-Putin" regime, it's staying down.

Peter K. -> John M ... , January 31, 2017 at 01:30 PM
Krugman's credibility took a bid hit from me when he started attacking Bernie Sanders and his supporters during the primary (which reminded me of the way he treated Obama in 2008).

Just go through his columns and blog posts on the subject and it's amazing how brazenly awful they are.

sanjait -> Peter K.... , January 31, 2017 at 01:53 PM
I like people who tell me what I want to hear, and ones that don't make me sad. Wah.
dilbert dogbert -> John M ... , January 31, 2017 at 01:45 PM
Definitely!!! He should have written the Trump-Putin-Comey regime.
libezkova -> dilbert dogbert ... , January 31, 2017 at 08:18 PM
"Trump-Putin-Comey"

Good joke. But this is not Onion.

anne -> anne... , January 31, 2017 at 12:53 PM
Just me noticing, for myself, what bond investors collectively are thinking about inflation over the coming 5 years, and thinking that inflation will be a little above 2% or subdued.
Lee A. Arnold : , January 31, 2017 at 03:49 PM
There are two other sides to the credibility/trust issue. Domestically there is the question of business confidence in a cultural landscape which has shattered. Hatred and bigotry is up; there is increasing likelihood of unrest and violence.

Business my be loathe to expand in such an unsettled, uncertain landscape. And it may be this way for a while. Internationally there is the question of whether foreign consumers will find U.S. products to be attractive, and untainted by ugly environmental and labor concerns -- and inexpensive on world markets, if there is protectionism and retaliation.

Trump is making the cardinal mistake of believing that the U.S. is the indispensable nation, that people will be forced to deal with him, that he can throw his weight around.

libezkova : , January 31, 2017 at 07:45 PM
While Trump immigration act was sweeping and lacked finesse that just is not important. This was what people who elected him expected from him. Be prepared for more. Trump administration can allow to be operationally clumsy the first 100 days, to say the least. Breaking things is a part of politics as Bismarck once noted: "The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood."

I am still waiting for neocons purge in the State Department and departure of Victoria Nuland. And I hope we will see much more of this sort of thing over the next few years.

So those neoliberals who shed crocodile tears about Big, Bad Trump now should better be prepared :-) About every other generation has its own 'rendezvous with destiny.' Remember Great Depression, WWII, Vietnam War...

== quote ==

"We are going to learn more about ourselves than we may have expected. There is nothing new in this; it is the particular experience of about every other generation and their own 'rendezvous with destiny.' How can we be content when the choices are between the 'lesser of two evils.' They are both evil, and many including me are not happy about it- but it is what it is."

libezkova -> libezkova... , January 31, 2017 at 08:00 PM
The State Department has 7,600 Foreign Service officers and 11,000 civil servants.
libezkova :
"Administration officials have drafted a new executive order aimed at overhauling, among other things, the H-1B work-visa program that technology companies have long relied on to bring top foreign engineering talent to their U.S.-based locations" [USA Today]. "The order is aimed at ensuring that "officials administer our laws in a manner that prioritizes the interests of American workers and - to the maximum degree possible - the jobs, wages and well-being of those workers," according to a copy of the document provided to USA TODAY."

[Feb 01, 2017] Global Guerillas

Feb 01, 2017 | globalguerrillas.typepad.com

"A market state, in contrast to the nation-state's focus on broad economic prosperity and cultural integration, focuses on providing opportunity to the individual. Finally, and most importantly to me, Trump isn't dismantling neoliberalism to return to the old nation-state. He's building, with the help of social networking, a new model of governance for the US.

[Sep 18, 2016] Protesting Youth in the Age of Neoliberal Cruelty by Henry A. Giroux

Notable quotes:
"... Reality always has this power to surprise. It surprises you with an answer that it gives to questions never asked - and which are most tempting. A great stimulus to life is there, in the capacity to divine possible unasked questions. ..."
"... - Eduardo Galeano ..."
"... Fred Jameson has argued that "that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism." ..."
"... One way of understanding Jameson's comment is that within the ideological and affective spaces in which the neoliberal subject is produced and market-driven ideologies are normalized, there are new waves of resistance, especially among young people, who are insisting that casino capitalism is driven by a kind of mad violence and form of self-sabotage, and that if it does not come to an end, what we will experience, in all probability, is the destruction of human life and the planet itself. ..."
"... As the latest stage of predatory capitalism, neoliberalism is part of a broader economic and political project of restoring class power and consolidating the rapid concentration of capital, particularly financial capital ..."
"... As an ideology, it casts all dimensions of life in terms of market rationality, construes profit-making as the arbiter and essence of democracy ..."
"... Neoliberalism has put an enormous effort into creating a commanding cultural apparatus and public pedagogy in which individuals can only view themselves as consumers, embrace freedom as the right to participate in the market, and supplant issues of social responsibility for an unchecked embrace of individualism and the belief that all social relation be judged according to how they further one's individual needs and self-interests. ..."
"... The unemployment rate for young people in many countries such as Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Greece hovers between 40 and 50 per cent. To make matters worse, those with college degrees either cannot find work or are working at low-skill jobs that pay paltry wages. In the United States, young adjunct faculty constitute one of the fastest growing populations on food stamps. Suffering under huge debts, a jobs crisis, state violence, a growing surveillance state, and the prospect that they would inherit a standard of living far below that enjoyed by their parents, many young people have exhibited a rage that seems to deepen their resignation, despair, and withdrawal from the political arena. ..."
"... They now inhabit a neoliberal notion of temporality marked by a loss of faith in progress along with the emergence of apocalyptic narratives in which the future appears indeterminate, bleak, and insecure. Heightened expectations and progressive visions pale and are smashed next to the normalization of market-driven government policies that wipe out pensions, eliminate quality health care, raise college tuition, and produce a harsh world of joblessness, while giving millions to banks and the military. ..."
"... dispossessed youth continued to lose their dignity, bodies, and material goods to the machineries of disposability. ..."
"... Against the ravaging policies of austerity and disposability, "zones of abandonment appeared in which the domestic machinery of violence, suffering, cruelty, and punishment replaced the values of compassion, social responsibility, and civic courage" (Biehl 2005:2). ..."
"... In opposition to such conditions, a belief in the power of collective resistance and politics emerged once again in 2010, as global youth protests embraced the possibility of deepening and expanding democracy, rather than rejecting it. ..."
"... What is lacking here is any critical sense regarding the historical conditions and dismal lack of political and moral responsibility of an adult generation who shamefully bought into and reproduced, at least since the 1970s, governments and social orders wedded to war, greed, political corruption, xenophobia, and willing acceptance of the dictates of a ruthless form of neoliberal globalization. ..."
"... London Review of Books ..."
"... This is not a diary ..."
"... Vita: Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment ..."
"... Against the terror of neoliberalism ..."
"... Against the violence of organized forgetting: beyond America's disimagination machine ..."
"... Debt: The First 5,000 Years ..."
"... The democracy project: a history, a crisis, a movement ..."
"... 5th assessment report by the intergovernmental panel on climate change ..."
"... Unlearning With Hannah Arendt ..."
"... Agnonistics: thinking the world politically ..."
"... Capital in the twenty-first century ..."
www.truth-out.org

Reality always has this power to surprise. It surprises you with an answer that it gives to questions never asked - and which are most tempting. A great stimulus to life is there, in the capacity to divine possible unasked questions.

- Eduardo Galeano

Neoliberalism's Assault on Democracy

Fred Jameson has argued that "that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism." He goes on to say that "We can now revise that and witness the attempt to imagine capitalism by way of imagining the end of the world" (Jameson 2003). One way of understanding Jameson's comment is that within the ideological and affective spaces in which the neoliberal subject is produced and market-driven ideologies are normalized, there are new waves of resistance, especially among young people, who are insisting that casino capitalism is driven by a kind of mad violence and form of self-sabotage, and that if it does not come to an end, what we will experience, in all probability, is the destruction of human life and the planet itself. Certainly, more recent scientific reports on the threat of ecological disaster from researchers at the University of Washington, NASA, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reinforce this dystopian possibility. [1]

To read more articles by Henry A. Giroux and other authors in the Public Intellectual Project, click here.

As the latest stage of predatory capitalism, neoliberalism is part of a broader economic and political project of restoring class power and consolidating the rapid concentration of capital, particularly financial capital (Giroux 2008; 2014). As a political project, it includes "the deregulation of finance, privatization of public services, elimination and curtailment of social welfare programs, open attacks on unions, and routine violations of labor laws" (Yates 2013). As an ideology, it casts all dimensions of life in terms of market rationality, construes profit-making as the arbiter and essence of democracy, consuming as the only operable form of citizenship, and upholds the irrational belief that the market can both solve all problems and serve as a model for structuring all social relations. As a mode of governance, it produces identities, subjects, and ways of life driven by a survival-of-the fittest ethic, grounded in the idea of the free, possessive individual, and committed to the right of ruling groups and institutions to exercise power removed from matters of ethics and social costs. As a policy and political project, it is wedded to the privatization of public services, the dismantling of the connection of private issues and public problems, the selling off of state functions, liberalization of trade in goods and capital investment, the eradication of government regulation of financial institutions and corporations, the destruction of the welfare state and unions, and the endless marketization and commodification of society.

Neoliberalism has put an enormous effort into creating a commanding cultural apparatus and public pedagogy in which individuals can only view themselves as consumers, embrace freedom as the right to participate in the market, and supplant issues of social responsibility for an unchecked embrace of individualism and the belief that all social relation be judged according to how they further one's individual needs and self-interests. Matters of mutual caring, respect, and compassion for the other have given way to the limiting orbits of privatization and unrestrained self-interest, just as it has become increasingly difficult to translate private troubles into larger social, economic, and political considerations. As the democratic public spheres of civil society have atrophied under the onslaught of neoliberal regimes of austerity, the social contract has been either greatly weakened or replaced by savage forms of casino capitalism, a culture of fear, and the increasing use of state violence. One consequence is that it has become more difficult for people to debate and question neoliberal hegemony and the widespread misery it produces for young people, the poor, middle class, workers, and other segments of society - now considered disposable under neoliberal regimes which are governed by a survival-of-the fittest ethos, largely imposed by the ruling economic and political elite.

That they are unable to make their voices heard and lack any viable representation in the process makes clear the degree to which young people and others are suffering under a democratic deficit, producing what Chantal Mouffe calls "a profound dissatisfaction with a number of existing societies" under the reign of neoliberal capitalism (Mouffe 2013:119). This is one reason why so many youth, along with workers, the unemployed, and students, have been taking to the streets in Greece, Mexico, Egypt, the United States, and England.

The Rise of Disposable Youth

What is particularly distinctive about the current historical conjuncture is the way in which young people, particularly low-income and poor minority youth across the globe, have been increasingly denied any place in an already weakened social order and the degree to which they are no longer seen as central to how a number of countries across the globe define their future. The plight of youth as disposable populations is evident in the fact that millions of them in countries such as England, Greece, and the United States have been unemployed and denied long term benefits. The unemployment rate for young people in many countries such as Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Greece hovers between 40 and 50 per cent. To make matters worse, those with college degrees either cannot find work or are working at low-skill jobs that pay paltry wages. In the United States, young adjunct faculty constitute one of the fastest growing populations on food stamps. Suffering under huge debts, a jobs crisis, state violence, a growing surveillance state, and the prospect that they would inherit a standard of living far below that enjoyed by their parents, many young people have exhibited a rage that seems to deepen their resignation, despair, and withdrawal from the political arena.

This is the first generation, as sociologist Zygmunt Bauman argues, in which the "plight of the outcast may stretch to embrace a whole generation." (Bauman 2012a; 2012b; 2012c) He rightly insists that today's youth have been "cast in a condition of liminal drift, with no way of knowing whether it is transitory or permanent" (Bauman 2004:76). Youth no longer occupy the hope of a privileged place that was offered to previous generations. They now inhabit a neoliberal notion of temporality marked by a loss of faith in progress along with the emergence of apocalyptic narratives in which the future appears indeterminate, bleak, and insecure. Heightened expectations and progressive visions pale and are smashed next to the normalization of market-driven government policies that wipe out pensions, eliminate quality health care, raise college tuition, and produce a harsh world of joblessness, while giving millions to banks and the military.

Students, in particular, found themselves in a world in which unrealized aspirations have been replaced by dashed hopes and a world of onerous debt (Fraser 2013; On the history of debt, see Graeber 2012).

The Revival of the Radical Imagination

Within the various regimes of neoliberalism that have emerged particularly in North since the late 1970s, the ethical grammars that drew attention to the violence and suffering withered or, as in the United States, seemed to disappear altogether, while dispossessed youth continued to lose their dignity, bodies, and material goods to the machineries of disposability. The fear of losing everything, the horror of an engulfing and crippling precarity, the quest to merely survive, the rise of the punishing state and police violence, along with the impending reality of social and civil death, became a way of life for the 99 percent in the United States and other countries. Under such circumstances, youth were no longer the place where society reveals its dreams, but increasingly hid its nightmares. Against the ravaging policies of austerity and disposability, "zones of abandonment appeared in which the domestic machinery of violence, suffering, cruelty, and punishment replaced the values of compassion, social responsibility, and civic courage" (Biehl 2005:2).

In opposition to such conditions, a belief in the power of collective resistance and politics emerged once again in 2010, as global youth protests embraced the possibility of deepening and expanding democracy, rather than rejecting it. Such movements produced a new understanding of politics based on horizontal forms of collaboration and political participation. In doing so, they resurrected revitalized and much needed questions about class power, inequality, financial corruption, and the shredding of the democratic process. They also explored as well as what it meant to create new communities of mutual support, democratic modes of exchange and governance, and public spheres in which critical dialogue and exchanges could take place (For an excellent analysis on neoliberal-induced financial corruption, see Anderson 2004).

A wave of youth protests starting in 2010 in Tunisia, and spreading across the globe to the United States and Europe, eventually posed a direct challenge to neoliberal modes of domination and the corruption of politics, if not democracy itself (Hardt & Negri 2012). The legitimating, debilitating, and depoliticizing notion that politics could only be challenged within established methods of reform and existing relations of power was rejected outright by students and other young people across the globe. For a couple of years, young people transformed basic assumptions about what politics is and how the radical imagination could be mobilized to challenge the basic beliefs of neoliberalism and other modes of authoritarianism. They also challenged dominant discourses ranging from deficit reduction and taxing the poor to important issues that included poverty, joblessness, the growing unmanageable levels of student debt, and the massive spread of corporate corruption. As Jonathan Schell argued, youth across the globe were enormously successfully in unleashing "a new spirit of action", an expression of outrage fueled less by policy demands than by a cry of collective moral and political indignation whose message was

'Enough!' to a corrupt political, economic and media establishment that hijacked the world's wealth for itself… sabotaging the rule of law, waging interminable savage and futile wars, plundering the world's finite resources, and lying about all this to the public [while] threatening Earth's life forms into the bargain. (Schell 2011)

Yet, some theorists have recently argued that little has changed since 2011, in spite of this expression of collective rage and accompanying demonstrations by youth groups across the globe.

The Collapse or Reconfiguration of Youthful Protests?

Costas Lapavitsas and Alex Politaki, writing in The Guardian, argue that as the "economic and social disaster unfolded in 2012 and 2013", youth in Greece, France, Portugal, and Spain have largely been absent from "politics, social movements and even from the spontaneous social networks that have dealt with the worst of the catastrophe" (Lapavitsas & Politaki 2014). Yet, at the same time, they insist that more and more young people have been "attracted to nihilistic ends of the political spectrum, including varieties of anarchism and fascism" (Lapavitsas & Politaki 2014). This indicates that young people have hardly been absent from politics. On the contrary, those youth moving to the right are being mobilized around needs that simply promise the swindle of fulfillment. This does not suggest youth are becoming invisible. On the contrary, the move on the part of students and others to the right implies that the economic crisis has not been matched by a crisis of ideas, one that would propel young people towards left political parties or social formations that effectively articulate a critical understanding of the present economic and political crisis. Missing here is also a strategy to create and sustain a radical democratic political movement that avoids cooptation of the prevailing economic and political systems of oppression now dominating the United States, Greece, Turkey, Portugal, France, and England, among other countries.

This critique of youthful protesters as a suspect generation is repeated in greater detail by Andrew R. Myers in Student Pulse (Myers 2012). He argues that deteriorating economic and educational conditions for youth all over Europe have created not only a profound sense of political pessimism among young people, but also a dangerous, if not cynical, distrust towards established politics. Regrettably, Myers seems less concerned about the conditions that have written young people out of jobs, a decent education, imposed a massive debt on them, and offers up a future of despair and dashed hopes than the alleged unfortunate willingness of young people to turn their back on traditional parties. Myers argues rightly that globalization is the enemy of young people and is undermining democracy, but he wrongly insists that traditional social democratic parties are the only vehicles and hope left for real reform. As such, Myers argues that youth who exhibit distrust towards established governments and call for the construction of another world symbolize political defeat, if not cynicism itself. Unfortunately, with his lament about how little youth are protesting today and about their lack of engagement in the traditional forms of politics, he endorses, in the end, a defense of those left/liberal parties that embrace social democracy and the new labor policies of centrist-left coalitions. His rebuke borders on bad faith, given his criticism of young people for not engaging in electoral politics and joining with unions, both of which, for many youth, rightfully represent elements of a reformist politics they reject.

It is ironic that both of these critiques of the alleged passivity of youth and the failure of their politics have nothing to say about the generations of adults that failed these young people - that is, what disappears in these narratives is the fact that an older generation accepted the "realization that one generation no longer holds out a hand to the next" (Knott 2011:ix). What is lacking here is any critical sense regarding the historical conditions and dismal lack of political and moral responsibility of an adult generation who shamefully bought into and reproduced, at least since the 1970s, governments and social orders wedded to war, greed, political corruption, xenophobia, and willing acceptance of the dictates of a ruthless form of neoliberal globalization.

In fact, what was distinctive about the protesting youth across the globe was their rejection to the injustices of neoliberalism and their attempts to redefine the meaning of politics and democracy, while fashioning new forms of revolt (Hardt & Negri 2012; Graeber 2013). Among their many criticisms, youthful protesters argued vehemently that traditional social democratic, left, and liberal parties suffered from an "extremism of the center" that made them complicitous with the corporate and ruling political elites, resulting in their embrace of the inequities of a form of casino capitalism which assumed that the market should govern the entirety of social life, not just the economic realm (Hardt & Negri 2012:88).

... ... ...

References:

Related Stories

Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Ryerson University. His most recent books include: Youth in Revolt: Reclaiming a Democratic Future (Paradigm 2013), America's Educational Deficit and the War on Youth (Monthly Review Press, 2013) Neoliberalism's War on Higher Education (Haymarket Press, 2014), and The Violence of Organized Forgetting: Thinking Beyond America's Disimagination Machine (City Lights, 2014). The Toronto Star named Henry Giroux one of the twelve Canadians changing the way we think! Giroux is also a member of Truthout's Board of Directors. His web site is www.henryagiroux.com.

[Sep 18, 2016] Benedict Option FAQ

Notable quotes:
"... The "Benedict Option" refers to Christians in the contemporary West who cease to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of American empire, ..."
"... Benedict wrote his famous Rule , which became the guiding constitution of most monasteries in western Europe in the Middle Ages. The monasteries were incubators of Christian and classical culture, and outposts of evangelization in the barbarian kingdoms ..."
Sep 18, 2016 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The "Benedict Option" refers to Christians in the contemporary West who cease to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of American empire, and who therefore are keen to construct local forms of community as loci of Christian resistance against what the empire represents.

Put less grandly, the Benedict Option - or "Ben Op" - is an umbrella term for Christians who accept MacIntyre's critique of modernity, and who also recognize that forming Christians who live out Christianity according to Great Tradition requires embedding within communities and institutions dedicated to that formation.

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For one, the it awakened many small-o orthodox Christians to something that ought to have been clear to them a long, long time ago: the West is truly a post-Christian civilization, and we had better come up with new ways of living if we are going to hold on to the faith in this new dark age. The reason gay rights were so quickly embraced by the American public is because the same public had already jettisoned traditional Christian teaching on the meaning of sex, of marriage, and even a Christian anthropology. Same-sex marriage is only the fulfillment of a radical change that had already taken place in Western culture.

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Benedict of Nursia (ca. 480-537) was an educated young Christian who left Rome, the city of the recently fallen Empire, out of disgust with its decadence. He went south, into the forest near Subiaco, to live as a hermit and to pray. Eventually, he gathered around him some like-minded men, and formed monasteries. Benedict wrote his famous Rule , which became the guiding constitution of most monasteries in western Europe in the Middle Ages. The monasteries were incubators of Christian and classical culture, and outposts of evangelization in the barbarian kingdoms. As Cardinal Newman wrote:

St Benedict found the world, physical and social, in ruins, and his mission was to restore it in the way not of science, but of nature, not as if setting about to do it [the caveat], not professing to do it by any set time, or by any rare specific, or by any series of strokes, but so quietly, patiently, gradually, that often till the work was done, it was not known to be doing. It was a restoration rather than a visitation, correction or conversion.

The new work which he helped to create was a growth rather than a structure . Silent men were observed about the country, or discovered in the forest, digging, clearing and building; and other silent men, not seen, were sitting in the cold cloister, tiring their eyes and keeping their attention on the stretch, while they painfully copied and recopied the manuscripts which they had saved.

There was no one who contended or cried out, or drew attention to what was going on, but by degrees the woody swamp became a hermitage, a religious house, a farm, an abbey, a village, a seminary, a school of learning and a city.

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Here are some basic Benedictine principles that we might think of as tools for living the Christian life:

1. Order. Benedict described the monastery as a "school for the service of the Lord." The entire way of life of the monastic community was ordered by this telos , or end. The primary purpose of Christian community life is to form Christians. The Benedict Option must teach us to make every other goal in our lives secondary to serving God. Christianity is not simply a "worldview" or an add-on to our lives, as it is in modernity; it must be our lives, or it is something less than Christianity.

2. Prayer and work. Life as a Christian requires both contemplation and action. Both depend on the other. There is a reason Jesus retired to the desert after teaching the crowds. Work is as sacred as prayer. Ordinary life can and should be hallowed.

3. Stability. The Rule ordinarily requires monks to stay put in the monastery where they professed their vows. The idea is that moving around constantly, following our own desires, prevents us from becoming faithful to our calling. True, we must be prepared to follow God's calling, even if He leads us away from home. But the far greater challenge for us in the 21st century is learning how to stay put - literally and metaphorically - and to bind ourselves to a place, a tradition, a people. Only within the limits of stability can we find true freedom.

4. Community. It really does take a village to raise a child. That is, we learn who we are and who we are called to be in large part through our communities and their institutions. We Americans have to unlearn some of the ways of individualism that we absorb uncritically, and must relearn the craft of community living.

Not every community is equally capable of forming Christians. Communities must have boundaries, and must build these metaphorical walls because, as the New Monastic pioneer Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove writes, "we cannot become the gift to others we are called to be until we embrace the limits that are necessary to our vocation." In other words, we must withdraw behind some communal boundaries not for the sake of our own purity, but so we can first become who God wants us to be, precisely for the sake of the world. Beliefs and practices that are antithetical to achieving the community's telos must be excluded.

5. Hospitality. That said, we must be open to outsiders, and receive them "as Christ," according to the Rule. For Benedictine monks, this had a specific meaning, with regard to welcoming visitors to the monastery. For modern laypersons, this will likely have to do with their relationship to people outside the community. The Benedictines are instructed to welcome outsiders so long as they don't interrupt communal life. It should be that way with us, too. We should always be open to others, in charity, to share what we have with them, including our faith.

6. Balance. The Rule of St. Benedict is marked by a sense of balance, of common sense. As Ben Oppers experiment with building and/or reforming communities and institutions in a more intentional way, we must be vigilant against the temptations to fall intorigid legalism, cults of personality, and other distortions that have been the ruin of intentional communities. There must be workable forms of accountability for leadership, and the cultivation of an anti-utopian sensibility among the faithful. A community that is too lax will dissolve, or at least be ineffective, but one that is too strict will also produce disorder. A Benedict Option community must be joyful and confident, not dour and fearful.

Can you point to any contemporary examples of Ben Op communities?

Yes. There is a Catholic agrarian community around Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey in eastern Oklahoma. The lay community gathered around St. John Orthodox cathedral in Eagle River, Alaska, is another. Trinity Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville, Virginia , is working towards incorporating a version of the Rule of St. Benedict within its congregational life. Rutba House, a New Monastic community in Durham, North Carolina, and its School for Conversion , is still another. I recently met a couple in Waco, Texas - Baylor philosophy professor Scott Moore and his wife Andrea - who bought a property near Crawford, Texas, and who are rehabilitating it into a family home and a Christian retreat called Benedict Farm. There is the Bruderhof.

I think schools can be a form of the Benedict Option. Consider St. Jerome's, a classical school in the Catholic tradition , in Hyattsville, Maryland, or the Scuola G.K. Chesterton in San Benedetto del Tronto, Italy, which is run by Catholics for Catholic children, following the vision of the late Stratford Caldecott (see his essay, "A Question of Purpose" ). Homeschool groups can be motivated by the Ben Op.

I am certain that there is no such thing as a perfect Ben Op community, and that each and every one of them will have struggled with similar problems. In working on the Benedict Option book, I intend to visit as many of these communities as I can, to find out what they are doing right, what they wish they did better, and what we can all learn from them. The Benedict Option has to be something that ordinary people can do in their own circumstances.

Do you really think you can just run away from the world and live off in a compound somewhere? Get real!

No, I don't think that at all. While I wouldn't necessarily fault people who sought geographical isolation, that will be neither possible nor desirable for most of us. The early Church lived in cities, and formed its distinct life there. Most of the Ben Op communities that come to mind today are not radically isolated, in geography or otherwise, from the broader community. It's simply nonsense to say that Ben Oppers want to hide from the world and live in some sort of fundamentalist enclave. Some do, and it's not hard to find examples of how this sort of thing has gone bad. But that is not what we should aim for. In fact, I think it's all too easy for people to paint the Benedict Option as utopian escapism so they can safely wall it off and not have to think about it.

Isn't this a violation of the Great Commission? How can we preach the Gospel to the nations when we're living in these neo-monastic communities?

Well, what is evangelizing? Is it merely dispersing information? Or is there something more to it. The Benedict Option is about discipleship , which is itself an indirect form of evangelism. Pagans converted to the early Church not simply because of the words the first Christians spoke, but because of the witness of the kinds of lives they lived. It has to be that way with us too.

Pope Benedict XVI said something important in this respect. He said that the best apologetic arguments for the truth of the Christian faith are the art that the Church has produced as a form of witness, and the lives of its saints:

Yet, the beauty of Christian life is even more effective than art and imagery in the communication of the Gospel message. In the end, love alone is worthy of faith, and proves credible. The lives of the saints and martyrs demonstrate a singular beauty which fascinates and attracts, because a Christian life lived in fullness speaks without words. We need men and women whose lives are eloquent, and who know how to proclaim the Gospel with clarity and courage, with transparency of action, and with the joyful passion of charity.

The Benedict Option is about forming communities that teach us and help us to live in such a way that our entire lives are witnesses to the transforming power of the Gospel.

It sounds like you are simply asking for the Church to be the Church. Why do you need to brand it "the Benedict Option"?

That's a great point, actually. If all the churches did what they were supposed to do, we wouldn't need the Ben Op. Thing is, they don't. The term "Benedict Option" symbolizes a historically conscious, antimodernist return to roots, an undertaking that occurs with the awareness that Christians have to cultivate a sense of separation, of living as what Stanley Hauerwas and Will Willimon call "resident aliens" in a "Christian colony," in order to be faithful to our calling. And, "Benedict Option" calls to mind monastic disciplines that we can appropriate in our own time.

It also draws attention to the centrality of practices in shaping our Christian lives. The Reformed theologian James K.A. Smith, in his great books Imagining the Kingdom and Desiring the Kingdom , speaks of these things. A recent secular book by Matthew B. Crawford, The World Beyond Your Head , talks about the critical importance of practice as a way of knowledge. Here is Crawford writing about tradition and organ making:

When the sovereignty of the self requires that the inheritance of the past be disqualified as a guide to action and meaning, we confine ourselves in an eternal present. If subjectivism works against the coalescing of communities and traditions in which genuine individuals can arise, does the opposite follow? Do communities that look to established forms for the meanings of things somehow cultivate individuality?

… [C]onsider that when you go deep into some particular skill or art, it trains your powers of concentration and perception. You become more discerning about the objects you are dealing with and, if all goes well, begin to care viscerally about quality, because you have been initiated into an ethic of caring about what you are doing. Usually this happens by the example of some particular person, a mentor, who exemplifies that spirit of craftsmanship. You hear disgust in his voice, or see pleasure on his face, in response to some detail that would be literally invisible to someone not initiated. In this way, judgment develops alongside emotional involvement, unified in what Polanyi calls personal knowledge. Technical training in such a setting, though narrow in its immediate application, may be understood as part of education in the broadest sense: intellectual and moral formation.

… What emerged in my conversations at Taylor and Boody [a traditional organ-making shop] is that the historical inheritance of a long tradition of organ making seems not to burden these craftspeople, but rather to energize their efforts in innovation. They intend for their organs still be be in use four hundred years from now, and this orientation toward the future requires a critical engagement with the designs and building methods of the past. They learn from past masters, interrogate their wisdom, and push the conversation further in an ongoing dialectic of reverence and rebellion. Their own progress in skill and understanding is thus a contribution to something larger; their earned independence of judgment represents a deepening of the craft itself. This is a story about the progressive possibilities of tradition, then.

The Benedict Option is about how to rightly order the practices in our Christian lives, in light of tradition, for the sake of intellectual and moral formation in the way of Christ. You might even say that it's a story about the progressive possibilities of tradition, and a return to roots in defiance of a rootless age.

[Sep 11, 2016] After Neoliberalism

The current turmoil within Republican Party is connected with shirking of middle class by neoliberalism. So peons are now less inclined to support top 0.1%.
Notable quotes:
"... Trump is a billionaire, but his base of support rests among the people once identified by the sociologist Donald Warren as "middle American radicals." Nearly 40 years ago, Warren's idea was adapted by the hard-right political thinker Sam Francis as the basis for paleoconservatism-a conservatism very unlike that of the postwar conservative movement, one that would champion the class interests and cultural attitudes of middle- and lower-income whites. ..."
"... the Democratic Leadership Council, the policy group that paved the way for Bill Clinton's nomination, was founded in 1985 precisely to move the Democratic Party toward "market-based solutions. ..."
"... That economic populism should find a foothold in both parties after the Great Recession and eight years of lagging prosperity under Barack Obama is not entirely surprising. What is more remarkable is the weakness of the bipartisan establishment, whose conventional wisdom is no longer meekly accepted by the rank and file of either party. Every Republican except Trump has tried, to one degree or another, to present himself as a champion of conservative orthodoxy. But that orthodoxy no longer commands the loyalty of a sufficient number of voters to preclude a phenomenon like Trump. Nor does DLC-style neoliberalism appear to be the consensus among Democrats any longer. ..."
"... A void is opening in American politics, and Trump and Sanders are only the first to try to fill it. Neither of them may succeed. Yet it is hard to see any source of renewal for the crumbling establishment they are fighting to replace. ..."
"... "At times like these, it is important to know what to conserve, which is not a label or ideology, but a healthy and humane republic. " ..."
"... There are several holes in the 2016 is ending the Neoliberal changes: ..."
"... Sanders road to the nomination is limited and HRC is taking 65 – 70% next week. Sanders had a good run but the Democratics winnowed down to two candidates in October. ..."
"... Finally, isn't the neoliberalism built on the changes made in the Reagan Revolution? ..."
"... I don't see as strong of a break from orthodoxy in the Democrat party. Hillary will win the nomination and will validate within the Democrat party the ideology of spreading the democracy gospel around the world through force, and the domestic policy of open borders for future Democrat voters. Its less certain that she will win the general election. ..."
"... To save the republic and constitutional government, these wars in the Middle East and elsewhere must be ended, we must get out of that region, and the government must be made to perform the basic duty of securing our own borders and finding and expelling those here illegally. ..."
"... A government perpetually at war is a danger to the republic. It has squandered our money and blood in foreign adventures half way around the world and undermined our liberties and dignity here at home while shirking its own basic duty. ..."
"... The source of all of this republic's woes is an absence of competent, responsible leadership. Neither of the 2 government parties has come close to providing this at the national level. ..."
"... One difference between Trump an Sanders is that The Democrat Washington Establishment is beginning to show Sanders and his supporters the door, where The GOP Washington Establishment is beginning to be shown the door by Trump and his supporters. ..."
"... The Cubano Twins, Tweedledum and Tweedledee appear to be a pair of Neoconservative Big Money Donor Financed Bookends. ..."
"... Occupy is dead, Sanders is dying, and the Democrats will soon be a wholly owned subsidiary of Clinton Inc. ..."
"... I'm sorry folks. Reaganomics is the era we may see coming to an end – perhaps. And what did Bush Senior call it?: 'Voodoo Economics.' ..."
"... But Reagan succeeded in creating massive deficits and building up a military that was then primed for war. He was absolutely counter to Dwight Eisenhower in almost every respect (who was arguably the last Great Republican President). ..."
"... The rise of Wall Street and unregulated finance also took place under Reagan's watch. Declining investment in infrastructure. The power of lobbyists became massive in the 80s after being relatively tame prior. This all set the stage. ..."
"... That economic populism should find a foothold in both parties after the Great Recession and eight years of lagging prosperity under Barack Obama is not entirely surprising. ..."
"... "Every Republican except Trump has tried, to one degree or another, to present himself as a champion of conservative orthodoxy." ..."
"... I am not inclined to give the "Tea Party much credit. They have been part of the very problem. ..."
"... Sadly, I think it is accurate that blacks have come to the rescue of Sec. Clinton. It is sad, but it is understandable. ..."
"... Pres. Reagan has been saddled with the term "Reaganonmics". When in fact, it never existed as designed and as result was never fully implemented. Reality got in the way and as such subverted a good deal of the intent. It is incorrect to posit the model as top down. The model is as old as the country – keep money in people's hands and it will flow and redistribute throughout the country. There's just no incentives created for those with the most to reinvest in their community the US. ..."
"... I think the observations concerning how the financial industry have been totally unaccountable to the law, best practices and basic math are spot on. I embrace WS, but they cannot become so unmoored from the country that has bestowed luxurious benefits (loopholes) as to operate outside that frame without consequence. I am unsure of the monetary efficacy that investing in investing. If one is going bandy about "law and order" then to have any genuine legs – it's an across the board application. ..."
Feb 26, 2016 | The American Conservative
This year is shaping up to be the most unconventional moment in American politics in a generation.

A race that mere months ago seemed to promise yet another Bush vs. another Clinton has so far given us instead the populist insurgencies of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Whether or not either of them gets his party's nomination, the neoliberal consensus of the past two decades seems about to shatter. Free trade, immigration, waging war for democracy, and even the relative merits of capitalism and "democratic socialism" have all come into question. Perhaps more fundamentally, so has the right of Clintons and Bushes-and those like them-to rule.

Trump is a billionaire, but his base of support rests among the people once identified by the sociologist Donald Warren as "middle American radicals." Nearly 40 years ago, Warren's idea was adapted by the hard-right political thinker Sam Francis as the basis for paleoconservatism-a conservatism very unlike that of the postwar conservative movement, one that would champion the class interests and cultural attitudes of middle- and lower-income whites. The Pat Buchanan presidential campaigns of 1992 and 1996 put Francis's ideas to the test. They fell short of propelling Buchanan to the GOP nomination, and by the end of the 1990s there was nary a trace of paleo ideology to be found among conservatives or Republicans. The return of the Bush family to power in 2000 seemed to confirm that nothing had changed after a decade of skirmishes.

Now suddenly there's Trump. And on the left, there's Sanders, a throwback to a time when progressives embraced the socialist label. That had fallen out of fashion even before the end of the Cold War-indeed, the Democratic Leadership Council, the policy group that paved the way for Bill Clinton's nomination, was founded in 1985 precisely to move the Democratic Party toward "market-based solutions."

That economic populism should find a foothold in both parties after the Great Recession and eight years of lagging prosperity under Barack Obama is not entirely surprising. What is more remarkable is the weakness of the bipartisan establishment, whose conventional wisdom is no longer meekly accepted by the rank and file of either party. Every Republican except Trump has tried, to one degree or another, to present himself as a champion of conservative orthodoxy. But that orthodoxy no longer commands the loyalty of a sufficient number of voters to preclude a phenomenon like Trump. Nor does DLC-style neoliberalism appear to be the consensus among Democrats any longer.

A void is opening in American politics, and Trump and Sanders are only the first to try to fill it. Neither of them may succeed. Yet it is hard to see any source of renewal for the crumbling establishment they are fighting to replace. Just as the end of the Cold War marked the passing of an era, and partially or wholly transformed the left and right alike, so another era is drawing to a close now, with further political mutations to come. Trump and Sanders need not be the future, but what Bush and Clinton represent is already past-no matter who wins in November.

Conservatives of Burkean temperament view all of this warily. There is an opportunity here to replace stale ideologies with a prudence that is ultimately more principled than any mere formula can be. But there is also the risk that the devil we know is only making way for another we don't. At times like these, it is important to know what to conserve, which is not a label or ideology, but a healthy and humane republic.


May It Be So, February 26, 2016 at 1:05 am

"At times like these, it is important to know what to conserve, which is not a label or ideology, but a healthy and humane republic. "

Amen.

My people have been here for hundreds of years, and I love my country with a depth of feeling that is difficult to convey. Our hard-pressed republic is our most precious possession, and it must be defended and shepherded through the coming peril. That will require wisdom, strength, and courage, and all the little platoons.

will require wisdom, strength, and courage, and all the little platoons.

delia ruhe, February 26, 2016 at 2:17 am

"At times like these, it is important to know what to conserve …."

I think a lot of thoughtful Americans know what to conserve: the constitution. With the possible exception of the Second Amendment, the constitution has been virtually torched in its entirety. I just have to shake my head when I listen to the debate over whether or not Apple should be required by law to write a program to destroy the feature on its multi-million dollar product, the iPhone, for which consumers buy it - security in their private information and communication. And the Fourth Amendment, be damned.

How comes it that America - of all countries - is having that debate? Were all those American security agencies always that amoral and I just didn't notice?

The American constitution is not an instruction manual, it's a statement of principles - fundamental principles upon which the massive superstructure of law rests. Torch the constitution and it suddenly becomes easy not to call to account those leaders who authorize and order torture, those bankers who bring the world economy to its knees through fraud, those presidents who commit war crimes through the practice of drone-murdering people because they are merely suspected of terrorism. And it's just as easy to disenfranchise voters with impunity by arguing on the basis of a rash of voter fraud that everyone knows does not exist.

If the country no longer recognizes a constitution upon which laws prohibiting on pain of punishment these and other crimes against democracy, then what you've got is a nation of men - barbarians living in a state of nature - not a nation of laws.

Blas Piñar February 26, 2016 at 8:12 am

I agree with this editorial, but, as delia ruhe points out, this republic has not been "healthy and humane" for quite some time. It's time for a national renewal. I never thought Trump would be the agent of this renewal. There's plenty to dislike about him, but if he's what it takes to right the ship and either restore a "healthy and humane" republic or create the conditions for someone else to do so afterwards, then so be it.

collin, February 26, 2016 at 9:27 am

There are several holes in the 2016 is ending the Neoliberal changes:

1) Sanders road to the nomination is limited and HRC is taking 65 – 70% next week. Sanders had a good run but the Democratics winnowed down to two candidates in October.

2) Why is Trump that much different that Perot? The Perot movement was minimized by a strong economy and the unemployment rate is getting low in 2016.

3) What if there isn't another Trump? To whip the radical middle took Trump to pull additional voters, there might not be another in 2020.

4) Is the number of radical middle voters slightly decreasing every election cycle?

5) Finally, isn't the neoliberalism built on the changes made in the Reagan Revolution?

pitchfork, February 26, 2016 at 9:32 am

At times like these, it is important to know what to conserve, which is not a label or ideology, but a healthy and humane republic.

Amen to that.

Johann, February 26, 2016 at 10:18 am

I don't see as strong of a break from orthodoxy in the Democrat party. Hillary will win the nomination and will validate within the Democrat party the ideology of spreading the democracy gospel around the world through force, and the domestic policy of open borders for future Democrat voters. Its less certain that she will win the general election.

JR Chloupek, February 26, 2016 at 10:19 am

Want to solve the political-economy differences between citizens of collectivist and individualist temperament? Eliminate all tax exemptions secretly written into the tax code for individuals and organizations (they are identified by language that applies only to that individual or organization), then invest the proceeds for five years into a sovereign wealth trust fund that pays $25,000 per year, adjusted for inflation, to all legal citizens beginning at age 21 (or pass legislation directing the Federal Reserve to deposit $10 Trillion dollars directly into the fund-quantitative easing for the people, if you will).

This money would be used by citizens to cover life-cycle risk to income from any source: job loss, divorce, illness, transportation and home repairs, macroeconomic chaos, or anything else life throws as a person. The funds would be retrievable as a person chooses: yearly, monthly, weekly, or in a $50,000 lump sum once every three years. In addition, replace all income-based taxes for individuals and organizations with a .005% tax on all transactions cleared through the banking system, similar to the automated payments transaction tax advocated by Wisconsin professor Edgar Feige. This would allow the supply of products and services to roughly match the increased demand generated by the basic income guarantee, thereby avoiding or mitigating the business cycle and inflationary source of current economic problems.

The precise mechanism for this proposal is based on the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend program, which takes monies from state-owned oil fields and invests prudently in a diverse portfolio world-wide. In turn, this concept is based on the "topsy-turvy nationalization" idea proposed by English economist James E. Meade, who suggested governments purchase a 50% share of all publicly-traded stocks, then pay a "social dividend" (Social Security for All) out of the earnings from these investments to all citizens. Professor James A. Yunker proposed a similar idea in his book Pragmatic Market Socialism, finding under a general equilibrium analysis that output and equity, as measured by a utilitarian social welfare function, both increased when income smoothing was financed by pre-distributed social dividends rather than by increased taxes.

Under this proposal, both conservatives and liberals would achieve what they say they desire: non-paternalistic held for people's income fluctuations for liberals, and real incentives to invest and work for conservatives. Some might say this mechanism for socializing both risk and reward cannot be implemented, as human nature suggests that people might not accept a policy that also benefits rivals. Nonetheless, if we want a political-economic modus vivendi, here is a solution.

Of course, there would still be problems faced by out society, and "solving" the economic aspect of our malaise will not by itself generate nirvana. But give people and organizations real security that does not also support apathy (i.e., both equity and efficiency, as the economist call it), and you would go a long way towards making the culture war less harsh (it is mostly based on economic fears projected onto the "other"). In the socio-political complex, one must honor humanity as it is , not as we wish, or are comfortable with in our own lives. Replace neoliberalism with a respect for both tradition and change.

a free people, February 26, 2016 at 10:57 am

@delia ruhe & may it be so – I fervently agree with you and the editors.

To save the republic and constitutional government, these wars in the Middle East and elsewhere must be ended, we must get out of that region, and the government must be made to perform the basic duty of securing our own borders and finding and expelling those here illegally.

A government perpetually at war is a danger to the republic. It has squandered our money and blood in foreign adventures half way around the world and undermined our liberties and dignity here at home while shirking its own basic duty.

Rossbach, February 26, 2016 at 12:05 pm

The source of all of this republic's woes is an absence of competent, responsible leadership. Neither of the 2 government parties has come close to providing this at the national level. Everyone knows this, but now – for the first time in at least 5 decades – people are starting to discuss it openly. It really is a breath of fresh air.

Clint, February 26, 2016 at 12:26 pm

One difference between Trump an Sanders is that The Democrat Washington Establishment is beginning to show Sanders and his supporters the door, where The GOP Washington Establishment is beginning to be shown the door by Trump and his supporters.

The Cubano Twins, Tweedledum and Tweedledee appear to be a pair of Neoconservative Big Money Donor Financed Bookends.

Trump / No Trump, February 26, 2016 at 4:05 pm

"The Democrat Washington Establishment is beginning to show Sanders and his supporters the door, where The GOP Washington Establishment is beginning to be shown the door by Trump and his supporters."

That's a problem with which the Democrat base must must come to grips. Across the great political and cultural gulf that separates us, I salute those honorable and decent Democrats and liberals who make the attempt.

But it is instructive to consider the very different trajectories of Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party. Occupy Wall Street, having ebbed from front pages and headlines long since, has now virtually disappeared into Sanders' wickering campaign.

But the Tea Party kept at it. It has been stirring the pot for over six years now, menacing the establishment, chronically kicking out incumbents (including disappointing or coopted Tea Party incumbents), and continuing to drive broad political developments.

Occupy is dead, Sanders is dying, and the Democrats will soon be a wholly owned subsidiary of Clinton Inc. Rather, it is the widely ridiculed and derided Tea Party tendency (not to be confused with the various attempts at cooptation by groups using the name) that proved to be adults with staying power, real agents of change. The pacts born of deep concern for the republic made years ago in hearts, homes, conversations among friends and coworkers, over the Web on sites like this one, is alive and well.

Trump or no Trump, that is cause for hope.

Reagan, February 26, 2016 at 4:54 pm

I'm sorry folks. Reaganomics is the era we may see coming to an end – perhaps. And what did Bush Senior call it?: 'Voodoo Economics.'

The Soviets were not defeated by our military build-up – the fact that their factories were turning out unusable junk and exploding TVs was what defeated them. China saw the writing on the wall earlier in 1979.

But Reagan succeeded in creating massive deficits and building up a military that was then primed for war. He was absolutely counter to Dwight Eisenhower in almost every respect (who was arguably the last Great Republican President).

The rise of Wall Street and unregulated finance also took place under Reagan's watch. Declining investment in infrastructure. The power of lobbyists became massive in the 80s after being relatively tame prior. This all set the stage.

We all have confirmation biases (fueled by a personal history) in how we choose to interpret history and how we bookend things.

The concluding paragraph is excellent. I pray we are not entering even darker times and that there can be renewal for the American Republic.

sps, February 26, 2016 at 6:02 pm

"Occupy is dead, Sanders is dying, and the Democrats will soon be a wholly owned subsidiary of Clinton Inc."

Only because older voters, particularly older black voters keep propping it up. Not exactly a firm foundation. Sanders margins among young voters along with the successful political work done by actual political groups (rather than disruptive groups) like the Working Families Party show who is going to inherit the Democratic Party.

Clint, February 26, 2016 at 6:17 pm

But the Tea Party kept at it.

Yes we did.

Chris 1, February 26, 2016 at 6:37 pm

That economic populism should find a foothold in both parties after the Great Recession and eight years of lagging prosperity under Barack Obama is not entirely surprising.

Understatement of the year.

Andrew, February 26, 2016 at 11:44 pm

I've long wanted to read the Donald Warren book but it has been out of print and unavailable at Amazon. If anyone knows of any online bookseller that has used copies, please tell.

Mike Schuder, February 27, 2016 at 10:40 am

My Daddy used to say, "You'll never be conservative until you have something to conserve"…..

AndyG, February 27, 2016 at 10:48 am

Thanks to @Blas another first on the pages of TAC: the words "Trump" and "Humane" used in relation to one another.
And thanks to the Tea Party, a Congress that won't pass any sort of populist reform simply because it might mean shaking hands across the aisle.

Punch and Judy, February 27, 2016 at 2:10 pm

@AndyG "And thanks to the Tea Party, a Congress that won't pass any sort of populist reform simply because it might mean shaking hands across the aisle."

What a laugh.

"Across the aisle" from the Tea Party congressmen are Democrats who say "What's mine is mine and what's yours is negotiable. You must not only tolerate what is repugnant to you, you must accept it or I'll have you arrested. The Federal judiciary is the engine of democracy. I only enforce laws I like. Only a fanatic would try to balance or reduce the federal budget. It's as impossible and absurd as controlling immigration. Wall Street is just fine as long as it hires lots of Diversity Officers, and the only people who oppose globalism and the corporations who fill my campaign coffers are racists and bigots."

As to populist reforms that TP Republicans and Democrat dissidents might have cooperated on, like reimposition of Glass-Steagel, or laws requiring vigorous prosecution of Wall Street criminals and Wall Street-owned government officials, or reining in the NSA, or ending the Middle East wars, the establishments of both parties have collaborated to crush their efforts. Just ask Rand Paul (R) and Ron Wyden (D).

Of course the Tea Party base is still fighting back hard. It's engaged in mortal combat with the GOP establishment. God willing and with perseverence it may prevail.

And what are those "across the aisle", the congressional Democrats, doing? Other than politely watching Sanders sputter into oblivion as they prepare for HRC's coronation? And what is the Democrat base doing other than making that possible? Most of them aren't even going to the polls

Clint, February 27, 2016 at 7:06 pm

And thanks to the Tea Party, a Congress that won't pass any sort of populist reform simply because it might mean shaking hands across the aisle

You're welcome. And do expect The Tea Party to continue to work with Trump to follow a different form of Populism from that of Socialistic Democrats.

the unworthy craftsman, February 28, 2016 at 6:57 am

Trump/No Trump said:

"Occupy is dead, Sanders is dying, and the Democrats will soon be a wholly owned subsidiary of Clinton Inc. Rather, it is the widely ridiculed and derided Tea Party tendency (not to be confused with the various attempts at cooptation by groups using the name) that proved to be adults with staying power, real agents of change."

I was heavily involved with the original Zucotti Park Occupy encampment, doing outreach to unions and the working class. There was quite a bit of hope for this in the early heady days of Occupy; but in the end, the priorities of a movement run by and for impoverished and entitled graduate students won out. Around this time I started to understand that the center of gravity of real radicalism in this country was on the "right".

EliteCommInc., February 28, 2016 at 11:07 am

The problem for me is several fold.

"Every Republican except Trump has tried, to one degree or another, to present himself as a champion of conservative orthodoxy."

If you are having to measure it in degrees of this or ht, then there's a good chance you don't represent what it is that you partially represent. In my view conservative is not hodge podge, it's a mechanism or an a priori vie point by which one approaches most or all of their life.

My guess is that people are not responding o a conservative orthodoxy because they just don't see one. In my view Sen Cruz and Dr. Caron and even (CEO) Mrs. Fiorina have the closest ties to a conservative view. Where i seems to come undone is on the issue of (needlessly) aggressive foreign policy. Mr. Trump is a conservative now, but his life has not fully reflected as much.

The traditional conservative

  1. very pro the "common man" Does not oppose wealth, but that is not a goal in of itself.
  2. does not pretend that that there is not objective realities - there are facts that matter – Truth is not relative even if opinions, ideas and tastes are.
  3. prudence to change, why and what it's consequences.
  4. fairness, fair play and undying desire or justice
  5. economic efficiency (not just frugality)
  6. a definitive sense of country and kinsmen – even if he or she thinks they are less their cup of tea and morality –
  7. a belief in a divine being with whom one is dynamically involved with – while Christianity is my own preference it need not be the sole belief that a conservative adhere's to.
  8. I have to comprehend the community benefit for killing children in the womb, much it's complete undermining of what innocents means. It makes little practical sense for a community that pushes the choice of homosexual expression a some kind norm when it adds nothing of community value beyond individual satisfaction. That a dynamic which is retrograde to community flourishing should be a national agenda is also incomprehensible

___________________

I am not inclined to give the "Tea Party much credit. They have been part of the very problem. Though I guess, the shift to another direction is a positive sign. As I recall the Tea Party was the last to give up the ghost that the invasion of Iraq was worthwhile and certainly a leap from conservative thought and practice, in almost every respect.

It dawned them rather belated that the PA and HMS was going to come back to haunt them. And yet for those who are Christian , what they should have known is that in the end, it is just such programs that will be used to round them and send them packing - yet, they have been all for extreme forms of government when it suited them. Now that democrats are using those against their interests, they are suddenly awake - suddenly they are about the Constitution. Yet they have been all to happy to abandon the same when it comes those who come into contact with police. When Republicans should have embraced civil protections, they shunned it as though such concerns were unconstitutional the powers that began turned their sights on them. Hard to claim some populist mandate unless the so called populism benefits your interests alone. I am dubious that this is some kind middle and lower class uprising in the Republican party - the support for Mr. Trump appears to be much broader.
_________________

Sadly, I think it is accurate that blacks have come to the rescue of Sec. Clinton. It is sad, but it is understandable. I was walking on campus yesterday. And having lived in these community for some time, it struck me as deeply depressing that there were large groups of Asians and Hispanics groups and it was starkly distressing to realize that that for all of this country's embrace of diversity, blacks remain non existent on campus. Considering that education is the now the bastion of democratic and liberal life, blacks seem very ill served by the people they support. I doubt the Rose Law firm is going to abandon overseeing contracts to support cheap labor which will most impact negatively the lives of no few blacks. But if you don't have th gumption to fight, the democratic broad rode is a sensible choice. Fear of losing what you don't have is a liberal/democratic tote bag.

I remain hopeful that one day, blacks will wake up and reject the liberal bait and switch spoon fed them.
_________________________

Unfortunately,

Pres. Reagan has been saddled with the term "Reaganonmics". When in fact, it never existed as designed and as result was never fully implemented. Reality got in the way and as such subverted a good deal of the intent. It is incorrect to posit the model as top down. The model is as old as the country – keep money in people's hands and it will flow and redistribute throughout the country. There's just no incentives created for those with the most to reinvest in their community the US.
_____________

I think the observations concerning how the financial industry have been totally unaccountable to the law, best practices and basic math are spot on. I embrace WS, but they cannot become so unmoored from the country that has bestowed luxurious benefits (loopholes) as to operate outside that frame without consequence. I am unsure of the monetary efficacy that investing in investing. If one is going bandy about "law and order" then to have any genuine legs – it's an across the board application.

[Sep 02, 2016] After neoliberalism

Notable quotes:
"... The era of unchallenged neoliberal dominance is clearly over. Hopefully, it will prove to have been a relatively brief interruption in a long term trend towards a more humane and egalitarian society. Whether that is true depends on the success of the left in putting forward a positive alternative. ..."
"... Third, the "individualist" thingies work as long as people believe that they are on the winning side; but there is evidence enough today that most people are on the losing side of increasing inequality, so most people have reason to be pro leftish policies both in "moralistic" terms and in "crude self interest" terms. In the past this wasn't obvious, but today it is, and this drum should be banged more. ..."
"... Bob Zanelli @ 10, your comment perfectly embodies an ideological trap to be avoided at all costs. What Quiggin calls tribalism is precisely not ..."
"... I can't speak for other industrialized democracies, but in the US, there is essentially no ability for the left to engage in structural change. Every avenue has been either blocked by the 18th century political structures of the US (sometimes exploited in extraordinary ways by the monied powers that those structures enable) or subsumed by the neoliberal individualist marketification of everything. ..."
"... To just discount the reality of our evolutionary baggage by calling it sociobiology is an example of classic Marxist ideology which seems to require the perfectibility of human nature. ..."
"... I just think we should call what he calls "tribalism" by its proper name - fascism - instead of deliberately tainting our theories with overtones of an "enlightened civilized wisdom versus backwards tribal savages" narrative that itself is central to fascist/"tribalist" ideology and therefore belongs in the dustbin of history. Surely flouting Godwin's Law is a lesser sin than knowingly perpetuating the discourses of racism. ..."
"... Marxism isn't evil and Nazism is evil. So political ideology can be evil or just wrong and accomplish evil. We are indebted to Marx for describing the nature of class warfare and the natural trends of accumulation based economics , but we now know his solution is a failure. So either we learn from this or we cling on to outmoded ideas and remain irrelevant. ..."
"... It seems pretty hardwired, at least enough that not planning around it would be foolish. ..."
"... It turns out that you can't say things like "globalism is great for the UK GDP" and expect citizens of the 'UK' to be excited about it if they feel too alienated from the people who are making all of the money. ..."
"... Punching "globalism" into Google returns the following definition from Merriam-Webster: "a national policy of treating the whole world as a proper sphere for political influence - compare imperialism, internationalism." ..."
"... I agree with bob mcm that Trump_vs_deep_state isn't fascism. It's not a serious analysis to say that it is. ..."
"... I take note of the Florida primary results, just in: Debbie Wasserman-Schultz did just fine, as did her hand-picked Democratic Senate candidate, the horrible Patrick Murphy. ..."
"... Oh, and Rubio is back. Notice of the death of neoliberalism might be premature. ..."
"... I mean Judas Iscariot, I mean Bill Clinton, you can make a case that he did his best to salvage something from the wreckage. To repeat what I've said here before, when he was elected the Democrats had lost five of the last six elections, most by landslides. The one exception was the most conservative of the Democratic candidates, who was despised by the left. The American people had decisively rejected what the Democrats were selling. False consciousness, no doubt. ..."
"... The obscurity and complexity of, say, Obamacare or the Greek bailout is a cover story for the looting. ..."
"... The problem is not that the experts do not understand consequences. The problem is that a broken system pays the top better, so the system has to be broken, but not so broken that the top falls off in collapse. ..."
"... Very well said. Resource limits shadow the falling apart of the global order that the American Interest link Peter T points to. If the billionaires are looting from the top and the response is a criminal scramble at the bottom, the unnecessariat will be spit out uncomprehending into the void between. ..."
"... So much concern about the term tribalism. Well what is fascism? The use of tribalism to grasp political power and establish a totalitarian political order. Sound reasonable? Pick any fascism you like, the Nazis ( master race) the theocratic fascists in the US ( Christian rule ) Catholic Fascism ( Franco's Spain) , you name it. It walks and talks like tribalism. Trump-ism is the not so new face of American fascism. It's race based, it xenophobic, it's embraces violence, has a disdain for civil liberties and human rights, and it features the great leader. Doesn't seem to difficult to make the connection. ..."
"... Neoliberalism is the politics of controlled dismantling of the institutions of a society that formerly worked for a larger portion of its participants. Like a landlord realizing increased cash flow from a decision to forego maintenance and hire gangsters to handle rent collection, neoliberalism seeks to divert the dividends from disinvestment to the top ..."
"... The cadre managing this technically and politically difficult task - it is not easy to take things apart without critical failures exemplified by system collapse prompting insurrection or revolution - are rewarded as are society's owners, the 1/10th of 1%. Everybody else is screwed - either directly, or by the consequences of the social disintegration used to feed a parasitic elite. ..."
"... "Lesser evil" is a story told to herd the masses. If there are two neoliberal politicians, both are corrupt. Neither intends to deliver anything to you on net; they are competing to deliver you. ..."
"... I am not enthusiastic about this proposed distinction between "hard" and "soft" neoliberalism. Ideologically, conservative libertarians have been locked in a dialectic with the Clintonite / Blairite neoliberals - that's an old story, maybe an obsolete story, but apparently not one those insist on seeing neoliberalism as a monolithic lump fixed in time can quite grasp, but never mind. ..."
"... Good cop, bad cop. Only, the electorate is carefully divided so that one side's good cop is the other side's bad cop, and vice versa. ..."
"... In fact, there was a powerful fascist movement in many Allied states as well. Vichy France had deep, strong domestic roots in particular, but the South African Broederbond and Jim Crow USA with its lynchings show how fascism and democracy (as understood by anti-Communists) are not separate things, but conjunctural developments of the capitalist states, which are not organized as business firms. ..."
"... "an obligation to vote in a democracy" ..."
"... orders you to consent ..."
"... if the US government was ever thrown it would be by the far right ..."
"... Not voting is routinely interpreted as tacit consent. ..."
Sep 02, 2016 | crookedtimber.org
The failure of neoliberalism poses both challenges and opportunities for the left. The greatest challenge is the need to confront rightwing tribalism as a powerful political force in itself, rather than as a source of political support for hard neoliberalism. Given the dangers posed by tribalism this is an urgent task. One part of this task is that of articulating an explanation of the failure of neoliberalism and explaining why the simplistic policy responses of tribalist politicians will do nothing to resolve the problems. The other is to appeal to the positive elements of the appeal of tribalism, such as solidarity and affection for long-standing institutions and to counterpose them to the self-seeking individualism central to neoliberalism, particularly in the hard version with which political tribalism has long been aligned.

The great opportunity is to present a progressive alternative to the accommodations of soft neoliberalism. The core of such an alternative must be a revival of the egalitarian and activist politics of the postwar social democratic moment, updated to take account of the radically different technological and social structures of the 21st century. In technological terms, the most important development is undoubtedly the rise of the Internet. Thinking about the relationship between the Internet economy and public policy remains embryonic at best. But as a massive public good created, in very large measure, by the public sector, the Internet ought to present opportunities for a radically remodeled progressive policy agenda.

In political terms, the breakdown of neoliberalism implies the need for a political realignment. This is now taking place on the right, as tribalists assert their dominance over hard neoliberals. The most promising strategy for the left is to achieve a similar shift in power within the centre-left coalition of leftists and soft neoliberals.

This might seem a hopeless task, but there are positive signs, notably in the United States. Although Hillary Clinton, an archetypal soft neoliberal, has won the Democratic nomination for the Presidency and seems likely to win, her policy proposals have been driven, in large measure by the need to compete with the progressive left. There is reason to hope that, whereas the first Clinton presidency symbolised the capture of the Democratic Party by soft neoliberalism, the second will symbolise the resurgence of social liberalism.

The era of unchallenged neoliberal dominance is clearly over. Hopefully, it will prove to have been a relatively brief interruption in a long term trend towards a more humane and egalitarian society. Whether that is true depends on the success of the left in putting forward a positive alternative.

Brett 08.30.16 at 5:49 am

I don't know. I think for a true triumph over the existing order, we'd need true international institutions designed to enhance other kinds of protections, like environmental and labor standards world-wide. That doesn't seem to be in the wings right now, versus a light version of protectionism coupled with perhaps some restoration of the welfare state (outside of the US – inside the US we're going to get deadlock mildly alleviated by the Supreme Court and whatever types of executive orders Clinton comes up with for the next eight years).
Andrew Bartlett 08.30.16 at 6:15 am
"The other is to appeal to the positive elements of the appeal of tribalism, such as solidarity and affection for long-standing institutions"

My only worry with that is the strong overlap between tribalism and racism, at least in it's political forms. Harking to the myth of a monocultural past could be seen by some as 'affection for long-standing institutions'. (I know that's not what the author is thinking, but left has had it's racism and pro-discrimination elements, and I am wary of giving too much opportunity for those to align with that of the right)

bruce wilder 08.30.16 at 7:29 am
I wonder, how do you envision this failure of neoliberalism?

It seems like an effective response would depend somewhat on how you think this anticipated political failure of neoliberalism plays out over the next few years. And, it is an anticipated failure, yes? or do you see an actual political failure as an accomplished fact?

And, if it is still an anticipated failure, do you see it as a political failure - the inability to marshall electoral support or a legislative coalition? Or, an ideological style that's worn out its credibility?

Or, do you anticipate manifest policy failure to play a role in the dynamics?

MisterMr 08.30.16 at 9:31 am
"The other is to appeal to the positive elements of the appeal of tribalism, such as solidarity and affection for long-standing institutions and to counterpose them to the self-seeking individualism central to neoliberalism"

I don't agree with this. First, appealing to tribalism without actually believing in it is a dick move. Second, actually existing tribalists are arseholes, or rather everyone when is taken by the tribalist demon becomes an arsehole.

Third, the "individualist" thingie work as long as people believe that they are on the winning side; but there is evidence enough today that most people are on the losing side of increasing inequality, so most people have reason to be pro lftish policies both in "moralistic" terms and in "crude self interest" terms. In the past this wasn't obvious, but today it is, and this drum should be banged more.

PS: about increasing inequality, there are two different trends that usually are mixed up:

1) When we look at inequality at an international level, the main determinant is differential "productivity" among nations. The productivity of developing nations (mostly China) went up a lot, and this causes a fall in international inequality.

2) When we look at inequalityinside a nation, it depends mostly on how exploitative the economic system is, and I think that the main indicator of this is the wage share of total income; as the wage share fell, income inequality increased. This happened both in developed and developing countries.

These two determinants of inequality are mixed up and this creates the impression that, say, the fall in wages of American workers is caused by the ascent of Chinese workers, whereas instead both American and Chinese workes lost in proportion, but the increase in productivity more than compensated the fall in relative wages.

Mixing up these two determinants causes the rise in nationalism, as workers in developed nations believe that they have been sacrificed to help workers in developing nations (which isn't true). This is my argument against nationalism and the reason I'm skeptic of stuff like brexit, and this makes me sort of allergic to tribalism.

Bob Zannelli 08.30.16 at 11:43 am
This analysis by Quiggin is spot on. Clearly the way forward holds both promise and great peril, especially in the nuclear age. The notion that Trump is just more of the same from the GOP is deluded. He represents a dangerous insurgency of radical rightists , who can be quite fairly be called racist and religious extremist based fascists. A Trump win could well close the curtain on democracy in America. Neo liberalism is being repudiated , will the elite now turn to the fascists to hold their ground, as happened in Germany? It's a troubling question.
casmilus 08.30.16 at 11:46 am
"The great opportunity is to present a progressive alternative to the accommodations of soft neoliberalism. The core of such an alternative must be a revival of the egalitarian and activist politics of the postwar social democratic moment, updated to take account of the radically different technological and social structures of the 21st century. In technological terms, the most important development is undoubtedly the rise of the Internet."

Why is that any more important than the invention of digital computers, starting from the 1940s? Just a further evolution. The real challenge is from robotics, 3D printing and AI drivers for such processes. That really will liquidate a lot of skilled labour; computing created a new industry of jobs and manufacturing.

bob mcmanus 08.30.16 at 11:59 am
4: From my point of view, neoliberalism…long supply chains and logistics; downward pressure on wages and the social wage; the growth of finance to supply consumer credit to prop up effective demand; the culture of self-improvement and self-management to reduce overhead and reproduction costs…no longer supports accumulation of capital or reproduction of political legitimacy. IOW, an economic failure.

(Anwar Shaikh's new book is definitive)

Martin 08.30.16 at 1:21 pm
Is there any knowledge of who supports tribalism? The analysis so far seems to be in terms of tribalist policies, emotions etc, but not of who the tribalists are, and why they support tribalist 'solutions' rather than say socialism.
Bob Zannelli 08.30.16 at 1:36 pm
Is there any knowledge of who supports tribalism? The analysis so far seems to be in terms of tribalist policies, emotions etc, but not of who the tribalists are, and why they support tribalist 'solutions' rather than say socialism.

Tribalism is hard wired in our genes. It can be over come with education but too few voters ever get beyond an emotional response to what they perceive. It's no accident that conservatives do anything they can to undermine education and promote religious based ignorance. That's how they win elections. But this is a dangerous game, sometimes a Hitler or a Trump shows up and steals the show.

Will G-R 08.30.16 at 2:00 pm
MisterMr @ 5: Third, the "individualist" thingies work as long as people believe that they are on the winning side; but there is evidence enough today that most people are on the losing side of increasing inequality, so most people have reason to be pro leftish policies both in "moralistic" terms and in "crude self interest" terms. In the past this wasn't obvious, but today it is, and this drum should be banged more.

This is where it becomes problematic that so much of this conversation happens within individual First-World nation-states, because the inequalities "tribalists" are interested in maintaining are precisely the inequalities between nations on a global scale. If the "most people" you're talking about includes the masses of recently-proletarianized working people in the Third World, then sure "most people" have reason to be pro-left. But when we have this conversation in a setting like this, we all implicitly know that "most people" refers at best to the working classes of countries like Australia and the US, and these people still perceive a decided interest in maintaining the global economic hierarchies for which "tribalism" serves this conversation as a signifier.

For the working classes of the First World wrapped up in their "tribalist" defense of a global aristocracy of nations, to truly believe they're on the losing side would mean to accept that the defense of national sovereignty from neoliberal globalization is an inherently lost cause. If they're to defect from the cause of "tribalism" and join the Left, this would mean accepting a critique of the "long-standing institutions" of First-World social democracy that appears to go much farther left even than John Quiggin appears willing to go. (As in, the implementation of social-democratic institutions in First-World capitalist societies is inherently a tool for enabling the economic domination of the First World over the Third World, by empowering a racialized labor aristocracy to serve as foot soldiers of global imperialism, and so on and so on à la Lenin.)

Will G-R 08.30.16 at 2:09 pm
Bob Zanelli @ 10, your comment perfectly embodies an ideological trap to be avoided at all costs. What Quiggin calls tribalism is precisely not "hard-wired in our genes", it's an inherently modern creation of the inherently modern political and economic forces that first created the "imagined community" of the modern nation-state and continue to put incredible amounts of energy into indoctrinating various populations in its various national mythologies.

Far from being an inherent solution to this problem, education - within the context of a national education system, educating its pupils as Americans/Australians/etc. - is an utterly indispensable mechanism by which this process is accomplished.

Z 08.30.16 at 2:09 pm
Interestingly, I share all the premises, and yet none of the optimistic conclusions. Because soft neoliberalism (and in fact even hard neoliberalism) is much closer sociologically, politically and ideologically to the left than tribalism is, I see the end of the hegemonic neoliberal ideology and the correlative rise of tribalism as (somewhat paradoxically) the guarantee for perpetual neoliberal power in the short and middle term, at least for two reasons.

First of all, left-inclined citizens will most likely always vote for neoliberal candidates if the alternative is a tribalist candidate (case in point: in 9 months or so, I will in all likelihood be offered a choice between a hard neoliberal and Marine Le Pen; what then?).

Moreover, even if/when tribalist parties gain power, their relative sociological estrangement from the elite sand correlative relative lack of political power all but guarantees in my mind that they will govern along the path of least resistance for them; that is to say hard neoliberalism (with a sprinkle of tribalist cultural moves). This is how the FPO ruled Carinthia, for instance, and how I would expect Trump to govern in the (unlikely) eventuality he reached power.

Finally, mass migration are bound to intensify because of climate change (if for no other reason) and the trend internationally in advanced democratic countries seems to be towards national divergence and hence national reversion.

I don't see how an ideologically coherent left-oriented force can emerge in this context, but of course I would love to be proved wrong on all counts.

Lupita 08.30.16 at 2:22 pm
Bravo, Will G-R!
Bob Zannelli 08.30.16 at 2:37 pm
Will G-R 08.30.16 at 2:09 pm
Bob Zanelli @ 10, your comment perfectly embodies an ideological trap to be avoided at all costs. What Quiggin calls tribalism is precisely not "hard-wired in our genes", it's an inherently modern creation of the inherently modern political and economic forces that first created the "imagined community" of the modern nation-state and continue to put incredible amounts of energy into indoctrinating various populations in its various national mythologies. Far from being an inherent solution to this problem, education - within the context of a national education system, educating its pupils as Americans/Australians/etc. - is an utterly indispensable mechanism by which this process is accomplished.

)))))))))))))))

I don't agree. It's true that tribalism has morphed into what you call national mythologies , but the basis for this is our evolutionary heritage which divides the world into them and us. This no doubt had survival benefits for hunter gatherer social units but it's dangerous baggage in today's world. I find your comments about education curious. Are you advocating ignorance? I think you confuse education with indoctrination , they are not the same thing.

Rich Puchalsky 08.30.16 at 2:45 pm
The question of what ideology an ideologically coherent left-oriented force would come together around is indeed an important question, but I'll try not to dwell on my hobbyhorses too much.

For now I'll add a slightly different area to consider this through: current First World "left" populations (especially in the U.S.) want to turn everything into individual moral questions through which a false solidarity can be expressed and through which opposing people can be shamed. For instance, I've thought a good deal about how environmental problems are the most important problems in general at the moment, and how it's clear that they require a redesign of our infrastructure. This is not an individual problem - no amount of volunteer action will work. Yet people on the left continually exert pressure to turn this into a conflict of morally good renouncers vs wasters, something that the right is quite ready to enhance with their own ridiculous tribal boundary markers (google "rolling coal").

You see this with appeals to racism. Racism is a real problem and destroys real people's lives. But treating it as an individual moral problem rather than a social, structural one is a way of setting boundaries around an elite. The challenge for the left is going to be developing a left that, no matter what it's based around, doesn't fall back into this individualist new-class status preservation.

Will G-R 08.30.16 at 3:15 pm
@ Bob Zannelli, you're continuing to draw on the language of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology without the social-scientific rigor to justify it. (Of course, to many if not most social scientists, the very fields of sociobiology and evopsych are largely premised on a lack of such rigor to begin with, but that's another story.) In particular, the term doing the heavy lifting to provide your get-out-of-rigor-free card is "morphed". What has been the historical trajectory of this "morphing"? What social and political institutions have been involved? With what political interests, and what economic ones? If you think about those kinds of questions, you might make some headway toward understanding why social scientists generally interpret the sociocultural aspects of racism and fascism as essential, and the biological aspects as essentially arbitrary.

To be fair, a large part of the fault here is John Quiggin's for using a word with as much fraught ideological baggage as "tribalism" to do so much of his own heavy lifting. The ironic thing is, the polemical power that probably motivated Quiggin to use that word in the first place comes from the very same set of ideological associations (e.g. "barbaric", "savage", "uncivilized", etc.) whose application to modern political issues of race and nationality he would probably characterize as "tribalist" in the first place!

Holden Pattern 08.30.16 at 3:20 pm
@ comment 16:

I can't speak for other industrialized democracies, but in the US, there is essentially no ability for the left to engage in structural change. Every avenue has been either blocked by the 18th century political structures of the US (sometimes exploited in extraordinary ways by the monied powers that those structures enable) or subsumed by the neoliberal individualist marketification of everything.

So what remains, especially given the latter, is marketing and individual action - persuasion, shame, public expressions of virtue. That's all that is available to the left in the United States, especially on issues like racism and environmental problems.

So while it's good fun to bash the lefty elites in their tony coastal enclaves and recount their clueless dinner party conversations, it's shooting fish in a barrel. Easy for you and probably satisfying in a cheap way, but the fish probably didn't put themselves in the barrel, and blaming them for swimming in circles is… problematic.

Bob Zannelli 08.30.16 at 3:26 pm
@ Bob Zannelli, you're continuing to draw on the language of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology without the social-scientific rigor to justify it. (Of course, to many if not most social scientists, the very fields of sociobiology and evopsych are largely premised on a lack of such rigor to begin with, but that's another story.) In particular, the term doing the heavy lifting to provide your get-out-of-rigor-free card is "morphed". What has been the historical trajectory of this "morphing"? What social and political institutions have been involved? With what political interests, and what economic ones? If you think about those kinds of questions, you might make some headway toward understanding why social scientists generally interpret the sociocultural aspects of racism and fascism as essential, and the biological aspects as essentially arbitrary.

)))))))))))

I hope it's clear that I do not discount the assertion that nationalism and racism are part of social constructs that favor class interest. My point is that political agendas have to work with the clay they start with. To just discount the reality of our evolutionary baggage by calling it sociobiology is an example of classic Marxist ideology which seems to require the perfectibility of human nature. This is a dangerous illusion, it leads right to the gulags.

))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

To be fair, a large part of the fault here is John Quiggin's for using a word with as much fraught ideological baggage as "tribalism" to do so much of his own heavy lifting. The ironic thing is, the polemical power that probably motivated Quiggin to use that word in the first place comes from the very same set of ideological associations (e.g. "barbaric", "savage", "uncivilized", etc.) whose application to modern political issues of race and nationality he would probably characterize as "tribalist" in the first place!

)))))))))

I think Quiggen's analysis is not to be scorned

Rich Puchalsky 08.30.16 at 3:33 pm
"Easy for you and probably satisfying in a cheap way, but the fish probably didn't put themselves in the barrel, and blaming them for swimming in circles is… problematic."

I come out of the same milieu, so I don't see why it's problematic to call attention to this. I
helped to change JQ's opinion on part of it (as he wrote later, the facts were the largest influence on his change of opinion, but apparently what I wrote helped) and he's an actual public intellectual in Australia. As intellectuals our personal actions don't matter but sometimes our ideas might.

Activism and social movements can help, even in the U.S. (I think that 350.org has had a measurable effect) so I wouldn't say that a structural approach means that nothing is possible.

Will G-R 08.30.16 at 4:06 pm

@ Bob Zannelli: To just discount the reality of our evolutionary baggage by calling it sociobiology is an example of classic Marxist ideology which seems to require the perfectibility of human nature.

As hesitant as I am to play the "Fallacy Man" game, this is a common strawman about Marxism. In the words of Mao Tse-Tung, as quoted by the eminent evolutionary biologist and Marxist Richard Lewontin: "In a suitable temperature an egg changes into a chicken, but no temperature can change a stone into a chicken, because each has a different basis." As far as human biological capacities, it's perfectly clear from any number of everyday examples that we're able to ignore all sorts of outward phenotypic differences in determining which sorts of people to consider more and less worthy of our ethical consideration, as long as the ideological structure of our culture and society permits it - so the problem is how to build the sort of culture and society we want to see, and telling wildly speculative "Just-So stories" about how the hairless ape got its concentration camps doesn't necessarily help in solving this problem.

On the contrary, the desire to root social phenomena like what Quiggin calls "tribalism" in our genes is itself an ideological fetish object of our own particular culture, utilizing our modern reverence for science to characterize social phenomena allegedly dictated by "biology" as therefore natural, inevitable, or even desirable. Here, have a reading / listening recommendation.

RobinM 08.30.16 at 4:20 pm
Like Will G-R at 17 and Bob Zannelli at 19, I, too, found the use of the term "tribalism" in the original post a bit disturbing. It's almost always used as a pejorative. And it suggests that the "tribalists" require no deeper analysis. I'm sure it's been around for much longer, but I think I first took note of it when the Scottish National Party was shallowly dismissed as a mere expression of tribalism. That the SNP (which, by the way, I do not support) was raising questions about the deep failures of the British system of politics and government long before these failures became widely acknowledged was thus disregarded. Currently, an aspect of that deep failure, the British Labour Party seems to be in the process of destroying itself, again in part, in my estimation, because one side, among whom the 'experts' must be numbered, seem to think that those who are challenging them can be dismissed as "tribalists." There are surely a lot more examples.

More generally, the resort to "tribalism" as an explanation of what is now transpiring is also, perhaps, neoliberalism's misunderstanding of its own present predicaments even while it is part of the arsenal of weapons neoliberals direct against their critics?

But in short, the evocation of "tribalism" is not only disturbing, it's dangerously misleading. Those seeking to understand what may now be unfolding should avoid using it, not least because there are also almost certainly a whole lot of different "tribes."

awy 08.30.16 at 5:06 pm
so what's the neoliberal strategy for preserving good governance in the face of insurgencies on the left and right?
Yankee 08.30.16 at 5:08 pm
This just in , about good tribalism (locality-based) vs bad tribalism ("race"-based, ie perceived or assumed common ancestry). It's about cultural recognition; nationalism, based on shared allegiance to a power structure, is different, although related (sadly)
James Wimberley 08.30.16 at 5:14 pm
"But as a massive public good created, in very large measure, by the public sector .." With a large assist from non-profit-making community movements, as with Wikipedia and Linux. (IIRC the majority of Internet servers run on variants of the noncommercial Linux operating system, as do almost all smartphones and tablets.) CT, with unpaid bloggers and commenters, is part of a much bigger trend. Maybe one lesson for the state-oriented left is to take communitarianism more seriously.

The Internet, with minimal state regulation after the vital initial pump-priming, technical self-government by a meritocratic cooptative technocracy, an oligopolistic commercial physical substructure, and large volumes of non-commercial as well as commercial content, is an interesting paradigm of coexistence for the future. Of course there are three-way tensions and ongoing battles, but it's still working.

Will G-R 08.30.16 at 5:42 pm
RobinM, to clarify, I do think that what Quiggin calls tribalism is worth opposing in pretty absolute terms, and I even largely agree with the meat of his broader "three-party system" analysis. I just think we should call what he calls "tribalism" by its proper name - fascism - instead of deliberately tainting our theories with overtones of an "enlightened civilized wisdom versus backwards tribal savages" narrative that itself is central to fascist/"tribalist" ideology and therefore belongs in the dustbin of history. Surely flouting Godwin's Law is a lesser sin than knowingly perpetuating the discourses of racism.
Bob Zannelli 08.30.16 at 6:18 pm
In the words of Mao Tse-Tung, as quoted by the eminent evolutionary biologist and Marxist Richard Lewontin:

Now Mao Tse-Tung, there's role model to be quoted. The thing about science is that's it true whether you believe it not, the thing about Marxism is that it's pseudo science and
it gave us Stalin , the failed Soviet Union, Pol Pot,, Mao Tse Tung and the dear leader in North Korea to name the most obvious. I know, I know , maybe someone will get it right some day.

A realist politics doesn't ignore science , this doesn't mean that socialism is somehow precluded, in fact the exact opposite. We have to extend democracy into the economic sphere, until we do this, we don't have a democratically based society. It's because of human nature we need to democratize every center of power, no elite or vanguard if you prefer can be ever be trusted. But democracy isn't easy, you have to defeat ignorance , a useful trait to game the system , by the elite, and create a political structure that takes account of human nature , not try to perfect it. One would hope leftists would learn something from history, but dogmas die hard.

Igor Belanov 08.30.16 at 6:50 pm
Bob Zannelli @27

"about Marxism is that it's pseudo science and it gave us Stalin , the failed Soviet Union, Pol Pot,, Mao Tse Tung and the dear leader in North Korea to name the most obvious."

To claim that Marxism 'gave us' all those wicked people must be one of the least Marxist statements ever written! No doubt if Stalin and Pol Pot hadn't come across the works of a 19th century German émigré then they would have had jobs working in a florists and spending all the rest of their time helping old ladies over the road.

Good to see Bob being consistent though. A few comments back he was suggesting that humans are biologically 'tribalist', but now he's blaming all evil on political ideology.

Raven Onthill 08.30.16 at 7:06 pm
"I conceive, therefore, that a somewhat comprehensive socialisation of investment will prove the only means of securing an approximation to full employment; though this need not exclude all manner of compromises and of devices by which public authority will co-operate with private initiative."
Sebastian_H 08.30.16 at 7:26 pm
'Tribalism' is giving members of what you perceive as your tribe more leeway than you give others. (Or negatively being much more critical of others than you would be of your tribe). It seems pretty hardwired, at least enough that not planning around it would be foolish. Lots of 'civilization' is about lubricating the rough spots created by tribalism while trying to leverage the good sides.

One of the failures of neo-liberalism is in assuming that it can count on the good side of tribalism while ignoring the perceived responsibilities to one's own tribe. It turns out that you can't say things like "globalism is great for the UK GDP" and expect citizens of the 'UK' to be excited about it if they feel too alienated from the people who are making all of the money. So then when it comes time to say "for the good of the UK we need you to do X" lots of people won't listen to you. John asks a good question in exploring what comes next, but it isn't clear.

Bob Zannelli 08.30.16 at 7:30 pm
about Marxism is that it's pseudo science and
it gave us Stalin , the failed Soviet Union, Pol Pot,, Mao Tse Tung and the dear leader in North Korea to name the most obvious."

To claim that Marxism 'gave us' all those wicked people must be one of the least Marxist statements ever written! No doubt if Stalin and Pol Pot hadn't come across the works of a 19th century German émigré then they would have had jobs working in a florists and spending all the rest of their time helping old ladies over the road.

Good to see Bob being consistent though. A few comments back he was suggesting that humans are biologically 'tribalist', but now he's blaming all evil on political ideology.

)))))))))))))

Marxism isn't evil and Nazism is evil. So political ideology can be evil or just wrong and accomplish evil. We are indebted to Marx for describing the nature of class warfare and the natural trends of accumulation based economics , but we now know his solution is a failure. So either we learn from this or we cling on to outmoded ideas and remain irrelevant.

In the Soviet Union , science, art and literature were under assault, with scientists, artist and writers sent to the gulag or murdered for not conforming to strict Marxist Leninist ideology. Evolution, quantum mechanics, and relativity were all attacked as bourgeois science. ( The need for nuclear weapons forced Stalin later to allow this science to be sanctioned) These days, like the Catholic Church which can no longer burn people at the stake , old Marxists can just castigate opinions that don't meet Marxist orthodoxy.

Will G-R 08.30.16 at 8:53 pm
@ Sebastian_H: It seems pretty hardwired, at least enough that not planning around it would be foolish.

But again, when we're talking about "tribalism" not in terms of some vague quasi-sociobiological force of eternal undying human nature, but in terms of the very modern historical phenomena of racism and nationalism, we have to consider the way any well-functioning modern nation-state has a whole host of institutions devoted to indoctrinating citizens in whatever ideological mythology is supposed to underpin a shared sense of national and/or racial identity. It should go without saying that whatever we think about general ingroup/outgroup tendencies innately hardwired into human nature or whatever, this way of relating our identities to historically contingent social institutions and their symbols is only as innate or hardwired as the institutions themselves.

It turns out that you can't say things like "globalism is great for the UK GDP" and expect citizens of the 'UK' to be excited about it if they feel too alienated from the people who are making all of the money.

At least in my view, economists are usually slipperier than that. The arguments I've seen for neoliberal free trade (I'm not quite sure what to make of the term "globalism") generally involve it being good for "the economy" in a much more abstract sense, carefully worded to avoid specifying whether the growth and prosperity takes place in Manchester or Mumbai. And there's even something worth preserving in this tendency, in the sense that ideally the workers of the world would have no less international/interracial solidarity than global capital already seems to achieved.

To me the possibility that neoliberal free trade and its degradation of national sovereignty might ultimately undermine the effectiveness of all nationalist myths, forging a sense of global solidarity among the collective masses of humanity ground under capital's boot, is the greatest hope or maybe even the only real hope we have in the face of the neoliberal onslaught. Certainly if there's any lesson from the fact that the hardest-neoliberal political leaders are often simultaneously the greatest supporters or enablers of chauvinistic ethnonationalism, it's that this kind of solidarity is also one of global capital's greatest nightmares.

Will G-R 08.30.16 at 9:05 pm
Punching "globalism" into Google returns the following definition from Merriam-Webster: "a national policy of treating the whole world as a proper sphere for political influence - compare imperialism, internationalism." I find it fascinating, and indicative of the ideological tension immanent in fascist reactionaries' use of the term, that the two terms listed as comparable to it are traditionally understood in modern political theory as diametrically opposed to each other.
bob mcmanus 08.30.16 at 9:17 pm
Recommending Joshua Clover's new book. Riot -Strike – Riot Prime

The strike, the organized disruption at the point of production, is no longer really available. Late capitalism, neoliberalism is now extracting surplus from distribution, as it did before industrialism, and is at the transport and communication streams that disruption will occur. And this will be riot, and there won't be much organization, centralization, hierarchy or solidarity. I am ok with "tribalism" although still looking for a better expression, and recognizing that a tribe is 15-50 people, and absolutely not scalable. Tribes can network, and people can have multiple and transient affiliations.

Clover's model is the Paris Commune.

(PS: If you don't like "tribe" come up with a word or expression that usefully describes the sociality of Black Lives Matter (movement, maybe) or even better Crooked Timber.)

Lee A. Arnold 08.30.16 at 9:21 pm
The left scarcely knows how to respond.

Almost all people are primarily led by emotions and use reason only secondarily, to justify the emotions.

There is a rude set of socio-economic "principles" which they call upon to buttress these arguments. You can hear these principles at any blue-collar job site, and you can hear them in a college lecture on economics, too:

–nature is selfish
–resources are scarce
–money measures real value
–wants are infinite
–there ain't no such thing as a free lunch (TANSTAAFL)
–you have to work for your daily bread
–incentives matter
–people want to keep up with the Joneses
–labor should be geographically mobile
–government is inefficient
–welfare destroys families
–printing money causes inflation
–the economy is a Darwinian mechanism

These are either false, or else secondary and ephemeral, and/or becoming inopportune and obsolete. None of them survives inspection by pure reason.

Yet this is an aggregate that buzzes around in almost everyone's head, is INTERNALIZED as true, for expectations both personal and social. And which causes most of our problems.

Consider TANSTAAFL: "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch." Yet obviously there is such a thing as a cheaper lunch, or else there would be no such thing as the improvement in the standard of living. …Okay, you say, but "resources are scarce." …Well no, we are quickly proceeding to the point where technological change and substitution will end real scarcity, and without ecological degradation. Therefore: can cheaper lunches proceed to the point where they are effectively free for the purposes of meeting human need, "your daily bread"? …Well no, you say, because people are greedy, and beyond their needs, they have wants: "wants are infinite." …But wait, wants really cannot be infinite, because a "want" takes mental time to have, and you only have so many hours in every day, and so many days in your life. In fact your wants are finite, and quite boring, and the Joneses' wants are finite sand boring too. (Though why you want to keep up with those boneheads the Joneses is a bit beyond me.) …Okay, you say, but "incentives matter": if you give people stuff, they will just slack off: "welfare destroys families." …But wait a minute. If we have insisted that people must work to feel self-worth, yet capitalism puts people out of work until there are no jobs available, and there are no business opportunities to provide ever-cheaper lunches, isn't welfare the least of our problems, isn't welfare a problem that gets solved when we solve the real problem?

But what is the real problem? Is the real problem that we don't know how to interact with strangers without the use of money, and so we think that money is a real thing? Is the real problem your certain feeling that we need to work for our self-worth? Is the real problem that capitalism is putting itself out of business, and showing that these so-called principles are just a bunch of bad excuses? Is the real problem that we are all caught in a huge emotional loop of bad thinking, now becoming an evident disaster?

bob mcmanus 08.30.16 at 9:26 pm
And also of course, people looking at Trump and his followers (or their enemies and opponents in the Democratic Party) and seeing "tribalism" are simply modernists engaging in nostalgia and reactionary analysis.

Trump_vs_deep_state is not fascism, and a Trump Rally is not Nuremberg. Much closer to Carnival

Wiki: "Interpretations of Carnival present it as a social institution that degrades or "uncrowns" the higher functions of thought, speech, and the soul by translating them into the grotesque body, which serves to renew society and the world,[37] as a release for impulses that threaten the social order that ultimately reinforces social norms ,[38] as a social transformation[39] or as a tool for different groups to focus attention on conflicts and incongruities by embodying them in "senseless" acts."

…or riot.

Rich Puchalsky 08.30.16 at 10:50 pm
I agree with bob mcm that Trump_vs_deep_state isn't fascism. It's not a serious analysis to say that it is.

"Tribalism" was coined as a kind of shorthand for what Michael Berube used to refer to "I used to consider myself a Democrat, but thanks to 9/11, I'm outraged by Chappaquiddick." It's the wholesale adoption of what at first looks like a value or belief system but is actually a social signaling system that one belongs to a group. People on the left refer to this signaling package as "tribal" primarily out of envy (I write somewhat jokingly) because the left no longer has a similarly strong package on its side.

Greg McKenzie 08.30.16 at 11:47 pm
"Tribalism" feeds into the factionalism of parties. The left has a strong faction both inside the ALP and the Liberal Party. The Right faction, in the NLP, is currently in ascendancy but this will not last. Just as the Right faction (in the ALP) was sidelined by clever ALP faction battles, the current members of the NLP's Right faction are on borrowed time. But all politicians are "mugs" as Henry Lawson pointed out over a hundred years ago. Politicians can be talked into anything, if it gives them an illusion of power. So "tribalism" is more powerful than "factionalism" simply because it has more staying power. Left faction and Right faction merely obey the demands of their tribal masters.
bruce wilder 08.31.16 at 1:47 am
. . . the left no longer has a similarly strong package on its side

honestly, I do not think "tribalism" is a "strong package" on Right or Left. Part of the point of tribalism in politics is just how superficial and media driven it is. The "signaling package" is put together and distributed like cigarette or perfume samples: everybody gets their talking points.

Pretending to care dominates actually caring. On the right - as Rich points out with the reference to "rolling coal", some people on the Right who have donned their tribal sweatshirts get their kicks out of supposing that somebody on the Left actually cares and they can tweak those foolishly caring Lefties.

bruce wilder 08.31.16 at 1:57 am
I take note of the Florida primary results, just in: Debbie Wasserman-Schultz did just fine, as did her hand-picked Democratic Senate candidate, the horrible Patrick Murphy.

Oh, and Rubio is back. Notice of the death of neoliberalism might be premature.

Martin 08.31.16 at 2:11 am
@ Bob Zannelli 10: To describe something as "hard wired" is to give up: what course of action could we take? But, then, why isn't everyone a member of the tribalist party? Has everyone, always, been of the tribalist party? (I know someone could argue, 'everyone is racist' or 'all these white liberals are just as racist really', but even if that is somehow true, most are members of the socialist party or the neoliberal party).

Rather than deciding it is all too hard, we can at least find out who supports tribalism, why it makes sense to them, whether it benefits them, how it benefits them, if it does, and why they support it anyway, if it does not benefit them.

I suppose (I am guessing here), some tribalists are benefiting from differential government support, such as immigration policies that keep out rival potential employees, or tariff policies that keep out competitors; or at least, that they used to benefit like that. But Crooked Timber should have readers who can answer this kind of question from their expertise.

Collect the evidence, then understand, then act.

Howard Frant 08.31.16 at 6:39 am
I suppose it's too late to try to convince people here that the term "neoliberalism" is a virus that devastates the analytic functions of the brain, but I'll try. The term is based on a European use of the word "liberal" that has never had any currency in the US. It's a wholly pejorative term based on a misunderstanding of Hayek (who did *not* believe in laissez-faire), but may be a reasonable approximation of the beliefs of , say, Thatcher. Then that term was confounded with a totally unconnected term invented by Peters, who was using the word "liberal" in the American sense. And presto, we have a seamless worlwide philosophy with "hard" and "soft" variants.

As far as, say, H. Clinton is concerned, I can see no respect in which it would be wrong to describe her as just a "liberal" in the American sense. American liberalism has always been internationalist and mildly pro-free-trade. It's also been pro-union– so we can just say that's *soft* neoliberalism and preserve our sense that we are part of a world-wide struggle. Or not.

Bernie Sanders was celebrated by the left for supporting a tax on carbon (without mentioning, of course, what price of gasoline he was contemplating), but this is an excellent illustration of what Peters would have considered a neoliberal policy. The term now just seems to mean anything I don't like.

As for Benedict Arnold, I mean Judas Iscariot, I mean Bill Clinton, you can make a case that he did his best to salvage something from the wreckage. To repeat what I've said here before, when he was elected the Democrats had lost five of the last six elections, most by landslides. The one exception was the most conservative of the Democratic candidates, who was despised by the left. The American people had decisively rejected what the Democrats were selling. False consciousness, no doubt.

So rather than spending a lot of time celebrating victory over this hegemonic ideology, perhaps people should be talking about liberalism and whatever we're calling the left alternative to it.

Peter T 08.31.16 at 10:54 am
"Tribalism" is unhelpful here, because it obscures the contribution "tribalism" has made and can make to effective social democracy. It was on the basis of class and national tribalisms (solidarities is a better word) that social democracy was built, and its those solidarities that give it what strength it still has. That others preferred, and still prefer, other forms of solidarity – built around region or religion or language – should neither come as a surprise nor be seen as basis for opposition. It's the content, not the form, that matters.

Self-interest is too vague and shifting, international links too weak, to make an effective politics. Our single most pressing problem – climate change – can clearly only be dealt with internationally. Yet the environmental and social problems that loom almost as large are clearly ones that can best be dealt with on national or sub-national scales. As this becomes clearer I expect the pressure to downsize and de-link from the global economy will intensify (there are already signs in this direction). The social democrat challenge is then to guide local solidarities towards democracy, not decry them.

Rich Puchalsky 08.31.16 at 10:56 am
If we're really looking for a general word that works across national boundaries, it's a well-used one: conservatism. People sometimes object that conservatives in one country are not the same as conservatives in another country, but really the differences are not much greater than in liberalism across countries, socialism, etc. Conservatism includes the characteristics of authoritarianism and nationalism. U.S. "tribalism" is its local manifestation: the use of "tribalism" to denote a global style of conservatism denotes a particular, contemporary type of conservatism, just as neoliberalism is a type of liberalism. You could divide JQ's three groups into left, liberal, conservative but since you're using neoliberal as the middle one (e.g. a contemporary mode) then "tribalism" or something like it seems appropriate for the last.

Note that there is no word for a contemporary mode of leftism, because there isn't one. The closest is the acephalous or consensus style of many recent movements and groups, but that mode hasn't won elections or taken power.

Peter T 08.31.16 at 11:43 am
The post focuses essentially on the challenge from above – the plutocracy – but the challenge from below is also relevant:
http://www.the-american-interest.com/2014/06/15/the-twin-insurgency/
reason 08.31.16 at 12:48 pm
John Quiggin,
What I see as the missing point here, and perhaps we disagree upon it's significance, is resource limitations. We can't avoid the violent reversion to zero sum games unless we address the problem (exactly when it has or will reach crisis point is perhaps a point of disagreement) of expanding population meets finite resources (or even meets already fully owned resources).

I don't buy the argument that there a technological solution, or the argument that population will stabilize before it gets too bad (I don't see what will drive it – because Malthus was partly right).

If people are unable to survive where they are, they will try to move, and people already living where they are moving to won't like it. Perhaps we are already seeing some of this, perhaps not. But it will drive tribalism (joining together to keep the "invaders" out) and won't drive the left. I have a feeling that the "left" should be replaced by a "green" view of the world, but for one thing, that will need a new economics – perhaps on the lines sketched out by Herman Daly. Maybe the term "left" is too associated with a Marxist view of the world to be useful any more.

Will G-R 08.31.16 at 2:00 pm
Apart from the obvious advantages "fascism" brings to the table - the sense of describing "Trump_vs_deep_state" in terms of what it seeks to develop into and not in terms of its current and clearly underdeveloped form, as well as the sense of tying our current state of poorly grasped ideological confusion back to WWII as the last clear three-way "battlefield of ideologies" pitting liberalism against fascism against socialism - the term is broadly symbolically appropriate for the same reasons it was originally adopted by Mussolini. The sense of national solidarity and "strength through unity" (i.e. the socialist element of National Socialism) is exactly what John Quiggin is characterizing as "the positive elements of the appeal of tribalism", and the direct invocation of the Roman fasces as a symbol of pure authority is exactly what Z is getting at with the term "archism". Sure our latter-day manifestation of fascism hasn't (yet) led to an honest-to-God fascist regime in any Western country, but to kid ourselves that this isn't what it seeks or that it couldn't potentially get there would be, well, a bit too uncomfortably Weimar-ish of us.

Besides which, I get that pooh-poohing about Godwin's Law and "everybody I don't like is Hitler" and so on is a nearly irresistible tic in today's liberal discourse, but c'mon people… we're all comfortable using the term "neoliberalism", which means we're all willing to risk having the same Poli Sci 101 conversations over and over again in the mainstream ("yes, Virginia, Hillary Clinton and Paul Ryan are both liberals!") for the sake of our own theoretical clarity. At the very least "fascism" would have fewer problematic discursive connotations than "tribalism", which I absolutely refuse to use in this conversation without putting it in sneer quotes.

bruce wilder 08.31.16 at 2:17 pm
The problem with neoliberalism is that it isn't really compatible with a modern free market economy. Simply because that system isn't well enough understood to allow experts, let alone informed amateurs, to reach a consensus on what a particular change will actually do. . . . It is the inability of the neoliberal communication style to credibly promise control that lost it.

You seem to be dancing around the elite corruption that is motivating the rationales provided by neoliberalism. We are going to improve efficiency by privatizing education, health care, pensions, prisons, transport. Innovation is the goal of deregulating finance, electricity. That is what they say.

The obscurity and complexity of, say, Obamacare or the Greek bailout is a cover story for the looting.

The problem is not that the experts do not understand consequences. The problem is that a broken system pays the top better, so the system has to be broken, but not so broken that the top falls off in collapse.

bruce wilder 08.31.16 at 2:35 pm
Will G-R @ 55

So you know what Trump_vs_deep_state wants to become, so we should call it that, rather than describe what it is, because the ideological conflicts of 80 years ago were so much clearer.

We live in the age of inverted totalitarianism. Trump isn't Mussolini, he's an American version of Berlusconi, a farcical rhyme in echo of a dead past. We probably are on the verge of an unprecedented authoritarian surveillance state, but Hillary Clinton doesn't need an army of blackshirts. The historical fascism demanded everything in the state. Our time wants everything in an iPhone app.

bruce wilder 08.31.16 at 2:54 pm
reason @ 54

Very well said. Resource limits shadow the falling apart of the global order that the American Interest link Peter T points to. If the billionaires are looting from the top and the response is a criminal scramble at the bottom, the unnecessariat will be spit out uncomprehending into the void between.

It is hard to see optimism as a growth stock. But, an effective left would need something to reintroduce mass action into politics against an elite that is groping toward a solution that entails replacing the masses with robots.

Will G-R 08.31.16 at 3:38 pm
"Trump_vs_deep_state" may be the term du jour in the US, but let's try to kick our stiflingly banal American habit of framing everything around our little quadrennial electoral freak shows. After all, the US and our rigid two-party system have always been an outlier in the vigor with which real political currents have been forced to conform to the narrow partisan vocabulary of either a left-liberal or a right-liberal major party. If hewing religiously to a patriotic sense of US institutionalism is supposed to ultimately save the liberal political sphere from the underlying political-economic forces that threaten it, we might as well take a page from the Tea Party and start marching around in powdered wigs and tricorn hats for all the good it'll do us.

In the rest of the Western world, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe, the "fascist" parties (Golden Dawn in Greece, Jobbik in Hungary, Ataka in Bulgaria, etc.) are generally less euphemistic about their role as fascist parties, and what forced sense of euphemism does exist seems to provide little more than a rhetorical opportunity for mockingly transparent coyness . To be fair, the predominant far-right parties in richer Western European countries (the FN, AfD, UKIP, etc.) are a bit more earnestly vague about their ambitions, so maybe a good compromise would be to call them (along with Trump) "soft fascists" in contrast to the "hard fascists" of Golden Dawn or Ataka. But fascism still makes much more sense than any other existing "-ism" I've seen, unless we want to just make one up.

Marc 08.31.16 at 3:48 pm
Analogies can obscure more than they illuminate.
RichardM 08.31.16 at 4:11 pm
> You seem to be dancing around the elite corruption that is motivating the rationales provided by neoliberalism.

Fair point. On the other hand, if neoliberalism rule, then neoliberals will be the rulers. And if not, not. Whatever the nature of the rulers, they rarely starve. Worldwide, average corruption is almost certainly lower in mostly-neoliberal countries than in less-neoliberal places like China, Zimbabwe, North Korea, …

The key thing is, take two neoliberal politicians, only one of whom is (unusually) corrupt. One entirely intends to deliver what you ask for, admittedly while ensuring they personally have a nice life being well-fed, warm and listened-to. The other plans to take it all and deliver nothing.

Given that nobody trustworthy knows anything, at least in a form they can explain, you can't get useful information as to which is which. 300 hours of reading reports of their rhetoric in newspapers, blogs, etc. leaves you none the wiser. And by the time you have a professional-level of knowledge of what's going on, you are part of the problem.

Might as well just stick to looking at who has which label next to their name, or who has good hair.

Will G-R 08.31.16 at 4:16 pm
Marc, the discourse of Godwin's Law has done a wonderful job solidifying the delusion that what '20s-through-'40s-era fascists once represented is categorically dead and buried, which is why it seems like the word can't be used as anything other than an obtuse historical analogy. But it's not an analogy - it's a direct insinuation that what these people currently represent is a clear descendant of what those people once represented, however mystified by its conditioned aversion to the word "fascism" itself. On the contrary, if we surrender to the Godwin's Law discourse and accept that fascism can never mean anything in contemporary discourse except as an all-purpose "everything I don't like is Hitler" analogy or whatever, it means we've forgotten what it means to actually be anti-fascist.

BTW, the link from the last comment isn't working for whatever reason, so here's Take 2 .

Bob Zannelli 08.31.16 at 5:27 pm
So much concern about the term tribalism. Well what is fascism? The use of tribalism to grasp political power and establish a totalitarian political order. Sound reasonable? Pick any fascism you like, the Nazis ( master race) the theocratic fascists in the US ( Christian rule ) Catholic Fascism ( Franco's Spain) , you name it. It walks and talks like tribalism. Trump-ism is the not so new face of American fascism. It's race based, it xenophobic, it's embraces violence, has a disdain for civil liberties and human rights, and it features the great leader. Doesn't seem to difficult to make the connection.
bruce wilder 08.31.16 at 6:14 pm
RichardM: Whatever the nature of the rulers, they rarely starve.

Still not getting it. The operative question is whether the rulers feast because the society works or because the society fails.

Neoliberalism is the politics of controlled dismantling of the institutions of a society that formerly worked for a larger portion of its participants. Like a landlord realizing increased cash flow from a decision to forego maintenance and hire gangsters to handle rent collection, neoliberalism seeks to divert the dividends from disinvestment to the top

The cadre managing this technically and politically difficult task - it is not easy to take things apart without critical failures exemplified by system collapse prompting insurrection or revolution - are rewarded as are society's owners, the 1/10th of 1%. Everybody else is screwed - either directly, or by the consequences of the social disintegration used to feed a parasitic elite.

The key thing is, take two neoliberal politicians, only one of whom is (unusually) corrupt. One entirely intends to deliver what you ask for, admittedly while ensuring they personally have a nice life being well-fed, warm and listened-to. The other plans to take it all and deliver nothing.

Again, you are not getting it. This isn't about lesser evil. "Lesser evil" is a story told to herd the masses. If there are two neoliberal politicians, both are corrupt. Neither intends to deliver anything to you on net; they are competing to deliver you.

Any apparent choice offered to you is just part of the b.s. The "300 hours of reading" is available if you need a hobby or the equivalent of a frontal lobotomy.

I am not enthusiastic about this proposed distinction between "hard" and "soft" neoliberalism. Ideologically, conservative libertarians have been locked in a dialectic with the Clintonite / Blairite neoliberals - that's an old story, maybe an obsolete story, but apparently not one those insist on seeing neoliberalism as a monolithic lump fixed in time can quite grasp, but never mind.

Good cop, bad cop. Only, the electorate is carefully divided so that one side's good cop is the other side's bad cop, and vice versa.

Hillary Clinton is running the Democratic Party in such a way that she wins the Presidency, but the Party continues to be excluded from power in Congress and in most of the States. This is by design. This is the neoliberal design. She cannot deliver on her corrupt promises to the Big Donors if she cannot play the game Obama has played so superbly of being hapless in the face of Republican intransigence.

In the meantime, those aspiring to be part of the credentialed managerial classes that conduct this controlled demolition while elaborating the surveillance state that is expected to hold things together in the neo-feudal future are instructed in claiming and nurturing their individual political identity against the day of transformation of consciousness, when feminism will triumph even in a world where we never got around to regulating banks.

bruce wilder 08.31.16 at 6:33 pm
Will G-R, Bob Zannelli

Actual, historical fascism required the would-be fascists to get busy, en masse . Trump (and Clinton) will be streamed on demand so you can stay home and check Facebook. Hitler giving a two-hour 15000 word speech and Trump, Master of the Twitterverse, belong to completely different political categories, if not universes.

There are so many differences and those differences are so deep and pervasive that the conversation hardly seems worth having.

stevenjohnson 08.31.16 at 7:54 pm
Historical fascism included not just Hitler's Germany, but Mussolini's Italy, Franco's Spain, Salazar/Caetano's Portugal, Ionescu's Romania, the Ustase in Croatia, Tiso's Slovakia, Petliura's movement in Ukraine, and, arguably, Dollfuss' Austria, Horthy's Hungary, Imperial Japan, Peronist Argentina, the Poland of the post Pilsudski junta (read Beck on the diplomatics of a Jewish state in Uganda, which is I think symptomatic wishful thinking.)

There is a strong correlation between the nations whose rulers accepted fascists into the government and losing WWI. The rest were new, insecure states that could profit their masters by expansion. At the time, the so-called Allies, except for the USSR, were essentially the official "winners" of WWI and therefore united against the would be revisionists like Germany. Therefore it was desirable to propagandize against the Axis as uniquely fascist.

In fact, there was a powerful fascist movement in many Allied states as well. Vichy France had deep, strong domestic roots in particular, but the South African Broederbond and Jim Crow USA with its lynchings show how fascism and democracy (as understood by anti-Communists) are not separate things, but conjunctural developments of the capitalist states, which are not organized as business firms.

Democracy is associated even with genocide, enslavement of peoples and mass population transfers to colonists. It began with democracy itself, with the Spartans turning Messenians into Helots and Athenians expropriating Euboeans and massacring Melians. Russian Cossacks on the Caucasian steppes or Paxton Boys in the US continued the process. When democracy came to the Ottoman empire, making Turkey required the horrific expulsion of the Armenians. (Their Trail of Tears was better publicized than the Cherokee's.) But the structural need to unify a nation by excluding Others led to the bloody expulsion of Greeks as well. The confirmation of national identity by a mix of ethnic, religious and racial markers required mass violence and war, as seen in the emergence of the international system of mercantilist capitalist states.

The wide variations in historical fascism conclusively demonstrate every notion of fascism is somehow something essentially, metaphysically, antithetical is wrong. Fascism and democracy are not an antinomy. Particular doctrines that assert this, like the non-concept of "totalitarianism," serve as a kind of skeleton for political movements and parties. Since the triumph of what we in the US call McCarthyism all mainstream and all acceptable alternative politics share this same skeleton. It is unsurprising that such a beast is somehow not organically equipped to be an effective left. It's SYRIZA in Greece defining itself by the rejection of the KKE. There is no such thing as repudiation of revolution that doesn't imply accepting counter-revolution.

Evan Neely 08.31.16 at 8:03 pm
The problem I have with attempts to appeal to the supposedly "positive" aspects of tribalism, solidarity and the affection for longstanding institutions, is that it's presuming these aren't just our abstractions of something that's felt at a much more primal level. Tribalists don't love solidarity for the sake of the principle of solidarity: they feel solidarity because they love the specific people like them that they love and hate others.

One set of tribalists doesn't look at another and say "hey, we respect the same principles." It says "they're not our tribe!!!" Point being, you're never going to get them on your side with appeals to abstractions. You're almost certainly never going to get them on your side no matter what you do.

bruce wilder 08.31.16 at 9:07 pm
There is no vast neoliberal conspiracy . . .

There obviously is a vast political movement, coordinated in ideology and the social processes of partisan politics and propaganda. Creating a strawperson "conspiracy" does not erase actual Clinton fundraising practices and campaign tactics, which exist independent of whatever narrative I weave them into.

There are no corrupt promises from Clinton to big donors . . .

!!! And, you are accusing me of being delusional.

Rich Puchalsky 08.31.16 at 9:11 pm
Calling our present-day GOP as led by Trump "fascism" is calling it a break with the past GOP. Corey Robin has been over this quite a bit here, but in many important respects there is no break. GWB, for instance, sometimes required attendees at his rallies to take a personal loyalty oath. And GWB is hailed by some people here as being the good conservative because he said that not all Muslims were bad, while, of course, killing a million Muslims. The contemporary GOP is an outgrowth of GOP tradition, and while some leftists may find calling all conservatism fascism convincing, I think that it's only convincing for the tiny number of people who adhere to their ideology.

But conservatism and fascism are both right-wing and people can argue indefinitely about where the boundary is. So rather than talk about ideal types, let's look at how the rhetoric of calling it fascism works. Calling Trump_vs_deep_state fascism is primarily the rhetoric of HRC supporters, because functionally, what everyone pretty much agrees on is that when fascists appear, people on the left through moderate right are supposed to drop everything and unite in a Popular Front to oppose them.

I don't think that people should drop everything. I think that HRC is going to win and that forming the mental habit of supporting the Democratic Party is easy to do and hard to break, and I think that the people who become Democratic Party supporters because of the threat of Trump / "fascism" are going to spend the next four years working directly against actual left interests.

Will G-R 08.31.16 at 10:06 pm
Rich, I think it would be a mistake to consider this as a question of "our present-day GOP as led by Trump". First because Trump isn't "leading" the GOP in any meaningful sense; as Jay Rosen's recent Tweet-storm encapsulates nicely , the GOP's institutional leadership is still liberal through and through, even if its ideological organs pander in some ideally implicit sense to what might otherwise be a fascist constituency. And second because Trump isn't really "leading" his own constituents either; if he were to make a high-profile about-face on the issues his voters care about, they'd likely be just as eager to dump him as Bernie Sanders' most passionate leftist supporters were to ignore his pro-Clinton appeals at the DNC.

What's interesting about Trump isn't really anything to do with Trump per se, so much as what Trump's constituency would do if the normal functioning of the liberal institutions constraining it were to be disrupted in a serious way. Europe in the 1910s through 1940s was full of such disruptions, and should such an era return, the ideological currents we're now viewing through a heavily tinted institutional window would become much clearer.

Ragweed 08.31.16 at 10:23 pm
Val etc.

I think that John's use of the word "tribalist" here means a world-view that explicitly values members of an in-group more than members not of the in-group. It is different from racism because it may be over other factors than race – religion, citizenship, nationalism, or even region. And the key word is explicitly. The big difference between tribalist and both neoliberal and left positions is that the other two are generally universalist.

Neoliberals profess that everyone will be better off with deregulation, free markets, and technocratic solutions, and often explicitly reject the idea of something benefitting one racial, religious, or national group over another (though not the educated or wealthy, because these are allegedly meritocratic outcomes of the neoliberal order).

The left likewise generally argues for an increase in equality and equal distribution of resources for all, whether that be class-based or based on some sort of gender, race, or sexual equality.

So on an issue like a free trade deal, a neoliberal argument would support it, because gains of trade and various other reasons why it would make everyone better off; a leftist argument would oppose it on the grounds that it would make everyone worse off; and a tribalist argument would oppose it on the grounds that it took jobs away from American citizens, but wouldn't worry too much about the other guys.

Of course, the lines are not always clear and distinct, they often overlap, mix, and borrow arguments from each other, and there are often hypocrisies' and inconsistencies (and John's point anyway is that the neoliberals tend to draw on coalitions with the other two factions), but I think it is a good general description of the distinction.

And it is different from the more sociological use of tribal to mean any in-group/out-group distinction and social solidarity formation. Everyone is tribal in the sociological sense, but the tribalist that John is referring explicitly approves of that tribalism. A left intellectual may look down on "ignorant, racist, blue-collar Trump supporters", with as much bias as any tribalist, but would generally want them to have better education and a guarantee income so they were no longer ignorant and racist, whereas the tribalist generally thinks the other guy is less deserving.

Sam Bradford 09.01.16 at 9:20 am

What I wonder/worry about is whether tribalism, nationalism, call it what you will, is a necessity.

It's very difficult for me to imagine an internationalist order that provides the kind of benefits to citizens that I'd want a state to provide. It's much easier to imagine nation states operating as enclaves of solidarity and mutual aid in an amorphous, anarchic and ruthless globalised environment. Yet the creation of a nation requires the creation of an in-group and an out-group, citizens and non-citizens.

To put it more concretely: in my own country, New Zealand, the traditional Maori form of social organisation – a kind of communitarianism – currently appeals to me as offering more social solidarity and opportunity for human flourishing than our limp lesser-of-three-evils democracy. It is a society in which there is genuine solidarity and common purpose. Yet it is, literally, tribal; it admits no more than a few thousand people to each circle of mutual aid. I am sometimes tempted to believe that it is the correct way for human beings to live, despite my general dislike for biological determinism. I think I would rather abandon my obligations to the greater mass of humanity (not act against them, of course, just accept an inability to influence events) and be a member of a small society than be a helpless and hopeless atom in a sea of similar, utterly disenfranchised atoms.

Will G-R 09.01.16 at 4:32 pm

Bob Zannelli: Gee what a concept, an obligation to vote in a democracy. As flawed as the US political process is, voting still matters and can affect change. It's not easy , but then it's never easy to reform anything.

Just to give voice to the contrary perspective , voter turnout appears to play at least some role in the ideological process by which the US electoral system claims legitimacy: even though in purely procedural terms an election could work just fine if the total number of ballots was an infinitesimal fraction of the number of eligible voters ("Bill Clinton casts ballot, Hillary defeats Trump by 2 votes to 1!") low voter turnout is nonetheless depicted as a crisis not just for any particular candidate or party but for the entire electoral process. Accordingly, if I decide not to vote and thereby to decrease voter turnout by a small-but-nonzero amount, I'm adding a small-but-nonzero contribution to the public argument that the electoral process as presently institutionalized is illegitimate, so unless we propose to add a "none of the above" option to every single race and question on the ballot, to argue that citizens have an obligation to vote is to argue that they are obliged not to "vote" for the illegitimacy of the system as such. And plenty of ethical and political stances could be consistent with such a "vote", not the least of which is a certain historical stance whose proponents argued that "whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…"

Will G-R 09.01.16 at 5:05 pm

I mean that just as people who believe the US government is legitimate should have the right to express their political preference at the ballot box, people who believe the US government is illegitimate should have the right to express their political preference at (the abstention from) the ballot box, and that it's at least possible for this to be a consistent political and ethical stance. Do you disagree? Is the legitimacy of your government a first premise for you? If so, Thomas Jefferson would like a word.

(Not to imply that I hold any particular fealty to the US nationalist mythology of the "Founding Fathers" and so on, but hey, they articulated a certain liberal political philosophy whose present-day adherents should at least be consistent about it.)

Bob Zannelli 09.01.16 at 5:14 pm
I mean that just as people who believe the US government is legitimate should have the right to express their political preference at the ballot box, people who believe the US government is illegitimate should have the right to express their political preference at (the abstention from) the ballot box, and that it's at least possible for this to be a consistent political and ethical stance. Do you disagree? Is the legitimacy of your government a first premise for you? If so, Thomas Jefferson would like a word.

(Not to imply that I hold any particular fealty to the US nationalist mythology of the "Founding Fathers" and so on, but hey, they articulated a certain liberal political philosophy whose present-day adherents should at least be consistent about it.) {}

Jefferson has never impressed me very much ( except for his church state separation advocacy) His ideal of a democratic agrarian slave society I find not too appealing. He talked about the blood of tyrants but he spent his time drinking fine wines and being waiting on by his slaves during the revolutionary war. You're entitled to any views you want, but you're not entitled to be respected if you're views are nonsensical. Good luck on the revolution, I hope that works out for you.

Will G-R 09.01.16 at 5:15 pm

Also, not to get personal, but the smarm here is so thick you could cut it with a knife…

"Did I get you right? Is your response to an argument you find uncomfortable to simply intone 'holy shit'? Holy shit…"

Will G-R 09.01.16 at 5:20 pm

So wait, did you not recognize the quote from the Declaration of Independence, or what? Your argument invoked "an obligation to vote in a democracy" . My counterargument is that if government is supposed to be premised on the consent of the governed, there can never be "an obligation to vote in a democracy", because not voting is a way of expressing one's lack of consent. As Žižek might put it, your ideal appears to be a democratic system that orders you to consent .
Bob Zannelli 09.01.16 at 5:37 pm

So wait, did you not recognize the quote from the Declaration of Independence, or what? Your argument invoked "an obligation to vote in a democracy". My counterargument is that if government is supposed to be premised on the consent of the governed, there can never be "an obligation to vote in a democracy", because not voting is a way of expressing one's lack of consent. As Žižek might put it, your ideal appears to be a democratic system that orders you to consent.{}

I think anyone who expects to move the country away from Neo Liberalism to a more progressive direction without voting is a fool. What's the alternative , over throwing the government? If this is the plan we better not discuss it on social media. Of course it's all nonsense, if the US government was ever thrown it would be by the far right as almost happened under FDR during the hey day of fascism around the world. I think too many here are still living in a Marxist fantasy world , no one here is going to establish the dictatorship of the proletarians. Let's get real.

Will G-R 09.01.16 at 6:09 pm

if the US government was ever thrown it would be by the far right

So let's get this straight… the only choice we have is between the center and the far right, yet it's far leftists' fault for not being centrists that the politics of centrism itself keeps drifting farther and farther to the right. Screw eating from the trashcan, it's like you're mainlining pure grade-A Colombian ideology.

stevenjohnson 09.01.16 at 6:24 pm

Will G-R@86 "… because not voting is a way of expressing one's lack of consent." Incorrect. Not voting is routinely interpreted as tacit consent. Not voting is meaningless, and will be interpreted as suited.

Bob Zannelli@87 "Let's get real."

Okay. What's real is, the game is rigged but you insist on making everyone ante up and play by the rules anyhow. What's real, is you have nothing to do with the left, except by defining the Democratic Party as the left. What's real is that the parties could just as well be labeled the "Ins" and the "Outs," and that would have just as much to do with the left, which is to repeat, nothing.

bruce wilder 09.01.16 at 6:59 pm
Bob Zannelli: What's the alternative?

There is no alternative.

Bob Zannelli 09.01.16 at 7:01 pm
So let's get this straight… the only choice we have is between the center and the far right, yet it's far leftists' fault for not being centrists that the politics of centrism itself keeps drifting farther and farther to the right. Screw eating from the trashcan, it's like you're mainlining pure grade-A Colombian ideology{}

Right because the left is too busy plotting the revolution to engage in politics.

bruce wilder 09.01.16 at 7:09 pm
Hillary Clinton is engaging in politics and she's teh most librul librul evah! Why isn't that enough? It is not her fault, surely, that the devil makes her do unlibrul things - you have to be practical and practically, there is no alternative. We have to clap louder. That's the ticket!
Will G-R 09.01.16 at 7:25 pm

stevenjohnson: Not voting is routinely interpreted as tacit consent.

So why then is low voter turnout interpreted as a problem for democracy? Why wouldn't it be a cause for celebration if a large majority of the population was so happy with the system that they'd be happy with whoever won? On the contrary, a helpless person's tacit refusal to respond to a provocation can be the exact opposite of consent if whoever has them at their mercy actually needs a reaction: think of a torture victim who sits in silence instead of pleading for mercy or giving up the information the torturer is after. Whether or not it truly does need it, the ideology of liberal democracy at least acts as if it needs the legitimating idea that its leaders are freely and actively chosen by those they govern, and refusing to participate in this choice can be interpreted as an effort to deprive this ideology of its legitimating idea.

bruce wilder 09.01.16 at 7:45 pm

Will G-R @ 94

Low voter turnout is interpreted as a problem by some people on some occasions. Why generalize to official "ideology" from their idiosyncratic and opportunistic pieties?

Why are the concerns of, say, North Carolina's legislature that only the right people vote not official ideology? Or, the election officials in my own Los Angeles County, where we regularly have nearly secret elections with hard-to-find-polling-places - we got down to 8.6% in one election in 2015.

Obama's DHS wants to designate the state election apparatus, critical infrastructure. Won't that be great? I guess Putin may not be able to vote, after all!

Will G-R 09.01.16 at 8:12 pm
Bob, my impression is that CT is supposed to be a philosophy-oriented discussion space (or it wouldn't be named after a line from Kant for chrissake) and in philosophy one is supposed to subject one's premises to ruthless and unsparing criticism, or at least be able to fathom the possibility of doing so - including in this case premises like the legitimacy of the US government or the desirability of capitalism. Especially in today's neoliberal society there are precious few spaces where a truly philosophical outlook is supposed to be the norm, and honestly I'm offended that you seem to want to turn CT into yet another space where it isn't.
stevenjohnson 09.01.16 at 8:27 pm
Bob Zannelli@95 Don't worry, your left credentials are quite in order. I'm not a regular, I post here occasionally for the same reason I occasionally post at BHL, sheer amazement at the insanity of it all. My views are quite beyond the pale.

Nonetheless your views, even though they pass for left at CT, are nonsense. Corey Robin's project to amalgamate all conservatism into a single psychopathology of individual minds (characters? souls?) is not useful for real politics. His shilling for Jacobinrag.com, etc., acquits SYRIZA for its total failure in real politics because it accomplished the most important task…making sure KKE couldn't use a major state crisis. Similarly OWS and the Battle of Seattle are acceptable because they are pure, untainted by anything save failure.

As for your dismissal of Marxist fantasies, I take it you do not believe economic crisis is endemic to the capitalist world economy, nor that imperialism leads to war to redivide the world. And despite your alleged interest in the location of proletarian hordes you can't see any in other countries, unlike this country where everybody is middle class.

Delusions like that are killing us all. This country doesn't need reform, it needs regime change. That's happening. Nixon failed, Trump might fail, but the long slow march of the owners through the institutions of power, gentrifying as they go, continues.

Will G-R 09.01.16 at 8:46 pm
Bruce @ 95, correct me if I'm wrong but I feel that state and (especially) local governments in the US typically are viewed as highly prone to borderline-illegitimizing levels of corruption - imagine how we'd characterize the legitimacy of a City-State of Ferguson, or a Republic of Illinois under President Blagojevich - and part of what maintains the impression of legitimacy is the possibility of federal intervention on the people's behalf if things at the lower levels get out of hand. Where the federal government hasn't done so, notably in the case of African-American communities before the mid to late 20th century, is precisely where arguments for the illegitimacy of the entire system have gained serious traction. So IMO there could actually be quite a bit of subversive potential if the population at large were to openly reject the elected officials in Washington, DC as no more inherently legitimate than those in Raleigh, NC or Los Angeles County. (I briefly tried to look up the location within LA of its county seat and found that Wikipedia's article "Politics of Los Angeles County" was entirely about its citizens' voting record in federal politics, which itself illustrates the point.)

[Aug 27, 2016] The Commons As The Response To The Structural Crises Of The Global System Countercurrents

Notable quotes:
"... Capital in the Twenty-First Century ..."
www.countercurrents.org

The Connecting the Dots series has convincingly shown a number of interconnected reasons why the global system is in crisis, and why there is no way out without a structural transformation of the dominant neoliberal system. In our contribution, we want to stress the key importance of what we call a "value regime," or simply put, the rules that determine what society and the economy consider to be of value. We must first look at the underlying modes of production - i.e. how value is created and distributed - and then construct solutions must that help create these changes in societal values. The emerging answer for a new mode of value creation is the re-emergence of the Commons.

With the growing awareness of the vulnerability of the planet and its people in the face of the systemic crises created by late-stage capitalism, we need to ready the alternatives and begin creating the next system now. To do so, we need a full understanding of the current context and its characteristics. In our view, the dominant political economy has three fatal flaws.

Pseudo-Abundance

The first is the characteristic need for the capitalist system to engage in continuous capital accumulation and growth. We could call this pseudo-abundance, i.e. the fundamental article of faith, or unconscious assumption, that the natural world's resources are infinite. Capitalism creates a systemic ecological crisis marked by the overuse and depletion of natural resources, endangering the balance of the environment (biodiversity extinction, climate change, etc).

Scarcity Engineering

The second characteristic of capitalism is that it requires scarce commodities that are subject to a tension between supply and demand. Scarcity engineering is what we call this continuous attempt to undo natural abundance where it occurs. Capitalism creates markets by the systemic re-engineering of potentially or naturally abundant resources into scarce resources. We see this happening with natural resources in the development of "terminator seeds" that undo the seeds' natural regeneration process. Crucially, we also see this in the creation of artificial scarcity mechanisms for human culture and knowledge. "Intellectual property" is imposed in more and more areas, privatizing common knowledge in order to create artificial commodities and rents that create profits for a privileged "creator class."

These first two characteristics are related and reinforce each other, as the problems created by pseudo-abundance are made quite difficult to solve due to the privatization of the very knowledge required to solve them. This makes solving major ecological problems dependent on the ability of this privatized knowledge to create profits. It has been shown that the patenting of technologies results in a systemic slowdown of technical and scientific innovation, while un-patenting technologies accelerates innovation. A good recent example of this "patent lag" effect is the extraordinary growth of 3D printing, once the technology lost its patents.

Perpetually Increasing Social Injustice

The third major characteristic is the increased inequality in the distribution of value, i.e. perpetually increasing social injustice.

As Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century shows us, the logic of capital is to concentrate more and more wealth into fewer hands through compound interest, rent seeking, purchasing legislation, etc. Our current set of rules are hardwired to increase inequality and injustice.

[Jul 31, 2016] The Forthcoming Changes in Capitalism?

Notable quotes:
"... In essence, this is a confession that "civilizing" capitalism cannot be done only "externally" by relying on the "harmony of private interests" but that the state has a bigger role that goes beyond ensuring the protection of property rights, taxation and redistribution. ..."
"... The past 35 years have shown that the neo-liberal conception of capitalism, combined with its global reach, has increased inequality to often unsustainable levels, left large segments of the population in the rich world without significant increase in real income and with heightened insecurity, and brought populist policies with a vengeance. ... ..."
"... Importing foreign labor with heavily curtailed rights has been a mainstay in many societies. Initially it was war prisoners and slaves, then with the capitalist mode of production and abolition of slavery, economic refugees from economically depressed regions. ..."
"... "Nothing wrong with Christianity except that no one ever tried it." ~George Bernard Shaw ..."
"... "Once the globalization genie got out of the bottle, there's no putting the genie back in." Oft said, but this may be a full employment statement, one that does not hold in a low equilibrium, especially for a country with a large economy that could do much more internal trade, to the detriment of many other smaller countries not so fortunately endowed. ..."
"... It may be possible to tariff away globalization for such an economy to the great benefit of those who bore its costs. ..."
"... Before abandoning neo-liberalism I'd like to see the "redistribution" part tried. ..."
"... Redistribution is best done by forcing people with money to pay workers. ..."
"... What the "neoliberal" invention is the free lunch. Lend money to the poor so the business can sell stuff without paying workers enough to buy what they want to sell. ..."
"... There has been a resurgence in leftwing movements which have coalesced around figures like Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn. There has been a rise of demagogues like Trump who blame immigrants and foreigners. ..."
economistsview.typepad.com

Branko Milanovic:

The forthcoming changes in capitalism?: Sometimes it's useful to put symbolic dates on when a different era begins. The end of Thatcherism, it could be argued, came on July 10 in the then PM-candidate speech by Theresa May. It was perhaps appropriate that another woman, a Tory Prime Minister, would be credited with the ending of Thatcherism. The key words, which immediately attracted attention (see also Philip Stevens in today's "Financial Times") were not those about inequality (which has become a common place these days) but about the changes in the internal structure of capitalism: reintroduction of workers' and consumers' representatives on management boards, limits on the executive pay, reduction of job insecurity for the young people and much greater access to top jobs for those coming from less privileged backgrounds.

For the first time since the late 1970s (at the top level of policy-making), we are back to the issues of reforms in the way capitalism functions rather than discussing the ways in which the external environment would be made more market friendly. In essence, this is a confession that "civilizing" capitalism cannot be done only "externally" by relying on the "harmony of private interests" but that the state has a bigger role that goes beyond ensuring the protection of property rights, taxation and redistribution.

The past 35 years have shown that the neo-liberal conception of capitalism, combined with its global reach, has increased inequality to often unsustainable levels, left large segments of the population in the rich world without significant increase in real income and with heightened insecurity, and brought populist policies with a vengeance. ...

He goes on to identify three areas where he can imagine change.

cm -> am...

Importing foreign labor with heavily curtailed rights has been a mainstay in many societies. Initially it was war prisoners and slaves, then with the capitalist mode of production and abolition of slavery, economic refugees from economically depressed regions.

Business overall doesn't want free agents. One major point of work visa program abuse is that it is (still?) socially unacceptable to curtail the rights of working citizens to e.g. take the option to "not work", or not for a specific employer, at their own choosing (provided ability to survive without a wage or finding another job).

For example, one provision of the H1-B program is that one cannot stay in the country without being officially employed (and within the skill set for which one was brought in).

Thi$ World'$ Banker$ -> DeDude...

"revise capitalism than just burning it"

Perhaps we should also revise the holder within which capitalism spins. The Milieu encapsulating present day capitalism is inflation. This inflationary holder nearly requires folks to invest, to buy shares in capitalization, shares with risk. By transplanting capitalism into a deflationary holder, capitalism could continue to perform its many functions without requiring nearly everyone to buy shares, to buy risk.

Within deflation, savings are rewarded with a ROI by way of the expanding buying power of each dollar saved, an automatic ROI that frees savings from the risk of capitalism. Sure!

The experts would continue to take calculated risks, Bill. The rank and file would no longer need to buy shares in preparation for their retirement. And yes, bailouts for fat bankers should be allowed to die a gruesome death. Hey!

Our bankruptcy lawyers have been cheated out of their fun for far too long.

Deflation is also healthy for the GTF, global Triffin fiat that we print for profit. At present we print bonds also, but with deflation there would be no need to print bonds, just more fiat that would give poor folk the same ROI that is now enjoyed only by wealthy bond holders.

Deflation is also healthier for nations that operate with religious restrictions against charging interest for bank loans. During the middle ages Christians were not allowed to charge interest. Do we still have Christians today?

"Nothing wrong with Christianity except that no one ever tried it." ~George Bernard Shaw

rayward

Why would the beneficiaries of globalization want to invest in public goods in America? They wouldn't, and they don't. I suspect that many of the beneficiaries already know it, but in the emerging phase of globalization, American firms will be competing with China rather than collaborating with China.

Once the globalization genie got out of the bottle, there's no putting the genie back in. American firms shifting alliances to Vietnam from China won't solve the problems in America and will ratchet up the potential problems in the far east, including trade wars and real wars that are often triggered by trade wars.

Turning inward (as the populists would do) won't make goods produced in America more competitive in global markets; it will make them less competitive.

point -> rayward...

"Once the globalization genie got out of the bottle, there's no putting the genie back in." Oft said, but this may be a full employment statement, one that does not hold in a low equilibrium, especially for a country with a large economy that could do much more internal trade, to the detriment of many other smaller countries not so fortunately endowed.

It may be possible to tariff away globalization for such an economy to the great benefit of those who bore its costs.

I won't hold my breath waiting...

ThaomasH

Before abandoning neo-liberalism I'd like to see the "redistribution" part tried.

mulp -> ThaomasH...

Redistribution is best done by forcing people with money to pay workers.

  • Option 1: heavily tax people with lots of money they aren't spending productively and then pay workers to build productive capital assets that can generate returns on investment by taxes, eg, gas tax, water fees, income taxes that rise with income return to education.
  • Option 2: don't tax money paid to workers to build productive capital assets (but tax the income from those assets).

Few people are totally unable to be productive, but the investment cost (labor) might be higher than the income. Some people with lots of money will pay workers to invest in the disabled for a small productive return instead of paying taxes out of concern or for a sense of duty to charity, and that should be encouraged by not taxing money paid to labor.

For all labor income, social insurance should be taken by tax so workers are paying to care for themselves and families collectively at a baseline.

Basically, returning to the "tax and spend" of the 60s, with every faction getting to find groups of workers to pay. The conservatives likely love to pay workers to make guns and bombs and pay men to act like an army - that trained lots of idle young men with no direct, and a lot of airline pilots. For liberals, pay workers to teach and do research. For the common man, pay workers to build roads, railroads, schools, water and sewer, anything to put people to work to make sure everyone gets paid a good income.

mrrunangun

Making top jobs more accessible to those from less privileged backgrounds will require more affordable higher education and graduate professional education for those from less privileged backgrounds. Experience has shown that making large loans available for education does not actually make education more affordable to those from modest backgrounds.

Progressives have discussed price controls on the health sector and indeed Medicare has gone a long way in that direction already. Price controls in the higher ed and especially professional schools should be considered if we are to make these opportunities realistically available to those of modest means.

Free Juco has been proposed by Chicago mayor Emmanuel and Tennessee governor Haslem. That means tax increases for the rest of the citizens to replace the money tuition provides now. That seems to me to be a reasonable proposal, provided the tax increase actually replaced the tuition and was not subject to the usual 50% rake-off for the political system that most taxes in Illinois are subject to.

Back in the 1955-75 era, well-paid jobs were plentiful enough and university education inexpensive enough that young men and women from modest backgrounds could and did supply their own money for their own educations when parents could not provide it. People could and did work their ways thru law school tending bar and waiting tables then. It wasn't easy but it was doable for ambitious bootstrappers. I doubt that could be done today. Education has become so expensive in the contemporary world that few jobs available to students can support the tuition + the personal expenses entailed in getting a university education.

To recreate that kind of opportunity for today's young people, either jobs that can support tuition and expenses have to be made available to them or the cost of tuition and expenses need to be brought into line with what the jobs available will support. Or a little of both. Tough challenges either way.

John San Vant -> mrrunangun...

55-75 was about the only time in American history "well paid" Jobs were plentiful. It also created a mess with how capitalism functions.

mulp -> John San Vant...

How so? Profits were low. Share prices tracked the labor cost of the productive capital assets. The tax structure and demand for goods and services from government ensured production required paying workers to the degree that wages were bid up even for the unskilled worker. And you hired the unskilled and trained them because you had no choice to meet demand for your production.

Banks were tightly regulated so they couldn't rent seeking. Thus they would lend only to people with income so lower incomes forced reduced consumption lower profits leading to widespread support for government spending building stuff businesses wanted so workers had more money to spend.

What the "neoliberal" invention is the free lunch. Lend money to the poor so the business can sell stuff without paying workers enough to buy what they want to sell.

Peter K.

"The past 35 years have shown that the neo-liberal conception of capitalism, combined with its global reach, has increased inequality to often unsustainable levels, left large segments of the population in the rich world without significant increase in real income and with heightened insecurity, and brought populist policies with a vengeance."

Again the term "populist." I don't like it.

There has been a resurgence in leftwing movements which have coalesced around figures like Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn. There has been a rise of demagogues like Trump who blame immigrants and foreigners.

What will the center-left do? Will Hillary and May actually put in place policies that work? Will they try?

Or will they continue to make excuses and engage in diversions?

I liked how Obama nodded to Bernie Sanders in his speech where if you cared about inequality or money in politics you rallied to Bernie. What was left unsaid there?

David

He makes three (kind of vague) proposals :

  1. The middle class needs to be encouraged or facilitated to acquire capital as a means of reducing inequality.
  2. Development NGOs should focus on "hard"' infrastructure development such as roads and schools.
  3. Europe cannot, due to demographics, become "fortress Europe" and needs to implement immigrant worker policies that don't necessarily grant citizenship, just the right to work and then return home (many countries currently do this - South Korea has thousands of American and Canadian and Australian English teachers who will never be citizens of SK).


1. I think this is interesting. First you need a minimum wage that allows people to save a portion of their income and invest it - 15 bucks an hour say.

Then, remember those classes like home economics in high school? They need to try a finance class in which kids learn how to get an online account, and basic investment strategies like investing in index funds or mutual funds.

I say this as someone who has a portfolio that is currently 6x my yearly salary. I got lucky b/c I got in 2010. But long term index funds will kill treasury bonds if secular stagnation has any truth to it.

I would had another thing: strengthen social security by a lot.

2. Infrastructure investment is vital. NGOs should be held accountable for their budgets and should in fact be well regulated.

3. Euhhhhh, immigration. A temporary foreign worker policy would be economically useful. But if there's more terrorist attacks in France...

[Apr 24, 2016] What Can Replace Neoliberalism

addisfortune.net
In a popular piece that recently appeared in Foreign Affairs magazine, headlined, "The Future of History", Francis Fukuyama pointed out that, despite widespread anger at Wall Street bailouts, there has been no great upsurge of support for left-wing political parties. Fukuyama attributed this – rightly, I believe – to a failure of ideas.

The 2008 financial crash revealed major flaws in the neoliberal view of capitalism, and an objective view of the last 35 years shows that the neoliberal model has not performed well relative to the previous 30 years. This is in terms of economic growth, financial stability and social justice. But a credible progressive alternative has yet to take shape.

What should be the main outlines of such an alternative?

A progressive political economy must be based on a firm belief in capitalism – that is, on an economic system in which most of the assets are privately owned and markets largely guide production and distribute income. But it must also incorporate three defining progressive beliefs: the crucial role of institutions; the need for state involvement in their design in order to resolve conflicting interests and provide public goods; and social justice, defined as fairness, as an important measure of a country's economic performance.

It was a great mistake of neoclassical economists not to see that capitalism is a socioeconomic system and that institutions are an essential part of it. The recent financial crisis was made far worse by profound institutional failures, such as the high level of leverage that banks were permitted to have.

Empirical research has shown that four sets of institutions have a major impact on the performance of firms and, therefore, on a country's economic growth. These include the institutions underpinning its financial and labour markets, its corporate governance arrangements, its education and training system and its national system of innovation (the network of public and private institutions that initiate and diffuse new technologies).

Another defining belief of progressive thinking is that institutions do not evolve spontaneously, as neoliberals believe. The state must be involved in their design and reform.

In the case of institutions underpinning labour and financial markets, as well as corporate governance, the state must mediate conflicting interests. Likewise, a country's education and training system, and its national system of innovation, are largely public goods, which have to be provided by the state.

It should be clear that the role for the state that I have been describing is an enabling or market-supporting one. It is not the command and control role promoted by traditional socialists or the minimalist role beloved by neoliberals.

The other defining belief of progressive thinking rejects the neoliberal view that a country's economic performance should be assessed solely in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) growth and freedom. If one is concerned with a society's wellbeing, it is not possible to argue that a rich country in which the top one percent holds most of the wealth is performing better than a slightly less wealthy country in which prosperity is more widely shared.

Moreover, fairness is a better measure of social justice than equality. This is because it is difficult to devise practical and effective policies to achieve equality in a market economy.

In addition, there is a real tradeoff between equality and economic growth, and egalitarianism is not a popular policy even for many low-income people. In my experience, trade unions are much more interested in wage differentials than in a simple policy of equal pay for all.

These are the core principles that I believe a new progressive political economy should embrace. I also believe that Western countries that do not adopt this framework and instead cling to a neoliberal political economy, will find it increasingly difficult to innovate and grow.

In the new global economy, which is awash with cheap labour, Western economies will not be able to compete in a "race to the bottom", with firms seeking ever-cheaper labour, land and capital, with governments seeking to attract them by deregulating and shrinking social benefits.

The only way Western economies will be able to compete and improve their standard of living is by seeing themselves as being involved in a race to the top. That is, firms must improve their value added through innovation in existing industries and by developing the capability to compete in new and more sophisticated industries, where value added is generally higher.

Companies will be able to do this only if governments abandon the belief that they have no role to play in the economy. In fact, the state has a key role to play in providing the conditions that enable dynamic companies to innovate and grow.

[Apr 22, 2016] Does alternative to neoliberalism exists?

Notable quotes:
"... Monbiot and the quick crossword. ..."
"... Monbiot is the best journalist the Guardian has, he can actually make a logical fact based argument unlike the majority of Guardian journalist. ..."
"... Monbiot suggests that a coherent alternative to the current situation needs to be developed but disappointingly fails to give any clues as to what it might look like except, of course, that it must have some type of environmental context. ..."
"... A coherent alternative has to be proposed. For Labour, the Democrats and the wider left, the central task should be to develop an economic Apollo programme, a conscious attempt to design a new system, tailored to the demands of the 21st century ..."
"... The trade union package, gave us meal breaks, holidays, sickness benefits, working hours restrictions, as opposed to the right wing media agenda ..."
"... Yes, a high priest of neo-liberalism, Lord Freud, was given only 13 weeks to investigate and reform key elements of the the UK's welfare system, it hasn't worked and Freud is now invisible. ..."
"... Failed neoliberalism and not restricting markets that do not benefit the majority are the cause and we stand on the brink of falling further should the Brexiter's have their way. If there's one thing the EU excels at it's legislating against the excesses of business and extremism. ..."
www.theguardian.com
amberjack Osager , 2016-04-15 14:56:41

this is why I read the guardian

This is pretty much the only reason why I still read the Guardian.

Monbiot and the quick crossword.

Shanajackson Osager , 2016-04-15 15:07:42
Monbiot is the best journalist the Guardian has, he can actually make a logical fact based argument unlike the majority of Guardian journalist.
TOOmanyWilsons Shanajackson , 2016-04-15 16:36:01
John Harris is wonderful too. The only guy on the staff who can write about the working class with clarity, respect and understanding. But Monbiot is also the biscuit.
qzpmwxonecib , 2016-04-15 14:40:53
Any ideology will cause problems. Right wing and left wing. Pragmatism and compassion are required.
Tad Blarney qzpmwxonecib , 2016-04-15 15:17:22
'The Invisible Hand' is not an ideology or dogma. It's just a metaphor to describe those with problems grasping abstract concepts: when there are a large number of buyers and suppliers for a good, the 'market finds a price' which is effectively the sum of all the intelligence of the participants, their suppliers, customers etc..

The Socialists, who have difficulty grasping this reality, want to 'fix' the price, which abnegates the collective intelligence of the market participants, and causes severe problems.

Capitalism is freedom, Socialism is someone's ideology.

brovis Tad Blarney , 2016-04-15 18:38:35

'The Invisible Hand' is... a metaphor to describe those with problems grasping abstract concepts: when there are a large number of buyers and suppliers for a good, the 'market finds a price' which is effectively the sum of all the intelligence of the participants

You clearly haven't read Wealth of Nations. The only mention of an invisible hand is actually a warning against what we now call neoliberalism. Smith said that the wealthy wouldn't seek to enrich themselves to the detriment of their home communities, because of an innate home bias. Thus, as if by an invisible hand, England would be spared the ravages of economic rationality.

Your understanding of the 'invisible hand' is a falsehood perpetuated by neoliberal think tanks like the Adam Smith institute (no endorsement or connection to the author, despite using his name).

'The Invisible Hand' is not dogma.

You definitely know a lot about dogma (and false dichotomies):

Capitalism is freedom, Socialism is someone's ideology.

Ricochet , 2016-04-15 14:41:16
This is an interesting academic piece but the reality is that we don't have anything like neo-liberalism in this country as defined by Hayek and it has become a term of abuse by people who really ought to know better. The strongest abuse of course is linked to the Blair Government, a period, of course, when, with substantial success, the size and reach of the state increased quite substantially, ie the complete opposite of neo-liberalism.

In fact, suggesting that the UK is neo liberal is not that much different for suggesting that Russia had communism as defined by Marx.

Whether it is a good or bad thing that we don't have neo-liberalism is open to academic debate but is not of much use in real life.

Monbiot suggests that a coherent alternative to the current situation needs to be developed but disappointingly fails to give any clues as to what it might look like except, of course, that it must have some type of environmental context.

Aleocrat Ricochet , 2016-04-15 23:36:22
Maybe it takes more than one man to map out a path to the future.
unheilig , 2016-04-15 14:41:23

A coherent alternative has to be proposed. For Labour, the Democrats and the wider left, the central task should be to develop an economic Apollo programme, a conscious attempt to design a new system, tailored to the demands of the 21st century

All very well, but how? Did anyone hear the screams of rage when Sanders started threatening Hillary, or when Corbyn trounced the Blairites? The dead hand of Bernays and Goebbels controls everything.
Greg_Samsa , 2016-04-15 14:42:35
"Neoliberalism: do you know what it is?"

Yes it is what the G has been purveying wholesale for the last few years.

Luminaire Greg_Samsa , 2016-04-15 14:57:34
Wow, you read the WHOLE title. Well done.
zolotoy Luminaire , 2016-04-15 15:03:52
And yet Greg_Samsa's comment is entirely correct, and yours entirely worthless.
Luminaire zolotoy , 2016-04-15 15:26:59

And yet Greg_Samsa's comment is entirely correct, and yours entirely worthless.

So smug and yet so wrong. Infinite Wisdom is exactly already IN the article. He's not added anything. Which is what I was pointing out.

EricBallinger , 2016-04-15 14:42:51
There is no alternative on offer by the left.

The socialist/trade union package is outmoded.

The failure to describe reality in a way that concurs with what ordinary people experience has driven off much support and reduced credibility.

There is no credible model for investment and wealth creation.

The focus on social mobility upwards rather than on those who do not move has given UK leftism a middle-class snobby air to it.

Those entering leftist politics have a very narrow range of life experience. The opposition to rightist politics is cliched and outmoded.

There is a complete failure to challenge the emerging multi-polar plutocratic oligarchy which runs the planet - the European left just seeks a comfy accommodation.

There is no attempt to develop a post-socialist, holistic worldview and ideology.

oreilly62 -> EricBallinger , 2016-04-15 14:52:26
The trade union package, gave us meal breaks, holidays, sickness benefits, working hours restrictions, as opposed to the right wing media agenda, that if you aint getting it nobody should, pour poison on the unions, pour poison on the public sector, a fucking media led race to the bottom for workers, and there were enough gullible (poor )mugs around to accept it. You can curse the middle class socialists all you like, but without their support the labour movement would never have got off the ground.
Paidenoughalready -> oreilly62 , 2016-04-15 14:59:02
Okay, so you've described the 1950's through to the 1980's. So what have the unions done for us isn the last two decades ? Why is it all the successful, profitable and productive industries in the Uk have little or no union involvement ?

Why is it that the least effective, highest costs and poorest performing structures are in the public sector and held back by the unions ?

Here's a clue - the unions are operating in the 21st century with a 1950's mentality.

oreilly62 -> Paidenoughalready, 2016-04-15 15:18:26
During the industrial revolution, profitability and productivity were off the scale because the workforce were just commodities, Unionisation instigated the idea that without the workforce, your entrepreneurs can't do anything on their own, Henry Ford wouldn't have become a millionaire without the help of his workforce. 'Poorest performing structures' Guess what! some of us are human beings not auto- matrons. I hope you dine well on sterling and dollars, cause they're not the most important things in life.
countyboy , 2016-04-15 14:43:30
It's the only way. It's not perfect but it achieves the best ( not ideal ) possible result. What if in the end there's no where left to go ? What if the highest possible taxes, zero avoidance / evasion and high employment still equals deficits and increasing national debt ?

What then ?

fumbduck -> countyboy, 2016-04-15 14:54:56

What if the highest possible taxes, zero avoidance / evasion and high employment still equals deficits and increasing national debt ?

The paragraph written above neatly describes the post WW2 years, where the UK was pretty much in perpetual surplus. High employment does not equate to national debt/deficit. Quite the opposite, the more people in gainful employment the better. Increasing unemployment, driving wages down while simultaneously increasing the cost of living is a recipe for complete economic failure.

This whole economics gig is piss easy, when the general mass of people have cash to spare they spend it, economy thrives. Hoard the cash into the hands of a minority and starve the masses of cash, economy dies. It really is that simple.

makirby -> countyboy, 2016-04-15 15:23:23
Public deficits exist to match the private surplus created by the rich enriching themselves. To get rid of the deficit therefore we need to get rid of the private wealth of the rich through financial repression and taxation
Aleocrat countyboy, 2016-04-15 23:41:11
Then you're spending it wrong and should be replaced.
CoobyTavern , 2016-04-15 14:43:38
I read, cannot remember where, that with neo liberalism the implementation is all that matters, you do not need to see the results. I suppose because the followers believe when implemented it will work perfectly.
I think it's supporters think it is magic and must work because they believe it does.
dreamer06 -> CoobyTavern , 2016-04-15 15:20:42
Yes, a high priest of neo-liberalism, Lord Freud, was given only 13 weeks to investigate and reform key elements of the the UK's welfare system, it hasn't worked and Freud is now invisible.
tonyeff , 2016-04-15 14:43:45
Hopeful this is the start for change through identifying issues and avoiding pitfalls. Failed neoliberalism and not restricting markets that do not benefit the majority are the cause and we stand on the brink of falling further should the Brexiter's have their way. If there's one thing the EU excels at it's legislating against the excesses of business and extremism.
Let's make a start by staying in the EU.

[Nov 30, 2015] Is Balanced Growth Really the Answer

Notable quotes:
"... I can only add, that our economic system already redistributes income upward to capital and management, whose contribution to productivity is far below what they are paid. ..."
"... That's the idea of neoliberal transformation of society that happened since 80th or even earlier. Like John Kenneth Galbraith noted "Trickle-down theory is the less than elegant metaphor that if one feeds the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows" ..."
"... "The sense of responsibility in the financial community for the community as a whole is not small. It is nearly nil." John Kenneth Galbraith, The Great Crash of 1929 ..."
"... Just as was the case with his work on financial instability, Hyman Minsky's analysis of the problems of poverty and inequality in a capitalist economy, as well as his understanding of the political dysfunctions that would result from treating these problems in the wrong way, were prophetic. See this piece by Minksy's student L. Randall Wray, especially Section 2: http://www.levyinstitute.org/pubs/wp_515.pdf ..."
"... it is unjust to tell the poor that they must change before they will be entitled to work-whether it is their skills set or their character that is the barrier to work... Minsky always argued that it is preferable to "take workers as they are," providing jobs tailored to the characteristics of workers, rather than trying to tailor workers to the jobs available before they are allowed to work ..."
"... Further, NIT (and other welfare programs) would create a dependent class, which is not conducive to social cohesion (Minsky 1968). Most importantly, Minsky argued that any antipoverty program must be consistent with the underlying behavioral rules of a capitalist economy (Minsky no date, 1968, 1975a). One of those rules is that earned income is in some sense deserved. ..."
"... This misreads the politics. People who are disconnected from the job market very easily get disconnected from the political process. They don't vote. ..."
"... The problem in thinking here is the equilibrium paradigm. Equilibrium NEVER exists. If there is a glut the price falls below the marginal cost/revenue point, if the seller is desperate enough it falls to zero! Ignoring disequilibrium dynamics means this obvious (it should be obvious) point is simply ignored. The assumption of general equilibrium leads to the assumption of marginal productivity driving wages. You are not worth what you produce, you are worth precisely what somewhat else would accept to do your job. ..."
"... Never say never. There some stationary points at which equilibrium probably exists for a short period of time. But as the whole system has positive feedback loop built-in and is unstable by definition. So you are right in a sense that disequilibrium is the "normal" state of such a system and equilibrium is an exception. ..."
"... And the problem is more growth, is more growth is a trick we cannot always do in a finite resource technologically sophisticated world. (At least not growth as it is currently seen.) We need to start thinking in much longer term time scales. Saying that we have enough oil for 30 years, is not optimistic - it is an imminent crisis - or do we want our grandchildren to see the end of the world? ..."
Nov 30, 2015 | Economist's View

DrDick said...

"then more growth will simply lead to even more inequality."

Which is exactly what we have seen for the past 40 years, Great analysis here. I can only add, that our economic system already redistributes income upward to capital and management, whose contribution to productivity is far below what they are paid.

ikbez -> DrDick...

"then more growth will simply lead to even more inequality."

That's the idea of neoliberal transformation of society that happened since 80th or even earlier. Like John Kenneth Galbraith noted "Trickle-down theory is the less than elegant metaphor that if one feeds the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows"

And another relevant quote:

"The sense of responsibility in the financial community for the community as a whole is not small. It is nearly nil." John Kenneth Galbraith, The Great Crash of 1929

anne -> likbez...

"The sense of responsibility in the financial community for the community as a whole is not small. It is nearly nil." John Kenneth Galbraith, The Great Crash of 1929

[ Perfect. ]

Dan Kervick, November 30, 2015 at 11:12 AM

Just as was the case with his work on financial instability, Hyman Minsky's analysis of the problems of poverty and inequality in a capitalist economy, as well as his understanding of the political dysfunctions that would result from treating these problems in the wrong way, were prophetic. See this piece by Minksy's student L. Randall Wray, especially Section 2: http://www.levyinstitute.org/pubs/wp_515.pdf

The centerpiece of Minsky's preferred approach was based on a government commitment to "tight full employment". He believed that neither human capital investment, economic growth, nor redistribution would be sufficient on their own to address the problem.

As part of the critique of the human capital approach, Minsky argued that:

"it is unjust to tell the poor that they must change before they will be entitled to work-whether it is their skills set or their character that is the barrier to work... Minsky always argued that it is preferable to "take workers as they are," providing jobs tailored to the characteristics of workers, rather than trying to tailor workers to the jobs available before they are allowed to work (Minsky 1965, 1968, 1973)."

Minsky accurately foresaw the way in which a welfare approach to poverty, as opposed to a full employment approach, would politically divide working people among themselves:

"Further, NIT (and other welfare programs) would create a dependent class, which is not conducive to social cohesion (Minsky 1968). Most importantly, Minsky argued that any antipoverty program must be consistent with the underlying behavioral rules of a capitalist economy (Minsky no date, 1968, 1975a). One of those rules is that earned income is in some sense deserved."

"With the perspective of the 1980s and 1990s now behind us, it is hard to deny Minsky's arguments-President Reagan successfully turned most Americans against welfare programs and President Clinton finally "eliminated welfare as we know it." According to Minsky, a successful antipoverty program will need to provide visible benefits to the average taxpayer."

We can note that this political problem has only gotten worse, as can be seen from the deepening ugliness of our domestic politics, and the poll results that MacGillis cites.

Minsky also understood the unhealthy political and economic dynamics of an undirected aggregate demand approach to poverty, and promoted, following ideas of Keynes, a measure of socialized investment and direct job creation:

"Minsky feared that using demand stimulus to reduce poverty would necessarily lead to "stop-go" policy. Expansion would fuel inflation, causing policy makers to reverse course to slow growth in order to fight inflation (Minsky 1965, 1968). Because wages (and prices) in leading sectors would rise in expansion, but could resist deflationary pressures in recession, there would be an upward bias to rising wages in those sectors. However, in the lagging sectors, wage increases would come slowly-only with adequate tightening of labor markets -- and could be reversed in recession. Hence, Minsky argued that a directed demand policy would be required-to raise demand in the lagging sectors and for low wage and unemployed workers. For this reason, he concluded that a direct job creation program would be required."

All this adds up to a more activist role for the government sector.

likbez -> Dan Kervick...

My impression is that "human capital" is one of the most fundamental neoliberal myths. See, for example What Exactly Is Neoliberalism by Wendy Brown https://www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/booked-3-what-exactly-is-neoliberalism-wendy-brown-undoing-the-demos

As for people betraying their own economic interests, this phenomenon was aptly described in "What's the matter with Kansas" which can actually be reformulated as "What's the matter with the USA?". And the answer he gave is that neoliberalism converted the USA into a bizarre high demand cult. There are several characteristics of a high demand cult that are applicable. Among them:

  • "The group is preoccupied with making money."
  • "Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished."
  • "Mind-numbing techniques (for example: meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, debilitating work routines) are used to suppress doubts about the group or its leader(s)." Entertainment and, especially sport events in the US society serves the same role.
  • "The group's leadership dictates – sometimes in great detail – how members should think, act, and feel." Looks like this part of brainwashing is outsourced to economy departments ;-)
  • "The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s), and members (for example the group and/or the leader has a special mission to save humanity)."
  • "The group has a polarized, "we-they" mentality that causes conflict with the wider society."
  • "The group's leader is not accountable to any authorities (as are, for example, clergy with mainstream denominations)."
  • "The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify means (for example: collecting money for bogus charities) that members would have considered unethical before joining."
  • "The group's leadership induces guilt feelings in lower members for the lack of achievement in order to control them."
  • "Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group."
  • "Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members."

It is very difficult to get rid of this neoliberal sect mentality like is the case with other high demand cults.

cm -> likbez...

What has any of this to do with human capital? "Capital" is basically a synonym for productive capacity, with regard to what "productive" means in the socioeconomic system or otherwise the context that is being discussed.

E.g. social or political capital designates the ability (i.e. capacity) to exert influence in social networks or societal decision making at the respective scales (organization, city, regional, national etc.), where "productive" means "achieving desired or favored outcomes for the person(s) possessing the capital or for those on whose behalf it is used".

Human capital, in the economic domain, is then the combined capacity of the human population in the domain under consideration that is available for productive endeavors of any kind. This includes BTW e.g. housewives and other household workers whose work is generally not paid, but you better believe it is socially productive.

likbez -> cm...

"Human capital, in the economic domain, is then the combined capacity of the human population in the domain under consideration that is available for productive endeavors of any kind. This includes BTW e.g. housewives and other household workers whose work is generally not paid, but you better believe it is socially productive."

This is not true. The term "human capital" under neoliberalism has different semantic meaning: it presuppose viewing a person as a market actor.

See the discussion of the term in http://www.jceps.com/wp-content/uploads/PDFs/10-1-07.pdf

kthomas

"...it's driven be resentment..."

No, its driven by racism. White trash will take with one hand, then walk right into a voting both and screw themselves because they think they sticking it to blacks, mexicans, gays, etc.

Syaloch -> kthomas...

Racism is certainly part of it, but it's really more fundamental than that.

"This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition, though necessary both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society, is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments. That wealth and greatness are often regarded with the respect and admiration which are due only to wisdom and virtue; and that the contempt, of which vice and folly are the only proper objects, is often most unjustly bestowed upon poverty and weakness, has been the complaint of moralists in all ages."

Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

http://knarf.english.upenn.edu/Smith/tms133.html

cm -> kthomas...

What is racism if not an expression of resentment?

bakho said...

This misreads the politics. People who are disconnected from the job market very easily get disconnected from the political process. They don't vote. The people who do have jobs and are worried about keeping them and being paid too little are voting against the "losers" who they see as parasites. Never mind that the Malefactors of Great Wealth are the true parasites. Elections in the US are won or lost on voter turnout.

The Rage said...

I guess it depends on what kind of economy you want.

Growth of all kinds is not good. The 2001-2007 "growth" was badly constructed. I think America itself is in a bad rut....and has been since 1974. That itself will not be popular. The consensus belief was everything was rosy up until 2001. That is lie. They used to have a saying "nothing really happens on the X-files anymore". It really applies to America since 1974. It goes beyond "inequality".

I mean, we could have 3% wage growth in 2016 and 4% wage growth in 2017. That doesn't mean a damn thing for a economy's health. The infrastructure is bad. It shows up in pop culture apathy.

pgl -> The Rage...

"The 2001-2007 "growth" was badly constructed."

Glenn Hubbard might quarrel with this. He was well constructed for George W. Bush's base - rich people.

On the whole - great comment!!!

cm -> The Rage...

The Y2K/dotcom boom unraveled in 2000, but not all at once. It is difficult to impossible to disentagle the boundary between dotcom bust, 9/11 and the prolonged reaction to it, and the start of the Bush presidency (and the top policymaking figures that came with that, I don't want to necessarily tie it to Bush himself).

At the same time, the global rollout of the internet, telecommunication, (start of) commodity videoconferencing, broadband and realtime data exchange, etc. enabled the outsourcing and offshoring of large and growing segments of blue and white collar jobs, and much increased fungibility of variously skilled labor altogether.

On that foundation, a lot of things will appear as badly constructed. Or from a different angle, given that foundation, how would you arrange for things to be well constructed?

likbez -> cm...

I would view 9/11 as a perfect cure for dot-com bust. Soon after invasion of Iraq stock market returned to almost precrash levels. War is the health of stock market. And since probably 1998 nobody cared about real economy anyway.

Also housing boom started around this period as conscious, deliberate effort of Fed to blow the bubble to cure the consequences of the crash at all costs and face the day of reckoning later (without Mr. Greenspan at the helm)

reason said...

The problem in thinking here is the equilibrium paradigm. Equilibrium NEVER exists. If there is a glut the price falls below the marginal cost/revenue point, if the seller is desperate enough it falls to zero! Ignoring disequilibrium dynamics means this obvious (it should be obvious) point is simply ignored. The assumption of general equilibrium leads to the assumption of marginal productivity driving wages. You are not worth what you produce, you are worth precisely what somewhat else would accept to do your job.

Lafayette -> reason...

I could not agree more. A Market-Economy is a dynamic in constant disequilibrium, changing positively and negatively around a mean. The mean is very rarely an "equilibrium".

likbez -> reason...

Never say never. There some stationary points at which equilibrium probably exists for a short period of time. But as the whole system has positive feedback loop built-in and is unstable by definition. So you are right in a sense that disequilibrium is the "normal" state of such a system and equilibrium is an exception.

reason said...

And the problem is more growth, is more growth is a trick we cannot always do in a finite resource technologically sophisticated world. (At least not growth as it is currently seen.) We need to start thinking in much longer term time scales. Saying that we have enough oil for 30 years, is not optimistic - it is an imminent crisis - or do we want our grandchildren to see the end of the world?

[Aug 22, 2015] Why Is Market Fundamentalism So Tenacious

The analogy with Trotskyism, which is also a secular religion here are so evident, that they can't be missed. And that explains why it is so tenacious: all cults are extremely tenacious and very difficult to eradiate.
Notable quotes:
"... As the neoliberal revolution instigated by Reagan and Thatcher in the 1980 has spread, however, Polanyi has been rediscovered. His great book – now republished with a foreword by Joseph Stiglitz – has attracted a new generation of readers. ..."
"... The cult of free market fundamentalism has become so normative in our times, and economics as a discipline so hidebound and insular, that reading Polanyi today is akin to walking into a stiff gust of fresh air. We can suddenly see clear, sweeping vistas of social reality. Instead of the mandarin, quantitative and faux-scientific presumptions of standard economics – an orthodoxy of complex illusions about "autonomous" markets – Polanyi explains how markets are in fact embedded in a complex web of social, cultural and historical realities. ..."
"... Markets can only work, for example, if political and legal institutions contrive to transform people, land and money into assets that can be bought and sold. Polanyi calls these "fictional commodities" because people, land and money are not in fact commodities. People and land have their own existence and purposes apart from the market – and money is a social institution, even if many pretend that gold is a self-evident medium of value. ..."
"... Block and Somers point to a closed and coherent ideational scheme that knits together several key belief systems. The first is the idea that the laws of nature govern human society, and thus the workings of the economy are seen as a biological and evolutionary inevitability. A second theme is the idea of "theoretical realism," a belief that the theoretical schema is more true and enduring than any single piece of empirical evidence, and thus one can argue from the claims of theory and not from facts. ..."
"... Finally, a "conversion narrative" enables free marketeers tell to neutralize and delegitimate any contrary arguments, and enabling them to introduce its alternative story. This approach is routinely used to re-cast the reasons (and blame) for poverty. ..."
"... What makes The Power of Market Fundamentalism so illuminating is its patient, careful reconstruction of these recurring and deceptive polemical patterns. The wealthy invoke the same rhetorical strategies again and again over the course of hundreds of years in extremely different contexts. With their mastery of an enormous contemporary literature, Block and Somers document the remarkable parallels and show just how deep and durable Polanyi's analysis truly is ..."
www.resilience.org

One of the great economists of the twentieth century had the misfortune of publishing his magnum opus, The Great Transformation, in 1944, months before the inauguration of a new era of postwar economic growth and consumer culture. Few people in the 1940s or 1950s wanted to hear piercing criticisms of "free markets," let alone consider the devastating impacts that markets tend to have on social solidarity and the foundational institutions of civil society. And so for decades Polanyi remained something of a curiosity, not least because he was an unconventional academic with a keen interest in the historical and anthropological dimensions of economics.

As the neoliberal revolution instigated by Reagan and Thatcher in the 1980 has spread, however, Polanyi has been rediscovered. His great book – now republished with a foreword by Joseph Stiglitz – has attracted a new generation of readers.

But how to make sense of Polanyi's work with all that has happened in the past 70 years? Why does he still speak so eloquently to our contemporary problems? For answers, we can be grateful that we have The Power of Market Fundamentalism: Karl Polanyi's Critique, written by Fred Block and Margaret R. Somers, and published last year. The book is a first-rate reinterpretation of Polanyi's work, giving it a rich context and commentary. Polanyi focused on the deep fallacies of economistic thinking and its failures to understand society and people as they really are. What could be more timely?

The cult of free market fundamentalism has become so normative in our times, and economics as a discipline so hidebound and insular, that reading Polanyi today is akin to walking into a stiff gust of fresh air. We can suddenly see clear, sweeping vistas of social reality. Instead of the mandarin, quantitative and faux-scientific presumptions of standard economics – an orthodoxy of complex illusions about "autonomous" markets – Polanyi explains how markets are in fact embedded in a complex web of social, cultural and historical realities.

Markets can only work, for example, if political and legal institutions contrive to transform people, land and money into assets that can be bought and sold. Polanyi calls these "fictional commodities" because people, land and money are not in fact commodities. People and land have their own existence and purposes apart from the market – and money is a social institution, even if many pretend that gold is a self-evident medium of value.

Notwithstanding these realities, capitalist societies ahve created these fictional commodities. People have in effect been transformed into units of "labor" that can be bought and sold in the market, and discarded when their value is depleted. Land, too, is treated as a market asset that has no connection to a larger, living ecosystem or human community. Inevitably, people and users of land (and ecosystems themselves) rebel against their treatment as raw commodities. The result is a permanent counter-movement against those who insist upon treating people and land as commodities.

Unlike Keynes, who was willing to accept some of these economic illusions in order to have political impact, Polanyi rejected them as a recipe for a dangerous and unachievable utopianism. That is in fact what has emerged over the past several generations as business ideologues have advanced quasi-religious visions of free market fundamentalism. The planet's natural systems and our communities simply cannot fulfill these utopian dreams of endless economic growth, vast consumption of resources and the massive social engineering. And yet it continues.

Polanyi was courageous enough to strip away the pretenses that the economy is a "force of nature" that cannot be stopped. The economy, he said, is an "instituted process," not a natural one, and it can only survive through massive governmental interventions and cultural regimentation. The free market system is hardly autonomous and self-executing. It requires enormous amounts of government purchasing, research subsidies, legal privileges, regulatory agencies to enhance fairness and public trust, military interventions to secure access to resources and markets, and the sabotage of democratic processes that might threaten investments and market growth. The 2008 financial crisis revealed in outrageous detail how financial markets are anything but autonomous.

So what accounts for the insidious power of market fundamentalism and its illusions? Why do its premises remain intact and influential in the face of so much contrary evidence?

Block and Somers point to a closed and coherent ideational scheme that knits together several key belief systems. The first is the idea that the laws of nature govern human society, and thus the workings of the economy are seen as a biological and evolutionary inevitability. A second theme is the idea of "theoretical realism," a belief that the theoretical schema is more true and enduring than any single piece of empirical evidence, and thus one can argue from the claims of theory and not from facts. Free market narratives assert their own self-validating claims to what is true; epistemological categories trump all empirical challenges.

Finally, a "conversion narrative" enables free marketeers tell to neutralize and delegitimate any contrary arguments, and enabling them to introduce its alternative story. This approach is routinely used to re-cast the reasons (and blame) for poverty. Instead of acknowledging institutional or structural explanations for why many people are poor, the free market narrative boldly attacks government for making people poor through aid programs. Government programs supposedly have a perverse effect, aggravating, not aleviating poverty. The poor are cast as morally responsible – along with government – for their own sorry circumstances. Thus, a higher minimum wage is perverse, say free market champions, because it will hurt the poor rather than help them.

What makes The Power of Market Fundamentalism so illuminating is its patient, careful reconstruction of these recurring and deceptive polemical patterns. The wealthy invoke the same rhetorical strategies again and again over the course of hundreds of years in extremely different contexts. With their mastery of an enormous contemporary literature, Block and Somers document the remarkable parallels and show just how deep and durable Polanyi's analysis truly is .

[Jan 22, 2011] Neoliberalism's Future By Dennis Loo

January 22, 2011 | stateofnature.org

"Neoliberalism relies upon the relentless shredding of the social fabric, that mutual interdependence and reliance that people have on each other as members of that entity that Margaret Thatcher called non-existent: society."

Before I consider the question here of neoliberalism's future, let me first clarify what I mean by neoliberalism. As Gary Teeple has succinctly put it, neoliberalism is the political expression of globalization. It is, in other words, the ideology and politics of furthering market forces' dominance domestically and internationally and in all public and private matters. When I say "public", in all fairness I should clarify that the public realm doesn't actually exist for neoliberals – they scoff at such a thing and proudly claim that everyone is only out for himself or herself.

This, then, is the philosophical basis for neoliberalism: Adam Smith's invisible hand. Everyone acting selfishly will produce the best possible world. Both major U.S. political parties are believers in neoliberalism and the differences they have between them regarding economic policy is over how and to what extent market forces should openly drive matters, with the Democrats making mostly rhetorical passes to the need to protect middle class people. (Evidently, the working class does not exist in the U.S., judging by the Democratic Party's rhetoric.)

Neoliberals' answer to all ills and concerns is privatization. When calamities ensue, whether financial, medical, political, environmental, or otherwise (e.g., Katrina, the BP Oil catastrophe, the scandal at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the corruption of Bernie Madoff and Tom DeLay…), their instantaneous response is that this disaster only proves the need for more privatization, less regulation, and more market forces. In other words, we need more of the very things that in actuality brought on the crisis or at least exacerbated the crisis in the first place. We can see this, for example, in the measures taken to resolve the 2008 financial crisis, the crisis that Treasury Secretary – and former Goldman Sachs head – Hank Paulsen secretly told some U.S. congressmen and women would cause martial law to be declared if they didn't alter their first vote of saying no to the massive bailout, a vote these representatives registered because of the massive outcry of opposition from their constituents to the bailout. Because the banks and financial institutions who were responsible for this crisis were "too big to fail", they must be shored up with massive, historic loans and giveaways which these giants of finance have turned around to make themselves even bigger with and therefore even more necessary to be saved when their profligate ways bring on the next financial crisis.

Market forces are animated by and driven by the pursuit of profit. And since profit comes about through driving down wages and reducing or eliminating benefits for those outside the very top ranks, and through greater job and income insecurity and volatility, and by increasing indebtedness for those who are not one of the neoliberal elect, then the logic of neoliberalism rests upon the logic of dispossession. In the U.S. the credit card debt load is famously large, $828 billion as of July 2010. What is less well-known is that student loan debt is now even higher: over $850 billion in student loan debt is being saddled upon the backs of working class and middle-class students who have dwindling prospects of getting a decent job or even a job at all after graduation. Take away decent jobs, send those jobs abroad and downsize the workforce here at home, but promise them if they stay in school and get a college degree or graduate degree they will surely make back their loans. Meanwhile, take full advantage of their troubles.

The logic of profit dictates exactly this. Neoliberalism relies upon the relentless shredding of the social fabric, that mutual interdependence and reliance that people have on each other as members of that entity that Margaret Thatcher called non-existent: society. Is it true, in fact, as the Iron Lady liked to say: TINA (There is No Alternative)?

Which brings us to the question of neoliberalism's future. How long can neoliberalism prevail in face of the damage it does by its very logic and operation? These are not incidental or accidental problems – they are the fundamental rationale of the system itself. Judging by the U.S., where neoliberalism reigns supreme, unchallenged and indeed endorsed by the two major political parties, it looks as secure as ever, with the GOP and the Tea Parties and its Pied Piper, angry Glenn Beck, its cutting edge. The Democrats, for their part, under the man of "hope and change", Obama, are notable for how much further they have carried forward the ignoble and egregious departures from the rule of law that marked the Bush regime, institutionalizing these lawless actions of indefinite detention, openly ordering citizens' assassinations, calling openly for Julian Assange's death, and asserting their right to spy on everyone all of the time – all these and more are part and parcel of the political dimension of their unholy holy war of terrorism.

Here is the problem put into as small a nutshell as I can. Neoliberalism brings on disasters, sometimes by deliberate design (as Naomi Klein has pointed out), and sometimes without conscious intent, through the workings of the very system and the dynamics of its logic. These disasters are on the micro and macro-levels. On the micro-level individuals fall through the increasingly gaping holes in the social safety net. On the macro-level we have local, regional, and global calamities such as global warming. The logic of the war of terror is such that terrorist incidents, whether abortive or not, reinforce the war of terror itself. Thus, without needing anyone to consciously instigate a false flag attack, the institutional and ideological purposes of the war of terror are served by anti-state terrorist incidents.

How long will this continue? It is impossible to say with any precision. It is certainly possible that the neoliberals will cause disasters on a scale that could make the planet oppressive to live in – physically as well as psychologically. They have succeeded in creating a very large and extremely powerful right-wing echo chamber through their rightwing media empire. Those who are not happy with the reactionary politics of the Right and those of the Democrats are therefore outgunned, surrounded in some respects by the armies of fear, ignorance, and the cynically misled.

A real alternative to this is hard to imagine for those who have not been around long enough to see a real alternative to capitalism, and those who are old enough to remember this are mostly unconvinced at this point that an alternative to capitalism can be brought into being.

This much I can say with certainty based on a reading of history: the conditions that create the awful things that we now see around us and growing more menacing practically by the day – the assassination and attempted assassination of public officials in Tucson, Arizona this month, the abrogation of core civil liberties such as habeas corpus, the express departure from the rule of law, the pre-emptive arrests of demonstrators and charging people who are whistleblowers as terrorists and open calls for their murder, the