Category: Neoliberalism

A Year of Revolution

by Thomas McDermott

In a year of revolution, causes have been easier to identify than consequences.

In 1989, following the end of the Cold War, the American political scientist Francis Fukuyama wrote in The End of History? of the “unabashed victory of economic and political liberalism”, marking “the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government”. In the decades since Fukuyama’s landmark essay, the very concept of revolution – at least in the context of the rich, Western world – had itself come to be seen as an almost anachronistic idea. That is, until this year. In 2011, revolution has returned to the center of global geo-political discourse.

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The Rebirth of Social Darwinism

by Robert Reich

What kind of society, exactly, do modern US Republicans want? I’ve been listening to US Republican candidates in an effort to discern an overall philosophy, a broadly-shared vision, an ideal picture of America.

They say they want a smaller government but that can’t be it. Most seek a larger national defense and more muscular homeland security. Almost all want to widen the government’s powers of search and surveillance inside the United States – eradicating possible terrorists, expunging undocumented immigrants, “securing” the nation’s borders. They want stiffer criminal sentences, including broader application of the death penalty. Many also want government to intrude on the most intimate aspects of private life.

They call themselves conservatives but that’s not it, either. They don’t want to conserve what we now have. They’d rather take the country backwards – before the 1960s and 1970s, and the Environmental Protection Act, Medicare, and Medicaid; before the New Deal, and its provision for Social Security, unemployment insurance, the forty-hour workweek, laws against child labor, and official recognition of trade unions; even before the Progressive Era, and the first national income tax, antitrust laws, and Federal Reserve.

They’re not conservatives. They’re regressives. And the America they seek is the one we had in the Gilded Age of the late nineteenth century.

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A UK Recovery Program: Go Keynesian (Part 2)

by John Weeks

The latest statistics show that real household earnings in Britain fell by 3.5% over the last year (The Guardian24 November 2011), a decline unprecedented in peacetime.  What can be done to stop this unfolding disaster? While the private sector is dangerously in debt (“over-leveraged”), the public sector is not as I showed in my last article.  On the contrary, by any accepted financial measure, the UK government is under-indebted, the ratio of net debt to GDP, debt service capacity or marginal borrowing cost.

The solution to falling comes and the looming second recession is for the government to borrow and spend.  If that sounds like bad economics, it is only because the economics profession degenerated into free market metaphysics long ago, turning out reactionary propaganda against rational policy.

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The rise and fall of the ‘free market’

by David Hetherington

Ideas, like fashion, move in waves. A big idea will form, expand, dominate, and fade. Along the way it will accrue adherents and opponents, leaving a trailing wake of subsidiary ideas.

The last century has seen the rise and fall of communism, fascism, and socialism. Democracy has proven more enduring, still expanding if not dominating.

Yet the idea closest to the inflection point between domination and fade is the ‘free market’, the most influential concept in political economy over the past 40 years. Outlined in its modern form by the Austrian school of economists and expanded by Milton Friedman, the free market was the bedrock of the Thatcher/Reagan reforms. It defined the political orthodoxy for both right and left until the financial crash of 2008.

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Europe’s democracy shock

by Olaf Cramme 

The outcry over EU legitimacy only diverts attention away from the real challenges to democracy and sovereignty in our capitalist system. We deserve a better debate.

The seismic social and economic aftershocks of the global financial crisis have raised a new awareness among citizens: democracy is in a pretty bad shape and national sovereignty is under siege. It is not so much the widely-reported violent demonstrations in Greece which embody this growing unease, but rather hardening cynicism and wide scale disenchantment with politics in the liberal West. We are in a situation where representational power looks worryingly distorted, the most basic demands and concerns of citizens are often ignored and the emotional gap between the elite and the population at large seems to be growing. At the same time, questions of belonging, identity and nationalism have re-emerged on the agenda – and with it a new surge in populist rhetoric.

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