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Pages tagged "Neoliberalism"


News From George Soros' Berlin Conference - Economists Discover Human Beings!

by Lynn Parramore

Could economists be leaving behind their mechanistic paradise for the messy, unpredictable human world? 

Economists are peculiar creatures. Last week a large posse of them descended on Berlin for the third annual conference of the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), a think-tank co-founded by investor and philanthropist George Soros in 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis.

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The Precariat – The new dangerous class

by Guy Standing

For the first time in history, the mainstream left has no progressive agenda. It has forgotten a basic principle. Every progressive political movement has been built on the anger, needs and aspirations of the emerging major class. Today that class is the precariat.

So far, the precariat in Europe has been mostly engaged in EuroMayDay parades and loosely organised protests. But this is changing rapidly, as events in Spain and Greece are showing, following on the precariat-led uprisings in the middle-east. Remember that welfare states were built only when the working class mobilised through collective action to demand the relevant policies and institutions. The precariat is busy defining its demands.

The precariat has emerged from the liberalisation that underpinned globalisation. Politicians should beware. It is a new dangerous class, not yet what Karl Marx would have described as a class-for-itself, but a class-in-the-making, internally divided into angry and bitter factions.

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Republican liberty and the future of the centre-left

by Michael Lind

The dominant tradition in popular politics is infused with the values of republican liberalism.  The contemporary centre-left, influenced by a mix of residual Marxism and technocratic progressivism, has ceded this ground to conservatives and libertarians, losing elections and popular appeal in the process. A twenty-first century centre-left needs to reclaim the tradition of republican liberty as its own.

The centre-left in Europe and North America is in a state of political collapse and intellectual exhaustion. In recent elections the Labour party lost control of the British government to a centre-right coalition and in the US the Democrats lost the House of Representatives to a resurgent right.  Parties of the right already ruled Germany, France and Italy.  Even Sweden, long the flagship of social democracy, is now governed by conservatives.

The crumbling of social democratic parties on both sides of the Atlantic has much deeper causes than poor leadership or the voter discontent produced by the Great Recession.  It is the culmination of trends going back to the unraveling of postwar social democratic settlements in the 1970s. In Europe and America alike, the industrial working class that supported midcentury social democracy has contracted, as a result of the offshoring of industry, productivity growth and the shift toward services in employment. When the postwar boom came to an end in the 1970s, Keynesian full employment and demand management policies appeared to be discredited. Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher and their counterparts in other countries led a counter-revolution which failed to shrink the size of the state but succeeded in deregulating the economy and marginalising social democrats.

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Is there a liberalism beyond social democracy?

by Colin Crouch
 
The liberal concern with challenging concentrated authority makes it a natural partner for social democrats; attempts to achieve this marriage have fallen short when economic power is neglected, but the unparalleled influence of corporate elites today makes this alliance more urgent than ever.

Traditional social democracy became doomed during the 1980s, and needed a new charge of liberalism to move it forward. In trying to do this while retaining the form of the mass party seeking to win national elections in a global economy, the Third Way movement was able to produce only a liberalism that fell short of social democracy’s fundamental values. Can there be a liberalism that “goes beyond” rather than “falls short” of social democracy? And can it be based on mass parties?

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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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Plan B: The Building Blocks of a Progressive UK

by George Irvin

By now, even the most die-hard Tory must realise that the UK economy under George Osborne has flat-lined; like the Python’s dead parrot, it wouldn’t ‘voom’ if you pumped 4 million volts through it.[1]

The highly respected National Institute of Social and Economic Research (NIESR) defines a ‘depression’ as that period of time during which the country’s economic output (GDP) has not returned to its prior peak. During the Great Depression of 1930-34, UK output fell by 7.5% and did not return to its pre-depression level for four years (48 months). Since the 2008 peak, UK output has fallen by about the same percentage. But here’s the rub: NIESR predicts that we’ll take 61 months to escape depression. Moreover, as Osborne tightens the economic thumbscrew, the pain is increasing to such a degree that even City financiers are now worrying about the real economy.

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