Neo-Liberalism Again


Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

Related Post Roulette

34 Responses

  1. Avatar Kimmi says:

    Markets distort nothing. That’s simply silly. Monopolies and oligopolies have so much spare money that they distort politics. Need I mention AccuWeather?Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

      My, but you read this quickly.Report

    • Avatar Ryan Bonneville says:

      That seems right. It’s more market worship that distorts politics than markets themselves. A certain set of people are bound and determined to convince everyone that every problem is a nail.Report

      • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

        I think it can be the use of false markets to influence politics – i.e. the contracting out of government functions to ostensibly private contractors who are in fact gaining monopoly rents with less accountability than the government agency would have itself. So it’s not *true* markets at all, it’s the mixture of non-competitive faux markets with government functions that gets messy.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      Markets distort nothing.

      But market players can, without the aid of government. And market players can in turn influence government to shape markets to their advantage.Report

  2. Avatar E.C. Gach says:

    And like it’s foreign policy cousin, neoconservatism, the answer to all neoliberal failings is more neoliberalism.

    It appears to me at least, as if there is this sort of “burn through” strategy that both positions rely on in the face of unfortunate circumstances. And both of them precisely related to globalization.

    The neoliberal approach to the economic upheavel of globalization is to speed it up, in the hope that some sort of hyper-globalization will lead to a more balanced and stable tomorrow, even if today’s displaced workers must be sacrificed.

    Similarly, neoconservatism urges a hyper-clash of civilizations approach to foreign policy, in the hope that the faster and more forcefully these geopolitical differences are ironed out, the quicker we can reach some world-historical liberal democratic moment (Fukyama’s take on Hegels end of history).

    The result is full scale western imperialism. Neoliberal hegemony in developing markets that get on board with our notiong of “modernization,” and neoconservative occupations/sanctions for those regimes which are still seen to be culturally antithetical to our own.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

      Well said. It’s not exactly imperialism, but it’s a sort of economic imperialism that uses a mixture of government, corporate, and military power to force trade agreements as opposed to actually freeing global markets. The infrastructure of globalism has not been built organically.Report

  3. Avatar MFarmer says:

    Would housing, energy, food and clothing live in the socialist unit of this American duplex or in the partially-free-market unit?Report

    • Avatar Ryan Bonneville says:

      If you’re willing to change the rules so I don’t have to wear pants if I don’t want, I’m willing to let the free market handle them.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

      Mike – we live in a democracy, and all that stuff is decided by society through the crappy democratic process. It sucks, but it’s better than the alternatives, including what I’ve come to see more and more as a intensely anti-democratic vision of the libertarian society.Report

      • Avatar MFarmer says:

        Really? It’s decided by majority rule, and that’s better than any alternative, especially libertarianism? I’m just trying to get a clear view of where you’re coming from.Report

      • Avatar MFarmer says:

        “Mike – we live in a democracy, and all that stuff is decided by society through the crappy democratic process.”

        We actually live in a constitutional republic. Some aspects of our political process are democratic. I guess I need to know what you mean by “democracy”. In many ways, with constitutional limits being surpassed, we have become somewhat of a democracy, but is this a good thing, or should we adhere to a limited constitutional republic?Report

        • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

          I think we have adhered to the limited Constitutional republic for the most part.Report

        • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

          We are a constitutional democratic-Republic with various degrees of representative democracy.

          I think we should stick to that, maybe modify it a bit here and there, and then expand that democracy to the workplace as much as possible.Report

          • Avatar MFarmer says:

            “We are a constitutional democratic-Republic with various degrees of representative democracy.”

            But can government control food production, energy, housing and clothing as a collective good in your duplex set-up if the majority wants to do so?Report

            • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

              But can government control food production, energy, housing and clothing as a collective good in your duplex set-up if the majority wants to do so?

              Yes, Mr. Farmer, it can, pretty much. I recommend consensus, though. Fact is, the New Deal did and does enjoy consensus.

              [The Obamacare bill, not so much.]Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                Then I don’t see how even a partially free market can survive in this set-up, because the majority can decide what is a collective good, and, over time, there won’t be much left of a free market.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                This is the problem when there are strict limits placed on government power, and it’s the problem with democracy. Social democracy is a recipe for tyranny of the majority, which never really places the majority as the tyrant, just those who represent the majority. The majority gets some goodies, but they quickly become meaningless in a stagnant, declining economy. Collapse is the end-result.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                aren’t strict limitsReport

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                Yup, I’ve noticed the riots in Copenhagen. And the lack of rich people in Sweden.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Facile, Mr. Ewiak. Those Nordic paradises would be under the Axis or Soviet jackboot right about now except for you-know-who.

                And Greece 2012 is as valid a comparison as Scandinavia 2012, and it’s a frigging mess.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                Not really. Greece’s number one problem isn’t it’s spending, it’s the way they set up their spending, their lack of ability to actually collect taxes, and of course, being in a fiscal union but not a political union.

                Same thing with the rest of the Europe. Before the crash, Spain and Ireland were running surpluses. Hell, Ireland was the toast of the right-wing due to their lack of corporate taxation.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                You’re into No True Scotsman territory here. Regardless, drivebys in praise of the self-evident superiority of the Eurostate ain’t gonna get it done. a) It’s that, and we don’t want that and b) These systems only exist because the US saved their asses and c) The Eurostate model is only decades old and it’s far from self-evident they’re sustainable. It’s just as likely they’re running on the fumes of the Pax Americana.

                That said, I’ve been trying to stick up for the New Deal a bit and a healthy chunk of the Great Society to boot. We as a people and a nation want that; we just have to figger out how to afford it.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                > The Eurostate model is only decades
                > old and it’s far from self-evident
                > they’re sustainable.

                I’m going with, “Signs Point to ‘No’,” myself.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Well, it may be unworkable, but it has the consent of the governed. A workable system without consent ain’t gonna work either.

                This is why I fancy the “muddling through” approach; when in doubt, go with the principle of liberty, but allow for Freakonomics. For in the end, any successful system must account for the realities of human nature. Liberty without order, [and a chicken in every pot] is unenjoyable.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                You mean it has the consent of the majority.Report

              • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

                Hear, hear Tom.Report

              • Avatar Alan Scott says:

                MFarmer, you say that if the majority decides what is and isn’t a public good, then eventually they’ll remove everything from the sphere of the free market.

                My question is, why? Why would the majority want to remove things from a free market sphere and place them into a government-controlled sphere? If people are clamoring for government control, doesn’t that mean that the private sector has really fucked something up?Report

              • Avatar Murali says:

                No, pace Bryan Caplan, people on average are irrational in their economic policy preferences. They prefer anti-market policies even if said policies would hurt them or the constituency they care about (i.e. the worst off). That makes democracies systematically irrational.Report