Methinks Seumas might be a bit premature here

And the neoliberal capitalist model that had reigned supreme for a generation had crashed.

The second was the fallout from the crash of 2008 and the crisis of the western-dominated capitalist order it unleashed, speeding up relative US decline.

And its most devastating impact was on those economies whose elites had bought most enthusiastically into the neoliberal orthodoxy of deregulated financial markets and unfettered corporate power.

The baleful twins of neoconservatism and neoliberalism had been tried and tested to destruction.

The neoliberal model was discredited, but governments tried to refloat it through savage austerity programmes.
For 30 years, the west\’s elites insisted that only deregulated markets, privatisation and low taxes on the wealthy could deliver growth and prosperity.
Long before 2008, the \”free market\” model had been under fierce attack: neoliberalism was handing power to unaccountable banks and corporations, anti-corporate globalisation campaigners argued, fuelling poverty and social injustice and eviscerating democracy – and was both economically and ecologically unsustainable.
The case against neoliberal capitalism had been overwhelmingly made on the left,

And while neoliberalism had been discredited,

The same would be true in the aftermath of the crisis of the neoliberal order, as the need to reconstruct a broken economy on a more democratic, egalitarian and rational basis began to dictate the shape of a sustainable alternative. Both the economic and ecological crisis demanded social ownership, public intervention and a shift of wealth and power.

Here\’s the thing. In all the many millennia of human civilisation we\’ve not actually found a method of increasing the standard of living of the average man, significantly and continuously, that isn\’t some mild variation on this capitalism and free markets thing that Milne is describing as \”neoliberal\”.

There are flavours of it, most certainly. The Nordic vision is distinctly more neoliberal than even most Tories would consider acceptable in the UK: plus eyewatering taxes to redistribute the benefits of that red in tooth and claw. The Anglo Saxon is actually less neoliberal and more lightly taxed. The Latin is both regulated and highly taxed: which does indeed go some way to explain both the inequality in such places (Italy is, by market incomes, even more unequal than the US) and also their slow growth.

But places that don\’t even try to have this strange capitalism/market mixture simply aren\’t as wealthy. Full blooded socialism hasn\’t produced even middle income status for any country, ever. Nor has feudalism, one party or one man dictatorship, autarky, planned economies or, well, nothing other than some flavour of this capitalism/markets stuff.

Entirely worthwhile to debate on the flavour: although that does require acknowledging what actually makes the flavours work (vide that Nordics thing). But in terms of the real argument, yes, the debate is over. If you want to have an economy that produces what we now regard as a modicum of wealth for all of the population then you do indeed have to have some flavour of that neoliberalism: that mixture of capitalism and markets.

Sure, you can mix in more cooperatives, worker/consumer owned. You can weaken that capitalism part to at least some extent: markets are much more important than the method of ownership. Take out the oil states and there ain\’t no one in that top 50 that hasn\’t had a decent century or so of such an economy. There\’s a number who had it interrupted by state socialism but they\’ve had that century all the same.

History really is over: there ain\’t no alternative that actually produces the goods.

The failure of both accelerated the rise of China, the third epoch-making change of the early 21st century. Not only did the country\’s dramatic growth take hundreds of millions out of poverty, but its state-driven investment model rode out the west\’s slump, making a mockery of market orthodoxy and creating a new centre of global power.

And that\’s very amusing indeed. As China\’s economy has grown the portion of it which is state-driven investment has fallen. What we\’re really seeing there (and don\’t forget, China is still 94 on our little list, well behind those who have had our neoliberalism) is how much growth you can and will get when you exit the Maoist nonsense of planning everything.

15 thoughts on “Methinks Seumas might be a bit premature here”

  1. Considering we haven’t had liberalism (Nobody gives me a convincing explanation of what neo-lberalism is) I’m not sure how people deign to condemn it.

    Propping up bankrupt banks or (bankrupt and corrupt Cajas in Spain) is not the free market way.

    Most of our current problems have been caused by meddling and adapting to circumstances so as to avoid the necessary creative destruction of the free market. So when it does fall apart it is systemic.

    I agree about capitalism. It is not the key, free markets are. Ownership is another question and I like capitalism, but direct ownership (in many guises) is absolutely fine and even admirable when it works. Adds to the mix.

    My friends cannot answer when I explain that poverty in Spain can never be erradicated when you calculate as the bottom 5% or whatever. It is relative not absolute. So their definition of poverty is always with us.

    They don’t even try when I ask for a single non-capitalist/free market (more or less), planned economy that has produced wealth, liberty and individual rights for the majority of the population. There aren’t any.

  2. “(Nobody gives me a convincing explanation of what neo-liberalism is)”

    Just so, BBB. When I dabbled in university – which wasn’t yesterday – the two most common expressions heard were “What’s yours?” and “Define your terms.”

    As Orwell and other point out, language is important. “Neo-liberal” and “NeoCon” are just terms of abuse.

  3. So Much for Subtlety

    Like Francis’ comment about Polly, the mistake with Seamus is to assume his assumptions are normal. I doubt he regards the ending of poverty in the West as a bonus. It is about power for him and his mates. In a Pharonic society with a God-like figure ruling over a mass of faceless, powerless serfs.

  4. What SMFS said.

    Seamus lulls himself to sleep every night to fantasies of re-education camps and gulags.

    He’s an anti-semite and a borderline sociopath. The pile of bodies can never be high enough for Seamus’ kind.

  5. I thought the “neo-con”s were, at least originally, a fairly defined group. Who had been rabid leftists (or even marxists) in the 70s and became rabid interventionalist-marketeers (pace the post-Soviet oligarchs) in the late 80s / early 90s?

    I appreciate it is now used, generally, as an insult meaning “further to the right than I believe anybody has a right to be”.

  6. I appreciate it is now used, generally, as an insult meaning “further to the right than I believe anybody has a right to be”.

    Most of those who use it simply mean, “To the right of me.”

  7. SE,

    The neocon thing started as being about democrats who favoured a more robust foreign policy splitting with Carter, and in many cases, finding a home with the republicans.

    Neoliberalism is more about the practical post-war liberalism of Hayek and Friedman (and promotion of Adam Smith). That rather than seeing economic liberty as a utopian dream, it also worked practically for people, made us richer.

    The problem for the left is that they still assume that economic liberalism is a utopian, impractical view, because they’re still stuck in the society of 1960s and 1970s that strongly saw it that way. They assume that 2008 showed a fault in neoliberalism, despite the fact that the failures were really in areas where we aren’t neoliberal enough. Which means that their expectation of a new dawn of socialism/communism is going to be a huge disappointment, because the practical bits of the economy, from the supermarkets to PC makers are not going to fail.

  8. “Nobody gives me a convincing explanation of what neo-lberalism is”

    Come to think of it, does anyone have a convincing argument what socialism is? Not the theory of it. You could read yourself to sleep every night for a century on socialist theory. But the practical application. Near as I can see, it’s whatever keeps the socialist & cronies on the top of the heap for the least effort. Certainly, with dealings with most socialists on a personal level, it’s hard to find a bunch of people willing to push for personal advantage with equal dedication.
    Near as I have it, socialism is trying to make things work according to a theory whereas the various strands of liberalism try to arrive at a theory from the way things actually work.

  9. Bloke in Spain.

    I’ve asked that very question hundreds of times on leftist comments threads and received anything beyond (I paraphrase): “Don’t worry. It’ll all be wonderful in a socialist world and everyone will have everything they want and be free to do anything. It’ll be great.”

    They never offer the slightest indication of HOW it will work, day to day. Who decides whether you can start a shoe shop, or be a full-time painter? How do you establish a better way to make a bicycle if it’ll mean less workers required to make bicycles? On and on…

    Where’s the blueprint?

  10. So Much For Subtlety

    bloke in spain – “Come to think of it, does anyone have a convincing argument what socialism is? Not the theory of it. You could read yourself to sleep every night for a century on socialist theory. But the practical application.”

    Socialism is a rationalisation of the desire of people without much money and sexual access to young women to gain power so that they can use force to take said wealth and young nubile things from the people who have them for their own private use. And nothing else.

    Which is why, almost by definition, it is the ideology of the young.

  11. @So Much For Subtlety

    “Socialism is a rationalisation…”

    That is a perfect definition…Marx may actually agree hence the suggestion to eradicate the system of the nuclear family

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