Tag: neoliberalism

Do You Believe in Life After Hayek

Sorry about the title; advertisements for The Cher Show are all over New York these days, so the song is in my head. Anyway… In the Boston Review, the left economists Suresh Naidu, Dani Rodrick, and Gabriel Zucman offer an excellent manifesto of sorts for a new progressive economic agenda. I was asked to respond, and in a move that surprised me, I wound up returning to Hayek to see what we on the left might learn from him and his achievement. Here’s a snippet: Far from resting neoliberalism on the authority of the natural sciences or mathematics (forms of inquiry Hayek and Mises sought to distance their work from) or on the technical knowledge of economists (as Naidu and […]

The Democrats: A party that wants to die but can’t pull the plug

Yesterday, I noted my exasperation, in the face of the economic desperation of the younger generation, with the Clintonites in the Democratic Party. Young men and women are drowning in massive debt, high rent, low pay, and precarious jobs, and what do the Democrats have to offer them? In today’s Times, Chuck Schumer, the highest elected official in the Democratic Party, gave an answer: Right now millions of unemployed or underemployed people, particularly those without a college degree, could be brought back into the labor force or retrained to secure full-time, higher-paying work. We propose giving employers, particularly small businesses, a large tax credit to train workers for unfilled jobs. This will have particular resonance in smaller cities and rural areas, […]

Private Goods, from Florence Nightingale to Wendy Brown

Yesterday, Berkeley political theorist Wendy Brown gave a once-in-a-lifetime talk at the Graduate Center—the kind that reminds you what it means to be a political theorist—about the way in which financialization—not just privatization or corporatization—had transformed the academy. Through a deft re-reading of Max Weber’s two vocation lectures, Brown showed how much the contemporary university’s frenzied quest for rankings and ratings has come to mirror Wall Street’s obsession with shareholder value. In the course of her talk, Brown briefly dilated on the suspicion of public goods in today’s academy. She referenced one university leader saying, with no apparent irony, that the problem with state funding is that it comes with strings attached. The unsaid implication, of course, is that private funding is somehow free of […]

On Neoliberalism. Again.

I’m a bit late to this article, but back in July, the Cornell historian Larry Glickman offered a fascinating periodization of the term of “neoliberalism.” Initially, Glickman argues, in the 1930s, the word was a term of abuse wielded by conservative free marketeers against New Deal liberals. The free markeeters accused the New Deal liberals of betraying the real meaning of the term “liberal” by embracing the state, constraining the market, and so on. So, said these free marketeers, the New Dealers were “neoliberal” while they, the free marketeers, were the true liberals. Phase 2, we move to Europe and the Mont Pelerin Society, where the term takes on a positive meaning among free market intellectuals like Hayek and, for […]

Neoliberalism: A Quick Follow-up

My post on neoliberalism is getting a fair amount of attention on social media. Jonathan Chait, whose original tweet prompted the post, responded to it with a series of four tweets: The four tweets are even odder than the original tweet. First, Chait claims I confuse two different things: Charles Peters-style neoliberalism and “the Marxist epithet for open capitalist economies.” Well, no, I don’t confuse those things at all. I quite clearly state at the outset of my post that neoliberalism has a great many meanings—one of which is the epithet that leftists hurl against people like Chait—but that there was a moment in American history when a group of political and intellectual actors, under the aegis of Peters, took on […]

When Neoliberalism Was Young: A Lookback on Clintonism before Clinton

Yesterday, New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait tweeted this: What if every use of “neoliberal” was replaced with, simply, “liberal”? Would any non-propagandistic meaning be lost? — Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) April 26, 2016 It was an odd tweet. On the one hand, Chait was probably just voicing his disgruntlement with an epithet that leftists and Sanders liberals often hurl against Clinton liberals like Chait. On the other hand, there was a time, not so long ago, when journalists like Chait would have proudly owned the term neoliberal as an apt description of their beliefs. It was The New Republic, after all, the magazine where Chait made his name, that, along with The Washington Monthly, first provided neoliberalism with a home and a face. Now, neoliberalism, of course, […]

The arc of neoliberalism is long, but it bends toward the rich

Neoliberals pitted the deserving poor against the undeserving poor in order to abolish welfare. Neoliberals pitted third-world workers against American workers in order to pass NAFTA. Neoliberals pit black Democrats against white Democrats in order to elect Hillary Clinton. In each instance, neoliberals claim to be speaking on behalf of a group at the bottom or near bottom in order to pursue a politics that benefits those at the top.

On the Other 9/11: Pinochet, Kissinger, Obama

Today is the anniversary of two 9/11’s. The one everyone in the US talks about, and the one not everyone in the US talks about. Greg Grandin, who’s got a new book out on Kissinger that everyone should read, writes in The Nation today about Pinochet’s violent coup against Allende—fully backed by Kissinger and Nixon—and how Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is completing the work that Kissinger, Nixon, and Pinochet began. Forty-three years ago today. The TPP includes one provision that will, if activated, complete the 1973 coup against Allende: its Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism. ISDS allows corporations and investors to “sue governments directly before tribunals of three private sector lawyers operating under World Bank and UN rules to demand taxpayer compensation for any […]

Duke, Berkeley, Columbia, Oh My: What are our students are trying to tell us

My Sunday column in Salon uses the latest campus controversy—the Duke student who refuses to read Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home—as an opportunity to take a second look at what these students with their trigger warnings and sensitivities are trying to tell us. I’d really like to get this aspect of the controversy into the conversation, so even if you disagree, it’d be great if you could share this column as widely as possible: No one knows the power of literature better than the censor. That’s why he burns books: to fight fire with fire, to stop them from setting the world aflame. Or becomes an editor: Stalin, we now know, excised words from texts with about as much energy and attention as he excised […]

Socialism: Converting Hysterical Misery into Ordinary Unhappiness for a Hundred Years

In yesterday’s New York Times, Robert Pear reports on a little known fact about Obamacare: the insurance packages available on the federal exchange have very high deductibles. Enticed by the low premiums, people find out that they’re screwed on the deductibles, and the co-pays, the out-of-network charges, and all the different words and ways the insurance companies have come up with to hide the fact that you’re paying through the nose. For policies offered in the federal exchange, as in many states, the annual deductible often tops $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for a couple. Insurers devised the new policies on the assumption that consumers would pick a plan based mainly on price, as reflected in the premium. But […]

Conservatives: Who’s Your Daddy?

In his column this morning, David Brooks has a roundup of young conservative voices we should be listening to. He divides them into four groups: paleoconservatives, lower-middle reformists, soft libertarians, and Burkean revivalists. I want to focus on the last, for as is so often the case with Brooks, he gets it wrong—but in revealing ways. Burkean Revivalists. This group includes young conservatives whose intellectual roots go back to the organic vision of society described best by Edmund Burke but who are still deeply enmeshed in current policy debates. Yuval Levin, the editor of National Affairs is one of the two or three most influential young writers in politics today. He argues that we are now witnessing the fiscal crisis […]

In Which I Rain on Everyone’s Cory Booker Parade

Everyone’s giddy about Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s rescue of a neighbor last night from her burning house. The Twitterati are calling him a superhero and comparing him to the Seal team that killed Osama bin Laden. If Cory Booker hadn’t come along, Aaron Sorkin would have to invent him. This isn’t the first time that Booker has rushed to a scene of hazard and saved the day: during a blizzard two winters ago, he was out there shoveling snow, getting praise for doing the things we expect city workers, and not mayors, to do. Booker, in fact, admits he has no training in firefighting or rescue, and the director of the Newark Fire Department made a special point of noting […]

Black Money: On Marxism and Corruption

En route with my daughter to the Purim Carnival, I stopped at my friends Greg and Manu‘s house. Manu’s mother Toshi is visiting from India, and we got to talking about corruption scandals there. Specifically, what people do with money they’ve gotten illegally. Toshi called it “black money”—a phrase I hadn’t heard before. Turns out, it’s a fairly common term.  Here’s one definition: Proceeds, usually received in cash, from underground economic activity. Black money is earned through illegal activity and, as such, is not taxed. Recipients of black money must hide it, spend it only in the underground economy, or attempt to give it the appearance of legitimacy through illegal money laundering. Talking about the kind of hoarding people engage […]

Why the Left Gets Neoliberalism Wrong: It’s the Feudalism, Stupid!

Left critics of neoliberalism—or just plain old unregulated capitalism—often cite Margaret Thatcher’s famous declaration “There is no such thing as society” as evidence of neoliberalism’s hostility to all things collective. Neoliberalism, the story goes, unleashes the individual to fend for herself, denying her the supports of society (government, neighborhood solidarity, etc.) so that she can prove her mettle in the marketplace. But these critics often ignore the fine print of what Thatcher actually said in that famous 1987 interview with, of all things, Woman’s Own.  Here’s the buildup to that infamous quote: Who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families… It’s that last phrase (“and there are families”) that’s crucial.  […]