Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Minskys — Neoliberalism in Action

Book Review: Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of The Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America by Nancy McLean.…
MacLean argues that the radical right will eventually reduce freedom for the majority while privileging the propertied minority. The more power the propertied minority has, the less democratic society becomes. The ultimate target of the radical right, which has gained control of the modern Republican Party, is to change American society to privilege capitalism over democracy even more than it does now. 
McLean argues that the rationale of the right is that economic liberalism is based on "public choice" (James Buchanan), that is, social, political and economic decisions made in markets free of government influence and intervention, while democracy leads to socialism. Thus, "free market" capitalism and liberal democracy are antithetical.

The Minskys
Neoliberalism in Action
Johnny Fulfer, received a B.S. in Economics and a B.S. in History from Eastern Oregon University and is currently pursuing an M.A. in History at the University of South Florida

14 comments:

Noah Way said...

"The ultimate target of the radical right, which has gained control of the modern Democratic and Republican Parties, is to change American society to privilege capitalism over democracy even more than it does now."

There, fixed it.

Matt Franko said...

Trump would appear to disagree:

“The Liberal Left, also known as the Democrats,...”

https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/1013394559429169152?s=21

Konrad said...

@ Noah Way: Thank you for the correction. Oligarchs rule because of the false pretense that establishment Democrats are different from Republicans.

“Thus, ‘free market’ capitalism and liberal democracy are antithetical.”

No. Democracy is fully compatible with authentic free market capitalism, but not with neoliberalism, which opposes free markets.

Neoliberalism seeks monopolies that own and control markets. Neoliberalism seeks to destroy public government and replace it with private government -- i.e. rule by by oligarchs. Neoliberalism is feudalism. It is feudalism that is antithetical to democracy.

Johnny Fulfer’s article is unwittingly full of neoliberal talking points.

Never repeat the neoliberal “free market” nonsense.

There is nothing wrong with free markets. Neoliberals and oligarchs OPPOSE free markets.

Noah Way said...

Trump would appear to disagree

Like you, Trump is an idiot.

Tom Hickey said...

Of course there is nothing wrong with "free markets" in the sense of "perfect market" in economics, that is, no asymmetries.

It's an idea that exists only in possibility space and could never be achieved in actual space.

In a perfect market system, profit is competed away. There is no economic rent (unearned gain).

A perfect market is a great idea but the chances of achieving through capitalism by getting from here to there approach zero.

In fact, perfect market is arguably an oxymoron if applied to the real world in that nothing is perfect in the real world.

The "perfect market" is an ideal that only exits in possibility (logical) space, like a perpetual motion machine.

Tom Hickey said...

Trump would appear to disagree:

“The Liberal Left, also known as the Democrats,...”


Every word that comes from DJT's myth is carefully calculated to produce maximum propaganda effect, as Scott Adams has emphasized. Truth is not the object, only "winning." Everything is sacrificed for that. And he is good at it, because as Admas has also observed, most people don't think with their brains. It's raw emotion.

Konrad said...

“It's an idea that exists only in possibility space and could never be achieved in actual space.”

True, but neither is it possible to achieve a perfect balance between capitalism and socialism.

Nonetheless, this balance, like a “perfect market,” is a worthy star by which to steer the ship of state.

“In fact, perfect market is arguably an oxymoron if applied to the real world in that nothing is perfect in the real world.”

For mystics, mediums, and Zen masters, the world is perfect just as it is. Its apparent imperfections are opportunities for spiritual growth. We need these apparent imperfections for our own spiritual evolution. If everything was “perfect” in our ordinary sense of the term, we could make no personal progress.

In the 2003 movie The Last Samurai, a Japanese warrior says that a person could spend his entire life searching for a perfect cherry blossom, and it would not be a wasted life. Toward the end of the movie, when he is dying, he looks at a cherry tree and says, “They are all perfect.”

Tom Hickey said...

The question is which direction to head to get from where the world is now and assuming that change is constant, only the speed and acceleration shifts.

There are different possibilities suggested.

One is to aim at achieving perfect markets, first by getting government out of the way so that spontaneous natural order can take over.

The second is to change the system from capitalism to socialism.

The third to aim at progressively achieving a more ideal society, which involves asking the enduring question, what does it means to live a good life as an individual in a good society. This is an enduring question since there is no universal answer. But it is a the basis of a debate that a vibrant liberal democracy needs to be undertaking.

Both the first and second solutions involve assumption that are untested and rest on many presumptions that seem questionable at least.

The third could lead to an iterative and incremental approach that is integral to systems thinking.

Konrad said...

“One is to aim at achieving perfect markets, first by getting government out of the way so that spontaneous natural order can take over.”

You mean so that oligarchs and warlords can take over. No market can survive without regulation, whether by public government or by oligarchs and warlords.

The impossible-to-achieve perfect balance I mentioned above includes a balance between government regulation and personal freedoms.

“The second is to change the system from capitalism to socialism.”

There has never been a 100% capitalist or 100% socialist nation. All nations have elements of both. Nations only differ in which of the two sides they emphasize. Currently the USA tilts toward capitalism, although we still have socialist elements (e.g. Social Security). I favor shifting things to some semblance of balance between the extremes.

GLH said...

Michael Hudson has pointed out that the problem is what is meant by "free." According to MH "free" is supposed to mean free from rent seeking rentiers, not government.

Tom Hickey said...

In early classical economics the rentiers were the government in the sense of the monarch, aristocracy, and landed gentry that lived off the produce of the land without doing any productive work.

That had shifted by the time that Marx was writing to the industrial capitalists that were replacing the landlords as the ruling elite.

Bob Roddis said...

The book is an error-filled jumble of lies, dishonesty, stupidity and the profound anti-intellectualism that animates all things "progressive".

Nancy MacLean's Democracy in Chains, an error-filled screed against Nobel Prize–winning economist James Buchanan, is one of five finalists for a National Book Award.

Is that honor deserved? It is worth considering, as the award's nominators did not, that nearly every reviewer with actual independent knowledge about her book's topics has pointed out a startling range of errors of citation, interpretation, narrative, and fact. (This includes my own review in the October Reason, in which I demonstrate that a central element of her historical narrative—that in the 1990s Buchanan's ideas became the secret influence behind the political machine run by billionaire Charles Koch—is based on an absurd and unsupportable reading of the only textual evidence she offers.) MacLean still refuses to engage any of her critics on points of substance.


http://reason.com/blog/2017/10/25/public-choice-economist-james-buchanan-a

"Progressives" can and will never engage libertarians or Austrians on the merits because they know they know nothing about the topics. Racist Racist Racist.

Bob Roddis said...

Of course, Buchanan was neither an Austrian nor a libertarian although he promoted what could be called libertarian themes and concepts.

The Libertarian Lesson
To sum up: In this curious book, MacLean's emphases are often irrelevant to her ostensible topic, and they frequently serve only to smear. Her reading of her sources is hostile and tendentious to the point of pure error. The historical story she claims to have uncovered—that Buchanan and his ideas are the secret, conspiratorial core of Charles Koch's political activity—is a product of her imagination. She is a startlingly bad historian.

But her book still has an important lesson to tell. Remember that MacLean's critique of using the Constitution to "enchain" majorities is purely situational: She's happy to endorse a ruling like Brown, where constitutional limits [on majority rule] lead to an outcome she likes. Once you realize this, it becomes clear that what alienates her from Buchanan is something that unambiguously can be found in his work: ideas that might "reduce the authority and reach of government" and "diminish the power and standing of those calling on government…to provide for them in one way or another." This is anathema to MacLean, and in that way she represents a significant swath of progressive opinion, which sees libertarians' opposition to the redistributive state as a sin that condemns them as enemies of the people.

Bob Roddis said...

Buchanan may well have picked up some of the prejudices common among Virginia whites of his generation. But there are also reasons to think he may have shed them, or at least that they did not determine his political positions. In 1965, when segregationist sentiments were still strong in his state, he brought to the University of Virginia as a guest lecturer W.H. Hutt, a prominent critic of South African apartheid who pointed out the similarities between apartheid and Southern treatment of blacks.

http://reason.com/archives/2017/10/01/the-great-james-buchanan-consp/1