Showing posts tagged liberalism

For whenever liberal intellectuals are confronted with political extremism, the knotty social intelligence that normally informs their work unravels. The radical is reduced to a true believer, his beliefs a litany of crazy proverbs, his personality an inscrutable paranoia. Whether the cause is communism or the Black Panthers, feminism or the abolitionists, the liberal resorts to a familiar ghost story—of the self, evacuated for the sake of an incoming ideology—where, as is true of all such tales, the main character is never the ghost but always the teller.
Corey Robin, quoting an older article he wrote that’s also relevant to the media fuss over Edward Snowden’s motives.


liberal activists standing behind police lines clapping and chanting. harlem shake is playing in the background. the bass drops. property destruction and  resistance to police ensues.


We obviously don’t live in a perfectly libertarian world, but libertarians have had a pretty impressive winning streak in recent decades, especially on economic policy. Income tax rates are way down. Numerous industries have been deregulated. Most price controls have been abandoned. Competitive labor markets have steadily displaced top-down collective bargaining. Trade has been steadily liberalized.

Simultaneously, the intellectual climate has shifted to be dramatically more favorable to libertarian insights. Wage and price controls were a standard tool of economic policymaking in the 1970s. No one seriously advocates bringing them back today. The top income tax bracket in the 1950s was north of 90 percent. Today, the debate is whether the top rate will be 35 percent or 39 percent.

Timothy B. Lee, who’s a libertarian (although often a pretty good read on tech issues and why abolishing software patents would be a good idea) and is saying this like it’s a good thing. This was from early 2011, before Occupy. Back when taking credit for the changes to the US economy since the 70s sounded like a good idea.

Now, of course, you say things like this and people start to figure out that that’s also when middle class income growth stagnated, and start wondering if the liberals’ willingness to adopt a libertarian intellectual framework might have something to do with it. It’s been so long since there’s been an actual Left in this country it’s pretty depressing. One of these days I’m going to write a bigger rant about the uselessness of the Democratic Party.

Patents and copyrights are both explicit government policies to promote innovation and creative work. They reward inventors, musicians, writers and other creative workers with government-enforced monopolies for set periods of time, and these monopolies allow the holders to charge prices far above the free-market price. For example, the nation will spend close to $300 billion in 2011 on prescription drugs.2 In the absence of government-enforced patent monopolies, the same drugs would cost around $30 billion, an amount that implies a transfer to the pharmaceutical industry of close to $270 billion a year, or about 1.8 percent of gross domestic product.
Dean Baker, in his new book The End of Loser Liberalism. True to his argument, the book’s available as a free download at the link. I’m pretty pessimistic about the chances of getting a real revolution out of the Occupy Movement, but I think there’s a decent chance of getting at least a reinvigorated, better educated, more powerful Left out of it. Time to relegate neoliberalism to the ash-heap of history.

I don’t bother writing about Fox News. It is too easy. What I talk about are the liberal intellectuals, the ones who portray themselves as challenging power, as courageous, as standing up for truth and justice. They are basically the guardians of the faith. They set the limits. They tell us how far we can go. They say, ‘Look how courageous I am.’ But do not go one millimeter beyond that. At least for educated sectors, they are the most dangerous in supporting power.
Noam Chomsky (via rethinksocialism)

(Source: thegermansmakegoodstuff)

Conservatives have big appetites for ideology; liberals don’t. There are, of course, taxonomies of conservative schools of thought. People on the right classify themselves as libertarians, neoconservatives, social conservatives, traditional conservatives, and the like, and spill oceans of ink defining, debating, and further subdividing these schools of thought. There is no parallel taxonomy on the left.
Carl T. Bogus, a self-described “dyed-in-the-wool liberal,” telling National Review great things about conservatives. Yeah, maybe there’s no taxonomy of leftists once you ignore everything to the left of mainstream Democrats, who all shy away from even describing themselves as liberals, much less anything scarier sounding. But out here further left there’s socialists, social democrats, trotskyists, maoists, communists, and a wide variety of anarcho-somethings, just for starters. Really, this guy apparently writes for The Nation and isn’t familiar with the existence of a wide variety of leftist ideologies?

Here’s a cool thing about neoliberal policy: you can justify any kind of terrible proposal by invoking the idea of a market and throwing more weight on the back of that already overburdened word “choice.”

So I could say, “This certainly looks like a way to run a low-skill temp agency giving weeks of free labor to employers, employers who already probably have monopsony power and labor that is effectively deskilled, with taxpayers picking up the tab.” A neoliberal would then respond, “Well this program gives people the market dynamism of the choice to be choosing in the market of choice for the market of uncompensated labor, a choice market that synergizes with employer’s full choice of market wages,” and in our age that would somehow constitute a strong retort. Repeat that enough and the policy fellowships will just start falling into your lap.

Another great Mike Konczal piece on the failings of neoliberal policy.