Τρίτη, 2 Απριλίου 2013

Lefties: The Death of Neoliberalism Has Been Greatly Exaggerated, Because Neoliberals Won!


My May-issue essay
about the new New Republic
, in which I lamented the
“death” of liberal-on-liberal contrarianism, has triggered a
reaction from left-of-center commentators that might be summed up
as “That’s mostly not true, but if even it was that’s just because
Democrats fully absorbed so many neoliberal critiques.” Here are
three representative responses:



Jonathan Chait
:



|||Those magazines once critiqued
Democrats from the right, advocating a policy loosely called
"neoliberalism," and now stand in general ideological
concord. 


Why? I'd say it's because the neoliberal project succeeded in
weaning the Democrats of the wrong turn they took during the 1960s
and 1970s. The Democrats under Bill Clinton -- and Obama, whose
domestic policy is crafted almost entirely by Clinton veterans --
has internalized the neoliberal critique. 


Welch never entertains this possibility. To a doctrinaire
libertarian like Welch, it's self-evidently true that the Democrats
are as left wing as ever, and that the lack of a critique from the
right by liberal writers proves they have moved left. But the
examples he holds up -- TNR writers endorsing universal health
care, gun control, and updating the minimum wage to keep pace with
inflation -- disprove his case. TNR and the Monthly always
supported those things. 




Ed Kilgore
, Washington Monthly:



There is an awful lot of telescoping in Welch's account of brave
left-of-center heretics giving way to hacks. His appreciation of
WaMo "contrarianism" seems to be confined to the 1970s and 1980s,
which ignores the magazine's continuing efforts to "make government
work" amidst some wildly varying political and economic
circumstances. [...] Worst of all, he seems entirely innocent of
the endless discussion in center-left circles, continuing through
the 1980s and 1990s until the present, about how to promote worthy
liberal self-examination without descending into mere
"contrarianism," or providing regular material for the opposition.


"are a lot more careful about making their fundamental allegiances clear." |||One important reason the tone
of liberal "heresy" has changed is that the "contrarians" won a lot
of battles, from the "reinventing government" movement to a more
robust support for private-sector innovation to reforms of the
"welfare state" to more regular engagement with actual progressive
voters as opposed to self-appointed interest group representatives.
An equally important reason, which is entirely missing in Welch's
analysis, is what happened on the Right with the gradual triumph of
a conservative movement that was more inte rested in destroying the
New Deal/Great Society legacy than in reforming it. In Charlie
Peters' famous "Neoliberal
Manifesto
" of 1983, which Welch quotes from selectively,
in the founding documents of the Democratic Leadership Council, and
in the better contribution of TNR, there was a constant emphasis on
maintaining progressive values and commitments but modernizing
their means in order to make them more effective in meeting their
stated purposes and in maintaining political support for them. The
most urgent progressive political task today is surviving the
conservative onslaught, so of course "contrarians" are a lot more
careful about making their fundamental allegiances clear.


Since no progressive wants to find his or her "critical
analysis" turned into Fox News talking points, even those most
willing to question this or that element of existing policy or
rhetorical practice (say, the reflexive opposition to means-testing
of Social Security and Medicare on grounds that universal programs
are easier to defend politically) need to constantly re-articulate
their values. If that annoys or aggrieves people like Matt Welch,
he can blame his friends on the Right.




Matthew Yglesias
, Slate:



But the world of policy debates is so much wider and more
interesting than that! Is Obama's manufacturing boosterism is a
good idea? I
say no
. Do municipalities
over-regulate food trucks
? I say yes. Would single-payer health
care lead to catastrophically low incomes for American
doctors? I
say no
. Should we try to reduce the level of online copyright
infringement to zero? I
say no
. Do we need more expansionary monetary policy? I say
yes. And so it goes. All of these views are, I think, perfectly
compatible with being someone who regularly votes for the
Democratic Party. But if you held all those same views and also
thought legal abortion amounted to the legalized murder of unborn
children, they could easily be Republican views. None of them are
Barack Obama's views or Mitt Romney's views. I loved The
Bankers' New Clothes
 and so
did John Cochrane,
 even as Cochrane and I have very
different opinions about most economic policy matters. And, again,
as best I know, neither Harry Reid nor Mitch McConnell is eager to
embrace drastically higher capital requirements for banks. But
Sherrod Brown is, and so is David Vitter. There's a great big
economic policy debate out there that's a lot more interesting than
the question of who you should vote for in quadrennial presidential
elections.



You can assess their claims in the comments.


In possibly related news, a new Gallup poll shows that twice as
many Democrats as Republicans (37 percent vs. 19 percent) answer
the question “Please tell me one or two specific thinks you dislike
about [your party]” with the word “nothing.”

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