ThoughtStorms Wiki

Context : OnEconomics, FreeMarket, RightWing

The reaction against Keynesianism.

I also use the term "neoliberal" to describe people who came from the liberal / centre-left who have explicitly abandoned / renounced their opposition to capitalism. A lot of socialist and social democratic parties still support creating a space outside the control of capital, for social services etc. But "neoliberals" who were once on the left, are those who have decided that there is no real alternative to capitalism to actually DO stuff, and simply hope that the state can rub off the sharp-corners and perhaps pay some basic safety net.

Quora Answer : What is neoliberalism, and what are some of its main thinkers and representatives?

Jan 5, 2018

It's true it's a bit of a vague term. But then so are pretty much all labels in politics and economic thinking. All definitions are fuzzy.

I'd say that the term is best used in the context of "neoliberal consensus" which is largely just a historical label for the kind of consensus that many Western politicians and economists have come to since the 1980s; which is itself mainly a rejection of the previous Keynesian consensus.

"Neoliberalism" doesn't really make sense or have much application if you don't see what it is contrasting against : the Keynesian idea that government can, and should, intervene in the economy to fix its problems.

In contrast, Neoliberalism takes as axiomatic either that the economy can't spontaneously generate its own problems, or that even if it does, that government can't fix them through interventions such as counter-cyclical spending or industrial policy.

Of course, neoliberalism overlaps a great deal with both conservative and right-libertarian thinking, but I'd say that it's really more a "technocratic" idea. It's not about fundamental core values such as freedom or property rights. It's not a committed political position : you can be neoliberal and believe in a welfare state for example. As long as you think that the welfare state is purely a kind of enforced charity, and not an investment in the people of a country which can actually grow the economy itself.

It's precisely because "neoliberalism" is a more technical and less ideological term that it's acquired its most useful application : as a kind of internal criticism within the left. As a leftist, I never bother to criticise Conservatives or right-libertarians for being "neoliberal". That just wouldn't be saying anything interesting. I use neoliberalism as part of a criticism of centre or "third-way" leftists like Clinton or Blair where I take it to mean leftists who have given up on seeing government as having a positive role in the economy and who see it purely in terms of providing a palliative role. The implication of neoliberalism for the left is to join the right in thinking that government is a cost to be minimized - hence all that faffing around trying to rejig the institutions of the welfare state to make them more cost-effective - rather than something which can be a positive part of the economy in its own right.

I see from Lynx's links that Madson Pirie is trying to blur that distinction. And from a quick glance (I don't have time to read fully) it sounds like he wants to define "neoliberal" as "right-Libertarian with a dash of Conservative pragmatism". That's his prerogative, of course, you can't force people to stick to particular definitions of words. But I think it's what actually will make the word uselessly redundant.

Quora Answer : Is the election of JairBolsonaro an opportunity or a danger for Brazil?

Oct 12, 2018

It's an opportunity for some people and a danger for others.

Economically Bolsonaro promises a "neoliberal" economy based on things like Margaret Thatcher's mass privatizations in the UK in the 1980s. And continued outsourcing of government services in the 1990s and 2000s.

In the UK we're starting to see the cost of that mass privatization / outsourcing.

For example, the collapse of the main private contractor Carillion (rather like a UK version of Odebrecht) has wasted huge amounts of the government's money, and failed to deliver the benefits that were claimed for it (Carillion collapse exposed government outsourcing flaws - report)

The experience in the UK is that outsourcing government work doesn't get you the same work done cheaper. It gets you less overall work, done more expensively. It's basically just an expensive way of borrowing money from building companies. For Brazilians, it's the equivalent of "dividing" your credit card purchase over 20 years. Yes, you got the big TV (or the new hospital) today without paying for it. But 20 years later you find you paid way more than you should have, if you'd just borrowed the money on the global markets.

The truth is there's a lot of corruption in Brazilian culture. Outsourcing (terceirizacao) isn't going to fix that. In fact it will just make it worse, there are going to be more examples of government buying stuff from third parties. With complex finance deals (what we call Private finance initiative in the UK) which will end up costing more longer term.

Thirty years after Margaret Thatchers revolution in the UK economy we see the real cost. Thirty years of no government industrial strategy means that UK industry is decimated. And UK worker productivity is some of the lowest in Europe.

London is rich, but the regions outside London are shockingly poor and without hope. The UK has the most regionally unbalanced economy in Europe. Time for change. Ten of top 12 most declining UK cities are in north of England - report

Before Margaret Thatcher, the north of England had a declining but still strong industrial base in the North. It could have been protected and restored and new industries developed, as happened in other European countries. Instead, the neoliberals simply allowed it to die out of "economic liberal" ideology.. And the UK economy is dying with it.