29 November 2011

The crisis of neoliberalism in Europe (2)

Part 2 of 2 | Part 1
Despite the differences between the US and Europe in the average citizen’s experience of life, there have been some striking similarities in the development of deeper structures in the world’s two biggest economies since the advent of neoliberalism. This indicates that the crisis in Europe is not merely a result of “contamination” from the American credit crisis of 2008, as many Europeans initially argued. Yet neither is it a result of solely European problems of excessive spending or lagging competitiveness, as many Germans and Americans believe. It is, rather, a constituent part of the ongoing crisis of global neoliberalism.

25 November 2011

The crisis of neoliberalism in Europe (1)

Part 1 of 2
For many years progressives in the US have looked longingly to the social democratic states of Europe, and with good reason. Europeans enjoy a quality of life significantly higher than Americans, with more leisure time, better healthcare, and massively less social violence. Europe has extended this quality of life far more equitably, and has done so while producing far less environmental destruction. In fact, if the Occupy movement’s demands were actually met, the kind of society we might evolve toward would be basically the kind that Europe already has.

So as the crisis in Europe increasingly appears headed toward global catastrophe, it’s worth realizing that not only is the brutal neoliberalism of the US mired in crisis, so too is the much more pleasant version in Europe. 

22 November 2011

Glossary: Economic growth

The upshot of the argument I’m developing here, but still haven’t actually laid out fully, is that the crisis of neoliberalism is fundamentally a crisis of growth. There are all kinds of mediating factors like the operations of the financial industry or the nature of the eurozone monetary system, but the deeper trigger of serious dysfunction in these realms and in the economy in general is the collapse of the neoliberal growth system. Before I complete this argument, we first have to understand what produces growth.

16 November 2011

Awk-upy: Left Love and Shame

The latest issue of the Hypocrite Reader just went live with the theme "occupation." There are some interesting pieces (I'm personally a big fan of Debbie Hu's and Sam Feldman's) in it and one of my own. So by way of shameless self promotion here the introduction to mine. Also Occupy Elvis:

11 November 2011

The Open Letter to the Occupy Movement

I've been scarce on this blog for a few weeks. I've been busy dealing with Occupy Las Vegas, which is deeply problematic. I'm not going to air the dirty laundry here, not because I don't want to, but because I don't know how. More than being busy, engaging with this movement has been baffling and I've had enormous trouble coming to any analytical conclusions. My initial post about the history of the tactic was mostly just chronicling and name checking, which is easy but does little to move forward our understanding. I don't think that I'm alone in this bewildered speechlessness, and I think the awkwardness between the left and the occupy movement is in fact a crucial object for analysis.

07 November 2011

Politicians have principles too

Facing the Democrats in the age of Occupy
Part 2 of 2 | Part 1
If the portrayal of the Democrats as corporate puppets is too simple, then how can we understand their insouciance in the face of the opportunities offered by the Occupy movement? The approach we’ve been developing on this blog, I think, allows for a more complete explanation. Neoliberal ideas proved appealing to Democrats not simply because they brought campaign contributions along with them, but because up until 2008 they seemed to make sense of the economy better than the progressive alternative and they demonstrated greater efficacy when pursued as policy.

Compare the path of Chicago and Detroit under neoliberalism. Under Fordism, both were thriving industrial manufacturing cities, but the restructuring of the global economy in the 1970s and 1980s undid these economic foundations. Chicago already had an important financial sector that the city’s political and economic elites transformed into the basis of a new, but deeply uneven, prosperity. Detroit had no such economic engine to fall back on and was destroyed.

04 November 2011

Why won't the Democrats exploit Occupy?

Facing the Democrats in the age of Occupy
Part 1 of 2 | Part 2
In general, politicians are first and foremost opportunists. That doesn’t mean they’re without principles or ideology, but it means they tend to be flexible and instrumental about how to accomplish their goals. So the Democrats’ response to the Occupy Wall Street movements is rather mystifying. National Democratic leaders, while claiming sympathy with the protesters, have by and large decided to allow the movement to wither rather than seeking to draw its energy into the election cycle (compare the Republican Party’s response to the Tea Party). At the local level, Democratic mayors – from the far corporate end of the spectrum (Emanuel) to the former-organizer end (Quan) – have been at the forefront of unleashing police repression on the occupations.

This is a stunning repudiation of political advantage. The latest New York Times poll, conducted October 19 to 24, once again demonstrated that the silent majority of our moment supports a liberal-Keynesian approach to the crisis.