Monday, June 27, 2016

Neoliberalism and Brexit

I'm trying to be cautious about making assumptions on the relationship between economic conditions and the rising xenophobia and nationalism we're seeing in European politics. And US politics, unfortunately.

This is why studies like the classic studies organized by Frankfurt School exiles in the US, The Authoritarian Peronality (1950), are so valuable in reminding us of the complexity of the interaction between social conditions, family structure and other dynamics.

The economic and political theories have been dominant in the North Atlantic world and beyond for decades. It first became dominant during the Reagan Administration in the US and the Thatcher government in Britain. The Maastricht Treaty on European Union of 1993 represents a key turning point for the ascendance of neoliberalism in Europe. A key aspect of neoliberal hegemony in both the US and Europe has been the adoption of that outlook by the dominant center-left parties, social-democratic in Europe and the Democrats in the United States.

The neoliberalism of the 1990s up until today didn't create nationalism, xenophobia or racism, obviously. But in politics, quantity and intensity matter. A lot. And there are distinct social changes that have affected economies from Germany to Britain to the United States as a result of the dominance of such policies and theories of government.

Servaas Storm takes a shot at framing the problem in How the Brexit Tragedy Challenges Economics New Economic Thinking 06/26/2016:

It would be a tragic mistake to read this resentment against the E.U. as only anti-migrant, racist or bigoted, because the racism and bigotry have grown in conditions of economic austerity, artificial job scarcity and crisis, rising unemployment, rising job insecurity, and exploding inequalities as social protection for workers, pensioners and families have been scaled down in favour of an expanded social safety net for TBTF [too big to fail] banks and corporations. Almost everywhere in the E.U. — as in Britain — there is a polarization of the income distribution into a large number of low-income households and a much smaller number of very rich, while the middle classes have shrunk. There is a segmentation of employment into low-wage, unprotected and precarious jobs, mostly in low-tech services, and high-wage and protected jobs in high-tech manufacturing, finance, legal services and government.

Labour market reforms are turning European countries into “dual economies” — a trend fuelled by robotization and technological progress. The real message therefore is one of utter macroeconomic mismanagement in response to the global crisis and on-going rapid technological change, which – unfortunately not for the first time in recent history – has created the conditions for political instability, upheaval and social chaos. The massive social protests in France against the modernization of labour laws — newspeak for a reduction in the strength of French job-protection laws and social security in general — by the “socialist” Hollande government illustrate the point: The systemic dismantling of worker protection in the name of cutting wage costs and improving unit-labour cost competitiveness will certainly increase job insecurity, employment precariousness, and inequality without any further macroeconomic benefits. Despite uncountable attempts to do so, no robust relationship has been found between job-protection, on the one hand, and unemployment, economic performance and productivity growth on the other hand. [my emphasis]

Negotiating over negotiating Brexit

Anything can happen with Brexit. But it sounds unlikely to me that it's going to be a smooth process.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz is from the German SPD. But he's a shameless Angiebot, not that this makes him any different than most other SPD leaders, a related but different story. He demanded that Britain make their Article 50 application by this Tuesday! Probably not going to happen. In theory, the SPD (Angie's junior coalition partner) is pressing for a rapid British exit while Angie and her CDU/CSU are being more cautious.

But there's no way Schulz made that kind of statement without Merkel's approval. If Merkel is going to preserve her current EU, she has to punish the defiant, like she punished Greece. I'm convinced that Merkel sees the EU as a neoliberal version of the Warsaw Pact; that's a big reason I call her East Germany's Last Revenge on the West. Since Britain is not a part of the euro, she has more flexibility to make concessions to Britain and did make some prior to the Brexit vote. But punishment and intimidation is how she rolls in these things, with the full support of the SPD.

I'm very sure Angie doesn't give a flying flip that a majority of British voters elected to leave. At his first meeting with Yanis Varoufakis as Finance Minister of Greece when the Syriza government took power in 2015 with a clear electoral mandate to end the Herbert Hoover austerity programs, Angie's Finance Minister and fellow CDU leader Wolfgang Schäuble told Varoufakis, “Elections cannot be allowed to change an economic programme of a member state!” (Why we must save the EU Guardian 04/05/2016)

Angie's close ally and Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen is saying, "No one will have to chance to play for time. The economy will demand quick clarity. Investors will hold back until they know what's going on now: in or out." ("Es wird niemand die Chance haben, auf Zeit zu spielen. Die Wirtschaft wird schnelle Klarheit einfordern. Investoren werden sich zurückhalten, bis sie wissen, was jetzt gilt: drinnen oder draußen."; Schulz fordert Austrittsantrag der Briten bis Dienstag Spiegel Online 25.06.2016)

The negotiating over negotiating is already well underway (Jon Henley et al, European leaders rule out informal Brexit talks before article 50 is triggered Guardian 06/27/2016):

On the eve of a crunch summit in Brussels, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said she, president François Hollande of France and Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi, had agreed at their meeting in Berlin that “there will be no formal or informal talks about Britain’s exit” until the UK has triggered article 50, the untested procedure that governs a member state leaving.

Hollande urged Britain to “not waste time” in launching the leaving process. “Being responsible means not wasting time in engaging with the question of Britain’s departure and setting this new impulse we want to lend the new European Union,” he said, adding that “nothing is worse than uncertainty – and Britain has already had painful experience of this”.
France and Italy, not surprisingly, are on board with Merkel's approach. The German SPD, which still passes for a center-left party and serves as Merkel's junior coalition partner, is playing its part by publicly insisting on a hard line with Britain:

The president of the European parliament, Martin Schulz, warned this weekend that a period of limbo would “lead to even more insecurity” and said the Brussels summit was the right time to begin formal exit proceedings.

There was pressure, too, from within Merkel’s own government: the head of her Social Democrat coalition partners, Sigmar Gabriel, called for “decisive action instead of indecision”.

Juan Perón and populism

One regime that pretty much everyone agrees was a "populist" one is that of Juan Perón in Argentina from 1945-55. The Oxford Reference article by Frederick C. Turner, Juan Domingo Perón, which apparently dates from the Presidency of Carlos Saúl Menem (1989-99), gives this account:

The most important and controversial political leader of twentieth-century Argentina, Juan Domingo Perón sharply divided Argentines during and after his lifetime over the issues of distribution of income and political power. In historical retrospect, he may be seen as a leader who wanted to extend to the lower classes the standard of living and the political enfranchisement that Hipólito Yrigoyen and the Unión Cívica Radical had brought to the Argentine middle classes earlier in the century. One of the few South American leaders to be known throughout the world, Perón championed a “Third Force” in world politics and encouraged wider political participation by Argentine women.
The prevailing American view of Perón during his first Presidency, promoted by the Truman Administration at the time, was that Perón's during his first Presidency, promoted by the Truman Administration at the time, was that his government was fascist. That view is unsustainable, largely for the reasons Turner summarizes in that paragraph.

Perón identified the political enemy within Argentina as the "oligarchy," a concept understood to mean the rural oligarchy and the magnates of industry, though the industrial component of the Argentine economy had declined under the policies during the "infamous decade" following the military coup of 1930. Promoting domestic industry was a main goal of the Peronist government.

There was an additional nationalist component to Perón's appeal. Spruille Braden was US Ambassador to Argentina in 1945 when Perón first became head of government and in 1946 when he successfully ran for President in a competitive democratic election. Braden was a classic One Percenter, as we say these days. He was the son of a wealthy mining family and held majority ownership in the Braden Copper Company in Chile. He served a director of the W. Averell Harriman Securities Corporation and was a member of the ultra-establishment Council on Foreign Relations. In the first half of the 1930s, he had been an agent of Standard Oil in South America. To top it off, he was also a significant stockholder of the United Fruit Company. All the ingredients to be a classic Ugly American south of the Rio Grande.

And that's exactly what he was in 1945-46. The military governments of 1940-1946 had been neutral in the World War until March 1945, when it was clear that Germany was losing. This had led the Roosevelt Administration to treat Argentina as de facto pro-German. So the "fascist" label seemed to be an obvious polemical label to use against them. The pro-Allies left parties in Argentina, the Socialist and Communist Parties, adopted the same label. Despite Perón's obviously distinct position from the more conservative elements in the military government, his local and international enemies found the label convenient to apply to Perón as well. The State Department Blue Book published in February 1946, after Perón's assumption of power but before the 1946 elections, portrayed both the previous military government and the current one of Perón were collaborators with the Nazis.

When Braden was appointed Ambassador in April 1945 and was distinctly hostile to the military government then in power and then to Perón's regime. Perón campaigned in the election 1946 on the theme "Braden or Perón," framing himself as the defender of the Argentine nation against foreign interference. This was another populist angle to Perón's politics, appealing to all classes in Argentina to support him against foreign adversaries. In 1946, against a specific image of the foreign adversaries, "Braden."

Turner also writes:

In 1946, Perón was elected to the Argentine presidency in one of the freest elections in Argentine history; he was elected to a second term in 1951. A military coup in 1955 deposed him, sending him into exile first in Paraguay and ultimately in Madrid. For many years, historians and political leaders in Argentina tried to write Perón off as a has-been, but this ultimately proved impossible. In 1973, he returned triumphantly to Argentina and to the presidency after eighteen years in exile.

The basis for Perón's power was the Justicialista (Peronist) Party. Multiclass in nature, ranging over the ideological spectrum from far right to far left, it was an archetypal example of populism. Peronism has been able to count consistently on support from ten percent of the upper classes and seventy percent of the lower classes. Perón built fierce and durable loyalty for the movement during his first presidency, during which he increased the proportion of national wealth going to the working class very substantially. ... More important than economic gains, members of the working class and trade unions had achieved a sense of political consciousness and economic entitlement that made them combative participants in Argentine politics for decades to come.

Juan Perón also had high ambitions in international politics. Quite accurately, he predicted that if the countries of Latin America did not join together, they would remain weak and put upon by more powerful nations. Often credited with originating the concept of the Third World, Perón after 1945 dreamed of a coalition of states allied to neither the Soviet Union nor the United States. Argentine yearning for leadership of this movement appears in one of the most common Peronist slogans: Ni yanqui, ni marxista—peronista (Neither Yankee, nor Marxist — Peronist). [my emphasis in italics]
And Turner describes the role of Eva Perón this way:

Her interest in politics and her influence increased decisively after Perón took office in June 1946. She began to meet daily with workers' delegations, union leaders, and officials of the Secretariat of the Labor Confederation, thus continuing the work that Perón did as secretary of labor. She frequently addressed Perón's supporters on his behalf and proved to be a rousing speaker. After a triumphant European tour which she undertook without Perón, she returned in time to urge the passage of a law granting women the vote.

Evita was never formally part of Perón's government, though she tried unsuccessfully to be the Peronist vice-presidential candidate in the 1951 elections. She was officially only Argentina's First Lady, but she was a one-woman propaganda ministry for Perón and his trusted liaison with labor. She was also president of the Eva Perón Foundation, a well-endowed social welfare organization. She used the foundation funds to build hospitals, schools, youth hostels, and low-income housing, and to buy thousands of goods that she distributed to the needy. In addition, she was president of the women's branch of the Peronist Party, which helped to reelect Perón in 1951 with an overwhelming female vote.

Evita's death from cancer on 26 July 1952 undermined the stability of Peronism. She was a crucial component of that political structure and irreplaceable—as Perón soon realized when his economic policies began to strain his relationship with the descamisados. On the other hand, her death transformed her into a powerful myth that became essential for the survival of Peronism after Perón's ouster in 1955 and, despite the repression of successive military dictatorships, its return to power in 1973 along with Perón's own reelection that same year.
The Oxford Reference entry on María Eva Duarte De Perón (2004) by Evita's biographer Marysa Navarro-Aranguren expands on her significance for Peronism:

Her interest in politics and her influence increased decisively after Perón took office in June 1946. She began to meet daily with workers' delegations, union leaders, and officials of the Secretariat of the Labor Confederation, thus continuing the work that Perón did as secretary of labor. She frequently addressed Perón's supporters on his behalf and proved to be a rousing speaker. After a triumphant European tour which she undertook without Perón, she returned in time to urge the passage of a law granting women the vote.

Evita was never formally part of Perón's government, though she tried unsuccessfully to be the Peronist vice-presidential candidate in the 1951 elections. She was officially only Argentina's First Lady, but she was a one-woman propaganda ministry for Perón and his trusted liaison with labor. She was also president of the Eva Perón Foundation, a well-endowed social welfare organization. She used the foundation funds to build hospitals, schools, youth hostels, and low-income housing, and to buy thousands of goods that she distributed to the needy. In addition, she was president of the women's branch of the Peronist Party, which helped to reelect Perón in 1951 with an overwhelming female vote.

Evita's death from cancer on 26 July 1952 undermined the stability of Peronism. She was a crucial component of that political structure and irreplaceable—as Perón soon realized when his economic policies began to strain his relationship with the descamisados. On the other hand, her death transformed her into a powerful myth that became essential for the survival of Peronism after Perón's ouster in 1955 and, despite the repression of successive military dictatorships, its return to power in 1973 along with Perón's own reelection that same year.
Pretty much everyone at least seems to agree that this political experience, Juan Perón's government and movement, was populist. It was and still is a very diverse phenomenon. Peronism is complicated.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Neoliberalism and deregulation

Barry C. Lynn and Phillip Longman have a good historical essay on business regulation policy in the US, Populism With a Brain: Ten old/new ideas to give power back to the people. Washington Monthly Jun-July-Aug 2016 (accessed 06/26/2016) Despite the title, the article is not so much about the American Populist movement itself as it is a survey of how much has been lost with the hegemony of neoliberal economics.

Does populism mean letting the rabble run amok?

"We are told we are entering a period of economic nationalism and right wing populism. We see it in the UK with Brexit, in the USA with Trumpism and in other nations and regions with their own unique inflections. From others we hear this is simply a tantrum or irrationality, perhaps a generalized breakdown of trust in elites. These are each true to a degree." - Josh Marshall, The Big Picture on Trumpism and Brexit Isn't What You Think TPM 06/24/2016

In another post the same day on Brexit, Marshall makes this self-revealing comment, "If you've read my editors' blog posts over the years, you likely know that I am at heart a small-c conservative and instinctive institutionalist. There are up and down sides to that way of approaching the world. But it's a posture that colors my reactions to most things." - Feel the Foreboding

And he ends that post:

But as I said, rapid, disintegrative change seldom goes smoothly. Wars destroy wealth and well-being on a scale no recession or economic collapse can hold a candle to. It leads to strife and dislocation, low-trust rather than high-trust international relations which bedevil the economic and physical welcome being of ordinary people. To paraphrase the curse, you don't want to live in interesting times. This sets the stage for interesting times.
This kind of essentially conservative fear of instability heavily colors conventional commentary on populism.

Peter Worsley's brief article on Populism Oxford Reference (2004) observes that,"at its very loosest, the term has been applied to any political leader or movement able to mobilize support on a wide scale, for instance Margaret Thatcher or Ronald Reagan." This is particularly a problem for mainstream American commentators, who may count any folksy election slogan as "populism."

Worsley recalls the original American version this way:

Historically, the term “populism” was used in the United States in the 1890s to describe the People's Party, the most powerful in a series of similar movements, such as the Grangers of the 1870s and 1880s, which sought to represent the interests of small farmers, especially in the West. Between 1860 and 1890, this sector nearly tripled in size. But their lives were governed by the industrialized East, which controlled the commodity markets, the prices that farmers had to pay for agricultural inputs, the banks they depended on for credit, the agencies that stored the grain, the grain exchanges that purchased it, and the railroads that transported it. The protracted depression of the last decades of the century drove farmers into politics: To them, the two major established political parties, the Democrats and the Republicans, between them, put the power of the state at the disposal of the dominant economic interest groups. In the 1892 presidential election, the People's Party polled a million votes. Four years later, in order to appeal to nonfarmers, the party platform was widened to include another populist theme pioneered by movements like the Greenbackers—monetary reform. The addition of “free silver” to its program brought the People's Party candidate in the 1896 presidential election, William Jennings Bryan, to within half a million votes of victory.
The Populism entry (2015) by André Munro in the venerable Encyclopædia Britannica takes a conventional view that recalls the radical movement associated with William Jennings Bryan and the Populist Party as a quaint relic of more innocent days:

In its most democratic form, populism seeks to defend the interest and maximize the power of ordinary citizens, through reform rather than revolution. In the United States the term was applied to the program of the Populist Movement, which gave rise to the Populist, or People’s, Party in 1892. Many of the party’s demands were later adopted as laws or constitutional amendments (e.g., a progressive tax system).
But later populism, in the view taken by Munro, is a generally disreputable business:

In its contemporary understanding, however, populism is most often associated with an authoritarian form of politics. Populist politics, following this definition, revolves around a charismatic leader who appeals to and claims to embody the will of the people in order to consolidate his own power. In this personalized form of politics, political parties lose their importance, and elections serve to confirm the leader’s authority rather than to reflect the different allegiances of the people. In the second half of the 20th century, populism came to be identified with the political style and program of Latin American leaders such as Juan Perón, Getúlio Vargas, and Hugo Chávez. Populist is often used pejoratively to criticize a politician for pandering to a people’s fear and enthusiasm. Depending on one’s view of populism, a populist economic program can therefore signify either a platform that promotes the interest of common citizens and the country as a whole or a platform that seeks to redistribute wealth to gain popularity, without regard to the consequences for the country such as inflation or debt.
Yascha Mounk takes a similarly conventional view in "Pitchfork Politics: The Populist Threat to Liberal Democracy," Foreign Affairs Sept/Oct 2014. He focuses on present-day movements, including those he sees as rightwing populists (Nigel Farage of UKIP in Britain, past, Thilo Sarrazin in Germany, Golden Dawn in Greece, Marine Le Pen in France, Sarah Palin) as well as leftwing ones (Occupy Wall Street, the Five Star Movement in Italy, the now-ruling Syriza Party in Greece). He gives a disclaimer, "Despite the similarities among all populists, the word "populist" is a neutral description: not every populist movement has to be bad for democracy." But, it seems that Both Sides Do It!

Economic populists [which he identifies as the left populists] falsely believe that taking entrenched interests down a peg would be enough to return to the golden days of the recent past. But saving the generous welfare states of North America and western Europe will require a new approach, not a dogged defense of the unsustainable status quo. In denying this messy reality, left-wing populists are just as misguided as their right-wing counterparts.
Mounk raises some appropriate cautions about simplistically identifying the "populist" constituency with those affected by economic troubles.

But he doesn't surmount the challenge facing very much of the discussion about populism: what are the actual common elements of the various movements and groups he identifies as populist? And how meaningful is it to lump a nationalist/xenophobic party like France's National Front and the anarchist-inspired Occupy Wall Street, which created an influential protest that left no direct organizational successor?

He wisely steers clear of a detailed lists of identifying characteristics of populism in favor of some broad themes, like this from the first paragraph:

[Populism is an] attempt by ambitious politicians to mobilize the masses in opposition to an establishment they depict as corrupt or self-serving. From Tiberius Gracchus and the populares of the Roman Senate, to the champions of the popolo in Machiavelli's sixteenth-century Florence, to the Jacobins in Paris in the late eighteenth century, to the Jacksonian Democrats who stormed nineteenth-century Washington-all based their attempts at mass mobilization on appeals to the simplicity and goodness of ordinary people. By the mid-twentieth century, populism had become a common feature of democracy.
There's an important "tell" in that definition anticipating the conclusion which is the actual point of the article, reflected in the title phrase, "threat to liberal democracy." The word Populist does come from Latin. But it was first applied to the American Populist movement of the late 19th century. Lumping those various movements from a couple of millennia together frames the essay to make a broad, essentially conservative point about the danger of the rabble. I do like his lumping Jacksonian democracy in with the Jacobins and the rest. But I'm sure he didn't mean it as a compliment!

Mounk is not so much arguing that populism represents a threat to liberal democracy as a threat to liberalism in a democracy, liberalism as in Adam Smith and Jeremy Bentham. He elaborates his working definition a bit more later in the essay:

... the rising populist parties on both sides of the Atlantic and within Europe are linked not by a set of specific policy proposals but rather by a shared set of core concerns, expressed in a language of outrage against the status quo and the political elites who maintain it.

Populists give voice to such resentment with a repertoire of strikingly similar slogans and tropes. ...

Although the specifics vary, the populists all argue that current policies favor a minority at the cost of the majority. They all claim that elites, through formal mechanisms or social pressure, censor certain kinds of political speech. The reason for this censorship, they all insinuate, is that the political establishment wants to stop the majority from finding out what the minority is really like and to what extent that minority is being favored by current policies. Now, at long last, the populists proclaim, somebody willing to stand up for the people has arrived on the political scene and will fight for the silent majority by enacting policies that favor them. [my emphasis]
But even here in such a general context, one can detect the strain involved in lumping far-right xenophobia with protesters against the power of the One Percent and their banks and corporations.

But Worsley in the article cited above notes, "Those disillusioned with populism have often shifted to a more class-based radicalism or, more commonly, to an ethnic-based opposition. Yet the populist ideal of a society run in the interests of the common people retains its appeal to a wide range of people." Worsley seems that to take the core theme of populism as defending the common people against the elites, and distinguishes them from class-based movements and parties like traditional socialists or traditional conservative parties who present themselves as defenders of Big Capital or small business. He also seems to exclude more frankly ethnic-based politics from his concept of populism. Worsley gives these examples relating to such distinctions:

The dual hostility of populists to both capitalist “Big Business” and to “scientific” socialism also emerged in two movements in adjoining farming provinces of Canada between the two world wars. Both were responses to the depression of the 1930s, but the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), which controlled the province of Saskatchewan until the post–World War II epoch, and Social Credit, in Alberta, were very different in orientation. The CCF not only brought grain-storage and agricultural supplies under provincial parastatal agencies, but also organized insurance, transport, and much of general retail trade on a cooperative basis. Social Credit, by contrast, saw the solution to the province's problems in the monetary nostrums of Major Douglas. Again, whereas Getúlio Vargas of Brazil developed themes borrowed from Italian fascist corporatism, in Argentina the much more radical Peronist movement — which still persists to this day — was based on organizing the mass of the poor urban workers into powerful trade unons. Their claim to represent the common people was expressed in Evita Perón's idealization of the descamisados, the “shirtless ones.” [emphasis in original]
Mounk in his conclusion frames his rejection of populism as essentially a defense not so much of democracy as of political and economic neoliberalism:

But the reality is that many of the problems left-wing populists point out have arisen out of large-scale forces, such as technological innovation, demographic changes, and economic globalization. The rise of digital technologies and increasingly well-educated work forces in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, for example, has reduced global demand for North American and western European labor. Similarly, public pension systems are under pressure not solely because politicians lack the will to finance them properly but also because Western societies are rapidly aging: in 1960, Italy's population had a median age of 31.2; by 2020, it is projected to be 46.2.
This is stock neoliberal cant. High unemployment and under-performing economies are due to the impersonal and nonpolitical forces of Technology and the Global Market, both understood as something like Fate, something beyond the reach of any legitimate democratic governmental policies. Also, the aging society stuff is part of the usual sales pitch for privatizing pensions systems like Social Security in the United States.

For those who wish to usher in a new period of relative democratic stability, the challenge will be to harness the passion of the populists to the cause of reinvigorating governance, but without helping them kindle the flames of an antidemocratic revolt. In the realm of economic policy, this means addressing the generational decline in living standards that has provided populists with such fertile ground. The leaders of affluent democracies must commit themselves to two goals that are often assumed to conflict: wealth redistribution and economic modernization.
Addressing "wealth redistribution" in the neoliberal lexicon means promoting trickle-down economic theories. Because a rising tide lifts all boats, doncha know? Economic modernization for neoliberalism means lower wages and benefits, hostility to labor unions, fewer job protections, and deregulation of banks and corporations. We can't letting the (sniff!) common people interfere with any of that, now can we? Mounk makes that clear. He says, oh, we should think about taxing wealth more. "But first, governments have to create the conditions for growth. Especially in southern and western Europe, politicians will have to take deeply unpopular steps, including raising the retirement age and loosening labor regulations." And after we get that shoved down the throats of the "common people," we'll raise taxes on wealthy. Honest to gosh we will! We pinky-swear!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

US national security policy and the Second Coming

"In U.S. national security circles, the conviction that engagement promotes peace ad stability is not unlike the Christian belief in the Second Coming - it provides the ultimate rationale for the entire enterprise."

- Andrew Bacevich, America's War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History (2016), p. 211

Brexit and the European left

Jamie Galbraith gives his verdict on Brexit in The Day After DiEM25 06/25/2016:

Leave won by turning the British referendum into an ugly expression of English nativism, feeding on the frustrations of a deeply unequal nation, ironically divided by the very forces of reaction and austerity that will now come fully to power. The political effect has sent a harsh message to Europeans living in Britain, and to the many who would have liked to come. The economic effect will leave Britain in the hands of simpletons who believe that deregulation is the universal source of growth.

That such a campaign could prevail – leading soon to a hard right government in Britain – testifies to the high-handed incompetence of the political, financial, British and European elites. Remain ran a campaign of fear, condescension and bean-counting, as though Britons cared only about the growth rate and the pound. And the Remain leaders seemed to believe that such figures as Barack Obama, George Soros, Christine Lagarde, a list of ten Nobel-prize-winning economists or the research department of the IMF carried weight with the British working class.
He identifies the 2015 treatment of Greece as a key turning point for the Brexit trend: "The groundwork for the Brexit debacle was laid last July when Europe crushed the last progressive pro-European government the EU is likely to see – the SYRIZA government elected in Greece in January 2015."

Galbraith thinks it's likely that the political contagion will spread:

And the crisis now erupts everywhere in Europe: in Holland and France, but also in Spain and Italy, as well as in Germany, Finland and the East. If the hard right can rise in Britain, it can rise anywhere. If Britain can exit, so can anyone; neither the EU nor the Euro is irrevocable. And most likely, since the apocalyptic predictions of economic collapse and “Lehman on steroids” that preceded the Brexit referendum will not come true, such warnings will be even less credible when heard the next time.
Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis does his own postmortem in The Right Left for Europe Project Syndicate 06/24/2016. Varoufakis believes that European politicians should be able to walk and talk at the same time. As Greek Finance Minister, he supported Greece staying in the EU and the eurozone. But he also knew that to be able to negotiate a minimally acceptable deal with Germany, Greece's government had to be prepared to leave the eurozone if they didn't get it. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wasn't prepared to do that.

That's part of the background of his commment here, "it is one thing to oppose entering the EU; it is quite another to favor exiting it once inside. Exiting is unlikely to get you to where you would have been, economically and politically, had you not entered. So opposing both entry and exit is a coherent position."

Speaking of his own pro-EU group DiEM25 (Democracy in Europe Movement). he writes:

... we will not be forced by the prospect of the EU’s disintegration to acquiesce to an EU of the establishment’s choosing. In fact, we believe it is important to prepare for the collapse of EU under the weight of its leaders’ hubris. But that is not the same as making the EU’s disintegration our objective and inviting European progressives to join neo-fascists in campaigning for it.
Varoufakis refers to left opponents of EU membership for their individual countries as "Lexiteers." He addresses the arguments of three Lexiteers, whose opinions he obviously takes seriously: Richard Tuck, Thomas Fazi and Heiner Flassbeck. In respnse to Flassbeck, he writes:

Perhaps Flassbeck’s harshest criticism of DiEM25’s radical pan-Europeanism is the charge that we are peddling left-wing TINA: “there is no alternative” to operating at the level of the EU. While DiEM25 advocates a democratic union, we certainly reject both the inevitability and the desirability of “ever closer union.” Today, the European establishment is working toward a political union that, we regard as an austerian iron cage. We have declared war on this conception of Europe.

Friday, June 24, 2016

More Brexit

Brexit will get a lot of attention in the American press, at least for a few days. It affected the stock market, so the news will pay attention.

This is probably a nonviolent instance of the famous cynical comment commonly attributed to Ambrose Beirce, " "War is God's way of teaching Americans geography, "War is God's way of teaching Americans geography."



Australian economist Bill Mitchell gives some historical perspective of the internal British politics of European unity in Britain should exit the European Union Billy Blog 06/22/2016.

Paul Krugman isn't too worried over the economic consequences (Brexit: The Morning After 06/24/2016):

Yes, Brexit will make Britain poorer. It’s hard to put a number on the trade effects of leaving the EU, but it will be substantial. True, normal WTO tariffs (the tariffs members of the World Trade Organization, like Britain, the US, and the EU levy on each others’ exports) are low and other traditional restraints on trade relatively mild. But everything we’ve seen in both Europe and North America suggests that the assurance of market access has a big effect in encouraging long-term investments aimed at selling across borders; revoking that assurance will, over time, erode trade even if there isn’t any kind of trade war. And Britain will become less productive as a result.

But right now all the talk is about financial repercussions – plunging markets, recession in Britain and maybe around the world, and so on. I still don’t see it.
But he rightly focuses on the significance of political decisions to follow:

It seems clear that the European project – the whole effort to promote peace and growing political union through economic integration – is in deep, deep trouble. Brexit is probably just the beginning, as populist/separatist/xenophobic movements gain influence across the continent. Add to this the underlying weakness of the European economy, which is a prime candidate for “secular stagnation” – persistent low-grade depression driven by things like demographic decline that deters investment. Lots of people are now very pessimistic about Europe’s future, and I share their worries.

But those worries wouldn’t have gone away even if Remain had won. The big mistakes were the adoption of the euro without careful thought about how a single currency would work without a unified government; the disastrous framing of the euro crisis as a morality play brought on by irresponsible southerners; the establishment of free labor mobility among culturally diverse countries with very different income levels, without careful thought about how that would work. Brexit is mainly a symptom of those problems, and the loss of official credibility that came with them. (That credibility loss is why the euro disaster played a role in Brexit even though Britain itself had the good sense to stay out.)

At the European level, in other words, I would argue that Brexit just brings to a head an abscess that would have burst fairly soon in any case. [my emphasis]
This is a good discussion featuring Ivo Daalder, Richard Haass and Margaret Warner of what Brexit implies for US foreign policy, Foreign policy experts anticipate Brexit’s global impact PBS Newshour 06/24/2016:



Britain is still a NATO member. And for ties to the US, that one that binds stronger than the EU. But ever since the Clinton 1 Administration - when the European Community had just become the European Union, Britain has been the US voice within the EU. The US policy has been to push to have the EU expand its membership as a way to incorporate eastern European nations into the West. But it also kept the EU weaker because the more countries they had, the harder it was in practice to achieve the famous "ever closer union." Because it's still American policy that the US should keep overwhelming dominance in all parts of the world and therefore forestall the rise of any potential "peer competitor," which the EU could have been before the 2008 crisis and Angela Merkel went to work on it. So from the current US policy viewpoint, it's a positive that the EU is now weakened and the "ever closer union" looks like it will be postponed indefinitely. But we also lost Britain the main advocate for American foreign policy in the EU.

Clinton I and Obama weren't quite as crass in the way they expressed it as Shrub Bush was. Actually, to the extent that Europeans have an interest in not having unending chaos in the Middle East that encourages terrorist attacks inside Europe and generates massive numbers of refugees that the EU is obviously failing to handle well, a more coherent EU foreign policy would be in practice a beneficial restraint on American Presidents doing dumb stuff in foreign policy. But with neoliberal economics the dominant economic policy approach in the EU, it's hard to see how they are ever going to achieve enough unity to actually solve the snowballing problems they have. But in Britain, their political leadership of both Labour and the Tories pretty much decided after the Suez Crisis of 1956 that they would never be on the opposite sides of the US on a major foreign policy issue. The pitiful Tony Blair was following that approach in facilitating Dick Cheney's invasion of Iraq. If the EU could ever develop a genuinely independent foreign policy in the foreseeable future, it would have to be without Britain. Or, as I guess we'll be calling it when Scotland and Wales declare independence, Little Britain.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Britain votes for Brexit

They did it. The British voters voted "Leave" on the EU referendum.

Oliver Wright reports in Farage's dream. Britain's nightmare? UK votes to leave EU as pound plunges to 31-year low Independent 06/24/2016:

The result will now trigger a process of British withdrawal from the European Union and quite possibly another referendum for an independent Scotland.

Labour said David Cameron should “seriously consider his position”. He is not expected to make a formal statement until after the official result is declared.

The Ukip leader Nigel Farage claimed victory, saying that “dawn was breaking on an independent United Kingdom”. Provocatively he said he hoped the vote would be a catalyst for the complete collapse of the European Union.

The polling expert Professor John Curtice said Labour supporters appeared to have defied pleas from their party to support Britain’s membership of the EU – tipping the scales in favour of Brexit.
John Judis had some interesting thoughts on Thursday about how Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn might be affected by his enthusiastic support for Remain (Will Corbyn's Unreserved Opposition to Brexit Doom the Labour Party? TPM 06/23/2016):

Now here's how the politics parses. Under Tony Blair, Labour had adopted a strategy similar to Bill Clinton in the United States of wooing the white-collar middle and upper-middle class. That kind of strategy can work if you still have the confidence of working class voters and if the opposition is the cranky rightwing. But it will fail absymally if you lose the confidence of working class voters and if the opposition moves to the center. That’s what happened in the last British election where Labour got drubbed.

I had thought Jeremy Corbyn’s mandate was to bring working class voters back into Labour after they deserted in the last election, but I was mistaken. Corbyn has repudiated Tony Blair’s foreign policy, but he has adopted something like his political strategy. The difference is that while Blair’s economic politics reflected high-tech professionals, Corbyn’s seems to reflect the Bohemian, far left segments of the professional classes who spurn any hint of nationalism in their outlook. That’s a recipe for political isolation and desolation. Labour can, of course, make a comeback. One can imagine that if “Leave” wins, there will be a split in the Conservative Party that might open the way for Labour. But if “Remain” wins, the Tories will emerge victorious and Labour will have further alienated the people it needs to win elections.
There will be endless postmortems for weeks, years, decades. Simon Wren-Lewis presents an important context for how the immigration issue played in the Brexis vote in this pre-vote piece, Why do people want less EU immigration? Mainly Macro 06/23/2016:

What people miss is that EU migrants pay tax, which could fund public services. Indeed EU migrants tend to be young, so they are likely to pay more tax in than they are likely to take out from using public services. It is why the OBR believes that restrictions on immigration would hurt the public finances.

Which means that in reality EU migration creates more resources that allows the government to spend more on the NHS and other public services. Not only do EU migrants pay for themselves in this respect, they also make access easier for natives. Add in the negative impact of making trade with the EU more difficult, and it is clear that Brexit would have a negative impact on public services. No wonder Dr Sarah Wollaston switched sides.

Yet this is an argument David Cameron was reluctant to make, because it raises an obvious question. If EU migration is not the reason why the NHS is in crisis, what is? The answer is that his government has chosen to shrink the share of national income going to the NHS, when there are good reasons why this share should be rising. In other words the government has taken the taxes EU migrants pay, and used them to cut taxes or cut the deficit. Because Cameron will not make the case for why EU migration helps the NHS, that case is not heard by voters. Instead they are told all the time that the NHS has been 'protected'. Hence the poll result.
The EU has real problems. Here is one of my fairly recent posts on it: Long-festering problems in the EU 12/27/2016.

A few other reports on Brexit:

Sinead Cruise and Lawrence White, Clouds over Britain's financial sector after Brexit vote Reuters 06/24/2016

Anushka Asthana et al, Britain votes for Brexit after dramatic night leaves nation divided Guardian 06/24/2016

Patrick Wintour, Britain has voted to leave the EU – what happens next? Guardian 06/24/2016: "On the assumption there is no turning back, or collective buyer’s remorse, Britain will live with the political, constitutional, diplomatic and economic consequences for a decade or more."

George Parker and Michael Mackenzie, UK votes for Brexit in EU referendum, triggering market shockwaves Financial Times 06/24/2016

Ian Wishart, Brexit’s First 100 Days Promise Chaos, Fear, Damage Limitation Bloomberg News 06/13/2016

Anoosh Chakelian, Britain votes to leave the European Union New Statesman 06/24/2016

Eric Reguly, Cameron gamble fails as Britain votes to leave EU Globe and Mail 06/23/2016

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

House Democrats sit in

The House Democrats in Washington shocked the world on Wednesday. Not only did they show uncharacteristic signs of life. They actually staged a sit-in on the House floor!

See: Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, Today, John Lewis Stood Up for Human Dignity Once Again Moyers & Company 06/22/2016; Michael Collins, Steve Cohen, other Democrats stage sit-in over gun control USA Today 06/22/2016; The Latest: Pillows, sleeping bags for House Dems protest AJC.com 06/22/2016

Which brings to mind this Malvina Reynolds song, performed here by Malvina Reynolds ("Turn Around", "Little Boxes") has been running through my head, performed here by Barbara Dane and the Chambers Brothers.It Isn't Nice:



But it's not actually a song about manners. Here are some of the lyrics:

It isn't nice to block the doorway,
It isn't nice to go to jail,
There are nicer ways to do it,
But the nice ways always fail.
It isn't nice, it isn't nice,
You told us once, you told us twice,
But if that is Freedom's price,
We don't mind.

It isn't nice to carry banners
Or to sit in on the floor,
Or to shout our cry of Freedom
At the hotel and the store.
It isn't nice, it isn't nice,
You told us once, you told us twice,
But if that is Freedom's price,
We don't mind.
It's the Democrats doing it, so of course they aren't pitching an issue to change the framing. They're doing it over the "no fly, no buy" proposal to restrict gun purchases to people on the dubious no-fly list. And that's about the Democrats framing their own popular issue (anti-small arms proliferation) in a Republican way (we have to do it to fight terrorism).

But still, it almost doesn't matter what the particular demand is as long as it's a recognizably Democratic issue. The Democrats are showing a dramatic level of willingness to fight, the kind of thing that Democratic base voters love to see. And we see it so seldom that it's downright exotic to see.

The left in 2016 and the Democratic Party

This is a really good interview with Van Jones, who worked in the Obama White House for a while, reflecting on the inside/outside nature of progressive change, Van Jones Interview On The Young Turks 06/21/2016. TRIGGER WARNING: The word "revolution" is mentioned a couple of times without any sneering or pants-wetting involved; you've been advised!



Van Jones says just after 11:05, "You have to have a leader willing to be moved, and a movement willing to do the moving. I think that LBJ was basically a scummy racist guy most of his career. But when you had a movement willing to do the pushing, it turns out he was willing to be moved."

Yes, that may be a bit harsh on LBJ's earlier career; he campaigned against anti-lynching laws but also got the 1957 Civil Rights Act passed as a Senator. Also, Van Jones even uses the word "neoliberalism." (Lawdy, Miss Mellie, bring me the smelling salts!) Also, hey, did you know Martin Luther King, Jr. wasn't a conservative who was mainly dedicated to fighting affirmative action? Wow, you learn something every day.

Donald Trump's difficulties in raising money for the general election has been getting a lot of coverage the last few days. Tierney Sneed and Lauren Fox report for TPM (Why Trump's Fundraising Struggles Spell Disaster For The Entire GOP 06/22/2016):

The dismal numbers are more than just the latest piece of evidence that Trump’s campaign is in a free-fall. It has a cascading effect on the Senate and House races down the ballot.

“My sense is that it is like an epic disaster that is going to get worse," said Rob Jesmer, a former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which is charged with electing Republicans to the Senate and keeping them there. “It is highly problematic for people running up and down the ballot.”

As the Republican National Committee -- which also saw a drop in its May fundraising compared to 2012 -- is forced to prop up Trump's rickety campaign apparatus, it means less money will be passed down to congressional committees and to state parties. It also means less money to finance the party's crucial but costly get-out-the-vote efforts.

Contrast Trump’s pathetic $3.1 million fundraising haul in May with Mitt Romney’s efforts in May 2012, $23.4 million, and that raised by John McCain in May 2008, $21.5 million.

This creates an assortment of complications for GOP Senate and congressional candidates who, even before Trump, had the electoral map working against them and since his emergence, have had to answer for every bomb he's thrown.
From a Democratic perspective, expecting an across-the-board Republican disaster in November just seems too good to be true.

Robert Reich on his Facebook page today posted a link to this article: Joshua Green and Sahil Kapur, Nearly Half of Sanders Supporters Won't Support Clinton Bloomberg Politics 06/22/2016

Reich's comment to the article was this:

Will those of you who supported Bernie eventually come around to Hillary? A June 14th Bloomberg Politics national poll of likely voters in November’s election found that barely half of those who favored Bernie Sanders — 55 percent — plan to vote for Hillary Clinton. Instead, 22 percent say they’ll vote for Trump, 18 percent favor Libertarian Gary Johnson, and the many are opting for the Green Party’s Jill Stein.

Historically, voters eventually rally around their party’s candidate, even after a divisive primary. After beating Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primary, exit polls showed that Barack Obama won 89 percent of Democrats in November. But the primary of 2016 is different in one significant way: Many of Bernie’s supporters backed him not because of Bernie himself but because of his message of reclaiming the economy and democracy from the moneyed interests – and they view Hillary as part of the problem.

My estimate is a third of Bernie supporters won’t vote for Hillary under any circumstances, but she could garner the votes of the remaining two-thirds if she embraces some of Bernie’s agenda – particularly getting big money out of politics -- and if Bernie endorses her.

What do you think? Would Bernie’s endorsement sway you?
I would actually be surprised if as many as a third of Sanders supporters vote for someone other than Hillary Clinton in November.

But not voting for Hillary is not the same as voting for Trump. Some of them could just not vote. And that's a real risk for the Democrats, especially considering that Sanders was particularly successful in bringing out young voters and first-time voters.

Some of them could go to third parties. But I seriously doubt that there will be a significant numbers of people who actually voted for Sanders in the primaries who will vote for Trump in the general. There probably are some nontrivial number of swing voters who would have voted for Sanders over Trump who might consider voting for Trump over Clinton.

Monday, June 20, 2016

RJ Eskow on Bernie Sanders' accomplishment

RJ Eskow has a good evaluation of Bernie Sanders' accomplishment so far in 2016, es, Bernie Has Leverage. Deal With It. Huffington Post 06/20/2016:

Consider the trend line: Twelve months ago Bernie Sanders was all but unknown nationally. He didn’t fit the typical “politician” profile in age, style, or rhetoric. He was a self-described democratic socialist. And he faced overwhelming obstacles erected by the party machinery at all levels.

Memories are short. When Sanders announced his run in April 2015, FiveThirtyEight‘s Harry Enten said he was “almost certainly not going to be the Democratic nominee for president in 2016.” Enten added:

“Hillary Clinton is the most dominant non-incumbent front-runner in modern primary history.”
“It would take a truly special candidate to defeat her,” he continued, “and Sanders ... is not the politician for the job.”

That was what pretty much everyone thought. Look what happened.

There’s no need to relitigate all the roadblocks Sanders faced, at least not now. It’s enough to say that the success he achieved, against overwhelming odds and “the most dominant non-incumbent front-runner in modern primary history,” affirms the power of his message.

Sanders also won the hearts of Democratic voters - more so than his opponent, in fact, despite her thirty-year head start. A recent Gallup poll found that Sanders “continues to be significantly more popular than Hillary Clinton,” among members of the party he only joined last year.
The Democratic Party is definitely in a more progressive place today than it would have been without the Sanders campaign.

And there is now a much more well-defined New Deal wing of the party.

Anonymous Wall Street donors want to veto Elizabeth Warren as Clinton's VP choice

Ben White reports for Politico (Wall Street donors seek to block Warren VP pick 06/20/2016) that major Wall Street donors are threatening to withhold further donations if Hillary Clinton picks Elizabeth Warren as her running mate.

Since Hillary Clinton assures us that Wall Street donations don't influence her at all in any way, that obviously won't be an issue.

Anyway, White quotes anonymous "donors," so who knows what this is actually about?

Although this is a nice touch:

All of the donors and senior Democrats interviewed for this story demanded that their names not be used both because they were not authorized to speak about the Clinton campaign’s internal deliberations and because they feared Warren’s wrath.

Sounds like a TV movie: The Wrath Of Warren. This is notable, too: "A constant theme that emerged in the interviews is that executives in the financial industry believe the first 100 days of a Clinton administration could feature potential deal making with Republicans, who are likely to maintain their majority in the House of Representatives." Maybe they can ask those nice Republicans to raise Social Security benefits, or ban domestic assault rifle sales. I'm sure they'll be very eager to help.

Does it strike any one as odd that none of these anonymous Wall Street donors told Politico that, gee, we'd prefer not to have Warren as the VP candidate but Donald Trump is such a radical threat to democracy that of course we'll support Clinton all-out no matter who she picks for VP?

I went over to the partisan Hillary site Blue Nation Review thinking I'd see them saying, hey, these Wall Street dead-enders will be the ones to blame if Trump gets elected! But strangely, they didn't have anything like that posted yet.

Susie Madrak does have a new post up at BNR today, though, Donald Ousts Campaign Manager Lewandowski as Campaign Melts Down. She gives a lot of weight to the much-discussed Block Trump movement in the Republican Party: "Free The Delegates, the group that’s trying to organize a takedown of Trump’s nomination at the Republican convention, announced plans to raise money for staff and a possible legal defense fund. They also claim that several hundred delegates are part of the movement."

Mocking the troubles of the opposing campaign is standard fare, of course. Still, Democrats do have reason to worry about excess complacency in the Clinton campaign. They obviously never expected to see such a serious primary challenge from Bernie Sanders. And they've pretty much been saying that it was time for him and his silly young voters to drop their campaign since the primary voting began.

I'm very so dubious about the talk the last couple of weeks about how "responsible" Republicans will keep their distance from his Presidential campaign, or even block his nomination. Even the Pod Pundit Panel on Meet the Press yesterday was making sense on the latter. How can Republicans block his nomination after his primary wins and when virtually no leading Republican is willing to sign on to create a high-profile effort to block Trump's nomination? Trump has enormous weakness as a Presidential candidate, along with small hands. But I don't think the Democrats should be complacent about his ability in a one-on-one race to polarize voters into his column.

Here's some of Chuck's panel (Meet the Press transcript 06/19/2016):

MARK HALPERIN:

It's less likely to happen than to happen [sic], but it's real. Because you've got now a attitude within the Republican party at the highest levels, that this would be better for the party. One strategist, top strategist, said to me yesterday, "There's a meteorite headed towards planet Earth, you do what you have to do."

And they believe they could lose with Trump and that they will lose with Trump at the highest levels of the party, or they can try something different, as messy as it would be. The key for them is to not let this be something seen as led by Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, but led by the delegates themselves. There is this movement that you mentioned at the top of the show. Their hope is that that catches on, and they're willing to go--

CHUCK TODD:

That it looks organic.

MARK HALPERIN:

That it looks organic and it looks like it's grassroots and that the delegates can trump the voters more easily than people in Washington. Trump talks about it being illegal, it's not illegal. If the delegates decide to do this, they can. And there's a real chance that if Trump continues to be down in the polls, continues to hurt Senate candidates and House candidates, continues to not build infrastructure, there's a real chance that they'll make a strong effort to do it.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Gwen, to have that effort, you have to have the people in place.

GWEN IFILL:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

And it was interesting to me who Reince Priebus, the chairman of the party appointed to run the rules committee. One is Enid Mickelsen. She is a Ted Cruz delegate, a long-time member of the Utah Republican party, Utah.

GWEN IFILL:

We remember her from when she was in Congress.

CHUCK TODD:

And Utah, not a big fan of Donald Trump. Then the co-chair is Ron Kaufman, he is a Trump delegate. But you've known Ron Kaufman for years, a long time Bush guy.

GWEN IFILL:

He's a Bush guy. Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

So, I look at those two and I think, "Oh, maybe they are preparing for something."

GWEN IFILL:

I don't know after watching that interview with Paul Ryan how you can believe that they can make this seem organic. If you want to lead a movement, you've got to have leaders of that movement. I don't think we have leaders in this Congress. I think they all want to not answer, as we saw Mitch McConnell do. I think the idea that somehow, from the grassroots, people are just going to reach up and do what the leadership wants has never proven to be true.

The Republican party is acting like the Democratic party usually acts, which is incredibly disorganized. I think it's what they pray for every night, that something will suddenly happen. But Donald Trump has a point. How do you do this, how do you go to Cleveland and say, "The primaries didn't matter and find somebody else?" And that's the big flaw in this whole idea.


JOSE DIAZ-BALART:

This reminds me of the, and my dad had this, the big comb-over, you know? The person--

CHUCK TODD:

Where are you going with this?

JOSE DIAZ-BALART:

The person with the comb-over thinks you think it looks natural. And that it really is that way. But when you're looking at the person, you're saying, "That's a big comb-over." This thing is being organic and that it comes from the bottom up is a big comb-over. It's a big comb-over. We can see it, everybody's going to see it. And you can say what you wish, if it's coming from all these organized groups, it's a comb-over.

CHUCK TODD:

Wow. Katy, you know Trump as well as anybody at this table. In a weird way, he would relish a fight like -- wouldn't he?

KATY TUR:

Oh, absolutely. And he's benefited every time he's looked like more of an outsider. For him to embrace the party is not necessarily on message for how he's been going about this campaign. He clearly feels uncomfortable with it. That's why you're seeing so much stress when it comes to Donald Trump raising money and go to these donor meetings.

And the word behind the scenes that he's having a hard time saying, "Please give me money," because it's anti to his outsider message. So this would work for him. But the problem is, he just looks like he's sputtering right now. He looks like he is a candidate who once had control of his ideas and his message is now on the defensive, is backtracking.

And a lot of his supporters are saying -- and I've talked to a number of them who have decided that they're not going to support him any longer, which is surprising -- die-hard people who were in it with him, have said that it's just too much lately. The Judge Curiel comments were too much for them more so than the President comments. The Judge Curiel comments seem to be hurting him greatly among a certain contingent of his supporters. [my emphasis]

Wendy Brown on neoliberalism vs. democracy

UC-Berkeley Wendy Brown talks about the anti-democratic and dystopian anthropological aspects of neoliberlism in Wendy Brown: How Neoliberalism Threatens Democracy New Economic Thinking 05/25/2016:


Mysteries of American English, "woman politician" version

This paragraph from Wendy Kaminer has stuck in my mind ever since I first read it back in 2001 (Let's Talk about Gender, Baby The American Prospect 12/19/2001):

... I grew up in a predigital age, when concern about grammar and usage was not dismissed as pedantry. So in my view, while feminist language police are sometimes hypervigilant, sometimes they're not vigilant enough. Why do they tolerate, and even promote, use of the word woman (or the plural women) as an adjective? It's a noun. We have "women doctors" and "women senators" but no "men doctors" or "men senators." We do, however, have "manservants." It's not hard to figure out why. Servants are presumptively female, just as senators are presumptively male. When we incorrectly describe a female politician as a "woman politician," we confirm that, like a "manchild," she's an oddity, an oxymoron.
There's a lot about language that seems counter-intuitive. Freud was taken with the observations he made on how opposites come to stand for each other in symbolism and in language.

My personal favorite example is that when I was a kid, if you wanted to say you didn't care at all about something, you might express it by saying, "I couldn't care less."

The phrase has survived but with a modification. I can't remember the last time I heard someone say, "I couldn't care less." In American English at least, that sentence has become "I could care less." But the meaning is unchanged. Everyone knows that phrase means "I could not care less." What the earlier version said directly, the current version conveys the same meaning and attitude by technically saying the exact opposite, "I could care less," which of course in the literal sense means that I care something about it.

I'm sure some linguist somewhere has traced and analyzed the evolution of that phrase. I should try to dig up some of it one of these days.

The American phrase "politically correct," which has also seeped into other languages, is another example. If Rush Limbaugh or Donald Trump says something is "politically correct," everyone understands them to mean that from the speaker's point of view they consider that thing politically incorrect, i.e., something that they disagree with politically.

I've been thinking about the Kaminer column again this year with Hillary Clinton's Presidential campaign, in which I never hear or see her referred to in the press as the "female candidate" or the possible first "female President." It's always woman candidate, woman President, woman politician.

I suppose one way to think about it is that as the feminist movement grew in power and influence to the point where a female President/woman President is as likely as it is now, that "woman" was somehow the preferred adjective in this context to "female." But I've never seen that particular question explored further. That 2001 column is the only place I've seen it addressed.

But chances are that some scholars have traced it in some detail. Another linguistic unknown for me that I probably should research a bit more.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Populists here, populists there

This is a good piece by Santiago Zabala on "populism," a word that gets tossed around a lot these days about US and European politics: Don't be afraid of populism Aljazeera 16/19/2016.

When the American TV pundits use it, their working definition doesn't seem to go much beyond "something vaguely disreputable." This column even cites the recently-deceased political theorist Ernesto Laclau's work on the topic.

If you ever hear Chuck Todd or someone else on the Sunday morning shows mention the name Ernesto Laclau, it's probably a sign that something really dire has happened. Like a major rift in spacetime or something along those lines.

I like the fact that Zabala makes meaningful and realistic distinctions. "If populism is now the only available political form able to deepen the central value of equality that governs modern democratic societies, we must remember that there is a substantial difference between right-wing and left-wing populism in Europe."

He doesn't get into the concept of "sucker populism," a term used to describe the superficial notion in American politics that "left" and "right" populists can form some kind of substantive political coalition of a strategic kind, as distinct from shared positions on some individuals issues. But the distinction Zabala makes between current North Atlantic versions of left and right populism is very relevant to the "sucker populism" analysis.

In memory of good old William Jennings Bryan, I'll note here the original movement that used the name "populist" for itself was very much a left-leaning reform movement of workers and farmers.

Frances Coppola on Britain and the EU

With the British referendum on leaving the European Union coming up this coming Thursday, Frances Coppola argues for what I would call a "British" version of the Union in The EU's greatest achievement Coppola Comment 06/12/2016. She argues that the achievement of her title was the incorporation of former Warsaw Pact nations into the EU:

After the creation of the Euro in 1999, many in Western Europe wanted deeper integration of the existing members around the single currency, rather than widening of the EU to admit (among others) former Iron Curtain countries. The UK at that time was under considerable pressure to join the Euro. But the UK never wanted a deeply integrated EU, and it did not want to join the Euro. So it fought for widening, not deepening, of the union.

Eventually, the EU agreed. Ten countries, most of them former Iron Curtain countries, joined the EU in 2004. Two more - Bulgaria and Romania - followed in 2007. The EU today encompasses almost the whole of Europe from the Atlantic Ocean to the border of the old Russian empire.* Even some countries (Ukraine, Moldova) that were historically part of the Russian empire have asked to join.

This, not the Euro, is the EU's greatest achievement. Admitting the former Iron Curtain countries to the EU has brought together the sundered parts of Europe and helped to heal the deep wounds left by the Cold War. The UK should be proud of its part in this remarkable example of cooperation for a far-reaching common good.
She also makes this anecdotal observation in making a larger point:

But why are people so angry, and so despairing? There are many reasons, but a common theme appears to be the feeling that Britain is losing control of its own affairs. "Take Control" is the slogan of the Leave campaign. It resonates with many.

My own father has been a lifelong supporter of the European Community. In 1975 he campaigned for the UK to remain in what was then known as the European Economic Community (EEC). But now, he intends to vote to leave.

I asked him why. "It's the Euro," he said. "Britain will never join the Euro. But unless we do, we will be sidelined in European policymaking. Our voice will not be heard, because the Eurozone will dominate. We will inevitably have policies imposed on us that we do not want. We have no choice but to leave if we wish to retain any real control of our own affairs."

I have heard this now from many people. A belief that democratic policymaking - flawed though it is - is being slowly replaced with decisions by an unelected, bureaucratic elite which is only interested in furthering the creation of a United States of Europe against the wishes of the common people. And a growing sense that the UK's voice in Europe is fading as the Eurozone becomes ever more important.

And yet, when I attended the European Summit last week, this was not what I heard. Much of the conversation at the summit was about Brexit, of course. The participants seemed genuinely bemused by it, and distressed that the UK might choose to leave.
The so-called democracy deficit in the EU is real. Some of the more nationalist opponents of the EU may not be too worried about a deficit of democracy, either in the EU or in their own countries. But it's a real problem and has certainly had a real effect in reducing the enthusiasm of the democratic-minded for the Union.

What kind of turning point will 2016 be for the Democratic Party?

I'm starting to think that the 2016 Democratic primary race may turn out to be as important an inflection point for progressive politics as the Iraq War was in 2002-3.

I'm not surprised to see that rightwingers are still rightwingers. That's been the climate and the direction in the Republican Party for some time.

What has surprised me is the downright hostility that some people who I've regarded as clear progressives have been expressing toward Bernie Sanders.


Aimee at No More Mister Nice Blog, for instance, goes Biblical on the topic in The Judgment of Solomon 06/15/2016. And in Brass Balls, Huge Ego. No, Not Trump. 06/16/2016 she sneers at Sanders this way, "There is nothing like the ego of an older white man."

Of course, it has been more usual for Hillary partisans to sneer at Sanders supporters as young and frivolous. (Alanna Vagianos, Gloria Steinem Apologizes For Remarks About Young Female Sanders Supporters Huffington Post 02/27/2016)

And there has yet to be any sort of retraction or apology that I've heard of from Debbie Wasserman Schultz - Hillary supporter, DNC Chairperson and BFF of the payday loan industry - for the sleazy anathema she issued against Sanders and his supporters on May 17.

Frank Rich reflects on how it might or might not help Hillary Clinton to adopt some of Bernie Sanders' posiitons in No Matter What Trump Says or Does, the GOP Will Never Abandon Him New York 06/16/2016.

Ed Kilgore looks at the same issue in Would It Help or Hurt Clinton to Adopt Some of Sanders’s Policy Positions? New York 06/16/2016.

Robert Borosage frames the question of, What Will Bernie Do? Truth Out 06/16/2016 in a very good way:

The question is what Clinton will do. Will she run a campaign of experience against Donald Trump's idiocy, seeking to capture the center while sacrificing any mandate for bold reform? Will she embrace the need to become a candidate of change rather than continuity? ...

The question is what Clinton and Democrats on the platform committee and in the convention will do. Will they embrace the Sanders agenda -- that probably enjoys majority support from the delegates were they free to vote their personal preference? Will they seek to avoid clear commitments -- on the $15 minimum wage, the banks, the trade deal, college costs and debts -- substituting gauzy language about goals for clear platform pledges? ...

The question is what Clinton will do. Will she want her convention to be opened by Wasserman Schultz and greeted by mass booing by the assembled delegates? Will she embrace reform or defend the rules on money and superdelegates that helped consolidate her victory?...

The question is what the Clinton campaign will do. Will they seek to control the content of Sanders' remarks? Will they try to get him to drop his own agenda and simply focus on Trump? Will they push him to paint Clinton as a progressive reformer, rather than someone who deserves support in the cause of stopping Trump? ...

The question is what the Clinton campaign will do. Will it accept that Sanders is building a political movement with its own trajectory, even as they are allied in the mission of defeating Trump? Or will it generate bitter feuds demanding control of the "Sanders list," his schedule and content of his remarks? ...

The question is what Clinton will do. Will she work hard to appeal to the young voters and independents and blue-collar workers that were the core of the Sanders base? Will she offer them the hope for change that clearly inspired them about Sanders? Or will she decide they have nowhere else to go, and focus on winning the votes of moderate Republicans in swing state suburbs? ...

The question is what Clinton will do, assuming she is elected. Will she champion bold reforms that gain the enthusiastic support of the Sanders movement? Or will she ratchet up our intervention in the Middle East, heat up the emerging cold wars with Russia and China, seek a "grand bargain" with Republicans on austerity, go back to championing trade deals, ignore the need for immediate action on climate change, and usher Wall Street's bankers back into Washington's drivers seats? That would force the Sanders movement to build in opposition to her on key issues, not in support of her.

The "Washington Consensus"

John Williamson claims credit for injecting the phrase "Washington Consensus" into the world's economic vocabulary in A Short History of the Washington Consensus (2004):

The term “Washington Consensus” was coined in 1989. The first written usage was in my background paper for a conference that the Institute for International Economics convened in order to examine the extent to which the old ideas of development economics that had governed Latin American economic policy since the 1950s were being swept aside by the set of ideas that had long been accepted as appropriate within the OECD. In order to try and ensure that the background papers for that conference dealt with a common set of issues, I made a list of ten policies that I thought more or less everyone in Washington would agree were needed more or less everywhere in Latin America, and labeled this the “Washington Consensus.” Little did it occur to me that fifteen years later I would be asked to write about the history of a term that had become the center of fierce ideological controversy.
In his 2004 paper, Wiliamson lists again those 10 features that he had identified in 1989:

  1. Fiscal Discipline. This was in the context of a region where almost all countries had run large deficits that led to balance of payments crises and high inflation that hit mainly the poor because the rich could park their money abroad.
  2. Reordering Public Expenditure Priorities. This suggested switching expenditure in a progrowth and propoor way, from things like nonmerit subsidies to basic health and education and infrastructure. It did not call for all the burden of achieving fiscal discipline to be placed on expenditure cuts; on the contrary, the intention was to be strictly neutral about the desirable size of the public sector, an issue on which even a hopeless consensus-seeker like me did not imagine that the battle had been resolved with the end of history that was being promulgated at the time.
  3. Tax Reform. The aim was a tax system that would combine a broad tax base with moderate marginal tax rates.
  4. Liberalizing Interest Rates. In retrospect I wish I had formulated this in a broader way as financial liberalization, stressed that views differed on how fast it should be achieved, and—especially—recognized the importance of accompanying financial liberalization with prudential supervision.
  5. A Competitive Exchange Rate. I fear I indulged in wishful thinking in asserting that there was a consensus in favor of ensuring that the exchange rate would be competitive, which pretty much implies an intermediate regime; in fact Washington was already beginning to edge toward the two-corner doctrine which holds that a country must either fix firmly or else it must float “cleanly”.
  6. Trade Liberalization. I acknowledged that there was a difference of view about how fast trade should be liberalized, but everyone agreed that was the appropriate direction in which to move.
  7. Liberalization of Inward Foreign Direct Investment. I specifically did not include comprehensive capital account liberalization, because I did not believe that did or should command a consensus in Washington.
  8. Privatization. As noted already, this was the one area in which what originated as a neoliberal idea had won broad acceptance. We have since been made very conscious that it matters a lot how privatization is done: it can be a highly corrupt process that transfers assets to a privileged elite for a fraction of their true value, but the evidence is that it brings benefits (especially in terms of improved service coverage) when done properly, and the privatized enterprise either sells into a competitive market or is properly regulated.
  9. Deregulation. This focused specifically on easing barriers to entry and exit, not on abolishing regulations designed for safety or environmental reasons, or to govern prices in a non-competitive industry.
  10. Property Rights. This was primarily about providing the informal sector with the ability to gain property rights at acceptable cost (inspired by Hernando de Soto’s analysis).
On point 5, he includes a footnote:

I have seen it asserted that a competitive exchange rate is the same as an undervalued rate. Not so; a competitive rate is a rate that is not overvalued, i.e. that is either undervalued or correctly valued. My fifth point reflects a conviction that overvalued exchange rates are worse than undervalued rates, but a rate that is nether overvalued nor undervalued is better still.
Ironically, though the Washington Consensus is almost a synonym for neoliberalism, Williamson himself in the 2004 shows some reticence about the term "neoliberalism," writing in another footnote, "I use the word 'neoliberalism' in its original sense, to refer to the doctrines espoused by the Mont Pelerin Society. If there is another definition, I would love to hear what it is so that I can decide whether neoliberalism is more than an intellectual swear word." Later on, he writes that using Washington Consensus "as a synonym for neoliberalism or market fundamentalism" is something he regards "as a thoroughly objectionable perversion of the original meaning."

Language is funny that way. Just because you introduce a term doesn't mean you control its evolution in real usage.

Williamson was not giving his 10 points as a oppositional analysis. On the contrary, he recalls, "I not only argued that the policies included in my ten points were in fact being adopted fairly widely in Latin America, as our conference had confirmed, but also that this was a good thing and that lagging countries should catch up."

But he also observes:

When I invented the term I was not thinking of making propaganda for economic reform (insofar as I was contemplating making propaganda, it was propaganda for debt relief in Washington, not propaganda for policy reform in Latin America). From the standpoint of making propaganda for policy reform in Latin America, Moisés Naím (2000) has argued that in fact it was a good term in 1989, the year the coalition led by the United States emerged victorious in the Cold War, when people were searching for a new ideology and the ideology of the victors looked rather appealing. But it was a questionable choice in more normal times, and a terrible one in the world that George W. Bush has created, where mention of Washington is hardly the way to curry support from non-Americans. It was, I fear, a propaganda gift to the old left.
Naomi Klein in this 2012 video talks about the real-world results of the Washington Consensus policies in Argentina in particular showed how had that particular set of ideas were, Naomi Klein on Global Neoliberalism 04/23/2012:



Williamson in the 2004 paper tries to get his own 1989 version of the Washington Consensus off the hook for the Argentine results by arguing that he wouldn't have recommended two aspects of the Argentine neoliberal regimen as implemented by President Carlos Menem, the peg of the Argentine peso to the dollar and the removal of capital controls, which he implies were the major reasons for the 2001 crisis in Argentina. Those two were obvious proximate causes, but the rest of the package was also very much involved in the disastrous result.

In the latter part of his paper, Williamson pitches for one of the very favorite neoliberal goals, reducing wages and protection for workers. As he puts it in the standard jargon, in "the labor market ... economic performance is being held back by excessive rigidity." Flexibility, in neoliberal (and conservative) language means lower wages for fewer protections for workers. But you're versed in some of the jargon, this following claim justifying the empoverish-the-workers argument is good for a chuckle: "This proposition is such a basic part of economic thinking that it is actually rather difficult to think of a work that conclusively establishes its truth."

In other words, Establishment economists are so committed to the idea that they rarely feel the need to actually try to justify the propaganda claims made in favor of it.

But that doesn't stop him from going on to explain that it's a great idea, especially in Latin America.

Neoliberal policies like those that Williamson advocates while being squeamish about calling them "neoliberal" are the kinds of economic policies currently being implemented by the governments of Argentina and Brazil. Proven failed policies as far as general economic well-being are being given yet another try. Because they do benefit a lot of politically powerful economic interests. Including many American corporations doing business in Latin America.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Neoliberalism as a "thought collective"

This paper from August 2014 by Philip Mirowski gives a helpful overview of the history of the economics and philosophy of neoliberalism, The Political Movement that Dared not Speak its own Name: The Neoliberal Thought Collective Under Erasure Institute for New Economic Thinking.

The concept of the "thought collective" was one elaborated by Ludwik Fleck (1896–1961), who, according to Wojciech Sady, "developed the first system of the historical philosophy and sociology of science." (Ludwik Fleck Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 2016):

A thought collective is defined by Fleck as a community of persons mutually exchanging ideas or maintaining intellectual interaction ... Members of that collective not only adopt certain ways of perceiving and thinking, but they also continually transform it—and this transformation does occur not so much “in their heads” as in their interpersonal space. It is easy to observe this phenomenon in everyday life. When a group of people speak about something important, they start to speak about things which would not cross their minds if they were alone and which they would not tell if they were in another group of people. There arises a thought style characteristic for that group. There also arises a certain collective mood which straightens up the ties among the group members and inclines them to act in a certain way.

Some collectives last shortly—even only as long as an individual conversation lasts. When social forces connecting people operate for a long time, there arise thought collectives lasting for many generations. They take forms of religious movements, folk traditions, art or science. Long-lasting collectives create social institutions which enable and regulate the method by which next generations are added to a given collective: educational systems and social rituals accompanying the admission of new members. [italics in original]
He uses that concept to define concentric circles of neoliberal thought and to address the accusation sometimes made by critics that "neoliberalism" is a meaningless concept or a nonexistent phenomenon.

Mirowski quotes this summary of the major tenets of neoliberalism from Ben Fink. I've changed the format to show the numbered items separately; italics in original:

  1. “Free” markets do not occur naturally. They must be actively constructed through political organizing.
  2. “The market” is an information processor, and the most efficient one possible — more efficient than any government or any single human ever could be.
  3. Market society is, and therefore should be, the natural and inexorable state of humankind.
  4. The political goal of neoliberals is not to destroy the state, but to take control of it, and to redefine its structure and function, in order to create and maintain the market-friendly culture.
  5. There is no contradiction between public/politics/citizenship and private/ market/entrepreneur-and-consumerism - because the latter does and should eclipse the former.
  6. The most important virtue - more important than justice, or anything else - is freedom, defined “negatively” as “freedom to choose”, and most importantly, defined as the freedom of corporations to act as they please.
  7. Capital has a natural right to flow freely across national boundaries - labor, not so much.
  8. Inequality - of resources, income, wealth, and even political rights - is a good thing; it prompts productivity, because people envy the rich and emulate them; people who complain about inequality are either sore losers or old fogies, who need to get hip to the way things work nowadays.
  9. Corporations can do no wrong - by definition.
  10. The market, engineered and promoted by neoliberal experts, can always provide solutions to problems seemingly caused by the market in the first place: there’s always “an app for that.”
  11. There is no difference between is and should be: “free” markets both should be (normatively) and are (positively) most the efficient economic system, and the most just way of doing politics, and the most empirically true description of human behavior, and the most ethical and moral way to live - which in turn explains, and justifies, why their versions of “free” markets should be, and as neoliberals build more and more power, increasingly are, universal.
Mirowski emphasizes that neoliberalism is not simply an economic theory. It also includes broad assumptions about society, politics, democracy, the role of the state, and even utopian anthropological assumptions. A characteristic of neoliberalism, he asserts in opposition to David Harvey's A Brief History of Neoliberalism (2005):

From the 1940s onwards, the distinguishing characteristic of neoliberal doctrines and practice is that they embrace this prospect of retasking the strong state to impose their vision of a society properly open to the dominance of the market, again, as they conceive it. The fact that neoliberals from Friedrich Hayek to James Buchanan to Richard Posner to Walter Rüstow (who invented the term Vitalpolitik which Foucault translated as “biopolitics”) to Jacques Rueff, not to mention a plethora of figures after 1970, all explicitly proposed policies to strengthen the state, seems to elude almost anyone approaching the MPS from the outside. Friedman’s own trademark proposals, like putting the money supply on autopilot, or replacing public schools with vouchers, required an extremely strong state to enforce them. While neoliberal think tanks are busy riling up the groundlings with debt clocks and boogeyman statistics of ratios of government expenditure to GDP, neoliberal politicians organize to extravagantly increase incarceration and policing of those whom they deem unfit for the marketplace; expand both state and corporate power to exercise surveillance and manipulation of subject populations while dismantling judicial recourse to resist such encroachments; wildly introduce new property rights (like intellectual property) to cement into place their extensions of market valuations to situations where they were absent; strengthen international sanctions such as the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership to circumvent and neutralize national social legislation they dislike; bail out and subsidize private banking systems at the cost of many multiples of existing national income; define corporations as legal persons in order to facilitate the buying of elections; and so on. ...

The demonization of the state relative to the corporation was the epitome of the short-term tactic; the usurpation of power to the extent of reregulation (not deregulation) and extension of state power both at home and abroad were the long-term goals. No matter what Grover Norquist might rabbit on about, no Neoliberal in government has ever actually shrunk the size of the state, much less drowned it in a bathtub. That was merely red meat for the groundlings. While in power, neoliberals may have subcontracted out parts of government, but that rarely makes a dent in bureaucracy. The coercive power of government inexorably grows. [my emphasis]
Thus, the twisted neoliberal project of privatized prisons could be seen as a reduction of government. But it also constitutes an extension of the state's coercive police power. (It also seriously erodes the rule of law.)

Mirowski broadly sketches difference between neoliberalism, classical liberal political theory, conservatism, classical economics, libertarianism and orthodox neoclassical economics. For instance, he writes:

The Chicago School was established in the immediate postwar era as a complement to the Mont Pelèrin Society, and was dedicated to the reconciliation of the nascent neoliberal ideas with a rather simplistic form of neoclassical economics.4 This reconciliation was never entirely successful, and was resisted at other major centers of postwar neoclassical theory, such as MIT and the Cowles Commission. Indeed, there is a murky catchphrase that refers to this unresolved tension, claiming there is a ‘freshwater’ vs. a ‘saltwater’ branch of neoclassical orthodoxy. This supposed reference to geography misses the historical dynamic, which was closer to starting as backwater economics, and eventually becoming economic Dasani. Interestingly, the Chicago drive to reconciliation was also resisted within the Neoliberal Thought Collective as well, with Hayek, the Austrian School, and the Ordoliberals all rejecting the legitimacy of neoclassical economic theory as an appropriate framework within which to understand how the market worked. ... Yet, because Milton Friedman had become the mouthpiece for the neoliberal program in this era in the public sphere, understandably, thenceforth laypersons tended to infer that orthodox neoclassical economics and something like neoliberal politics were really the same thing.
Bruce Caldwell in his Encyclopædia Britannica article on F.A.Hayek (Friedrich August von Hayek, 1899-1992) describes the Mont Pelèrin Society (MPS) mentioned in that last passage:

At the end of World War II, Hayek began work on a theoretical psychology book based on an essay he had written during his student days in Vienna. In 1947 he organized a meeting of 39 scholars from 10 countries at Mont Pèlerin, on Lake Geneva in the Swiss Alps. This was the beginning of the Mont Pèlerin Society, an organization dedicated to articulating the principles that would lead to the establishment and preservation of free societies. Von Mises, Robbins, and Machlup were among the original attendees, as were Milton Friedman, Frank Knight, George Stigler, Aaron Director, Michael Polanyi, and the Austrian philosopher Karl Popper. Hayek had been instrumental in bringing Popper from New Zealand to LSE at war’s end, and he had also secured a publisher for Popper’s book The Open Society and Its Enemies (1945). Popper and Hayek would remain lifelong friends.
Mirowski describes the Mont Pèlerin Society as "the central node of initial organization of the neoliberal thought collective."

The Michael Polanyi (1891–1976)) mentioned there should not be confused with Karl Polanyi (1886-1964).

Mirowski describes the larger network of institutions and personal networks that grew up around the core MPS doctrines:

The joint membership in MPS and those departments is another way we can trace the neoliberals. One then might regard specific academic departments where the neoliberals came to dominate before 1980 (University of Chicago Economics, the LSE [London School of Economics], L’Institut Universitaire des Hautes Etudes Internationales at Geneva, St. Andrews in Scotland, Freiburg, the Virginia School, George Mason University) as the next outer layer of neoliberal infrastructure, an emergent public face of the thought collective—although one rarely publicly acknowledging its links to the MPS. Another shell of infrastructure was fashioned as the special-purpose foundations for the education and promotion of neoliberal doctrines; in its early days, these included entities such as the Volker Fund, the Earhart Foundation, the Relm Foundation, the Lilly Endowment, the John M. Olin Foundation, the Bradley Foundation, and the Foundation for Economic Education. The Coors and Koch family foundations were critical players in the United States. The Intercollegiate Society of Individualists [ISI] served as a recruitment center for bright young things to be scouted and groomed for the movement in the US; other countries had similar ‘educational’ foundations. These institutions were often set up as philanthropic or charitable units, if only to protect their tax status and seeming lack of bias.11 ... The next shell of the collective would consist of general-purpose “think tanks” (Institute for Economic Affairs, American Enterprise Institute, Schweizerisches Institut für Auslandforschung [Swiss Institute of International Studies], the Hoover Institution at Stanford) and satellite organizations such as the Federalist Society that sheltered neoliberals in the legal profession. [my emphasis]
And he describes a key difference when it comes to defining the proper limits of state intervention in society between neoliberalism and the classic Jefferson-Franklin-Madison-Locke liberalism:

Far from trying to preserve society against the unintended consequences of the operations of markets, as democratic liberalism sought to do, neoliberal doctrine instead set out actively to dismantle those aspects of society which might resist the purported inexorable logic of the catallaxy, and to reshape it in the market’s image. For neoliberals, freedom and the market would be treated as identical. Their rallying cry was to remove the foundation of liberty from natural rights or tradition, and reposition it upon an entirely novel theory concerning what a market was, or should be. They could not acknowledge individual natural rights, because they sought to tutor the masses to become the agent the market would be most likely to deem to succeed. The market no longer gave you what you wanted; you had to capitulate to what the Market wanted. [my emphasis]