Tuesday, August 04, 2015

The center-left and neoliberal austericide policies

"If people do not know what they are talking about, the concept of "opinion," which is basic to any approach to ideology, loses much of its meaning."

- Theodore Adorno, The Authoritarian Personality (1950), "Politics and Economics in the Interview Material", p. 658

That certainly applies to the Herbert Hoover/Heinrich Brüning austerity economics that is wrecking the eurozone and has adherents in Britain and the US and many other places. As Paul Krugman writes, "the whole austerian ideology is based on fantasy economics, while it’s actually the anti-austerians who are basing their views on the best evidence from modern macroeconomic theory and evidence." (Corbyn and the Cringe Caucus 08/04/2015)

The Hoover/Brüning ideology has also done real damage to the British Labour Party:

What’s been going on within Labour reminds me of what went on within the Democratic Party under Reagan and again for a while under Bush: many leading figures in the party fell into what Josh Marshall used to call the “cringe”, basically accepting the right’s worldview but trying to win office by being a bit milder. There was a Stamaty cartoon during the Reagan years that, as I remember it, showed Democrats laying out their platform: big military spending, tax cuts for the rich, benefit cuts for the poor. “But how does that make you different from Republicans?” “Compassion — we care about the victims of our policies.”
Krugman also cites Simon Wren-Lewis (Corbyn's popularity and relativistic politics Mainly Macro 07/31/2015):

Talk to some, and being anti-austerity has become synonymous with being well to the left. Of course in reality it is just textbook macroeconomics, but if we stick to measuring everything on a left right axis, then remember that it was only as far back as 2009 that the need for fiscal stimulus rather than deficit reduction was the position advocated by a centre/left Labour party in the UK, and the Democrats in the US. It cannot be surprising, therefore, that among a relatively well informed electorate that is the Labour party membership an anti-austerity position is still seen as a sensible policy. With an extreme relativistic view you could say that by sticking to this position these people have moved to the left, but please don’t appear surprised that this has happened.

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