A conversation and a comment I made over at Progressive economics got me thinking about public policy after the crisis. The Conversation there was sparked by this article. Economic crisis may shift society’s direction
I remain very pessimistic that much will change going forward. 2 years of stagnation and then the whole up- part of the cycle in austerity across the advanced capitalist zone paying for the bailout. It might be a greener austerity but austerity nonetheless.
Neoliberalism is far from dead. Sure the rhetoric will get toned down, but at the end of day we have a whole generation of policy wonks, analysts, journalists, and social scientists more generally that were trained in not only neoliberal times but also, for the most part, in a neoliberal intellectual milieu. Political scientists bent over backwards to import facile rational choice game theoretic models which are almost always loaded with neoclassical theories such as public choice. Even law journals became enamored with neoclassical type analyzes.
Moreover, At the most abstract political register is not the third way and good example of the near total neoliberal accommodation? Further, the article referred to above is also a good example. No offense intended, but that a progressive journalist first thinks to look up economists–not well known for their sociological, political, or legal training–for their opinion on the future of social and political policy is a fairly telling example of just how ideologically cooked the present and future is likely to be. Although given political scientists have spent much of the past twenty years aping economists progressive journalists could be forgiven: why not go straight to the horses mouth?
Furthermore I have not seen anything in the fiscal stimulus package announcements, on either sides of the Atlantic, to make me think that the real contradiction at the heart of the neoliberal growth model is going to be remedied: the capacity of workers to seriously augment their incomes without having to resort to (a) working more hours or (b) having more members of the family enter the paid labour force.
If one combines the last point with the probability of austerity going forward then you have at best a recipe for Clintonite / Blairite talk left govern right. I hope the progressive economists are right and I am woefully wrong. I remain optimistic, however, with respect to my pessimism.