April 17, 2016

Comments on "Neoliberalism - the ideology at the root of all our problems"

In response to an article by George Monbiot in the Guardian, I posted the following comment, quoting from a paragraph in the article:

"Neoliberalism’s triumph also reflects the failure of the left. When laissez-faire economics led to catastrophe in 1929, Keynes devised a comprehensive economic theory to replace it. When Keynesian demand management hit the buffers in the 70s, there was an alternative ready. But when neoliberalism fell apart in 2008 there was ... nothing. This is why the zombie walks. The left and centre have produced no new general framework of economic thought for 80 years."

Incorrect. There have been plenty of frameworks introduced in recent decades. An issue of Science and Society in 2002 reviewed no fewer than seven such frameworks. I even had the good fortune to contribute to a book discussing such frameworks -- "Real Utopia". I myself am a fan and advocate of the model known as "parecon" (participatory economics).

The big issue in my mind is that there has been precious little in the way of instantiating and confirming these frameworks, to demonstrate concretely that these non-market models can work. Understandably, most people are skeptical of promises, as have been made in the past, to simply trust that ideas will deliver what they promise. They want evidence. Activists who are serious about this would do well to play the role of scientists: seek to confirm with experimental verification in the real world in ways large and small that the models we theorize will work, and discard those [models] that don't.