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Italy’s Constitutional Referendum Fails, Europe Shudders

2016 December 5
by Ian Welsh

The changes were meant to make pushing through austerity and bank rescue measures simpler.* Italy’s constitution almost certainly needs changes, but it probably didn’t need these changes.

This is another rebuke to the Eurocrats and the European Union project. The populist right is rejoicing.

Jeremy Corbyn recently noted that the right is taking real grievances and offering solutions which will, at best, only paper over wounds. The left has superior solutions, but has bound itself to a dying world order because of love for internationalism. (By the left, I don’t mean most left-wing parties, like France’s socialists or England’s Labour ex-Corbyn).

Because neo-liberalism has failed, and is finally seen, clearly, to have failed, there are now only three options:

  1. Right-Wing Populism
  2. Left-Wing Populism
  3. Police State Extension of the Current Order

That’s it. Choose your sides. Neoliberalism will only be viable if you’re willing to go full surveillance and police state.

If Trump goes in the direction Bannon desires, and which Trump has been talking up recently when he trashed China, then the neoliberal world order will be over within a year or two.

It should have ended quite some time ago, but it didn’t, and now its dismantling is going to be handled by some very unpleasant people, who, while not incompetent, do not have an ideology and policy set which can actually be expected to work out well for most people in anything more than the short run.

It is as it is.

(*As usual, the best solution would be to let the banks go under and let various people take their losses, bailing out ordinary Italians to some limited extent. Dead banks are dead banks. Let their shareholders and bondholders eat the losses.)


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57 Responses
  1. December 5, 2016

    While most of the Italians I know detest Beppe Grillo, I have some hope that M5S is not a right-populist party in the mold of Lega Nord. They seem to be “purely” anti-establishment without much ideological passion. The fear about them is that they don’t have the skills to govern.

  2. Ian Welsh permalink*
    December 5, 2016

    Oh, I was just commenting on the right celebrating because I’ve seen them celebrating.

  3. someofparts permalink
    December 5, 2016

    “If Trump goes in the direction Bannon desires, and which Trump has been talking up recently when he trashed China, then the neoliberal world order will be over within a year or two.”

    What will we be living with in its place?

  4. Ian Welsh permalink*
    December 5, 2016

    The Age of War and Revolution. 🙂

  5. Shh permalink
    December 5, 2016

    in san francisco we live in the new new world odor. get used to the smell!

  6. Kia permalink
    December 5, 2016

    @someofparts
    A free-for-all of looting, armed with the police power of the state.

  7. December 5, 2016

    neoliberalism will still be there, but as a servant, not a master.

  8. BlizzardOfOz permalink
    December 5, 2016

    Are there many substantial differences between left populism and right populism? If you take away internationalism + neoliberalism from the contemporary left, it starts looking very similar to the populist right. On welfare-state issues, and even on social-justice type issues, Trump, LePen et al are center-left.

    This suggests a populist-nationalist realignment marginalizing the culture-warriors on the left (SJWs) and right (Christian fundamentalists).

  9. Ian Welsh permalink*
    December 5, 2016

    Taxation, racism, immigration, various piece of economic policy. the differences are quite significant, though there are similarities as well.

  10. realitychecker permalink
    December 5, 2016

    Think “Regular folks (of all types) vs. corporate elites and their supporters/minions.”

    This will take a lot of sorting out, and speculating now about EXACTLY what the end product will look like is nothing more or less than mental masturbation, IMO.

    NOBODY KNOWS YET.

    Take some time, and pay attention to the real data as it comes flowing in over the next months.

  11. atcooper permalink
    December 5, 2016

    The difference, big picture, is which group to scapegoat. The left, historically, has scapegoated the rich. As a bonus, scapegoating the rich can be a multicultural project as well.

    I want to believe we can navigate the course without scapegoating, but I also realize othering is the default, minus your Buddha types who often come across as sociopaths to the default, and history doesn’t supply many examples of reloution where there weren’t scapegoats of one kind or another.

  12. Ian Welsh permalink*
    December 5, 2016

    If people are actually responsible, then they are not scapegoats.

  13. BlizzardOfOz permalink
    December 5, 2016

    Taxation- Right, Trump seems to want Bush-style cuts which presumably would add yet another $10 trillion to the national debt.

    Racism- I guess this boils down to law-and-order? (since Trump is even pro affirmative action)

    Immigration- I’d lump this in with the culture-war issues, albeit the impetus is bolstered by the establishment left’s cynical voter-replacement scheme, and also by the ethnic sympathies of nationalized immigrants. The populist left was always anti-immigration as in anti-cheap labor (Cesar Chavez, even Bernie Sanders). I would expect a resurgent populist left to flip on this one.

    Economic policy- so largely shared ends, dispute about the means. I guess we’re talking roughly Hitler/Mussolini versus FDR?

  14. BlizzardOfOz permalink
    December 5, 2016

    Re: race – I guess the populist right should be considered likely to flip on things like affirmative action, Section 8 housing, etc.

  15. Ian Welsh permalink*
    December 5, 2016

    FDR is on the right hand side of left wing populism, but yeah. There’s a few ways to do these things. Unfortunately many people overlook FDR and the early 20th century trust-busters and tend to focus on more centralized solutions. If you’re going to keep markets around, you need to figure out how to run them and I think the “keep companies smallish” policy is better than the “have some big ones and regulate the fuck out of them or have the government own them.”

  16. atcooper permalink
    December 5, 2016

    I’m very much an eat-the-rich person, and agree completely. All too often I fantasize about the French Revolution. The US would be better off if the rich were genuinely afraid of everyone else.

  17. atcooper permalink
    December 5, 2016

    I’ve been talking in great detail with my peers on the right about a great many things, and have, as a result, been toning down my eat-the-rich side a bunch. I probably need to reflect some more.

  18. December 5, 2016

    We are in the farce side of right-wing populism, say 1925 and the leader of the right-wing populist side was il Duce.

  19. Cripes permalink
    December 5, 2016

    “On welfare-state issues, and even on social-justice type issues, Trump, LePen et al are center-left.”

    Trump has feinted left, mainly on TTP and trade, pretending he’s blue-collar. Other than that the republican right and democrat “left” have been in lockstep in matters of war, surveillance and domestic repression. They only criticise the party in power in terms of executing force, not the fact of it.

    They have been somewhat in opposition on social welfare matters, although the dems are sneaky about slashing and privatization and reps are blatant.

    That and diversity and abortion are about all that separates them.
    I think you have it backwards.

    I’m guessing the French right is way left of the US, left or right, on social welfare.
    Maybe you are european?

  20. atcooper permalink
    December 5, 2016

    Anecdote time for the sake of some levity, and because I love you guys:

    During my term as Navy, we were given permission to bring civilian hats during times of deployment. I brought a black cowboy hat because I’m a smart-ass, a Texan, a weapons guy, and a fan of Dr. Strangelove. When the boat’s chief saw me, he ordered I put it away. So I did.

    When we got to port in the Philippines, I took it back out to wear out in town. And because I was being so flagrant, got a dressing down once one of the upper enlisted guys saw me with it. So it was thrown away.

    In a bazaar, I happened across a neon pink Che Guevara hat. I haggled the vendor down a bit, and continued on my merry way. But of course a good old southern boy Chief spotted me in town, and I took yet another dressing down.

  21. atcooper permalink
    December 5, 2016

    Damn, I don’t tell stories as well as I used to. A critical detail left out: when the black cowboy hat was thrown away, I was told hats had to be ball caps. The Che Guevara hat was a ball cap.

  22. nihil obstet permalink
    December 5, 2016

    “Unfortunately many people overlook FDR and the early 20th century trust-busters.” Should that read TR and the early 20th. . . ?

  23. Hugh permalink
    December 5, 2016

    We are watching the slow motion falling apart of Europe. It began with the rape of Greece in order to bail out German banks. Next were the rumbles of the PIIGS and the growing discontent of the forgotten East. Throw Cyprus in there somewhere. Then came Brexit, followed by the lurch to the right in France after Hollande’s implosion of the Socialists. The Netherlands is trending in the same direction. Austria keeps dodging anti-European bullets, but only just. And now Italy. So we have a shaky periphery, and three of the four largest core economies in Europe: the UK, France, and Italy, not Germany are moving away from Europe.

    It is sort of like watching the Clinton campaign. At every failure, disaster, missed opportunity, and flashing redlight, the Establishment message was always she was inevitable, unstoppable. Much the same dynamic is taking place in Europe, but, if possible, with even more denial.

  24. Josh permalink
    December 6, 2016

    @nihil I think Ian is referring to different instances of anti-monopoly policy.

  25. December 6, 2016

    Why is noone talking about Smoot-Hawley?

  26. December 6, 2016

    Their shareholders and bondholders are your pension funds! It’s the directors who are playing masters of the universe and the solution is shareholder supervisory boards.

    I also doubt whether the third world shares your opinion of ‘neo-liberalism’. Globalisation and free trade has brought about an averaging of income levels to their advantage, but at the expense of western working classes.

  27. December 6, 2016

    Why we need a new economy – Part 735

    (Julia next part
    https://symbalitics.blogspot.com/2016/12/julia-mez-mitteleuropaische-zeit.html
    )

  28. December 6, 2016

    It looks like Europe is not doing much shuddering. Some form of bailoutry is being found for Monte dei Paschi. Euro is closing higher. Yes, it kind of ought to shudder, but it is not. Rather, this is being attributed to amateur hour on Renzi’s part: tying the referendum to whether people love him.

  29. December 6, 2016

    They have to go over the cliff.

  30. Hugh permalink
    December 6, 2016

    I agree with Stirling. They have to go over the cliff or hit the iceberg. Until then, the Eurocrats will continue to trumpet the line that everything is under control, nothing to see here, move along. The same thing happened back in 2008 when the Fed, the US government, and Wall Street presaged the great financial meltdown as a hiccup in the Great Moderation but that the worst of it had already been priced into the market so everything was basically OK and minor glitches would be dealt with on an ad hoc basis as they arose. At the same time, I remember Ian, I think Stirling, I and others were over at Firedoglake munching popcorn and wondering which “non-event” according to the powers that be would finally cause the whole house of cards to fall.

  31. Margo permalink
    December 6, 2016

    The Clinton wing is already gearing up a new batch of Neoliberals to run in 2020. It’s going to take another a 2nd Trump victory before these people start to learn their lesson.

  32. Hugh permalink
    December 6, 2016

    Don’t be silly, Margo. Democrats and Republicans never learn their “lesson”. They are like two sockpuppets on the hands of the rich and corporations. If you get mad at the one on the right hand, you can vote for the one on the left hand, and vice versa. It may make you feel better momentarily but it changes nothing. That’s a feature, not a bug.

    My dictum is “Show me the blood on the floor.” It’s been 40 years or more since the Democrats shed any fighting for us. And until I see some, not just empty, self-serving words, they are dead to me.

  33. December 6, 2016

    It is going to worse – the elites, politicians, and people still need to learn an important lesson. And as one scalawag used to remark “and they all learn it, good and hard”.

  34. EmilianoZ permalink
    December 6, 2016

    Yeah, it’s not that they cant learn, it’s that fighting for the little people wont get them any money. No dinero.

  35. December 7, 2016

    Think of it as Game Theory 101.

  36. atcooper permalink
    December 7, 2016

    Yes, the beatings will continue until morale improves, indeed.

  37. Ché Pasa permalink
    December 7, 2016

    Meanwhile there was a rumor going around that something happened in Austria that doesn’t fit the Rightist Resurgence Narrative.

    Must not of happened, though…

  38. Sanctimonious Purist permalink
    December 7, 2016

    You listed Police State only with the current Order, but it goes with Right Populism as well, no? I think we are definitely getting a police state in the U.S.

    Also, I’m unclear on Left Populism and internationalism. I mean, there’s an internationalist sentiment to the Left also, as in the IWW, etc. Is Left populism nationalist or internationalist and which is better?

  39. Peter permalink
    December 7, 2016

    @SP

    We already have a police, surveillance, inverted totalitarian state with superficial freedom sans real liberty. The old jackbooted authoritarianism isn’t necessary when most of the population buy and constantly use the best little surveillance device ever invented. They know where you are going and where you’ve been and they are already beginning to tell you where you want to go.

    Your question about internationalism is a good one and your identifying the IWW as the true Left is even better. What the true Left means by internationalism is solidarity with the world working class while most of the so called left is actually supporting capitalist globalization a complete rejection of Left ideals.

  40. Ché Pasa permalink
    December 7, 2016

    For those still struggling with what the political left is, here’s a clue: The US Democratic Party is a conservative party.

    You’re welcome.

  41. BlizzardOfOz permalink
    December 7, 2016

    The populist right would de-emphasize universal surveillance, in favor of closing the borders and tested techniques that disregard PC pieties like profiling, stop-and-frisk, and broken windows policing. You could see this thrust clearly in Trump’s campaign. It would also surely reverse Obama’s push to federalize local police forces. It would however come down hard on the Soros-funded riots (no doubt he’d love a color revolution to unseat Trump). Remember what happened last time liberals were put in charge of law enforcement – riots proliferated and violent crime exploded, which led to Nixon’s election on a “law and order” platform (Trump also revived that exact phrase).

    You can really feel the dissonance in the populist left over internationalism. You now have capital’s interests aligned with the 3rd-world lumpenprole, as both benefit from the regime of labor arbitrage and mass migrations, at the expense of the 1st-world lumpenprole. All the elites believe in open borders. So as a result you have Bernie Sanders telling Ezra Klein that open borders is a “Koch Brothers idea”, but of course Bernie couldn’t run on that because all the Mexicans in the D coalition don’t just believe in open borders, they live it. The people being imported to vote D are persecutors of the D base – Mexicans hate blacks more than the Klan and ethnically cleanse them; Muslims hate gays more than fundamentalist Christians, and will not tolerate them. The populist left surely has to break in favor of nationalism?

  42. Lisa permalink
    December 7, 2016

    BlizzardOfOz : “The populist right would de-emphasize universal surveillance” .and can I have some what you are drinking?

    And when, ever in history, has that happened?

  43. Ché Pasa permalink
    December 7, 2016

    @Lisa

    The fantasies are strong with these.

  44. Lisa permalink
    December 7, 2016

    Traditionally (and in broad brush terms) the ‘right’ has always pushed strong social and political (and sexual) control of the proles, with greater freedom for the elites and of course business.

    Traditionally the ‘left’ was the opposite. In fact mass surveillance used to be total anathema to the left (since they were always the biggest victims of that).

    What happened was the ‘left’ parties and organisations got co-opted by the right, hence their support for stronger surveillance of the proles and freedom for the elites. So in many places we have two parties that agree nearly 100% with each other, with a few groups (like LGBTI) getting a bit more traction with the so called ‘left’ parties (due to their own efforts by the way, nothing was handed to them). Ones that didn’t fight as hard got crushed (like black men in the US or the tepid support for non elite women, or the working class).

  45. Lisa permalink
    December 7, 2016

    “Muslims hate gays more than fundamentalist Christians”.

    Not according to the Pews survey…US evangelical ‘christians’ were far worse on LGBTI people than Muslims…….. and, in the US and elsewhere in the west, there are a lot more of them..

    It is not Muslims in the US that are attacking LGBTI people, it is white ‘christians’ and all the money and their organisations like the FRC and so on.

    I don’t have to worry about Muslims here in Australia it is the Catholic and Anglican and evangelical churches and all their front organisations like the Australian Christian Lobby that are trying to eliminate me from society….and I do mean eliminate.

    The official position (for example) of the Catholic church is for all LGBT people to become cis, straight or be celibate and for intersex people just to accept what gender the doctors pick for them as babies. Total elimination.

    Naturally they don’t have the same concern about priests (etc) being child sex abusers… In fact it is amazing to see how ‘soft’ those those anti-LGBTI people are on the vastly greater numbers of child sex abusers (1 in six male and 1 in 4 female children abused).

    In fact the greater a group’s hatred of LGBTI people the greater the rates of child sex abuse they have …interesting eh? In the US child sex abuse is dominated by ‘christian’ religious people (93% no less), mostly white no less. And that is whole field of study on its own….

  46. Lisa permalink
    December 7, 2016

    I love this:

    “Trump’s Pick to Lead the EPA Is Suing the EPA Over Climate Change”

    “On Wednesday, Trump announced his pick of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head up the EPA. A longtime foe of the Obama administration’s climate change agenda, Pruitt’s credentials include repeatedly suing the agency he is soon going to head, attempting to block pollution regulations aimed at safeguarding public health, and questioning the overwhelming scientific consensus that global warming is real and man-made.”

    http://gizmodo.com/trump-s-pick-to-lead-the-epa-is-suing-the-epa-over-clim-1789792867?utm_campaign=socialflow_gizmodo_facebook&utm_source=gizmodo_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

  47. BlizzardOfOz permalink
    December 7, 2016

    @Lisa, I don’t believe the surveillance state is a left/right issue. All the regime hacks support it. Lots of ordinary people don’t think it’s a big deal, and they say “I don’t care because I have nothing to hide”. Most thoughtful people oppose it on principle. I haven’t seen it come up at all in the past few years, have you? It was a big deal for a while when the story broke of Bush’s warrentless wiretaps and then also Snowden’s revelations.

    The thing is, now that we have the surveillance state, how do we get rid of it? No politician wants to oppose it for fear of being blamed for the next terror attack. And of course the NSA/deep state will fiercely oppose any effort to scale back their powers, with fear-mongering and any tricks they can think of. The best thing we can do is to restore sanity to the nation in other ways – eg, shut the borders to the “”Syrian”” “”refugees””, of whom (and of whose descendants for generations) we know for a fact a certain percentage will be violently hostile to us. When you’re in a hole, the first thing is to stop digging.

  48. Peter permalink
    December 7, 2016

    @L

    I think the Supreme Court already blocked Obama’s Clean Power Plan and Pruitt and many other states are suing to kill it on constitutional grounds.

    The CPP is Obama’s GW legacy that pushes the conversion from coal to fracked natural gas power generation which was already happening just not mandated. It’s ironic that Obama couldn’t get a program written that could pass constitutional muster.

    The CPP might reduce co2 emissions but unless all the methane leakage problems are addressed it won’t do anything for GW and it will be a huge financial burden on the utilities/consumers. This is why there are so many powerful Deniers, not because they don’t know that GW is real, but because the agenda coming from the Warmers like Obama is mostly phony and very expensive window dressing.

  49. VietnamVet permalink
    December 8, 2016

    For those who haven’t seen it I recommend Mark Blyth’s “Global Trumpism” video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bkm2Vfj42FY\
    I recognize most aspects of the new world order but this is first presentation I’ve run into that pulls it all together.

    Donald Trump will continue to escalate privatization, looting and the fracking earthquakes while tweeting to the plebs and hassling the media. At some future date, the only choice will be taxing corporations and the wealthy to create jobs and economic demand by dealing with climate change. On the other hand, if the ignorant short term greed of the rich continues unabated, mankind faces extinction.

  50. markfromireland permalink
    December 8, 2016

    Lisa December 7, 2016

    Because of course everything must be viewed from one viewpoint and that one only. I repeat, you are becominng increasingly deranged. You can cite Pew as much as you want it doesn’t alter the fact that in Irak Shi’i militias first beat gay men and then seal their anuses shut using superglue. It doesn’t alter the fact that also in Irak that gay men are murdered by Sunni militias by throwing them off high buildings. If that doesn’t do the trick they’re doused in oil and set alight. The same is going on in Syria and Libya. The suicide rate among young gay men in relatively secular Muslim countries such as Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia is appalling. Try enquiring into what it’s like being gay or transexual in Pakistan or Bangladesh. The suicide rate among young gay men of Muslim background throughout Western Europe is a muliple of that found amongst their contemporaries in the majority population and is exceeded only by their rate of self-mutilation. Or perhaps you’d like to enquire into how the rate of gay bashing in Leicester has suddenly gone through the roof. And all of that’s before we get into what happens to gay men who are outed in Indonesia and Malaysia. Has it occurred to you that the professed support for gay rights amongst American muslims is virtue signalling from a weak and unpopular political minority? Why don’t you go to Dearborn and see how many gay men there dare live their lives openly.

    Not that you actuallly give a shit about any of that, not if you think you can make some cheapjack short term political point. But then that doesn’t come as any surprise to me. I haven’t forgotten how you tried to pretend that gay men were treated well and with tolerance and respect in the former DDR and tyrannized in what used to be West Germany. Remember how you tried to do that? Nor have I forgotten your reaction when I pointed out that what you had posted was a pack of lies from beginning to end. I invited you to come over here to Denmark and meet some of the East German men who’d fled here in fear of their lives after having been castrated for being gay, remember that? The invitation’s still open.

  51. XFR permalink
    December 8, 2016

    I also doubt whether the third world shares your opinion of ‘neo-liberalism’. Globalisation and free trade has brought about an averaging of income levels to their advantage, but at the expense of western working classes.

    As Welsh has pointed out multiple times, poor nations’ economies grew substantially faster , and far more equably, under the protectionist/developmentalist framework than they did under neoliberalism/”globalisation”.

    Further, most of the statistics you’ll see trotted out in support of neoliberalism disingenuously lump China–which saw the greatest improvement by a very wide margin–together with the other poor nations, even though China kept with the developmentalist programme while most other poor nations were strongarmed into adopting neoliberalism. When separated out, the progress of the latter looks sadly mediocre, and looks even worse if you exclude the south-east Asian countries, which didn’t get the full-bore Chicago School treatment.

    “Globalisation” was mostly about maintaining political and economic white supremacy in the face of the increasing economic power of the “developing world”. It is on the altar of that charming ideal that the livelihood of the Western middle classes has been sacrificed.

    You can really feel the dissonance in the populist left over internationalism. You now have capital’s interests aligned with the 3rd-world lumpenprole, as both benefit from the regime of labor arbitrage and mass migrations, at the expense of the 1st-world lumpenprole. All the elites believe in open borders.

    Now this drivel me of the “debate” in the mass media over whether to invade Iraq–“Are the Iraqis vile, subhuman animals unworthy of being blessed with our benevolent Freedom Bombs, or are they fellow human beings with an intrinsic worth which we should recognize by bombing, invading, slaughtering, raping, and subjugating them?”

    Why am I not surprised that you’d play along with such nonsense, BOO.

  52. Peter permalink
    December 8, 2016

    @VV

    You seem to believe that hydraulic fracturing in oil and gas wells causes earthquakes which it does not do. Fracking has been used since the 1950’s to keep old wells producing and is required for producing tight oil and shale gas. The earthquakes are caused by the deep injection wells where wastewater from fracking is pumped but this only happens in certain geologically unstable areas such as in Oklahoma and they will stop when the pumping stops.

    There isn’t much Trump can do to promote more drilling because it depends on the oil price and demand. This is why the boom in the Bakken is over with few new wells being drilled. The new major play in the Permian shale is four times as large as the Bakken but it will be slow to develop because of the high cost and low return at todays oil price. The world oil market is saturated with excess oil and growth is slowing not increasing so some US oil producers have produced themselves out of work.

    It seems to me that most of the looting and privatization possible has already happened and Obama made certain that it proceeded smoothly. Corporations are holding onto what they have with no new demand for them to expand so they try to squeeze their costs down like Carrier did.

    The rise of Trump and other populists may be a sigh that working people are seeing the early effects of the end of growth more clearly than all the eggheads who chant the neoliberal mantra. This may be a good sign for the possibility of slowing GW because it is fed by growth while all the technocratic green schemes all depend on new growth.

  53. Ché Pasa permalink
    December 8, 2016

    @ Vietnam Vet

    Ah Blyth. Thanks for that specific video. I was glad that at least one student challenged him on his “global” premise, because he only spoke of Euro-American “Trumpism” as if it represented a global phenomenon. It does not. It’s important for his argument to pretend it does. In the world he was constructing The Globe = Euro-America, no? Always has, always will.

    He hinted that Europe had largely adopted corporate-populism, fascism, authoritarianism and its variants prior to the outbreak of WWII. He even alluded to the overtly fascist influences on the early New Deal. (Mussolini’s son was the most frequent visitor to the White House in 1934…) The widespread adoption of fascism and its variants prior to WWII — perhaps more widely than Trumpist “populism” has been adopted currently — was due to the failure of capitalist-democratic institutions to serve the interests of the people in the face of economic disaster and decline. If capitalist-democracy doesn’t work, people will naturally try something else. Rightist corporatism-fascism is a tailor made “solution.” It’s easy to comprehend, and practitioners require little or nothing from the people beyond loyalty and obedience. The leftist-Trumpism he refers to as a counter and parallel to rightist-Trumpism (referring specifically to SYRIZA and Podemos and even Bernie) is jarring given the compromises and capitulations they’ve accepted if they’ve managed to achieve any power at all. Any sensible person who voted for them would call it betrayal. But Blyth skates on that issue in order to pursue his argument.

    He doesn’t deal with the neo-liberal/neo-conservative paradigm and consensus as such, but that’s not his topic. The European project is savaged and declared a failure for its inability to handle even the simplest housekeeping and economic chores. The US is hailed a success because it has processes to balance its political and economic spheres and interests. Besides, the value of his Boston condo keeps going up 6% a year without his doing anything thanks to Chinese money seeking safe investments. What’s not to like.

    He explains in simple terms why there’s been no economic advance for most workers in Euro-America since 1970-something. There can’t be under the current regime of globalization, finance capital and labor disempowerment, by intent and by design. Nothing the people do within the rules (such as elections) changes the situation. It’s not being driven by the people in any case.

    What to do about it barring revolution is … vague. Things that ought to be done, mostly focused on income redistribution, require the active agreement and cooperation of the exploiting and thieving classes, because the people can’t do it on their own according to the Rules. Rules written by the exploiters and thieves tend to protect the writers from the people.

    He was asked what will happen if Trump wins the election. His answer was essentially “very little will change.” First, he says the president can’t do what Trump thinks he can. A president can’t initiate legislation, for example. His authority is limited by the Constitution, and the structures currently in place are mostly beneficial to the interests Trump would be likely to pursue. He might build that wall and deport more brown people than Obama did, but beyond that… the most likely things he would go for are infrastructure improvements, simply because they are way overdue, and they can be done on borrowed money at low or negative interest rates.

    What’s not to like?

    Most intriguing was his claim that if Trump were elected, “nothing much will change.”

    That’s a comfort, isn’t it?

    Of course, it’s false. But what the hell, it sounds good.

  54. BlizzardOfOz permalink
    December 8, 2016

    @XFR,

    I didn’t mean to say that the 3rd world has benefited from capitalism — just that parts of it saw a bump in their income / standard of living. The money power at this stage is in no one’s interest — its growth is like the growth of cancer. All it takes is a glance at Africa’s population graph to see that continent is hurtling towards the largest catastrophe in human history.

  55. XFR permalink
    December 8, 2016

    “capitalism” =/= neoliberalism/”globalization”. Developmentalism a la the “developing world” pre-1970ish or China post-1980 was/is capitalist but not neoliberal/”globalist”. In many ways neoliberalism is a reversion to a pre-capitalist economic form.

  56. Hugh permalink
    December 8, 2016

    XFR, neoliberalism is a return to Wilsonian liberalism of the early twentieth century: elitist, paternalistic, virulently anti-populist, pro-corporatist, and in foreign affairs pro-interventionist.

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