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October 26, 2006


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Neoliberalism is a poor social theory that has benefited from a lack of sustained opposition to it from within economics and politics departments.

The imposition of this theory through dispossession, entitlement and marginalization represents a series of ongoing practices that are very much embedded in capitalist production and its current manifestations. The expansion of consumer debt, the massive deficit spending for war, and ongoing trade deficits represent a claim on the future earnings of labor and productivity in the US. They are not only linked to current production, they are the capitalization of future production. Moreover I believe these active processes of dispossession rely heavily on the gratification sustained through consumption combined with constant assertions of American exceptionalism.

However, I believe that a shift towards a triad of socio-economic analysis produces a politics that reinforces the belief in 'practical' changes through party politics. Doesn't it reduce the antagonisms of the capitalist system to a series of social configurations, rather than a sustained and systemic problem reinforced through a variety of political forms? If we are to think about politics and economics together, doesn't a binary relationship help in building political alliances? (Here I am thinking of the citizen/ non-citizen divide, where participation in the labor force precedes legal recognition). While capitalist and worker are inevitably a anachronism for contemporary political organizing, efforts to develop a better account of the sociological complexity of contemporary capitalism also produced 'third-way' politics, which Blair inevitably showed was just a nascent form of neoliberalism.

Adam Kotsko

It would be great poetic justice if the left actually appropriated one of the talking points of the right, like they've done with tolerance, etc. The Democrats seem to try to do that, but they don't understand how it works -- you can't just take one of the positive ones ("tough on national security") and apply it to yourself, you have to take the negative ones and apply it to those bastards.

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