Looking Backward

Robert Kuttner has been unmasking the fallacies of neoliberalism for decades. The following are a few excerpts:

The time is overdue to reclaim liberalism, without prefixes, qualifiers, or apologies. My neoliberal friends are right to ask hard questions and to search for creative new approaches. We can certainly debate which strategies make most sense. But that effort needs to begin with a set of clear convictions and a sense of political realism. Liberalism will not gain in persuasiveness by abandoning its past achievements, its key constituencies, or its core ideas.

The Poverty of Neoliberalism, 1990

The market solution does not moot politics. It only alters the dynamics of influence and the mix of winners and losers. The attempt to relegate economic issues to "nonpolitical" bodies, such as the Federal Reserve, does not rise above politics either. It only removes key financial decisions from popular debate to financial elites, and lets others take the political blame. ... There is no escape from politics.

The Limits of Markets, 1997

Tempering the excesses of the market requires public outlays and regulations. Yet if the world is one big free market, capital tends to avoid nations that impose burdens on it. Moreover, as the founders of the postwar financial system at Bretton Woods grasped, leaving currency values and capital movements to financial speculators leads to competitive devaluations and deflation.

Constraining Capital, Liberating Politics, 1998

One of the most touchingly innocent syllogisms of neoliberal economics holds that we optimize economic outcomes by letting market forces allocate resources; then if we don't like the distributive result, we redistribute from winners to losers after the fact. Lovely, but who are "we"? It comes as a revelation that winners actually resist redistributing some of their (presumably earned) winnings to losers, who are, after all, losers, and that winners enjoy substantial political power.

Why Liberals Need Radicals, 2001

By the late 19th century, periodic financial panics and depressions menaced both society and the market system. This got displaced into nationalism, culminating in World War I. The European Union's austerity follies are recapitulating the perverse policies of the 1920s and inviting the same brand of know-nothing backlash. In the upcoming elections to the European Parliament, voters disgusted with the failure of politics to remedy the prolonged recession are poised to deliver big gains to nationalist far-right parties. In Polanyi's beloved Budapest, where he and Ilona are buried, the right already governs. 

Karl Polanyi Explains It All, 2014

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