Trying to Stir þe Pot for “Slouching Towards Utopia”
BRIEFLY NOTED: For 2022-05-26 Th
FIRST: Trying to Stir the Pot for “Slouching Towards Utopia”
Brad DeLong: To: @zachdcarter. May I please order up a strongly critical review of Slouching Towards Utopia <https://bit.ly/3pP3Krk> from you for publication in Jacobin in September?
Zachary D. Carter: Unfortunately, Brad, I like it very much, and am writing it for Dissent.
Brad DeLong: Come on! It has an overly-simplistic stripped-down pseudo-Polanyiesque Grand Narrative at its heart. That may have been adequate for a 1940s understanding of the dynamic of fascism, really-existing socialism, and classical (or, rather, pseudo-classical semi-liberalism then, but it is wholly inadequate for grasping the political-economy dilemmas of the world today!
Zachary D. Carter: Starting to see why it took you so long to write…
Brad DeLong: At the very least, a satisfactory book would deal:
(a) with the role played by the fiduciary institution of modern science (a la Michael Polanyi) and the failed attempts to extend it into technocracy;
(b) with the fine-grained advance of technology (a la David Landes);
(c) with the interaction of technology and the creation of businesses and industries (and destruction of same) (a la Joseph Schumpeter);
(d) with the construction of institutions that were more truly liberal and democratic as attempts to approximate what an open society (a la Popper’s hopes) might be;
(e) with managerialism (a la Peter Drucker but also Alasdair MacIntyre) as an attempt to reconcile individual freedom with community purpose;
(f) with taming the market via wealth equalization and public provision (a la William Beveridge);
(g) with Coasian hopes to make the market sovereign and beneficent by carving property rights at the joints;
(h) with Pigovian realities that made that impossible; and
(i) with a much deeper dive at the failure of social democracy (under the trinity of Keynesian full employment and rentier-euthanasia, Pigovian externality correction, and Beveridgean redistribution) to pass its own sustainability test under pressure from the neoliberal challenge; and also
(j) with a much deeper dive into the extraordinary persistence of neoliberalism in spite of its failure to keep any of its promises about how it was going to promote the public good.
The “what is to be done?” message of the book is, to the extent that there is one, “double-down on social democracy”. But that did not work in the 1970s, is unlikely to work now, and yet the book cannot suggest a better path because of its inadequate pseudo-Polanyiesque Grand Narrative frame.
Vincent Palumbo: This imagined critical review makes me curious about contents of the book… I don’t usually preorder, but I might for this. Tons of long history books coming my way this summer & fall. Finished one: Rise & Fall of Neoliberal Order, which supplements tech aspect highlighted here…
Quite seriously: I would, at this point, substantially prefer a critical review to one that is simply unalloyed praise. I am arrogant enough to know that the book is very good indeed. But the only way I am going to learn more quickly is to engage with smarter people who think that the book is fundamentally flawed. And the only way that the book will actually have an impact, and matter, is it for those who do not agree with the main thrust of it read it and consider it. If they do not do that, it might as well not have been written cola it will be as if it were balefired out of the Pattern.
And I am willing to listen. So, please, critics: tell me where the book is wrong…
Very Briefly Noted:
Edward Luce: Trump Is Losing His Stranglehold on Republicans <https://www.ft.com/content/4601b152-83e0-4fae-baa9-18965c48af73>
Scott Chipolina & George Steer: The Terra/Luna Hall of Shame <https://www.ft.com/content/40c06a4f-3586-40be-b5ad-b836b5dcdc0d>
Timothy B Lee: Rising Interest Rates Are Hammering Tech Stocks: ‘They could be especially bad for startups looking to raise capital… <https://fullstackeconomics.com/rising-interest-rates-are-hammering-tech-stocks/>
Andreas Kluth: Putin Is Losing the War But He Will Escalate to Show He’s Still in Charge <https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2022-04-28/putin-is-losing-the-war-but-he-will-escalate-to-show-he-s-still-in-charge>
Tim Duy: Fed Watch, 5/23/22: ’Forward guidance has already effectively pulled forward much of the policy tightening this cycle…
Duncan Black: Rolling Coal: ‘“Owning the libs” and “absolute deep disgust at the existence of other people who are in any way different” have been the prime motivators of conservatism and glibertarianism…. Even the existence electric trucks is an assault on my freedom to not live in a world with electric trucks. Suck it, woke trucks… <https://www.eschatonblog.com/2022/05/rolling-coal.html>
Russell Moore: This Is the Southern Baptist Apocalypse: ‘The abuse investigation has uncovered more evil than even I imagined… <https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2022/may-web-only/southern-baptist-abuse-apocalypse-russell-moore.html>
M. Massenkof & al.: SWage Stagnation and the Decline of Standardized Pay Rates, 1974–1991: ’Increasingly, wages for blue-collar workers were not standardized by job title or seniority, but instead subject to managerial discretion… <https://osf.io/preprints/socarxiv/k5ezy>
Falk Bräuning & al.: Cost-Price Relationships in a Concentrated Economy: ‘The increase in industry concentration over the past two decades could be amplifying the inflationary pressure from current supply-chain disruptions and a tight labor market… <https://www.bostonfed.org/publications/current-policy-perspectives/2022/cost-price-relationships-in-a-concentrated-economy.aspx>
Melody Schreiber: How Rapid Reinfection Has Changed the Covid Fight: ’New variants can infect people who had Covid–19 as recently as a few months ago… <https://newrepublic.com/article/166573/reinfection-ba2-omicron-covid>
Patrick McKenzie : Tether Required Recapitalization in May 2022: ‘In 2019, after years of following along, I described Tether as “the internal accounting system for the largest fraud since Madoff.” This remains true… <https://www.kalzumeus.com/2022/05/20/tether-required-recapitalization/>
Twitter & ‘Stack:
D. Will: The key… is the end of the Malthusian trap…. Will we produce a global order of abundance, reason, and realized human potential, or create a world of oligarchs and serfs…. The Polanyi-Hayak poles of frame-setting seems key to me, with Keynes, Galbraith, Rostow, & others trying to administer their way to some form of utopia, a political economy more democratic and free than dictatorial and restrictive… <
Doomberg: Where Stuff Comes From: ‘Take polyethylene, which is the highest volume production plastic in the world…
Ed Zitron: If You’re Not A Skeptic, You’re A Sucker: ‘I recognize that a lot of cryptocurrency fans feel somewhat unworthy of your sympathy… [but] millions of people interact with these chaotic, manipulated, and kleptocratic systems because they feel they have no other choice…
Davis Kedrosky: The Last Crusade: ‘What caused the Industrial Revolution?…. No matter how good you are at inventing things, prototypes don’t get turned into productivity unless you can make machines that work…
James Palmer: ’I think there’s room for a good piece on why so many people want to believe… they have worse lives than a medieval peasant…
Addison del Mastro: Coffee Shop Kind of Day: ‘Which impulse will ultimately win out: larger houses with real home offices, or flexible offices, coworking spaces, and “third places” like coffee shops?…
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