Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Economics

Good Cop, Bad Cop: A Political Strategy for a Better Europe

The European left is in disarray when it comes to Europe, with a protectionist, euroskeptic left arrayed against an internationalist, integrationist left. The family feud between these two factions has fractured the left and made it impossible for it to compete. In France, the left is split between Jean-Luc Melenchon’s protectionist faction and Benoit Hamon’s internationalist faction, and because of this both candidates are likely to fail to make the top two in the first round, resulting in a two-way contest between the French establishment (embodied by either Macron or Fillon) and the right nationalists (Le Pen). In Britain, internationalist Labour supporters (including many young activists) feel betrayed by Jeremy Corbyn’s willingness to accommodate Labour to Brexit. In Greece, SYRIZA has gone along with austerity measures rather than risk the fallout of leaving the Euro, disappointing many of its supporters who elected it to stop the pain. We’re killing ourselves and our movement over this and we need a new strategy–if we don’t get one, the left is not going to offer coherent alternative to the right and it’s not going to win.

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No Easy Answers: Why Vox is an Anti-Intellectual Publication and How it Can Do Better

The other day, I ran across a piece on Vox by Zach Beauchamp entitled “No easy answers: why left-wing economics is not the answer to right wing populism.” This piece captures everything that has always bothered me about Vox. Today I’d like to dissect this piece and show you what I mean.

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4 Reasons Why the European Left Has to Stick Up For Immigrants and the EU

Last week we talked about British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s cunning plan to allow Brexit to go forward in the hope that he and his party might take power in 2020 or 2025 and use restored national powers to move Britain sharply to the left. It’s politically tempting for some on the left to return to the nation state–many working class people in many countries want to see tighter controls on immigration and a renewed emphasis on national sovereignty, and if the left triangulates on these issues it might make itself more competitive with these voters in the short term. Some on the left now believe that international institutions are irredeemably neoliberal, that there’s no prospect of regional or global cooperation to restore the tougher tax, wage, and regulatory policies of the post-war era. Right nationalists are doing well, and the fight between nationalists and internationalists seems to be one the internationalists are likely to lose. So why chain ourselves to creaking neoliberal institutions like the European Union? Surely this is an albatross the left can do without, right? This all may sound plausible, but it’s a big mistake.

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Corbyn’s Brexit Long Game

Initially I found British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit strategy bizarre. He campaigned to remain in the EU, but not very hard. Then after leave won, he decided to have the Labour Party support the government’s decision to invoke Article 50, using a three line whip to punish Labour MPs who defied him. Two-thirds of Labour voters opposed Article 50–why was Corbyn so intent on preventing Labour MPs from voting their consciences, from voting the way their own supporters wanted them to vote? Why would Corbyn alienate so many party supporters and young activists who had opposed Brexit? Why wouldn’t he take this opportunity to place his party firmly in the remain camp, so that if and when the government’s Brexit plan fared poorly, Labour would be in position to say “I told you so” and reap electoral gains? Is Corbyn a fool after all, or is there some strategy to this that I was missing? I think I have this figured out–Corbyn does have a plan, but it’s not the sort of plan most people expect or want him to have.

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Trump and May are like Teenagers Playing Chicken in the Parking Lot

A few days ago, President Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May got together for a pow wow. It went so well, they even held hands. Some people saw this as an occasion to contrast the gruff, emotional style of Trump with the more polished style of May. But I see something else–these two leaders have a lot more in common with each other substantively than their personal styles let on.

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