Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: Keynesianism

Comparing Keynesian Neocorporatism and Market Socialism

There is a lot of fuzziness and misunderstanding about what the left is trying to do, economically. A while back, I discussed some of the things which distinguish postwar liberals–who remain committed to reforming capitalism–from democratic socialists, who seek to one day abolish capitalism outright. Today I want to get into a bit more detail and discuss more precisely how these economic models work. The case I want to make to you is that despite what you may hear, the postwar liberals and democratic socialists have more overlap in their proposals than either side realises.

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The Difference Between Socialism and Liberalism in America Today

In the aftermath of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s surprise primary victory the New York Democratic House primary, Americans seem to be curious about socialism:

Of course, dictionary definitions of political terms have never been very helpful. Political ideologies develop, shift, and morph over time, both in their technical meaning and in how they are popularly understood. So today I want to talk about what really distinguishes a 2018 American socialist from their liberal counterpart.

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John Oliver Doesn’t Understand How Stein’s Student Debt Policy Works

Last Week Tonight‘s John Oliver recently ran a segment in which he slated Jill Stein’s proposal to eliminate student debt through quantitative easing:

His criticism seemed to suggest that the Federal Reserve is obviously irrelevant in this policy area:

It’s basically akin to saying, ‘I’ll make us energy independent by ordering the Post Office to invade Canada.’¬†No, Jill. That’s impractical, it’s a terrible idea, and you don’t seem to understand anything about it.

Oliver, who is usually quite perceptive and well-informed, gets this wrong, and he gets it wrong in no small part because monetary policy is complicated and difficult to understand, both in terms of the economics and in terms of the politics. So let’s talk about how Stein’s idea works.

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Why Bernie Sanders is More Electable Than People Think

A few days ago, I wrote a popular post about the ideological differences between Bernie Sanders, the egalitarian committed to shrinking the financial sector and boosting consumption by raising wages, and Hillary Clinton, the neoliberal committed to protecting the interests of finance capital. I explained the history of the Democratic Party and how it came to be captured by neoliberalism–the same economic ideology espoused by Ronald Reagan and many of his successors in the Republican Party. Many people found that this clarified the differences between Bernie and Hillary for them. However some people expressed concern that even though they think Bernie’s ideology is more desirable, he may still nonetheless be unable to beat a republican in a general election. A republican victory would be awful for the left–even a neoliberal democrat is still noticeably to the left of a neoliberal republican, especially on issues like climate change or LGBT rights. However, I think there are good reasons to think that Bernie is at least as electable as Hillary, and possibly significantly more so.

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The Left: Should We Be More Concerned with Distributive Inequality or Status Inequality?

Last week,¬†Professor Jonathan Wolff gave an interesting presentation at Cambridge concerning the difference between two kinds of equality–distributive and status. Distributive equality focuses on discrete goods or benefits and how they are distributed among people. These benefits can take many forms (e.g. resources, opportunities, welfare, etc.). Status equality focuses instead on asymmetric relationships and cases in which groups of people are socially excluded or alienated. Wolff argues that we ought to pay more attention to status inequalities and less attention to distributive inequalities. Over the last few days, I’ve been pondering Wolff’s case and its connection with a¬†broader conflict between two different forms of leftism. One is an older left wing tradition that views the economic system as the fundamental source¬†of most forms of inequality, and the other is focused more on identity politics and pays less attention to class issues.¬†In recent years, these two parts of leftism have found themselves more and more at odds with one another. This is dangerous–infighting within the left diminishes its ability to build broad solidaristic coalitions, making it weaker and less politically influential. So how can these two sides be appropriately reconciled, and if they cannot be reconciled, which side should we choose?

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