Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: Keynesianism

Thomas Piketty is Not a Marxist

I subscribe to a weekly news magazine called The Week. It’s an excellent magazine highlighting the various things commentators have been saying in the popular press over the past week. In the most recent issue, however, I saw something strange. In the banner, there was a picture of Karl Marx, and the question “Is Marxism Back in Fashion?” This struck me as quite bizarre–I hadn’t seen any mention of Marx or Marxism in the last week. I turned to the relevant article and discovered that the controversy being highlighted was over Thomas Piketty’s new book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Many commentators, particularly those writing in right-leaning publications, were referring to Piketty and his work as Marxist (for an example, see Kyle Smith’s piece in the New York Post) This apparently is so uncontroversial that The Week felt comfortable guiding people to the story with a Marx reference. I found this extremely troubling, both because Piketty is most certainly not a Marxist and because the practice of calling all those with radical left-wing views “Marxist” is an attempt to straw man those leftists and prevent people from thinking seriously about their views. I’d like to elaborate on both themes today.

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A Critique of Radical Democracy

A lot of smart people recognize that there are serious structural problems with the current political system, but there is much disagreement on how those problems should be dealt with. While I have often argued for sophiarchism, in many corners radical democratic theory remains more popular. I’d like to offer an argument for rejecting, at least in part, what radical democratic theory has to offer. “Radical democratic theory” is a lengthy phrase, so, for our mutual convenience, I will refer to radical democratic theory as “Rad-Demism” and those who believe in radical democratic theory as “Rad-Dems”. Read the rest of this entry »

Conservatism Leads to Fascism

With a provocative title like this one, it’s best to get clear immediately not on what this piece is but on what it is not–I am not going to claim that there is really no difference between conservatives and fascists, or that conservatives are secret fascists, or in any way imply that if you are conservative you in any way shape or form an advocate for any of the policies of Adolf Hiter, Benito Mussolini, or like figures. What I wish to argue in this piece is that conservative economic policies generate conditions that favor the rise of extreme-right fascist parties and that economic conservatism indirectly and unintentionally increases the risk that fascist states will arise.

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Reshoring: China vs. The Robots

There’s a bit of a disconnect between international relations theory people and economic theory people. It is rare that a single person finds himself facile with both disciplines and this tends to introduce blind spots in thinking. One of the biggest blind spots concerns the future role of manufacturing in geopolitics. Many people believe that cheap wages in places like China will ensure a strong US-China trading relationship and reduce the chance of future security competition. They think China will rise peacefully. These people are missing an important economic trend–the decreasing relevancy of the US-China wage gap and the inevitability of “reshoring”, the relocation of manufacturing back into the rich countries from whence it came.

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The Assimilation of François Hollande is Complete

We are the Borg. Your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own. Resistance is futile.

If the French thought their 2012 election of socialist François Hollande over former president Nicolas Sarkozy meant that they would have their Keynes and avoid austerity, they have been proven fatally wrong. Hollande has just announced plans for a €50 billion austerity package, a cut of 4% of France’s GDP. He has promised to cut taxes on businesses by €30 billion, but this will come in the form of the elimination of a requirement that French businesses fund a family welfare program. Based on the IMF’s multiplier estimate for depressed economies (1.5), France will lose 6% in potential GDP growth over the next 3 years under this plan, potentially resulting in a new French recession. Hollande’s argument for this plan betrays a stunning incompetence on economic matters and illustrates that French voters have been played–there was no democratic alternative to Sarkozy in 2012.

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