The Logic of the Left
My father had a phrase, "loud logic." This referred to a family argument in which the person in danger of losing would simply raise the volume. He was occasionally contrite, for this pattern was as true of his own behavior as much as anyone else.
Now the Tea Party is using "loud logic." Faced with no rational argument to defend the Reagan Revolution of tax cuts and shrinking government, they simply raise the volume.......along with vitriol and other devices aimed at intimidation and silencing rational discourse.
I think a way to understand this escalation of illogic is the "social structure of
accumulation" school (SSA) which was developed by David Gordon, Rick
Edwards, and Michael Reich (see Segmented Work, Divided Workers, 1982), and other left political economists (and more recently in a book co-edited by David M. Kotz, Michael Reich, and Terrence McDonough published by Cambridge University Press, 2010).
That is, there have been eras or regimes of policy in the Post-War U.S., oscillating between Hayek and Keynes. After the New Deal, there was the Cold War, the sixties activism, the 70s inflation, and the neo-liberal hegemony beginning in the 1980s (briefly interrupted by Clinton and Obama, who also adopted some of the same market-oriented terms for credibility). The neo-liberal strategy has been well described by David Harvey, as well as Kotz, Reich, and McDonough. The explanation is the falling rate of profit in the corporate sector in the 1970s, which led to a turn to financial profits and more forceful imposition of market discipline (called “coercion” by philosophers like C.B.MacPherson and anthropologists like Karl Polanyi). Harvey uses the term “expropriation by dispossession” to describe the process of privatization, where public sector assets are transferred to profit-making ventures. Outsourcing and the “Washington Consensus” have brought open capital markets and increasingly frequent international financial crises (see recent books by Joseph Stiglitz and Simon Johnson).
Now faced with the meltdown of the market model after the 2007 Great
Recession, the right is simply raising the volume, instead of considering more strict regulation of finance, greater investment in health and education, and expanding public access to the internet. Not content merely to allow the pendulum to swing back to Keynes, they are resisting every step of the way. Their “push back” policies are even closer to the Articles of Confederation than to classical liberalism.
The Tea Party rhetoric equates socialism with totalitarianism, as if Keynes were no different than Stalin. [To be fair, philosophers like Isiaih Berlin sound a similar note regarding the pitfalls of “positive freedom.”] And every additional penny of government spending is a sign of the inexorable slide to socialism, in their view.
The logic of the left needs to be reiterated: the true democrats are those who support conditions necessary for personal development, such as health, education, and welfare, as well as access to channels of public communication, like the internet.
In a time when the government has been captured by finance, the logic of “no government” has some appeal. But access to the conditions of life for all, that is better government, has positive effects on the economy as well as public morality.
These are the true voices of freedom and democracy, as well as community…..as Professor Wolff has himself written!