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Martell Spy

The Future of Neoliberalism

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Posted (edited)
27 minutes ago, Martell Spy said:

He definitely could have pulled the U.S. out with a 6 month delay.

No, he couldn't.  NAFTA, unlike most trade agreements, was passed by Congress rather than an executive agreement (which is a unilateral action the presidency can abolish at will) or even the lesser legal authority of a "non-binding political commitment" like Obama's Iran deal.  If he specifically violated the legislation, which he certainly would have by unilaterally withdrawing, Congress could easily take him to court.  See here:

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CRS concludes that an agreement requiring changes to federal law or that otherwise makes major changes to NAFTA would likely require congressional assent. The Constitution gives Congress specific authority over international trade, and free trade agreements have historically been approved and implemented as congressional-executive agreements by a majority vote of the House and Senate. Congress approved NAFTA, so major changes to it would arguably require legislative approval. Furthermore, the president arguably lacks the authority to terminate the domestic effect of federal statutes implementing NAFTA without going through the full legislative process for repeal.

The president could argue that he may amend NAFTA without congressional approval if such amendments do not require changes to U.S. statutory law. However, the report states, in that event Congress’s enactment of a resolution expressing its opposition to the amended agreement might make a court more likely to refrain from giving it legal effect.

The fact that Trump reached a broad bipartisan agreement rather than challenging this generally held belief suggests his administration was not confident in securing support from the courts and even intraparty leaders in Congress (many of whom would have significant issues with any president unilaterally withdrawing from a free trade agreement).

Edited by DMC
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Posted (edited)
39 minutes ago, DMC said:

No, he couldn't.  NAFTA, unlike most trade agreements, was passed by Congress rather than an executive agreement (which is a unilateral action the presidency can abolish at will) or even the lesser legal authority of a "non-binding political commitment" like Obama's Iran deal.  If he specifically violated the legislation, which he certainly would have by unilaterally withdrawing, Congress could easily take him to court.  See here:

The fact that Trump reached a broad bipartisan agreement rather than challenging this generally held belief suggests his administration was not confident in securing support from the courts and even intraparty leaders in Congress (many of whom would have significant issues with any president unilaterally withdrawing from a free trade agreement).

Yeah, but a true believer would at the very least put up a Rand Paul style hissy fit and get sued. I don't doubt that his advisers and party were telling him not to do it and opposing him. They were telling him not to do the tariffs and he did them anyway. 

Congress could probably rein in the Executive's ability to levy tariffs, too. I don't believe they have done so successfully yet.

Edited by Martell Spy

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4 minutes ago, Martell Spy said:

Yeah, but a true believer would at the very least put up a Rand Paul style hissy fit and get sued.

I think Trump gets sued and puts up hissy fits enough for any president. 

Like I said, I don't find it too useful to try to discern whether Trump is a "true believer" on anything (but himself, of course), but his administration still tried to make NAFTA more protectionist/anti-free trade - for two years.  They simply failed, whereas Pelosi's extraction of concessions led to bipartisan agreement.

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4 minutes ago, DMC said:

I think Trump gets sued and puts up hissy fits enough for any president. 

Like I said, I don't find it too useful to try to discern whether Trump is a "true believer" on anything (but himself, of course), but his administration still tried to make NAFTA more protectionist/anti-free trade - for two years.  They simply failed, whereas Pelosi's extraction of concessions led to bipartisan agreement.

And on that we can agree.

BTW unless something happened later, it looks like the main result on the tariffs was Congress passing a nonbinding resolution urged by Jeff Flake. 

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On 5/17/2020 at 8:02 AM, DMC said:

I'm not as optimistic.  One would have thought the Great Depression would have done the trick.  Milton Friedman may have famously exclaimed "we're all Keynesians now," but a conservative revolution dismantling such work promptly proceeded - with his concepts at the forefront. 

But who knows?  Maybe you're right, marijuana legalization is one example, but also same-sex marriage going from a successful wedge issue for the GOP to get Dubya reelected in 2004 to the vast majority of the electorate accepting SCOTUS legalizing it less than a decade later.  One reason I'd caution against that is "neoliberalism," which I agree with others is ill-defined, is an entrenched interest of the elites.  Ultimately they don't really care if people can legally get high or marry who they choose, but they definitely care about the global economic system.

Actually, there is a pretty decent argument that the main reason drugs are illegal is because the elite didn't want a really cheap, easy way for the masses to be happy which involved them not working for the elite.  

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5 minutes ago, ants said:

Actually, there is a pretty decent argument that the main reason drugs are illegal is because the elite didn't want a really cheap, easy way for the masses to be happy which involved them not working for the elite.  

Well, I did say ultimately.  Also, when it comes to marijuana, the elite's have a lot of financial incentive to legalize it then the proceeds can become corporatized rather than directed towards the black market.  What legalization conflicts with is the motive to incarcerate and criminalize as many young minority males as possible.

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12 hours ago, Rippounet said:

I think one should also underline the fact that the core of neo-liberalism is not free movement of goods or people.

As long as there is free movement of capital, neo-liberalism is perfectly compatible with all forms of nationalism.
Or to put it differently, as long as nations have no teeth, they will not harm the concentration of wealth/capital/power, because they are effectively competing for said capital/wealth/power.

Oh, free movement of capital is an integral component of neoliberalism, but so is goods and people. It's why I'm one of those weird old leftist relics who dislikes the EU.

However, the fact remains that Capitalists are much more tolerant of the Right restricting their behaviour than the Left - as long as the wealth of the elite is protected, and unions busted, they honestly don't mind a bit of socially conservative autarky.

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15 hours ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

If I were being rather more cynical, I'd suggest that Social Democracy died along with the Soviet Bloc - Fear of Communism was a great way of buttressing the old Welfare State.

If I were being even more cynical, I'd suggest that the past twelve years have shown that neoliberalism won't fall to the Left. It will fall to the Right.

I don't know enough about economics but to my understanding some problems of the postwar "consumerist social democracy" appeared already in the early 1970s (changes in the money system, oil crisis etc.) and Thatcherianism and Reagonomics preceded the fall of the Iron Curtain by almost a decade. So the latter was more like the last nail in a coffin.

As for the second point, a large part of the right is liberal/libertarian. As others have pointed out capitalism was fine in Chile (the Chicago boys prime advisors to General Pinochet). But I think right now the division of the right into traditionalist, nationalist, libertarian etc. mostly serves as "divide and conquer" in favor of the status quo, in a similar fashion to the division of the left into the "old left" focussed on economics and the new postmodern focussed on diversity. (That some factions in all of them are batshit crazy is another hindrance to positive change)

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10 hours ago, Altherion said:

A subsidy for the crisis is a different matter -- even the US (which is definitely not left-wing by European standards) has decided to go this route. You can certainly replace the current safety net with a universal basic income, but it would not be very large and a lot of people (mainly retirees) would be getting less than they're getting now.

My understanding is that it is indeed a subsidy. There's an article on BBC News about it, but it's rather lacking in actual figures or precise information (mainly because it's simply not available, the Spanish government has not been forthcoming).

 

I think I'd personally favor replacing the current safety net with a universal basic income, though I do understand people who might be getting less opposing it. As I said, the amount of social workers and bureaucrats in the public sector which would become redundant (and thus the potential, if eventual, savings) would be very large.

 

In general I would agree that most left-wing parties (certainly Podemos) operate within the frame of a capitalist social-democracy, whether that is neoliberalism or not is a different question.

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14 hours ago, DMC said:

Yes, there has been a broad shift among Democrats when it comes to immigration attitudes, albeit that started well before Trump came onto the political scene.

Interesting. Do you know if there is similar data on Democrat's or left's, in general, attitude towards free trade?

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2 minutes ago, OldGimletEye said:

Interesting. Do you know if there is similar data on Democrat's or left's, in general, attitude towards free trade?

Sure.  If you're ever looking for public opinion, just type in the major search terms and "gallup," and you'll probably get it.  Or Pew.

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2 minutes ago, DMC said:

Sure.  If you're ever looking for public opinion, just type in the major search terms and "gallup," and you'll probably get it.  Or Pew.

Thanks. I guess I could have looked it up, but I'm extremely lazy. Sorry about that.

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10 minutes ago, OldGimletEye said:

Thanks. I guess I could have looked it up, but I'm extremely lazy. Sorry about that.

No worries.  It wasn't the greatest link, could probably find something better, but I'm lazy too.  That first item concerning "opportunity for economic growth" vs. "threat to the economy" is...let's just say not one I'd use.

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3 hours ago, DMC said:

Sure.  If you're ever looking for public opinion, just type in the major search terms and "gallup," and you'll probably get it.  Or Pew.

Interesting to see the Democratic Party becoming more pro-trade, even surpassing Republicans. Of course before the New Deal, the Democratic Party was the party that generally supported free trade over the Republican Party.
Of course, back in those days a large part of the Democratic Party's base were farmers. Farmers generally supported free trade as a significant amount of their profits came selling their commodities in foreign markets. According to the Heckscher-Ohlin model, a country's export patterns depend on the factors that are relatively abundant. The United States of course has a lot of land, which for obvious reasons is a major factor input for the production of agricultural commodities.
As workers from industry became part of the Democratic Party's base, it began to become more suspicious about free trade.
As trade became more open, in the United States, arguably the factor that the United States had relatively more in abundance was skilled labor, ie, people with college degrees. This means that the United States should have, and probably, did export more goods made with skilled labor and imported more goods from unskilled labor. Amplifying the situation was likely the decision of many firms to invest in technology in order to better compete internationally. The point is that if you had a college degree, likely you benefited from trade, at least more so than those without.
By now, I think it is widely agreed that educational attainment is a big predictor of whether a given person leans right or left. The point is with education being a big predictor of whether somebody votes right or left, perhaps it ought not be too surprising, that the Democratic Party has evolved into being more pro-trade. Of course, not everyone in the Democratic Party or in left wing parties, in general, have a college degree, but their more vocal support for free trade might persuaded others in their parties.

Of course some of the recent upward swing for trade might be due to anti-Trumpism, but it looks like it started to trend upward before Trump.
 

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i associate neoliberalism with bipartisan 'washington consensus' policies:  trade and investment liberalization, privatization, deregulation, and so on--which come to their apex in structural adjustment programs as backed by militaristic "humanitarian intervention"--mailed gauntlet over the invisible hand.

one might propose that something like clay's 'american system' be set in place for those states that need it, whereas developed states should be subject to free trade discipline, with free movement of persons so that people can follow extraction from the periphery back to the imperial center.

rightwing complaining about free trade is always comical--as though the US  were somehow getting abused by lesser trading partners when it runs a chronic 12-figure balance of payments deficit.

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5 hours ago, OldGimletEye said:

The point is that if you had a college degree, likely you benefited from trade, at least more so than those without.
By now, I think it is widely agreed that educational attainment is a big predictor of whether a given person leans right or left.

Interesting intuition.  Sounds like a great research question/project.  In fact considering how bored I am I might steal it.  Don't worry, I'll be sure to cite "OGE" in the acknowledgements.

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Posted (edited)
On 5/19/2020 at 12:59 AM, Altherion said:

I'm not saying they are not left-wing populists, I'm saying that they are not a threat to neoliberalism. In fact, both right-wing and left-wing populists have ideas which, if they were actually put into policy, would reduce the wealth of billionaires. The populist left often campaigns on basically bringing taxation closer to its mid-20th century state (by dramatically increasing taxes on the wealthy) whereas the populist right often campaigns on bringing labor closer to its mid-20th century state (by restricting immigration, outsourcing and international trade). However, these are never the only goals of either side and on the rare occasions when these populists actually gain power, these goals are almost always set aside until some indefinite future time.

There's some truth in this. Nonetheless, not being a threat and not being an alternative are two different things.
It's true neither left-wing populism nor right-wing populism are a threat to neo-liberalism by themselves. In a way this is just aknowledging that alternative ideological models do not easily overthrow the dominant one. History tells us you need combinations of factors to act as catalysts for major change.
The 2008 crisis or GFC was one of such factors, because the crisis and the governments' responses exposed neoliberalism (which wasn't exactly well-known before) for what it is. That fueled populisms and brought us here, in a world quite different to pre-2008. You can say it's not enough to topple neoliberalism, and you'll be correct. But if we're talking about the future, as the title of the thread implies, then all bets are off.
The heart of the matter is that neoliberalism has lost is legitimacy (not that it had much to begin with). But an ideology or regime can stay in place without legitimacy for decades.
I think the issue behind the question about the "future of neoliberalism" is what the next decades are going to look like, what a world in which the dominant ideology is no longer legitimate. Based on history we have an answer to that I would say: turmoil and strife on the one hand, propaganda and authoritarianism on the other.

Edited by Rippounet

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15 hours ago, DMC said:

Interesting intuition.  Sounds like a great research question/project.  In fact considering how bored I am I might steal it.  Don't worry, I'll be sure to cite "OGE" in the acknowledgements.

You can just say "OGE was too busy eating twinkies to bother with it. So I had to do it." Let me know what you find, if you do it, I'd be interested in any empirical results.

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Hmmm... Are both of you too lazy to google or do I misunderstand what you're talking about? :P

http://piketty.pse.ens.fr/files/Piketty2019.pdf

Quote

In this paper, I have used French, US and British post-electoral surveys covering the 1948-2017 period in order to document a striking long-run evolution in the structure of political cleavages. In the 1950s-1960s, the vote for left-wing (socialist-labour-democratic) parties was associated with lower education and lower income voters. It has gradually become associated with higher education voters, giving rise to a “multiple-elite” party system in the 2000s-2010s: high-education elites now vote for the “left”, while high-income/high-wealth elites still vote for the “right” (though less and less so). I have argued that this can contribute to explain rising inequality and the lack of democratic response to it, as well as the rise of “populism”. In effect, globalization and educational expansion have created new dimensions of inequality and conflict, leading to the weakening of previous class-based redistributive coalitions and the gradual breakdown of the postwar left-right party system

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2018/11/education-gap-explains-american-politics/575113/

Quote

 

According to exit polls, 61 percent of non-college-educated white voters cast their ballots for Republicans while just 45 percent of college-educated white voters did so. Meanwhile 53 percent of college-educated white voters cast their votes for Democrats compared with 37 percent of those without a degree.

The diploma divide, as it’s often called, is not occurring across the electorate; it is primarily a phenomenon among white voters. It’s an unprecedented divide, and is in fact a complete departure from the diploma divide of the past. Non-college-educated white voters used to solidly belong to Democrats, and college-educated white voters to Republicans. Several events over the past six decades have caused these allegiances to switch, the most recent being the candidacy, election, and presidency of Donald Trump.

 

There's lots of those lying around... Unless you want to find a correlation with trade (its benefits) specifically?

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correlation with trade (its benefits) specifically?

that's how i read the hypothesis.  

what are the quantitative metrics or qualitative criteria for this project? 

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