Red Diaper Marxist Tony Judt ..

still railing at Hayek after all these years:


Like the prophets, Judt likes to resort to homily: “We know what things cost but have no idea what they are worth.” He also approvingly quotes Tocqueville, who laments that people fear “every new theory as a danger, every innovation as a toilsome trouble.” But after delivering his broadsides against “market radicals” from Mandeville to Hayek, Judt offers a very old idea: the “virtue of collective action for the collective good.”

To get there, Judt has to shoot a goodly number of straw men. Not even manic market radicals believe, as Judt avers, that private interest will produce enough public goods — like public education or an interstate highway system. Who in the United States (except on the fringes of thought) insists that “any one person could be completely ‘self-made’?”

And here:

Judt moved into the substance of his talk, “What Is Living and What Is Dead in Social Democracy?” Judt called attention to America’s and Europe’s worship of efficiency, wealth, free markets, and privatization. We live, he said, in a world shaped by a generation of Austrian thinkers—the business theorist Peter Drucker, the economists Friedrich A. von Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and Joseph Schumpeter, and the philosopher Karl Popper—who witnessed liberalism’s collapse in the face of fascism and concluded that the best way to defend liberalism was to keep government out of economic life. “If the state was held at a safe distance,” Judt said, “then extremists of right and left alike would be kept at bay.” Public responsibilities have been drastically shifted to the private sector. Americans and, to a lesser extent, Europeans have forgotten how to think politically and morally about economic choices, Judt warned, his fragile, British-accented voice growing louder. To abandon the gains made by social democrats—the New Deal, the Great Society, the European welfare state—”is to betray those who came before us as well as generations yet to come.”

The lecture, which lasted nearly two hours, yoked together a few themes that have long preoccupied Judt: the role of intellectuals and ideas in political life, and the failure of both Americans and Europeans to understand and learn from the past century ..

And here:

“Judt stresses that when the state is the problem rather than the answer (Reagan) and when there is no society, only individuals and families (Thatcher), inequality flourishes, security vanishes and for masses of citizens life chances narrow. He pulls no punches in asserting that the policies implemented by Reagan and Thatcher, policies based on the ideas of the émigré Austrian economists Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek (and promoted by the Chicago “boys,” most notably Milton Friedman), made the United States and Great Britain the two most unequal societies, the two economies most dominated by an unregulated financial sector, and the two nations with the most dilapidated public sector in the advanced world. Judt indicts the Anglo-American exponents of rational unregulated markets—whose epigones in finance ran wild—for causing the economic collapse of 2008 and nearly bringing on a second global Great Depression.”

One more review here.

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2 Responses to Red Diaper Marxist Tony Judt ..

  1. Troy Camplin says:

    Seems to me that Reagan and Thatcher brought their countries considerable prosperity, which was squandered by the leaders who followed — and didn’t believe in those economic reforms. Of course, there was in fact a certain Keynesianism to Reagan’s deficit spending — and a certain Keynesianism to the low interest rates promoted by the Fed. The fact that the U.S. deviated considerably from Austrianism is the reason 2008 happened — and why we’re still in it, with no exit in sight.

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