A Foreign Policy for the Ruling Class!
I thought about calling this, “What’s the Economy Got to Do with It?” But rhetorical questions don’t seem to translate so well these days (maybe our brains are social media-addled). And the answer is obviously EVERYTHING!
I just released a new episode of the pod with Adam Dean and Tim Barker. Tim is an economic historian in the vein of a left-Adam Tooze, and one of the most prominent commentators on monetary, fiscal, and trade policy. Adam is a political scientist at George Washington University who just released a book that we talk about in this episode.
Full audio here.
Democracy against the people? There’s overwhelming evidence that developing democracies repressed labor in the most awful ways (including assassinations and mass preventive arrests) in order to plug into neoliberal globalization. That's what Adam's book documents in incredible detail, and with multiple methods.
Security dilemma, anyone? Military Keynesianism *might* provide economic stimulus (it's not obvious that it will). But without high labor union density--which we haven't had for generations--any prosperity that defense spending generates is likely to be hoarded rather than broadly shared. It will have a corrosive effect on our democracy. And it will create (is creating now) some pretty terrible strategic risks.
The East Asian development model is not really a thing anymore. Developing states today are facing a world with low long-term aggregate demand (“secular stagnation”) in most sectors of the economy, which means “emerging markets” have no ladder or value chain to climb. So send America your corruptly earned dollars, and America will use them to finance global military domination and distort the luxury real estate market. Nobody else in the story matters. The end.
Are we post-neoliberal? The biggest emerging cleavage between the left and center-left is going to be how we get past neoliberalism. Progressives and socialists with antiwar preferences know that investing in a bigger, badder national security state will be self-defeating for democracy itself. But progressives with an imperial tinge see national security investment as the only path to getting public goods. I call this dark-side progressivism, and hope to write about it more deeply at some point.
Is monetary policy killing Biden's agenda? Yes, and the question is why raise interest rates if doing so nullifies all the gains of US economic policy. The answer, of course, is that taming inflation serves plutocrats--even at the expense of a recession--better than it does workers. More people have debt than have savings, and inflation makes it easier to pay off debt. But screw people, amiright?