An investment advisor argues that the impact of the supply side and neoliberal revolutions (which challenged the older Keynesian paradigm that came out of the Great Depression) era have produced a backlash evidenced by the rise of “populism” (economic nationalism) on the right and the return of social democracy on the left. That does seem to be the case but, unfortunately, it doesn’t fundamentally change the terms of the economic debate. The standard “socialism vs capitalism” dichotomy is a false one which amounts to arguing about whether the king and his ministers, or the aristocrats and nobles, should have the greatest amount of control over the economy, as if they are not all part of the same ruling class. A similar false dichotomy exists among so-called “extremists,” i.e. proponents of proletarian-based “national socialism” and class/religious/cultural genocide vs. proponents of ethnic-based “national socialism” and ethnic/racial/national genocide.
By Shane Oliver
When I was in my early 20s I thought socialism might be the way to go. Two things happened. One I studied economics which led me to the conclusion that socialism/heavy state intervention doesn’t lead to the best outcome in terms of living standards for most. Second, I had the benefit of a trip to the USSR before it and the eastern bloc disintegrated. It must have been Paul McCartney’s faux Beach Boys’, “Back in the USSR” that got me interested! Sure the history and scenery were fantastic and I like the fact that I saw it before the wall came down – but economically it was a mess. And trying to spend excess roubles before we left the USSR was a struggle (nothing but off chocolate to spend them on). “Socialism” seemed to work a bit better in the Deutsche Democratic Republic – but not really and it was a relief to come through Checkpoint Charlie knowing decent food (McDonald’s) was waiting.