Join 3,564 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


the new humanism and socialism? developing human and social 'capital'...
January 8, 2012 12:33 PM   Subscribe

The Future of History (non-gated, summary): Many have noted that democracy [1,2,3] does not often sit well with capitalism [1,2,3], but Foreign Affairs argues in its latest issue that, while the ideological battle was won in the 20th century, the challenge of 21st is one of implementation -- how to make liberal democracy work.

Francis Fukuyama's (blog) prescription for "healthy middle-class societies and robust democracies":
It would have to have at least two components, political and economic. Politically, the new ideology would need to reassert the supremacy of democratic politics over economics and legitimate anew government as an expression of the public interest. But the agenda it put forward to protect middle-class life could not simply rely on the existing mechanisms of the welfare state. The ideology would need to somehow redesign the public sector, freeing it from its dependence on existing stakeholders and using new, technology-empowered approaches to delivering services. It would have to argue forthrightly for more redistribution and present a realistic route to ending interest groups’ domination of politics. [1,2,3]
BONUS
  • Why conservatives can't get people to work hard: "People respond to incentives, and they are risk averse. A winner-take-all society is not very conducive to hard work; I'm not going to bust my butt for 30 years for a 1% shot at getting into The 1%. But I am going to bust my butt for 30 years if I think this gives me a 90% chance of having a decent house, a family, some security, a reasonably pleasant job, a dog, and a couple of cars in my garage. An ideal middle-class society is one in which everyone, not just anyone, can get ahead via hard work."
  • A Failed Social Model: Providing Basic Goods Through Crushing Consumer Debt: Alex Gourevitch, who is a postdoctoral research associate at the Political Theory Project at Brown University and blogs at the currentmoment, has a great post at New Deal 2.0: A Failed Social Model: Providing Basic Goods Through Crushing Consumer Debt. He details how access to a variety of basic merit goods ranging from education to health care are now provided through consumer debt and the consequences of this new social model... Progressives really should have the upper-hand when it comes to freedom in these areas. This goes beyond 'submerging' the state in a series of private incentives. It goes to what kinds of claims we make as citizens. [1,2,3]
Noahpinion is, btw, testing the job market for economists...
posted by kliuless (12 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Why conservatives can't get people to work hard

All of Area Man's Hard Work Finally Pays Off For Employer
posted by briank at 12:38 PM on January 8, 2012 [14 favorites]


If The Man really wants people to have stable lives, homes, and communities, the people have to have stable jobs and earn enough to pay for all that. Put simply, that means no laying them off, closing the plant, and shipping all the jobs overseas so you can take a trip to Davos this year, you assholes!
posted by ob1quixote at 1:11 PM on January 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


I've probably spent too long in the social sciences, but this type of essay seems very odd to me now. It's just a long series of assertions. Why should I believe any of it? He just states "democracy does x," "the left wing has failed due to Y," etc, etc. I guess the success of such essays lies in the proportion of readers who nod in agreement with each of these bald assertions. But with neither argument nor documented facts, what am I supposed to learn from such things?
posted by chortly at 1:17 PM on January 8, 2012 [12 favorites]


But with neither argument nor documented facts, what am I supposed to learn from such things?

Logical question. Something I, myself, used to ask.

Now I just start with the question: Where is capitalism working well for the whole society? I haven't been able to find a place, either.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:30 PM on January 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Anonymous said...

Beatings will continue until morale improves.

posted by ovvl at 4:19 PM on January 8, 2012


this type of essay seems very odd to me now.

I read the essay as Fukuyama testing his overaching argument (that liberal democracy is the natural and necessary end-state of society as per The End of History) against recent developments.

Fukuyama is calling for an on-the-surface-plausible strawman alternative to liberal democracy to emerge and be defeated so the "hegemony of liberal democratic ideology" can be renewed, with the presumption that this will then restablish the End of History regardless of actual world events. He rules out the Chinese model as a viable candidate because culture. The essay is not about whether capitalism and democracy work together.

To me, the FPP is a really weird mismash of ideas and thoughts from a variety of sources - kliuless, what was the overall theme or discussion you were going for here?
posted by kithrater at 5:03 PM on January 8, 2012


Now I just start with the question: Where is capitalism working well for the whole society? I haven't been able to find a place, either.

Outside of fictional idealistic polemics (such as Ayn Rands finest) does any other system work better for a larger percentage? If so I don't know of it (and would be happy to hear about).

Capitalism seems to work well with the nature of man, even better if that nature is guided by a good moral education (not religious-just a strong education in empathy, fairness and a society that values the same) and a healthy regulatory environment, including a simple tax system and well functioning judicial system. We need to work on the last two. The problem isn't capitalism as such, just letting the inmates run the asylum.
posted by bartonlong at 5:47 PM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


is this a good place to put a Parecon link?
posted by eustatic at 8:23 PM on January 8, 2012


I've probably spent too long in the social sciences, but this type of essay seems very odd to me now. It's just a long series of assertions.

that's because it's an op-Ed type essay. Academic historical essays read like this:

Assertion. Evidence, more evidence, a quote for evidence, three more examples of this phenomenon, with a note that these are just three examples from x-hundred data-points you've collected.

But this does make for dry reading, and careful, reasoned and well-supported assertions - and that doesn't sell papers.
posted by jb at 9:50 PM on January 8, 2012


Now I just start with the question: Where is capitalism working well for the whole society? I haven't been able to find a place, either.

Depends if you want to cling to the humanistic illusion that everybody is "equal" and the is some form of social and economic equilibrium in society.

Some form of "advantage" and "redistribution" will always occur, so will the formation of different layers in society.

The questions should rather be:

1. How do we handle Differences between People? What kind of Balance do we want to achieve or Imbalances do we allow?

2. Do we support Social Mobility and create a "fair" starting ground for all youngsters or not? If not, who pays for it?

3. Do we reward exceptional skills, talents, ideas and hard work? (Does it pay off to work hard, study and run a business?)

4. Do we accept hereditary or accumulative effects of wealth? (Once you have money it's currently much easier to make more thanks to an overblown "interest model" of western capitalism)

5. How do we deal with Failure, Sickness and unfortunate Events of an Individual? Who pays for it? (Social Insurance, Unemployment, Medical Care - but also Laziness, Anti-Social-Behaviour etc.)

I personally think all that talk about a "new system" and getting rid of Capitalism is non-sense. The main problem was that since the 1980's thanks to Ronnie & Maggie the Priests of Greed & Money got the upper hand. The "normal people" didn't care enough about their own future to really engage in Politics, instead they handed over all power and responsibility to a Political and Economic Elite. Now they are pissed, that the Elite didn't give a shit about ignorant citizens.

Western Capitalist Societies have become bloated in the last 60 years, it's time to readjust some ideas and concepts, re-engage citizens, redistribute Wealth and Power.
posted by homodigitalis at 12:20 AM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


it's kind of buried in the penultimate link, but i think matthew yglesias is worth repeating:
There’s something very strange about the fact that two persistent worries I hear about the advance of technology are that robot labor will be able to replace human labor in market production and also that digital copying will make it impossible to get paid to create cultural products. Well, if robots are able to drastically eliminate the need to pay human beings to provide physical goods and services, then there’ll be plenty of people with plenty of time and their hands to create cultural goods for free.

We’re talking about a future in which there’s neither a shortage of goods nor a shortage of people. We’re talking, in other words, about utopia. For whatever reason, optimism is coded as a rightwing attitude in the contemporary United States, but people with their origins on the right ought to recognize these trends as the abundance of goods that makes it both possible and necessary to transcend capitalism and move to a world of from each according to his abilities to each according to his needs. Market exchange is a response to scarcity, and in many domains we’re moving past scarcity.

Our main troubles come not from these fields impacted by technological change but precisely from those areas where we do face scarcity but aren’t applying market price mechanisms. The atmosphere, for example, has only so much capacity to absorb carbon dioxide emissions. Only so many cars can fit on the 101 at rush hour. Pricing those things would improve quality of life and generate some of the revenue we need to build utopia.
and speaking of price mechanisms...
posted by kliuless at 7:28 AM on January 9, 2012


btw, re: revenue, i quite like the idea of a progressive consumption taxation in general: "Applied properly, it would lead to simple steps that could liberate trillions of dollars in resources each year — enough to end perennial battles over budget deficits, restore our crumbling infrastructure and pay for the investments needed for a sustainable future. No painful sacrifices would be required. No cherished freedoms would be threatened. Just a few changes in the tax code would suffice..."

also on the investment side, there may be a growing consensus that the best 'return on capital' may be to (early-childhood) education, viz. Why Are Finland's Schools Successful?, cf. America’s Unlevel Field

oh and on that note 'creating cultural goods for free' :P

cheers!
posted by kliuless at 7:49 AM on January 9, 2012


« Older The Montreal Screwjob (part 1, part 2, aftermath) ...  |  After the success of 2008's In... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments