What you advocate in your essay at Social Europe, For A European Political Economy Of Trust  could very easily be called Neo-Liberalism Lite! The old order of Keynesian economics, the dreaded Welfare State, and other such anachronisms don’t appeal to a generation Neo-Liberal technocrats, who have embedded themselves into positions of power as bureaucrats and or dependable members of the ‘Press’: Martin Wolf, Gideon Rachman, Edward Luce at The Financial Times or David Brooks, Arthur C. Brooks , (president of AEI), and Thomas Friedman at The New York Times, the paper of record!
One finds the idea of trusting Robber Capital, as utterly naive, or just disingenuous, given the Collapse of 2008, and the current state of Western Economies. Although the 1% are doing very well, there has been no ‘trickle down’! Lethargic fails to adequately describe the problem, for the 99%! For me the Brexit was about the fact that the EU will not ‘fix’ itself, because Merkel and her political capo, the European Central Bank, can’t confront the fact that four times in the 20th Century Germany defaulted:
Friedman’s speech:

Click to access friedman.pdf

The moral high-ground is a mole hill!
Ms. Tett’s column of 2015 reporting on Benjamin Friedman’s after dinner address is revelatory of the German/ECB self-serving myopia. And Yanis Varoufakis’ telling observation that the EU started as a cartel with the trappings of democracy describes the problem of the EU with telling accuracy. But J.G.A. Pocock’s comment in The London Review of Books is perhaps the shortest and most cogent summation:

J.G.A. Pocock

Profoundly anti-democratic and anti-constitutional, the EU obliges you to leave by the only act it recognises: the referendum, which can be ignored as a snap decision you didn’t really mean. If you are to go ahead, it must be by your own constitutional machinery: crown, parliament and people; election, debate and statute. This will take time and deliberation, which is the way decisions of any magnitude should be taken.

The Scots will come along, or not, deciding to live in their own history, which is not what the global market wants us to do. Avoid further referendums and act for yourselves as you know how to act and be.


Not to forget Amartya Sen’s essay at the NewStatesman, a man and thinker I greatly admire for his Identity and Violence , a book that is a brilliantly argued rejoinder to Huntington’s WASP paranoia of The Clash of Civilizations. I may not agree with his European Idealism, he is deserving of a dispassionate reading.

It cannot be said that the European ­Union is doing particularly well at this time. Its economic performance has been mostly terrible, with high unemployment and low economic expansion, and the political union itself is showing many signs of fragility. It is not hard to understand the temptation of many in Britain to call it a day and “go home”. And yet it would be a huge mistake for Britain to leave the EU. The losses would be great, and the gains quite puny. And the “home” to go back to no longer exists in the way it did when Britannia ruled the waves.

We live in a thoroughly interdependent world, nowhere more so than in Europe. The contemporary prosperity of Europe – and elsewhere, too – draws on extensive use of economic interconnections. While the unacceptable poverty and inequality that persist in much of the world, including Britain, certainly call for better-thought-out public engagement, the problems can be addressed better without getting isolated from the largest economy next door. The remarkable joint statement aired recently, by a surprisingly large number of British economists, of many different schools, that Brexit would be an enormous economic folly, reflects an appreciation of this glaring reality. Apart from trade and economic exchange with Europe itself, Britain is currently included in a large number of global agreements as a part of the European Union. Britain can do a lot – for itself and for Europe – to correct some of the big mistakes of European economic policies.

The Brexit-wallahs, if I may call the enthusiasts that (without, I hasten to add, any disrespect), sometimes respond to concerns of the kind I have been expressing with the reply that Britain can surely retain the economic interconnections with Europe, and through Europe, even without being in the European Union. “Isn’t that what Norway largely did?” Norway has certainly done well, and deserves credit for it. But the analogy does not really work, not just because Britain is a huge economy in a way Norway is not, but much more importantly because quitting is not at all the same thing as not joining. Britain’s extensive economic ties with Europe, and a great many EU trade agreements that go beyond Europe in the multilateral global economy, are well established now and disentanglement would be a very costly process – a challenge that Norway did not have to face.






About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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1 Response to @AAzmanova

  1. Albena Azmanova says:

    Thank you for your detailed commentary. I agree with much of what you argue, and the talk I recently gave at the British Academy (http://www.britac.ac.uk/video/albena-azmanova-idea-europe-and-political-economy-trust) is in this spirit — namely that by institutionalising the imperative for economic competitiveness to trump all other considerations, the EU is committed to what I call a ‘socially irresponsible rule’. On this, see also my piece in Law and Critique here: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10978-012-9112-y

    However, I do not think that the current infatuation with national sovereignty and even national democracy will deliver a solution. And my piece in Social Europe is an attempt to seek a solution by way of a reconstruction of a European Social Model on EU level, avoiding the traps of the Welfare State (that created labour market insiders it protected at the expense of other groups), as well as neoliberlism, which offloads all risks to society.

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