At The Economist : a comment on ‘A manifesto for renewing liberalism’ by Almost Marx

In celebration of its 175th anniversary The Economist, its Oxbridger editors, write about a  defense of the Liberal tradition that no longer exists, but remains the touchstone of Free Marketeers, who supplanted that tradition with the nihilism of the Neo-Liberal Swindle. The  headline and sub-headline offers what?

Headline:A manifesto for renewing liberalism

Sub-headline: Success turned liberals into a complacent elite. They need to rekindle their desire for radicalism

In the dismal tenth year marking the of Depression of 2008, and the failure  to appear of one of the central myths of the Neo-Liberal Theology of ‘The Self-Correcting Market’ this unconvincing propaganda intervention is aimed at a readership of plutocrats, oligarchs and their hangers on. When have ‘Liberals’ ever had a ‘desire for radicalism‘? Preposterous if not simply delusional! When all else fails appeal to the delusions of your readers!

The first two paragraphs open with a frontal attack on The Left, that perpetual threat to the 1%!

LIBERALISM made the modern world, but the modern world is turning against it. Europe and America are in the throes of a popular rebellion against liberal elites, who are seen as self-serving and unable, or unwilling, to solve the problems of ordinary people. Elsewhere a 25-year shift towards freedom and open markets has gone into reverse, even as China, soon to be the world’s largest economy, shows that dictatorships can thrive.

For The Economist this is profoundly worrying. We were created 175 years ago to campaign for liberalism—not the leftish “progressivism” of American university campuses or the rightish “ultraliberalism” conjured up by the French commentariat, but a universal commitment to individual dignity, open markets, limited government and a faith in human progress brought about by debate and reform.

How does this argued commitment to this ‘universal commitment to individual dignity, open markets, limited government and a faith in human progress brought about by debate and reform.’ manifest itself in Britain of the present day ?

Headline:Number of children in poverty surges by 100,000 in a year, figures show

Sub-headline: Government statistics show 4.1 million children now living in relative poverty compared with four million the previous year, accounting for more than 30 per cent of children

The number of children in poverty across the UK has surged by 100,000 in a year, new figures show, prompting calls for ministers to urgently review cuts to child welfare.

Government statistics published on Thursday show 4.1 million children are now living in relative poverty after household costs, compared with four million the previous year, accounting for more than 30 per cent of children in the country.

Compared to the overall population, children remained the most likely to be in relative poverty, at almost one in three compared with 21 per cent of working age adults and 16 per cent of pensioners.

The figures will fuel concerns that benefit cuts and tax credits under the Tory Government are seeing children hardest hit, with around one and a half million more under-18s forecasted to live in households below the relative poverty line by 2022.

Relative child poverty is measured as children living in homes where the income is 60 per cent of the median household income in the UK, adjusted for family size and after housing costs.

Separate government statistics published on Thursday show the number of households in temporary accommodation has surged 64 per cent since the Tories came to power in 2010, of which more than 2,000 had children.

Given the above, where might the reader place this claim of the Economist’s editors?

The share of people living below the threshold of extreme poverty has fallen from about 80% to 8% and the absolute number has halved, even as the total living above it has increased from about 100m to over 6.5bn.

The World perspective, as compared to the statistics of the country they live in, escapes the attention of the apologists, not for ‘Liberalism’, but for their championed Neo-Liberalism!

True liberals contend that societies can change gradually for the better and from the bottom up. They differ from revolutionaries because they reject the idea that individuals should be coerced into accepting someone else’s beliefs. They differ from conservatives because they assert that aristocracy and hierarchy, indeed all concentrations of power, tend to become sources of oppression.

Liberalism thus began as a restless, agitating world view. Yet over the past few decades liberals have become too comfortable with power. As a result, they have lost their hunger for reform. The ruling liberal elite tell themselves that they preside over a healthy meritocracy and that they have earned their privileges. The reality is not so clear-cut.

The Age of Democratic Revolution chronicled by R.R. Palmer was long neglected and the rise of Thatcher and Reagan, along with the complete surrender of New Labour in Britain led by Tony Blair,  and the New Democrats in America by headed by Bill Clinton was the ignominious end of ‘Liberalism’. This truth is avoided at all costs, by the Oxbridger editors of The Economist.

Quoting from both Freedom House, an American Government funded NGO, and the  notorious war mongering Neo-Conservative Robert Kagan, and its dull-witted swipe at Jeremy Corbyn, can’t emancipate this political genre from its obsolescence.  Who, in this day and age, thinks that a Manifesto has anything resembling cogency, its an antique idea if not practice . The perfect form for 1843! And the Oxbridger editors of this newspaper pay a maladroit homage to this anachronism.

The last three paragraphs of this essay amounts to more self-congratulation about the hoped for re-invigoration of ‘Liberalism’.

The best liberals have always been pragmatic and adaptable. Before the first world war Theodore Roosevelt took on the robber barons who ran America’s great monopolies. Although many early liberals feared mob rule, they embraced democracy. After the Depression in the 1930s they acknowledged that government has a limited role in managing the economy. Partly in order to see off fascism and communism after the second world war, liberals designed the welfare state.

Liberals should approach today’s challenges with equal vigour. If they prevail, it will be because their ideas are unmatched for their ability to spread freedom and prosperity. Liberals should embrace criticism and welcome debate as a source of the new thinking that will rekindle their movement. They should be bold and impatient for reform. Young people, especially, have a world to claim.

When The Economist was founded 175 years ago our first editor, James Wilson, promised “a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress.” We renew our pledge to that contest. And we ask liberals everywhere to join us.

An ersatz history made to measure is parsimoniously applied to the whole of this propaganda intervention.

Almost Marx



A. Androsin, thank you for your comment. I have not posted a comment here in quite a while, so I was reluctant to post a link to my entire comment, as it was quite long. My full comment is here:

On question one)
China is an example that renders null the idea that Capitalism must have a democratic base in order to succeed?

Question two)
‘Creation of wealth’ is and of itself a value? Or is the flourishing of all the citizens of the polity a more egalitarian notion?

Question three)
The premise of your question is that ‘Identity Politics’ the spectre that haunts respectable bourgeois pundits is first about a ‘politics’ that these authors don’t like . And that history tells us can unite i.e. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition!
It’s Timothy McVeigh. Not to worry the Republicans and the New Democrats were/are the midwives of Trump an absolute egoist and nihilist!

Question four)

Maxine Waters is as utterly corrupt as Speaker Pelosi, who is worth, as of 2014, 24 million!  Waters will not get her hands on nuclear weapons, the political nihilist/opportunist Trump is the one to worry about!




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.'
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