Old Socialist scoffs at Zanny Minton Beddoes’ collection of self-serving political cliches, in almost praise of a Joe Biden presidency.

Should any reader be surprised that Beddoes is an Oxbridger? It’s an Economist Tradition. Note this from the Economist:

Ms. Minton Beddoes joined The Economist in 1994 after spending two years as an economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), where she worked on macroeconomic adjustment programmes in Africa and the transition economies of Eastern Europe. Before joining the IMF, she worked as an adviser to the Minister of Finance in Poland, as part of a small group headed by Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Harvard University.

Wikipedia supplies more detailed information on Beddoes IMF responsibilities:

After graduation, she was recruited as an adviser to the Minister of Finance in Poland, in 1992,[3] as part of a small group headed by Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Harvard. She then spent two years as an economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), where she worked on macroeconomic adjustment programmes in Africa and the transition economies of Central and Eastern Europe.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zanny_Minton_Beddoes

Beddoes is member, in very good standing, of the Economic Elite, that is only reinforced by her service with the IMF. She worked with the ‘Shock Therapy’ obsessed Prof. Sachs, who now denies his toxic prescriptions, for implementing those destructive policies across Eastern Europe. See ‘Europe Since 1989: A History’ by Philipp Ther for a telling history of Sach’s destructive ideological fixsation.

Chapter 4: Getting on the Neoliberal Bandwagon

Chapter 5: Second-Wave Neoliberalism 

Beddoes being the first women to be the Editor of the Economist. She is a long time employee of the newspaper since 1994. Her ideological conformity is a proven political quantity. Reading the opening paragraph of her essay demonstrates that fact.

Some years loom large in history. Usually it is the end of a war or the onset of a revolution that punctuates the shift from one chapter to another. 2020 will be an exception. The defeat of Donald Trump marked the end of one of the most divisive and damaging presidencies in American history. A once-in-a-century pandemic has created the opportunity for an economic and social reset as dramatic as that of the Progressive era. The big question for 2021 is whether politicians are bold enough to grasp it.

Call this restrained political melodrama. She has been schooled, by that Economist team of Micklethwait & Wooldridge, that team of Economist Writers, who have proven to be the best re-write men in Journalism. Taking their shorter Economist articles and fleshing them out, into those best selling 400 page paperbacks.

Next:

Covid-19 has not just pummelled the global economy. It has changed the trajectory of the three big forces that are shaping the modern world. Globalisation has been truncated. The digital revolution has been radically accelerated. And the geopolitical rivalry between America and China has intensified. 

Then comes this astounding sentence, ever uttered by any editor of this reactionary newspaper:

At the same time, the pandemic has worsened one of today’s great scourges: inequality. 

One of the most enlightening aspects of reading ‘Liberalism at Large: The World According to the Economist’ by Alexander Zevin is that a self-serving political/moral hypocrisy is the very sine qua non of this newspaper. So Beddoes mention of inequality brings to mind:

From May 5th 2014

By R.A.

Headline: Thomas Piketty’s “Capital”, summarised in four paragraphs

Sub-headline: A very brief summary of “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”

It is the economics book that took the world by storm. Capital in the Twenty-First Century, written by the French economist Thomas Piketty, was published in French in 2013 and in English in March 2014. The English version quickly became an unlikely bestseller, and it prompted a broad and energetic debate on the book’s subject: the outlook for global inequality. Some reckon it heralds or may itself cause a pronounced shift in the focus of economic policy, toward distributional questions. The Economist hailed Professor Piketty as “the modern Marx” (Karl, that is). But what is his book all about?

https://www.economist.com/the-economist-explains/2014/05/04/thomas-pikettys-capital-summarised-in-four-paragraphs

And this:

May 3,2014

Headline: A modern Marx

Sub-headline: Thomas Piketty’s blockbuster book is a great piece of scholarship, but a poor guide to policy

WHEN the first volume of Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital” was published in 1867, it took five years to sell 1,000 copies in its original German. It was not translated into English for two decades, and this newspaper did not see fit to mention it until 1907. By comparison, Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” is an overnight sensation. Originally published in French (when we first reviewed it), Mr Piketty’s vast tome on income-and-wealth distribution has become a bestseller since the English translation appeared in March. In America it is the top-selling book on Amazon, fiction included.

The book’s success has a lot to do with being about the right subject at the right time. Inequality has suddenly become a fevered topic, especially in America. Having for years dismissed the gaps between the haves and have-nots as a European obsession, Americans, stung by the excesses of Wall Street, are suddenly talking about the rich and redistribution. Hence the attraction of a book which argues that growing wealth concentration is inherent to capitalism and recommends a global tax on wealth as the progressive solution.

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2014/05/03/a-modern-marx

To be fair R.A. published a revelatory set of essays on Piketty’s book. The first essay in this valuable set of commentaries on ‘Capital’.

LAST year Thomas Piketty, an economist at the Paris School of Economics and a renowned expert on global inequality, published a book titled “Capital in the Twenty-first Century”—in French. It will be released in English on March 10th. We reviewed the book earlier this year, but it is detailed and important enough, in our opinion, to deserve additional discussion. We will therefore be publishing a series of posts over the next few weeks—live-blogging the book, as it were—to draw out its arguments at slightly greater length. Starting today, with the book’s introduction.

Capital, as I will refer to Mr Piketty’s book from here on out, is an incredibly ambitious book. The author has self-consciously put the book forward as a companion to, and perhaps the intellectual equal of, Karl Marx’s Capital. Like Marx, Mr Piketty aims to provide a political economy theory of everything. More specifically, he attempts to re-establish distribution as the central issue in economics, and in doing so to reorient our perceptions of the trajectory of growth in the modern economic era. Mr Piketty’s great advantage in attempting all this, relative to past peers, is a wealth of data and analysis, compiled by himself and others over the last 15 or so years.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2014/02/book-clubs

This newspaper has never had any interest in ‘inequality’. Look at this depiction of Jeremy Corbyn, the foremost political reformer in British politics. Who attacked the very ‘inequality’ of both New Labour and the Tories, that Beddoes finds so compelling. This is pure political pose!

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2015/09/19/backwards-comrades

A selection of quotations from the Beddoes essay is instructive, of the level of political posturing, wedded to an unslakable hypocrisy-the very life-blood of this newspaper! As Beddoes moves from imperative to imperative, as she describes it, I will try to be brief and make some choices that will incite criticism:

On Globalization:

Although globalisation will still be about goods and capital crossing borders, people will travel less. The Asian countries that controlled the virus most effectively were also those that shut their borders most strictly. Their experience will shape others’ policies. Border restrictions and quarantines will stay in place long after covid-19 caseloads fall. And even after tourism restarts, migration will remain much harder. That will dent the prospects of poor countries that rely on flows of remittances from their migrant workers abroad, reinforcing the damage done by the pandemic itself. Some 150m people are likely to fall into extreme poverty by the end of 2021.

Global commerce will be conducted against an inauspicious geopolitical backdrop. Mr Trump’s mercurial mercantilism will be gone, but America’s suspicion of China will not end with the departure of “Tariff Man”, as the president was proud to be known. Tariffs, now levied on two-thirds of imports from China, will remain, as will restrictions on its technology companies. The splintering of the digital world and its supply chain into two parts, one Chinese-dominated and the other American-led, will continue. Sino-American rivalry will not be the only fissiparous influence on globalisation. Chastened by their reliance on imported medical supplies and other critical goods (often from China), governments from Europe to India will redefine the scope of “strategic industries” that must be protected. State aid to support this new industrial policy has become and will remain ubiquitous.

https://www.economist.com/the-world-ahead/2020/11/17/after-the-crisis-opportunity

On China:

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2018/10/04/chinese-investment-and-influence-in-europe-is-growing

With the West battered and China crowing, plenty of pundits (including in this publication) will declare the pandemic to be the death knell for a Western-led world order. That will prove premature. For all its “vaccine diplomacy”, China inspires fear and suspicion more than admiration. And for all his determination to bring China centre-stage, its president, Xi Jinping, shows little appetite for genuine global leadership. Although Mr Trump’s contempt for allies and forays into transactional diplomacy have shaken trust in the American-led global order, they have not destroyed it.

On Biden, as the political antidote to a ‘dangerous Leftism’ = Left-Wing Social Democrats. Medicare for all is not an integral part of ‘Bidenomics’ (Call this neologism what it is a dull-witted placeholder for actual argument)

But he could be just the right person. Mr Biden’s policy platform is ambitious enough. Behind the slogan of “build back better” is a bold, but not radical, attempt to marry short-term stimulus with hefty investment in green infrastructure, research and technology to dramatically accelerate America’s energy transformation. From expanding health-care access to improving social insurance, the social contract proposed by Bidenomics is a 21st-century version of the Progressive era: bold reform without dangerous leftism.

This selective quotation, from the final paragraph of Beddoes’ essay is less that enthusiastic about Biden, that descends into demotic moralizing.

… Mr Biden himself is too focused on repairing yesterday’s world rather than building tomorrow’s, and too keen to protect existing jobs and prop up ossified multilateral institutions to push for the kind of change that is needed. The biggest danger is not the leftist lurch that many Republicans fear—it is of inaction, timidity and stasis. For America and the world, that would be a terrible shame.

https://www.economist.com/the-world-ahead/2020/11/17/after-the-crisis-opportunity

Beddoes is like so many self-appointed political technocrats ,obsessed with ‘policy’, rather than what effect those policies have on human lives. Its ‘as if’ these technos are in a laboratory, rather than the unpredictable, and utterly ungovernable human world. This was called ‘Social Engineering’, in the days of the Soviets, but not a subject that the once ascendet Neo-Liberals, and their fellow travelers, would dare to broach about their own Utopianism, now in a state of ungovernable collapse.

Old Socialist

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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