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Imagine an alternative universe in which the two major Cold War superpowers evolved into the United Soviet Socialist States. The conjoined entity, linked perhaps by a new Bering Straits land bridge, combines the optimal features of capitalism and collectivism. From Siberia to Sioux City, we’d all be living in one giant Sweden.

It sounds like either the paranoid nightmare of a John Bircher or the wildly optimistic dream of Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders.

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, however, this was a rather conventional view, at least among influential thinkers like economist John Kenneth Galbraith who predicted that the United States and the Soviet Union would converge at some point in the future with the market tempered by planning and planning invigorated by the market. Like many an academic notion, it didn’t come to pass. The United States veered off in the direction of Reaganomics. And the Soviet Union eventually collapsed. So much for “convergence theory,” which like EST or cold fusion went the way of most crackpot ideas.

Or did it? Take another look at our world in 2015 and tell me if, somehow we haven’t backed our way through the looking glass into that very alternative universe — with a twist. The planet currently seems to be on the cusp of a decidedly unharmonic convergence.

Consider what’s happening in Russia, where an elected autocrat presides over a free market shaped by a powerful state apparatus. Similarly, China’s mash-up of market Leninism offers a one-from-column-A-and-one-from-Column-B combination platter. Both countries are also rife with crime, corruption, growing inequality, and militarism. Think of them as the un-Swedens.

Nor do such hybrids live only in the East. Hungary, a member of the European Union and a key post-Communist adherent to liberalism, has been heading off in an altogether different direction since its ruling Fidesz party took over in 2010. Last July, its prime minister, Viktor Orban, declared that he no longer looks to the West for guidance. To survive in an ever more competitive global economy, Orban is seeking inspiration from various hybrid powers, the other un-Swedens of our planet: Turkey, Singapore, and both Russia and China. Touting the renationalization of former state assets and stricter controls on foreign investment, he has promised to remake Hungary into an “illiberal state” that both challenges laissez-faire principles and concentrates power in the leader and his party.

The United States is not exactly immune from such trends. The state has also become quite illiberal here as its reach and power have been expanded in striking ways. As it happens, however, America’s Gosplan, our state planning committee, comes with a different name: the military-industrial-homeland-security complex. Washington presides over a planet-spanning surveillance system that would have been the envy of the Communist apparatchiks of the previous century, even as it has imposed a global economic template on other countries that enables enormous corporate entities to elbow aside local competition. If the American tradition of liberalism and democracy was once all about “the little guy” — the rights of the individual, the success of small business — the United States has gone big in the worst possible way.

The convergence theorists imagined that the better aspects of capitalism and communism would emerge from the Darwinian competition of the Cold War and that the result would be a more adaptable and humane hybrid. It was a typically Panglossian error. Instead of the best of all possible worlds, the international community now faces an unholy trinity of authoritarian politics, cutthroat economics, and Big Brother surveillance. Even though we might all be eating off IKEA tableware, listening to Spotify, and reading the latest Girl With the Dragon Tattoo knock-off, we are not living in a giant Sweden. Our world is converging in a far more dystopian way. After two successive conservative governments and with a surging far-right party pounding its anti-immigrant drumbeat, even Sweden seems to be heading in the same dismal direction.

Indeed, if you squint at the history of the last 70 years, you might be persuaded to believe that the convergence theorists were right after all. For all the excitement the fall of the Berlin Wall generated and the paradigm shifts it inspired, the annus mirabilis of 1989 may not have been the end of one system and the victory of the other, but an odd interlude in a much longer evolution of the two.

Bats Do It, Whales Do It

Bats and whales don’t look at all alike. But they both operate in similarly dark environments. Bats hunt at night, while whales navigate the murk of the ocean. Because neither animal can rely on visual clues, they have developed the ability to echolocate, to use, that is, sound waves to find their way around. This clever strategy is an example of convergent evolution: adaptation by different creatures to similar environmental conditions.

Some social scientists in the Cold War period looked at Communism and capitalism in much the same way that evolutionary biologists view the bat and the whale. Both systems, while structurally different, were struggling to adapt to the same environmental factors. The forces of modernity — of technological development, of growing bureaucratization — would, it was then believed, push both systems in the same evolutionary direction. To achieve more optimal economic results, the Communists would increasingly rely on market mechanisms, while the capitalists would turn to planning. Democracy would take a backseat to bureaucracy as technocrats with no particular ideology ran the countries in both blocs in that now-distant two-superpower world. What would be lost in participation would be gained, it was claimed, in efficiency. The resulting hybrid structures, like echolocation, would represent the most effective ways to operate in a challenging global environment.

Convergence theory officially debuted in 1961 with a short but influential article by Jan Tinbergen. Communism and capitalism, the Dutch economist argued, would learn to overcome internal problems by borrowing from each other. More contact between the two foes would lead to a virtuous circle of more sharing and greater convergence. Further exposure came with John Kenneth Galbraith’s 1967 bestseller, The New Industrial State. From there, the concept spread beyond the economics profession and the transatlantic alliance. It even found adherents, among them nuclear physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov in the Soviet Union.

In the 1970s, the coming of détente between the two superpowers suggested that these theorists had been on the mark. Policies emphasizing “coexistence,” adopted by each of the previously implacable enemies and facilitated by scientific exchanges and arms control treaties, seemed to herald a narrowing of differences. In the United States, even Republicans like Richard Nixon began to embrace wage and price controls in an effort to tame the market, while the rise of cybernetics suggested that computers might overcome the technical difficulties that socialist countries faced in creating efficient planned economies. In fact, with Project Cybersyn, an early 1970s effort to harness the power of semiconductors to regulate supply and demand, the government of Chile’s democratically elected socialist president Salvador Allende planned to usher in just such a technotopia.

Of course, Allende went down in a U.S.-backed military coup. Détente between the two superpowers collapsed in the late 1970s and, under the sway of Reaganism, American government officials began to dismantle the welfare state. At the same time, the Soviet Union, now headed by aged bureaucratic leaders like Leonid Brezhnev, sank into an economic funk before Mikhail Gorbachev made one last desperate, failed effort to preserve the system through a program of reforms. In 1991, the Soviet Union disappeared and the victory of rampant global capitalism was proclaimed.

Not surprisingly, in the early 1990s several scholars wrote epitaphs for what clearly seemed to be a conceptual dead end. Convergence was dead. Long live, well what?

The Short-Lived End of History

Even as convergence theory was bowing out ungracefully, political theorist Francis Fukuyama was reinventing the concept. In the summer of 1989, with his controversial essay “The End of History” in which he proclaimed the eternal triumph of liberal democracy (and the economic system that went with it), he anticipated the central question of the era: What would replace the ideological confrontation of the Cold War?

Several months before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the outbreak of the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, Fukuyama argued that Communism would no longer pose an alternative to liberal democracy and that the European Union, the “universal homogeneous state” of his philosophical mentor, Alexandre Kojève, would ultimately be victorious. The endpoint of global political and economic evolution, in other words, was once again a political bureaucracy and an economic welfare state patterned on European social democracy. For Fukuyama, the tea leaves were clear: convergence was back as the way of the future.

What would have thrilled the architects of European integration — and the likes of Jan Tinbergen and John Kenneth Galbraith — was, however, a grave disappointment for Fukuyama, who was already in a premature state of mourning for the heroism that epic confrontations inspired. The ideological conflict that had given shape to the Cold War and meaning to all those who fought in its political and military skirmishes would, he feared, be defused and diminished. All that might then be left would be polite exchanges over minor disagreements in a boardroom in Brussels. The end of history, indeed!

Soon enough, Fukuyama’s thesis, briefly hailed here as the endpoint of all speculation about our global fate, came up visibly short as other potent ideologies reemerged to challenge the generally liberal democratic ethos of the West. There were, as a start, the virulent strains of ethno-nationalism that tore Yugoslavia apart and continued to rage across the expanse of the former Soviet Union. Similarly, religious fundamentalism, especially Islamic extremism, challenged the hard power, the multicultural ethos, even the very existence of various secular states across the Middle East and Africa. And the row of Communist dominoes toppling eastward stopped at Mongolia. China, North Korea, Laos, and Vietnam at least nominally retained their governing ideologies and their single party structures.

At the same time, the European Union expanded, absorbing all of East-Central Europe (except for a couple of small Balkan states), even incorporating the Baltic countries from the former Soviet Union. Convergence, Fukuyama-style, came in the form of acceding to the requirements of EU membership, a lengthy process that reshaped the political, economic, and social structures of its eastern aspirants. The war in Yugoslavia eventually ended, and Europe seemed to have avoided a much deeper clash of civilizations. Even in Bosnia, the Orthodox, Muslim, and Catholic factions achieved a grudging modus operandi, though the country remains far from a well-functioning entity.

Fukuyama had, in fact, suggested a variant of convergence theory — that it would take the form of absorption. In this more ruthless narrative of evolution, the blue whale survives as the largest leviathan of the deep, while the immense shark-like Megalodon disappears. The Soviet Union made its bid for the proletariat of the world to unite and push capitalism into extinction. It failed. Instead, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany vindicated the capitalist theorists. So did the absorption of East-Central Europe into the European Union.

And once again, that was supposed to be the end of the story. The EU would be a diluted version of the Sweden that the original convergence theorists had posited — generally peaceful, modestly prosperous, and passably democratic. The “common European home,” which Gorbachev invoked at the peak of his prestige, might one day even include Russia to the east and transatlantic partner America to the west.

Today, however, that common European home is on the verge of foreclosure. It’s not just that Russia is heading off in an entirely different direction or that the United States recoils from even the weak Scandinavian social democracy that the EU promulgates. Greece is contemplating what once was heresy, its own Grexit or departure from the Eurozone. More troubling, in the very heart of Europe in Budapest, Viktor Orban is turning his back on the West and facing East, while anti-EU, anti-immigrant right-wing parties are gaining adherents across the continent. A new axis of illiberalism might one day connect Beijing to Moscow, Hungary, and possibly beyond like a new trans-Siberian express. The vast Eurasian landmass, the historic pivot of geopolitics, is sinking into despotism with a corporate face and cosmetic democracy.

And Hungary is no European outlier, despite the EU’s censure of Orban’s authoritarian tendencies. Other leaders in the region, from the conservative Jaroslaw Kaczynski in Poland to the social democrat Robert Fico in Slovakia, look enviously at Orban’s model and his political success. Euroskepticism is spreading westward, with the far Right poised to take over in Denmark, the National Front capturing the most seats in the last European parliamentary elections in France, and the recently victorious Conservative Party in Great Britain planning to go ahead with a referendum on continued membership in the EU.

In other words, a geopolitical game of Go is underway. And just when you thought that the liberal pieces had spread successfully from the Atlantic to the western edge of Russia — and under former Russian leader Boris Yeltsin possibly to the very shores of the Pacific — the anti-liberals made a few key moves on the margins and the board began to shift in their favor. Croatia’s entrance into the EU in 2013 may well have been the high-water mark for that structure. An economic crisis in Greece, a political crisis in Great Britain, and a liberal crisis in Hungary could combine to unravel the most upbeat scenario for the recrudescence of convergence theory.

With the EU potentially on its way out, brace yourself for something considerably less anodyne.

Convergence American-Style

The United States prides itself on being an exception to the rules, hence the endless emphasis by American political leaders of every stripe on the country’s “exceptionalism.” The U.S. remains the world’s only true superpower. It refuses to sign a range of international treaties. It reserves the right to invade other countries and even assassinate its own citizens if necessary. How could such a unique entity converge toward anything else?

These days, it’s usually just right-wing nuts who sound like old-fashioned convergence theorists. They’re the ones who label President Obama a secret agent of European socialism and believe that his health care plan will pollute the country’s precious bodily fluids, much as Dr. Strangelove’s General Jack D. Ripper worried about fluoridation. Despite the ornate fantasies of such figures, the United States has clearly moved in the opposite direction. Today’s Democrats are considerably more conservative economically than the Republicans of the 1970s and the Republicans have effectively purged all moderates from their ranks in their surge rightward.

Instead of converging toward Scandinavian socialism, the U.S. has been slouching toward illiberalism for some time now. The Tea Party bemoans the “nanny” and “gun-control” state, but misses the deeply sinister ways in which that state has been captured by the forces of illiberality. The United States has expanded its archipelago of incarceration, our homegrown gulag, so dramatically that we have more people in prison — in total and by percentage of population — than any developed country on Earth. Our political system has been taken over by a club of the rich — our own nomenklatura — with corruption so embedded that no one dares call it by that name and critics instead speak of the “revolving door” and “voter suppression” and the “influence of money in politics.” The deterioration of public infrastructure has, as in the Soviet Union in the 1970s, turned the country into an embarrassment of falling bridges, exploding gas lines, bursting pipelines, backward railroads, unsecured power plants, and potential ecological catastrophes.

Add in spreading governmental surveillance and secrecy, unsustainable military spending, and a disastrously interventionist, military-first foreign policy and the United States is looking a lot like either the old Soviet Union or the Russia of today. Neither is a flattering comparison. America has not yet descended into despotism, so the convergence is hardly complete. But it might be only one right-wing populist leader away from that worst-case scenario.

Where Does History End?

In the long sweep of history, development is not a one-way street that leads all traffic toward a single destination. No doubt the Romans in the first century AD and the Ottomans of the sixteenth century imagined that their glorious futures would be full of successful Caesars and sultans. They didn’t anticipate any great leaps backwards, much less the future collapse of each of their systems. Why should the EU or the American colossus be exempt from history’s serpentine ways?

And yet America consoles itself that what’s happening in Russia and China is only a temporary detour. Fukuyama might have been premature in his 1989 declaration of history’s end, but his historical determinism remains deeply imbedded in how Western liberal elites look at the world. They sit back and wait impatiently for countries to “come to their senses” and become “more like us.” They arrogantly expect convergence by absorption to proceed, if not tomorrow then eventually.

But if, in fact, the signs along the highway are not all pointing toward the same destination, then maybe we should stop checking our watches to see when North Korea will finally collapse, the Chinese Communist Party implode, and Putinism grind to a halt. These are not evolutionary dead-ends awaiting another political meteor, like the one in 1989, to strike the planet and wipe them out. For all we know, they might even outlive their Western challengers. The Chinese hybrid, for instance, seems no less stable at the moment than any liberal democracy, particularly now that its economy has surpassed that of the U.S. to become the largest in the world. Nor does Beijing appear to be intent on ending its one-party rule any time soon.

Convergence theorists expected that certain global trends, from technological innovation to economic development, would push different ideological systems toward a merger at some point in the future. They may well have been right about the mechanism, but wrong about the results. A different set of factors — global financial crisis, widening economic inequality, increasingly scarce natural resources, anti-immigrant hysteria, persistent religious extremism, and widespread dissatisfaction with electoral democracy — is pushing countries toward a considerably less harmonic kind of convergence. Forget about the “new industrial state.” Welcome to the new post-industrial despotism.

The ongoing convulsions of geopolitics are throwing up all manner of new hybrids. Many of these market authoritarian regimes are deeply troubling, the offspring of a marriage of the less savory aspects of collectivism and capitalism. But they are also potent reminders that, because we are not the slaves of history, we can transform our putatively triumphant liberalism, with all its manifold defects of corruption, inequality, and unsustainability, into something more optimal for both human beings and the planet. The bats did it, the whales did it, and even though it’s not inevitable, we humans can do it, too.

John Feffer is the director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies, the editor of LobeLog, a TomDispatch regular, and the author of several books, including Crusade 2.0.

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Economics, Foreign Policy, History, Ideology • Tags: Europe, Russia 
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  1. fnn says:

    Sweden has been a vassal state of the American Empire since 1945. It has even been a pseudo-neutral de facto member of NATO from the beginning. What’s going on with Sweden is that the highly conformist Swedes-having no naturally rebellious strands in their indigenous population comparable to the Irish or the Scots-Irish in the US-take the hegemonic American ideology very seriously indeed:

    To illustrate what I talk about. Louis Armstrong visited Sweden in 1933. In all the news papers he was describe as something monkey-like let loose from the jungle. All across the line! And in the reviews by the most serious music critics.

    Who would have imagined in 1933, that twelve years later Western Europe would undergo an America-led cultural revolution which would lead to the common belief that there are no differences between races?

    Translation of two of the quotes:

    Knut Bäck in Göteborgs-Posten, November 1933:
    “This world is strange… No protests are raised against how the jungle is let loose into the society. Armstrong and his band are allowed to freely wreak destruction.”

    Sten Broman in Sydsvenskan, November 1933:
    “Dare I say that he at times had something monkey-like about him and sometimes reminded of, according to our perceptions, a mentally disturbed person, when he pouted with his mouth or gaped it to its widest open and roared like a hoarse animal from a primeval forest.”

    The third quote compares the concert with a natural disaster, and Armstrong’s trumpet with a hell machine. The only good thing coming out of it, he says, is that it solves to old dispute of whether monkeys have a language.

    This is what Europe looked like, up until 1945. And since some people will live under the misconception that this was a phenomenon of the ’30s, I here provide a quote from the Swedish Encyclopedia, Nordisk Familjebok, the 1876-1899 edition (here and here).

    “Psychologically the negro can be said be on the level of a child, with vivid fantasy, lack of endurance, … can be said to lack morality rather than being immoral … etc.”

    • Replies: @Jim
  2. Who’s raping (and robbing and murdering) who in Sweden?

    Feffer says, “we are not living in a giant Sweden. Our world is converging in a far more dystopian way. After two successive conservative governments and with a surging far-right party pounding its anti-immigrant drumbeat, even Sweden seems to be heading in the same dismal direction.”

    Why don’t you pull your head out of your ass, you liar? I’m providing a link below so that you have no excuse for ever saying what you said (above) again. Idiots like you are directly responsible for rationalizing the creation of dystopias in what had formerly been model countries. You ARE the problem. Own it.

  3. Jim says:

    Evolution is a totally immoral process that has no goal or meaning. “Social justice” or any kind of justice is not the goal of the evolutionary process. Human history as a tiny part of the evolutionary process is –

    a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    Because of the influence of Christianity, Westerners think that human history has some kind of ideal state as a goal. But that belief is an illusion.

    • Replies: @antipater_1
  4. Jim says:

    Nineteenth century writings on race were generally more realistic and accurate than the PC fantasies of today.

  5. Priss Factor [AKA "The Priss Factory"] says:

    “Think of them as the un-Swedens.”

    Sweden is being un-Swedened by Swedes who are tyrannical with political correctness and massive immigration.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  6. Jason A says:

    Milton Friedman was once challenged by a Swedish economist who told him there was no poverty in Scandinavia. He said in reply that “that’s interesting, because in America, among Scandinavians, we have no poverty, either.”

    Of course that was back in the 1980s. No one can be even remotely honest in claiming that there is no poverty in Sweden today. Did the weather change?

  7. @Priss Factor

    Sweden is being un-Swedened by Swedes

    Wow. This is the first time you’ve put the finger on someone other than Jews. Couldn’t find any in Sweden?

    • Replies: @Bill
  8. Bill says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    He just momentarily forgot who owns the media there.

  9. Kiza says:

    One seldom finds so much nonsense written in one article. This can pass only under a democratic measure of anyone can voice an opinion. What “Convergence Theory”, what Sweden, what hybrid, what is this guy going on about? Like a little child or a name dropper.

    The problem of today’s theoreticians is that they are often exposed too much to Western media which totally pollutes their minds. When I read a screed such as this, I feel sorry for “a scientist” who has no clue about what is really going on in the world, simply because he/she consumes the Western media and its alternative reality. The Western propaganda works on many levels, from the bottom red-neck and unemployed level all the way to the Ivory Tower of Academia. Thus, if a theoretician spends too much time on the media and not enough time on the Internet, then we get John Feffer. I do not know which Ivory Tower this guy sits in, but it is not any one sitting on earth.

    I am sorry that I cannot dispute the stuff he has written point-by-point, he got almost nothing right and it would take an even longer screed to explain and justify each wrong point. Also, I managed to get only about 2/3 through this writing.

  10. Stogumber says:

    Even if I’m more of a rightwinger, I felt at once appealed by Mr. Feller’s idea of “market leninism”. I’ve often observed that our Western countries have kept a capitalist economy, but at the same time submitted to communist infiltration by adopting the hysterical Leninist style of government: “We have created the perfect “new society”, and now we are in persistent danger of the interior enemy who must be either suppressed or reeducated in order to transform him to the apt “new man”.”

    Only I think Mr. Feller could find far better examples of that than slightly less leftist Sweden or traditionalist Hungary.

  11. SFG says:

    With the crack about anti-immigrant parties it’s pretty clear he’s not the usual Unz writer.

    That said Unz is all about diversity of opinion, so hey.

    I’d argue a slightly different thesis: here in America the Left won the cultural war (gay rights, political correctness) and the Right won the economic war (no unions, low taxes on the rich, companies free to send jobs overseas), so from the traditionalist point of view you have social degeneration and immiseration of the average American.

    • Replies: @Dutch Boy
  12. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    This article is rather incoherent.

    I don’t really see the convergence the author is talking about. Only if you look at the world through the lens that the American media wants you to will any of it make sense. Sure, the old guard communists are becoming more capitalistic and America is becoming more socialist.

    But America was never a liberal democracy, and China has not been communist for quite some time. Meanwhile Hong Kong and Singapore are the most free market economies in the world.

    At the end of the day, there has always been a power elite guiding this country off of the backs of the peasantry. Call countries what ever ism you like but that is the basic model humanity has always employed.

  13. Immigrant from former USSR [AKA "Florida Resident"] says:

    I agree with you, Mr. Kiza.
    I suggested to Mr. Unz to introduce the rule:
    each article longer than 500 words should be accompanied by an “Abstract”,
    the latter constituting about 5% to 10% of the volume of the article.
    “Conclusion” of about 5% size would also be helpful.
    As for this article, Tl.,dr.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  14. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Immigrant from former USSR

    I don’t think the length of articles here at unz is a problem.

    I just think this author likely comes from an academic background and it is written like an academic paper rather than written for real human beings.

    Real people are not obsessed with labels like the author here. They are more concerned with real issue that affect them.

  15. unit472 says:

    I think there are two camps today and both are anti individual and pro-state. OTOH we have the ethno-nationalists of the Putin, Xi Jinping variety and on the other we have the US, EU internationalist model. This is reflected in our economic systems too. Russia and China do not have ‘global corporations’. Gazprom and Huawei are big companies that operate globally but no one doubts the former is Russian and the latter Chinese. Big Western corporations are truly global and only pay lip service, if that, to their nominal national origins. The biggest bank in the world, HSBC, threatens to pull out of Britain, Apple, if HQ’d in Cupertino, operates as a global company with no fixed address as do many others we used to call multinational corporations but have really become international corporations.

    The US and EU operate on a global basis to the extent they don’t really represent their citizenry anymore. The State Department represents foreign nations and companies before the US government and is more about allowing foreign populations to move to the US than it is about securing the interests of American citizens overseas. The EU acts the same in regards to its component nation states insisting, e.g. , that Britain accept the influx of foreign citizens in much the same way the State Department dumps a bunch of African savages in Minnesota or Maine.

    I do agree that the world is in flux now and the ‘internationalist governments’ in Brussels and Washington are risking internal collapse as they ignore the ‘nationalism’ of their citizenry while the ‘ethno-nationalist regimes in Russia and Beijing risk creating a global alliance against them by their aggressive and imperialist posture towards their neighbors. It probably won’t end well.

  16. Flower says:

    I love economists, they are fun to watch. And after they have done polluting the air with their rhetoric and just general BS I enjoy asking a simple question:

    Considering all the minds, money, and words that have gone into all the economic theories in all the world, each of which has purported to have “THE ANSWER”, then why are we in the shite state that we are in?

    “Market Leninism”? Oh yeah, but what about Sidewalk Confusciousism, or maybe Basement Mickey Mouseism, or perhaps Income Wallistic Humpty-Dumptyism. I think I’ll try that, I’ll make up a term and write an op-ed around it. I think I will title it: Complex Glauribbleism and the the Global Persistance of Fabribaloneyism”.

    And people actually waste their time on this stuff. Sheesh.

    • Replies: @Drapetomaniac
  17. the USA is moving towards neoliberalism, which roughly translated means more top-down control by the rich and the corporations.

    What is neoliberal?
    1. mass immigration
    2. mass imprisonment
    3. multiculturalism & feminism.
    4. lots of rules and regs
    5. complicated tax returns
    6. healthcare extortion
    7. depressed wages.
    8. affirmative action
    9. war war and more war
    10. spying on americans
    11. politicians do not represent the people

  18. Immigrant from former USSR [AKA "Florida Resident"] says:

    To the best of my [rather moderate] knowledge of academic background,
    the presence of “Abstract” and of “Conclusion”
    is mandatory for a presentation or for an article.
    There you formulate “real issues”,
    while in the “body” of article or of presentation you give the proof of your statements.
    With this article, I can not grasp, what author wants to state;
    forget about the validity (or falsity) of the statements.

  19. Stogumber says:

    I still think that “market leninism” is a very useful concept. It admits the fact that the West remained capitalist, but stresses the not so obvious fact that at the same time a lot of leftists were able to insert Leninist policies inconspicuously.

  20. Dutch Boy says:

    The worst of all worlds, indeed!The social degeneration aids the capitalist immiserators by providing distractions to keep people’s minds off the looting.Vices prevent clear thinking.

    • Replies: @SFG

  22. Seriously though, I, too, think that the great ideological struggle is a thing of the past and that all the principal powers of the earth have now converged on some variant of capitalism, but the details do matter to us little people down below.

    It seems to me that Russia and China have both adopted a classic form of state-corporatism, wherein the government plays the dominant macroeconomic role in managing the economy, setting goals, and making sure that growth occurs in a fashion that advances the national interest while furnishing a sufficient amount of employment/income for the hoi-poloi.

    That’s exactly what we used to be 50 years ago.

    The US nowadays, however, has traded state-corporatism for corporate-statism. In this system, the government just becomes the handmaiden of the big banks and corporations, printing lots of money to sustain asset bubbles and provide us all with cheap credit, so we can go on buying their crap, while they ship our jobs overseas and import more labor into this country.

    Assuming no perfect society is possible, I far prefer state-corporatism.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @Drapetomaniac
  23. @Jim

    Amoral – not immoral.

    • Replies: @Jim
  24. @Flower

    “then why are we in the shite state that we are in?”

    Because economists generally work for government or government sanctioned and regulated entities. As Ringo Starr accurately noted: “Everything government touches turns to crap” and that includes all aspects of the economy.

    So essentially they are yes men who work for governments and governments screw things up.

    • Replies: @Flower
  25. My opinion is that the world’s governments are creating hybrids of the two great cultural economic systems: socialism derived from the hunter-gatherer culture and capitalism derived from the pharaonic culture.

    The hope is to find the most successful blend through trial and error, with success defined as well-being for the government and its cronies first, and the well-being of the hoi polloi as mostly incidental.

    All the while, economic evolution has created the best economic system – the free market economy – which is a development of the freedom culture and an anathema to all forms of government.

  26. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Seamus Padraig


    Well said!

  27. SFG says:
    @Dutch Boy

    Yeah, bread and circuses. An intact family needs a lot less government help…

  28. Jim says:

    You’re right, I meant to write amoral. Thanks for the correction.

  29. Flower says:

    You are obviously not wrong. Yes, Govt screws EVERYthing up; however, my point was trying to highlight the Techno-psycho-babble crapola that “Economists” come up with.

    Here is my economic theory, I call it “Bamboozalemticon”, and it is a provable, iron clad theory on how you can Lie and Bullshite your way out of debt. I bet my lunch tomorrow will be at the White House.

    The saddest part of this piece is that people, grown, adult people, actually sit around and discuss the merits of this junk as if it were a serious attempt at cogent thought.

    • Replies: @Drapetomaniac
  30. Mark Caplan says: • Website

    Convergence is a powerful force in history — convergence to the mean. The mean in history has always been the merciless tribal strongman lording it over a powerless mass of serfs. In the long run, the liberal Western democratic model with an empowered middle class is an unsustainable outlier.

  31. @Seamus Padraig

    “Assuming no perfect society is possible, I far prefer state-corporatism.”

    Assuming no perfect society is possible, I far prefer for each person to choose their political belief system. Treat all forms of government like religions.

    As in the case of panarchism.

  32. @Flower

    It is sad that most people fail to reach the final stage of cognitive development.

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