Book Review: “European Integration 1950-2003: Superstate or New Market Economy?”

Once upon a time, there was a large, intellectually hegemonic, somewhat totalising ideology rooted in a heterodox school of economics. Its advocates proposed to make massive changes to the structure of society and claimed that only such a revolutionary realignment could alleviate the contradictions and failures of the existing order and save the world from stagnation and misery. They claimed that their programme would produce immediate results, and that the only reason it wasn’t immediately implemented was because entrenched interests were manipulating the public against them.

Ultimately, advocates of these principles did gain power in many places and were able to implement elements of their programme. Some came to power through revolutions of various kinds that granted them the near-dictatorial powers they needed to make the changes they believed necessary. Others were able to convince electorates and even elites that theirs was the way of the future. They turned public dissatisfaction to their advantage, especially during economic downturns when people were willing to turn to new solutions and elites feared that the masses would turn against them.

And, they had some arguable successes, but no unambiguous ones. In some places, particularly those where effectively unlimited power had shifted to them, they often maintained highly inequitable regimes which grew harder and harder to justify, faced ever growing public disaffection, and turned to more oppressive and manipulative means to sustain control. This undermined their movement, but despite the best efforts of their enemies was not quite able to kill it off.

In states where more democratic methods had been used, the need to compromise with established interests and to sustain public consent forced them to accept measures often contrary to their initial programme. Their ideological identity tended to shift over time as winning elections grew more important than ideological purity and as the drawbacks of real power became apparent. Actually being held responsible for results forced many members of this tradition to accept their enemies’ interests as at least partially legitimate, and compelled them to less radical legislative programmes.

In some of those nations, these radical parties became increasingly manipulative and difficult to distinguish from their former enemies. But, in a few places, the necessary dilution of their programme brought about an ideological synthesis that appeared successful, and this success in turn showed that the radical programmes they had once advocated were perhaps unnecessary. In the end, ideology had no real hold on them, and the models and methods that seemed to work became the political and economic programme that they were identified with. Their former allies who operated more dictatorial regimes were easily repudiated.

But others were unable to accept that option. They included dissidents who had been burned by the growing authoritarianism of their own failed revolutions, or who were simply unable to accept that their early ideological purity had become superfluous. They were isolated and powerless, only able to function in the states where their former allies had become moderates, leaving them without meaningful public support. They fumed at the world’s unwillingness to go the way they wanted, and increasingly recast the history of the world in terms of their own ideological predispositions. The past became, in their minds, an unending conflict between an ideologically pure vanguard and scheming established interests, a story of their courageous champions betrayed by back-sliding traitors. Ultimately, the world moved on and these radicals virtually disappeared outside of intellectually protected milieux like privately-funded think tanks and universities.

Of course, by the now the astute reader will have recognised that I am talking about the history of neoliberalism.

Neoliberalism is rapidly becoming the socialism of the 21st century, and as proof, I offer you John Gillingham’s voluminous history of the European Union, European Integration 1950-2003: Superstate or New Market Economy. It recasts the entire history of Europe, and of EU institutions in particular, as the combat of a courageous vanguard of free-market activists against duplicitous unions, socialist political establishments, and entrenched, government-supported bureaucrats and monopolists. If Friedrich Hayek is the Karl Marx of this grand fairy-tale, the hero of the revolution – Gillingham’s Lenin if you will – is Margaret Thatcher. And when the revolution is repudiated – a process already well underway – I predict that Gillingham will be one of its academic Trotskyists, forever complaining about how compromises and betrayals prevented Europe and the world from fulfilling the historically inevitable mission of an entrepreneurial revolution. Just as socialist revolutionaries used to complain about how the workers are always willing to accept such bourgeois blandishments as job security, regular raises, long vacations and home and automobile ownership over the proletarian revolution, I foresee for Gillingham a future of bitching about how the people never could understand that good returns in the financial markets were more important than whether or not they had paycheques that could pay their bills.

Gillingham’s work does have some genuine virtues which I wish to encourage, and it is with these that I really ought to start. Gillingham is quite partisan, and his own ideology is clear and laid out almost from the beginning. I am far happier to see this than to find the same ideological claims marketed under a label of “objective.” Second, for a classical liberal (he refuses the label “neo-“) he is occasionally capable of showing some sympathy to people with other ideas. He appears to understand that compromise and give-and-take have been a part of the EU from its early origins and he does not consider this an inherently bad thing. Indeed, I found his early history of the EU quite informative and even compelling. Unlike real Euroskeptics, Gillingham – an American I should add – is quite sympathetic to the political goals of the early Europeanists. The devastation of WWII, the need to establish peaceful means for resolving conflicts and to restart economic growth were, in his mind and in mine, more than good enough grounds to accept some less than savoury compromises. Jean Monnet is, of course, demonised, but less so than in many recent Euroskeptical tomes. The relative unimportance of the European Coal & Steel Community and Euratom – both institutions which are given great weight in standard histories of the EU – is made plain in Gillingham’s book. De Gaule’s famous non to UK membership is actually defended on the grounds that the EU might well have become a mere trade pact had that happened. Gillingham sees in the EU the prospect of something much better: a mechanism for the establishment and propagation of a truly Hayekian entrepreneurial capitalism.

I guess I am sympathetic to Gillingham because I identify with him. We are both non-Europeans who see in the EU the prospect for something grander, something that would be good for the world, and something linked to very much minority ideologies in Europe that are far more widely accepted in our respective homelands. He dreams of the EU as a civilisation built on the rule of markets, a model of undirected self-organisation fulfilling everyone’s dreams of prosperity, democracy and human rights. I dream of an EU built on the rule of a borderless cultural and linguistic tolerance, a model of a community built on the notion of a shared fate where people can have real freedom and real equality despite very different kinds of lives. Both of us believe that the world needs such models.

Gillingham identifies a turning point in the history of EU that revolves around the election of Margaret Thatcher. He calls this “regime change.” The use of this already hoary Bushism does not help him. He credits – possibly even with some accuracy – Margaret Thatcher with the Single European Act and sees this as reinjecting life into the EU after it faded into insignificance in the 70’s. But, he sees the 90’s as an era when the EU stagnated and accomplished nothing. This perspective is perhaps a bit far from most people’s memories of an era when the EU rose in prominence in almost everyone’s mind, but makes perfect sense to someone of Gillingham’s predispositions. Movement towards freer markets, dismantling unions and abolishing social protections is progress. All else is regression.

One of my great frustrations with this book was my hope to find within it at least some historical insights that I could trust and build on, regardless of their ideological orientation. I only found real historical insight in the first part of this book. As soon as he starts talking about the 1970’s, I find myself sceptical of his claims, and after 1980 I can not take him at his word on any matter at all.

I had hoped to be able to write a sympathetic review, thinking that I could look past my ideological differences with Gillingham and see his book as a productive text. But it was with the beginning of Part III – 147 pages into this nearly 600 page tome – that I realised that I was going to end up writing a sarcastic and negative critique. The unique prospect of a Hayekite Europhillic vision – something Chris Brooke laments not finding among British Conservatives and which got some mention on Crooked Timber a while back – was sufficiently interesting and potentially useful to me that I was prepared to accept our inevitable disagreements over exactly what sorts of goals the EU should be trying to pursue.

Some of my readers will find this surprising, but I find myself frequently in agreement with the more free-thinking wing of Hayekism. I have long hoped to one day see the rise of a sort of “left Hayekism” able to accept his genuine insights, and even build on them, while rejecting his Whigish carping about how the world will go to hell in a hand-basket if we have socialised medicine or labour unions.

But I just can’t give Gillingham a positive review beyond the first 150 pages. From then on, the book becomes a free-market stroke fantasy that revels in the firm, and as far as I can tell basically religious, conviction that There Is No Alternative.

He starts with a discussion of the “Reagan Revolution” and the effects of deregulation in the US. For Gillingham, this is an unmixed blessing that brought “huge cost savings as well as remarkable improvements in service.” Perhaps I am assuming too much to think that he actually lived in America in the early 80’s, but I certainly did, and I remember that era. The examples of deregulation he cites – deregulation in the airlines, trucking and banking industries and the dismantling “Ma Bell” – produced some cost savings, in some cases, sometimes. A long run analysis involves building a contrafactual world in which deregulation didn’t take place, and all such model building is inherently subject to criticism. The airline industry for instance was already seeing significant price declines when it was deregulated, and current prices are in line with the pre-1980 trend.

However, one thing I do remember quite clearly is how deregulation in each of those areas drastically reduced the quality of service. Airlines service was a mess for years, especially after the acrimonious end to the PATCO strike and the constant din of bankruptcies. Telephone service under the “Baby Bells” and the new long distance providers was somewhat cheaper – eventually – but reliability did not return to 1980 levels for a decade, and most of us who were teens in that era mostly remember cheap phones with bad sound that broke a lot. Trucking moved from a stable source of employment for many underskilled people to an industry that pays minimal wages, offers no benefits, and has a major stimulant abuse problem. And as for banking, it is still difficult to determine if there were any gains at all when the costs of the S&L scandal are taken into account.

There were certainly legitimate grounds for regulatory reform in many areas. Rational and reasonable reforms might well have been advanced in the early 80’s, perhaps in a parallel universe where there was a second Carter administration. But that was not what happened in the first Reagan administration. What happened was a free-for-all where for the first time industries could write their own regulations and could expect what regulatory codes were still on the books to go unenforced. It cost Americans money, safety, security and in some cases their lives. To fail to set these costs against the gains in financial markets is dishonest.

Gillingham goes on to claim that “[t]he American recovery from the 1980-1982 recession was rapid, disflationary, and rested on a changed economic and political context.” It was certainly not rapid, not when compared to previous recoveries, and Volcker’s disinflationary policies caused enormous damage by keeping wages falling through the recovery nd the “boom” that followed, reaching their 1979 levels only in the mid-90’s.

Gillingham’s history of free-market “regime change” around the world cites virtually no statistics. There is a reason for that: The statistics don’t lend support to his narrative. American wages fell during that period, median household income was largely stagnant, and what little growth there was in household income rested on the rise of the two-income family and on longer working hours. This process was utterly devastating to a great many Americans. If you intend to make a case that “regime change” was necessary I expect you to at least acknowledge the immense damage done.

Gillingham goes on to chronicle the “success” of these sorts of policies elsewhere. He neglects the costs in each case that I know anything about, and cites statistics for none. He regards New Zealand, for example, as the grand success story of free-market reform. I have yet to meet a New Zealander prepared to agree. Declines in real wages, loss of income security, declines in market competitiveness in some cases, increases in corruption – none of these things happened in Gillingham’s fantasy world, or at least don’t seem to merit mention. The closest he comes is in his remarks about New Zealand’s reform:

The timeliness and effectiveness of economic reform in New Zealand did not, to their shock and amazement, win the socialists another term in office. In 1990 a resurrected National Party swept them out of office as thoroughly as they had blown away the Nationals only four years earlier. Even in New Zealand, pain outweighted gain.

Gillingham neglects to point out that economic growth was actually negative during the 1984-1990 Labour administration and anaemic through the whole 90’s, averaging 0.5% annually for the next 15 years. Confronted with these statistics, I’m sure he would either claim that the reforms were incomplete, that growth failure was the result of the previous policies and would have been even worse without reform, or that this was a consequence of external phenomena in the global market. I’m sure he wouldn’t realise that those claims are identical to the ones that used to be made for the Soviet Union.

This complete lack of statistics, or even evidence of having been on the planet in the 80’s, makes me profoundly distrustful of him. Denmark’s economic success is attributed to its adoption of liberal economic values despite its continuing use of partially centralised collective bargaining. Sweden’s failure is attributed to low productivity growth, even though the US had even lower productivity growth, and is never set against its near full employment. French privatisation is attributed with its economic recovery, even after admitting that it was a deeply corrupt process driven by political considerations. Amusingly enough, he supports the 35-hour work week initiative of “crypto-Trotskyite” French ex-PM Lionel Jospin, because Jospin’s compromises led to it really becoming a labour flexibility initiative that enabled employers to cut back workers’ hours. No adequate explanation for Italy’s economic growth is offered at all. A believer in government non-intervention and transparent economic policies really ought to have to explain this. Gillingham even offers a half-hearted (or maybe quarter-hearted) endorsement of Franco and the franquists who remained in the Spanish administration.

It goes on and on. Britain under Thatcher is a bastion of growth and light in the darkness of Keynesian and socialist Europe, a liberating beacon of freedom from trade unions, from income support and from social solidarity. No effort is made, no consideration given, to any actual economic data. There is never the slightest hint that all was not always well in the UK in the 80’s. Never do you get the impression that British industrial output did not reach its 1979 levels until 1987. Nowhere is there the suggestion that if manufacturing productivity grew in the UK, it might have been because so many plants were shut down, or that productivity growth essentially stopped in 1986 when plant closures stopped. No meaningful defence of the economic policies Gillingham considers essential to the EU is even attempted.

In fact, you can skip the whole of chapters 8 and 9 by simply assuming that Gillingham was born in 1994 and knows nothing about the 80’s except what he’s read in the Wall Street Journal and certain carefully selected issues of The Economist. A look at his endnotes is quite revealing. His discussion of the Thatcher years is cribbed almost entirely from Thatcher’s autobiography Downing Street Years and Nigel Lawson’s The View from No. 11. His account of the failure of the welfare state in the rest of the world is also taken from exceedingly few sources – all in English – and the ones I recognise are all quite aligned with Gillingham’s ideology.

From the beginning of Part III onwards, it gets worse. Gillingham’s great contribution to European studies is his claim that the Thatcher revolution brought about European “regime change” – a definitive break with the Keynesian and socialist ways of the past, brought on by what appears to be a very Marxist conception of economic contradictions and dialectical movement. The understanding that he brings to pre-1980 political figures who do not share his ideology does not extend to those socialist, Keynesian and labour unionist establishmentarians who dare to resist the revolution afterwards. The evidence of historical insight and research he offers us at the beginning of his book is drowned by a series of pithy insults and folk claims about the political plans of various states, parties and leaders that could have been copied from the Wall Street Journal editorial page.

The quality of Gillingham’s endnotes reflects this new lack of focus. He ceases all at once to be a historian, totally neglecting primary sources, no longer checking his remarks for credibility or consistency, and starts just copying stuff from the mainstream business press. The first part of this book cites first hand accounts, biographies and autobiographies, in-depth analyses, economics papers, and even official archives. After chapter 9, he increasingly draws on obscure political science journals, and in part IV even those are replaced by Business Week, The Economist, The Daily Telegraph, Die Zeit and the German daily of record FAZ.

I don’t think I am asking too much out of a historian to go further in-depth than a Lexis-Nexis search.

Chapter 12 chronicles and ridicules efforts to build a European demos – a sense of peoplehood like a nation-state – without which Gillingham believes that political integration is impossible. Gillingham is right that Europe does not have a demos (another neologism that I suspect will grow old fast). His case for where Europe ought to go is predicated entirely on this notion that there is no prospect of political integration, so only market integration is possible. The free market is expected to do everything, including building a sense of unity and commonality capable of keeping the peace in Europe.

But what is so interesting to me about the EU is the prospect of integration without a demos. A mere free-trade zone is a profoundly uninspiring subject of study. There have been multinational free-trade areas in the past, and there are others in the world besides the EU. They have not stopped wars and have a mixed record for bringing prosperity.

Chapter 13 looks at the effects of regime change on the individual member states, one by one. It is one of his more interesting chapters because Gillingham finds himself endorsing almost every form of state interventionism which he has spent the last 350 pages condemning. After attacking France for the close links between the state and giant corporations and ridiculing Delors’ and Mitterand’s desire to build European corporate giants to compete in the global market, he praises Finns for doing exactly that with Nokia. He also gets almost everything about Nordic and British education systems wrong, claiming that they are substantially moving towards a “merit based system” like the UK. He praises Berlusconi for his courageous stance against the trade unions and muses about the prospect of an Italian Thatcher. The Netherlands comes in for an investigation in greater depth, where he finds much of its stability and prosperity to come from social cohesion, co-ordinated wage bargaining between employers and unions, and pegging the guilder to the Deutschmark. This is a bit surprising for a man who is against making social cohesion a goal of public policy, against trade unions and against the Euro.

As for France, his discussion draws exclusively on clich?s that lead me to believe he knows little or nothing about the country that he hasn’t seen in the British or American press. His history of “regime change” in France has 34 endnotes, of which two derive in part from newspaper articles published in Le Monde and Le Figaro. The rest: Business Week, Time, The Economist. Is it just me, or should someone who thinks France is the problem and Britain is the answer be at least critical enough to consider that an all-Anglo set of news sources might not be fully informative?

Germany, in contrast, he actually knows something about. He claims that Germany has only “three truly healthy world-class companies operating internationally as market leaders: Allianz Versicherung, SAP, and BMW.” This Business Week article, from this AFOE post, suggests otherwise. He advocates using big German companies to finance start-ups, showing how well this process has worked in the US, but he violently opposes such initiatives as dirigiste in France. Gillingham demands that the rest of Europe forget about “Rhenish capitalism” as an alternative model because it is a unique and unexportable product of particular social conditions, but then fails to consider the possibility that the same could be said for “Anglo-Saxon capitalism.”

Perhaps worst of all are the hints of recognition from Gillingham that the kinds of policies he has in mind are impossible to implement without near dictatorial authority. He makes just such a claim for the Labour government in New Zealand after the destruction of the opposition in the 1984 election, and says the same sorts of things about other states that he recognises as successes. The liberal policies of Hayek are not, it seems, properly compatible with parliamentary democracy and require a Man on a Horse to actually be implemented. This is especially irritating in light of his fashionable complaints about the “democratic deficit” in Brussels.

Then comes a clearly painful section where he is forced to criticise Thatcher’s latest Euroskeptic screed, Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World, where she demands that the UK give Brussels an ultimatum: her reforms or the UK pulls out. She, according to Gillingham, “repudiates her greatest European accomplishment: the Single European Act.” Should Britain fail to get the Europe it wants, it should, in her mind, join NAFTA. Gillingham at least has the sense to realise that hell will freeze over first.

After that, I have to confess that I just skipped forward 70 pages to his conclusions, missing out on his discussion of enlargement and Europe’s technology policies. His timid and respectful disagreement with the Iron Lady was more schlock than I can take.

Gillingham concludes on a bizarrely optimistic note, considering that he does not seem to have much faith in Europe’s current direction. He hopes that a new impetus might come from a new Thatcher, and that Hayek’s market-integrated Europe might yet come to pass. But, there seems to be no real enthusiasm in him, and I have even less myself for his goals.

Gillingham’s unhindered neoliberal triumphalism really undermines any effort to learn something from this book. If I just took his brief discussions of individual countries’ transformations in the 80’s and 90’s, and put them next to, for example, Enlightened Capitalism, a not yet published book by Lane Kenworthy of Emory University that I found out about through Crooked Timber, I would come to a very different set of conclusions about Europe and offer very different policy advice:

  1. Investing in education and retraining can pay off in lower unemployment and greater productivity. Picking winners and using state support to build corporate giants can work as well, at least in manufacturing, but if a government is engaging in this practice it must do so with an eye towards profit rather than as a make-work programme. Finland succeeded by following just this path.
  2. Labour flexibility without income supports is politically unfeasible in a genuine democracy. Most workers simply aren’t stupid enough to vote themselves into immediate unemployment in return for some long-term job growth that might or might not actually happen. Better to find institutional mechanisms to moderate labour demands than to shut out unions. Better to offer income support outside of the market – negative income taxes, universal income guarantees, government as the employer of last resort, or other sorts of benefits which do not create employment traps – than to simply toss people out of work. Doing these things does not seem to interfere with hiring or job growth. If necessary, use employment subsidies directly instead of menacing “workfare” programmes. This is basically what the Dutch and the Danes have done.
  3. Replace fixed payroll taxes with benefits offered out of general revenue. This has actually been fairly effective in France at raising incentives to employment. It means that tax revenues have to be made up somewhere else. If classical liberals and neoliberals really believe that labour market inflexibility is the main barrier to economic growth in Europe, I would expect them to support making up that lost revenue through higher capital gains taxes, which tend to be quite low in Europe. They won’t, but that’s because I don’t think any of them really believe that their agenda will have the desired effect on employment or growth.

I don’t know how well these conclusions could survive an orchestrated argument against them, but they seem to me far more likely to succeed, and far better supported by actual European circumstances, than the Europe Gillingham wants to build. I could even claim that the EU is presently advancing these kinds of causes because it tends to force its members into more uniform income and employment policies, and the best policies do seem likely to emerge from that process.

Unlike Gillingham, I think there has been a great deal of progress, especially in those periods when Gillingham sees nothing of importance going on in Brussels. A single currency has given Europeans something of a sense of a common fate, and the growing mobility both of labour and capital has offered Europeans a new dimension of substantial freedom: freedom of movement. Like Gillingham, I see in the EU a hope for a new model of internationalism and the burial of nationalist rivalries without the extinction of differences. But, to see in the market the sole agent of this transformation is to reduce it to the kind of internationalism that led to WWI, to the Great Depression, to communism, and even in the end to the Keynesianism and state-driven economies that he so clearly hates.

The single path he advocates, to which he believes that there is no alternative, is not really an alternative at all.

40 thoughts on “Book Review: “European Integration 1950-2003: Superstate or New Market Economy?”

  1. If you’re looking for a Hayekian left, the closest I can think of is James Scott’s extraordinary book, “Seeing Like A State: Why Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed.” The best pol-sci book that I’ve read this decade.

  2. I’ve heard of the book, but it’s been some way down from the top of my list for a while. It really ought to move closer to the top, since I think a lot of political discourse rests on failing to understand that both market failure and government failure are essentiallty heuristic failures and looks at building better heuristics instead of posing false dichotomies. Scott’s book is the only one I’ve heard of that even sounds like that sort of thing.

  3. “Trucking moved from a stable source of employment for many underskilled people to an industry that pays minimal wages, offers no benefits, and has a major stimulant abuse problem.”

    Wow. That’s a characterization of the recent history of the American trucking industry so distant from my reality, that I have to consider it a textbook example of “false consciousness”. No room in your world for little things like acknowledging the massive corruption and criminality of the “classic” Teamsters, is there? My dad’s cousin was a minor Teamsters official; I have an uncle who’s a nonunion trucker now. My dad’s cousin’s mafia stories would curl your toes; my uncle has successfully put all of his children through college.

    But you go on and build your moral equivalencies between “neo-liberals” and Stalinists. Let me know when you figure out where the “neo-liberal” gulag dead are buried.

  4. Mitch, Pinochet’s mass graves are all over Chile, and a fair number are popping up in Guatemala nowadays. Or perhaps we should talk about AIDS victims in Africa dying because the failure to enforce American and European patents on anti-viral medications would get what trade they have cut off? They’re buried all over the place.

    As for trucking, I lived in a major trucking hub in the early 80’s. You’d be surprised how often people will support corrupt leadership able to bring them regular pay over not having regular pay at all. Which charge would you like to deny: Real wages for truckers have fallen since the late 70’s? Or that stimulant abuse is far larger problem now? I recognised that there were some gains, but you seem not to recognise that there were also large costs.

  5. I said “neoliberal” – free markets, free trade, minimal government, low taxes, no unions. No, I don’t think Pinochet is stretch. Those were the policies he said would save the country and that was the revolution he defended.

  6. “But you go on and build your moral equivalencies between “neo-liberals” and Stalinists. Let me know when you figure out where the “neo-liberal” gulag dead are buried.”

    This is such a ludicrous misinterpretation of what Scott wrote that I’m not sure it’s argued in good faith. Let’s not let the argument devolve before it started but rather ignore this outburst.

  7. Pinochet was only neoliberal in his *economic* policies, and there weren’t all that many other dictators that were neolibeal at all. (The East Asians diverged pretty sharply from neoliberal orthodoxy in their policies, and certainly in their ideology.)

    Obviously the comparison with socialism was sometimes strained, but maybe we can forgive him since *it was a setup to a freaking joke,* a really funny one by the way. He was only partly serious, so picking nits seems a bit thickheaded.

  8. “a classical liberal”

    I believe Hayek coined that term. Couldn’t you say that it’s slightly revisionist? Pre-1859 liberals weren’t really ideologically *that* close to Hayek, certainly not Bentahamites, and how close can you say they were regarding policy, when they lived in completely different worlds, with a whole different social, political and economic situation?

  9. David, I was thinking more about Gillingham’s description of the radical neoliberal reformist regimes. He really does call the 1984 New Zealand Labour government and some of the Thatcher governments “legal dictatorships.” That’s his word. The analogy really does hold. In both places, the old system was failing, and the effect was so devastating that a new government was installed without effective opposition and was able to take action with little or no regard for public opinion. Gillingham praises governments for actions that impoverished millions of people. A government without meaningful opposition isn’t that different from a dictatorship.

    The analogy with the history of socialism was, of course, somewhat forced, but only about 60% kidding. Gillingham is the one who takes that tack, and I think turnabout is fair play.

    Marx said that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as comedy. If Stalin was a tragedy, then this is definitely comedy.

  10. “while rejecting his Whigish carping about how the world will go to hell in a hand-basket if we have socialised medicine or labour unions.”

    Ha! That’s so right on the mark. He *is* very whiggish, I hadn’t thought about it in those terms. Yet another reason to think of him as as much conservative as liberal.

  11. David (and Scott),

    I don’t think it’s too late (and I hope I haven’t contributed to any incipient lateness).

    My point (as David has perceived) is that, though Pinochet might have espoused a few things that would fit within a liberal* agenda, it would be odd indeed to view him as a liberal. There is much more to liberalism than Manchester. And from many perspectives, Pinochet is an apt avatar of Satan particularly for liberals.

    The joke was indeed a good one, though (as Scott suspected) one sees it coming a long way off.

    * Like Gillingham, I don’t think the ‘neo’ bit adds much value, unless perhaps to distinguish from the usual American misuse of the term ‘liberalism’ (i.e., social-democracy-and-water); or to posit some new kind of liberalism that dislikes unions but dispenses with the bothersome, em, liberal bits. If the latter, call me palaeo.

  12. “But what is so interesting to me about the EU is the prospect of integration without a demos.”

    I think I severely disagree with you here, but there’s the problem of terminology. You should write a post about it.

  13. Brilliant take-down of one more annoying neoliberal free trade purist, Scott; many thanks. Between this discussion and the one on Henwood’s “After the New Economy” over at Crooked Timber, I’m getting my fill of heavy socio-economic critique.

    A few random, rambling comments:

    1) Perhaps I’m missing something obvious, but in many ways, isn’t this post of yours pretty much a straightforward rebuke to some of the assumptions underlying Edward’s two most recent posts? Might there be an AFOE rumble in the near future?

    2) In light of Mrs. T’s comments, I’m hesitant to speculate as to status of neoliberalism in the U.S., since the term obvious as various implications in different places. Still, President Clinton and the Democratic Leadership Council and Robert Reich and Paul Krugman (the 1990s versions) and all the rest were pretty explicit, via NAFTA and welfare reform and the like, in their embrace of a self described “neoliberal” break with traditional Democratic politics, and much of the hostility to Bush at the present moment in the U.S. arises from the conviction that he’s trashing the “orthodoxy” which the 1990s taught us (see Brad Delong’s blog for this argument). For many, this trashing is simple: Bush is a Republican, and he is pushing our society back towards the preferred Republican condition: namely, the exploitive robber-baron captialism of the early 20th century. But that doesn’t account for everything he’s done: his increased spending (less than is needed, obviously, but still) on education and the arts, his proposals for immigration reform, his selected use of tariffs and so forth. It could all be written off as cheap, ignorant opportunism, of course, and maybe most of it is. But one thing I’ve been wondering about on my blog lately (against my better judgment, I assure you) is whether Bush’s undeniably inconsistent, often self-serving “compassionate conservatism” might not, nonetheless, be suggestive of a real, coherent “conservative” (but of a different sort) alternative to the neoliberal orthodoxy–and that we who are interested in alternatives ought to be willing to recognize them from whatever source they come.

    3) This is obviously my hobby-horse Scott, and so I’ve no intention of hijacking this thread with arguments about it. But still, I can’t let it go by without comment (though it appears David beat me to it): do you really contemplate “the prospect of integration without a demos”? What on earth would the EU be then? How can there be a union of Europeans if there are no “Europeans”? I fully agree with you that “a mere free-trade zone is a profoundly uninspiring subject of study”–indeed, I’d go farther: a free-trade zone, as neoliberals have conceived them, is damaging and distracting Potemkin village, a way to make it appear that the people have been engaged in when in fact only elites have. But the conclusion I draw from such judgments is that the EU should move away from such phantoms, not try to institute them in new forms. To label the ancient political concept of the demos “a neologism that I suspect will grow old fast” is to engage in not a little bit of the same radicalism that you rightly condemn in Gillingham.

    4) I admire your fervor, and I recognize that your comparion of Thatcher, et al, with other dictators was part of your rhetorical strategy. Moreover, I too lived through the break-up of AT&T, and am quite familiar with all the (continuing) horrors of deregulation. But you go too far in many of your claims. When you say “deregulation cost Americans money, safety, security and in some cases their lives,” you’re right–but of course, the regulations which greatly slowed innovation in travel, medical, communication throughout the 60s and 70s could counterfactually and quite easily be charged with deaths as well (consider Denys Arcand’s “The Barbarian Invasions,” where the superior technology of the American medical establishment is treated as an uncomfortable, undeniable fact). Similarly, you write in a comment above that “Gillingham praises governments for actions that impoverished millions of people.” True, Thatcher did. But why then did the Labour Party only find success in Great Britain after they essentially gave up fighting the battles of the 1980s? Could it be, perhaps, that the old arrangements weren’t just “failing,” as you claim, but had much greater costs than you acknowledge?

  14. Russell – starting from the end:

    4) “The regulations which greatly slowed innovation in travel, medical, communication throughout the 60s and 70s” – that was a period when there were enormous advances in travel, medicine and communications. Many of them came out of labs owned and run by monopoly concerns who could use their legally secured market position to fund expansive “blue sky” research. I’m prepared to listen to a contrafactual case, and sometimes even agree with it, but you have to actually make the contrafactual case. Gillingham doesn’t.

    However, I admit, fully and wholeheartedly, as I did in the body of the post, that there were and are grounds for regulatory reform in many areas including the ones I named. I do believe that regulatory reform is not necessarily the same thing as the elimination of regulation and I do think it is the responsibility of the relevant authorities and society at large to balance the losses with the gains and try to mitigate the damage. I am even prepared to consider – and in some cases admit outright – that the benefits of the deregulation process in the US, as thoroughly and fully flawed as it was, were greater than the costs at least in some cases.

    Yes, Labour’s current political strategy does build on much of what Thatcher did, and it seems reasonably popular. But Blair’s electoral victories stem, at least in part, from the recognition that some of the interests opposed to Thatcher were legitimate. I remember The Economist somewhat half-heartedly endorsing Blair at one point for exactly that reason. That is a case of synthesis.

    I haven’t seen “Les Invasions Barbares” yet. The wife can’t speak French and I haven’t got time to go to the movies alone right now. I love Arcand’s films, so it’s making me nuts that it’s out and I can’t see it.

    3) I am indeed every bit as radical as Gillingham. The big difference is that I have never expected to win the sort of full victory that Gillingham and a lot of – admittedly, usually American – neoliberals demand. I want to see a synthesis, not because I think I’m wrong but because real circumstances are always different than one expects. If Hayek’s defense of local knowledge is good for economics, well, it’s good for politics too.

    Also, I’m much more likely to admit that most radical political shifts are mixed blessings at best. If Gillingham had said that his policies were costly, had sometimes failed, were worth it anyway, explained why, and had pointed to some lessons to learn from past failures, I would have written a review that said something like “I disagree with GIllingham, but he’s worth reading anyway.”

    As for the “what would the EU be without Europeans” – it would be a bunch of people living on the east end of the Eurasian continent, preferably contentedly. I’m pretty cool with that. But that would go somewhat off-topic.

    2) Let me make another whole-hearted admission. Not all neoliberals are evil, and they aren’t always wrong. I said that neoliberalism has had arguable successes, just not unambiguous ones. If we’re going to stick to the analogy, Stalin wasn’t Eugene V. Debs, so why should I think Paul Krugman is George Bush? Find me a neoliberal willing to say that about socialism (besides Brad Delong).

    As I pointed out before, “dictatorship” was Gillingham’s description. I’m just running with it.

    As for Bush actually being consistent in his own way, I’d say the empirical evidence leans against it, but I’ve had some not dissimilar thoughts. I’ve been thinking maybe Bush is a sort of American version of Mahathir or Lee Kuan Yew or something like the “Bolivarian” dictators of Latin America – a kind of “American values” authoritarianism. I’ve been considering calling it “fascism with a human face” but it’s been done. Certainly there is a growing alignment between American values and developing world values that it would fit neatly into. But, I don’t think I have a strong case.

    1) I hope not. I agree with everything Edward said in the last two posts. I think a US-led global recovery is both unlikely and the wrong approach on principle, and I think European unemployment levels are a travesty. That much lost productivity – not to mention dignity and opportunity – ought to be seen as a catastrophy by everyone regardless of their place on the political spectrum. I suspect it is not only the cause of much that is wrong in Europe, but is probably the indirect cause of the whole headscarf mess.

  15. 1) We don’t have a party line. Edward’s gloomy for mostly other reasons than a neoliberal might be gloomy.

    2) Neoliberalism in the European sense means hayekian, even libertarian. Maybe it’s a slightly broader tent than libertarianism is, but it does imply someone clearly to the right of Brad DeLong.

    3) Yeah. You need to explain what you mean, Scott.

    4) Agreed, but actually, I was surprised by how centrist Scott sounded. He’s supposed to be our resident lefty.

  16. Mrs. T – I should, of course, point to the vast numbers of socialists who said from the beginning that the only thing socialist about the USSR was the third letter in its abbreviation. I was mostly trying to be funny, but sticking to that metaphoric framework, I will gladly make the same admission for Pinochet on the same conditions. If I can’t hold Pinochet against them, they can’t hold Stalin against me.

    And furthermore, when people talk about those damn liberals in America, I’m more the kind of person they mean than Pinochet or Hayek. I just want to make sure that there is no terminological problem here – “liberal” in this context does not mean what “liberal” means in conventional English-language discourse. That is one reason for the prefix “neo-“.

  17. Ah, I see David has done the terminology problem too.

    As for the rest – I’m a very radical leftist with a fondness for Marx, although I’ve actually dragged most of my politics up not directly from him but from later Marxist thinkers. However, I frequently advocate positions that are very centrist by European standards. I am not a social democrat, but I frequently advocate social democracy. I do this for the simple reason that social democracy has demonstrably raised standards of living and has brought about in the developed world a level of luxury and dignity for the common man that was unthinkable as little as three generations ago.

    There are radical leftists who want things to get worse so that the revolution will come. I think that’s stupid.

    Now, an advocacy of social democracy does not mean that every social programme, every tax and every policy is pure goodness and light. Having a political position does not eliminate the problem of actually devising effective policies. Times change and policies have to change with them, and no revolution, no grand projet politique is ever going to change that. If a policy seems to me to be sane, sustainable and likely to actually make people’s lives better, I’m for it.

    As for the part about not needed a European identity – what do you think I’ve been posting about for the last two months? I said as much in the headscarf posting.

    Give me a few days – I need to get up a post about the Congo on the other blog – and then I’ll write something here about it.

  18. Scott writes:

    … I frequently advocate social democracy. I do this for the simple reason that social democracy has demonstrably raised standards of living and has brought about in the developed world a level of luxury and dignity for the common man that was unthinkable as little as three generations ago.

    … If a policy seems to me to be sane, sustainable and likely to actually make people’s lives better, I’m for it.

    Verging rather on ameliorationism, aren’t you, comrade?

    Funnily enough I agree, though. It is largely for the reasons you describe above that I am not a libertarian, for all that some of my instincts are.

  19. Mrs T – where I come from, we call that the dialectic. :^)

    David, possibly we are. I’m not advoacting the depopulation of Europe when I suggest a Europe without Europeans.

  20. “Like Gillingham, I don’t think the ‘neo’ bit adds much value, unless perhaps to distinguish from the usual American misuse of the term ‘liberalism’ (i.e., social-democracy-and-water); or to posit some new kind of liberalism that dislikes unions but dispenses with the bothersome, em, liberal bits. If the latter, call me palaeo.”

    You often hear in blog discussions that in Europe liberalism means the opposite of what in means in the US, which is simply not true. All the large liberal parties are quite centrist except the Dutch and German ones, and even they aren’t hayekians.

    TH Green is as liberal as Hayek, Chris Bertram and I are as liberal as Gillingham.

  21. “Might there be an AFOE rumble in the near future?”

    Certainly not. I’m not a neoliberal, although I do believe in free trade, including the free movement of persons. You’d have to include Brad DeLong and Paul Krugman as neoliberals on this definition.

    Also if you want, you could read some of my posts on ‘structural reforms’, where I think you’ll find I try to distinguish between those that genuinely do offer the possibility of higher productivity and real employment, and those that involve semi-clandestine, semi-legal workers (braceros?) in what can only be regarded as a travesty of employment.

    “Edward’s gloomy for mostly other reasons ”

    I’m not always gloomy: I’m pretty optimistic about India actually :).

    “I hope not. I agree with everything Edward said in the last two posts.”

    I agree with this entirely, but we’d better watch out Scott, or we’ll be getting each other a bad name :).

  22. “Mr Bacon

    147. Professor Guild, I am pleased to see that you think that the draft unacceptably limits the role of national parliaments. Do you agree that, for there to be a democracy, there has to be a demos?
    (Professor Guild) This is one of the debates which interests me very much. I have been following it since Professor Wyler began to discuss the question of the demos for Europe about 15 years ago. Recently, I have been doing a little research with colleagues in other disciplines and other social sciences about the question of nationalism and people. I would rely, at this point, on the very famous now deceased anthropologist, Ernest Gellner, on the question of nationalism in the last book he wrote before his death where he looked at choices that people make as groups about who they belong to and who they do not belong to and he takes as an example something which is often considered self-evident in Member States of the European Union, that people want to live with people like them. He said that, in anthropology, we have many examples to show that is not true. People choose a group of people and decide to change even their language overnight to use a different language for various purposes and they choose to live or to have among them many people who are very different. This then brings us back to the question of demos. What is a demos? What are the choices which we make? Is there self-evidence of some kind of sense of European identity which is seen extremely differently in different Member States fundamental to the construction of a form of a democracy? It seems to me that we have to be quite careful about transposing 19th century views on state building?and I would refer to the work of Charles Tilley here?to the 21st century development of supranational governance.

    148. I am not clear that you have actually answered my question as to whether you think we need a demos to have a democracy.
    (Professor Guild) I am questioning what we mean by demos. What is a demos? Are we inserting into that idea some kind of creation of a national group or the equivalence of a national group or are we saying that demos is whatever the group of people are who form the political legitimacy within a system of governance.

    149. You mentioned the question of language which is obviously fundamental if people are to participate, to read debates, to read court judgments and understand what is being done in their name. Are you seriously suggesting that, because anthropologists have shown that sometimes people choose to switch their language?I was in Luxembourg the other day where children grow up with French and German as both mother tongues as well as Letzebourgisch?that major countries could somehow switch their language? Is that a serious point?
    (Professor Guild) In answer to you?and I do not wish to underestimate the importance of the question?if one looks at the discussion in the United States at the moment about whether it is an English or Spanish speaking country and if there is a transformation taking place, we see exactly those arguments and the tensions around those arguments in perhaps one of the most powerful countries in the world at the moment that is having a lot of discussion about what language is the language of the state and what are the mechanisms of transformation of language.”

    http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm200203/cmselect/cmeuleg/63-xxvi/3040202.htm

  23. “In answer to you?-and I do not wish to underestimate the importance of the question?-if one looks at the discussion in the United States at the moment about whether it is an English or Spanish speaking country and if there is a transformation taking place, we see exactly those arguments and the tensions around those arguments in perhaps one of the most powerful countries in the world at the moment that is having a lot of discussion about what language is the language of the state and what are the mechanisms of transformation of language.”

    Ok, maybe it’s the fault of the transcriber and/or translator, or maybe it’s because it’s rainy out and I’m feeling sluggish, but as God as my witness, I have abolutely no idea what Professor Guild’s point is in this passage.

    Does Guild think that the fact that demographic shifts in the U.S. have entailed linguistic shifts is reason enough to bracket the whole matter of language use when considering the question of democratic legitimacy in the U.S.? But that’s ridiculous; it is exactly such shifts which throw into sharp relief the centrality of language to the self-consciousness of, and hence the democratic legitimizing power of, the “demos.” Well, is Guild arguing then that the fact that the U.S. is increasingly having to address head-on (through a reconsideration of its immigration policies, education standards, and so forth) the fact of minority languages within its borders is proof that multilingualism is perfectly compatible with whatever a “demos” may be? If so, then he is engaging in (optimistic) speculation; it is by no means clear, when one looks at both the not wholly salutary rise of influence of Spanish-speaking communities in certain places throughout the U.S., as well as the negative (sometimes nativist, sometimes just plain perplexing) reactions to that rise in the politics of those places, that the mere presence of a rethinking of the linguisticality of the “demos” is proof that democratic legitimacy will in fact survive such rethinking.

    There must be more to what Guild is saying, and I’m missing it. As it stands, the professor seems to be waxing eloquent about the complicated role of language in a country, without either specifying what those complications are, nor whether or not we should be trying to untangle them.

  24. Scott,

    James Scott’s Seeing like a State is indeed a book you should consider taking a look at. I believe that Brad DeLong has a quite good review of the book, in which he points out that Scott’s argument is intellectually related to Hayek’s critique of economic engineering.

    I personally find that while there’s something to be said for ‘metis’ (as James Scott calls it) or political, local know-how, there are also a considerable amount of situations in which local ‘know-how’ fares no better than some of the grand modernist schemes that he rightly criticizes.

    It’s always a joy to read you, although I admit it is a bit disillusioning to see my silly cosmopolitanist aspirations shattered by the harsh realities of politics. Incidentally, on a personal note, I’m learning some computational linguistics on the side–in fact, I’m fully involved in a project dealing with text normalization of non-standard words–, just for the heck of it. Would love to read a rant on linguistics over at Pedantry. Cheers.

  25. Scott,

    James Scott’s Seeing like a State is indeed a book you should consider taking a look at. I believe that Brad DeLong has a quite good review of the book, in which he points out that Scott’s argument is intellectually related to Hayek’s critique of economic engineering.

    I personally find that while there’s something to be said for ‘metis’ (as James Scott calls it) or political, local know-how, there are also a considerable amount of situations in which local ‘know-how’ fares no better than some of the grand modernist schemes that he rightly criticizes.

    It’s always a joy to read you, although I admit it is a bit disillusioning to see my silly cosmopolitanist aspirations shattered by the harsh realities of politics. Incidentally, on a personal note, I’m learning some computational linguistics on the side–in fact, I’m fully involved in a project dealing with text normalization of non-standard words–, just for the heck of it. Would love to read a rant on linguistics over at Pedantry. Cheers.

  26. “Might there be an AFOE rumble in the near future?”

    Sorry to come back on this side issue, but I think it is worth emphasising that one of the virtues of blogging is that this doesn’t necessarily have to happen.

    I would say that the great thing about blogging is that it provides the possibility of having a cross section of reasoned views expressed without leaving blood on the pavement.

    Definitely a contribution to a healthy civil society and to civic discourse: and normally Fistful comments are a model in this regard.

  27. “a bunch of people living on the east end of the Eurasian continent”

    I note with some embarassment that I meant to say “a bunch of people living on the west end of the Eurasian continent.” This may explain some of the confusion. That goes beyond a typo – since I must have read that sentence at least three times and seen the word “west” every time. That was a brain fart.

    Edward – well, I’m not per se against free trade. But, I do think that trade barriers have aided in the development of some previously underdeveloped states. And, I think that the problems posed by multinationals able to shop for the least restrictive regulatory scheme and the risks of capital flight are real. I also have some real problems with the trade agendas being advanced by the US and the EU. But, all that is more a call for an effective international economic governance than an opposition to free trade on principle. I eat Dutch cheese, listen to French music, work on an American computer and used to drive a Korean car. I don’t see any special reason to make those things hard to have.

    I just haven’t got any enthusiasm for localist alternatives to globalisation.

    I suppose I might give you a bad name by agreeing with you, but what I’ve proposed – which strikes me as policies well within the ideological reach of any European liberal party – is radical leftism in the US. So, my “street cred”, such as it is, is pretty intact. :^)

    As for structural reforms in the labour market – I’m sort of saying that if the state is able to offer decent income support outside the market, I am less bothered when competition with the developing world lowers wages. If moving jobs overseas really does raise profits and increases productivity – which is something of a dogma for the free-market evangelists – then taxable income ought to increase enough to compensate for the losses. If moving jobs to India makes some people richer and some people poorer, it only makes sense if we can tax the people getting richer and give the money to the ones getting poorer.

    I can’t find a decent reason to not want good jobs to go to India. Indians certainly appreciate them. But I do think that this shouldn’t be leaving people worse off in the US and UK. The same logic ultimately applies to the immigrant worker. If Mexicans are willing to move to California to pick strawberries at minimum wages, because it really is good money for them, then this ought to be producing profits for somebody who ought, in turn, to be compensating the people losing agricultural jobs because of it. That seems to me to be in line with your post here.

  28. Pedro – I’m certainly not an uncritical Hayekite. I don’t want to dismiss grand projects either, although I might argue that there never really was a “high modernism.” Even grand projects have context – they don’t happen in a vaccuum. I do want people to learn from the failures of past social engineering, and I think Hayek has some genuine insight to offer there, but I want them to do this so that that can do successful social engineering.

    There is a growing focus on understanding the successful grand projects of the past, in part because it is often a mystery why things that worked once often don’t work twice. I see a lot of books bringing new focuses to the industrial revolution and the development of the US and Japanese economies rather than focusing solely on why is the path to development that seems so obvious to people is failing elsewhere.

    As for computational linguistics – I’m having some normalisation issues myself, especially in *$#%ing German, where they capitalise every frigging noun! But, I do have this incredibly cool algorithm for terminology extraction using algorithmic information theory and a perceptron. It has some drawbacks, but it is *so* fast. I have a more generalised version of the algorithm in mind that has some impact on theories of language acquistion, but it involves doing some new math that I haven’t time to get into.

    I can’t talk about the specifics of commercial research on Pedantry, but there will be a post going up this weekend (I hope) on contact lingustics in the Congo Basin.

  29. “Edward – well, I’m not per se against free trade. But, I do think that trade barriers have aided in the development of some previously underdeveloped states.”

    And I’m not an ideologue. So I can agree that there may be circumstances, and that circumstances alter cases. However in general I go with free trade. I think countries like India were the big losers of the old protectionism.

    “And, I think that the problems posed by multinationals able to shop for the least restrictive regulatory scheme and the risks of capital flight are real.”

    I think this calls for a post on the future of MNC’s in the not too distant future. For now I’ll just mention: remember everything that lives was born to die.

    “I eat Dutch cheese, listen to French music, work on an American computer and used to drive a Korean car.”

    Well let’s just move all that a whole lot to the east and even more to the South and you’ll be doing just fine.

  30. Gee. I guess I should turn down my invitation to review _European Integration_ for the _Journal of Economic Literature_, shouldn’t I?

    🙂

    And do move _Seeing Like a State_ to the top of your to-read list…

  31. “However, one thing I do remember quite clearly is how deregulation in each of those areas drastically reduced the quality of service. Airlines service was a mess for years, especially after the acrimonious end to the PATCO strike and the constant din of bankruptcies. Telephone service under the “Baby Bells” and the new long distance providers was somewhat cheaper – eventually – but reliability did not return to 1980 levels for a decade, and most of us who were teens in that era mostly remember cheap phones with bad sound that broke a lot. Trucking moved from a stable source of employment for many underskilled people to an industry that pays minimal wages, offers no benefits, and has a major stimulant abuse problem. And as for banking, it is still difficult to determine if there were any gains at all when the costs of the S&L scandal are taken into account.”

    Scott, you almost seem to be describing a different planet from the one I grew up in. Having grown up in New Jersey in the 80s and early 90s (and having worked as a Teamster while in college), I saw no real decline or disruption in telephone service, loads of folks making a nice living as truckers and a huge increase in the flexibility and services offered by banks (no doubt largely due to the ubiqitous ATM, but that wouldn’t be here in the same numbers in a strongly regulated labor environment.)

    As to bankrupt airlines, good riddance to bad rubbish. Uneconomic capital-sinks prior to the advent of non-hub&spoke carriers like SouthWest.

    I simply can’t agree with anything you’re saying here.

    Bernard Guerrero

  32. Scott,

    “Or perhaps we should talk about AIDS victims in Africa dying because the failure to enforce American and European patents on anti-viral medications would get what trade they have cut off? They’re buried all over the place”

    Irrelevant. There is no moral equivalence between killing citizens you don’t like and letting far-away people you don’t care about much one way or the other die. The former is murder, the latter is merely callous. I am under no imperative to sacrifice resources (which is what allowing the infringement of patent rights of companies that pay taxes to my government and employ my neighbors amounts to) in order to help a series of ciphers.

    However, if it helps, I’ll toss you a bone. Stalin was, in terms of what people actually care about, correct. One death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic.

    Bernard Guerrero

  33. Bernard, I can’t speak for Scott, but I would be very surprised if he regarded the thought of oul’ Iosef Vissarionovich being ‘correct’ about something as a bone to be grateful for. You’ll have to do better than this.

    (And I am not saying this merely to keep Scott from hanging Pinochet round my neck.)

  34. “Bernard, I can’t speak for Scott, but I would be very surprised if he regarded the thought of oul’ Iosef Vissarionovich being ‘correct’ about something as a bone to be grateful for.”

    Ah, no, you misunderstand, Madam. I’m not implying that _he’d_ agree with the Man of Steel. I’m saying that in this particular instance, _I_ do. I suspect that most people do, really. Very few folks I know actually lose sleep over the plight of sub-Saharan Africa, for instance. Mostly it seems to be table-talk which has minimal effect on their consumption or free-time. Poor Pete Singer…

    Bernard Guerrero

  35. i can say some thing about the whole people of the world but just that “the people consumption and desire increasing day by day, and that desire and demand for the people are fullfilling by the Mnc’s” most of the people are becoming the Mnc’s consumer.
    kindly request to add this comment.
    thank’s
    imran khan

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