To support Corbyn, or not?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 16/08/2019 - 4:35pm in


Europe, Politics

It would seem to me that whether to support the Corbyn plan for bringing Johnson down, or not,  is the only question of relevance to Remainers right now.

Corbyn has appealed for support from opponents of No Deal to help bring down the government, and to then support him as prime minister so that Article 50 can be extended, a general election can be called, and a second referendum be held, in that order.

Of course there are problems with the proposal. It would seem to make sense to use any unity to call a second referendum before a general election. Unless that is done the referendum might not be held. And any general election would be about the referendum and not how to create policy to move on from it. The sequencing does appear wrong. 

And there are doubts about Corbyn’s control of Labour. But it seems nothing will stop some Labour members pushing their own self-destruct buttons.

So I get the reservations. But I suggest that they are misplaced. This is a moment of crisis. The greater good has to prevail. The greater good is preventing No Deal. And that requires uncomfortable compromises. 

Whether Corbyn’s demand is the best, or not, does not matter. Without Labour there is no plan. This is the one they propose. And it is decidedly time limited, with anyone backing it knowing that he only has to deviate one iota from it and they can pull his house down. As such no one will be giving him a blank cheque by supporting this move.

And there is no other option.

Caroline Lucas tried, and backfired, badly.

The LibDems are not going to drive this process right now: their only chance is to capitalise on it.

The SNP have said yes. They like making it clear Labour depends on them.

So it is the only show in town. 

And in that case, and because of its limited but appropriate aspiration, I think it has to be supported. 

The job is to block No Deal. Heaven help those who say that’s what they want and then assist Johnson’s survival.  

Brexit: According to Script

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 15/08/2019 - 8:27pm in

The commentariat's Brexit predictions are playing out, sadly.

Brexit: a tale of crisis foretold

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 14/08/2019 - 5:41pm in


Europe, Politics

I wrote the blog that follows in June 2016, just before the referendum. I have re-shared it before, but in the light of attempts by Caroline Lucas, Jo Swinson, Tom Watson and maybe, even, the SNP to find a basis for an anti-Brexit government I think it worth sharing again.

Much that I predicted has happened. And we are in the mess I suggested would arise. So far we have no solution to it.


I have already explained that I will be voting Remain next week.

I have discussed why I think people might vote Brexit.

And I have discussed what I think will happen to UK politics if Remain win by a small margin, which may be their best hope.

Now I address what might happen to UK politics if Brexit wins, as now seems possible.

First of all, let's start by stating the obvious. I have already said that Cameron and Osborne will have to go if Remain win. That will, of course, be even more the case if there is a vote for Brexit. I cannot see them making the weekend if that were to happen. We already know 65 Conservative MPs are willing to challenge George Osborne on the issue of the post Brexit budget that he proposes: as I have suggested, he will never get the chance to do so in that case.

Who though will be the next leader? I have suggested it will be Theresa May in the event of a small Remain vote. Does Brexit change that? In my opinion it does not. There are good reasons for saying so. As I have argued, the Conservative Party's goal is always power. It is deeply divided. The fighting machine that it is will seek to heal wounds. That is not Gove's instinct and Johnson has no part of him that readily embraces compromise. Neither could deliver what the Conservatives need and it's my belief that they will compromise on May, even after a Brexit campaign in which she has played almost no part (almost certainly deliberately).

Assume I am right. Will she win the support she needs to create government and will she survive any attempts by the combined opposition forces in the Commons to bring her government down? It's my belief that she would get enough support to keep a lame duck Tory administration in power. What is more, I cannot see anyone willing to put her or her government out of their misery.

There are good reasons for thinking this. First, as I have explained, Labour does not seem to have a coherent plan available for an alternative post Brexit vote negotiation and the SNP will want a weak Tory administration in office if they are to consider another referendum. The Conservatives might just see an advantage to conceding this but Labour never will.

Second, life for a post Brexit government is likely to be torrid. I am aware that there are many who are considering voting leave who suggest tht all the suggestions of economic problems arising as a result are just scare-mongering. I am quite well placed to discuss this with some pretty serious economists and none of us think that is the case. I am shocked that so much of the debate on Brexit is taking place based on what an economist might suggest is the assumption that ceteris paribus holds true - that all other things will be equal.

All other things will not be equal if we vote Brexit. First, the EU will be utterly unreasonable with the UK. Second, whether that is reasonable or not is irrelevant; that will be because ofthe impact Brexit will have on eurosceptic movements across Europe, whose cause will have been promoted to the chagrin of most EU ruling parties and that of Brussels itself. The risk of a domino effect is very real indeed, and tthat will motivate very harsh negotiations to make clear just how unattractive this option really is. Third, the risk to hegemony is so high that I do think market reaction will be very adverse.

Now none of these things have to trigger a UK recession or a worlwide financial crisis, but the first is, in my opinion, very likely and the second is at least plausible.

In fact I would argue recession is unavoidable. Investment in the UK will go on hold during renegotiation. No big business is going to sink millions or even billions into our economy without knowing what the future terms of UK trade might be. In itself this will be enough to trigger recession. Couple that with a planned withdrawal of certain parts of banking (those that need an EU regulatory base) from London and a downturn has to happen. Try as I might I cannot see where the stimulus happens. A sterling fall of 30% in recent years has not boosted UK growth so no one should respond by saying a fall in sterling us the counter-balance to all this. That will only create import induced cost push inflation, which is just about the last sort we want as it serves no domestic purpose at all.

Then, leaving aside the real risk of EU instability as a result of our vote, there is the risk of worldwide recession as global markets suffer the knock on effects of a fall in confidence in a global trading hub. This could be bad enough to make 2008 look like a picnic: that was about finance and this time the threat is to the real terms of trade, and that is much more serious.

I am not doing project fear here: I am simply offering my best assessment of risk.

What this  means for any prime minister over the next three years is that they face renegotiation of EU membership in the most torrid of environments, like it or not. I suspect all in the Remain camp (and that is the large majority of serious politicians) will have a view broadly similar to this. What is on offer to whoever takes the premiership after Brexit is a chalice much more poisoned than that Mervyn King thought was on offer to anyone in the UK in 2010.

In that case do not expect Labour to want to take office, I believe they will be happy for blue-on-blue action to continue and  for the mess  to arises on someone else's watch. The chance to say after 2020 that what they will have to do is clear up the mess they inherited, with a real justification for attributing blame in this  case, will be much too big to resist, in my opinion.

I stress that in that case it falls to all opposition parties to deliver an agenda for reform of the type I outlined in my blog on a narrow Remain win. I think the agenda is broadly similar, but with a twist. That twist has three elements. First they have to agree that we face an economic crisis caused by the rejection of neoliberalism, whichnis what a Leave vote would represent.

Second, they would have to agree a national infrastructure plan to tackle this. Because investment, money creation and tax are so intimately related (see The Joy of Tax) this s vital, in my opinion. Without an agreement to co-ordinate macro policy whilst devolving desired planning locally there will be n coherent economy alternative.

And third, the narrative of failure of neoliberalism has to be broadly agreed to challenge the backlash based in ingrained thinking that is still possible.

So what of the Conservatives who will have  been left with the supposed task of governing in  this thankless position  of their own creation?

First, a new Chancellor will have to rip up the balanced budget hymn sheet. Unless she or he does then any recession will be  much worse. But with that will go the whole Tory identity. So the option is bigger recession or in-fighting. They may go for the former, but in that case the need for an alternative plan from opposition parties is even more compelling.

Second, they will have to deal with belligerent parliaments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. These each reflect different political traditions at present. If they  combine their  voices they will gave real power.

Third, without opposition consent the government will be able to do very little. The 2015 manifesto will be history meaning the Lords will be free to challenge a great deal of legislation, and I think they will. In the Commons the government may well only be able to  survive with opposition support on key economic issues because of fractures within its own ranks. To describe the likely outcome as lame duck is to be kind to it.

Despite that I expect such an administration, whose sole focus will be EU renegotiation as there will be little or no time for anything else, to survive a full term. That is because I suspect  the Article 50 exit negotiations will be incomplete  in 2020. The EU will wish for that. Being able to demonstrate the crippling impact of attempting to leave on the UK will be vital to other  member states wishing to  crush  their own exit  movements.

So what of 2020 in this case? I would live to think that a coalition dedicated to these things might be elected:

  • Electoral reform
  • House of Lords reform
  • EU readmission on revised terms
  • A national economic plan.

This government should, I suggest, seek a mandate for no more than two years.  Then there would be new elections and a referndum on the terms for re-admission to the EU.

It is my hope that by then the EU may also have realised reform is essential and that changes in the free movement of people and capital and the use of People!s QE to fund infrastructure would have all been possible. I have to live in hope, but the circumstances for change could have been created by Brexit.

And only after that election would three things happen.

First, the return of more normal politics.

Second,  economic recovery.

And third the resolution of issues like Scotland's membership of the U.K., or not.

Of course none of this may happen. Most particularly the opposition parties may not cooperate with each other. But shame on them if they don't. We face a crisis that need not have happened now but which has been waiting in the wings for the opportunity to arise for some time. Unless opportunity is taken from that crisis our prospects are very grim indeed. As I say, I live in hope.

Brexit Breakup

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 12/08/2019 - 7:54pm in

More consternation about Johnson's possible Brexit moves.

Austerity Has Made People Less Prepared for a No Deal Brexit

The government says it's preparing for a Brexit crash out. But ten years of spending cuts have made the people of Britain intensely vulnerable to economic shock.

The letter I’d write to Michael Gove

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 07/08/2019 - 5:45pm in



Michael Gove has suggested that the EU is not willing to negotiate on Brexit. If I was in Brussels this is the letter I might be inclined to send him:

Dear Mr Gove

We have noted your suggestion that we in the European Union are not willing to negotiate with the United Kingdom at present. We thought it appropriate to let you know that we do not agree.

We are willing to meet with you, and hold discussions at any time, but we note that your Prime Minister has not sought to meet us.

We also note that there is in place a draft agreement that we spent three years negotiating with the government of which you, and your Prime Minister, were a part for much of that time.

We are, of course, aware that this agreement did not meet with the approval of the House of Commons, which disappointed us and your previous Prime Minister.

However, we also note that as yet we have not heard from you as to the changes that you would like to make in this agreement, barring the abolition of the Northern Ireland backstop, which we reluctantly included in that agreement in the form in which it is stated at the specific request of the Prime Minister that you previously served.

We note that this is now unacceptable to you, but would draw it to your attention that it was always agreed to be a precondition of these talks that there should be no breach of the Good Friday Agreement, which a hard border in the island of Ireland would be. We have always been open to viable alternative arrangements to such a border, but as yet we note that you have not been able to offer any, and as such we are not willing to renegotiate this clause present, but the fault is not ours: we have been patiently awaiting your viable proposals on this issue for a long time, and still do so.

In the circumstances, we would politely suggest that we have proven our willingness to negotiate on an issue, not of our choosing, over a long period of time and that in that case your suggestion does appear inappropriate.

If you would like to return to the negotiating table, with viable and workable propositions that we can consider in a spirit of mutual cooperation to seek to resolve the issues that we face we should be pleased to see you in Brussels at any time.

Best regards


If only.......

Britain After Brexit: Welcome to the Vulture Restaurant

US business will asset-strip the UK, but that’s not all: the Pentagon will find the little-known fragments of the British empire very useful.

An Interview with Werner Bonefeld on ordoliberalism and the EU

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 06/08/2019 - 6:00am in

This interview was
conducted by the podcast Political
Economy for the End Times
, which acts as a platform for discussion of the
intersecting crises of contemporary capitalism (follow on Twitter here). In this episode, Werner
Bonefeld, Professor of Politics at the University of York and a central thinker
within the Open Marxist tradition, discusses the theoretical foundations of ordoliberalism
and its implications for understanding the European Union and its current
turmoil. He is the author of The
Strong State and the Free Economy
, Critical
Theory and the Critique of Political Economy
, and co-editor of the SAGE
Handbook of Frankfurt School Critical Theory
. He was interviewed by Alexis Moraitis, whose research
focuses on the political economy of France and the EU.

AM: Neoliberalism has
entered the popular lexicon and is often held up as everything that is wrong
with modern politics. However, ordoliberalism is much less widely discussed.
What is ordoliberalism?

WB: Good question! First
of all, it’s liberalism. The prefix ‘ordo’ was only added, as it were, or came
to the fore in the 1950s, as a consequence of the name of the journal in which
the then ordoliberals wrote. The journal itself, I believe, was also edited – coedited
– by Hayek, which gives you a connection to so-called neoliberalism, whatever
the distinction and difference between those two might be. Ordoliberalism as
such, or as an approach, was first called a new liberalism, and then it was
called a neoliberalism, and it was called a neoliberalism by one of its
founding thinkers called Alexander Rüstow at the Walter Lippmann colloquium in
France whenever it was, was it 1938? And he understood by neoliberalism then,
which later became ordoliberalism, an understanding of the state as the
indispensable power of a free economy. And he saw the state, or he termed the
state, he defined the state basically as Marx had it, or as Weber has it, or
everybody else has it, as the concentrated power of society, and he defined
that concentrated power as market police.

AB: I find it very
interesting that you said ordoliberalism is liberalism … What is the
relationship of ordoliberalism to classical liberalism, and particularly Adam
Smith and his concept of the ‘invisible hand’?

WB: Every approach, every
author worth their name, will live through certain periods and faces certain
historical contexts, and [approaches are] thus reformulated, revised, and
developed. Nothing stays forever. So Smith wrote whenever he wrote and Smithian
classical political economy evolved and was explored by other liberal thinkers
within the context of their time. The connection though is a quite strong one,
I think. If you look at Adam Smith The Wealth
of Nations
chapter one, there is the argument about the pin factory, about
the division of labour, about the need to increase labour productivity, and he
sees that as the foundation of the wealth of nations. And then he says towards
the end of chapter one, ‘and there will be opulence’. But opulence, he says,
depends upon good government, that’s in chapter one,  good government. So why is good government
required as far as Adam Smith is concerned? Good government is required because
the individuals are governed by self-love, so if you’re self-loving then you
need to be moralised, you need to become a citizen, you need to, as it were,
conduct yourself according to the rule of law. And you need to be reminded to
use your self-interest not to collude with your competitors, monopolising
prices, cartel organisation, monopolies etc. So there should be no collusion to
maintain profit rates artificially. And for all of that the state is required.
Adam Smith too calls the state ‘market police’ in the lectures on
jurisprudence. He argues that every issue concerning the manufacture, exchange,
and whatever else trade of the nation is a matter of police, and by police he
means market police, or public policy, as the instance of good government that
in fact facilitates the wealth of nations in terms of increased labour
productivity and increased division of labour.

AB: It appears that
ordoliberalism builds upon an existing tradition of liberalism, you mentioned
Hayek etc. There is continuity. In light of current proposals to a return to
Keynesian principles to solve the current crisis, where would you fit Keynes
within this lineage. Is it a challenge to ordoliberalism?

WB: Yeah, I suppose it is
a challenge. There is no doubt about that. It is a different conception of how,
as it were, to sustain an economy on an upward spiral. The difference, I
suppose, between neoliberalism or ordoliberalism, on the one, and Keynes, on
the other, might be best amplified by looking at Schumpeter’s creative destruct
and Keynes’ idea of good government as an interventionist government which
supports the economy through the artificial creation of demand. I think it’s
important to see all of this in the context of the late 1920s, early 1930s,
when the world was disappearing, particularly for the Austrians and for the Germans.
There’s the revolution of 1918. The old aristocratic organisation of the state
is gone. There is mass democracy – mass democracy seemingly unfettered by the
liberal principle. At least that was their critique … There is the crash of
1929. There is the inability to sustain liberal economy. Mass unemployment.
Huge challenges. And then depression in the early 1930s. What do you do? How do
you react? What do you save? What are the means of saving the system that you
aspire to? Given Bolshevism in the East which for many people at the time, rightly
or wrongly, looked like a just alternative. There was the New Deal which Hayek
also decries in the Road to Serfdom,
and then there is Hitlerism and Mussolini, and then there is later on in the 1930s
the Civil War in Spain. So these are turbulent times, no? The blowback to the
crash in 1929 was quite dramatic. So what do you do? What as a liberal do you
stand for? What is important, what is essential, what are the purposes, and who
is doing what, what are the means, what are the ends? And if you put all of
these thinkers – Schumpeter, Keynes – into the same bracket there, you see that
they all respond to the crisis of liberal economy, they all try to come up with
ways to save liberal economy for its own sake. The means of change are entirety
different, but the purposes or the ends of these interventions are the same,
namely to safeguard liberal economy.

AM: Is therefore then ordoliberalism
just one variety of capitalist management – is it just one way to govern
capitalism? Or is there something fundamental to it, about the role of the
state in a market society?

WB: Let me summarise for
you pages twenty to thirty in Freidman’s Capitalism
and Freedom
. He says clearly the state is a requirement, it’s
indispensable. We liberals require the state, the existence of the state. It is
required – there is a need for a state to set down the rules of the game and to
enforce the rules of the game, to facilitate competition, and to change the
rules of the game. We liberals therefore require the state as the institution
of the rules of the game, as the institution of the enforcement of the rules of
the game, as the institution that punishes those who do not abide by the rules
of the game, and as the institution to facilitate competitiveness and to
facilitate the open and the free society. Freidman almost seems to argue that
the state is required as a planner for competition, and planner for competition
is a phrase that Hayek himself alludes to in the Road to Serfdom.  

AM: Mario Draghi in a
speech in 2013 made a claim that the monetary constitution of the European
Central Bank (ECB) is firmly grounded in the principles of ordoliberalism. Is
that an adequate characterisation? Is the EU an ordoliberal project?

WB: Whether the ECB is
firmly based on ordoliberal principles is a matter for discussion. Eucken for
example rejected central bank independence because he thought that a central
bank could never be as depoliticised as monetary policy has to be. It is still
influenced by political decision makers and can therefore be politicised. He
advocated a system of competitive currencies where the state has no handle on
it, in fact the value of these currencies is merely market based. So, much more
stringent, as it were, much stronger, much more market-based approach to
monetary policy and the management of currencies. Others say, yeah the ECB is
based on ordoliberal principles because of its independence, its distinctions, its
narrow organisation, its statutory requirements, and all of what it does is in
fact replacing in institutional form within a regional framework what used to
be done by the Gold Standard in the 1920s in particular. And the ECB is seen as
the institution that replaces, as it were, the management of labour markets
through the Gold Standard and it does so as an independent institution of
central banking for a regional block.

AM: We can see that there
are certain ordoliberal principles underpinning the European Monetary Union.
Can we say that the whole European Union project is underpinned by ordoliberal
principles? Or is it that aspect of European integration – the monetary side?

WB: I’m not so sure it is
right to say it is underpinned by ordoliberal principles. I think
ordoliberalism articulates certain principles and these principles are the
principles of a capitalist economy. There is no theory really that says that
fiscal policy should be profligate. Keynesianism argues for countercyclical
spending, but it doesn’t say that fiscal policy should be deficit-ridden just
because it can be done, there are certain principles there. There is no
economic theory that says that monetary policy should not be sound but unsound,
as it were. There is no economic policy which says that labour markets can be
unproductive, that labour can be unprofitable. There is no such thing really.
What ordoliberalism does is to highlight the requirement for such a system to
operate. And it highlights the requirements as requirements of an economy that
is governed by an executive state, by a strong state, by a principled state, by
a state that is able to gain and maintain its independence from society and, as
such an independent force, govern society according to the rule of law.

AB: Many in the
nationalist camp, and also on the left, argue that the EU is a threat to
national sovereignty. Do you agree with claims that the increasing power of the
European Commission or the ECB leads to a retreat of the state? Does the EU as
a project involved the shrinking of state power?

WB: First a remark – a
personal statement of my own politics. I am an internationalist, and if the EU undermines
nationalism then I would be very much in favour of its operation. Secondly, I
don’t think that the EU, in fact, forces the European nation states into
retreat, in as much as the European Union monetary policy included or monetary
union included is nothing without the power of the nation state. It is in fact
through the nation states that the monetary union has any relevance and is made
viable. The monetary union does not enforce itself – it is enforced by the
nation states who act as executive states of the bond that unites them, and the
bond that unites them is monetary union. In fact, I would argue that monetary
union allows the state an independence from mass democratic aspirations and
demands and pressures, and allows them more strongly to govern over them in
order for the market media of European law, European money, European markets to
become viable as a consequence through their policies. So, in fact, what the
nation state does –  the government of
the nation state – what they do is to imbue, to endow the monetary union with a
consciousness and a will. Without them the monetary union would be nothing.

AM: It appears that, in a
sense, the EU can help promote policies that states would pursue anyway to
govern capitalism, but they cannot because of domestic political pressures.
There is a sort of depoliticisation at work. Is this relationship between member
states and the EU always a harmonious one? I want to refer more precisely to
the case of Syriza in Greece, which was a party that was elected on a radical
platform, anti-austerity platform, and it was ultimately forced, allegedly, by
the European authorities to pursue 
radical restructuring and austerity programme. So my question is, is
there always harmony between the EU, the EMU, and member states?

WB: No, clearly there is
not always harmony. And you don’t need the Greek case – you can look at the
competing designs and proposals for monetary union by the Germans and the
French, and there is not harmony. What the EU, however, does is to provide a
table, and what pitted them against each other in war in the past is now
negotiated between government leaders, and decisions are taken where the
various interests converge, regardless of who is the powerful nation and who is
not the powerful nation. The asymmetry of power between let’s say the French,
the Germans, and the Greek state is clearly in evidence. But nevertheless they
sit around the table and decide on the next step in conditions which in the
past related or referred or led to war and bloodshed in the centre of

AM: Some say that the EU
is facing its largest challenge to date – that it has a real existential
anxiety. Would you say that the EU project is in crisis? And, if yes, what
would that tell us about the ordoliberal principles that underpin it? Do they
fail to uphold the order that they seek to impose?

WB: I think the management
of the Eurozone crisis was most effective – unfortunately, one might wish to
add. Even the Greek Syriza government now is a champion of austerity and has,
in terms of the contract that they signed with the European Union, been rather
successful. Syriza I suppose has been one of the most successful austerity
parties and governments in the context of Europe. It’s quite an amazing development,
from anti-austerity protests to the enforcement of austerity in such an
effective manner. Whether the EU is in an existential crisis or not, I don’t
know. I mean, I’ve been through various histories of existential crises of the EU
– nothing much seems to happen as a consequence. In fact, it progresses through
crisis, and crisis is a means for its further development. The populist
nationalists in Europe, of course, are a major force now and are contenders at
least for the time being. What they propose, the leftists as well, the
anti-imperialist left, is the return to the nation state, to a sort of
democracy of the nation, a national democracy, or a nationalist democracy. What
the argument forgets is that each of these democracies is viable only if it is
able to compete on world market level, at world market prices, if its labour,
as it were, can compete with Chinese labour, if that is a way of summarising
this particular point. What the EU establishes is an institution and
institutional pressure to enhance labour productivity in its various
territorialised labour markets. To render them, as it were, capable of
modernisation, innovation, increased labour productivity, increased division of
labour – to go back to chapter one of Adam Smith – to make them viable as world
market contenders. And, in fact, the integration of the respective working
classes in Europe depends on the profitability or the profitable exploitation
of its labour to meet world market standards. And the EU is the institution and
is the means towards that end. Given that we are dealing with a capitalist
society, that a capitalist society organises itself in that way – i.e. institutional
means towards the ends of world market viable labour markets – is not really a
surprise. And criticising that seems to be entirely misunderstanding what capitalism
is about.    

AM: Speaking about this
existential anxiety, that might or might not be there, the fact is that the
desirability of the EU is questioned not only by the usual Eurosceptic
suspects, the nationalist right, but also by the left. Recently we have heard
calls for a Lexit, that is, a leftist social progressive exit from the EU. So,
I would rephrase the question, is another Europe possible, as some European
progressives suggest? Or is the EU bound to be ordoliberal? Can it be reformed
– can it be more Keynesian, for instance?

WB: The critique of the
leftists, as it were, on Europe amounts to me to a great lament, but, in fact,
not to a conceptualisation of the dynamic of capitalist wealth, class
relationships, and world market pressures. Moralising doesn’t really help,
lamenting doesn’t really help, doesn’t allow you to see what you need to see.
Whether the European Union can transform itself from a institution where the
regulative forces of the market – law, money and market competition – are
enshrined within a politically-constituted entity that is capable of Keynes
policy, we need to see. It is clearly possible. Whether or not it is desirable
for those who wish to organise their labour markets to meet world market
standards of competitiveness is another matter.

AM: The EU, and we could
even say the World Trade Organisation, can serve as depoliticisation
mechanisms, to circumvent issues of needs and popular legitimacy. But at the
same time, these organisations, and we can see it quite clearly in the EU, have
become the object of popular anger, and maybe to an extent they have become
repoliticised. Does this suggest that ordoliberalism has a legitimacy problem?
That it cannot banish legitimacy crises, and they are bound to be reproduced
again and again?

WB: Yeah, sure, but legitimacy
crisis are not, as it were, connected or tied to ordoliberalism or ordoliberal
government, whatever that in fact amounts to. Legitimacy crises are a recurrent
problem of capitalist organisation, throughout the last century and before, I
guess. That’s why we had revolts, insurrections, revolutions, change of regime,
etc. These are outcomes, to a great extent, of the lack of legitimacy of the
existing institutions and organisations of domination and rule. The question
really is if you look at the various capitalisms – fascism, republicanism, liberal
democracy, Keynesianism, New Deal – if you see that as a change in appearance,
as it were, what persists in this disappearance of one regime into another? And
what persists is a certain dynamic of wealth and the requirements of that
wealth, which is, in fact, the dispossessed labourer.

AM: But it seems like
Keynesianism offers certain palliative measures to at least curb the excesses
of capitalism, of free markets. There is this palliative notion in Keynesianism
– it can palliate, somehow, social antagonism. What does ordoliberalism suggest
to deal with such legitimacy crises. What does it offer on the table to avoid

WB: One could say that in
the history of Keynesianism, there is the recognition that the workers of a
society should be treated well so that there can be good workers and they can
be retained as such. Ordoliberalism doesn’t really deal with the question of
legitimacy, as such. It deals with it by the side entry, as it were. First of
all, it is clear in its understanding of society that there needs to be a means
of ideological coherence, ideological integration, and for the founding ordoliberal
thinkers, that was first the nation, then it became religion in the 1950s,
particularly Catholicism, a sort of ideological cement, that is very important
for them. Legitimacy was for ordoliberalism a result of functioning markets, of
greater affluence. So if everything is done according to their principles, if
coming back to Adam Smith, the first chapter of The Wealth of Nations, if opulence really occurs, if the
trickle-down effect really manifests itself. That was the way in which the
system itself is going to be legitimised according to the ordoliberals.

The post An Interview with Werner Bonefeld on ordoliberalism and the EU appeared first on Progress in Political Economy (PPE).

The Brexiteers pre-crashing out excuses are becoming ever more desperate

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 04/08/2019 - 7:50pm in



I noticed Fraser Nelson promoting a post on the Spectator site this morning. Its headline drew my attention. It was:

Why the onus is on the EU to do a Brexit deal

Written by someone called Charles Day, whose articles for The Spectator do little to inspire confidence in his judgement, this one makes the extraordinary argument that the EU has to agree an exit deal with the UK based on Article 50, which he notes as saying:

A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State.

He claims that the words 'shall' and conclude' apply only to the Union and oblige it, come what may, to reach a deal with the state that is leaving, whatever they might ask for.

It would seem that if Day is right then assuming that the UK had demanded that our former territories in France be returned to us then the EU would have been obliged to conclude a deal on that basis because they are obliged to reach a deal. We, apparently, can then be as unreasonable as we like and based on this logic the EU is obliged to agree.

The logic is, of course, absurd. It is entirely appropriate that Article 50 requires that the EU assist a member state who wishes to leave the EU. But no reasonable interpretation on earth says it must do so whatever is demanded. But that is what Day is saying.

Let's be clear; arguments as stupid as this are going to be rolled out relentlessly over the weeks and months to come. All of them will supposedly justify Boris Johnson's intransigence. And if this is the standard we are to expect, they'll all be completely crass.

But then, the whole Brexit project is just that.

Sajid Javid – the fantasist

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 02/08/2019 - 4:42pm in


Europe, HMRC

According to The Evening Standard, London’ evening paper:

In a letter to Sir Jon [Thompson, Hmrc’s boss] Mr Javid said: "HMRC must make no deal preparation their absolute top priority as the UK prepares to exit the European Union on 31st October 2019, with or without a deal."

He said HMRC must deliver "critical internal systems and staffing" to function on October 31, including the 5,000-plus additional staff required to support and handle the increase in businesses making customs declarations.

Mr Javid also said HMRC should work across Whitehall to set up an "ambitious" central helpline to support firms with concerns about Brexit.

He said customs officials must work with counterparts from the Treasury, Home Office, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Border Force to deliver the "necessary changes to customs, tax and welfare arrangements in order to ensure a smooth exit and transition".

In his instructions to Sir Jon, Mr Javid said he expected to receive "weekly delivery-focused updates from HMRC to ensure progress remains on track" in the run-up to October 31.

I could apologise for quoting at length but this is obviously reproduced press release, so I won’t.

What I do say are four things. First, there is no organisation on earth that could do this. Expanding by about 10% in staff terms, and making those additional personnel fully functional in that time period, which includes summer holidays, is impossible.

Second, it is a well known fact that HMRC has never delivered a critical system on time. It won’t be different now.

Third, the changes required to customs, welfare and tax arrangements will on occasion require legislation, and Javid must know he has no chance of delivering such changes by 31 October.

So, fourthly, what this proves is that Sajid Javid is a fantasist, living in his Brexit bunker, thinking that writing a letter will solve a problem. It won’t. Just a monent’s thought on his part would make that obvious.

So why has he done this?

Because he’s stuoid?

In a pre-emptive attempt to pass the buck?

Because a moment’s thought challenges his ability to concentrate too much?

Or simply because he really is is a fantasist?

I suspect it is all four.

I wish all the staff at HMRC well in the impossible time that they are facing.