I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Uncategorized What Is To Be Done?

What Is To Be Done?

John Fanning
In 1947 in the Swiss spa resort of Mont Pèlerin a group of economists, historians, philosophers and other public intellectuals under the leadership of Friedrich Hayek, author of the influential The Road to Serfdom, met to form a society with the objective of reversing the postwar trend towards economic planning co-operation between labour and capital. The group included Milton Friedman, Ludwig von Mises and Karl Popper. They argued against not only Marxist economic planning but also any hint of Keynesianism; their objective was maximum economic freedom and minimum state intervention. They aimed to free humanity from what they regarded as the slavery of the state, arguing for minimal taxes, dismantling of public services and the curbing of trades unions. They gained the support of prominent business families who funded right-wing think tanks, university departments, academic journals and leading media groups, to publicise their ideas. They cleverly framed their arguments in innocuous phrases to devastating effect: nanny state, welfare cheats, red tape. But the political atmosphere in the postwar world, which favoured social solidarity and co-operation was not conducive to the acceptance of their message. This was the beginning of what was called in France the Trente Glorieuses, three decades of steady economic growth and increasing equality. But, the Mont Pèlerin society bided their time and when in the mid-1970s trades union belligerence was threatening the economic consensus and the oil crisis threw Western economies into a tailspin they were on hand to provide the intellectual heft for the Thatcher and Reagan revolutions. So began the Trente Inglorieuses as a libertarian bandwagon sought to ride roughshod over the progressive reforms of the postwar world. The bandwagon had a good run but finally went off the rails in the Great Recession of 2008 as the internal contradictions of light-touch regulation and an out-of-control financial system resulted in the most serious economic recession since 1929. But in the absence of a left-wing intellectual alternative the libertarian ethos still reigned and austerity was prescribed as the solution. This has resulted in a growing mood of sullen resentment, exacerbated by a feeling that while the majority were being penalised for something they hadn’t done, the metropolitan financial elite who had caused the problem in the first place were feeling little pain. The recent avalanche of books attempting to explain the causes of these phenomena and recommend solutions to the underlying problems in both countries succeed admirably in the former objective…



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