Can neoliberals learn from history?

Just came on this.

“I can’t help thinking of the Venetian republic in their last half-century. Like us, they had once been fabulously lucky. They had become rich, as we did, by accident. They had acquired immense political skill, just as we have. A good many of them were tough-minded, realistic, patriotic men. They knew, just as clearly as we know, that the current of history had begun to flow against them. many of them gave their minds to working out ways to keep going. It would have meant breaking the pattern into which they had been crystallised. They were fond of the pattern, just as we are fond of ours. They never found the will to break it.”

The Two Cultures, 1959.

Links for 12/7/2017

  1. Peter Turchin: What Economics Models Really Say. A Review of Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science by Dani Rodrik (Norton, 2015). Really useful review — by a mathematical biologist!

  2. David Edgerton on ‘Digital Transformation’. Guaranteed to infuriate tech determinists. 20 minutes, but worth it. Make some coffee first.

  3. What Did North Korea’s Missile Test Really Change? – The Atlantic. Useful reminder that the people most at risk from Kim Jong Un are not Americans, but South Koreans.

  4. Vili Lehdonvirta: The online gig economy grew 26% over the past year. Useful empirical research. And the gig economy isn’t just about Deliveroo, btw.

May vs. Blair: no contest

Tony Blair has become a toxic brand because of the Iraq war, with the result that his achievements are now overlooked. So I was struck by this passage from Polly Toynbee’s Guardian column marking the first anniversary of Theresa May’s arrival at the top of the greasy pole:

Consider what Tony Blair did in his first year: the Good Friday agreement signed; the national minimum wage and human rights acts passed; the Bank of England made independent; a £5bn windfall from privatised utilities; and devolution to the Scottish parliament and Welsh assembly begun, along with a London mayor. He stripped the House of Lords of most hereditary peers, brought in a Freedom of Information Act, lowered the gay age of consent, ordained the right to roam, and saved the Kosovans. There was much more in the pipeline, with benefits for families increasing hugely. Any one of those achievements would be totemic in hapless May’s wasted year.