Pas D’Ennemi à Gauche

Freddie DeBoer writes, among other things:

Many of the young, upwardly-mobile bloggers out there take their cues from Matt Yglesias and Ezra Klein. I don’t begrudge either of them their policy preferences, even while I disagree with them. But each represents, in his own, the corruption and capitulation that comes with prominence and success in this culture. I genuinely don’t know what the hell happened to Matt Yglesias. I long called him my favorite blogger. I’ve never mistaken him for someone who shares my politics. But he was, once, part of the resurgence of pride in leftism. He was one of the voices, in the midst of the Bush-era darkness, making it plain that he was unapologetic about being a creature of the left. In the last year or so, that stand has completely disappeared. He is now one of the most vocal of the neoliberal scolds, forever ready to define the “neoliberal consensus” as the truth of man and to ignore left-wing criticism. Indeed, I’m not sure that you could even understand that he has critics from his left, judging by what he chooses to discuss on his blog. This is a particularly cruel way to erase the left-wing from the discourse: to pretend that it doesn’t exist.

I don’t really know what it means to criticize a writer for holding that his own views are “the truth of man.” Obviously, I agree with my political opinions and disagree with those who disagree with me. If I didn’t agree I’d change my mind.

But one point that I agree with here, is that while I’ll cop to being a “neoliberal” I don’t acknowledge that I have critics to the “left” of me. On economic policy, here are the main things I’m trying to accomplish:

— More redistribution of money from the top to the bottom.  — A less paternalistic welfare state that puts more money directly in the hands of the recipients of social services. — Macroeconomic stabilization policy that seriously aims for full employment. — Curb the regulatory privileges of incumbent landowners. — Roll back subsidies implicit in our current automobile/housing-oriented industrial policy.  — Break the licensing cartels that deny opportunity to the unskilled.  — Much greater equalization of opportunities in K-12 education.  — Reduction of the rents assembled by privileged intellectual property owners.  — Throughout the public sector, concerted reform aimed at ensuring public services are public services and not jobs programs. — Taxation of polluters (and resource-extractors more generally) rather than current de facto subsidization of resource extraction.

Is this a “neoliberal” program? Well, this is one of these terms that was invented by its critics so I hesitate to embrace it though I recognize that the shoe fits to a considerable extent. I’d say it’s liberalism, a view recognizably derived from the thinking of JS Mill and Pigou and Keynes and Maury “Freedom Plus Groceries” Maverick and all the rest. I recognize that many people disagree with this agenda, and that many of those who disagree with it think of themselves as “to the left” of my view. But I simply deny that there are positions that are more genuinely egalitarian than my own. I really and sincerely believe that liberalism is the best way to advance the interests of the underprivileged and to make the world a better place. I offer “further left” people the (unreturned) courtesy of not questioning the sincerity of their belief that they have some better solutions, but I think they’re mistaken.

That’s hardly a comprehensive reply to everything DeBoer wrote, but I hope it’s an explanation of what the hell happened to me.