Archivos Mensuales: enero 2013

Mercado leninista.

Buchanan and market leninism.
[the] Marxist-Leninist theory of the state, advanced by theorists such as Gramsci, Miliband and Poulanczas. Although there are many variants, the key tenets of this theory are: (1) Politics is about struggle between economic classes. The state acts in the interest of the capitalist class as a whole, and arbitrates differences among ‘fractions’ of capital; (2) Political ideas (except Marxism-Leninism) are ‘ideologies’ designed to rationalise class rule; (3) The masses acquiesce because of ‘false consciousness’ associated with submission to a dominant or ‘hegemonic’ ideology.

The private interest theory is similar to the Marxist-Leninist theory in a number of respects. The key notions are: (1) The state responds to the pressure of organised interest groups, typically tight coalitions of producer groups. Logrolling between these groups produces an outcome which benefits them collectively at the expense of taxpayers and consumers; (2) Political ideas (except free-market ideas) are ideologies designed to rationalise policies serving various interest groups; (3) Voters acquiesce because of ‘rational ignorance’ which leads them to take little interest in politics and makes them easily subject to manipulation by political interests.

The basic idea is to seek election on the basis of electorally attractive policies. On gaining office, these policies are dumped in favor of a program which is supposed to be economically correct. As the next election approaches, the rigor of this program is relaxed, and if all goes well, reelection is secured on the basis that conditions are improving. The adoption of this strategy implies a degree of contempt for the electorate which arises naturally from the interest group model’s view that the electorate is ‘ignorant and greedy’.

An important part of this strategy is the making of election promises with the conscious intention of abandoning them after the election. Indeed, the refinement of targeted election campaigns, is such that, even as promises are made, code words are given out to assure elite groups that the promises will not be fulfilled. The untrustworthy nature of political promises has long been proverbial. However, the interest group theory makes a positive virtue of dishonesty. Since election promises are merely bribes to interest groups, they should be broken whenever possible.

An even more fundamental cleavage with classical liberalism arises from interest group theorists’ disdain for ideas, which draws on a long tradition going back through Marx to Hobbes and Machiavelli. When the view that ideas are a cloak for vested interests forms part of a critical analysis of the state by outsiders, it may be useful, though it yields the curious spectacle of professional dealers in ideas arguing strenuously that ideas and arguments are of no importance. However, when such an analysis informs the thinking of political and bureaucratic elites, it is positively dangerous. If ideas do not matter, free speech is at best a luxury and at worst a distraction. Even if speech is not actually suppressed, it is debased. When political debate is seen as a charade by its participants, it naturally becomes one. Furthermore, since the system cannot be changed by reason, some form of “short sharp shock” is required. The result is a cult of ruthlessness (the catchphrase here is “tough decisions”). Since opposition to one’s policies is interpreted as a sign that interest groups are being hurt, it may be taken as evidence of correctness. The correct response is not to persuade one’s opponents, but to override them.

Estos fragmentos del magnífico artículo, del magnífico blog Crooked Timber -muy celebrado en esta humilde zahúrda-, fue escrito en 2005, y pensado para Australia. Go figure!

Es increíble como este retrato que hace del mainstream político hegemónico casa a la perfección con un país tan distante como España, y por descontado con otros países del mundo. Los Think Tanks yanquis -y los grupos de interés que los apoyan- aprovecharon sus años de ventaja en organización, infraestructuras y recursos para monopolizar el discurso del mainstream político en las primeras fases de la Globalización. Había que dejar claro que no había alternativa a la ortodoxia libremercadista, y por extensión, al egoísmo individualista objetivista.

Si a los paralelismos que establece John Quiggin con el marxismo-leninismo le conjugáramos, en la parte económica, lo que dice Ha-Joon Chang en “23 cosas que no te cuentan sobre el capitalismo”, la conclusión sería que si acaso alguna vez existió, hace mucho que no vivimos en esa supuesta democracia liberal sustentada en los principios de John Stuart Mill; y ni mucho menos ha habido algo similar a mercado libre, o las manos invisibles.