Dave Roberts spurs me to continue my admittedly underdeveloped thesis that republican democracy does not represent the end of history.

To make matters worse, the institutions that support redistributive policy, like unions, have withered. And this gets at a persistent flaw in neoliberalism: it contains no credible theory of politics. If organized labor is degraded and the middle class rendered less secure, what political force remains to push redistribution over the inevitable objections of the rentier class?

I don’t want to get into the viability of neoliberalism per se, but to address the issue of its inherent political instability.

I am sympathetic towards the position that neoliberalism lacks solid political foundation. However, I think this is the wrong lens. To my eyes there is no real rentier class left in the Western World. Even bond fund managers are pushing for expansionary US fiscal policy. More generally when unemployment is low, profits are high. A bad jobs report sends stocks down, not up.

Instead, I think neoliberalism struggles because of the zero sum nature of Republican Democracy.

Elections provide a way of settling political struggle bloodlessly. But, they also ensure that political struggle is endless. It doesn’t matter what the prevailing organizational model is. The model must be contested or there is nothing to have an election over.

While this tendency towards tumultuousness makes republican democracy flexible in rapidly changing social and economic landscape it is a liability in more stable times.

Because growth is not forever, social change is not forever. When it ends, so will republicanism.

About these ads