Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Henry Farrell points out why supposedly progressive ideas which don't do anything to counter corporate power are doomed to failure:
Neo-liberals tend to favor a combination of market mechanisms and technocratic solutions to solve social problems. But these kinds of solutions tend to discount politics – and in particular political collective action, which requires strong collective actors such as trade unions. This means that vaguely-leftish versions of neo-liberalism often have weak theories of politics, and in particular of the politics of collective action. I see Doug and others as arguing that successful political change requires large scale organized collective action, and that this in turn requires the correction of major power imbalances (e.g. between labor and capital). They’re also arguing that neo-liberal policies at best tend not to help correct these imbalances, and they seem to me to have a pretty good case. Even if left-leaning neo-liberals are right to claim that technocratic solutions and market mechanisms can work to relieve disparities etc, it’s hard for me to see how left-leaning neo-liberalism can generate any self-sustaining politics. I’m sure that critics can point to political blind spots among lefties (e.g. the difficulties in figuring out what is a necessary compromise, and what is a blatant sell-out), but these don’t seem to me to be potentially crippling, in the way that the absence of a neo-liberal theory of politics (who are the organized interest groups and collective actors who will push consistently for technocratic efficiency?) is.
- Yes, the Cons have been told that environmental protection is important, including for economic reasons. No, they don't care in the slightest. Yes, this is a scandal.

- But then, maybe the Cons are just too busy looking for corporate money-making opportunities to act on what they know about the environment. And who won't feel better knowing that search-and-rescue operations are being carried out by the lowest bidder?

- Finally, it's great news that SaskTel will be connecting 28 First Nations communities with high-speed Internet and wireless coverage. But to fully appreciate the importance of the step, it's also worth highlighting how long the same connections would likely have taken if the private sector were left to its own devices.

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