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August 12, 2011


Dick Pountain

First class analysis Will. I believe the only way forward for any sort of "Left" critique is along exactly such lines - an analysis incorporating elements from Weber and Veblen (Debord and Christopher Lasch even) that puts back that moral/emotional content into social criticism which crude Marxism and neo-liberalism have both leached out. Speaking of Boltanski at al, have you read "Cool Capitalism" by Jim McGuigan - worth a scan.


Thanks for another fantastic article. I love this blog.

I just wanted to mention that Foucault's later work on governmentality and neoliberalism is foundational to understanding the relationship between abstract technocracy and its hidden moral assumptions and coercions.

I have perhaps too many economist friends. They are utterly mystified, and more than a little offended, when one points out the hidden (and often reprehensible) moral claims hidden in their analyses.

pat kane

Having just read through Jesse Norman's Big Society treatise, I am fascinated by what seems like an intellectual convergence, from around the political spectrum, towards what he calls a 'theory of institutions'. I just watched Inside Job, which shows how financial institutions were given the regulatory room to act in knowingly destructive and sometimes explicitly criminal ways - risk management with almost no constraints. But you reel away from the movie wondering exactly where politician-regulators would get the resources to exercise "morality in the market", if the political classes are so riddled by collusion (or starry-eyed enchantment) with the titans of neo-liberalism. Maybe (as your Smith reference indicates) there needs to be a revival of political/moral economy thinking, overturning the business school consensus so mercilessly skewered by Inside Job - Yochai Benkler's new book http://www.amazon.com/Penguin-Leviathan-Cooperation-Triumphs-Self-Interest/dp/0385525761 seems like a new populist summary of all that. But again, who are the organised advocates of that remoralised economics (other than the expected nexus of Labour Party/Labour movement)? And isn't the problem of a renewed lawfulness very acute with the young rioters and the looting opportunists that followed them, identifying the police as almost fictional characters ("the Feds")? I keep hoping that some kind of street-level community autonomism will emerge - a cross between Militant and Transition Towns - that will begin to actually break the enchantments of lifestyle consumerism, and substitute the making and construction of the fabric of community-life instead. I guess this is also "institution-forging". But it's hard to see what kind of Left-Green activism could bring it about.

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