Youre right that weve reached a political consensus on neoliberalism in public policy, Mark. There is no battle of ideas anymore, save the many little battles within broader long-term questions of how do we convert this or that social democratic structure into a neoliberal one?
Social democracy is so deeply entrenched in our political institutions that it is in the fine-tuning and adaptation phase, not the original new thinking phase.
I am also guilty of this. Is it because we in the political class are exposed in debate to the arguments of our most ‘extreme’ opponents and therefore have a skewed view of what is happening? I reckon I sense a few PhDs worth of work here — in Economics and Psychology to start with.
It hasnt occured to anyone that there is no longer a battle of ideas, because neo-liberalism won the battle?
I feel very differently.
Final edit, I promise:
Finally, the fact you can only think about these things in a war-like, battle context is really sad, and I think highlights a tragic tendency.
The war is all in your head dudes – you think most people give a shit about this (even the informed ones)? What about – I dont know, its so wacky – the policy solution that will engender the best solution? What about getting departments to actually do the research to find out what the best way forward is, rather than rooting about like truffle pigs trying to find the rare treasure that jusitifies the already taken intellectual position?
That’d be nice, but it flies in the face of what the shrinks have learnt about biases, about how people selectively perceive ‘proof’ of existing beliefs, how self-worth gets muddled up with consistency, and how important social standing and conformity are.
We’re all stuck inside these rather dodgy meat machines; it can be difficult to disentangle ourselves, our beliefs, and the probability that there’s an objective reality separate from either.