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You Had Your Chance!

Here’s the one where some of the world’s largest billionaire grant-writing foundations put tens of millions of dollars into research grants and institutions to study the problems of global capitalism:

Shared Article from nytimes.com

What Can Replace Free Markets? Groups Pledge $41 Million to Find…

Two foundations committed funding for economic and policy research focused on alternatives to traditional economic thinking.


There are some respects in which the present system of political economy is pretty bad. I have for some time maintained the view that it ought to be replaced, and the political systems that uphold it ought to be altered or abolished. That said — it is of course passing strange to describe anything about this enterprise as if it were looking into a question like What Can Replace Free Markets? For something to be replaced, you have to have it first, and the contention that modern global capitalism has them all over the place is transparently, fundamentally absurd.

Modern global capitalism has markets, to be sure. Just not that kind. Markets under modern global capitalism are highly regulated, cartelized and concentrated, border-ridden, copyrighted, trashed by large-scale programs of moralistic prohibition, juiced by trillion-dollar subsidies, insulated by trillion-dollar bailouts, policed by a trillion-dollar worldwide military-industrial complex and on the whole thoroughly fettered, leashed and trained to government demands. You could always argue that that is the way things ought to be — certainly, that’s what most normal people who write about the global economy do argue. But then it is precious, if not petulant and mendacious, to go around fobbing off the evils of the present system as the sad consequences of some ubiquitous, hegemonic Free Markets. As if they were all around us! Research that begins from the notion that the problems of neoliberalism are best ascribed to the defects or the contextual limitations of free markets will have to offer some kind of argument to show that this is not simply fantasy or imagineering about distant possible worlds; certainly, the claim, whether true or false, cannot be grounded in anything remotely resembling empirical real-world examples.

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