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1/Neoliberalism: a thread.

I was elected as the "Chief Neoliberal Shill" in a series of (rigged) Twitter polls in 2018, and deposed in 2019 by @mattyglesias.

It was sort of a joke. But the year I spent being called - and calling myself - a "neoliberal" taught me a lot.
2/To most of the people who bash "neoliberalism", the word means free-market libertarianism - the ideology of Milton Friedman, Margaret Thatcher, and Ronald Reagan.

But to the people who call themselves "neoliberal" now, it does not mean that.
3/The people who now call themselves "neoliberals" are the heirs to a different tradition - the liberals of the 1990s who responded to the failure of communism and the excesses of libertarianism by creating a new, center-left technocratic policy program.

Basically, Clintonites.
4/The best neoliberal manifesto I know of is this essay from 1999 by @delong. It sees free trade and globalization, along with strong welfare states in rich countries, as the best way to make the world more prosperous and more equal at the same time.

5/If you want a more recent, longer-form neoliberal manifesto, the best one I know is the book "Open: The Progressive Case for Free Trade, Immigration, and Global Capital", by @KClausing.

6/Neoliberalism, as defined by its current adherents (rather than by its squawking enemies), views markets as the fundamental generators of prosperity, and government as the way to distribute that prosperity more equitably.
7/Now, am I really a neoliberal? Does the neoliberalism of Clausing, @ne0liberal, and 1990s DeLong really define my worldview?

No. I am not, and it does not.
8/I would align myself more with 2010s @delong.

I believe that government needs to do more than just redistribute the proceeds of free markets.

9/First, I believe the government can't shoulder the entire burden of equalizing the economy. Decades of successful Republican opposition to the welfare state have proven that.

Instead, we need additional, quasi-independent institutions, like unions.

10/Second, seeing the problems of land, and the inequalities produced by land, have made me want to see some kind of land reform that goes way beyond what most neoliberals would endorse.

Land value taxes, public housing, housing co-ops, downpayment assistance, etc. etc.
11/Third, I believe that industrial policy is underrated, both at the national and the local level.

Neoliberalism under-emphasizes science policy, for example. I want a Big Push for science-driven growth.

12/I've come to believe in export promotion, which is anathema to many neoliberals, since it's a restriction on free trade.

13/Can the government "pick winners"?

Yes. The government *must* pick winners. Green energy and other zero-carbon technologies being chief among the things we must pick.

14/I also believe in national health insurance, which is just straight-up nationalization of a major industry.

15/So there are many ways in which my economic ideas diverge strongly from neoliberalism (that was not an exhaustive list).

But just because I'm not really a neoliberal doesn't mean I think neoliberalism is bad. I think it's a valuable perspective we still need.
16/Just as free-market libertarianism went too far, so will the new socialism go too far someday (if it ever manages to take power).

We will need people who remember the value of markets, but who are NOT plutocrats or racists, to temper and restrain that overreach.
17/If the job of restraining the inevitable excesses of socialism doesn't fall to the Clintonite technocratic center-left, it will fall to the right - to libertarians, racist "economic nationalists", etc.

And that would be bad.
18/Neoliberals' disagreement with leftists comes less from their goals - both want a prosperous, equal society - but from the methods they think will be most effective for getting there.

And that is a healthy disagreement. Or it should be, anyway.
19/So while I'm not really a neoliberal, it was OK being the Neoliberal Shill for a while. It's a valuable perspective, and I hope it sticks around.

Also, neoliberalism gave us anime, so there's that.

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