The Great Transformation Part 4: Reaction and Counter-Reaction To Self-Regulating Markets

Previous posts in this series:

The Great Transformation: Mainstream Economics and an Introduction to a New Series

The Great Transformation Part 1: The Market

The Great Transformation Part 2: More on Markets

The Great Transformation Part 3: Neoliberalism Before It Got Its New Name

The standard history of the industrial revolution in England says that it was accompanied by environmental messes in cities, miserable lives for those with jobs, and even worse misery for those without. One of the victims of that misery was Charles Dickens who worked in one of those factories for several months at the age of 12, while his father was imprisoned for debt. That experience informed much of the social commentary in his novels The damage was not limited to the lives of the poor, but extended to all sorts of problems affecting much of society. There was plenty of agitation for legislation to rein in the excesses of the self-regulating market, and gradually legislation was enacted.

Polanyi gives a list prepared by Herbert Spencer, most widely knows as the father of Social Darwinism, “a social theory that applies the law of the survival of the fittest to society; humanitarian impulses had to be resisted as nothing should be allowed to interfere with nature’s laws, including the social struggle for existence.”, as Wikipedia explains it. The list ranges from restrictions on hiring of boys under the age of 12 to vaccinations to laws requiring the inspection of gas works and requiring vaccinations. Spencer and other liberals decried these laws as betrayal of liberal principles, or as the deleterious actions of the enemies of liberalism, the collectivists.

This is the myth of the anti-liberal conspiracy which in one form or another is common to all liberal interpretations of the events of the 1870s and 1880s. Commonly the rise of nationalism and of socialism is credited with having been the chief agent in that shifting of the scene; manufacturers’ associations and monopolists, agrarian interests and trade unions are the villains of the piece. Thus in its most spiritualized form the liberal doctrine hypostasizes the working of some dialectical law in modern society stultifying the endeavors of enlightened reason, while in its crudest version it reduces itself to an attack on political democracy, as the alleged mainspring of interventionism. P. 150-1

Polanyi explains these and all of the myriad regulations passed by Parliament in the wake of the industrial revolution as the natural response of a healthy society to the intrusions of the self-regulating market. There was no conspiracy, and there isn’t even a theory justifying these challenges to the self-regulating market, merely a pragmatic case-by-case examination of a specific problem and a more or less reasonable response to that problem.

That won’t do, of course. There were two lines of attack by the liberal economists who pushed the theories of laissez-faire. The first one, just emerging when Polanyi wrote, was that the Industrial Revolution was steady evolution of the economy that steadily benefited the poor. Polanyi explains their argument that by normal measures of population growth and wage income, things were getting better for everyone, including the nascent working class, throughout the industrial revolution. As a result, there was no need for the kinds of interventions that the Parliament imposed.

The controversy continues to today. Here’s a brief recent summary by Clark Nardinelli. The data cited by Nardinelli supports the claims of commenter Ian Turner on the previous post in this series, suggesting that despite the theory that subsistence wages were good and useful, manufacturing and other interests were unable to push wages to that level. Today the dispute among economic historians over standards of living, as Nardinelli explains it, isn’t as simple as wages and population growth. The concept of standard of living now includes many non-cash items, like living conditions, wars, taxes, famines, working conditions, social ties, social status, and much more. We have a good example of this discussion in the wake of the recent speech by Paul Theroux on poverty in Mississippi, as this by Dave Dayen. Oddly, this discussion mirrors Polanyi as well.

Polanyi explains that the real damage done to the workers was through a cultural catastrophe:

The economic process may, naturally, supply the vehicle of the destruction, and almost invariably economic inferiority will make the weaker yield, but the immediate cause of his undoing is not for that reason economic; it lies in the lethal injury to the institutions in which his social existence is embodied. The result is loss of self-respect and standards, whether the unit is a people or a class, whether the process springs from so-called culture conflict or from a change in the position of a class within the confines of a society. P. 164-5.

At one level, this is an argument about measuring standard of living, as in the Nardinelli article. Polanyi however uses it to support his idea that when a society is threatened, it seeks to protect itself.

The second main thrust of the liberal argument is that laissez-faire was never fully implemented, and therefore it hasn’t had the chance to improve the lives of everyone everywhere.

… Its spectacular failure in one field did not destroy its authority in all. Indeed, its partial eclipse may have even strengthened its hold since it enabled its defenders to argue that the incomplete application of its principles was the reason for every and any difficulty laid to its charge.

This, indeed, is the last remaining argument of economic liberalism today. Its apologists are repeating in endless variations that but for the policies advocated by its critics, liberalism would have delivered the goods; that not the competitive system and the self-regulating market, but interference with that system and interventions with that market are responsible for our ills. P. 149-50.

We hear that argument all the time, regardless of the subject, from conservative economists and conservatives generally. Some things never change.

One of the things that doesn’t change is that people accept the general idea of capitalism so firmly that only changes around the edges are allowed in polite discourse, and all regulation effectively requires the consent of the people who benefit from things as they are. This was true in the 1830s, the 1860s and the 1930s (to a somewhat lesser extent) and today. Thus, in the wake of the Great Crash, it was obvious that something was badly wrong with the financial sector. Any benefit it might provide to society was swamped by the misery inflicted by the Great Crash. And yet, when Congress and the Obama Administration considered changes to the regulatory structure, the financial sector was on all sides of the table, and essentially won. Dodd-Frank is weak, and it gets weaker as bad regulators like Mary Jo White listen to the financiers and ignore social demands.

That’s why Bernie Sanders, the Portuguese Leftists, and Jeremy Corbyn are so scary to the oligopoly. These politicians don’t think twice about throwing out broken regulatory and other systems and replacing them with social controls over capitalism.

26 replies
  1. Alan says:

    Corbyn isn’t scary to anyone in the British establishment. Many in the party he now leads are Blairites, Red Tories, and so far he’s shown no real stomach to take them on.

    • Ed Walker says:

      My reference was to the outpouring of anger in press and from anonymous politicians at the election of Corbyn to head the Labour Party. As you point out, there isn’t a lot of evidence yet that he is ready to change things dramatically in the Labour Party, but some of his appointments are interesting. The internal election itself, however, shows something hopeful.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Interesting that a whisper of fundamental change, implicit in Corbyn as head of Labour, caused the establishment to forecast the end of the world as we know it (even if it was how to corral a new player with unknown demands). Imagine what the possibility of real change would induce establishment players to do in order to defend themselves. Today’s John McCloys and Bob Lovetts, and their networks, corporate sponsors and “think” tanks, work overtime to avoid such possibilities, including removing the idea of such change from the culture.

  2. orionATL says:

    i have not followed this argument. i do have clear views of how corporations must be better integrated into society so they function as necessary but not unduly privileged parts. a society structured with corporate parts is a relatively new way to structure human society, say 150 years.

    – corporations are useful and probably essential parts of modern society’s means of production and income distribution.

    – there is no need and no benefit to be gained from nationalizing corporations. doing so simply enmeshes them into the already inclined-to-corruption political structures of any society.

    – corporations need to operate from a social charter that is legally binding and begins with the statement “the legal obligation and highest goal of this corporation is to serve the interests of _______ society. any and all stockholder or officer interests are subordinate to this mandate.”

    – actions to deliberately misinform or bribe political or regulatory officials are grounds for immediate dismissal with penalty of corporate chief officers and directors.

    – no director of any corporation may have any personal or professional relationship with any major corporate office holder.

    – corporate officials and directors are personally and legally directly responsible for corporate misconduct.

    – all corporate attorneys are considered officers of the corporation and are equally legally liable with other officers. attorney-client privilege does not exist for a corporate legal employee.

    just for starters to the revolution :))

    • orionATL says:

      oh, and one other thing:

      – corporations are not, and may never in law be considered, “persons”. to the extent any court needs to identify a single entity for purposes of legal decision making it need only use the phrase “the corporation”.

    • Alan says:

      Emma Rothschild quoted by Samuel Fleischacker in On Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations: A Philosophical Companion:

      The objects of Smith’s obloquy are not only the institutions of national government; they are also, and even especially, the oppressive government of parishes, guilds and corporations, religious institutions, incorporated towns, privileged companies. One of the most insidious roles of national government is indeed to enact, or confirm, the oppressive powers of these intermediate institutions. The criticism of local institutions, with their hidden, not quite public, not quite private powers, is at the heart of Smith’s politics.

      • orionATL says:

        a fine summary, timeless it would seem. my admiration for smith keeps expanding – a clear-eyed observer with a wide field of vision.


      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Those intermediate levels of government were firmly in the hands of the “great and good”, that is, local gentry, aristocracy, and the occasional very successful member of the bourgeois. All were conservative to varying degrees, pro-aristocracy, pro-established order and established church (itself often rife with corruption or disdain for their flocks). Meek, orderly followers were wanted. The idea that they could be cleaned up and could participate in church, school and government would have been regarded as laughable or French. An excellent example of private power performing public functions, with their own, not the public’s interests at heart.

        • Alan says:

          Not much has changed in Britain. It’s still run by a nasty bunch of toffs (says he responding to an ‘Earl’).
          One of the other revolutionary aspects of Wealth is Smith’s attitude towards the poor. See “Smith’s Contribution to the Politics of Poverty” (section 52) in Samuel Fleischacker cited above. Smith didn’t have much time for the indolence and vanity of the wealthy and their condescension towards the poor.

  3. Alan says:

    @Ian Turner
    Catching up on your post in the last section. You wrote:

    LIGHTHOUSES:—of how [in 1776] ADAM SMITH himself!,—-a farm boy from lowland Scotland mentioned specifically that one of the things that would always be funded by the taxpayers were lighthouses.

    Where did he say this? As far as I can tell there is no mention of lighthouses in Wealth of Nations. My guess is that this is something from Mill and not Smith. Also the “would always be” part seems uncharacteristic. Smith was oriented to practical matters in the present. He didn’t go in much for prediction. Also, farm boy?

  4. TarheelDem says:

    One of the more interesting tacks on the reaction and counter-reaction to self-regulating markets is the special pleading for royal charters, corporate privileges of certain players in those self-regulating markets, and the recognition of corporations as separate legal persons from any class of person involved in its operations.

    As a thought experiment on whether markets are indeed self-regulation, imagine what would happen if all of corporate law disappeared tomorrow–that is, laws and regulations premised on corporations as a separate legal entity.

    • Ed Walker says:

      Yes, it is noteworthy that the early liberals recognized the necessity of a strong state to enforce their idea of the self-regulating market. That’s another area in which they are like modern neoliberals, as Mirowski points out.

  5. Alan says:

    Polanyi (Chapter 12):

    The road to the free market was opened and kept open by an enormous increase in continuous, centrally organized and controlled interventionism. To make Adam Smith’s “simple and natural liberty” compatible with the needs of a human society was a most complicated affair. Witness the complexity of the provisions in the innumerable enclosure laws; the amount of bureaucratic control involved in the administration of the New Poor Laws which for the first time since Queen Elizabeth’s reign were effectively supervised by central authority; or the increase in governmental administration entailed in the meritorious task of municipal reform. And yet all these strongholds of governmental interference were erected with a view to the organizing of some simple freedom—such as that of land, labor, or municipal administration. Just as, contrary to expectation, the invention of labor-saving machinery had not diminished but actually increased the uses of human labor, the introduction of free markets, far from doing away with the need for control, regulation, and intervention, enormously increased their range. Administrators had to be constantly on the watch to ensure the free working of the system. Thus even those who wished most ardently to free the state from all unnecessary duties, and whose whole philosophy demanded the restriction of state activities, could not but entrust the self-same state with the new powers, organs, and instruments required for the establishment of laissez-faire.

    But laissez faire and the self-regulating market are fictions. There’s always government of some sort and Smith never believed otherwise. Economic activity exists in the context of social institutions. The issue is the nature of the laws, institutions, regulations, etc. To what degree do the the laws and regulations and their implementation serve the broad public interest versus the interests of factions? This issue doesn’t go away if you replace ‘capitalism’ with ‘socialism’ or some other system, including Polanyi’s ‘pre-market’ societies. Factions are a problem in any political system. This is one of the major themes in The Wealth of Nations: factions and collusion against the public interest. Book IV of Wealth of Nations is a sustained attack on the mercantilism, the monopolies that dominated at the time Smith was writing. But Polyani views mercantilism in a rather different light than Smith. But how do you get fair laws and regulations? If economic factions are a problem so are political factions. Madison, who read both Smith and Hume, struggled with the problem (see Federalist 10 and 51).

    One of the things that doesn’t change is that people accept the general idea of capitalism so firmly that only changes around the edges are allowed in polite discourse, and all regulation effectively requires the consent of the people who benefit from things as they are. This was true in the 1830s, the 1860s and the 1930s (to a somewhat lesser extent) and today.

    And the same was true of mercantilism in 1776. Smith writing in Wealth of Nations:

    To expect, indeed, that the freedom of trade should ever be entirely restored in Great Britain is as absurd as to expect that an Oceana or Utopia should ever be established in it. Not only the prejudices of the public, but what is much more unconquerable, the private interests of many individuals, irresistibly oppose it. Were the officers of the army to oppose with the same zeal and unanimity any reduction in the numbers of forces with which master manufacturers set themselves against every law that is likely to increase the number of their rivals in the home-market; were the former to animate their soldiers in the same manner as the latter enflame their workmen to attack with violence and outrage the proposers of any such regulation, to attempt to reduce the army would be as dangerous as it has now become to attempt to diminish in any respect the monopoly which our manufacturers have obtained against us. This monopoly has so much increased the number of some particular tribes of them that, like an overgrown standing army, they have become formidable to the government, and upon many occasions intimidate the legislature. The Member of Parliament who supports every proposal for strengthening this monopoly is sure to acquire not only the reputation of understanding trade, but great popularity and influence with an order of men whose numbers and wealth render them of great importance. If he opposes them, on the contrary, and still more if he has authority enough to be able to thwart them, neither the most acknowledged probity, nor the highest rank, nor the greatest public services can protect him from the most infamous abuse and detraction, from personal insults, nor sometimes from real danger, arising from the insolent outrage of furious and disappointed monopolists.

    Smith, by the way, was all for restraining “the natural liberty of a few individuals, which might endanger the security of the whole society.”

    • Ed Walker says:

      Great quote. It seems Smith got that right, in the sense that the change didn’t come from political action by the people damaged by that system, but came organically as a result of the industrial revolution.

      The problem of political change in rigid semi-hierarchal societies is fascinating. Polanyi argues that in the wake of WWI, the goal of every major participant was to restore the status quo, putting the self-regulating market back in charge. Even horrible results from the policies enforced by the elites weren’t enough to change things in the absence of a clear alternative, and in the US, at least, socialism and communism were anathema, and the demands of the working people could easily be ignored. The capitulation of the left in the US to capitalism is the reason Obama was able to muddle through the Great Crash. There was no alternative.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        No alternative acceptable to the establishment.

        Post-WWI, the great and good were pre-occupied with two great changes: containing the consequences of the October Revolution and carving up the finally defunct Ottoman empire (and its oil fields and strategic ports, straits and canals).

      • Alan says:

        I fully agree about capitulation of the left. They have gone along with neoliberalism. While the election of Corbyn suggests some push back I think it might be better thought of as a desire to resist. I just don’t think he’s very imaginative or has much ability and he’s constrained by his party. I suspect all the people who believe he is some sort of savior will be disappointed. One should note, that Mirowski’s book on the financial crisis isn’t just a savage assault on neoliberalism; it’s a scathing indictment of the Left, mostly their failure to grasp what’s happening.
        Mirowski makes a good point about the state (also see Bernard Harcourt’s book The Illusion of Free Markets). Hayek was no liberal in the sense that Smith would be considered a liberal. A lot of his ideas (e.g. see The Road to Serfdom) are pinched from Carl Schmitt, who detested liberalism and had his own vision of a strong state–not one most people would want to live in. Hayek’s (and Thatcher’s) friendship with Pinochet should maybe be seen in that light. Thatcher used to go on and on about the Nanny State’s restriction of freedom and personal choice with no sense of irony. Under neoliberalism one is ‘free’ to participate in the market and nothing else. (Note also that this vision of the market is linked to what Marci covers elsewhere on this blog: surveillance and police. As Posner informs us, crime is just market-avoiding behavior.)  
        There’s also a false opposition of the state (government, rules and regulations, etc.) and markets. Markets, and, more broadly, exchanges of all types, always exist in an institutional context. Their little trick, of course, is to pretend that the state only ensures and protects the existence of the market; they don’t play favorites, there’s no collusion (don’t look behind the curtain!). The question is what’s the nature of the institutional context? Does it favor the few or is it more inclined to the benefit of the many?
        Note also that the conception of the state is very different in neoliberalism. For Smith a functioning state provides security, justice, and services that could not expected to come from the market. The market wasn’t the be all and end all. There are other values and relationships that are enormously important. Wealth catalogs numerous instances of the dysfunctions of merchants pursuing their own interests when not kept in check by institutions that uphold those broader set of values. In neoliberalism the market is everything and the state’s role is to impose it’s particular conception of market relationships everywhere and on everything (see Foucault’s take on Gary Becker).
        The “market is everything philosophy” is utopian, authoritarian and totalizing. It’s man of system thinking.

        The man of system…is apt to be very wise in his own conceit; and is often so enamoured with the supposed beauty of his own ideal plan of government, that he cannot suffer the smallest deviation from any part of it. He goes on to establish it completely and in all its parts, without any regard either to the great interests, or to the strong prejudices which may oppose it. He seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board….Some general, and even systematical, idea of the perfection of policy and law, may no doubt be necessary for directing the views of the statesman. But to insist upon establishing, and upon establishing all at once, and in spite of all opposition, every thing which that idea may seem to require, must often be the highest degree of arrogance. It is to erect his own judgment into the supreme standard of right and wrong. It is to fancy himself the only wise and worthy man in the commonwealth, and that his fellow-citizens should accommodate themselves to him and not he to them.

        Smith’s solution to the problems of factions and men of system was an educated and involved citizens. But see following post about the erasure of history. Resistance depends on being able to think outside the box of the neoliberal episteme.

  6. jonf says:

    Our capitalist system has never truly addressed poverty. From time to time, a small effort is made and some incremental improvement. So they are argue, “its all good”..
    Not good enough. There is no need to allow poverty such as in Mississippi, as DD wrote about. Or the Two Americas of John Edwards. Or the sad tales of poverty and destitution and despair in ” $2 a Day – Living on Almost Nothing in America”. Our government spends trillions on war and trillions more on health care, a good deal of both of which are wasted. And we use a fiat currency with no limit excepting real resources on what we can spend to heal our sores, our inequality and our poverty of spirit. Enough.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Spencer’s “social Darwinism” was neither social nor Darwinian. It was a crude attempt to simplify Darwin’s then-novel biological theories and apply them by analogy to social organization. The analogy was hopelessly wrong. SD’s most useful characteristic to its proponents was its adoration of the established social, economic and racial order, and its conclusion that no good could come from interfering with how the great and good treated their inferiors. It’s a horse that has been pulling the same cart ever since. The elite were free to cartelize and monopolize themselves into great houses and purchased lordships, but others less well-endowed were forbidden to organize themselves in order to pursue different social outcomes.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    A self-regulating market is a non-regulating market in which the most powerful actors are legally and socially empowered to act exclusively in their own interests, with no liability for the consequences imposed on others.

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I agree with Nardinelli that the issue is not economists’ narrowly defined “standard of living”. It is standard of life. A “standard of living” analysis uses only those monetary measures (wages, food and rent purchased for cash) admitted by economists as important. A standard of life analysis considers non-monetary issues – independence, sustainability – that are critical to social health and well-being.

    The early industrial revolution in England followed closely on the heels of the final enclosure the commons through parliamentary acts. Parliament, of course, was composed of a narrow segment of the great and good; its laws tended to benefit that same segment.

    Commons rights were economic, social and cultural, not monetary. Examples included grazing rights and right to use a portion of common fields. An elaborate culture was built around their use. Combined with other activities – such as home-based manufacturing and weaving – commons rights permitted an independent, non-monetary way of life, one in which the average villager had a considerable say.

    Enclosures withdrew those rights from the many and vested them in the few already well-to-do, supposedly on efficiency grounds. What they did was displace an entire culture and force many people off the land and into manufacture or the army and navy. Convenient outcomes when Napoleon was not on Elba or St. Helena, and when cotton and woolen manufacturers needed endless supplies of cheap labor.

    Monetarizing sufficiency economies was the rage, not just in late 18th and early 19th century England. It was a fundamental objective of Alexander Hamilton. His whiskey tax was only part of his assault on non-monetary frontier economies. Monetization was a lynchpin of social control. It aggregates capital into the government’s hands; the government uses it to permanent levels of debt, the management of which cedes considerable influence to private capitalists (Morris, Gould, Morgan). Debt controls. Debt requires cash to service it. Independent, sufficiency-based economies are anathema. So, too, is paying workers (or governments) high enough wages (or taxes) that they can reduce or avoid debt.

  10. IAN TURNER says:

    YOU SAY:
    That’s why Bernie Sanders, the Portuguese Leftists, and Jeremy Corbyn are so scary to the oligopoly. These politicians don’t think twice about throwing out broken regulatory and other systems and replacing them with social controls over capitalism

    I SAY:
    All 3 of the named individuals above are offering to work within the electoral process of their own countries. NONE are offering to cause the violent overthrow of the existing order.
    Believing that it is better for human beings to learn how to at least crawl, before they decide to run a marathon, can I draw your attention to a recent US Supreme Court opinion that, if implemented in the state of a readers residence, will allow those voting US citizens who do wish to create “social controls over capitalism”—-or oppose such an agenda,—- greater influence in the USA’s electoral process than has existing since 1812.

    President James Madison & [retired Pres.] Thomas Jefferson decided to strip US citizens of the right [in 1812] to a free & fair election by inviting [ex-] Gov.Gerry [of Massachusetts] to become Vice-President Gerry–& so that Mr Jefferson & Mr Munroe could learn the technique of GERRYMANDERING.
    George Washington & John Adams wouldn’t play that game,(& neither would King George III who signed into English law—in 1770 “Grenville’s Act” [legally= Parliamentary Elections Act 1770].
    The U.S.Supreme Court decision allows a States voters to strip their legislature of the right to “redistrict” [in a partisan way] & return US citizens rights to the same level as 1812

    For full details can I recommend:

  11. IAN TURNER says:

    YOU SAY:
    Polanyi however uses it to support his idea that when a society is threatened, it seeks to protect itself.

    I SAY:
    The same applies to a “section of a Society”—when a sub-section of [US] Society—realizing they have VERY VALUABLE GIFTS—they are taught English from birth [i.e. not Swahali] & are raised/brought up in a “Common Law country”[i.e.not a civil law country] & they see their compatriots & the Instruments of Governance their compatriots have brought into place behaving in a profoundly “anti-western way”/deeply self-destructive way—they escape that Society—either physically as in the 1840’s & 1850s or “virtually”/legally/digitally as in the 21st Century.—They “Take the Underground Railroad”

    a) Escaped slaves from Texas & Georgia, arriving in Michigan, made one final very important march/walk/trip to freedom.

    The reason was, of course, that Canadians had followed the English Supreme Court (1772) Somerset v Stewart opinion which held that NO King’s Court could ever, constitutionally, enforce a contract of Chattel Slavery. Thomas Jefferson said a US State Court could do it all the time–& other States must (under the US doctrine of contract enforcement across States lines] allow it to happen. There is no “freedom of conscience” clause in the USA constitution.

    b)When Sally Hemmings descendants [10th generation native-born US citizens whose ancestor was present in the USA on July 4,1776] realized that DNA profiling/matching/analysis was available to prove/disprove their family belief that Thomas Jefferson was the patriarch they had to go/[send their DNA samples] abroad. NOT because no American University could handle the science—but because no American University dare touch the politics.
    Only the Univ of Delft[Kingdom of the Netherlands] & the Univ(s) of Oxford, Leicester & Nottingham [United Kingdom of Great Britain] could handle BOTH the politics & science

    c)In a similar fashion, the USA’s FINANCING INDUSTRY, aware that both President Washington & Jefferson had to rely on foreign-born individuals for the post of US Secretary of the Treasury [Hamilton & Gallatin], is also aware that emptywheel’s (Marcy Wheeler’s) superb analysis of the Secret Courts & [hundred’s of] General Warrants issued by the US[Federal] Judiciary shows that the attitude held by the US Judiciary is profoundly “anti-western” & “not in the best interests of US citizens either human or corporate”.

    When the same US Judiciary that staff the [USA’s] Secret Courts issues an enforcement order in the case of “Elliott v Argentina” basically served on the entire world saying that anyone handling any money [in either US$, Pounds Sterling,Euro’s,Yuans or rubles] who can even spell “America” must immediately report what they are doing to an American judge in NYC, because he is an American judge & they are not, & the US Supreme Court say there is NO “Federal Substantive Question here”—move along please” , the US end of the Financing Industry don’t just sit there & say, “Oh, I’m just a poor little American citizen there is nothing I can do,” they say:—-well what they DID was explained on the front pages of the Financial Times [] & (1.5m visitors/day in Mandarin Chinese) on the Thursday evening before the US Labor Day weekend 2014
    [“US Treasury endorses ICMA framework”—it said]
    The International Capital Markets Association [Swiss Government organized body with 1 operating office[in the City of London] the distance-learning courses to teach your firms’ staff how to comply with the rules is offered by the Univ of Reading[western outer suburbs of London, England] & the contract dispute judges are English commercial judges comply with the Swiss understanding of International law.
    From Q1 2015 it is probable that any foreign govt borrower will say—keep it away from those unreformed Jacobins [& ex-Slaveowners] the Americans & the US Financing Industry will offer, before the foreign govt asks, to place all legal terms of the borrowing in dispute subject to either a Swiss Govt ruling or an English Commercial Court ruling.

  12. IAN TURNER says:

    The Industrial Revolution pioneers had paid a very heavy price, had caused a lot of disruption & couldn’t really say they had improved things much—if I can paraphrase you & Polyani.

    I had said at the beginning the Industrial Revolution was nothing more than the injection of productivity into the industries that make things & move things. I had also said the people of Northern England & Southern Scotland had been a world pioneer for that task, that the process of Industrialization itself had produced, whether in England or the Soviet Union or the People’s Republic of China or the USA an abundance of material things BECAUSE of the industries that were affected.

    I NOW SAY:
    If you watch carefully it is likely that the British will again let loose on the world another disruptive idea that affect many millions of lives—just like Polyani had feared.

    Because the British teach the Western world’s tradition of History [following in Bede’s [673-735AD] tradition—lots of facts in a chronological listing—no hagiographies] they have begun in England to resurrect many of the Industrial Revolution’s partly formed institutions–& start the task, important to all countries that are already rich & prosperous—of injecting productivity into industries that are NOT manufacturing or logistical industries.

    Using the excuse that the EU’s “Bologna process” [a scheme to allow the Universities of the 27-nation,510 million people consortium that is the EU, to trade credits for the Universities courses] allows a very flexible definition of what a degree-granting body is required to do before it grants an academic degree they have:
    —caused the EU to create an EU-wide standard for Bachelor’s degree courses of allowing only 3 years of study[i.e. everyone has to gain Advance Placement credits pre-University]
    –within Britain itself they have allowed the old professional Institutes [CPA’s/Civil Engineers/Architects etc] to organize once again [just as in Victorian times] amongst their members fully supervised joint work & academic study to allow an EU-wide recognized professional qualification in 4 years flat[ is possible,once again, to go from a High School diploma & high SAT score to “a-fully-trained-&-practicing” Attorney /AICPA member/P.E in 4 years.
    Socially, as you know, the academic industries in the USA,by contrast, are full of “faculty” who must never be confused with “staff” & neither “staff” nor “faculty” must ever be asked to take part in “productivity increasing activities”—that is only for “the lunch pail crowd”.
    If the British can “make respectable” once again their old Victorian times practices in industries other than the manufacturing industries they will not only gain themselves but be able to act as a role model for other countries/societies that don’t want to allow the sheer waste of human talent that occurs in the USA pioneered practice of Law School graduates “passing their Bar Exam”[the National Law Journal claim Because it is just an EXIT exam of “what I learned at Bar School” with attorney’s at-law who actually practice law saying these are 24-25 year old individuals who have $100k+’ in debt and have no idea how how to organize a contract or argue a case
    For a Texas example of injecting productivity into a non-manufacturing industry can I draw your attention to the (Austin,TX based) “Texas Tribune” news source & its retelling of the impact & implications of productivity into the State of Texas University system (of University campuses across the State) marketed by [now retired] Gov Perry as a “Bachelor’s degree-for $10,000” with only one or two campuses “changing their delivery model” to try & comply with the Governor’s ideal & the flagship campus (UofT at Austin) holding its nose high in the air & declaring their alumni (& the parents of students) were more concerned with class rings, financing a new football stadium, joining the alumni association as a job placement agency—& all this in a State where Ross Perot (in the 1980s) could claim credit for imposing “No Pass,No Play”as a basic rule on High Schools stopping the graduation into a later year at high school of illiterate football players.

  13. Alan says:

    Video interview with John Ralston Saul: Days of Revolt: Neoliberalism as Utopianism .
    Interesting comments on the erasure of history, the destruction of liberalism, and the rise of market utopianism. From the transcript:

    Saul: Let me just take a tiny step back as a historical marker, which is the day that I realized that the neos were claiming that Edmund Burke was their godfather or whatever, I realized that we were into both lunacy and the denial of history, ’cause, of course, in spite of his rather crazy things about Mary Antoinette and the French Revolution, most of his career was about inclusion, standing against slavery, standing for the American Revolution, and of course leading a fight for anti-racism and anti-imperialism in India–amazing democratic [incompr.] a liberal in the terms of the early 19th century. So when you see that these guys were trying to claim him, it’s like lunatics today claiming Christ or Muhammad to do absolutely unacceptable things. And I think that the fascinating thing is once you get rid of history, once you get rid of memory, which they’ve done with economics, you suddenly start presenting economics as something that it isn’t, and you start saying, well, the market will lead. And these entirely theoretically sophisticated experts are quoting the invisible hand, which is, of course, an entirely low-level religious image–it’s the invisible hand of God, right, running the universe. As soon as you hear that term and they say, oh, that’s what Adam Smith said–but when you talk to them, they haven’t read Adam Smith. Adam Smith isn’t taught in the departments of economics. You get quotes from Adam Smith even when you’re doing an MA or whatever. They don’t know Adam Smith. They don’t know that he actually was a great voice for fairness, incredibly distrustful of businessmen and powerful businessmen, and said never allow them to be alone in a room together or they’ll combine and falsify the market and so on, so that what we’ve seen in the last half-century is this remarkable thing of big sophisticated societies allowing the marketplace to be pushed from, say, third or fourth spot of importance to number one and saying that the whole of society must be in a sense structured and judged and put together through the eyes of the marketplace and the rules of the marketplace. Nobody’s ever done this before.

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