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What will kill neoliberalism?


The May 22–29 issue of The Nation is devoted to the theme “Out from Under Capitalism.” One of the main articles is a roundtable on the question of what will deal a deathblow to a faltering neoliberalism, and what will come in its wake, with contributions from Paul Mason and four other progressive thinkers. Here’s an excerpt from the contribution by William A. Darity Jr., a professor of public policy at Stanford. It’s entitled “A Revolution of Managers”:

But the managerial class also possesses another attribute that is both a strength and a weakness. Unlike capital and labor, whose agendas are driven to a large degree by the struggle over the character of a society structured for the pursuit of profit, the managerial class has no anchor for its ideological stance. In fact, it’s a social class that is wholly fluid ideologically. Some of its members align fully with the corporate establishment; indeed, the corporate magnates—especially investment bankers—look much the same as members of the managerial class in terms of educational credentials, cultural interests, and style. Other social managers take a more centrist posture harking back to their origins in the “middle class,” while still others position themselves as allies of the working class. And there are many variations on these themes.

Depending on where the ideological weight centers most heavily, the managerial class can take many directions. During the wars in southern Africa against Portuguese rule, Amílcar Cabral once observed that for the anticolonial revolution to succeed, “the petty bourgeoisie” would need to commit suicide as a social class, ceasing their efforts to pursue their particular interests and positioning themselves fully at the service of the working class. One might anticipate that the global managerial class will one day be confronted with the choice of committing suicide, in Cabral’s sense, as a class. But the question is: If such a step is taken, will they place themselves fully at the service of labor… or capital?

Image: The 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.