Monday, April 17, 2006

Brad DeLong quotes Henry Farrel accusing The Economist of Leninism.

He adds that they have a worse problem with the delusion that Silvio Berlusconi is a pro market reformer (like mistaking Lenin for a fundamentalist Hindu). I agree and recall

Ahhh I remember circa 1980 when someone named Brad DeLong told me "the theory of historical materialims (or maybe it was dialectical materialism) is now believed only by The London Economist" My witty reply "Which economist in London". That is to say, Brad has been pushing this line since before I knew what "The Economist" was.

His claim was based on their silly prediction that South Korea and Taiwan were destined to be Democracies because of economic development. A Marxist argument indeed. Makes me wonder if Karl had a point there.

Sad to say, the Marxists at the Economist have lost touch with objective conditions. I never imagined that anyone who has access to TV not controlled by Berlusconi could think for a second that Silvio Berlusconi has anything to do with market oriented reform . Silvio wouln't recognise a market if one bit his butt.

Fortunately, this is now more likely now that he is no longer able to e.g. make it impossible to prosecute people who falsify corporate accounts.

In contrast, the last time they were in power, the center left pushed through a radically pro market program which included a law essentially similar to that recently rejected by the French (not being idiots they made it apply to new jobs for everyone not just the young). It might be a coincidence that employment suddenly started growing (after two decades of stagnation) after the Treu reform (Treu was labor minister of the very very ex communist Massimo D'Alema). They also privatized, liberalised licencing restrictions which prevented people from opening new shops and reformed (more or less to nonexistence) the national rent control law which guaranteed that only unprotected foreigners (such as myself) could rent in Italy.

Being somewhat nostalgic for the old paternalistic policies of old Europe, I was not enthusiastic, but I have to admit that the radically pro market program of the Italian center left worked. Berlusconi's program of mainly changing laws which he is known ot have broken, has not been so succesful.

Look at the policies not the labels. The Italian center left's claim to have something to do with the European Socialist tradition is as fraudulent as Berlusconi's claim to believe in market capitalism.

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