“Neoliberal austerity is bad. Pre-fascist authoritarianism is worse”
An interview with Efsyn.gr about Clear Bright Future
I spoke to Tasos Tsakiroglou of the Greek newspaper Efsyn.gr about the Greek edition of Clear Bright Future. The original article is published here. Below is an English translation…
TT: Although the collapse of the ideologies of neoliberalism is daily and blatant, the doctrine “There Is No Alternative” continues to fuel mass fatalism. How do you explain this contradiction that some have called “Gramsci’s paradox”?
PM: Unfortunately, as Labour activists found out in December, mass fatalism is the basic ideology of neoliberalism. Even though Fukuyama has repudiated the end of history theory, millions of people still, implicitly, believe it.
What happened to the ideology of neoliberalism is that it became — as William Davies writes — “literally unjustified”. What the elite did after the 2008 crisis, and what they are doing now, has no theoretical justification in their world view. The state is supposed to be small and inactive — yet through borrowing and quantitative easing and bailouts it is all that is keeping the market sector alive.
If you take Gramsci’s famous quote in context, it was written in 1930 — after the Wall Street Crash but before the rise of state directed capitalism in Germany, Britain, Japan and the USA. By the mid-1930s, with FDR in the White House, you could say that the “new world” actually was being born — economically speaking.
The problem is there are always two versions of the “new world” — a left humanitarian one and right authoritarian one. The actual shape of the “new world” we need to fight for is now clear, after Covid-19: without carbon, without the destruction of the ecosystem, and without austerity.
But the problem as you suggest remains fatalism: once they learned to treat the market as an autonomous system that can run the economy better than any human being or government, as I argue in the book, that was a gateway drug to all other forms of authoritarianism.
TT: At a time when technocracy has pushed philosophy to the sidelines, you are trying to reunite philosophy with technological developments. Why did you consider it necessary? What has…