Paolo Gerbaudo on Tue, 14 Sep 2021 12:12:20 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> On the return of the interventionist state

Dear All,

I would like to share some ideas contained in my new Verso book The Great Recoil, which I think some of you will be interested in.

The key argument of the book is that we are moving away from neoliberalism and towards and neo-statism, a return of the interventionist state fundamentally concerned with issues of protection and security (in their manifold, regressive and progressive, manifestations). This neo-statism is visible at different levels: 1) in massive state mobilisation during the pandemic, 2) in the return of deficit spending and some elements of trade protectionism and industrial policy; 3) in the way in which climate change and the green transition seem to call for a return of state dirigisme.

This neo-statism should be seen as the ideological (or better meta-ideological) master frame of a new ideological era, comparable to previous ideological eras (social-democratic and neoliberal as the most recent ones). It does not automatically mean a return of socialism or social-democracy. Rather it means that political common sense is changing and moving away from notion of self-regulating markets, forcing both the left and the right to find adaptive positions in this new landscape.

The dividing question is who the new post-pandemic state should protect and from what. For the right it is obviously immigrants and foreign forces those that pose a threat, as well as the poor that demand redistribution away from the rich. But also the left is articulating its own discourse of state protection: from the mending of social safety nets, to the focus on health and care, to end with the discourse of safe-guarding democracy by the likes of AOC and Ilhan Omar.

While until recently political debate was focused on the question of how should we manage the market, the key question now is how to use the state, with which means and to what ends. This has huge implications for strategy, discourse and practice. Now that the phantasy of self-regulating market and anti-power suspicion has partly dissolved the key question becomes what should be done with the state, and how its complicity in massive social inequality should be addressed.

I hope this is of interest. I'd be glad to hear your ideas on this and particularly to what extent you agree with this diagnosis of neo-statism acquiring centre-stage in post-pandemic politics and what the implications may be.

For more information on the book:


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