Like PIIGS to the slaughter

by Chris Bertram on May 8, 2010

Just about every article in this morning’s _Financial Times_ seems to include a paragraph or two about how governments need to “deliver” debt reduction, to satisfy the markets, investor expectations etc. They then typically note that said investors are anxious about whether democratic politicians can “deliver” the austerity measures that the markets “require”. So here’s the question: how long before the _Economist_, the Murdoch press and similar give up on democracy on the grounds of its incapacity to “deliver” firm government? We’ve been here before, of course, in the 1970s, when the _Economist_ and the _Times_ backed the Pinochet coup in Chile. Of the PIIGS, only Ireland has escaped dictatorship in living memory and some of the southern European countries still contain contain authoritarian rumps (with special strength in the armed forces and law enforcement). My guess is that we’ll be reading op-eds pretty soon that raise the spectre of “ungovernability” and espouse “temporary” authoritarian solutions. Maybe such columns are already being written? Feel free to provide examples in comments.

Ignorance is strength

by John Quiggin on May 8, 2010

The discussions here and elsewhere on agnotology/epistemic closure have established the existence of a set of mechanisms on the right[1] for propagating ignorance and protecting it against factual refutation. These mechanisms have some obvious benefits, particularly in mobilising resistance against policy innovations, and tribal solidarity against outsiders of all kinds. This is evident, for example, in the attacks on Obama’s health reforms, in the support that can be mobilised for anti-immigrant policies and in the promotion of anti-science views on climate change. Politically, it’s impressive that a party that made such a complete mess of every aspect of policy under Bush can be favored to make big gains at the next elections. At least in the short term, ignorance is strength.

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