The statism of the elites and the reasons for a “populist liberalism”

What do Ayn ​​Rand's novels, the salons of Victorian London or the atmospheres of the old Malagodian PLI have in common?

Probably they have in common a certain schematization of social dynamics that sees the supporters of capitalism as an economic and cultural elite that defends the virtues of the economy free from a "mass" that does not have the tools to understand them and that sprawlly invokes socialist solutions.

In this schematization, the natural defenders of free market capitalism are those individuals who emerge for wealth, productive capacity and cultural depth. These characteristics, it is assumed, on the one hand enable them to appreciate the benefits of the market economy for society in general, and on the other allow them to make this general vision coincide with considerations of self-interest . Because if one is rich and productive, then of course he would have every interest in choosing liberalism over statism.

This “simplified” view of the relationship between sociology and political preferences is the one in which we all grew up. We liberals on the one hand and socialists on the other for opposite reasons and with opposite objectives – even for them the "free market" was the "ideology of the rich".

However, this is an outdated vision that no longer provides us with satisfactory interpretations for the socio-political dynamics of our age.

Today, in fact, the world turns the other way around. The "free market", these days, seems less and less "stuff for the rich". The truth is that the economic elites are the ones who in America almost always vote for Biden and the Democrats and who in Italy almost always vote for the Democratic Party.

But how is it possible that "who is well" is no longer a natural supporter of the good old positions of liberal conservatism?

The fact is that, these days, belonging to an economic and cultural elite , even more than meaning that you have a higher potential for success in the market, means that you have a higher capacity to use the thousand to your advantage. rules of the public machine, that is to ensure, ultimately, privileged positions with little or no competition, such as to guarantee social prestige and a continuous income over time.

People who find themselves in this condition are also, normally, those best equipped to construct a narrative of the indispensability for society as a whole of their "roles", which will provide the moral justification of their "privileged" status compared to those who carry out lesser professions " nobles "(a teacher or a judge compared to a craftsman or a bartender).

Even if we are in a democracy, in the end, as Enrico Cuccia said, "the votes are weighed, they are not counted", and the votes of the groups of the categories with the greatest economic and cultural instruments are those that ultimately weigh more in determining the true paths of redistribution of wealth, which almost never transfer resources from the richest to the poorest and which almost always instead transfer them from unorganized sectors of society to better structured and more organic sectors in power.

Ultimately, almost always today for "those who are well" there are no particular reasons to support liberal reforms. Indeed, in truth, the more statism there is, the better.

After all, as the Italian-American scholar Angelo Codevilla well notes in his book “The Character of Nations” , “in practically every country the State manages more than a third of the total wealth. In many countries about half. The state is the largest employer, the assignee of the largest number of contracts and legislates so that every occupation must invest a lot of energy to comply with its rules ”. In other words, "the state is the greatest determiner of winners and losers in our society".

The scenario that Codevilla describes has been true for many years, but in the Covid era it has been taken to extreme levels, with governments invested with the "divine right" to pardon and condemn, to carry on activities as if nothing had happened or to do them. close and, in many cases, destroy them.

This new "absolutism" means that the economic outcomes are now more than ever disconnected from considerations of individual merit and instead derive from the different degree of closeness of the various categories to the center of political power. In practice, in general, compound militancy in the ranks of the state and para-state at this time rewards far more than most "unprotected" business ventures.

But if the "winners" are, to a large extent, by now, those groups that the state determines to be successful – and not those who make their way into the market, how is it possible to think that it is from the elites that an opening to market ideas and competition?

Probably the only way to undermine the current statist system arises from the possibility that free market ideas and proposals meet the demands of the many "losers" of the mainstream policy of sharing and distributing guaranteed and annuity positions.

More than "libdem" policies that flirt with "good lounges" and "button rooms", perhaps today there is a need for a "populist liberalism", a new anti-statism that aims to represent those who they are excluded from the "right laps" and guaranteed circuits.

In this perspective, a "populist liberalism" should be willing to "get its hands dirty", to leave the comfort area of ​​conferences and high theory, to speak a language that is actually understandable to those parts of society that live every day in the forefront the oppression of political power. We need a liberalism "for ordinary people" that, without compromising their basic principles, has the ability to abandon any form of snobbery and is not afraid to confront the feelings and anxieties faced daily by people.

Of course, it is not an easy bet because it presupposes being able to convince the “without a net” that their revenge is only possible by “reopening the games”, as only a powerful injection of liberal economy can do. Less state, fewer laws, fewer taxes and more market.

From this point of view, it is a question of placing oneself in competition with the two alternative sirens that can attract those excluded from the system – on the one hand the siren of a "miraculous populism" that aims only to "shoot it big" to get votes, from another is the attempt of mainstream politics to buy consensus cheaply simply by suggesting some possibility of being co-opted into the system of guarantees.

It is not an easy bet but, for those who do not want our country to stop dying of statism, it is perhaps the only possible one today.

The post The statism of the elites and the reasons for a “populist liberalism” appeared first on Atlantico Quotidiano .

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Atlantico Quotidiano at the URL on Wed, 07 Apr 2021 04:00:00 +0000.