Monday, May 24, 2010

Link: Is economic freedom another way of saying we need to build more prisons?

Mike Koczal - Is economic freedom another way of saying we need to build more prisons?

My favorite statistic from that paper linked above, Garrison America: "By 2012, the Department of Labor predicts, the United States will have more private security guards than high school teachers."


-- One theory I'm thinking through these days, and I'll be using as a guide in watching dialogue on the right unfold into the 2010 election: We tend to see two distinct political projects. One is a "neoliberal" project that, in the words of Wendy Brown, is a project of “extending and disseminating market values to all institutions and social action … the production of all human and institutional action as rational entrepreneurial action, conducted according to a calculus of utility, benefit or satisfaction." There is also a more familiar "neoconservative" project of dismantling the welfare state, reversing progressive taxation,
Christianizing the state, reversing civil liberties, projecting military strength abroad, etc.

I'm curious as to how the two interplay. The way that the neoliberal dream of growing the pie blurs into the neoconservative dream of punishing the wicked, parasitic unproductive class and rewarding the rich who make the world into what it is. In some ways they tend to repeal each other ("I'm socially liberal, but fiscally conservative"). But in some ways, I wonder whether there is a synthesis that has been happening between the two. And if so, we may see some additional avatars of this cross-dream in the 2010 election.

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