Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Neo-liberalism or Managerialism?

A f**king clipboard yesterday.
Here's a short and simple question to my fellow lefties.

Have we been sold a hospital-pass with the widespread use of the term 'neo-liberalism' to describe the current economic impasse we're in?

Are we, in fact, in a managerial age instead, where all economic activity is designed to increase the status and value of administrators at the expense of workers and the professions?

And - in doing so, are we missing an opportunity to say the right thing and enjoy all kinds of political benefits that we don't currently enjoy?

If anyone still comments on blogs, I'd be interested to hear what people think on this one.


MatGB said...

If we were in a genuinely "neo-liberal" age, wed' have basic fundamentals like a negative income tax (or a basic income, similar ideas), the big corps wouldn't get preferential treatment, etc etc etc.

I'm not a fan of the neoliberal school of economics, but it is at least liberal. The big problem from the 80s onwards is people opposed to Thatcher et al have been prepared to accept that what she did was neoliberal, which is akin to sayin gwhat Blair did was socialist.

So, yes, managerialist, or at the very least corporatist, definitely not liberal, in any shade or form.

Chris Yapp said...

There is a wonderful quote of Tony Benn to this effect when talking about the change in politics towards managerialism
It's along the lines "that the people are to be represented not managed".
If you can track it the rest of the speech is on the mark for me,
Fraternal greetings

The Plump said...

This is what the neo in neo liberalism really means. It means not very liberal.

Sparing said...

Yes it's managerialism - and that climate is contaminating all sorts of other instincts.

So many people who wish well for others, want to manage them into doing the right thing - e.g. through nudgery - and some nudgery ROI.

Similarly, many people who want to devolve power to others have the unspoken rider that this is so long as they use the power to do the self-evidently right and rational thing... as opposed to accepting that the majority really might not want (roughly) what they want. [Both points which resonate with Chris's Benn quote.]

I often feel the Blairites were the most managerial of all.

Nick said...

I think MattGB's point is exactly right. Neo-liberalism is the wrong term because it's not really even economic liberalism.

I'm fully onboard with Chris Dillow's basic concept of managerialism but I wonder about the phrase.

To state the obvious, there's nothing wrong with being a manager. Any employee has concerns and issues that need managing, both personal and professional. Professionals need to feel they are being trusted to exercise their judgement but a good manager will do that. It's a hard skill which is in short supply and not enough training or emphasis is put on it but it is an important and useful skill. And I don't think it makes sense to demonise people for doing the job. Demonise people for doing the job badly by all means but say 'my manager's a shit' not 'managers are shits'.

I wonder if in fact what needs to be bemoaned is 'executivism' which is the presumption that those at the very top can shape things single-handedly. Certainly that was Chris's response to Flip Chart Rick's suggestion that management helped. He's suspicious of the cult of leadership not the skill of managing people.

From a political point of view 'executivism' may be a bad phrase because people could say it's "anti-success" although it would be easier to make clear the differentiation between entrepreneurs, footballers, artists and designers and CEOs who have spent their whole life within a couple similar organisations.

So basically I believe that focussing on managerialism is exactly what we should be focussing on but I think it might be time to get a Frank Luntz on the case and find exactly the right word for it.

Mil said...

We're probably missing that opportunity because those who could take it are managers and administrators of political parties quite before they are workers and professionals.

Do you as an explanation?

Paulie said...

There've been a few posts elsewhere on this - here:

... and

medical artists said...

Good post.I learn more.

Anonymous said...

liberalism, neoliberalism, managerialism, blahblahism... wtf are you talking about? they are all CAPITALISM... no difference to most people...

Anonymous said...

liberalism, neoliberalism, managerialism, blahblahism.. WTF are you talking about? They are all CAPITALISM... no difference to most people... same shit