What can Brad DeLong tell us about “Real Social Democrats”?
Brad DeLong, as often happens, is way off target in his recent post “Real Social Democrats Worry about the Long-Run Deficit”:
…in the long run, either the government raises enough revenue to keep its deficit small enough that the debt-to-GDP ratio does not explode, or the market will do something to the economy and the government–and that something is something that we will not like at all.
To pretend that bringing the long-run spending and long-run taxing plans of the government into rough balance is not an essential task of economic policy is to work to end economic prosperity, and to end social democracy as well.
DeLong is a self professed neoliberal, a philosophy that’s destroyed much of social democracy over the past decades. So it’s more than a bit doubtful DeLong can tell us what it means to be a real social democrat.
Contra DeLong, I’d suggest real social democrats are those who worry about just one over-riding problem: the domination of wealth throughout global society and its irreconcilability with the very possibility of social democracy. Those who claim to be social democrats yet support cuts in existing social democratic programs while laughing at the very thought of their further expansion are not real social democrats. They’re co-opted neoliberals.
To worry about deficits and future threats from “markets” is to completely surrender to the logic of capital. The objectivity of this logic isn’t something which can be determined within the purview of economic “science” since economic theories can be pulled off the shelf to support any world view. In short, economics is not a science. DeLong’s version of neo-classical economics is nothing more than a theory justifying the domination of wealth. Real social democrats reject these theories for what they are – apologetics for power – and instead reach into their own bag and pull out theories which support a social democratic world. Functional Finance and Modern Monetary Theory are good examples and there are many others.
Real social democracy is not compatible with unbridled markets and worries about long run deficits are phobias that can only exist in such worlds. Brad DeLong should stick to what it means to be a real neoliberal.