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So, back to the neoliberal future?...

I read President Adamskus opined in not at all impartial fashion that the 'reforms' the SocDems were unwilling to do for four years should now be started.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 06:34:43 AM EST
It seems rather sad that just as world events lay more questions on the neoliberal mythos, few of the neoliberals in Central and Eastern Europe seem prepared to question their assumptions.

By anecdote (i.e. people I've known) it seems to me that a lot of the ardent neoliberals are those who had some good resources when the old regime fell. A few of those, the resource was indeed talent, but for more it was education and for more still it was education, plus links with the West and for more still success found a home in those with a bit of talent, a good education, good links with the West and contacts with sources of capital in the West.

Thus, the neoliberals are often not the largest party, or the largest faction in any centre-right coalition, but they are often the most well resourced and like neoliberals everywhere they attribute the success of their peers to "individual virtue" rather than any of the factors I point out. As such they are psychologically bound to economic philosophies which allow "people like them" to prosper. All the more so because the old system so clearly held them back.

I think it's that contrast between the old system and their current prosperity that makes them so certain that it is only restrictions that are a problem...

Also, of course, many of the Central and Eastern European countries specialised in very high powered development of mathematical skills. As a result a certain kind of mathematical mindset is rife, which I have the suspicion is very vulnerable to the claims of modern economics. The equations look very beautiful...

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 07:11:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Equation lovers that I know are not among the big winners of financial magic. Surely, they had confidence of knowing better than others, but usually they ran into a setback or two, or their positions are not that exceptional (unless they do an academic job in the West). A critical mass of "freedom" believers is drawn by the narrative. The liberal narrative is strong in Lithuanian, probably strongest by far. Actual losers may be just as enthusiastic.

Erosion of the neo-liberal belief is indeed slow so far. But I know people noticing that the new generation does not really have the same "individual realisation" opportunities. Still, more focus is on observing that people are very unimaginative.

By the way, I am curious how a global recession would tick the emigration balance. Emigration of young people to England, Ireland, Spain, etc is very significant. (That is one of the factors of so low voter participation.) If Western economic crises will push the emigrants back, would they have enough equity to give a boost in Lithuania? Or will they add to social and economic problems?

by das monde on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 08:16:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it's that contrast between the old system and their current prosperity that makes them so certain that it is only restrictions that are a problem...

Good point. Also, they are shielded from the social consequences of their decisions in their new homes.

However, as for math education, the typical neolib politician here doesn't come from natural sciences. The moneyed tend to come from economic or technical universities, the intellectuals come predominantly from the humanities (and after that from economic and technical and legal universities...).

To further explain these people, also add uncritical West-worship, lack of bottom-up social movements to relate to (the only alternatives they see is heavy-handed or soft-handed state dirigism).

In Lithuania's case, I also wonder about the strength of the influence of emigrees, specifically Americans (with the President among them).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 08:47:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
After the breakdown of the Soviet system, there was only Western model to "worship". Anything that came from there, credit fever and all, had to be accepted as normal and most progressive.

Emigrees did not really have much influence in Lithuania. Adamkus is the only success story. More deserving emigree leaders, such as Kazys Bobelis, were far less successful.

Now an interesting question is how much political success new emgrees could have. The atmosphere looks pretty skeptical against them. Besides, citizenship rules are tight (more so after an interpretation from the Constitutional Court).

by das monde on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 09:26:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
there was only Western model to "worship".

However, there is no THE Western model. The worship of the West is the worship of a caricature of the West.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 09:42:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Worship is not a necessity, but still, there was a genuine "demand" for models. People want to know how to live well, and the direct way is to follow others (and even more easily, to follow followers). What they picked up was usually a caricature worth.

As for political supply of models, it was "in principle" rather one-sided. All the value must come the West.

by das monde on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 10:04:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What I meant was that our intellectuals could have looked at Swedish social democracy, the German Rhenian capitalism, French dirigism, they could also have looked at the reality of the US economy (there IS a public sector, say in power utilities, etc.) -- but for many, all they saw of the West on the economic front was Freedom of Enterprise.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 06:05:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it was not just accident... US thinktanks like AEI and Heritage put large amounts of money into lectures and other events for politicians in these newly available countries.

Likewise, US connected figures seem to have had a large effect on the political direction of many of the nations.

And in the end, lest we forget, the propaganda machines, of the press, the think tanks, the MBA schools etc. have been enough to ensure thriving Friedmanite dissident factions in Sweden, Germany and even France. So in countries with new political infrastructures, it should not surprise that there had been even greater neoliberal success.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 08:38:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US thinktanks like AEI and Heritage put large amounts of money into lectures and other events for politicians in these newly available countries.

Yes, various think-tanks and universities other organisations had a role, and contact with the IMF too -- I mean, not just neocon think-tanks active in recent years.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 04:09:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Um Bobelis the 'more deserving' emigre leader?

The guy who a few elections ago tried to smear a candidate for president because that candidate (Lozoraitis) was married to a non-Lithuanian woman?

Lozoraitis had been the Lithuanian Ambassador to the USA, suceeding his father in that post, maintaining an independent Lithuanian essence for the decades of Soviet occupation (the USA never recognised the annexation of Lithuania).  As I recall when Lithuania actually declared renewed independence in 1991  Bobelis tried to 'persuade' Lozoraitis to appoint his son into the Lithuanian diplomatic corps to give him a head start in the resurgent nation. Lozoraitis refused, so a vengeful Bobelis carried out a xenophobic hatchet job a few years later when Lozoraitis ran for the Lithuanian Presidency.

The question of what happened to several million dollars in Lithuanian emigre funds that were 'transferred' from US based Lithuanian emigre associations to non-transparent Lithuanian accounts is an interesting one that I believe has never been clarified. You may wonder why this is a relevant part of this posting but I couldnt possibly comment.

by saugatojas on Thu Oct 30th, 2008 at 02:10:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frankly speaking, I did not study Lithuanian emigree politics much.  Lozoraitis and Bobelis are the only other their personalities that I could name immediately.

Thank you for posting (and welcome back to ET).

by das monde on Thu Oct 30th, 2008 at 09:28:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With socialdemocrats like this, Lithuania is lucky not to had started neoliberal future earlier, just in time for the Bush crunch. Only this month Kirkilas (the outgoing premier) started to talk that financial crisis should not be sold at the expense of social support to common citizen.

I know, Lithuanian liberals are enthusiastic about Friedmannian policies. (I had met Steponavičius 4 years ago.) This timing of their success is interesting. They should avoid worst microeconomic follies, I think. There is much to learn everyday as the global crisis unfolds. For worse, Lithuania may catch up Latvia in Baltic credit crises (still not very visible, but anticipation is growing). Their first instinct should be to copy American solutions. Social consequences may eventually turn disastrous for the conservative-liberal coalition; but I give a small chance that they could be smarter than LSDP there.

by das monde on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 07:18:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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