'The Everyday Economy' and the next economic settlement.

Author:Chandler, Daniel
Position::THE NEXT ECONOMIC SETTLEMENT
 
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Review of Rachel Reeves, The Everyday Economy, 2018, https://www.scribd.com/document/374425087/Rachel-Reeves-The-Everyday-Economy

'The world suffers under a dictatorship of no alternatives. Although ideas all by themselves are powerless to overthrow this dictatorship we cannot over-throw it without ideas' Roberto Unger (2005) Jeremy Corbyn's election as leader of the Labour Party in 2015 shook the party out of a long intellectual slumber, opening up the possibility of genuine renewal. Corbyn's willingness to point out the moral failings of our current economic model has inspired a new generation, while his unexpected electoral success has loosened the apparent constraints of political feasibility. But Corbyn did not arrive with a well-developed alternative--indeed, the radical left has been as guilty as the centre for failing to refresh and renew its ideas. While the first eighteen months of Corbyn's leadership were dominated by in-fighting, promising currents of intellectual renewal are now visible.

The energy and dynamism has, to date, mainly been on the left of the party, epitomised by Momentum's hugely successful fringe conference 'The World Transformed'. (1) In a new pamphlet, 'The Everyday Economy', Rachel Reeves MP now makes an important contribution to Labour's intellectual renewal from a centre-left perspective. Her efforts suggest there may be more common ground between the rival labour tribes than many think.

Reeves' starting point is that 'the neoliberal settlement' which has set the terms of debate in British politics since the 1980s, on both left and right, 'is exhausted'; the Labour party has a responsibility to renew itself, and in doing so to 'begin the renewal of our country'. (2) Reeves sets out a wide-ranging critique of our current economic model: she suggests the UK went too far in liberalising its economy; that privatisation has fostered 'crony capitalism'; and that markets have expanded into areas where they don't belong, including the NHS. Reeves argues that the balance of power has shifted away from working people, that globalisation and technology have hollowed out the manufacturing sector, and that our economy has grown too unequal, with winners concentrated in cities and advanced sectors, leaving behind those in towns and rural areas.

Reeves is clear that these problems have deep roots, and that addressing them requires a major project of intellectual renewal. She offers a critique of contemporary economics...

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