Thursday, April 14, 2011

My name is Jonathan and I am ...

No, I can't quite bring myself to say it. But I'm hurtling towards the constructivist camp at the moment. Why? Because nothing makes much sense to me at the moment without at least some reference to how processes are socially and intellectually constructed. This works in two ways.

First, the self-evident nonsense of large swathes of the populations most punished by the financial crisis voting for right-wing parties, whose idea financial liberalization was in the first place and who are most likely to go for punitive austerity measures (OK, this doesn't work everywhere, but it's good for most Anglo countries). It's hard to spin the line that this is the consequence of Gourevitch-style interest coalitions without at least some reference to the weird and wonderful ways in which interests are constructed.

Second, there is huge ignorance and uncertainty about the policy options available, even if we allow for some kind of rational collective behaviour on the part of the various social groups in western democracies. After all, we don't really know for sure what the results of austerity or Keynesian stimulus measures will be. However at least here we have a sense that the former can't work (that is, as long as you're not a central banker) and that the latter is clearly a better bet. But when it comes to financial reform, I am honestly not sure that anyone really knows how to sort that nest of vipers out. And yet nothing could be more important - we're not talking about the regulation of some minor consumer product, where mass ignorance is to be expected.

So we're all just guessing. And if that's the case, then what is left of interests-based explanations? I don't like cuts, I think I must be a social democrat.