Thursday, December 15, 2005

Neoliberalism, again

A nice article in Kompas today about neoliberalism, by an old mate Romo Herry-Prijono. I consider it a nice piece, not because I agree with the content, but because of the way he (always) presents his arguments. Among all the leftist arguments againts liberal/neoliberals, he is the one I respect most.

He made two important, points. First, neoliberalism is not the same as market economy (neoclassics?). Not all market-oriented policies like privaitization can be considered as neoliberalism. Hence, those who are against neoliberalism are not, and shoud not be, against market economy. True! This is one mistake most people tend to make.

Second, policies like BLBI or bailouting banks are contradicting with the market economy principals. True again! And most of us neoclassical economists also agree with that.

But his critics regarding Becker (1976) -- the one when Becker argued that economic theory offers a framework to understand almost all aspects of human life -- was weak. He did not elaborate why Becker, or economists, are not supposed to make that claim. It would be much stronger if he could point out how and why Becker and other economist' arguments were incorrect, rather than just saying that "no, they can not do that...!"

I expect more people like him to bring more color in the academic discussion on economic system and ideology. Most people who argue against neoliberalism tend not to have good understanding about what neoliberalism itself means. So they tend to argue against anything that they dislike, and brand it as 'neoliberal.' It is somewhat similar to the situation when people tended to label everything bad with 'communist.'

On the other hand, this is a challenge for liberal economists like us to engange in this kind of intellectual battle. We tend to be good in explaining things technocratically, but rather weak in explaining and spreading the philosophy behind our theories.

1 comment:

  1. Hai, nice comment from you too. i've just read romo's opinion in kompas and my mind lead me to this blog... yeah you're right!!! i got good comment from my guru here ;-). thank Pe