Neoliberal fascism

Thanks to Scenester David Sessions for alerting me that Friend of the Scene Freddie thinks I’m a neoliberal fascist because I wrote a column arguing for France to

Insert here a joke about how I don’t know which label to be most offended by.

I’ll only make a couple points, one about process and one about content.

First of all, about process. I am accused of endorsing fascism because I wrote a column urging the President of France to take rapid action to reform France’s economy.

I urge the president to “legislate by decree”—this sounds fearsome, but the process of “ordinances” is routinely used to legislate in France. What happens is that Parliament votes a law that enables the government to pass decrees that have the strength of law, on a certain topic and for a certain period, and after that the decrees have to be ratified by Parliament again to permanently gain the force of law. That’s not how a bill becomes a law in the US, but it is still perfectly consistent with legal democratic process. I’m sure there are also “fast-track” procedures in the US Congress.

I also suggest in one throwaway line that the President might wish to exercise the special powers clause of the French Constitution. It’s unlikely that he would be allowed to do so because, as a Freddie commenter points out, there are strict judicial controls on these war powers.

Second of all, about content. My “neoliberal fascist” policy recommendations for France are the following: enormous short-term stimulus spending, a revenue-neutral overhaul of the tax code and the end of various professional guilds and price controls. I don’t even say anything about unions. This puts me pretty much in line with that other sellout, liberal in name only, Paul Krugman (see e.g. here re: rent controls ).

I mean, we can have different views about financial reform and progressive taxation or what have you, but it’s pretty striking that someone would think calling for no tax cuts and a dramatic increase in government spending (I throw out a figure equivalent of 10% of France’s GDP) is neoliberal bitter medicine.

But hey, at least we now know it’s not only conservatives who suffer from epistemic closure.