Presentació

Els cent primers dies de la presidència Trump han estat subjecte d’un escrutini exhaustiu (veure la col·lecció de recursos d’Ideograma/CIDOB), que confirma els trets ben coneguts i analitzats del nou president (narcissista, autoritari, imprevisible …), tal com remarquen Robert Reich o Luis Antonio Espino. Altres analistes subratllen la seva manca de preparació per a l’exercici del càrrec (Tom McCarthy), però també la seva capacitat d’adaptació a les circumstàncies sense mostrar cap rubor per contradir-se continuament (Roger Senserrich). Per tenir-ne una visió més global hem seleccionat el magnífic estat de la qüestió que publica Project Syndicate, a partir dels articles dels seus col·laboradors principals.

En l’àmbit internacional cal destacar també el deteriorament galopant de la situació política a Venezuela (veure l’article de Luis Sánchez-Merlo a La Vanguardia i el dossier de la revista Letras Libres).

A banda de la segona volta de l’elecció presidencial francesa, en els propers dies l’agenda internacional registra esdeveniments rellevants com les eleccions locals al Regne Unit, les eleccions parlamentàries a Àlgeria i l’elecció presidencial a Corea del Sur (veure l’agenda global que publica el CIDOB).

A França, tot sembla indicar que Emmanuel Macron resultarà elegit nou president de la República: les enquestes així ho prediuen, en estimar que Macron obtindrà un 59-61% dels vots enfront de Le Pen, amb un 39-41% (es poden consultar amb detall totes les enquestes publicades a la pàgina de l’exemplar Commission des Sondages; especialment interessant és l’enquesta del Cevipof /Le Monde). També l’enquesta posterior al cara a cara (Vanesse Schneider) entre els dos candidats és clarament favorable a Macron (63/34). Les escasses probablitats d’una sorpresa majúscula que donés la victòria a Marine Le Pen són analitzades, entre d’altres, per Kiko Llaneras, Albert Aixalà o Ignacio Varela.

El més inquietant, però, és la normalització política del populisme de Le Pen, gràcies a l’esquerdament del front republicà provocat per Nicolas Dupont-Aignan per la dreta i pel ni-ni de Jean-Luc Mélenchon per l’esquerra. Sobre l’actitud de Mélenchon veure les fortes crítiques de Sylvain Courage i de Matthieu Croissendeau publicades a L’Obs, i la de Gérard Grunberg a Telos. Però potser la crítica més aguda sigui la portada de Le Canard Enchainé: “‘Le Canard’ milite lui aussi pour le ‘ni-ni’: Ni Marine, ni Le Pen!”.

Nosaltres hem seleccionat un article d’Speranta Dimitru a The Conversation que intenta explicar el pensament polític de Macron, definit com un liberalisme igualitari.

En la mateixa freqüència d’ona que Macron sembla emetre Matteo Renzi, guanyador de les primàries del Partito Democratico italià celebrades el passat diumenge. Sobre les expectatives, els reptes i les contradiccions de Renzi veure els articles d’Eugenio Scalfari, Massimo Giannini i Jorge del Palacio.

Les posicions sobre la negociació sobre el Brexit entre la Unió Europe ai el Regne Unit s’han endurit força en els últims dies. La duresa expressada per Jean-Claude Juncker i Angela Merkel haurà de passar la prova del cotó de la unitat dels 26, tal com assenyala Miguel Otero en un article a El País, que adjuntem. En aquest context, Theresa May jugarà a fons la carta del nacionalisme britànic per obtenir una majoria contundent a les eleccions anticipades (veure la selecció d’articles que proposa Agenda Pública).

L’acumulació de casos de corrupció relacionats amb el Partit Popular no impedeix de moment que el Govern Rajoy segueixi guanyant temps, tot enlairant la bandera de l’estabilitat (Josep Ramoneda) per salvar la tramitació dels pressupostos generals de l’Estat del 2017, amb el socors perfectament estimable del Partit Nacionalista Basc (Enric Juliana, Pablo Ordaz) i sense una oposició d’esquerres operativa (Kepa Aulestia). Com és habitual, Enric Juliana ofereix una suggerent panoràmica general de la situació política espanyola en una de les seves cròniques a La Vanguardia,  que adjuntem.

Mentrestant, a Catalunya tot sembla congelat a l’espera d’un desenllaç del cicle polític del processisme (Francesc-Marc Álvaro), amb l’ombra cada cop més allargada de la corrupció de l’era pujolista (Valentí Puig, Guiilem Martínez) que hipoteca seriosament la refundació convergent (Roger Palà), i amb polèmiques d’estar per casa com l’originada per les afirmacions del diputat Lluís Llach sobre els funcionaris (Milagros Pérez Oliva).

Tanquem aquesta selecció setmanal amb un article de Daniel W.Drezner sobre els canvis en el “mercat” de les idees que explicarien la mutació de les regles i formes del debat públic: els líders d’opinió estarien reemplaçant els intel·lectuals públics … En termes d’Isaiah Berlin, els eriçons -tancats en una gran i única idea- guanyarien a les guineus -obertes a múltiples idees i interessos … La pèrdua de confiança en l’autoritat científica obre pas així al debat polaritzat i maniqueu, afeblint el pensament crític.

“One Hundred Days of Disquietude “ a Project Syndicate (28-04-17)
https://www.project-syndicate.org/onpoint/one-hundred-days-of-disquietude-2017-04?utm_source=Project+Syndicate+Newsletter&utm_campaign=f2a9261647-op_newsletter_2017_4_28&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_73bad5b7d8-f2a9261647-105538073

The convention of assessing a national leader’s first 100 days is said to date back to Napoleon, by way of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Whereas Napoleon’s 100 days before Waterloo were a profile in hubris, and FDR’s first 100 days a portrait in hope, Donald Trump’s presidency has been so wayward and uncanny that no single word seems to come close to capturing its essence.
Still, two main schools of thought about Trump’s presidency have emerged. One school sees a callow narcissist who, after suffering a string of embarrassing defeats during his first weeks in office, is reluctantly accepting on-the-job training and adopting more mainstream positions. According to this view, White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon, the administration’s “alt-right” avatar, will continue to be marginalized by figures such as National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. Trump’s embrace of NATO (which he had called “obsolete” during the campaign) is similarly reassuring, as is the influence of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner (despite Kushner’s inexperience, almost complete public silence, and lack of any definitive achievements as the Trump family consigliere).

Adherents of the second school hold that Trump’s infant presidency is in fact infantile – or what IE Business School’s Lucy Marcus calls “governance by id.” They point to Trump’s apparent inability to control his repeated Twitter tantrums, which continue to unnerve foreign leaders and global markets, and to his profound ignorance of basic facts. His lies, fantasies, and volte-faces, they argue, have left US policymaking utterly unpredictable to almost everyone, including many members of the administration – perhaps even to the president himself.

Project Syndicate commentators – some of whom have served in previous US administrations, or have dealt with previous US presidents – have been acutely aware of the risks that have emerged during Trump’s first 100 days, as well as those that haven’t. When considered as a whole, their views provide an essential portrait not just of America since Inauguration Day, but of a world profoundly unsettled by Trump.

Reality’s Revenge
Trump’s fanciful view of the world, most agree, began to collide head-on with reality the moment he took office. “Nothing seemed to be going right,” observes Ian Buruma of Bard College, “during the first 11 weeks of his presidency.” Federal courts struck down his executive orders barring US entry to citizens of six predominantly Muslim countries, including Syrian refugees. His effort to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) failed spectacularly. And what Buruma charitably calls “dodgy dealings with the Russians” forced the resignation of his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn. Even as the president “issues decrees, barks orders, sends out midnight Tweets,” notes Columbia University’s Jeffrey Sachs, “facts – real ones, not his ‘alternative’ variety – keep intervening.”

For Barry Eichengreen of the University of California at Berkeley, this was especially evident during Trump’s first in-person meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. After excoriating China during the 2016 campaign, “Trump treated Xi with considerable deference” at their summit earlier this month, most likely because he came to realize – or was made to understand – the extent to which the US depends on China. As with his rhetoric about Obamacare, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and many other issues, Trump’s “glib campaign slogans have run up against the hard reality of actually making policy,” Eichengreen argues.

As a result, Ana Palacio, a former Spanish foreign minister, finds some reasons to be hopeful after the Trump administration’s first “dizzying few months.” With Bannon’s star falling and those of McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson rising, “adults,” she says, “are back in charge.” Nonetheless, she warns that “this is no time for complacency: the liberal world order remains far from secure.”

Executive Disorder
Palacio worries that, with Trump in the White House, “There is no white knight on the horizon to save the day.” But, like Don Quixote, Trump actually does seem to fancy himself a knight. And as he makes a show of rescuing his narrow base of supporters in America’s Rust Belt and coal country, he could still disrupt the status quo. In particular, by tilting at actual windmills in defense of fossil fuels, he could jeopardize the entire planet.

“With the exception of launching a nuclear war,” writes Princeton University philosopher Peter Singer, “it is hard to think of anything a US president could do that is liable to harm more people than” Trump’s executive order on “energy independence and economic growth.” That order, as Sachs notes, “would rescind the Clean Power Plan regulations of the US Environmental Protection Agency; roll back standards to control methane releases from oil and gas production and distribution; and end the regulatory use of a ‘social cost of carbon,’ introduced by the EPA to calibrate the dollar value of climate damage caused by the emission of an additional ton of carbon dioxide.”

But, as with so much else in Trump’s agenda, reality could soon reassert itself. For starters, when Trump’s climate actions are inevitably “challenged in court,” according to Sachs, the administration “will almost surely lose,” because the emissions standards he wants to do away with are “protected by the Clean Air Act.” And as Javier Solana, a former NATO Secretary-General and EU High Representative, notes, “Trump’s policy priorities will inevitably clash with those of states such as California, which has been taking the initiative to encourage climate-minded technological innovation.”

Moreover, Trump will have to answer to the business community that he so often purports to represent, especially if he puts American commitments under the Paris climate agreement at risk. A decade ago, “Business leaders would have largely welcomed such regressive environmental policies,” writes Mark Malloch Brown, the Chair of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission. But that is no longer the case. “Corporate strategies,” Malloch Brown notes, “are increasingly falling into line with” more sustainable business models.

Trump’s other executive actions have also provoked widespread opposition. Since Trump signed his first ill-fated travel ban, “many Democratic mayors have reaffirmed their cities’ sanctuary status for undocumented immigrants,” observes former Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Jorge Castañeda. “And those speaking out against the Trump administration’s actions include 500 university presidents and many faith-based organizations, not least the Catholic Church.”

Contempt for Congress
While Trump has relied heavily on executive orders, his legislative agenda has gone nowhere. As MIT Sloan’s Simon Johnson observes, when it comes to legislation, the “extremism” that characterizes Trump’s executive actions (including judicial appointments) “will not work, owing to the need to attract some relatively centrist Republicans.” But Trump has not only failed to understand the political dynamics within his own party – a failure that was most obvious, as Johnson shows, in the botched effort in March to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. On both politics and policy, as Steven Nadler of the University of Wisconsin-Madison puts it, he is “ignorant of his own ignorance.”

For this reason, New York University’s Nouriel Roubini expects that efforts by Trump and congressional Republicans to reform the US tax code will share the same fate as the stillborn “American Health Care Act.” Roubini describes most of the reform ideas that were originally floated by Trump as “dead on arrival” even in a Republican-controlled congress. Neither a proposed border adjustment tax nor an alternative value-added tax has “enough support even among Republicans.”

Just this week, the Trump administration, evidently desperate to show some accomplishment in its first 100 days, rushed out a single-page proposal to cut the corporate tax rate to 15% and reduce the number of tax brackets for individuals to just three. But this plan will be a hard sell for fiscal conservatives in Congress. “Even cutting the corporate tax rate from 35% to 30% would be difficult,” says Roubini, because it would require a broader tax base, “forcing entire sectors – such as pharmaceuticals and technology – that currently pay little in taxes to start paying more.” On the other hand, if Trump and congressional Republicans “blow up the debt,” by cutting taxes across the board without making up for lost revenues, the “markets’ response could crash the US economy.” Ultimately, Roubini expects that the Republicans’ “roaring tax-reform lion will most likely be reduced to a squeaking mouse.”

But the US economy is already facing risks from Trump’s past failures. “By deciding to begin with health-care reform – an inherently complicated and highly divisive issue in US politics,” observes Mohamed El-Erian, Chief Economic Adviser at Allianz, Trump “risks losing some of the political goodwill that could be needed to carry out the kinds of fiscal reform that markets are expecting.” Unless Trump “can work well with a cooperative Congress to translate market-motivating intentions into well-calibrated actions” that restore market confidence, “the US engine could sputter, causing the entire global economy to suffer.” El-Erian is particularly concerned that Trump would then make matters worse by implementing the protectionist measures he promised during his campaign.

Of course, Trump would have to consult Congress if he is serious about overhauling existing trade deals such as NAFTA. And that remains a big “if.” There have been some token measures, such as a tariff on Canadian lumber imposed as the 100-day mark neared. But Trump quickly reversed himself on an accompanying threat to withdraw from NAFTA. “So far,” notes Daniel Gros of the Center for European Policy Studies, the administration “has taken no action suggesting that a new era of protectionism is at hand.” Indeed, “Trump could simply decide to abandon his promise to renegotiate NAFTA,” argues Harvard University’s Jeffrey Frankel. “After all, he has dropped many other campaign pledges, including (fortunately) his oft-repeated vow to label China a currency manipulator ‘on day one’ of his administration.”

Likewise, Laura Tyson of the University of California at Berkeley expects NAFTA to be yet another reality test for Trump. If his administration does try to uphold his campaign promises, he and his advisers, she says, will have to “recognize some basic facts.” In particular, there is no evidence for Trump’s claim that NAFTA “has led to ‘terrible losses’ of manufacturing production and jobs.” On the contrary, with so many US supply chains already crisscrossing the Mexican and Canadian borders, NAFTA actually supports US jobs, “by creating a market for US exports; by providing competitively priced inputs for US production; and by lowering prices of goods for US consumers, who then can spend more on other US-produced goods and services.”

Shooting from the Lip
As on the domestic front, Trump’s first 100 days on the world stage have been marked by a mix of decisiveness and dithering, punctuated, says former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, by a “series of foreign-policy U-turns.” After admonishing President Barack Obama in 2013 to “stay out of Syria,” Bildt notes, Trump suddenly “launched a missile attack on one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s air bases.” Moreover, he “hinted at taking military action against North Korea,” and, as if to back up the threat, “dropped the ‘mother of all bombs’ on an Islamic State redoubt in Eastern Afghanistan.”

Bildt worries that Trump’s reliance on military means, like the Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb used in Afghanistan’s Spin Ghar mountains, will only exacerbate existing crises. Buruma goes further: Trump “has no strategy, not in the Middle East, and not in Asia, where North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong-un, is doing his best to grab the news and provoke” the US with its nuclear tests and missile launches. Palacio, for her part, describes the Trump administration’s recent actions as “the foreign-policy equivalent of muscle memory, with the players using familiar tactics, though with no clear objective in mind.”

“To be sure,” says Brahma Chellaney, a strategist at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, “some of Trump’s [policy] reversals have brought him closer to traditional US positions.” But in Asia, “which faces serious security, political, and economic challenges,” says Chellaney, “Trump’s reversals have only exacerbated regional volatility. With so many political flashpoints threatening to trigger violent conflict, the last thing Asia’s leaders need is another strategic wild card.”

To Robert Skidelsky of Warwick University, the impulsive approach that Chellaney decries amounts to the opposite of a “prudent foreign policy,” in which means are chosen because they serve established ends. In fact, the US Department of Defense’s decision to drop a MOAB bomb was, in New York University law professor Stephen Holmes’s view, “an example of letting military means determine policy ends.” For Holmes, the Trump administration’s recent actions are reminiscent of the George W. Bush administration’s disastrous response to the attacks of September 11, 2001, which culminated in the invasion of Iraq. Then as now, the military was given free rein to seek out a “battlefield where [it] could strut its stuff.”

But while Trump’s delegation of strategic decision-making to the US military suggests that he does indeed lack a coherent strategy of his own, marketing remains one of the president’s core strengths. Holmes points out that, even if the MOAB has no chance of deterring decentralized extremist networks, its use was a hit in the American media, and especially on cable news networks that “cannot resist trumpeting Trump’s inane rants and absurd fabrications.” Similarly, Buruma sees no coincidence in the fact that, “Trump ordered an attack by 59 Tomahawk missiles on a Syrian air base” just as his “approval ratings were dipping to 35%, the lowest ever recorded for a new president.”

Deciphering Trumpism
Trump’s relationship with the media, and with the truth itself, may shed more light on the inner workings of his presidency than an inventory of his policy vacillations ever could. As Buruma reminds us, Trump has long been “a master of one particular art: self-promotion through the manipulation of traditional and social media.” At the end of the day, the president’s “aim, as a reality TV star, a marketer of his brand, and a politician, has been consistent: recognition as the world’s greatest, toughest, most powerful, and most beloved man.”

Having lost the popular vote by a significant margin, that has been a tough sell. Trump has had to govern as a kind of usurper. But, unlike Bush in 2001, notes Harvard’s Joseph Nye, Trump has not moved “to the political center to attract additional support.” Rather, he “proclaims that he won the popular vote and, acting as though he really did, appeals to his base voters.”

In Nye’s view, Trump knows his audience, and should not be underestimated as a communicator. “What offends commentators in the media and academia does not bother [Trump’s] supporters,” he points out. As a reality TV veteran, the president has learned that “the key to success is to monopolize viewers’ attention, and that the way to do that is with extreme statements, not careful regard for the truth.”

One of the most striking examples of this during the new administration’s first 100 days came when Trump, against his own agencies’ evidence, accused Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign. Nina Khrushcheva of the New School is certainly not alone in surmising that Trump gets his information from “Fox News, racist alt-right blogs, and the unhinged enragés of talk radio,” rather than “from the professionals at the State Department and in the military and intelligence services.” The result, Khrushcheva says, is “a form of voodoo politics: rule based on ‘alternative facts’ and unfounded and untestable theories that cast their own kind of spell on citizens struggling to comprehend a globalized world and economy from which they feel alienated.”

This points to a disturbing prospect. Even if Trump himself is solely concerned with self-promotion, his “impulsiveness is the stuff of nightmares,” writes Skidelsky, “not only because it makes him exploitable by those with more deliberate agendas, but also because he commands so many deadly toys.” In a similar vein, Mark Leonard of the European Council on Foreign Relations warns that, “the fact that Trump is no ideologue does not mean he cannot be a conduit for a new ideology.”

Leonard sees a possible parallel with Margaret Thatcher in 1980s Britain. To be sure, Trump “aims to sweep away the neoliberal consensus of unregulated markets, privatization, free trade, and immigration” on which Thatcherism was based. The point, Leonard explains, is that Thatcher, like Trump, did not need to define her political project. “She merely had to attract people capable of refining the ideology and policy program that would eventually bear her name.” Leonard’s analysis amounts to a caveat for those who are heartened by Bannon’s supposed fall from grace within the administration. “If Trump’s progressive opponents fail to engage seriously with the forces that Trump’s victory reflected and reinforced,” Leonard concludes, “not even impeachment will be enough to put the Trumpian genie back in its bottle.”

The Trump International
It is a genie with family in Europe. Chris Patten, Chancellor of the University of Oxford, sees many other countries – including the United Kingdom, Hungary, and Poland – also “moving toward a different sort of politics,” whereby nationalism and populism become vehicles for “incipient authoritarianism.” In the UK, Prime Minister Theresa May has fashioned herself as a Trump fellow traveler, while she pursues a “hard Brexit” (what May calls a “clean break” with the European Union’s single market and customs union). And yet, as Patten reminds us, there is no popular mandate for this. “A mere 52% of British voters made the decision to exit the EU last June,” he notes. More important, “[w]hat exactly they voted for remains a mystery.”

The snap election that May has called for June 8 could give her the political mandate she’s lacked since succeeding David Cameron, whose government resigned immediately after last year’s Brexit referendum. Opinion polls indicate that her Conservative Party can strengthen its parliamentary majority. But Philippe Legrain of the London School of Economics’ European Institute points out that May had repeatedly vowed that she would not call an election before the regularly scheduled date in 2020. Indeed, “by cynically breaking her promise,” Legrain believes, she “could badly erode the public’s trust in her.” And May’s timing is curious: the election is being held after she already formally initiated the process to withdraw the UK from the EU, in March, but before voters know what the terms of the divorce will be.

As May considers the UK’s post-EU future, she has been cozying up not just to Trump, but also to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In his own (and far more radical) bid to shore up his power, Erdoğan recently claimed victory in a referendum to replace Turkey’s parliamentary system with what Soli Özel of Kadir Has University describes as “an alla turca presidential system that is tailor-made” for Erdoğan himself.

Özel notes that, “Despite the referendum’s high stakes – the abandonment of the Turkish Republic’s longstanding political framework – there was no serious or extended debate prior to the vote.” The referendum was held after “a relentless campaign of obfuscation, misrepresentation, and vilification,” and under a “state of emergency” that has been in effect since a coup attempt last July. After the vote, Erdoğan received a congratulatory call from Trump. But, “given how bitterly divided the country has become,” Özel writes, “his narrow win could turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory.”

While Erdoğan rapidly undermines Turkey’s chances of ever joining the EU, countries already in the bloc are also challenging its core values, under the leadership of Trump analogues such as Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Poland’s de facto leader, Law and Justice Party (PiS) Chairman Jarosław Kaczyński. In Poland’s case, writes Sławomir Sierakowski of the Institute for Advanced Study in Warsaw, the PiS may be taking a page from Erdoğan’s playbook. Following crackdowns on the judiciary and the media, the PiS is “carrying out a revolutionary reorganization of the army, the likes of which have not been seen since the imposition of communist rule.” And Kaczyński has rocked the boat at the EU level as well, recently challenging the bid by his main political rival, former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, for another term as European Council President.

Guy Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister who leads the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe in the European Parliament, describes measures that the EU is now taking against the PiS government. And Verhofstadt argues that “until it reverses its illiberal policies,” Poland should face further measures to limit the EU funds that it receives and the membership privileges that it enjoys. “Ultimately,” however, “only the Polish people can decide their country’s fate,” Verhofstadt concludes, and he is hopeful that Poles “will soon take to the streets to reject their government’s drift toward authoritarianism, and to ensure a brighter future for Poland in the heart of Europe.”

Only time will tell if such optimism is justified in Poland. But it may have received a boost in the first round of the French presidential election. Although Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Front advanced to the second round, as polls had predicted, so, too, did the centrist, pro-European candidate, Emmanuel Macron. With Macron on the ballot, writes Dominique Moisi of the Institute Montaigne, “the composition of the French electorate” makes a Le Pen victory all but impossible.

Moisi celebrates the fact that “French citizens defied those who warned that populism might triumph in the land of the

French Revolution,” and that Trump’s election and the Brexit referendum would pave the way for Le Pen. But Harvard Law School’s Mark Roe, noting that nearly half the electorate voted for “anti-establishment candidates” in the first round, thinks the champagne should be kept on ice. Macron will most likely win the May 7 runoff, Roe admits, but a “latent populist coalition could still emerge.”

As Macron confronts the challenges of governing a divided polity, Moisi calls on him to “resist the temptations of Bonapartism,” and be “a beacon of hope in a sea of doubt and despair.” Anne-Marie Slaughter of New America broadens that message. She believes that “the right response” to Trump, Le Pen, and all the populists, “is not to deny the existence or legitimacy of a desire to stay grounded amid tumultuous change, or love of country and culture, much less to look down on the less educated.” Instead, the task must be “to build a new narrative of patriotism, culture, connection, and inclusion.”

After 100 days of Trump, keeping that goal in sight may hold the key – and not just for Americans – to navigating safely the many more hundreds of days that lie ahead.


Speranta DUMITRU, “”Qu’est-de le libéralisme égalitaire? Comprendre la philopsophie de Macron”  a The Conversation (1-05-17)
https://theconversation.com/quest-ce-que-le-liberalisme-egalitaire-comprendre-la-philosophie-de-macron-76808

Loin d’être un amas d’idées de droite et de gauche, le programme de Macron relève d’un courant de pensée cohérent connu sous le nom de « libéralisme égalitaire ».
On oublie souvent qu’Emmanuel Macron a été philosophe avant d’être fonctionnaire d’État, banquier et ministre. Son travail d’édition philosophique lui a valu, il y a 17 ans, les remerciements de Paul Ricœur dans la préface de La mémoire, lhistoire et loubli, un livre particulièrement dense.

Aujourd’hui, le programme du candidat Macron est inspiré par deux autres philosophes, John Rawls (1921-2002) et Amartya Sen (né en 1933). Le premier est considéré comme le plus important philosophe politique du XXe siècle, le second a reçu le Prix Nobel d’Économie en 1998.

Combattre l’inégalité des chances
Le libéralisme égalitaire est d’abord une philosophie de l’égalité des chances. Son idée principale est que dans une société juste toute personne doit avoir la chance de réaliser ses projets sans que des inégalités héritées de naissance ou issues des accidents l’en empêchent. Cette idée semble inspirer le premier slogan de Macron : « La France doit être une chance pour tous ». Elle est aussi illustrée par l’un des clips de la campagne présentant Charles Rozoy qui, après un accident, est devenu champion paralympique en 2012.

Le libéralisme égalitaire est un courant qui combine la liberté et l’égalité dans une théorie cohérente de la justice sociale. Son représentant le plus connu, John Rawls, considère dans son livre, Théorie de la justice, qu’une société juste doit réaliser les deux principes suivants :

1     Accroître les libertés de base égales pour tous ;

2     Limiter les inégalités économiques de façon à améliorer : (a) l’égalité équitable des chances ; (b) la situation des plus désavantagés .

Quiconque a lu Rawls sera étonné de découvrir que l’exposé de ses deux principes a structuré, dans ce même ordre, le discours de Lyon, que Macron a prononcé le 4 février 2017. Il y a défendu (1) « les libertés de base » en considérant la laïcité comme une liberté de conscience compatible avec la liberté des autres ; la liberté de travailler, d’entreprendre et d’innover ; la liberté d’association. Puis, il a insisté sur (2a) l’égalité des chances qu’il veut équitable par un investissement dans l’éducation des enfants en ZEP (en divisant par deux la taille des classes) et des adultes (en développant la formation continue), ainsi que par la parité et des mesures antidiscriminatoires dans les entreprises.

Dans son programme, la priorité accordée (2b) à la situation des plus désavantagés se traduit dans l’augmentation des minima sociaux (l’allocation vieillesse et adulte handicapé) et les mesures pour les sans-abri.

De façon générale, la création d’un système universel des retraites et d’une assurance chômage universelle opère une profonde égalisation des statuts.

Liberté ou égalité ? Capabilités, mon capitaine !

Le libéralisme égalitaire est une théorie féconde, dotée de nombreuses applications. L’un des débats qu’il a suscités concerne le type d’égalité qui devrait nous préoccuper : faut-il chercher à égaliser les ressources, en laissant les gens libres d’en faire l’usage qu’ils souhaitent ? Ou faut-il égaliser le niveau de bien-être ou de satisfaction, même si cela implique une inégalité des ressources ?

C’est en cherchant à répondre à ces questions qu’Amartya Sen a élaboré l’approche dite « des capabilités ». Selon lui, ce qu’il faut égaliser est la « capacité » des gens à choisir et à combiner différentes actions pour réaliser leurs projets. Dans cette perspective, la redistribution des ressources n’est qu’un moyen parmi d’autres. Ce qui compte en matière de justice sociale est de choisir les politiques qui élargissent les possibilités d’action. Autrement dit, la liberté de tout un chacun.

L’idée que la pauvreté est une privation de liberté ne va pas de soi. On peut la comprendre en comparant, comme le fait Amartya Sen, la situation de deux personnes : l’une qui jeûne et l’autre malnutrie. Du point de vue des ressources et du mal-être, les deux se retrouvent dans une situation identique. Mais ce qui fait la différence est que l’une a choisi de ne pas manger et l’autre n’a pas eu le choix. L’idée d’Amartya Sen est que comparer les possibilités d’action dont disposent les individus, leurs « capabilités », constitue une meilleure façon de comprendre les inégalités que comparer leur niveau de ressources ou de satisfaction.

L’approche des capabilités a inspiré l’Indice du développement humain (IDH) mis en place en 1990 par le Programme des Nations Unies pour le Développement (PNUD) pour mesurer les progrès des pays en matière de lutte contre la pauvreté. Cette institutionnalisation a consacré une philosophie du développement centrée sur la personne humaine et son autonomie, au détriment d’une vision marxiste, centrée sur les structures économiques et la satisfaction des besoins premiers. Le programme de Macron semble s’en inspirer lorsqu’il affirme que la lutte contre la pauvreté ne vise pas seulement à assurer la subsistance, mais à permettre l’autonomie, à augmenter la capacité de « faire ».

L’égalité des capabilités est une constante dans les discours de Macron et cela peut être mesuré grâce à l’outil d’analyse statistique des discours mis au point par les chercheurs de l’Université Côte d’Azur. Cet outil permet non seulement de montrer que parmi les cinq candidats du premier tour, Macron est celui qui utilise le plus le mot « égalité ». Ce classement est confirmé par un autre moteur de recherche.

Cet outil fournit également le diagramme des thèmes associés au mot « égalité ». Le thème des « capacités » y figure au premier plan et l’usage qu’en fait Macron est celui de l’approche des capabilités. Par exemple, dans le discours de Toulon, le 22 février, Macron critique un libéralisme sans égalité des capabilités :

« Défend-on la liberté vraiment lorsque certains nont pas droit à la liberté, lorsque certains nont pas alors quils ont envie des capacités, dans nos quartiers, dans la ruralité, de faire” ? »

Vers un « consensus par recoupement » ?
Dans son ouvrage sur le Libéralisme politique, Rawls soutenait que son libéralisme égalitaire pouvait faire l’objet d’un « consensus par recoupement ». Sa conviction était que dans une société qui respecte le pluralisme des doctrines opposées peuvent se recouper sur des principes essentiels, tout en gardant leur spécificité.

Difficile de ne pas voir des similitudes avec la conviction de Macron que des gens de gauche, du centre et de droite peuvent adhérer à des principes fondamentaux, sans renoncer à leurs différences. Seulement, Rawls prévenait qu’un tel consensus s’obtient par une délibération sobre, menée dans le cadre de la raison publique.

Miguel OTERO, “Sin miedo hacia el Brexit’” a El País (3-05-17)
http://elpais.com/elpais/2017/04/19/opinion/1492594928_586320.html

Últimamente empieza a denotarse aprensión entre la clase dirigente y empresarial española en relación al Brexit. La sensación de vértigo es comprensible. Se teme un Brexit duro. Desenlace que sería perjudicial para los intereses españoles, ya que por comercio, inversión, residentes y turismo estamos más expuestos que nuestros socios europeos a la economía británica.

Por esta razón se ha instalado la idea de que nos conviene un Brexit blando, y para lograrlo hay que evitar que Theresa May abandone la negociación. Sin embargo, esta visión temerosa no es compartida por Alemania y Francia. En Berlín y París se cree que la posición negociadora de Reino Unido es débil, su economía depende enormemente de la UE y, por lo tanto, la amenaza de May de levantarse de la mesa no es creíble.

¿Por qué ha dicho entonces Mark Carney, el gobernador del Banco de Inglaterra, que un Brexit duro afectaría más a la UE? Por el peso de Londres en las finanzas europeas. La City es como un corazón que bombea crédito al continente. Acoge el 24% de toda la actividad financiera de la UE y cerca de la mitad de la liquidación de todas las transacciones en euros. Un ejemplo: la mitad de la deuda soberana italiana se ha vendido en Londres.

Por ende, la lógica del Gobierno británico es que los Veintisiete necesitan a Londres tanto o más que Reino Unido a ellos, y por eso accederán a firmar un pacto de asociación que incluya el comercio en bienes y servicios, incluso los financieros.

¿Es eso verdad? No exactamente. Downing Street tiene razón cuando piensa que ni París ni Frankfurt pueden sustituir a Londres, pero se equivoca si cree que no hay una alternativa a la City. Sí la hay. Se llama Nueva York. Wall Street tiene la misma infraestructura y capital humano que la City y está deseando atraer clientes europeos. Londres es la plaza financiera más internacional del mundo por el mercado interior europeo, pero fuera de él, Nueva York recuperará su trono.

En esto, los Veintisite, incluida España, tienen que cerrar filas. La UE puede ofrecer a Reino Unido un acuerdo similar al CETA con Canadá. Es decir, libre circulación de bienes y cooperación en inversión directa y contratación pública. Pero si Londres quiere libre circulación de servicios y capitales entonces tiene que ceder en el libre movimiento de personas y someterse a la jurisprudencia del Tribunal de Justicia de la UE.

La posibilidad de un Brexit blando, a pesar de lo que se piense en España, es remota. O es duro o Reino Unido acepta el imperio de la ley del TJEU. Este planteamiento no se tiene que ver como un castigo a Reino Unido. Se trata simplemente de dejar claros los beneficios que tiene estar dentro y los perjuicios que supone estar fuera del mercado interior. La FED nunca toleraría que la liquidación de productos en dólares se hiciese desde Toronto. Lo mismo vale para la zona euro, por eso el euroclearing tiene que estar en el mercado único.

Históricamente, los diplomáticos británicos siempre fueron muy efectivos porque mantenían la calma en las negociaciones. No tenían que agitarse. El poder estaba de su lado. Las tornas han cambiado. Incluso en el ámbito de la seguridad los continentales tienen la alternativa de EE UU frente al posible chantaje de Reino Unido. Antes, Washington llamaba a Londres para saber lo que pasaba en la UE, por eso Reino Unido era estratégicamente tan influyente. Ahora, los americanos van a tener que llamar directamente a “los europeos”. Eso creará interdependencias que dejarán a Londres al margen.

Por lo tanto, cuando los representantes del Gobierno británico, incendiados por la prensa tabloide inglesa, se revuelvan en la silla y se exasperen por la falta de avances en la negociación, lo que tienen que hacer los europeos es mantener la calma. Si los británicos optan por un Brexit duro, allá ellos. Incluso en el peor de los escenarios, lo más normal es que las empresas españolas sigan operando allí, que la mano de obra española siga siendo atractiva y que los británicos sigan comprando casas y viniendo de turistas a España. Para ellos hay pocas alternativas a nuestro país.

¿Y si vienen en menor medida? Ese será el precio que hay que pagar por la unidad de la UE. Al final, desde el punto de vista europeo y español la mejor estrategia para lograr un buen Brexit no es el miedo ni el lamento, sino una postura firme y convincente.

Enric JULIANA, “Sube el PIB, baja la moral” a La Vanguardia (30-04-17)
http://www.lavanguardia.com/edicion-impresa/20170430/422151109728/sube-el-pib-baja-la-moral.html

La semana empezó en Brasil. Mientras Esperanza Aguirre, daba una conferencia de prensa en Madrid para anunciar su definitiva retirada de la política, Mariano Rajoy comparecía ante la prensa en Brasilia, junto con el presidente de la República Federativa del Brasil, Michel Temer. Comparecencia sin preguntas, una vez más. Hermetismo tropical. Rajoy no quería hablar de lo que estaba ocurriendo en España. Y Temer, con ocho ministros investigados por el Tribunal Supremo, tampoco quería responder preguntas incómodas. Pocos gobernantes extranjeros visitan Brasil desde el indecoroso impeachment de la presidenta Dilma Rousseff. La diplomacia española cree que ahora es el mejor momento para abrir puertas en el gran país sudamericano. Puede ser una buena estrategia.

El mismo lunes tenía lugar en São Paulo el primer foro Brasil-España, con participación de destacados empresarios de ambos países. Una de las intervenciones absorbió de manera muy especial la atención de todos los asistentes. El presidente de Telefónica, José María Álvarez-Pallete, prescindió de la retórica habitual en ese tipo de encuentros y fue directamente al grano. Al grano digital: “Estamos viviendo una revolución tecnológica como nunca antes se había producido en la historia. Ningún modelo de negocio va a permanecer igual. Ninguno de los que estamos aquí vamos a permanecer como estamos”. Los brasileños asentían. Hombre enjuto y maratoniano, Álvarez-Pallete concluyó con una solemne advertencia: “Si no hacemos nada ante lo que se está produciendo, tendremos una distribución tan desigual de la riqueza que llegará un gran movimiento populista para oponerse”. Hubo silencio en la sala.

Esperando a los robots. Ese debería ser el título de esta crónica. Todo es ahora provisional. Los robots no pasarán de largo como los bárbaros del famoso poema de Kavafis –“gente venida de la frontera / afirma que ya no hay bárbaros/ ¿Y qué será ahora de nosotros sin bárbaros? / Quizás ellos fueran una solución después de todo”–, los robots van a llegar en masa y lo volverán a cambiar todo. Todo relato político es hoy radicalmente provisional.

Mientras llegan los robots, en España sube el PIB y baja la moral. Las estadísticas confirman el crecimiento de la economía, con una tasa interanual del 3%, casi el doble que la zona euro. Italia, en horas muy bajas, no consigue alcanzar a un crecimiento del 1%. Francia está en el 1,2%. Portugal ha conseguido embridar el déficit, pero su débil demografía le impide crecer al ritmo español. Turismo a chorros, tipos de interés bajos, precio del petróleo moderado, salarios rebajados, mano de obra joven a precio de saldo, un parque inmobiliario a buen precio y una población consumidora de cuarenta y seis millones de habitantes han vuelto a poner en marcha las turbinas de la economía, prácticamente paralizadas hace tres años.

El PIB crece y la moral baja. La mejora macroeconómica no encuentra un inmediato correlato social. Los salarios han disminuido y las condiciones laborales empeoran. Los pensionistas se han librado de un fuerte hachazo, y ello ayuda a explicar que el partido en el Gobierno esté sustentado por un bloque electoral mayoritariamente formado por personas de más de 55 años. Los jóvenes se han llevado la peor parte. El 70% de los españoles entre los 18 y los 35 años se hallan en situación precaria, o están en el paro o trabajan con contratos temporales con salarios inferiores a los de las generaciones precedentes, según un detallado informe publicado recientemente por los sociólogos José Félix Tezanos y Verónica Díaz ( La cuestión juvenil, ¿una generación sin futuro? Biblioteca Nueva). El 54% de los jóvenes españoles empiezan a considerarse ciudadanos de “segunda categoría”. La tasa de nupcialidad ha caído a la mitad respecto a 1976. La tasa de natalidad española (1,2 hijos por mujer en edad fértil) es hoy la más baja de toda Europa. En regiones como Andalucía, el paro juvenil alcanza un vertiginoso 60%. El ciclo de reposición social está prácticamente bloqueado en el cuarto país más poblado de la Unión Europea. Ello ayuda a explicar que el partido más votado por los jóvenes sea Podemos. Ello ayuda a explicar que el anuncio de moción de censura formulado esta semana por Pablo Iglesias haya sido aplaudido por las redes sociales, ante el ceño fruncido de la mayoría de los medios de comunicación maduros. Mientras llegan los robots, España sufre una fractura generacional escalofriante. Mientras se aproxima una disrupción social y económica de vastas proporciones que inquieta incluso al nuevo presidente de Telefónica, España acumula un resentimiento juvenil sin precedentes. La política española no puede hoy leerse sin considerar la fractura generacional.

El PIB crece y la moral baja, porque ha regresado el clima de indignación de otoño del 2014, cuando la acumulación de escándalos y casos de corrupción, así en Madrid como en Barcelona, así en Andalucía como en València, acentuó la crisis de opinión pública y sentó las bases del fuerte castigo que sufriría en las urnas el Partido Popular, primero en las elecciones locales y autonómicas de mayo del 2015, después en las elecciones generales de diciembre del mismo año. Un castigo que se hizo extensivo al Partido Socialista, incapaz de erigirse en alternativa de gobierno.

La confirmación de que la Comunidad de Madrid ha sido durante años un nido de corrupción alegremente tolerado por el folklórico liberalismo castizo de Esperanza Aguirre, y la confirmación de que la familia Pujol manejó una cuantiosa fortuna en el extranjero mientras el político más relevante de Catalunya en los últimos cincuenta años – Jordi Pujol– daba lecciones de moral y se comportaba como un auténtico hombre de Estado, rompe definitivamente el relato de las últimas décadas. Ni Rodrigo Rato fue un genio de la economía, como creían algunos depositantes de Caja Madrid. Ni José María Aznar –en silencio sepulcral desde hace semanas– fue un sagaz estratega. Ni Pujol fue la reencarnación de Enric Prat de la Riba. Ni Felipe González, el más sólido de los políticos españoles desde 1977, tuvo los reflejos de su camarada portugués Mario Soares cuando llegó el inclemente vendaval de la crisis. Ningún notable del Partido Socialista se puso al lado de la gente que sufría cuando comenzó la crisis. La gran contribución del PSOE fue el apuntalamiento de la monarquía. Ahí estuvieron González y Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba.

El relato está roto, y la única tabla de salvación del partido gobernante es el crecimiento del PIB y la fractura de la izquierda, como consecuencia del cisma generacional.

“Hay que esperar a que pase la tormenta”, ha dicho Rajoy a los suyos. Pese a la gravedad de los últimos acontecimientos, en Moncloa creen que nada está perdido. Resistir, resistir, resistir. Rajoy tiene a su favor el orden europeo, que puede verse sustantivamente reforzado dentro de una semana por la victoria del centrista Emmanuel Macron en Francia. La estabilidad de España es del todo necesaria para la reorientación de la Unión Europea. El desfallecimiento italiano revaloriza la posición de Rajoy.

El Gobierno cree que escampará y que al final del día el Partido Popular podrá demostrar que ha hecho limpieza de sus propias miserias. Este es el papel asignado a Cristina Cifuentes, nueva presidenta de la Comunidad de Madrid, hoy figura en alza en la derecha (Cifuentes podría plantearse competir en el 2019 por la alcaldía de Madrid, ante la segura retirada de Manuela Carmena). El Partido Popular necesita salir del marco narrativo de la corrupción lo antes posible, puesto que dentro de un año deberá comenzar a preparar las elecciones locales y autonómicas. Si logra aprobar los presupuestos del 2017, cosa que tiene a su alcance, dentro de un año podrá plantearse el adelanto de las elecciones generales ante la evidencia de una legislatura ficticia. El Gobierno apenas legisla, pero la oposición tampoco puede gobernar desde el Parlamento. A partir del próximo 3 de mayo, dentro de cuatro días, Rajoy volverá a tener en sus manos la posibilidad de proponer al Rey la disolución del Parlamento y la convocatoria de nuevas elecciones. Evidentemente, con el actual clima, es imposible plantearse un adelanto electoral. La indignación social ha regresado a los registros del 2014.

“Ya escampará”, ha dicho Rajoy. El ministro de Justicia, Rafael Catalá, es el encargado de ahuyentar las nubes. Cada vez se hace más evidente la existencia de un diseño gubernamental para embridar a los fiscales anticorrupción y evitar que en España se repitan los acontecimientos que narra la excelente serie de televisión titulada 1992: la fenomenal embestida de la fiscalía de Milán contra la corrupción política en Italia, que se saldó con centenares de detenidos, más de una decena de suicidios y la desaparición de casi todos los partidos políticos que habían gobernado el país desde 1948. El Gobierno teme que la autonomía de los fiscales anticorrupción, envalentonados por el clima de crispación social, derive en una Tangentópolis española que acabe desbordando al Partido Alfa. El control de la fiscalía es hoy la piedra de toque. Frenar, frenar, frenar. Esta es la tarea encomendada al nuevo fiscal general del Estado, José Manuel Maza, y al nuevo jefe de la fiscalía Anticorrupción, Manuel Moix. No es una tarea fácil en un país con muchos jóvenes en pie de guerra. Ahí está la púa de espino de la moción de censura planteada por Podemos.

Iglesias, por las mañanas corajudo, por las tardes leninista pop, se ha puesto un reto muy alto. En primer lugar deberá atravesar la cortina de improperios y sarcasmos que le dedican todos aquellos que se sienten ofendidos por el atrevimiento de Podemos. Su iniciativa será caricaturizada hasta la extenuación. Si supera la primera prueba, deberá demostrar fuste y calidad en la tribuna del Congreso. No es fácil defender una moción de censura basada exclusivamente en un propósito de denuncia. Rajoy es un parlamentario potente, y el Partido Socialista vive este nuevo episodio como la caída de Troya.

Podemos se ha obligado a demostrar que no es un fenómeno pasajero. La apuesta es muy alta. El eclipsado Íñigo Errejón lo ha captado de inmediato, manifestando su pleno apoyo a la moción. Si las cosas van mal, Iglesias no podrá acusarle de tibieza. Es probable que Podemos presente la moción de censura a mitad de mayo y que acompañe sus preparativos con la convocatoria de una movilización en Madrid contra la corrupción. Quedará en manos de la presidenta del Congreso, Ana Pastor, decidir la fecha del debate, que puede ser antes o después de las elecciones primarias del PSOE, fijadas para el 21 de mayo. La fecha no será un detalle menor.

La moción sobrevuela el área socialista, y Pedro Sánchez no se atreve a rematar de cabeza por miedo a ser acusado de criptocomunista. El exsecretario general podría pedir que Podemos pare el reloj para negociar una moción de censura con candidato socialista después de las primarias. No dará ese paso. Sánchez no quiere parecer entreguista, mientras que Susana Díaz, el carácter defensivo de su discurso.

En Catalunya, los dos partidos soberanistas, ERC y PDECat, han acogido la iniciativa podemista con interés, en la medida que supone un cuestionamiento del actual orden político. Iglesias ha recibido un mensaje personal de Carles Puigdemont. En Catalunya, el cráter Pujol vuelve a emitir una radiación intensa, nada inocua para el soberanismo.

“Ya escampará”, dice Rajoy a los suyos, mientras negocia personalmente la aprobación de los presupuestos con el Partido Nacionalista Vasco. El PIB sube, la mor

Daniel W.DREZNER, “Triumph of the Thought Leader and the Eclipse of the Public Intellectual” a The Cronicle of Higher Education (21-04-17)
http://www.chronicle.com/article/Triumph-of-the-Thought-Leader/239691?key=YJrOHk3gW6aX-DS7gynrORBGKuQwXaz8qe4lPfCC280vXN6lBhrKnZtu4VUmteJ_WXNueDhtTlRvQ2xNb1Bodjlxa2RYSXNia3kzOW0zb21WWS1HbjhXR2VoQQ

It is the best of times for Thought Leaders. It is the worst of times for Public Intellectuals. It is the most confusing of times for those of us in the academy.

Let me unpack these terms. Public Intellectuals are experts, often academics, who are well versed and well trained enough to comment on a wide range of issues. As Friedrich Hayek put it, Public Intellectuals are “professional secondhand dealers in ideas.” Think Paul Krugman or Jill Lepore. A Thought Leader is an intellectual evangelist. They develop their own singular lens to explain the world, and then proselytize to anyone within earshot. Think Robert Kagan or Naomi Klein.

Both Public Intellectuals and Thought Leaders engage in acts of intellectual creation, but their style and purpose are different. To adopt the language of Isaiah Berlin, Public Intellectuals are foxes who know many things, while Thought Leaders are hedgehogs who know one big thing. The former are skeptics, the latter are true believers. A Public Intellectual will tell you everything that is wrong with everyone else’s ideas. A Thought Leader will tell you everything that is right about his or her own idea.

Both intellectual types serve a vital purpose in a democracy. Public Intellectuals are often bashed as elitists, but they help to expose shibboleths masquerading as accepted wisdom. They are critics, and critiquing bad ideas is a necessary function. Their greatest contribution to public discourse is to point out when an emperor has no clothes. Thought Leaders, on the other hand, are often derided as glib TED-talkers lacking in substance, but they can introduce and promote new ideas. During times of uncertainty and change, Thought Leaders can offer intellectually stimulating ways to reimagine the world.

A public sphere dominated by Public Intellectuals has high barriers to entry; the marketplace of ideas becomes ossified and stagnant over time. One dominated by Thought Leaders has high barriers to exit; too many bad ideas linger in the intellectual ether. A healthy public discourse in which good ideas rise to the top requires a balance between the two types of thinkers.

In the past few decades, however, the market has become unbalanced. The surge of ideas conferences, speaker bureaus, and TED-like events suggests that the demand for thinkers has grown. The proliferation of media platforms has accelerated that trend. At the same time, the supply of intellectuals has increased far beyond the academy. In foreign policy and economic analysis, the areas I am most familiar with, academics must compete with a welter of think tanks, private-sector outlets, and professional pundits to have their voice heard.

Academics must compete with a welter of think tanks, private-sector outlets, and professional pundits to have their voices heard.
As both demand and supply have increased, the marketplace of ideas has become the Ideas Industry. Promoting ideas in the public sphere has become a big business, as anyone looking at speakers-bureau fees can attest. Furthermore, the Ideas Industry is far more weighted toward Thought Leaders than Public Intellectuals. It is not a coincidence that the private sector has been the biggest booster of the term “thought leadership.” Corporations appreciate the value of branding, a skill that is a comparative advantage of Thought Leaders. The rise of the for-profit Thought Leader has come at the same time that those in the academy have retreated from the public sphere.

The same deep forces that have empowered Thought Leaders have also hampered the academy’s ability to influence the marketplace of ideas. Three factors — the erosion of trust in authority, the increase in political polarization, and growth in economic inequality — have collectively lowered the academy’s public standing. To be sure, many academics have found public outlets in places like Vox, Lawfare, or The Washington Post and The New York Times. Some academics have learned to survive and thrive in the Ideas Industry. Most of the superstars, however, primarily do so by adopting the style of Thought Leaders, thereby tipping the scales even further toward that tribe.

Over the past half-century there has been an erosion of public trust in almost every major American institution except for the military. This includes higher education. In 1974, the average percentage of people who have “a great deal” of confidence in education, according to the General Social Survey, peaked at approximately 50 percent. By 2012 average confidence had dropped to 26 percent.

Scholars attempting to weigh in on public affairs confront a delegitimizing assault on the academy — call it the War on College. Conservatives have been blasting the ivory tower as godless, leftist, and insular since William F. Buckley Jr.’s God and Man at Yale. Recent criticism has focused on speech restrictions. In a cover story for The Atlantic, Greg Lukianoff of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at New York University’s business school, decried the tendency “to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense.” And there is no shortage of appalling anecdotes: From Laura Kipnis, the Northwestern University professor who faced a Title IX inquisition for publicly criticizing the university’s sexual-harassment process, to the unruly group of protesters at Middlebury College who blocked Charles Murray from speaking.

Conservative criticisms of the academy have been a constant for decades. What is more unusual is the vocal criticism coming from the left. Feminists have attacked universities for being havens of sexual assault. Minority groups have critiqued the structural privilege that allegedly pervades elite campuses. Leftists deplore universities as bastions of elitism, sublimating the goal of higher education in favor of appeasing corporate donors.

Consider William Deresiewicz’s much-discussed jeremiad, Excellent Sheep, a critique of the university’s surrender to neoliberalism: “Elite schools like to boast that they teach their students how to think, but all they mean is that they train them in the analytic and rhetorical skills that are necessary for success in business and the professions.” Deresiewicz is hardly alone in holding this view.

Conservative and corporatist critiques are flourishing at the same time, widespread evidence of support for the War on College and growing disdain for the professoriate.
The conservative and corporatist critiques are in tension. According to Lukianoff and Haidt, political correctness “teaches students to think in a very different way. It prepares them poorly for professional life, which often demands intellectual engagement with people and ideas one might find uncongenial or wrong.” If this is true, then Deresiewicz is wrong to accuse universities of incubating corporate drones. If Deresiewicz is correct, however, then Lukianoff and Haidt’s hypothesis is exaggerated.

The point is that both critiques are flourishing at the same time, evidence of widespread support for the War on College and growing disdain for the professoriate. Simply put, it’s easier than ever to dismiss academic interventions in the public sphere.

The growth of political polarization in the United States is another cause of imbalance in the ideas industry. An orgy of evidence demonstrates that we are at peak partisanship. Political elites are now more ideologically extreme than at any time in postwar history. Experimental research suggests that partisans are more likely to discriminate based on political differences than on race or gender.

Rising partisanship has happened just as academics have drifted further to the left. Whether one looks at survey data, voter registration, or campaign contributions, the results are incontrovertible: American academics are far more liberal than the rest of the country. That divergence has increased over the past 25 years. According to UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute, in 1990 the number of self-identified liberals and leftists in academe was roughly equal to the number of moderates. By 2010 there were twice as many liberals as moderates, and almost six times as many liberals as conservatives. If one looks only at the social sciences and the humanities, these ratios are even more stacked in favor of liberals and the left.

Just because scholars have political preferences doesn’t mean their work is compromised, but those preferences do bias the questions they ask. One study of social psychologists concluded that the sharp leftward tilt of the field did not invalidate existing research, but it did alter the direction of future scholarship: “Researchers may concentrate on topics that validate the liberal progress narrative and avoid topics that contest that narrative.” Sociology suffers from a similar problem. Another study concluded that the leftist leanings of sociologists “compresses the range of acceptable scholarship, and constrains sociological insight.” These problems are hardly unique to these disciplines; other research has demonstrated a link between a scholar’s political tilt and the trajectory of his or her research in both law and international relations.

The leftward drift of the academy gives conservatives an easy way to deride academic interventions in the public sphere. Frederick M. Hess, director of education-policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, told The Washington Post recently that, “to me, university leadership has felt enormously partisan.” In response to university-based criticisms of the Trump administration, Hess said that ideological homogeneity on campus, “factors into seeing this as cheap partisan thuggery rather than any serious commitment to robust civic debate.” In a survey of foreign-policy elites that I conducted, conservatives were far more skeptical about the validity of social-science research than were moderates or liberals.

Economic inequality is a third factor fueling academe’s shrinking influence on the public sphere. In the last few years, a new class of benefactors has emerged that university presidents can woo to bolster their endowments. Indeed, university administrators have retreated from public life in large part because they have become full-time fund raisers. The modern marketplace of ideas has made their job more challenging. First, it’s difficult to speak truth to money; universities need to please wealthy benefactors. Second, a growing number of potential benefactors have spurned the academy. Some Silicon Valley billionaires like Peter Thiel argue that higher education actually retards intellectual progress. He pays people to skip college. Most modern plutocrats are not so extreme, but their style does differ from the Rockefellers and Carnegies of yesteryear. The new philanthrocapitalists are interested in “impact” investments — they want their giving to have a direct effect on the world. They want universities to sponsor research or teaching that addresses their views, like requiring Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged to be taught in classes. As the Brookings Institution’s Darrell West notes, because of the preconceived worldviews of these philanthrocapitalists, “it is becoming harder to separate academic philanthropy from advocacy.”

The desire for action clashes with the academic impulse for detachment. Academics typically intervene in the marketplace of ideas as traditional Public Intellectuals ready to explain why some new policy idea is unlikely to work. Patrons would much rather bankroll Thought Leaders because they possess two qualities that benefactors like: positive ideas for change, and the conviction that they can make a difference.

This gap between professors and doers goes back to Max Weber’s “Science as a Vocation,” in which he implored professors to keep their academic tasks separate from other spheres of life, especially politics. Not to say that academics couldn’t engage the public, but Weber noted that the primary task of a professor was to “teach his students to recognize ‘inconvenient’ facts.” Weber further argued that political action was a different activity altogether: “The qualities that make a man an excellent scholar and academic teacher are not the qualities that make him a leader to give directions in practical life, or, more specifically, in politics.” An academic acting as a Public Intellectual is trying to straddle both of these roles, and risks doing both poorly.

The academics most likely to thrive in the Ideas Industry are those who adopt the tropes of Thought Leaders. The Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, for example, has built an intellectual empire around the idea of disruptive innovation. The degree of self-confidence a scholar projects shapes how others perceive that scholar’s arguments. As much as scholarship is supposed to count über alles, there is no denying that assertive scholars can sway opinion. One reason that economists are more influential than other social scientists is that, as Dani Rodrik notes, economists who talk to the public act more like hedgehogs than foxes.

I know economists who make fantastically bold predictions, and I envy their serene conviction that they are right despite ample reasons for doubt. In the past decade, economists have made serious mistakes on issues like asset bubbles, financial deregulation, and whether free trade in an unambiguous good. The discipline has yet to engage in much introspection.

A marketplace of ideas with stronger universities would be one that empowered traditional Public Intellectuals. But distrust in expertise, political polarization, and the rise in economic inequality are decades-long trends that are unlikely to reverse themselves anytime soon. All of these trends will harm Public Intellectuals at the expense of Thought Leaders. In the face of these gale-force winds of change, is there anything academe can do to preserve a space for traditional Public Intellectuals?

Acknowledging the problems would be a good first step. Universities can encourage scholars to monitor their own disciplines so as to reduce the number of academic scandals. They can demonstrate greater tolerance for conservative points of view on campus. They can cultivate an emergent cluster of organizations like the Tobin Project or Bridging the Gap, which help academics get their ideas before the public.

In the end, however, universities also need to revive their institutional prestige. It is worth remembering that American higher education remains the global leader in just about every discipline. Skeptics who doubt the utility of colleges should be reminded that higher education is one of America’s leading export sectors, running a $35-billion surplus in 2015. A recent joint letter by university chancellors protesting the Trump administration’s immigration ban points this out. It is also a welcome display of university presidents re-entering the public sphere. Administrators could also persuade philanthropic foundations to care a little less about immediate impact and a little more about long-term investments in intellectual capital.

It will not be easy for university leaders and academics to balance the confidence of Thought Leaders with the self-criticism of Public Intellectuals. This requires a complex equipoise. On the other hand, professors are good at appreciating shades of gray. We should embrace this additional layer of complexity.

Daniel W.Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. This essay is adapted from his book The Ideas Industry: How Pessimists, Partisans, and Plutocrats are Transforming the Marketplace of Ideas, just out from Oxford University Press.