05 May 2009


Washington Monthly, spurred into action by David Brooks (announcing its death) and Ezra Klein (noting how ineffectual the movement appeared to be), reexamines the notion of the neoliberal, a political counterpart to the idea of the neoconservative, which the magazine promoted starting around 1983 when it published The Neoliberal Manifesto.

The notion articulated, of someone with liberal values, but instincts that are pragmatic, unorthodox, empirically driven and averse to dividing the world into friends and foes captures rather closely my own take on politics. But, the standard bearers for this cause, and the dubious, wonky proposals offered up as examples of it, in the original manifesto are not impressive. Also, as Klein explains (only a little tongue in cheek), "the true Washington Monthly brand of neoliberalism got overtaken by Michael Kinsley and Andrew Sullivan and folks like that at the New Republic, and that became the association. The DLC too, to some degree, but that was incorrect." This helps explain why the term never really caught on.

The "true" Washington Monthly brand of neoliberalism may have a future, but the brand is irrevocably tarnished.

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