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49

Against Law-sterity

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really interesting piece on the juridical aspects of austerity. builds on what a lot of people have been saying about austerity being elevated to/disbursed from/concocted at the level of technocracy and thus immune to popular contestation, but with a twist, by focusing on the legal aspects. kind of repetitive but still good

Knox, R. (2018). Against Law-sterity. Salvage, 6, pp. 49-68

49

[...] the rhetoric of austerity, with its advocates arguing that it is not a political choice, but an economic necessity. This rhetoric has a doubly depoliticising effect. On an ideological level, it casts austerity as a neutral or technocratic matter, transcending political alignment or class conflict. On a substantive level, the effect of this is to further isolate economic decisions from political control.

—p.49 by Robert Knox 2 months, 1 week ago

[...] the rhetoric of austerity, with its advocates arguing that it is not a political choice, but an economic necessity. This rhetoric has a doubly depoliticising effect. On an ideological level, it casts austerity as a neutral or technocratic matter, transcending political alignment or class conflict. On a substantive level, the effect of this is to further isolate economic decisions from political control.

—p.49 by Robert Knox 2 months, 1 week ago
51

[...] relocating political (and economic) decisions to the 'legal' level is an effective way of removing them from popular control. This has made the juridical sphere the perfect vessel for the implementation of austerity politics. By mandating austerity at a legal level, economic decisions can to be [sic] moved - both substantively and ideologically - from the sphere of political contestation into the realm of technocratic necessity.

One final feature of the law is of particular importance here. Lawmaking is - as Karl Klare puts it in 'Law-Making as Praxis' - 'constitutive'. That is to say that law, in creating a system of material and ideological compulsions and incentives, plays a key role in shaping and transforming political terrain. This is the ultimate aim of juridicalised austerity. By creating a system of incentives, the legal framework of austerity ultimately forces 'progressive' governments into implementing austerity on their own.

—p.51 by Robert Knox 2 months, 1 week ago

[...] relocating political (and economic) decisions to the 'legal' level is an effective way of removing them from popular control. This has made the juridical sphere the perfect vessel for the implementation of austerity politics. By mandating austerity at a legal level, economic decisions can to be [sic] moved - both substantively and ideologically - from the sphere of political contestation into the realm of technocratic necessity.

One final feature of the law is of particular importance here. Lawmaking is - as Karl Klare puts it in 'Law-Making as Praxis' - 'constitutive'. That is to say that law, in creating a system of material and ideological compulsions and incentives, plays a key role in shaping and transforming political terrain. This is the ultimate aim of juridicalised austerity. By creating a system of incentives, the legal framework of austerity ultimately forces 'progressive' governments into implementing austerity on their own.

—p.51 by Robert Knox 2 months, 1 week ago
54

[...] the IMF's legal framework proved the perfect vehicle for the creation of austerity. The IMF, as a legal creation standing above states, is able to impose a set of policy choices from above. These policies are couched as legal obligations, which bind the recipient state. In this way, in a very real sense, the IMF - as a body entirely inaccessible to popular mobilisation - removes economic choices from the possibility of popular control. At the same time, the IMF juridically frames austerity policies; treating them not as objects of class struggle, but simply as technocratic requirements of growth.

—p.54 by Robert Knox 2 months, 1 week ago

[...] the IMF's legal framework proved the perfect vehicle for the creation of austerity. The IMF, as a legal creation standing above states, is able to impose a set of policy choices from above. These policies are couched as legal obligations, which bind the recipient state. In this way, in a very real sense, the IMF - as a body entirely inaccessible to popular mobilisation - removes economic choices from the possibility of popular control. At the same time, the IMF juridically frames austerity policies; treating them not as objects of class struggle, but simply as technocratic requirements of growth.

—p.54 by Robert Knox 2 months, 1 week ago
64

Thatcher's neoliberal project was not simply to limit public spending [...] in the case of local government, the aim was not just to force them into making spending cuts, but rather to create the environment in which they would be forced to choose to do so themselves. In that way, local governments would be transformed into 'austere subjects'. The aim was to make local government internalise austerity.

—p.64 by Robert Knox 2 months, 1 week ago

Thatcher's neoliberal project was not simply to limit public spending [...] in the case of local government, the aim was not just to force them into making spending cuts, but rather to create the environment in which they would be forced to choose to do so themselves. In that way, local governments would be transformed into 'austere subjects'. The aim was to make local government internalise austerity.

—p.64 by Robert Knox 2 months, 1 week ago
65

The Syriza example points us particularly to two decisive features of law-sterity. Firstly, by posing the situation as essentially 'radical break' or 'progressive austerity', it operates as a wedge with which to split the radical and moderate components of any political coalition, generally leaving the latter in power. Secondly, whilst 'progressive austerity' may be implemented under protest, one cannot implement such a regime without being fundamentally transformed. Such a government will - necessarily - become alienated from its base and continue to make compromises, eventually internalising the very logic of austerity (particularly as the more radical elements in its ranks are driven away). I this way, there is a double movement towards transforming progressive governments into austere subjects.

he's using double movement in a different sense than Polanyi but this is good analysis

—p.65 by Robert Knox 2 months, 1 week ago

The Syriza example points us particularly to two decisive features of law-sterity. Firstly, by posing the situation as essentially 'radical break' or 'progressive austerity', it operates as a wedge with which to split the radical and moderate components of any political coalition, generally leaving the latter in power. Secondly, whilst 'progressive austerity' may be implemented under protest, one cannot implement such a regime without being fundamentally transformed. Such a government will - necessarily - become alienated from its base and continue to make compromises, eventually internalising the very logic of austerity (particularly as the more radical elements in its ranks are driven away). I this way, there is a double movement towards transforming progressive governments into austere subjects.

he's using double movement in a different sense than Polanyi but this is good analysis

—p.65 by Robert Knox 2 months, 1 week ago