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Battle of Seattle vs. Occupy Wall Street

Matthew Yglesias:

Yglesias | ThinkProgress: It seemed to me both then and now that the big problem with the global justice movement of [the 1990s]... that the movement’s analysis was mistaken. The late 1990s were a very prosperous time for America. And the analysis that the spread of global capitalism to what we used to call “the third world” would be immiserating for those countries was wrong. China has not been immiserated. Nor has India. Nor has Brazil. Nor has Turkey. Africa’s just wrapped up a very solid decade. It’s true, as Dani Rodrik will tell you, that none of the development success stories (except maybe Chile) has come from a carbon copy implementation of the full Washington Consensus. But it’s even more true that none of the development success stories have come from developing a radical alternative to participation in a globalized market economy.

By contrast, the main analytic points of Occupy Wall Street and its offshoots are correct. Policymakers promised us broadly shared prosperity and macroeconomic stability. We didn’t get the former, and now we can see that we didn’t get the latter either. Having failed to deliver prosperity or stability, the global elite pivoted to the claim that owing to the lack of past prosperity it would be irresponsible to return us to macroeconomic stability without first cutting pensions. It’s crap, and people shouldn’t stand for it.

And in America, at least, it’s already working. Conservative politicians are expressly talking about inequality, and the Obama administration has gone back to talking about aggregate demand instead of grand bargains. There’s more to life than being right, but being right helps a lot. And that’s the main difference here.

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