Mujahid’s reformist facade


March 20, 2019

Mujahid’s reformist facade

 

Image result for Mahathir an Zakir Naik

 

Mujahid Yusof Rawa, the minister in charge of religious affairs, has carefully cultivated an image of himself as an open-minded political moderate and reformer, someone who stands apart from the rest of the extremist crowd.

Of late, however, his pronouncements and actions have led many to wonder just how deep his commitment to reform and moderation is.

His reaction to the recent International Women’s Day rally is a case in point. While he had nothing much to say about many of the legitimate issues concerning women’s rights that were raised, he expressed shock over the presence of members of the LGBT community who were also there to press for their rights.

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Admittedly, the LGBT issue is controversial in Malaysia but to suggest that they were “abusing the democratic space” was simply outrageous. Clearly, he does not understand that in a democracy, everyone, including the LGBT community, has a right to be heard.

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Harassing women fighting for their rights is common enough in a  Wahhabi state like Saudi Arabia. That it should happen in a secular democracy like Malaysia is cause for concern.

In the short span of a few months, Mujahid’s journey as a minister in Malaysia Baru has taken him from standing alongside a transgender activist and pleading with the public not to discriminate against the LGBT community, to open hostility against them.

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He has gone from championing human rights to calling for greater restrictions on our democratic space. And he has shifted from insisting that Jakim and other Islamic agencies should be reformed to empowering them yet further.

Indeed, he is now defending Jakim’s excessive RM810 million budget as reasonable and justified.

Instead of moderating the worst excesses of agencies like Jakim, which he said was one of his priorities, he is allowing them to slowly radicalise his political views.

No surprise then that Mujahid met recently with the infamous Salafist preacher Zakir Naik, a fugitive wanted abroad for terrorism-related and money laundering offences and who remains blacklisted by several countries.

After the meeting, Mujahid shocked many Malaysians by declaring Naik, who he once criticised for demeaning other faiths, as “an inspiration”.

How Mujahid can bestow his admiration on the same man who, convinced that UMNO would win re-election, argued that it is better for Muslims to support a corrupt Muslim regime than an honest one that includes non-Muslims is also inexplicable.

Of course, as soon as UMNO lost power, Naik rushed over to kiss Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s hand and ingratiate himself with the new government.

His confidence in the absolute gullibility of Malaysia’s ruling elites was clearly not misplaced. Heroes, it seems, come quite cheaply in Malaysia.

Mujahid has since tried to justify his meeting as an attempt to educate Naik about the country’s Islamic administration. Few will be fooled by such a facile explanation.

Now that Mujahid has anointed Naik as a worthy role model, in effect Malaysia Baru’s new inspirer-in-chief, every ceramah door in the country will be open to him and his extremist teachings.

Don’t be surprised if Naik soon emerges as the most influential Islamic voice in the nation; quite a coup for a fugitive but what a setback for national unity!

But let’s face it: when it comes to Muslim radicals, the ruling elites seem to have tunnel vision. Even the police seem to go out of their way to avoid confronting the ugly reality that Malaysia is far too tolerant of extremism.

In explaining the increasing number of terrorists who use Malaysia as a base, for example, the police chief suggested that it was due to the fact that Malaysia has good air links with the rest of the world, as if somehow Malaysia is the only well-connected country in the region.

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A Life devoted to spreading a Message of Hate of the Other

The fact is terrorists choose Malaysia as their base of operations because they know that the religious culture here is more accommodating and supportive. Extremists only have to don the right religious garb and speak the same Ketuanan Melayu language and they are in.

Naik should have been kicked out of the country the moment Pakatan Harapan came to power. That he remains here – despite his fugitive status, his unsavoury background, his alleged links to terrorists, his taunting of religious minorities and his disgraceful support for the former regime – is just another indication of the misplaced priorities of Malaysia’s political elites.

Whatever it is, it’s a sad day for Malaysia when Mujahid, someone we were all hoping would help moderate the trend towards religious extremism in our nation, draws inspiration from the likes of Naik.

It really makes you wonder what lurks behind the reformist façade of some of these PH leaders.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

The Case for a Bold Economics


March 12,2019

The Case for a Bold Economics

Although economists are well positioned to imagine new institutional arrangements, their habit of thinking at the margin and sticking close to the evidence at hand encourages an aversion to radical change. But, when presented with new challenges, economists must envision new solutions – as a new group is determined to do.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/bold-evidence-based-economics-by-dani-rodrik-2019-03

 

CAMBRIDGE – At the end of 1933, John Maynard Keynes sent a remarkable public letter to US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. FDR had taken office earlier that year, in the midst of an economic slump that had pushed a quarter of the labor force into unemployment. He had launched his ambitious New Deal policies, including public works programs, farm subsidies, financial regulation, and labor reforms. He had also taken the US off the gold standard to give domestic monetary policy freer rein.

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Keynes approved of the general direction of these policies, but also had some sharp criticism. He worried that FDR complicated the economic recovery effort by broadening his policy agenda unnecessarily. FDR was doing too little to increase aggregate demand and too much to change the rules of the economy. Keynes took particular aim at the National Industrial Recovery Act, which, among other things, greatly expanded labor rights and fostered independent unions. He fretted that the NIRA would sap business confidence and weigh on the federal bureaucracy, without making a direct contribution to recovery. He wondered whether some of the advice FDR was getting “is not crack-brained and queer.”

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Keynes did not think much of FDR’s economics, but at least he was a sympathetic critic. Because much of the New Deal ran against the prevailing economic orthodoxy, FDR’s policies had little support from leading economists of the day. For example, as Sebastián Edwards explains in his fascinating recent book American Default, the predominant view among economists was that breaking the dollar’s link with gold would create havoc and uncertainty. The only bona fide economist in FDR’s “brain trust” was Rexford Tugwell, a little-known 41-year old Columbia professor who did not even teach graduate students.

Will economists prove more helpful today, at a time when the challenges we face are nearly as pressing as those during the Great Depression? Unemployment may not be a severe problem in most advanced countries currently, but large segments of the labor force seem cut off from economic progress. Record levels of inequality and poor earnings prospects for younger, less educated workers are eroding the foundations of liberal democracies. The rules that underpin globalization are badly in need of reform. And climate change continues to pose an existential threat.

These problems demand bold responses. Yet, for the most part, mainstream economists seem preoccupied with marginal fixes – a tax-code tweak here, a carbon tax there, perhaps a sprinkling of wage subsidies – that leave untouched the structures of power underwriting the rules of the economic game.

Economists can rise to the challenge by adopting a broader vision. Last month, I joined a group of prominent economists to launch an initiative that we have called “Economics for Inclusive Prosperity” (EfIP). From labor markets and finance to innovation policies and electoral rules, the goal is to advance ambitious policy ideas that pay much closer attention to inequality and exclusion – and to the power imbalances that produce them.

As Suresh Naidu, Gabriel Zucman, and I explain in our “manifesto,” neither sound economics nor convincing evidence support many of the dominant policy ideas of the last few decades. What has come to be called “neoliberalism” is in many ways a derogation of mainstream economics. And contemporary economic research, appropriately deployed, is in fact fully conducive to new ideas for creating a fairer society. Economics can be an ally of inclusive prosperity. But it is up to us economists to convince our audience of the merits of these claims.

Our network is made up of academic economists who believe new ideas can be developed without abandoning scientific rigor. The catchphrase of our day is “evidence-based policy.” Accordingly, our policy briefs are based on empirical analysis, using tools of mainstream economics. But, for us, an “evidence-based” approach is not one that reinforces a conservative bias in favor of policies at the margins of existing institutional arrangements; it is one that encourages experimentation. After all, how can we develop new evidence without trying something new?

Markets rely on a wide range of institutions to create, regulate, and stabilize them. These institutions do not come with predetermined forms. Property and contracts – the most elementary institutions required to make markets work – are legal constructs that can be designed in any number of ways. As we grapple with new realities created by technological innovation and climate change, questions about the allocation of property rights among different claimants become crucial. Economics does not provide definite answers here, but it supplies the tools needed to identify the relevant tradeoffs.

A common theme running through our initial set of policy proposals is the power asymmetries that shape the functioning of the contemporary global economy. Many economists dismiss the role of such asymmetries because there is little scope for power under conditions of perfect competition and perfect information. But in the real world that we examine, power asymmetries abound.

Who has the upper hand in bargaining for wages and employment benefits? Who dominates markets and who must submit to market forces? Who can move across borders and who is stuck at home? Who can evade taxation and who cannot? Who gets to set the agenda of trade negotiations and who is excluded? Who can vote and who is effectively disenfranchised? We argue that addressing such asymmetries makes sense not only from a distributional standpoint, but also for improving overall economic performance. Economists have a powerful theoretical apparatus that allows them to think about such matters.

Although economists are well positioned to develop institutional arrangements that go beyond what already exists, their habit of thinking at the margin and sticking close to the evidence at hand encourages an aversion to radical change. But, when presented with new challenges, economists must envision new solutions. Imagination is crucial. Not everything we try will succeed; but if we do not rediscover the value of FDR’s credo – “bold, persistent experimentation” – we will certainly fail.

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The Semenyih Rebuke


March 5, 2019

The Semenyih Rebuke

Opinion
By Dr.Bridget Welsh

 COMMENT | Explanations abound regarding Pakatan Harapan’s loss. They range from simplistic explanations of ‘identity politics’ and the candidate(s), to failures in messaging/machinery and government performance. In fact, as with all elections, the explanations of voting behaviour usually reflect a combination of factors.

Image result for dr.mahathir mohamad

Ultimately, they all point to one thing: a growing public deficit in the performance of the Harapan government. Harapan has received a serious rebuke – one it needs to take seriously as it moves forward in public engagement and governance.

It is worth remembering that by-elections are opportunities to send signals of dissatisfaction; the message was sent loud and clear. The government has been perceived to inadequately improve the quality of life for ordinary Malaysians, nor offer a substantive integrative programme on how it will do so.

Harapan has been so focused on its own positions and politicking that it lost track of the reasons it was put into office. Jockeying and infighting continued to be on display in the by-election and served to erode public confidence. Reform measures have slowed. In fact, increasingly the trend has been to replicate the practices of UMNO with patronage and racial politics, rather than adopt a programme for all Malaysians.

Much of the damage has been self-inflicted. Harapan continues to think of itself as the opposition, using opposition mode attacks in unnecessary multiple battlefronts (including itself), rather than differentiate itself from BN”.– Dr. Bridget Welsh

Harapan, ironically, has become the target of voter anger and increasing expectations in governance that they, as the previous opposition, had stoked for over a decade. Given growing dissatisfaction, it is no wonder it lost the by-election.

The challenge now is not to adopt a siege mentality, engage in further damaging internal self-recriminations or to continue a divisive, defensive response. A by-election result should not be equated with a potential loss of national government in the future, nor should it be seen as an endorsement of the alternative.

BN won the seat as the opposition. Voters did not vote to return UMNO to power. To view the result as support for the return of Najib to power, or a rejection by the electorate of concerns with kleptocracy of the previous administration, or even an embrace of a pan-Malay agenda, is a deeply flawed over-stretch.

Growing voter disengagement

To understand the Semenyih election and lessons it suggests, this article looks at voting over time in this constituency, drawing from an analysis of polling stations results from the 2008 election onwards, and ties the discussion to the trends developing over the last six post-GE14 contests.

The first finding is that voter turnout has dropped across races (and notably among younger people). This is normal is most by-elections, as these contests are not seen as important.

Yet, what is interesting is that voter turnout has dropped across all the communities. From an ethnic perspective (as shown in Figure 1), there was a 22 percent drop among the Chinese electorate in Semenyih, followed by a 16 percent drop among Indians, and nine percent among Malays.

 

https://i.ncdn.xyz/publisher-c1a3f893382d2b2f8a9aa22a654d9c97/2019/03/817a74fa40a9e880501b98ceec0e68ce.gifAll the parties are not mobilising like they used to, but Harapan in particular, which used issue-based mobilization in the past, has not been able to develop a message to attract voters to come to the polls compared to the past.

Not only has Harapan not been able to move its campaigning into a different mode, it is losing its own base. This is especially true among non-Malays. Many Chinese and Indians, in particular, are unhappy with Harapan and opted to stay home. Lower voter turnout suggests a more worrying trend overall, disappointment in parties and growing cynicism in the electorate.

Disaggregating identity politics

The second finding is that support did swing to BN, especially among Malays (shown in Figure 2) and among younger voters. There was a large estimated gain of 27 percent among Malay voters.

 

https://i.ncdn.xyz/publisher-c1a3f893382d2b2f8a9aa22a654d9c97/2019/03/1d93a634ff28ea329c0640bcbcf8b53f.gifA closer look at this pattern (shown in Figure 3), examining Malay support for Harapan, is a loss of eight percent of Malays who voted for it in GE14. Most of the gain in support for BN in the by-election, thus apparently, has come from previous PAS voters in GE14.

Harapan attacks and outreach efforts to PAS failed, and the beneficiary has been Umno, which incidentally has won the most electorally with the PAS-Umno alliance. BN support has apparently returned to the levels of the past when there was no three-cornered fight. It would seem that PAS was decisive in the election.

This analysis, crediting the Islamist party, is premature. PAS, as part of Pakatan Rakyat in the 2013 election, only yielded essentially the same level of support among Malays as occurred in the by-election, 28-29 percent. The Islamist party has much less leverage among voters than it thinks.

What is primarily going on is not about a religious agenda – it is about a protest against poor governance and, to a lesser extent, about racial identity, which was a factor in GE13 and in the recent polls.

Further study will be needed to access the extent governance and/or race was important as opposed to religion, but the results suggest a need to disaggregate these factors and not equate support for Malay rights and representation with that of a conservative religious agenda. Identity politics needs to be carefully assessed, especially given that the priority of voters is the economy, not identity.

Harapan core base remains (for now)

Finally, the data (Figure 3) shows Chinese and Indian support for Harapan among voters who do go to the polls remained the same at GE14. Harapan still has an important core base. These voters have not (yet) changed their political loyalties, opting to stay home rather than change camps.

 

https://i.ncdn.xyz/publisher-c1a3f893382d2b2f8a9aa22a654d9c97/2019/03/b899b0dfe2a8376bd0e2daf1e7cf74ac.gifThe savvy MCA campaigns, which dominated Chinese social media, have not translated to more support for BN at the voting booth. BN remains a non-functioning multi-ethnic coalition and, in fact, its increasingly ethnically narrow campaigning has alienated non-Malays, with a marginal loss of support for BN among Chinese. The BN, as a coalition, will continue to face difficulty winning multi-ethnic seats.

Harapan has significant support despite the loss, including among Malays. Its support in Semenyih from Malays is still higher than the national average in GE14 of 23.5 percent. To say that Harapan does not have Malay support is not correct. It does have a critical core – many of whom voted for change.

The challenge ahead for Harapan is to keep its promises of what got it into office – better governance, reform and truly national leadership. Semenyih offers an opportunity to make changes, to learn that Harapan can only be successful working together as a coalition, prioritizing government performance and putting its focus on Malaysians. The Semenyih rebuke is an opportunity to get back on track toward a better Malaysia.


 

Dr.BRIDGET WELSH is an associate professor of political science at John Cabot University in Rome. She also continues to be a senior associate research fellow at the National Taiwan University’s Centre for East Asia Democratic Studies and The Habibie Centre, as well as a university fellow of Charles Darwin University. Her latest book is the post-election edition of ‘The end of UMNO? Essays on Malaysia’s former dominant party.’ She can be reached at bridgetwelsh1@gmail.com.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

Semenyih result sends a message to Harapan, says DPM–What Massage, Madam Deputy Prime Minister? Honey moon is over. Voters want results.


March3, 2019

Semenyih result sends a message to Harapan, says DPM–What Massage, Madam Deputy Prime Minister? Honeymoon is over. Voters want results.

Bernama  |  Published:  |  Modified:

https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/466358

The result of the Semenyih by-election is a message for Pakatan Harapan to study issues deeply, Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said today.

Wan Azizah, the Harapan president, said the coalition has to know what is needed to win in a by-election or a general election.

“We have a democratic system, we have a choice and we want the people to know that we are doing our best for them,” she told reporters after the 2019 Chinese New Year open house for Port Dickson.

She said this when commenting on the result of yesterday’s by-election, which saw BN candidate Zakaria Hanafi winning the four-cornered contest a majority of 1,914 votes.

Zakaria defeated Harapan candidate Muhammad Aiman Zainali, who polled 17,866 votes, PSM’ Nik Aziz Afiq Abdul (847 votes) and independent Kuan Chee Heng (725 votes).

‘Sentiments reflected’

Meanwhile, PKR Ppresident Anwar Ibrahim said the results of the Semenyih polls reflected the feelings of the people, especially those of the Malay community.

“We must take (the sentiments) into account, but we must continue with our tasks.

“I am confident that with a little time, the people will understand why we take necessary measures in implementing our programmes.

“We must also remember that the nature of the constituents is important for us to study.”

Anwar said that in the democratic process, the government respected the decision made by the people.

“The Selangor government is still strong under Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari and the federal government under Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“It is my opinion that Malaysia must continue with the spirit of the (Federal) Constitution, which promises to preserve the position of Islam and the Malays, but the government must also be firm in preserving racial harmony.

“Harapan must represent the sentiments and needs and aspirations of all races,” he said.

Asked whether Mahathir’s aura had disappeared following the two straight by-election defeats, Anwar said it was inappropriate to make such an interpretation.

“Because Cameron Highlands is not a seat held by Harapan, we accept it.

“The Semenyih by-election gave a picture that there are several problems that we have yet to resolve,” he stressed.

Earlier the Port Dickson MP said the government under the leadership of Mahathir was endeavouring to bring changes to the people, but it was not possible to see the outcome within a period of several months.

“People ask me what is the biggest success achieved by Harapan under Mahathir.

“I say that the biggest success was that we managed to save the country from a government that was committing major robberies of the national income – not a minor robbery, not stealing chicken, but stealing national wealth.”

‘People’s right and voice’

Harapan Deputy President Lim Guan Eng, meanwhile, said that the coalition accepts its candidate’s failure to defend the state seat.

Lim described the result as the right and voice of the people in selecting their representative in the area.

“I accept the result from the people. This is the people’s right and voice.

“The expectation is that BN will fulfil their promises and statements made in the by-election.

“For Harapan, we will continue to unite the people,” he told reporters after an event in George Town.

Bernama

A Tribute to Dato’ Mohd Redzuan Kushairi


A Tribute to  Dato’ Mohd Redzuan Kushairi

February 25, 2010

by  Dato’ Ambassador Emeritus to South Korea, Santhanaban

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Orang Kaya Kaya Shahbandar Paduka Indera, Perak Darul RidzuanGoverning Council of the United Nations Association of Malaysia and and Active member of G25.

Last Friday, February 22 was a deeply troubling day for me, and I trust, for many others.After a short spell of hospitalisation at the National Heart Institute Redzuan Kushairi, a lifelong friend, colleague and collaborator passed away some seven months short of his 70th birthday.

We both had our had our early education at the King Edward VII School and later enrolled for a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts at the University of Malaya.

Upon graduating he joined the Malaysian Foreign Service in April 1972 and served with acclaim in various capacities at Wismaputra and at Malaysian diplomatic missions in Moscow, Washington DC, Addis Ababa, London, New York and finally as Malaysia’s first Ambassador to Uzbekistan.

These postings at some of the highest profile posts enabled Redzuan to get to know and interact with the Merdeka and pioneer generation of diplomatic luminaries including Tun Ghazali Shafie, Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen, Tan Sri Zakaria Hj Mohd Ali, Tan Sri Zainal Abidin Sulong, Tan Sri Zain Azraai and the effervescent Tan Sri Razali Ismail, Chairman of SUHAKAM.

As a Russian language speaker he always enjoyed any opportunity to meet with other Russian speakers and his ambassadorial posting in Uzbekistan with concurrent accreditation to other Central Asian countries was a deeply satisfying assignment for him. Redzuan was however an universalist and a high achiever and a staid ambassadorship held little novelty for him after two and half decades of diplomacy. He had always felt fervently about issues of public interest and respect for the rule of law.

He opted to go into the corporate and nongovernmental world in the mid1990s and despite the rough terrain that he faced initially he dedicated himself to promoting different sets of networks involving think tanks, youth, academia, CSOs, media and press and cultural organisations especially in the ASEAN region.

Between 2010 and 2014 Redzuan and I, together with Razali Ismail and Mokhtar Selat ran the Foreign Policy Study Group, an NGO dedicated to building people-to -people relations in the ASEAN region.

As a result of the work of this group we were able to establish a framework for close ties with retired senior diplomats in all the ASEAN countries and and through these contacts established links with universities in Thailand and Indonesia. We were also able to attract youth and media representatives of ASEAN to participate in seminars aimed at fostering better mutual understanding in the region.

Redzuan always kept a good and well appointed home which made Malaysia proud as he was a charming and generous host , not unlike his two well respected G25 members who predeceased him, Dato Mokhtar Selat and Dato Latifah Merican Cheong.

It is sad that the enlightened and gallant G-25 has lost three of its distinguished members, three notable technocrats who served the country with distinction under the Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Prime Ministers.

Golf was a lifelong passion for tech savvy Redzuan who was constantly making investments in IT-related gadgetry.

He was everyone’s friend with his trademark conviviality and as one of the country’s brightest diplomats he could often punch above his weight.

The country has lost a great soul, a friend to all and a mentor to our younger generation of diplomats and civil servants.He is survived by his Wife, Datin Vera and two daughters.

M SANTHANANABAN was a colleague of the late Dato Redzuan in Wisma Putra

Millennial socialism


Image result for millennial socialism

 

Millennial socialism

A new kind of left-wing doctrine is emerging. It is not the answer to capitalism’s problems

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/02/14/millennial-socialism

AFTER THE collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the 20th century’s ideological contest seemed over. Capitalism had won and socialism became a byword for economic failure and political oppression. It limped on in fringe meetings, failing states and the turgid liturgy of the Chinese Communist Party. Today, 30 years on, socialism is back in fashion. In America Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a newly elected congresswoman who calls herself a democratic socialist, has become a sensation even as the growing field of Democratic presidential candidates for 2020 veers left. In Britain Jeremy Corbyn, the hardline leader of the Labour Party, could yet win the keys to 10 Downing Street.

Socialism is storming back because it has formed an incisive critique of what has gone wrong in Western societies. Whereas politicians on the right have all too often given up the battle of ideas and retreated towards chauvinism and nostalgia, the left has focused on inequality, the environment, and how to vest power in citizens rather than elites (see article). Yet, although the reborn left gets some things right, its pessimism about the modern world goes too far. Its policies suffer from naivety about budgets, bureaucracies and businesses.

Socialism’s renewed vitality is remarkable. In the 1990s left-leaning parties shifted to the centre. As leaders of Britain and America, Tony Blair and Bill Clinton claimed to have found a “third way”, an accommodation between state and market. “This is my socialism,” Mr Blair declared in 1994 while abolishing Labour’s commitment to the state ownership of firms. Nobody was fooled, especially not socialists.

The left today sees the third way as a dead end. Many of the new socialists are millennials. Some 51% of Americans aged 18-29 have a positive view of socialism, says Gallup. In the primaries in 2016 more young folk voted for Bernie Sanders than for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump combined. Almost a third of French voters under 24 in the presidential election in 2017 voted for the hard-left candidate. But millennial socialists do not have to be young. Many of Mr Corbyn’s keenest fans are as old as he is.

Not all millennial socialist goals are especially radical. In America one policy is universal health care, which is normal elsewhere in the rich world, and desirable. Radicals on the left say they want to preserve the advantages of the market economy. And in both Europe and America the left is a broad, fluid coalition, as movements with a ferment of ideas usually are.

Nonetheless there are common themes. The millennial socialists think that inequality has spiralled out of control and that the economy is rigged in favour of vested interests. They believe that the public yearns for income and power to be redistributed by the state to balance the scales. They think that myopia and lobbying have led governments to ignore the increasing likelihood of climate catastrophe. And they believe that the hierarchies which govern society and the economy—regulators, bureaucracies and companies—no longer serve the interests of ordinary folk and must be “democratised”.

Some of this is beyond dispute, including the curse of lobbying and neglect of the environment. Inequality in the West has indeed soared over the past 40 years. In America the average income of the top 1% has risen by 242%, about six times the rise for middle-earners. But the new new left also gets important bits of its diagnosis wrong, and most of its prescriptions, too.

Start with the diagnosis. It is wrong to think that inequality must go on rising inexorably. American income inequality fell between 2005 and 2015, after adjusting for taxes and transfers. Median household income rose by 10% in real terms in the three years to 2017. A common refrain is that jobs are precarious. But in 2017 there were 97 traditional full-time employees for every 100 Americans aged 25-54, compared with only 89 in 2005. The biggest source of precariousness is not a lack of steady jobs but the economic risk of another downturn.

Millennial socialists also misdiagnose public opinion. They are right that people feel they have lost control over their lives and that opportunities have shrivelled. The public also resents inequality. Taxes on the rich are more popular than taxes on everybody. Nonetheless there is not a widespread desire for radical redistribution. Americans’ support for redistribution is no higher than it was in 1990, and the country recently elected a billionaire promising corporate-tax cuts. By some measures Britons are more relaxed about the rich than Americans are.

If the left’s diagnosis is too pessimistic, the real problem lies with its prescriptions, which are profligate and politically dangerous. Take fiscal policy. Some on the left peddle the myth that vast expansions of government services can be paid for primarily by higher taxes on the rich. In reality, as populations age it will be hard to maintain existing services without raising taxes on middle-earners. Ms Ocasio-Cortez has floated a tax rate of 70% on the highest incomes, but one plausible estimate puts the extra revenue at just $12bn, or 0.3% of the total tax take. Some radicals go further, supporting “modern monetary theory” which says that governments can borrow freely to fund new spending while keeping interest rates low. Even if governments have recently been able to borrow more than many policymakers expected, the notion that unlimited borrowing does not eventually catch up with an economy is a form of quackery.

A mistrust of markets leads millennial socialists to the wrong conclusions about the environment, too. They reject revenue-neutral carbon taxes as the single best way to stimulate private-sector innovation and combat climate change. They prefer central planning and massive public spending on green energy.

The millennial socialist vision of a “democratised” economy spreads regulatory power around rather than concentrating it. That holds some appeal to localists like this newspaper, but localism needs transparency and accountability, not the easily manipulated committees favoured by the British left. If England’s water utilities were renationalised as Mr Corbyn intends, they would be unlikely to be shining examples of local democracy. In America, too, local control often leads to capture. Witness the power of licensing boards to lock outsiders out of jobs or of Nimbys to stop housing developments. Bureaucracy at any level provides opportunities for special interests to capture influence. The purest delegation of power is to individuals in a free market.

The urge to democratise extends to business. The millennial left want more workers on boards and, in Labour’s case, to seize shares in companies and hand them to workers. Countries such as Germany have a tradition of employee participation. But the socialists’ urge for greater control of the firm is rooted in a suspicion of the remote forces unleashed by globalisation. Empowering workers to resist change would ossify the economy. Less dynamism is the opposite of what is needed for the revival of economic opportunity.

Rather than shield firms and jobs from change, the state should ensure markets are efficient and that workers, not jobs, are the focus of policy. Rather than obsess about redistribution, governments would do better to reduce rent-seeking, improve education and boost competition. Climate change can be fought with a mix of market instruments and public investment. Millennial socialism has a refreshing willingness to challenge the status quo. But like the socialism of old, it suffers from a faith in the incorruptibility of collective action and an unwarranted suspicion of individual vim. Liberals should oppose it.