There have been at least two interesting reactions to my post on supply-side socialism.
One is that there's little distinctively socialist about them; Stephen Tall claims most are a form of liberalism.
Good. Although the left spent much of the 1980s talking about hegemony, it has been mostly pretty poor at practicing it, preferring instead silly egocentric posturing and obscurantist sectarianism. Why not try and engage with others instead?
The second, very separate, reaction is that these policies will be a hard sell to voters.
Herein, however, lies a reason why I'm not interested in mainstream managerialist politics. The competition between the main parties resembles that between the mediocre marketing departments of snake oil companies, trying to sell ineffective quack remedies to an uninterested but sometimes gullible public.
The interesting question is: can this change? Is it possible to shift the Overton window?
There's a precedent here. If you'd suggested in the mid-70s privatizing utilities and weakening trades unions, you'd have got the same reaction as my call for supply-side socialism: it's a hard sell, not practical politics. Within a few years, however, such policies were mainstream.
Could supply-side socialism achieve the same success? Here, there's an optimistic and a pessimistic answer.
The optimistic answer is that the Thatcherite revolution shows that intellectual effort can work. As Richard Cockett showed, think tanks such as the IEA and Adam Smith Institute helped make neoliberal ideas credible. Perhaps groups such as the Employee Ownership Association, BIEN and LVTC - not to mention countless individuals - might have a similar effect.
There is, though, a more pessimistic answer. There's a difference between the neoliberal policies and supply side socialism. Neoliberal policies promised large gains for a relatively small group of people - capitalists. it was, therefore, relatively easy for them to organize to push their agenda - for example by funding think tanks and sympathetic politicians and through ordinary networking.
Supply-side socialism, by contrast, offers smallish gains for many people. And this runs into the problem of collective action. Whereas there was a class able and willing to organize in support of neoliberalism, there's no obvious strong class base for supply side socialism.
The feasibility of supply side socialism thus hinges on the old question: what is the motive force behind politics - ideas or interests?
Paradoxically, the same Marxist instincts which lead me to support supply side socialism also make me sceptical that it can ever be achieved.