The Monumental Monday-Morning Baltic Hangover
Arvamus 04 Sep 2014  EWR
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The Baltic states are leaking people, human capital, and public spirit. And they invested heavily in the neoliberal austerity dogma. Are the two phenomena related?

Leonidas Donskis, Transitions Online, 3 September 2014

The Contradictions of Austerity: The Socio-Economic Costs of the Neoliberal Baltic Model, edited by Jeffrey Sommers and Charles Woolfson. London and New York, Routledge, 2014. 200 pages.

A philosophy professor from Helsinki once told me that Estonia for some of his colleagues embodies the worst nightmare of libertarian politics: Too much individualism, atomization, and fragmentation of societal ties, too little sensitivity and compassion, too huge a gap between the jet set and ordinary folks, no welfare state.

A paradox of our time, wittily presented in the 18th-century writer Bernard Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees: or, Private Vices, Publick Benefits, is that individual vice in a universal system of morality can turn into a public benefit, whereas individual virtue does not necessarily increase society’s well-being. Machiavelli had earlier worked out that no one single truth exists in social reality, and every coin has two sides as far as human interaction and social life is concerned. Nothing personal lurks behind the predominant social and moral order, and nobody can be blamed in person for the shortcomings and imperfections of our life. Our jealousy and greed just happen to coincide with others’ wishes and desires.

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