Aleksandar Novaković

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Neo-Institutionalism and the Success Story of Capitalism: Two Different Approaches to Social Change

The central weakness of every institutionalism is its attempt to elevate the significance of formal and informal institutions as some exterior self-acting mechanisms, productive or unproductive ones, extractive or inclusive ones, above the factors that made them as such. Those other factors are paired and merged with them. They create them and it is not just abstract element of contingency or historical luck that improve or deteriorate some state of affairs, it is human rationality and irrationality, mentalities, habits, languages, destructives, moeurs et manières as Tocqueville would put it. This is the reason why abstract models of social behavior and historical explanation are of limited use in any analysis of social change. In this article we seek to explore this type of theoretical reductivism on the example of two different neo-institutional approaches to a social change.


The Clash of Irreconcilable Worlds: A Critique of V.J. Vanberg’s Thesis on the Complementarity of Liberalism and Democracy

This paper represents a critique of Viktor J. Vanberg’s thesis that liberalism and democracy are in some kind of natural symbiosis, owing to the same normative premise (individual sovereignty) and the same mode of relation (voluntary agreement) present among members of hypothetical social contract. This thesis is shown to be incorrect on two principal levels of investigation: level of abstract/normative analysis and level of history of relationship between liberalism and democracy. Vanberg’s treatment of the issue has several theoretical deficiencies: generally problematic positioning of liberalism and democracy, inappropriate mixing of normative level with methodological one, and narrow use of the notion “voluntary agreement“. Furthermore, historical experience of relationship of liberalism and democracy presented within this paper, documents that this relation should be explained in terms of struggle over dominance, rather than in terms of peaceful coexistence and natural symbiosis. The intentions of the critique of Vanberg’s attempt to “reconcile irreconcilable” is not just to present misguided arguments of this author, but also to show that, generally speaking, liberalism and democracy are two irreconcilable worlds and two more than different political philosophies.