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Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism
and Alliance of Transnational Elites

Neoliberalism is inseparable from imperialism and globalization

Who Rules America > Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism

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Fifth Column of Globalization Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair "Fight with Corruption" as a smoke screen for neoliberal penetration into host countries US Department of Imperial Expansion Diplomacy by deception Democracy as a universal opener for access to natural resources American imperialism: the attempt to secure global hegemony
Victoria Nuland’s ‘Ukraine-gate’ Color revolutions Compradors NGOs as braintrust of color revolutions EuroMaidan The Far Right Forces in Ukraine as Trojan horse of neoliberalism Narcissism as Key American Value
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Introduction

All U.S. schoolchildren should be taught, as part of their basic civics education, by conscientious elementary, middle school and high school teachers, that they live in an imperialist country. The term itself ought to be popularized. This is what politicians like Obama actually refer to, elliptically, when they call the U.S. “exceptional.

Gary Leupp, The U.S. Versus ISIS

Looks like the USA successfully managed to recreate Imperial Rome on a new level, neoliberalism level. See Empires Then and Now - PaulCraig

The idea financial imperialism is simple. Instead of old-fashion military occupation of the country, take over the countries in crisis, if necessary remove their democratically elected governments from power by claiming that election are falsified and/or official are corrupted, and/or the government is authoritarian (unlike the puppets they want to install). They use the installed puppets to mandate austerity, burden the country with debt  and facilitate condition under which most of which will be stolen and repatriated to the West.

But neoliberals take this old idea to a new level -- the crisis can be manufactured. The scheme looks like the following (see IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement discussion of Greece for more information):

After installation of a puppet government, it is relatively easy to use Fifth column based government to protect foreign financial interests. Now you can recoup the costs and enjoy the profits. Much cheaper and more humane then bombing the country and killing a couple of hundred thousand people to achieve the same goals (Iraq variant) or by arming and training  jihadists (using Saudi and Gulf monarchies money) and tribal elements to depose the government (Libya and Syria variants) who kill as much, if nor more. 

A classic recent examples were Yeltsin's government in Russia, Yushchenko regime in Ukraine,  Poroshenko-Yatsenyuk duo in Ukraine and sequence of neoliberal governments in Greece. 

In other words neoliberalism is inseparable from imperialism and globalization (Neoliberalism A Critical Reader Alfredo Saad-Filho, Deborah Johnston, p. 2)

In the conventional (or mainstream) discourse, imperialism is either absent or, more recently, proudly presented as the ‘AmericanBurden': to civilize the world and bring to all the benediction of the Holy Trinity, the green-faced Lord Dollar and its deputies and occasional rivals. Holy Euro and Saint Yen. New converts win a refurbished international airport, one brand-new branch of McDonald’s, two luxury hotels, 3,000 NGOs and one US military base.

This offer cannot be refused - or else.2 In turn, globalisation is generally presented as an inescapable, inexorable and benevolent process leading to greater competition, welfare improvements and the spread of democracy around the world. In reality, however, the so-called process of globalisation - to the extent that it actually exists (see Saad-Rlho 2003) - is merely the international face of neoliberalism: a world-wide strategy of accumulation and social discipline that doubles up as tin imperialist project, spearheaded by the alliance between the US ruling class and locally dominant capitalist coalitions.

This ambitious power project centered on neoliberalism at home and imperial globalism abroad is implemented by diverse social and economic political alliances in each country, but the interests of local finance and the US ruling class, itself dominated by finance, are normally hegemonic.

...the United States, the United Kingdom and east and south-east Asia respectively, neoliberalism is a particular organisation of capitalism, which has evolved to protect capital(ism) and to reduce the power of labour. This is achieved by means of social, economic and political transformations imposed by internal forces as well as external pressure. The internal forces include the coalition between financial interests, leading industrialists, traders and exporters, media barons, big landowners, local political chieftains, the top echelons of the civil service and the military, and their intellectual and political proxies. These groups are closely connected with ‘global’ ideologies emanating from the centre, and they tend to adapt swiftly to the demands beamed from the metropolis. Their efforts have led to a significant worldwide shift in powerrelations away from the majority. Corporate power has increased, while finance hits acquired unrivalled influence, and the political spectrum has shifted towards the right. Left parties and mass organisations have imploded, while trade unions have been muzzled or disabled by unemployment. Forms of external pressure have included the diffusion of Western culture and ideology, foreign support for state and civil society institutions peddling neolibcral values, the shameless use of foreign aid, debt relief and balance of payments support to promote the neoliberal programme, and diplomatic pressure, political unrest and military intervention when necessary.

...the ruling economic and political forces in the European Union have instrumentalised the process of integration to ensure the hegemony of neoliberalism. This account is complemented by the segmentation of Eastern Europe into countries that are being drawn into a Western European-style neoliberalism and others that are following Russia’s business oligarchy model.

In sum, neoliberalism is everywhere both the outcome and the arena of social conflicts. It sets the political and economic agenda, limits the possible outcomes, biases expectations, and imposes urgent tasks on those challenging its assumptions, methods and consequences.

In the meantime, neoliberal theory has not remained static. In order to deal with the most powerful criticisms leveled against neoliberalism, that it has increased poverty and social dislocation around the world, neoliberal theory has attempted to present the ogre in a more favorable light. In spite of the substantial resources invested in this ideologically inspired make-over, these amendments have remained unconvincing, not least because the heart of the neoliberal project has remained unchanged. This is discussed in Chapter 15 for poverty and distribution, while Chapter 21 unpicks the agenda of the ‘Third Way', viewed by many as ‘neoliberalism with a human face’.

Neoliberalism offered a finance-friendly solution to the problems of capital accumulation at the end of a relatively long cycle of prosperity. Chapters 1. 22 and 30 show that neoliberalism imposed discipline upon a restless working class through contractionary fiscal and monetary policies and wide-ranging initiatives to curtail social rights, under the guise of anti-inflation and productivity-enhancing measures. Neoliberalism also rationalised the transfer of state capacity to allocate resources inter-temporally (the balance between investment and consumption) and inter-sectorally (the distribution of investment, employment and output) towards an increasingly internationally integrated (and US-led) financial sector. In doing so, neoliberalism facilitated a gigantic transfer of resources to the local rich and the United States, as is shown by Chapters 11 and 15.

The “elephant in the room” is peak oil (plato oil to be more correct) and the plato of food production. Without "cheap oil" extraction growing, it is more difficult to sustain both  population growth and rising standard of living simultaneously. It became the situation of iether/or.

So the future it does not look pretty. As soon as "cheap oil"  escape the current plato,  Western financial system gets into trouble: private banks based fractional reserve banking requires economy expansion for survival.  Essentially they add positive feedback loop to the economy, greatly increasing the instability.  That connection was discovered by Hyman Minsky. Minsky explored a form of instability that is embedded in neoliberal/financialized economies resulting from the use of fiat currency and fractional reserve banking. he argued that such an economy automatically generates bubbles, bursting of which result in periodic deep economic crisis. Which are not an exception, but a feature of neoliberal capitalism (aka "supercapitalism", or "casino capitalism).  

When Minsky crisis hits  some, less important, banks will implode and strategically important need to be saved by government at a great expense for taxpayers. The western elite is well aware of this possibility and will steal, loot and pillage as fast as they can to prolong the agony...  Neoliberal expansion and conversion of other countries into debt slaves thus serves as a substitute for economic growth.

What actually is devalued in austerity programs imposed on indebted nations via currency depreciation is the price of local labor (along with standard of living of the most population). So austerity programs caused a huge drop in the standard of living of population. For example after EuroMaydan color revolution the standard of living in Ukraine dropped to the level of the most poor countries of Africa  (less then $2 a day for the majority of population).

This is a pretty instructive example.   It qlso cur domestic consumption of fuels and minerals, consumer goods, and food.  As wages are sticky and it is difficult to reduced them directly (via high unemployment, leading to falling wages). But the currency depreciation can do the same trick even more effectively. For example since February 22 coup d'état, grivna, the Ukrainian currency depreciated from 8 to 28 grivna to dollar, or approximately 350%.

This is how war of creditors against debtor countries turns into a class war. But to impose such neoliberal reforms, foreign pressure is necessary to bypass domestic, democratically elected Parliaments. Not every country’s voters can be expected to be as passive in acting against their own interests as those of Latvia and Ireland. The financial capital objective is to bypass parliament by demanding a “consensus” (facilitated by a huge foreign debt) to put foreign creditors first, above the national economy. This is the essence of the status of debt slave country. Civil war it a perfect tool to accelerate this process. 

Buying natural monopolies in transportation, communications, and the land from the public domain for pennies on the dollar now can be called "rescue package", not the road to debt peonage and a financial neo-feudalism that is a grim reality of "debt slave" countries, where populations are indentured laborers of international capital. Let me state it very simply : "the borrower [debtor] is SERVANT to the lender" ( Wikipedia ):

An indentured servant or indentured laborer is an employee (indenturee) within a system of unfree labor who is bound by a signed or forced contract (indenture) to work for a particular employer for a fixed time. The contract often lets the employer sell the labor of an indenturee to a third party. Indenturees usually enter into an indenture for a specific payment or other benefit, or to meet a legal obligation, such as debt bondage.

The whole point of creating debt is to gain control of and rule over such countries.  Prof. Hudson's article Replacing Economic Democracy with Financial Oligarchy (2011) illustrates this point admirably.

At the same time then comes to bailing out bankers who overplayed with derivatives, all rules are ignored – in order to serve the “higher justice” of saving banks and their high-finance counterparties from taking a loss. This is quite a contrast compared to IMF policy toward labor and “taxpayers.” The class war is back in business – with a vengeance, and bankers are the winners this time around.

Classic, textbook example of neocolonialism was rape of Russia in 1991-1999. See Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia

Henry C K Liu Views

One of the most interesting analysis of this new phenomena was provided by Henry C K Liu in his series of articles SUPER CAPITALISM, SUPER IMPERIALISM


PART 1: A Structural Link

Robert B Reich, former US Secretary of Labor and resident neo-liberal in the Clinton administration from 1993 to 1997, wrote in the September 14, 2007 edition of The Wall Street Journal an opinion piece, "CEOs Deserve Their Pay", as part of an orchestrated campaign to promote his new book: Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life (Afred A Knopf).

Reich is a former Harvard professor and the former Maurice B Hexter Professor of Social and Economic Policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. He is currently a professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California (Berkley) and a regular liberal gadfly in the unabashed supply-side Larry Kudlow TV show that celebrates the merits of capitalism.

Reich's Supercapitalism brings to mind Michael Hudson's Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (1972-2003). While Reich, a liberal turned neo-liberal, sees "supercapitalism" as the natural evolution of insatiable shareholder appetite for gain, a polite euphemism for greed, that cannot or should not be reined in by regulation, Hudson, a Marxist heterodox economist, sees "super imperialism" as the structural outcome of post-World War II superpower geopolitics, with state interests overwhelming free market forces, making regulation irrelevant. While Hudson is critical of "super imperialism" and thinks that it should be resisted by the weaker trading partners of the US, Reich gives the impression of being ambivalent about the inevitability, if not the benignity, of "supercapitalism".

The structural link between capitalism and imperialism was first observed by John Atkinson Hobson (1858-1940), an English economist, who wrote in 1902 an insightful analysis of the economic basis of imperialism. Hobson provided a humanist critique of neoclassical economics, rejecting exclusively materialistic definitions of value. With Albert Frederick Mummery (1855-1895), the great British mountaineer who was killed in 1895 by an avalanche while reconnoitering Nanga Parbat, an 8,000-meter Himalayan peak, Hobson wrote The Physiology of Industry (1889), which argued that an industrial economy requires government intervention to maintain stability, and developed the theory of over-saving that was given a glowing tribute by John Maynard Keynes three decades later.

The need for governmental intervention to stabilize an expanding national industrial economy was the rationale for political imperialism. On the other side of the coin, protectionism was a governmental counter-intervention on the part of weak trading partners for resisting imperialist expansion of the dominant power. Historically, the processes of globalization have always been the result of active state policy and action, as opposed to the mere passive surrender of state sovereignty to market forces. Market forces cannot operate in a vacuum. They are governed by man-made rules. Globalized markets require the acceptance by local authorities of established rules of the dominant economy. Currency monopoly of course is the most fundamental trade restraint by one single dominant government.

Adam Smith published Wealth of Nations in 1776, the year of US independence. By the time the constitution was framed 11 years later, the US founding fathers were deeply influenced by Smith's ideas, which constituted a reasoned abhorrence of trade monopoly and government policy in restricting trade. What Smith abhorred most was a policy known as mercantilism, which was practiced by all the major powers of the time. It is necessary to bear in mind that Smith's notion of the limitation of government action was exclusively related to mercantilist issues of trade restraint. Smith never advocated government tolerance of trade restraint, whether by big business monopolies or by other governments in the name of open markets.

A central aim of mercantilism was to ensure that a nation's exports remained higher in value than its imports, the surplus in that era being paid only in specie money (gold-backed as opposed to fiat money). This trade surplus in gold permitted the surplus country, such as England, to invest in more factories at home to manufacture more for export, thus bringing home more gold. The importing regions, such as the American colonies, not only found the gold reserves backing their currency depleted, causing free-fall devaluation (not unlike that faced today by many emerging-economy currencies), but also wanting in surplus capital for building factories to produce for domestic consumption and export. So despite plentiful iron ore in America, only pig iron was exported to England in return for English finished iron goods. The situation was similar to today's oil producing countries where despite plentiful crude oil, refined petrochemical products such as gasoline and heating oil have to be imported.

In 1795, when the newly independent Americans began finally to wake up to their disadvantaged trade relationship and began to raise European (mostly French and Dutch) capital to start a manufacturing industry, England decreed the Iron Act, forbidding the manufacture of iron goods in its American colonies, which caused great dissatisfaction among the prospering colonials.

Smith favored an opposite government policy toward promoting domestic economic production and free foreign trade for the weaker traders, a policy that came to be known as "laissez faire" (because the English, having nothing to do with such heretical ideas, refuse to give it an English name). Laissez faire, notwithstanding its literal meaning of "leave alone", meant nothing of the sort. It meant an activist government policy to counteract mercantilism. Neo-liberal free-market economists are just bad historians, among their other defective characteristics, when they propagandize "laissez faire" as no government interference in trade affairs.

Friedrich List, in his National System of Political Economy (1841), asserts that political economy as espoused in England, far from being a valid science universally, was merely British national opinion, suited only to English historical conditions. List's institutional school of economics asserts that the doctrine of free trade was devised to keep England rich and powerful at the expense of its trading partners and it must be fought with protective tariffs and other protective devices of economic nationalism by the weaker countries.

Henry Clay's "American system" was a national system of political economy. US neo-imperialism in the post WWII period disingenuously promotes neo-liberal free-trade against governmental protectionism to keep the US rich and powerful at the expense of its trading partners. Before the October Revolution of 1917, many national liberation movements in European colonies and semi-colonies around the world were influenced by List's economic nationalism. The 1911 Nationalist Revolution in China, led by Sun Yat-sen, was heavily influenced by Lincoln's political ideas - government of the people, by the people and for the people - and the economic nationalism of List, until after the October Revolution when Sun realized that the Soviet model was the correct path to national revival.

Hobson's magnum opus, Imperialism, (1902), argues that imperialistic expansion is driven not by state hubris, known in US history as "manifest destiny", but by an innate quest for new markets and investment opportunities overseas for excess capital formed by over-saving at home for the benefit of the home state. Over-saving during the industrial age came from Richardo's theory of the iron law of wages, according to which wages were kept perpetually at subsistence levels as a result of uneven market power between capital and labor. Today, job outsourcing that returns as low-price imports contributes to the iron law of wages in the US domestic economy. (See my article Organization of Labor Exporting Countries [OLEC]).

Hobson's analysis of the phenology (study of life cycles) of capitalism was drawn upon by Lenin to formulate a theory of imperialism as an advanced stage of capitalism:

"Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capitalism is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed." (Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, 1916, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, Chapter 7).

Lenin was also influenced by Rosa Luxemberg, who three year earlier had written her major work, The Accumulation of Capital: A Contribution to an Economic Explanation of Imperialism (Die Akkumulation des Kapitals: Ein Beitrag zur ökonomischen Erklärung des Imperialismus), 1913). Luxemberg, together with Karl Liebknecht a founding leader of the Spartacist League (Spartakusbund), a radical Marxist revolutionary movement that later renamed itself the Communist Party of Germany (Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, or KPD), was murdered on January 15, 1919 by members of the Freikorps, rightwing militarists who were the forerunners of the Nazi Sturmabteilung (SA) led by Ernst Rohm.

The congenital association between capitalism and imperialism requires practically all truly anti-imperialist movements the world over to be also anti-capitalist. To this day, most nationalist capitalists in emerging economies are unwitting neo-compradors for super imperialism. Neo-liberalism, in its attempts to break down all national boundaries to facilitate global trade denominated in fiat dollars, is the ideology of super imperialism.

Hudson, the American heterodox economist, historian of ancient economies and post-WW II international balance-of-payments specialist, advanced in his 1972 book the notion of 20th century super imperialism. Hudson updated Hobson's idea of 19th century imperialism of state industrial policy seeking new markets to invest home-grown excess capital. To Hudson, super imperialism is a state financial strategy to export debt denominated in the state's fiat currency as capital to the new financial colonies to finance the global expansion of a superpower empire.

No necessity, or even intention, was entertained by the superpower of ever having to pay off these paper debts after the US dollar was taken off gold in 1971.

Monetary Imperialism and Dollar Hegemony

Super imperialism transformed into monetary imperialism after the 1973 Middle East oil crisis with the creation of the petrodollar and two decades later emerged as dollar hegemony through financial globalization after 1993. As described in my 2002 AToL article, Dollar hegemony has to go, a geopolitical phenomenon emerged after the 1973 oil crisis in which the US dollar, a fiat currency since 1971, continues to serve as the primary reserve currency for  international trade because oil continues to be denominated in fiat dollars as a result of superpower geopolitics, leading to dollar hegemony in 1993 with the globalization of deregulated financial markets.

Three causal developments allowed dollar hegemony to emerge over a span of two decades after 1973 and finally take hold in 1993. US fiscal deficits from overseas spending since the 1950s caused a massive drain in US gold holdings, forcing the US in 1971 to abandon the 1945 Bretton Woods regime of fixed exchange rate based on a gold-backed dollar. Under that international financial architecture, cross-border flow of funds was not considered necessary or desirable for promoting international trade or domestic development. The collapse of the 1945 Bretton Woods regime in 1971 was the initial development toward dollar hegemony.

The second development was the denomination of oil in dollars after the 1973 Middle East oil crisis. The emergence of petrodollars was the price the US, still only one of two contending superpowers in 1973, extracted from defenseless oil-producing nations for allowing them to nationalize the Western-owned oil industry on their soil. As long as oil transactions are denominated in fiat dollars, the US essentially controls all the oil in the world financially regardless of specific ownership, reducing all oil producing nations to the status of commodity agents of dollar hegemony.

The third development was the global deregulation of financial markets after the Cold War, making cross-border flow of funds routine, and a general relaxation of capital and foreign exchange control by most governments involved in international trade. This neo-liberal trade regime brought into existence a foreign exchange market in which free-floating exchange rates made computerized speculative attacks on weak currencies a regular occurrence. These three developments permitted the emergence of dollar hegemony after 1994 and helped the US win the Cold War with financial power derived from fiat money.

Dollar hegemony advanced super imperialism one stage further from the financial to the monetary front. Industrial imperialism sought to achieve a trade surplus by exporting manufactured good to the colonies for gold to fund investment for more productive plants at home. Super imperialism sought to extract real wealth from the colonies by paying for it with fiat dollars to sustain a balance of payments out of an imbalance in the exchange of commodities. Monetary imperialism under dollar hegemony exports debt denominated in fiat dollars through a permissive trade deficit with the new colonies, only to re-import the debt back to the US as capital account surplus to finance the US debt bubble.

The circular recycling of dollar-denominated debt was made operative by the dollar, a fiat currency that only the US can print at will, continuing as the world's prime reserve currency for international trade and finance, backed by US geopolitical superpower. Dollars are accepted universally because oil is denominated in dollars and everyone needs oil and thus needs dollars to buy oil. Any nation that seeks to denominate key commodities, such as oil, in currencies other than the dollar will soon find itself invaded by the sole superpower. Thus the war on Iraq is not about oil, as former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan suggested recently. It is about keeping oil denominated in dollars to protect dollar hegemony. The difference is subtle but of essential importance.

Since 1993, central banks of all trading nations around the world, with the exception of the US Federal Reserve, have been forced to hold more dollar reserves than they otherwise need to ward off the potential of sudden speculative attacks on their currencies in unregulated global financial markets. Thus "dollar hegemony" prevents the exporting nations, such as the Asian Tigers, from spending domestically the dollars they earn from the US trade deficit and forces them to fund the US capital account surplus, shipping real wealth to the US in exchange for the privilege of financing further growth of the US debt economy.

Not only do these exporting nations have to compete by keeping their domestic wages down and by prostituting their environment, the dollars that they earn cannot be spent at home without causing a monetary crisis in their own currencies because the dollars they earn have to be exchanged into local currencies before they can be spent domestically, causing an excessive rise in their domestic money supply which in turn causes domestic inflation-pushed bubbles. While the trade-surplus nations are forced to lend their export earnings back to the US, these same nations are starved for capital, as global capital denominated in dollars will only invest in their export sectors to earn more dollars. The domestic sector with local currency earnings remains of little interest to global capital denominated in dollars. As a result, domestic development stagnates for lack of capital.

Dollar hegemony permits the US to transform itself from a competitor in world markets to earn hard money, to a fiat-money-making monopoly with fiat dollars that only it can print at will. Every other trading nation has to exchange low-wage goods for dollars that the US alone can print freely and that can be spent only in the dollar economy without monetary penalty.

The victimization of Japan and China

Japan is a classic victim of monetary imperialism. In 1990, as a result of Japanese export prowess, the Industrial Bank of Japan was the largest bank in the world, with a market capitalization of $57 billion. The top nine of the 10 largest banks then were all Japanese, trailed by Canadian Alliance in 10th place. No US bank made the top-10 list. By 2001, the effects of dollar hegemony have pushed Citigroup into first place with a market capitalization of $260 billion. Seven of the top 10 largest financial institutions in the world in 2001 were US-based, with descending ranking in market capitalization: Citigroup ($260 billion), AIG ($209 billion), HSBC (British-$110 billion), Berkshire Hathaway ($100 billion), Bank of America ($99 billion), Fanny Mae ($80 billion), Wells Fargo ($74 billion), JP Morgan Chase ($72 billion), RBS (British-$70 billion) and UBS (Swiss-$67 billion). No Japanese bank survived on the list.

China is a neoclassic case of dollar hegemony victimization even though its domestic financial markets are still not open and the yuan is still not freely convertible. With over $1.4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves earned at a previously lower fixed exchange rate of 8.2 to a dollar set in 1985, now growing at the rate of $1 billion a day at a narrow-range floating exchange rate of around 7.5 since July 2005, China cannot spend much of it dollar holdings on domestic development without domestic inflation caused by excessive expansion of its yuan money supply. The Chinese economy is overheating because the bulk of its surplus revenue is in dollars from exports that cannot be spent inside China without monetary penalty. Chinese wages are too low to absorb sudden expansion of yuan money supply to develop the domestic economy. And with over $1.4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, equal to its annual GDP, China cannot even divest from the dollar without having the market effect of a falling dollar moving against its remaining holdings.

The People's Bank of China announced on July 20, 2005 that effective immediately the yuan exchange rate would go up by 2.1% to 8.11 yuan to the US dollar and that China would drop the dollar peg to its currency. In its place, China would move to a "managed float" of the yuan, pegging the currency's exchange value to an undisclosed basket of currencies linked to its global trade. In an effort to limit the amount of volatility, China would not allow the currency to fluctuate by more than 0.3% in any one trading day. Linking the yuan to a basket of currencies means China's currency is relatively free from market forces acting on the dollar, shifting to market forces acting on a basket of currencies of China's key trading partners. The basket is composed of the euro, yen and other Asian currencies as well as the dollar. Though the precise composition of the basket was not disclosed, it can nevertheless be deduced by China's trade volume with key trading partners and by mathematical calculation from the set-daily exchange rate.

Thus China is trapped in a trade regime operating on an international monetary architecture in which it must continue to export real wealth in the form of underpaid labor and polluted environment in exchange for dollars that it must reinvest in the US. Ironically, the recent rise of anti-trade sentiment in US domestic politics offers China a convenient, opportune escape from dollar hegemony to reduce its dependence on export to concentrate on domestic development. Chinese domestic special interest groups in the export sector would otherwise oppose any policy to slow the growth in export if not for the rise of US protectionism which causes shot-term pain for China but long-term benefit in China's need to restructure its economy toward domestic development. Further trade surplus denominated in dollar is of no advantage to China.

Emerging markets are new colonies of monetary imperialism

Even as the domestic US economy declined after the onset of globalization in the early 1990s, US dominance in global finance has continued to this day on account of dollar hegemony. It should not be surprising that the nation that can print at will the world's reserve currency for international trade should come up on top in deregulated global financial markets. The so-called emerging markets around the world are the new colonies of monetary imperialism in a global neo-liberal trading regime operating under dollar hegemony geopolitically dominated by the US as the world's sole remaining superpower.

Denial of corporate social responsibility

In Supercapitalism, Reich identifies corporate social responsibility as a diversion from economic efficiency and an un-capitalistic illusion. Of course the late Milton Friedman had asserted that the only social responsibility of corporations is to maximize profit, rather than to generate economic well-being and balanced growth through fair profits. There is ample evidence to suggest that a single-minded quest for maximizing global corporate profit can lead to domestic economic decline in even the world's sole remaining superpower. The US public is encouraged to blame such decline on the misbehaving trading partners of the US rather than US trade policy that permits US transnational corporation to exploit workers in all trading nations, including those in the US. It is a policy that devalues work by over-rewarding financial manipulation.

Yet to Reich, the US corporate income tax is regressive and inequitable and should be abolished so that after-tax corporate profit can be even further enhanced. This pro-profit position is at odds with even rising US Republican sentiment against transnational corporations and their global trade strategies. Reich also thinks the concept of corporate criminal liability is based on an "anthropomorphic fallacy" that ends up hurting innocent people. Reich sees as inevitable an evolutionary path towards an allegedly perfect new world of a super-energetic capitalism responding to the dictate of all-powerful consumer preference through market democracy.

Reich argues that corporations cannot be expected to be more "socially responsible" than their shareholders or even their consumers, and he implies that consumer preference and behavior are the proper and effective police forces that supersede the need for market regulation. He sees corporations, while viewed by law as "legal persons", as merely value-neutral institutional respondents of consumer preferences in global markets. Reich claims that corporate policies, strategies and behavior in market capitalism are effectively governed by consumer preferences and need no regulation by government. This is essentially the ideology of neo-liberalism.

Yet US transnational corporations derive profit from global operations serving global consumers to maximize return on global capital. These transnational corporations will seek to shift production to where labor is cheapest and environmental standards are lowest and to market their products where prices are highest and consumer purchasing power the strongest. Often, these corporations find it more profitable to sell products they themselves do not make, controlling only design and marketing, leaving the dirty side of manufacturing to others with underdeveloped market power. This means if the US wants a trade surplus under the current terms of trade, it must lower it wages. The decoupling of consumers from producers weakens the conventional effects of market pressure on corporate social responsibility. Transnational corporations have no home community loyalty. Consumers generally do not care about sweat shop conditions overseas while overseas workers do not care about product safety on goods they produce but cannot afford to buy. Products may be made in China, but they are not made by China, but by US transnational corporations which are responsible for the quality and safety of their products.

Further, it is well recognized that corporations routinely and effectively manipulate consumer preference and market acceptance often through if not false, at least misleading advertising, not for the benefit of consumers, but to maximize return on faceless capital raised from global capital markets. The subliminal emphasis by the corporate culture on addictive acquisition of material things, coupled with a structural deprivation of adequate income to satisfy the manipulated desires, has made consumers less satisfied than in previous times of less material abundance. Corporations have been allowed to imbed consumption-urging messages into every aspect of modern life. The result is a disposable culture with packaged waste, an obesity crisis for all age groups, skyrocketing consumer debt, the privatization of public utilities that demand the same fee for basic services from rich and poor alike, causing a sharp disparity in affordability. It is a phenomenon described by Karl Marx as "Fetishism of Commodities".

Marx's concept of Fetishism of Commodities

Marx wrote in Das Kapital:[1]

The relation of the producers to the sum total of their own labor is presented to them as a social relation, existing not between themselves, but between the products of their labor. This is the reason why the products of labor become commodities, social things whose qualities are at the same time perceptible and imperceptible by the senses … The existence of the things qua commodities, and the value relation between the products of labor which stamps them as commodities, have absolutely no connection with their physical properties and with the material relations arising therefrom. It is a definite social relation between men that assumes, in their eyes, the fantastic form of a relation between things. In order, therefore, to find an analogy, we must have recourse to the mist-enveloped regions of the religious world. In that world, the productions of the human brain appear as independent beings endowed with life, and entering into relation both with one another and the human race. So it is in the world of commodities with the products of men's hands. This I call the Fetishism which attaches itself to the products of labor, as soon as they are produced as commodities, and which is therefore inseparable from the production of commodities. This Fetishism of Commodities has its origin … in the peculiar social character of the labor that produces them.
Marx asserts that "the mystical character of commodities does not originate in their use-value" (Section 1, p 71). Market value is derived from social relations, not from use-value which is a material phenomenon. Thus Marx critiques the Marginal Utility Theory by pointing out that market value is affected by social relationships. For example, the marginal utility of door locks is a function of the burglary rate in a neighborhood which in turn is a function of the unemployment rate. Unregulated free markets are a regime of uninhibited price gouging by monopolies and cartels.

Thus the nature of money cannot be adequately explained even in terms of the material-technical properties of gold, but only in terms of the factors behind man's desire and need for gold. Similarly, it is not possible to fully understand the price of capital from the technical nature of the means of production, but only from the social institution of private ownership and the terms of exchange imposed by uneven market power. Market capitalism is a social institution based on the fetishism of commodities.

Democracy threatened by the corporate state

While Reich is on target in warning about the danger to democracy posed by the corporate state, and in claiming that only people can be citizens, and only citizens should participate in democratic decision making, he misses the point that transnational corporations have transcended national boundaries. Yet in each community that these transnational corporations operate, they have the congenital incentive, the financial means and the legal mandate to manipulate the fetishism of commodities even in distant lands.

Moreover, representative democracy as practiced in the US is increasingly manipulated by corporate lobbying funded from high-profit-driven corporate financial resources derived from foreign sources controlled by management. Corporate governance is notoriously abusive of minority shareholder rights on the part of management. Notwithstanding Reich's rationalization of excessive CEO compensation, CEOs as a class are the most vocal proponents of corporate statehood. Modern corporations are securely insulated from any serious threats from consumer revolt. Inter-corporate competition presents only superficial and trivial choices for consumers. Motorists have never been offered any real choice on gasoline by oil companies or alternatives on the gasoline-guzzling internal combustion engine by car-makers.

High pay for CEOs

Reich asserts in his Wall Street Journal piece that modern CEOs in finance capitalism nowadays deserve their high pay because they have to be superstars, unlike their bureaucrat-like predecessors during industrial capitalism. Notwithstanding that one would expect a former labor secretary to argue that workers deserve higher pay, the challenge to corporate leadership in market capitalism has always been and will always remain management's ruthless pursuit of market leadership power, a euphemism for monopoly, by skirting the rule of law and regulations, framing legislative regimes through political lobbying, pushing down wages and worker benefits, increasing productivity by downsizing in an expanding market and manipulating consumer attitude through advertising. At the end of the day, the bottom line for corporate profit is a factor of lowering wage and benefit levels.

Reich seems to have forgotten that the captains of industry of 19th century free-wheeling capitalism were all superstars who evoked public admiration by manipulating the awed public into accepting the Horatio Alger myth of success through hard work, honesty and fairness. The derogatory term "robber barons" was first coined by protest pamphlets circulated by victimized Kansas farmers against ruthless railroad tycoons during the Great Depression.

The manipulation of the public will by moneyed interests is the most problematic vulnerability of US economic and political democracy. In an era when class warfare has taken on new sophistication, the accusation of resorting to class warfare argument is widely used to silence legitimate socio-economic protests. The US media is essentially owned by the moneyed interests. The decline of unionism in the US has been largely the result of anti-labor propaganda campaigns funded by corporations and government policies influenced by corporate lobbyists. The infiltration of organized crime was exploited to fan public anti-union sentiments while widespread corporate white collar crimes were dismissed as mere anomalies. (See Capitalism's bad apples: It's the barrel that's rotten)

Superman capitalism

As promoted by his permissive opinion piece, a more apt title for Reich's new book would be Superman Capitalism, in praise of the super-heroic qualities of successful corporate CEOs who deserve superstar pay. This view goes beyond even fascist superman ideology. The compensation of corporate CEOs in Nazi Germany never reached such obscene levels as those in US corporate land today.

Reich argues that CEOs deserve their super-high compensation, which has increased 600% in two decades, because corporate profits have also risen 600% in the same period. The former secretary of labor did not point out that wages rose only 30% in the same period. The profit/wage disparity is a growing cancer in the US-dominated global economy, causing over-production resulting from stagnant demand caused by inadequate wages. A true spokesman for labor would point out that enlightened modern management recognizes that the performance of a corporation is the sum total of effective team work between management and labor.

System analysis has long shown that collective effort on the part of the entire work force is indispensable to success in any complex organism. Further, a healthy consumer market depends on a balance between corporate earnings and worker earnings. Reich's point would be valid if US wages had risen by the same multiple as CEO pay and corporate profit, but he apparently thought that it would be poor etiquette to raise embarrassing issues as a guest writer in an innately anti-labor journal of Wall Street. Even then, unless real growth also rose 600% in two decades, the rise in corporate earning may be just an inflation bubble.

An introduction to economic populism

To be fair, Reich did address the income gap issue eight months earlier in another article, "An Introduction to Economic Populism" in the Jan-Feb, 2007 issue of The American Prospect, a magazine that bills itself as devoted to "liberal ideas". In that article, Reich relates a "philosophical" discussion he had with fellow neo-liberal cabinet member Robert Rubin, then treasury secretary under Bill Clinton, on two "simple questions".

The first question was: Suppose a proposed policy will increase the incomes of some people without decreasing the incomes of any others. Of course Reich must know that it is a question of welfare economics long ago answered by the "pareto optimum", which asserts that resources are optimally distributed when an individual cannot move into a better position without putting someone else into a worse position. In an unjust society, the pareto optimum will perpetuate injustice in the name of optimum resource allocation. "Should it be implemented? Bob and I agreed it should," writes Reich. Not exactly an earth-shaking liberal position. Rather, it is a classic neo-liberal posture.

And the second question: But suppose the people whose incomes will rise are already wealthier than everyone else. Although no one will lose ground, inequality will widen. Should it still be implemented? "I won't tell you where he and I came out on that second question," writes Reich without explaining why. He allows that "we agreed that people who don't share in such gains feel relatively poorer. Widening inequality also further tips the balance of political power in favor of the wealthy."

Of course, clear thinking would have left the second question mute because it would have invalidated the first question, as the real income of those whose nominal income has not fallen has indeed fallen relative to those whose nominal income has risen. In a macro monetary sense, it is not possible to raise the nominal income of some without lowering the real income of others. All incomes must rise together proportionally or inequality in after-inflation real income will increase.

Inequality only a new worry?

But for the sake of argument, let's go along with Reich's parable on welfare economics and financial equality. That conversation occurred a decade ago. Reich says in his January 2007 article that "inequality is far more worrisome now", as if it had not been or that the policies he and his colleagues in the Clinton administration, as evidenced by their answer to their own first question, did not cause the now "more worrisome" inequality. "The incomes of the bottom 90% of Americans have increased about 2% in real terms since then, while that of the top 1% has increased over 50%," Reich wrote in the matter of fact tone of an innocent bystander.

It is surprising that a former labor secretary would err even on the record on worker income. The US Internal Revenue Service reports that while incomes have been rising since 2002, the average income in 2005 was $55,238, nearly 1% less than in 2000 after adjusting for inflation. Hourly wage costs (including mandatory welfare contributions and benefits) grew more slowly than hourly productivity from 1993 to late 1997, the years of Reich's tenure as labor secretary. Corporate profit rose until 1997 before declining, meaning what should have gone to workers from productivity improvements went instead to corporate profits. And corporate profit declined after 1997 because of the Asian financial crisis, which reduced offshore income for all transnational companies, while domestic purchasing power remained weak because of sub-par worker income growth.

The break in trends in wages occurred when the unemployment rate sank to 5%, below the 6% threshold of NAIRU (non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment) as job creation was robust from 1993 onwards. The "reserve army of labor" in the war against inflation disappeared after the 1997 Asian crisis when the Federal Reserve injected liquidity into the US banking system to launch the debt bubble. According to NAIRU, when more than 94% of the labor force is employed, the war on wage-pushed inflation will be on the defensive. Yet while US inflation was held down by low-price imports from low-wage economies, US domestic wages fell behind productivity growth from 1993 onward. US wages could have risen without inflationary effects but did not because of the threat of further outsourcing of US jobs overseas. This caused corporate profit to rise at the expense of labor income during the low-inflation debt bubble years.

Income inequality in the US today has reached extremes not seen since the 1920s, but the trend started three decades earlier. More than $1 trillion a year in relative income is now being shifted annually from roughly 90,000,000 middle and working class families to the wealthiest households and corporations via corporate profits earned from low-wage workers overseas. This is why nearly 60% of Republicans polled support more taxes on the rich.

Carter the granddaddy of deregulation

The policies and practices responsible for today's widening income gap date back to the 1977-1981 period of the Carter administration which is justly known as the administration of deregulation. Carter's deregulation was done in the name of populism but the results were largely anti-populist. Starting with Carter, policies and practices by both corporations and government underwent a fundamental shift to restructure the US economy with an overhaul of job markets. This was achieved through widespread de-unionization, breakup of industry-wide collective bargaining which enabled management to exploit a new international division of labor at the expense of domestic workers.

The frontal assault on worker collective bargaining power was accompanied by a realigning of the progressive federal tax structure to cut taxes on the rich, a brutal neo-liberal global free-trade offensive by transnational corporations and anti-labor government trade policies. The cost shifting of health care and pension plans from corporations to workers was condoned by government policy. A wave of government-assisted compression of wages and overtime pay narrowed the wage gap between the lowest and highest paid workers (which will occur when lower-paid workers receive a relatively larger wage increase than the higher-paid workers with all workers receiving lower pay increases than managers). There was a recurring diversion of inflation-driven social security fund surpluses to the US fiscal budget to offset recurring inflation-adjusted federal deficits. This was accompanied by wholesale anti-trust deregulation and privatization of public sectors; and most egregious of all, financial market deregulation.

Carter deregulated the US oil industry four years after the 1973 oil crisis in the name of national security. His Democratic challenger, Senator Ted Kennedy, advocated outright nationalization. The Carter administration also deregulated the airlines, favoring profitable hub traffic at the expense of traffic to smaller cities. Air fares fell but service fell further. Delays became routine, frequently tripling door-to-door travel time. What consumers save in airfare, they pay dearly in time lost in delay and in in-flight discomfort. The Carter administration also deregulated trucking, which caused the Teamsters Union to support Ronald Reagan in exchange for a promise to delay trucking deregulation.

Railroads were also deregulated by Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976 which eased regulations on rates, line abandonment, and mergers to allow the industry to compete with truck and barge transportation that had caused a financial and physical deterioration of the national rail network railroads. Four years later, Congress followed up with the Staggers Rail Act of 1980 which provided the railroads with greater pricing freedom, streamlined merger timetables, expedited the line abandonment process, and allowed confidential contracts with shippers. Although railroads, like other modes of transportation, must purchase and maintain their own rolling stock and locomotives, they must also, unlike competing modes, construct and maintain their own roadbed, tracks, terminals, and related facilities. Highway construction and maintenance are paid for by gasoline taxes. In the regulated environment, recovering these fixed costs hindered profitability for the rail industry.

After deregulation, the railroads sought to enhance their financial situation and improve their operational efficiency with a mix of strategies to reduce cost and maximize profit, rather than providing needed service to passengers around the nation. These strategies included network rationalization by shedding unprofitable capacity, raising equipment and operational efficiencies by new work rules that reduced safety margins and union power, using differential pricing to favor big shippers, and pursuing consolidation, reducing the number of rail companies from 65 to 5 today. The consequence was a significant increase of market power for the merged rail companies, decreasing transportation options for consumers and increasing rates for remote, less dense areas.

In the agricultural sector, rail network rationalization has forced shippers to truck their bulk commodity products greater distances to mainline elevators, resulting in greater pressure on and damage to rural road systems. For inter-modal shippers, profit-based network rationalization has meant reduced access - physically and economically - to Container on Flat Car (COFC) and Trailer on Flat Car (TOFC) facilities and services. Rail deregulation, as is true with most transportation and communication deregulation, produces sector sub-optimization with dubious benefits for the national economy by distorting distributional balance, causing congestion and inefficient use of land, network and lines.

Carter's Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) approach to radio and television regulation began in the mid-1970s as a search for relatively minor "regulatory underbrush" that could be cleared away for more efficient and cost-effective administration of the important rules that would remain. Congress largely went along with this updating trend, and initiated a few deregulatory moves of its own to make regulation more effective and responsive to contemporary conditions.

Reagan's anti-government fixation

The Reagan administration under Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Mark Fowler in 1981 shifted deregulation to a fundamental and ideologically-driven reappraisal of regulations away from long-held principles central to national broadcasting policy appropriate for a democratic society. The result was removal of many longstanding rules to permit an overall reduction in FCC oversight of station ownership concentration and network operations. Congress grew increasingly wary of the pace of deregulation, however, and began to slow the pace of FCC deregulation by the late 1980s.

Specific deregulatory moves included (a) extending television licenses to five years from three in 1981; (b) expanding the number of television stations any single entity could own from seven in 1981 to 12 in 1985, with further changes in 1995; (c) abolishing guidelines for minimal amounts of non-entertainment programming in 1985; (d) elimination of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987; (e) dropping, in 1985, FCC license guidelines for how much advertising could be carried; (f) leaving technical standards increasingly in the hands of licensees rather than FCC mandates; and (g) deregulation of television's competition, especially cable which went through several regulatory changes in the decade after 1983.

The 1996 Telecommunications Act eliminated the 40-station ownership cap on radio stations. Since then, the radio industry has experienced unprecedented consolidation. In June 2003, the FCC voted to overhaul limits on media ownership. Despite having held only one hearing on the complex issue of media consolidation over a 20-month review period, the FCC, in a party-line vote, voted 3-2 to overhaul limits on media concentration. The rule would (1) increase the aggregate television ownership cap to enable one company to own stations reaching 45% of our nation's homes (from 35%), (2) lift the ban on newspaper-television cross-ownership, and (3) allow a single company to own three television stations in large media markets and two in medium ones. In the largest markets, the rule would allow a single company to own up to three television stations, eight radio stations, the cable television system, cable television stations, and a daily newspaper. A wide range of public-interest groups filed an appeal with the Third Circuit, which stayed the effective date of the new rules.

According to a BIA Financial Network report released in July 2006, a total of 88 television stations had been sold in the first six months of 2006, generating a transaction value of $15.7 billion. In 2005, the same period saw the sale of just 21 stations at a value of $244 million, with total year transactions of $2.86 billion.

Congress passed a law in 2004 that forbids any network to own a group of stations that reaches more than 39% of the national television audience. That is lower than the 45% limit set in 2003, but more than the original cap of 35% set in 1996 under the Clinton administration - leading public interest groups to argue that the proposed limits lead to a stifling of local voices.

Newspaper-television cross-ownership remains a contentious issue. Currently prohibited, it refers to the "common ownership of a full-service broadcast station and a daily newspaper when the broadcast station's area of coverage (or "contour") encompasses the newspaper's city of publication".

Capping of local radio and television ownership is another issue. While the original rule prohibited it, currently a company can own at least one television and one radio station in a market. In larger markets, "a single entity may own additional radio stations depending on the number of other independently owned media outlets in the market".

Most broadcasters and newspaper publishers are lobbying to ease or end restrictions on cross-ownership; they say it has to be the future of the news business. It allows newsgathering costs to be spread across platforms, and delivers multiple revenue streams in turn. Their argument is also tied to a rapidly changing media consumption market, and to the diversity of opinions available to the consumer with the rise of the Internet and other digital platforms.

The arguments against relaxing media ownership regulations are put forth by consumer unions and other interest groups on the ground that consolidation in any form inevitably leads to a lack of diversity of opinion. Cross-ownership limits the choices for consumers, inhibits localism and gives excessive media power to one entity.

Professional and workers' guilds of the communication industry (the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of TV and Radio Artists among others) would like the FCC to keep in mind the independent voice, and want a quarter of all prime-time programming to come from independent producers. The Children's Media Policy Coalition suggested that the FCC limit local broadcasters to a single license per market, so that there is enough original programming for children. Other interest groups like the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters are worried about what impact the rules might have on station ownership by minorities.

Deregulatory proponents see station licensees not as "public trustees" of the public airwaves requiring the provision of a wide variety of services to many different listening groups. Instead, broadcasting has been increasingly seen as just another business operating in a commercial marketplace which did not need its management decisions questioned by government overseers, even though they are granted permission to use public airways. Opponents argue that deregulation violates a key mandate of the Communications Act of 1934 which requires licensees to operate in the public interest. Deregulation allows broadcasters to seek profits with little public service programming.

Clinton and telecommunications deregulation

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was the first major overhaul of US telecommunications law in nearly 62 years, amending the Communications Act of 1934, and leading to media consolidation. It was approved by Congress on January 3, 1996 and signed into law on February 8, 1996 by President Clinton, a Democrat whom some have labeled as the best president the Republicans ever had. The act claimed to foster competition, but instead it continued the historic industry consolidation begun by Reagan, whose actions reduced the number of major media companies from around 50 in 1983 to 10 in 1996 and 6 in 2005.

Regulation Q

The Carter administration increased the power of the Federal Reserve through the Depository Institutions and Monetary Control Act (DIDMCA) of 1980 which was a necessary first step in ending the New Deal restrictions placed upon financial institutions, such as Regulation Q put in place by the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 and other restrictions on banks and financial institutions. The populist Regulation Q imposed limits and ceilings on bank and savings-and-loan (S&L) interest rates to provide funds for low-risk home mortgages. But with financial market deregulation, Regulation Q created incentives for US banks to do business outside the reach of US law, launching finance globalization. London came to dominate this offshore dollar business.

The populist Regulation Q, which regulated for several decades limits and ceilings on bank and S&L interest to serve the home mortgage sector, was phased out completely in March 1986. Banks were allowed to pay interest on checking account - the NOW accounts - to lure depositors back from the money markets. The traditional interest-rate advantage of the S&Ls was removed, to provide a "level playing field", forcing them to take the same risks as commercial banks to survive. Congress also lifted restrictions on S&Ls' commercial lending, which promptly got the whole industry into trouble that would soon required an unprecedented government bailout of depositors, with tax money. But the developers who made billions from easy credit were allowed to keep their profits. State usury laws were unilaterally suspended by an act of Congress in a flagrant intrusion on state rights. Carter, the well-intentioned populist, left a legacy of anti-populist policies. To this day, Greenspan continues to argue disingenuously that subprime mortgages helped the poor toward home ownership, instead of generating obscene profit for the debt securitization industry.

The party of Lincoln taken over by corporate interests

During the Reagan administration, corporate lobbying and electoral strategies allowed the corporate elite to wrest control of the Republican Party, the party of Lincoln, from conservative populists. In the late 1980s, supply-side economics was promoted to allow corporate interests to dominate US politics at the expense of labor by arguing that the only way labor can prosper is to let capital achieve high returns, notwithstanding the contradiction that high returns on capital must come from low wages.

New legislation and laws, executive orders, federal government rule-making, federal agency decisions, and think-tank propaganda, etc, subsequently followed the new political landscape, assisting the implementation of new corporate policies and practices emerging from corporate headquarters rather than from the shop floor. Economists and analysts who challenged this voodoo theory were largely shut out of the media. Workers by the million were persuaded to abandon their institutional collective defender to fend for themselves individually in the name of freedom. It was a freedom to see their job security eroded and wages and benefits fall with no recourse.

Note
1. Das Kapital, Volume One, Part I: Commodities and Money, Chapter One: Commodities, Section I.

Next: PART 2: Global war on labor

Henry C K Liu is chairman of a New York-based private investment group. His website is at http://www.henryckliu.com.

Copyright 2007, Henry C K Liu

Super Imperialism - New Edition: The Origin and Fundamentals of U.S. World Dominance [Paperback]

William Podmore (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Hudson is a Wall Street economist who used to work at the Chase Manhattan Bank.

In Part One, he describes the rise of the American empire.

Part Two describes its institutions: the US-controlled World Bank, the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund, which all benefit the USA. The US has the sole veto power in all three.

Part Three describes what Herman Kahn called `the greatest rip-off ever achieved', the way the US's ruling class levies us all to pay for its aggressive wars, just as the Roman Empire levied tribute to pay for its constant wars. Similarly Britain, Germany and Japan all pay for the US's military bases in their countries.

In 1945, as in 1918, Britain led Europe's capitulation to the USA's debt demands. The British ruling class chose dependency on the US ruling class. The USA insisted that Britain ended the sterling bloc, accepted IMF controls, did not impose exchange controls, and did not devalue. As Hudson writes, "The Anglo-American Loan Agreement spelled the end of Britain as a Great Power."

The 1945-51 Labour government's huge spending on unnecessary imperial, counter-revolutionary wars robbed our industry of investment. This excessive military spending meant that we had constantly to borrow from the IMF, increasing our dependence on the USA. Now Britain is the USA's Trojan horse in Europe, against Britain's interests.

Hudson immodestly claims that his analysis supersedes Lenin. He says that the US national government's interests, not the private interests of the capitalist class, drive the system. He claims that the US government subordinates `the interests of its national bourgeoisie to the autonomous interests of the national government'. But is the US government really independent of the capitalist class? How `autonomous' are these interests?...

Joshua Malle (Seattle, WA USA)

Difficult and rewarding, Hudson is the real deal, May 24, 2006

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This review is from: Super Imperialism - New Edition: The Origin and Fundamentals of U.S. World Dominanc (Paperback)

Super-Imperialism is better viewed as a radical alternative to common undergraduate textbooks such as Joan Edelman Spero's, "The Politics of International Economic Relations" than as an update to the theories of Lenin or Hobson. (His background and prose style are similar to Spero's and his book covers similar ground.)

It has three sections, each which could have been a separate book.

The 2003 Edition has a new introduction and two new chapters at the end. The rest of the book has occasional new material, but does not appear to have been extensively re-written.

It's a difficult and rewarding book. The difficulty lies partly in the subject matter itself, partly in Hudson's convoluted prose and partly in the numerous typographical errors that mar the 2003 Pluto Press edition.

The book is rewarding because it's honest. Readers educated in the U.S. will initially regard Hudson's account with some skepticism. We can't help it; We've been systematically miseducated by pro-U.S. polemics presented in an "objective" tone.

In contrast Hudson is a strident critic of the U.S. management of the global economy. But so is any reasonably objective person who is apprized of the facts. I much prefer an author who honestly tells you the real story as he understands it to one who conceals the awful truth behind an ostensibly impartial facade. But a "revisionist" has to work twice as hard to make his case, and that is why the book contains the detailed explication of what reviewer Myers calls the "intricacies of events and negotiations that gave rise to the present order."

I think an open-minded reader will be won over by Hudson's thoughtful use of contemporaneous sources (e.g. government publications and articles in the business press) and also biographical sources to illuminate how key decision makers understood the alternatives, and their motives for pursuing the policies that they did when forging the post-war economic order. As he places these choices in context it quickly becomes evident that the motives on the U.S. side have been consistently aggressive and that U.S. policy makers have all along viewed multilateral economic institutions as instruments of national policy--to the world's detriment.

Hudson also has a keen sense of the painfully narrow horizon of human foresight. The historical sections sometimes read like a conspiracy theory in which the conspirators are not very smart. E.g., Franklin Roosevelt's stubborn insistence that World War I debts be repaid prolonged the Great Depression; When J. M. Keynes was negotiating Bretton Woods for the newly elected Labour government, he got them a terrible deal; The U.S. transition to "super-imperialism" which is the main story of the book (chapters 11 through 14) was originally an unintended consequence of the huge budget and trade deficits caused by the Vietnam War.

If you are interested in "globalization" this book is an important piece of the puzzle, but it really only covers up through 1973, and it spends more time on the relationship between the U.S. and Europe than on "North-South" relations. Having said that, Ch. 8 "The Imperialism of U.S. Foreign Aid" is very good, esp. how foreign aid benefits the U.S. balance of payments and the harmful effects of U.S. agricultural exports. China is hardly mentioned.

If you are an economics student and you sense that they aren't telling you the whole story, or just a thoughtful citizen who wants to sharpen your conceptual tools for understanding and resisting the strategies of U.S. imperialism, this book is for you.

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Salty Saltillo (from the road, USA)

An awkward argument with moments of brilliance, November 3, 2004

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Hudson's historical argument in this book is both brilliant and sometimes a bit rough.

Hudson has always had a great talent for interpreting and sketching out for weaker minds like us what the US government's abandonment of the gold-standard really means. When Hudson came forward with his thesis in the mid 1970's, his thesis was outrageous among orthodox economists: to suggest that the US should be worried about the long-term consequences of running balance of payments deficits year after year, decade after decade was crazy leftist nonsense in the 1970s. As long as people continue to need the US markets more than the US needs any other one country's markets (and people still have faith in the good credit of the US government) there is no reason US could not run balance of payment deficits forever, according to the conventional wisdom.

What amazes me is that now, after having done exactly what Hudson warned the US government not to do in the 1970s, many otherwise relatively orthodox economists are beginning to worry about this. Hudson may be on the more "sky-is-falling" end of things, but his analysis was right on the nail in 1972 and is still there today: worst case scenario - massive recession and massive devaluation of the dollar (by massive I mean, unprecedented). Former US Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin was quoted in March 16, 2006 WSJ as saying that "The probabilities are extremely high that if we don't address these imbalances, then at some point, and it could be years down the road, we'll pay a very big price." We are in a limbo world where no one really knows how this problem is going to play out, but Hudson should be credited for being one of the first, and longest-running, advocates for addressing this problem. Too bad it has taken so many decades for people to recognize what he has been telling us all along about balance of payments deficits.

The rest of the argument Hudson makes in this book is a bit tough to follow, though. Essentially, Hudson attempts to show how the US has, during this century but especially since WWII, systematically sought to manipulate all of the great economic institution-building opportunities following WWII to advance the interests of the US over other countries. Coming off the gold standard and running up a balance of payments deficit was just one of many ways in which this occurred. The US largely succeeded. The GATT (now WTO), World Bank, IMF, all bear American "fingerprints".

I agree that the mega-institutions of the contemporary world economic and political machine are largely the unilateral creation of the US, imposed on the other great nations at a time when the other nations were particularly vulnerable to US force of will and not particular inclined to be heterodox visionaries. I also agree that the US in general has probably used as much leverage as it could in negotiating all of the defining institutions in which it had any hand in constructing.

And yet, how could it have been any different? National governments pursue their self-interest and the interest of their citizens, often at the expense of other national governments and their citizens. The nation-state system is set up to work that way. But is the problem really one of US bad behavior, as Hudson suggests? Isn't the problem really structural? In the nation-state world, wherein the world is divided up into pseudo-autonomous political monopolies, each individually endowed with particular strengths and weaknesses, and all pitted against each other in a laissez-faire system where the only things that keep nation-states from raping and killing each other to oblivion are, good faith and the fact that the balance of power among the nation-states is enough to keep each monopoly contained in its behavior towards the other monopolies, what sort of behavior could we have expected from the US, a nation-state that, at a series of pivotal moments in 20th century history, found itself with "golden opportunities" to take advantage of other nations' weaknesses and advance its own power? Would the French, or the Brits, or the Japanese, or the Italians, or the Germans, or the Russians have behaved any different if they found themselves holding all the cards in 1945 instead of the US?

My point is, the facts Hudson lays out are correct -- there clearly is a problem in the way in which our current world order has been put together and the US is at the middle of that problem. The conclusions Hudson draws from those facts do not go deep enough in understanding what those facts mean, however.

It isn't that the Americans behave or behaved "bad" by the standard of good behavior implicit in the nation-state system, it is that the nation-state system itself to a certain extent reflects 19th century laissez-faire values of autonomy and individuality that pit nation-states against each other in a world where each is out to improve its lot through trade and, when possible and tolerable, violence.

The system itself breaks down when one player becomes too powerful. To blame the US for the systemic problem of massive power imbalances between nation states is simply pushing any hope for correction in the wrong direction.

Samuel Brittan: The wrong kind of Third Way

FT.com / Columnists / Samuel Brittan - The wrong kind of Third Way: When a book entitled Supercapitalism: the Battle for Democracy in an Age of Big Business (Icon Books) landed on my desk I took it for just another of the many anti-capitalist diatribes so beloved by publishers. Its author was Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labour who parted company from the Clinton administration on the grounds that it was not interventionist enough. But I was glad I persevered. For it turned out to be one of the most interesting books on political economy to appear for a long time.

During the postwar decades up to the early 1970s, the Bretton Woods system of semi-fixed exchange rates worked, after a fashion; and countries seemed able to combine full employment with low inflation and historically rapid growth and diminishing income differences. Reich calls them a "not quite golden age". It was "not quite" because of the treatment of women and minorities and the prevailing conformist and authoritarian atmosphere.

It has been succeeded by what Reich calls supercapitalism, in which the cult of the bottom line has replaced the cosy oligopolies of postwar decades, once-dominant companies shrink or disappear, new ones spring up overnight and the financial sector is (or was until recently) in the driving seat. He rightly dismisses many of the popular scapegoats – or heroes – of the process. The changeover began well before Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher could influence anything. Free-market economists have been preaching essentially the same message since the 18th century. It is extremely unlikely that there has been a radical change in the psychology or morality of business operators. His own candidate is the technologies that have empowered consumers and investors to get ever better deals.

Unfortunately, many of these same consumers have lost in their capacity as citizens. He cites the failure of the political process even to attempt to correct the increasing skewness of US income distribution. In later pronouncements he has attributed the subprime loan disaster in part to the failure of supercapitalism to raise the incomes of the mass of wage earners who have been impelled to resort to borrowing as a substitute. Moreover, Congress has performed abysmally in correcting market failures in environmental and other areas. He has a non-partisan explanation: the staggering increase in business lobbying expenditures affecting Democrats as well as Republicans, as a result of which the political process, far from correcting the distortions of unbridled capitalism, has made them worse.

But for me the novel point of the book is his utter dismissal of the prevailing idea of appealing to the "social responsibility" of business to improve matters. This is a notion that particularly appeals to soft centre politicians such as David Cameron's Conservatives in Britain as a new kind of Third Way. Reich argues that it is the job of the democratic political process by laws, taxes and other interventions to harmonise the pursuit of money-making with the public good. "The job of the businessman is to make profits." He is completely unabashed by the charge that he sounds like Milton Friedman and indeed quotes the late Chicago professor approvingly several times. He argues that the so-called stakeholders who insist on being consulted before legislation is drafted are increasingly companies whose interests might be affected. One result is the "corruption of knowledge". We should beware of claims that a company is doing something for the public good. Corporate executives may donate some of their shareholders' money to a genuinely good cause or forbear from polluting the atmosphere to forestall a greater legal or fiscal burden. But in that case such actions are likely to be limited and temporary, "extending only insofar as the conditions that made such voluntary action pay off continue".

Similarly we should beware of a politician who blames a company for doing something that is legal. Such words are all too often a cover "for taking no action to change the rules of the game". Above all, "corporations are not people. They are legal fictions, nothing more than bundles of contractual agreements ... A company cannot know right from wrong ... Only people know right from wrong and only people act." One example of the "anthropomorphic fallacy" is when companies are held criminally liable for the misdeeds of their executives. Not only are the genuinely guilty let off too lightly but many innocent people get hurt. For instance, "the vast majority of Andersen employees had nothing to do with Enron but lost their jobs nonetheless".

I have two reservations. One is that I cannot share Reich's confidence that a revived and effective "democracy" would be a cure-all. You only have to see where democratic pressures are driving US energy policy. Second, there is a danger that the Friedman-Reich position could inadvertently give sustenance to the "I was only doing my job" defence for evil actions. You do not have to hold shares in a company selling arms to Saudi Arabia, or work for it. But do not deceive yourself that such individual gestures can be a substitute for a change in policy.

Supercapitalism The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life by Robert B. Reich

Amazon.com

The Balance of Capitalism and Democracy, September 17, 2007

By Izaak VanGaalen (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER) (REAL NAME)

This review is from: Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life (Hardcover)

According to Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, there was a time when capitalism and democracy where almost perfectly balanced. This was the period of 1945 to 1975, which he calls the "Not Quite Golden Age." During this period there was a three-way social contract among big business, big labor, and big government. Each made sure that they as well as the other two received a fair share of the pie. Unions recieved their wages and benefits, business their profits, and regulatory agencies had their power. It was also a time when the gap between the rich and the poor was the narrowest in our history. It was not quite the golden age because women and minorities were still second class citizens, but at least there was hope.

Fast forward to 2007, capitalism is thriving and democracy is sputtering. Why has capitlism become supercapitalism and democracy become enfeebled? Reich explains that it was a combination of things: deregulation, globe spanning computer networks, better transportation, etc. The changes were mainly a result of technological breakthroughs; unlike many leftists, he is not conspiratorial thinker. The winner of this great transformation was the consumer/investor and the loser was the citizen/wage earner. The consumer has more choices than ever before and at reasonable prices. The investor has unprecedented opportunities to make profits. The citzen, however, is not doing well. The average citizen does not have much voice - other than voting - in the body politic. And on the wage earner has been stagnating for many years. The most salient illustration of this trend is Walmart. Walmart delivers the goods at low prices, but the trade-off is low wages for their employees. We justify this dilemma, as Reich nicely puts it, because "The awkward truth is that most of us are of two minds."

As a left-leaning author, Reich makes some startling pronouncements. One, stop treating corporations as human beings. They are neither moral or immoral, they are merely "bundles of contracts." I couldn't agree more. Stop expecting corporations to be socially responsible, see them for what they are: profit-seeking organizations. Any socially responsible action is a ruse to bolster the bottom line anyway. Don't even encourage them to be socially responsible because it will wrongly lead us to believe that they are solving problems when they are not. Corporations play by the rules that they are given and it is up to citizens and their elected representatives to change the rules.

This is no easy task in the age of supercapitalism. There are currently 38,000 registered lobbyists in Washington DC in a virtual arms race of spending with each other to buy favors from our so-called representatives. The only way citizens can compete with this is not by hiring more lobbyists but advocating through new media outlets such as the internet and cable tv. This, according to Reich, is currently to most effective way to make government more responsive.

The question that remains, after reading this book, is will consumers be willing to sacrifice their low prices to achieve their goals as citizens. If the answer is yes, we can possibly rebalance the equation between democracy and capitalism; if not, we are left to the not so tender mercies of supercapitalism.

Robert Reich makes a compelling argument that supercapitalism has robbed democracy of much of its power. Supercapitalism by the definition presented in the book is simple--the consumer is king and prices ALWAYS go down. What Reich looks at is the cost of low prices to companies, society, the individual and its impact on the workings of democracy. So how is democracy compromised? Reich also points out that the rise of different lobbying groups, the cost of politics and globalization as contributing to this process. This isn't a surprise. It has just become more pronounced with time.

It's not due to some large conspiracy or any hidden political agenda as much as it is driven by consumption. Ultimately Reich argues that it robs the common citizen of any control over democracy. It's not surprising that this is a highly charged issue because the economics of what benefits society (or "the common good" as Reich calls it)often gets tangled up in the web of politics. Reich also points out that the cost of supercompetitiveness, constantly falling prices is a loss to the economic and social health of America. Reich points out that everyone wants to get the lowest price possible but he also suggests that we must balance that with our desire to have decent wages and benefits. He also points out that the move towards regulation was initiated by government and that corporations went along because it kept out competition and guaranteed a top and bottom for prices allowing companies to get a profit without fear of cutting prices so low that it would put them out of business.

I should point out that this is an oversimplification of Reich's points but it does capture some of the concepts. He also makes some suggestions that would help keep the free market afloat without undermining democracy and allowing consumers to still benefit from competitive pricing. Since this is economics we are discussing politics is mixed in and might color whether or not you agree with his points.

Reich's style is breezy for a book that looks at economics, democracy and the erosion of wages, benefits. Reich comes across as fair balanced and thoughtful even as he sells his take on what is undermining American society. Ultimately it's a worthwhile book to read simply because it opens up dialogue on the social cost of constantly lowering prices and how it impacts those who live next door to us

Aftershock The Next Economy and America's Future by Robert B. Reich

Amazon.com

Every middle class American should read this book. Many observations about income disparities have been written up lately but Reich pulls the important points together in a powerful and accessible way.

Reich's main thesis is that the current transition the US economy is under is misunderstood. Many of the policy elite (Geithner, Volcker) have repeated the familiar claim that Americans are living beyond their means. Personally I don't discount that completely but Reich's insight goes much deeper and rings truer:

"The problem was not that American spent beyond their means but that their means had not kept up with what the larger economy could and should have been able to provide them."

"We cannot have a sustained recovery until we address it. ... Until this transformation is made, our economy will continue to experience phantom recoveries and speculative bubbles, each more distressing than the one before."

Anyone looking at the unemployment data since WWII has to wonder why the unemployment component of the last three recessions is so prolonged. Instead of a sharp trend up, there are long slopes of delayed returns to peak employment. (Google "calculated risk blog" and look at Dec. 2010 articles.) I believe Reich has demonstrated the main culprit this. To be clear, he is not describing the detailed mechanics of what triggered the Great Recession. (Nouriel Roubini has a good book that I would recommend for more on the financial fraud, leverage and credit risks involved - Crisis Economics: A Crash Course in the Future of Finance. ) But Reich is taking a long term view and exposes a dysfunctional trait of the US economy that no one can afford to ignore. It is this weakness that will delay the current recovery and continue to create greater risks in the future.

Reich draws the parallels between the Great Depression and the Great Recession, particularly the imbalance of wealth concentrated in fewer hands and middle class workers with less income to convert into consumer demand. One of the fascinating devices he found to do this was the writings of Marriner Eccles (Fed chair between '34 to '48):

"As mass production has to be accompanied by mass consumption, mass consumption, in turn, implies a distribution of wealth - not of existing wealth, but of wealth as it is currently produced - to provide men with buying power equal to the amount of goods and services offered by the nation's economic machinery. Instead of achieving that kind of distribution, a giant suction pump had by 1929-1930 drawn into a few hands an increasing portion of currently produced wealth. This served them as capital accumulations. But by taking purchasing power out of the hands of mass consumers, the savers denied to themselves the kind of effective demand for their products that would justify a reinvestment of their capital accumulations in new plants. In consequence as in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When their credit ran out, the game stopped."

Reich also shares a couple of powerful and disturbing graphs that show how the middle class has been squeezed and also how since the late 70s, hourly wages have not only not kept up with the rise in productivity but have remained essentially flat.

Another driving theme Reich presents is the "basic bargain" and he evokes Henry Ford, the man that took mass production to new heights and paid his workers well:

"[Henry] Ford understood the basic economic bargain that lay at the heart of a modern, highly productive economy. Workers are also consumers. Their earnings are continuously recycled to buy the goods and services other workers produce. But if earnings are inadequate and this basic bargain is broken, an economy produces more goods and services than its people are capable of purchasing."

I was concerned early in the book that Reich would leave out some of the important complexities of the topic but he covered related finances, politics and even consumer/voter psychology in a succinct yet informative way. His summary of changes to the labor market in the last 30+ years was very good.

His ideas for correcting this were interesting if perhaps difficult to implement politically. My take away however was that this is a strong indicator of how bad he thinks the situation really is. Many Americans may be yearning to return to "normal". Reich is the first to thoroughly convince me that it is not going to happen.

This is a very quick read of 144 pages and is well worth the time.

Finance is a form of imperial warfare

As Michael Hudson aptly noted in Replacing Economic Democracy with Financial Oligarchy (2011)

Finance is a form of warfare. Like military conquest, its aim is to gain control of land, public infrastructure, and to impose tribute. This involves dictating laws to its subjects, and concentrating social as well as economic planning in centralized hands. This is what now is being done by financial means, without the cost to the aggressor of fielding an army. But the economies under attacked may be devastated as deeply by financial stringency as by military attack when it comes to demographic shrinkage, shortened life spans, emigration and capital flight.

This attack is being mounted not by nation states as such, but by a cosmopolitan financial class. Finance always has been cosmopolitan more than nationalistic – and always has sought to impose its priorities and lawmaking power over those of parliamentary democracies.

Like any monopoly or vested interest, the financial strategy seeks to block government power to regulate or tax it. From the financial vantage point, the ideal function of government is to enhance and protect finance capital and "the miracle of compound interest" that keeps fortunes multiplying exponentially, faster than the economy can grow, until they eat into the economic substance and do to the economy what predatory creditors and rentiers did to the Roman Empire.

Simon Johnson, former IMF Chief Economist, is coming out in May's 2009 edition of The Atlantic with a fascinating, highly provocative piece, on the collusion between the US' "financial oligarchy" and the US government and how its persistence will contribute to prolonging the economic crisis. Here is the summary (hat tip to Global Conditions):

One thing you learn rather quickly when working at the International Monetary Fund is that no one is ever very happy to see you (…)

The reason, of course, is that the IMF specializes in telling its clients what they don't want to hear.(…)

No, the real concern of the fund's senior staff, and the biggest obstacle to recovery, is almost invariably the politics of countries in crisis. (…)

Typically, these countries are in a desperate economic situation for one simple reason-the powerful elites within them overreached in good times and took too many risks. Emerging-market governments and their private-sector allies commonly form a tight-knit-and, most of the time, genteel-oligarchy, running the country rather like a profit-seeking company in which they are the controlling shareholders (…)

Many IMF programs "go off track" (a euphemism) precisely because the government can't stay tough on erstwhile cronies, and the consequences are massive inflation or other disasters. A program "goes back on track" once the government prevails or powerful oligarchs sort out among themselves who will govern-and thus win or lose-under the IMF-supported plan. (…)

In its depth and suddenness, the U.S. economic and financial crisis is shockingly reminiscent of moments we have recently seen in emerging markets (…).

(…) elite business interests-financiers, in the case of the U.S.-played a central role in creating the crisis, making ever-larger gambles, with the implicit backing of the government, until the inevitable collapse. More alarming, they are now using their influence to prevent precisely the sorts of reforms that are needed, and fast, to pull the economy out of its nosedive. The government seems helpless, or unwilling, to act against them.

Top investment bankers and government officials like to lay the blame for the current crisis on the lowering of U.S. interest rates after the dotcom bust or, even better-in a "buck stops somewhere else" sort of way-on the flow of savings out of China. Some on the right like to complain about Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, or even about longer-standing efforts to promote broader homeownership. And, of course, it is axiomatic to everyone that the regulators responsible for "safety and soundness" were fast asleep at the wheel.

But these various policies-lightweight regulation, cheap money, the unwritten Chinese-American economic alliance, the promotion of homeownership-had something in common. Even though some are traditionally associated with Democrats and some with Republicans, they all benefited the financial sector. Policy changes that might have forestalled the crisis but would have limited the financial sector's profits-such as Brooksley Born's now-famous attempts to regulate credit-default swaps at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, in 1998-were ignored or swept aside.

The financial industry has not always enjoyed such favored treatment. But for the past 25 years or so, finance has boomed, becoming ever more powerful. The boom began with the Reagan years, and it only gained strength with the deregulatory policies of the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

(…) the American financial industry gained political power by amassing a kind of cultural capital-a belief system. Once, perhaps, what was good for General Motors was good for the country. Over the past decade, the attitude took hold that what was good for Wall Street was good for the country. (…)

One channel of influence was, of course, the flow of individuals between Wall Street and Washington. Robert Rubin, once the co-chairman of Goldman Sachs, served in Washington as Treasury secretary under Clinton, and later became chairman of Citigroup's executive committee. Henry Paulson, CEO of Goldman Sachs during the long boom, became Treasury secretary under George W.Bush. John Snow, Paulson's predecessor, left to become chairman of Cerberus Capital Management, a large private-equity firm that also counts Dan Quayle among its executives. Alan Greenspan, after leaving the Federal Reserve, became a consultant to Pimco, perhaps the biggest player in international bond markets.

A whole generation of policy makers has been mesmerized by Wall Street, always and utterly convinced that whatever the banks said was true (…).

By now, the princes of the financial world have of course been stripped naked as leaders and strategists-at least in the eyes of most Americans. But as the months have rolled by, financial elites have continued to assume that their position as the economy's favored children is safe, despite the wreckage they have caused (…)

Throughout the crisis, the government has taken extreme care not to upset the interests of the financial institutions, or to question the basic outlines of the system that got us here. In September 2008, Henry Paulson asked Congress for $700 billion to buy toxic assets from banks, with no strings attached and no judicial review of his purchase decisions. Many observers suspected that the purpose was to overpay for those assets and thereby take the problem off the banks' hands-indeed, that is the only way that buying toxic assets would have helped anything. Perhaps because there was no way to make such a blatant subsidy politically acceptable, that plan was shelved.

Instead, the money was used to recapitalize banks, buying shares in them on terms that were grossly favorable to the banks themselves. As the crisis has deepened and financial institutions have needed more help, the government has gotten more and more creative in figuring out ways to provide banks with subsidies that are too complex for the general public to understand (…)

The challenges the United States faces are familiar territory to the people at the IMF. If you hid the name of the country and just showed them the numbers, there is no doubt what old IMF hands would say: nationalize troubled banks and break them up as necessary (…)

In some ways, of course, the government has already taken control of the banking system. It has essentially guaranteed the liabilities of the biggest banks, and it is their only plausible source of capital today.

Ideally, big banks should be sold in medium-size pieces, divided regionally or by type of business. Where this proves impractical-since we'll want to sell the banks quickly-they could be sold whole, but with the requirement of being broken up within a short time. Banks that remain in private hands should also be subject to size limitations.

This may seem like a crude and arbitrary step, but it is the best way to limit the power of individual institutions in a sector that is essential to the economy as a whole. Of course, some people will complain about the "efficiency costs" of a more fragmented banking system, and these costs are real. But so are the costs when a bank that is too big to fail-a financial weapon of mass self-destruction-explodes. Anything that is too big to fail is too big to exist.

To ensure systematic bank breakup, and to prevent the eventual reemergence of dangerous behemoths, we also need to overhaul our antitrust legislation (…)

Caps on executive compensation, while redolent of populism, might help restore the political balance of power and deter the emergence of a new oligarchy. (…)

(…) Over time, though, the largest part may involve more transparency and competition, which would bring financial-industry fees down. To those who say this would drive financial activities to other countries, we can now safely say: fine".

The nature of financial oligarchy is such that the government's capacity to take control of an entire financial system, and to clean, slice it up and re-privatize it impartially is almost non-existent. Instead we have growing, potentially corrupt, collusion between financial elites and government officials which is hall mark of corporatism in this more modern form on neoliberalism.

The Great Deception

In 1998 Mark Curtis wrote The Great Deception: Anglo-American Power and World Order, a work whose stated goal was to shed light on various myths of Anglo-American power in the post-Cold War era.

Curtis attempts to demonstrate how the United Kingdom remained a key partner of the United States' effort to enforce their hegemony in the world. He analyzes what he refers to as a special relationship between the two countries and concludes that quite serious consequences exist for both states.

Trade for life

Trade for Life: Making Trade Work for Poor People is a work published in 2001. It is a strong critique of the function of international organizations, especially the World Trade Organization (WTO). Curtis analyzes the decisions taken by the WTO in developing states and concludes that these decisions were seldom without bias against the poor countries; he claims that certain of these decisions, notably certain structural adjustments, caused their intended benefactors more harm than good. Further, Curtis regrets that some rules are lacking when their need is called for, noting the relative lack of regulation checking the growth of power of multinational companies. A partner of Christian Aid in Zimbabwe has said that "the manner in which the WTO functions, is like placing an adult against a child in a boxing ring, like Manchester United against a local Zimbabwean team.

The WTO judges all countries on the same level, while they are not the same. The WTO must help create a situation where countries are more equal." This is a quotation that Mark Curtis recycles throughout his book.

Curtis concludes by saying that market forces can be used in a different, more egalitarian, manner than the one currently employed by the WTO. He believes that it could benefit developing nations if this goal was pursued.

His book was edited by ChristianAid while Mark Curtis was "Policy and Politics" Director and is freely available.

Web of Deceit

In 2003 Mark Curtis published Web of Deceit: Britain's Real Role in the World. This book has been his most successful to date. It offers a new academic approach to the role of the United Kingdom in the post 1945 world until the current the War on Terrorism. It further criticizes the foreign policy of Tony Blair. Curtis, defending the idea that Britain is a rogue state, describes various relations the United Kingdom undertook with repressive regimes and how he thinks these actions made the world less just.

Moreover, the book analyzes various recent actions of the British Army in the world, describing not only what he characterizes as the immorality of the War in Iraq, but also of the War in Afghanistan, and the Kosovo War. Curtis denounces equally strongly Britain's alliances with states he categorizes as repressive, such as Israel, Russia, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. Additionally, he details and criticizes the non-intervention of Britain in the Rwandan Genocide.

Curtis draws most of his research from recently declassified documents by the British secret service. He notably claims to demonstrate the role and complicity of the British in the massacre of millions of Indonesians in 1965, the toppling of the governments of Iran and British Guyana, and what he describes as repressive colonial policies in the former colonies of Kenya, Oman, and Malaysia.

Unpeople

In 2004, Mark Curtis published Unpeople: Britain's Secret Human Rights Abuses. This book followed a similar line of thought begun in Web of Deceit. Unpeople is based on various declassified documents from the British secret service.

Among the declassified secret service reports, Curtis asserts that the United Kingdom had given aid to Saddam Hussein in 1963 in order that he rised to power in Iraq; he further posits that the Western Powers, notably the UK, performed various arms deals with the Iraqi government while the Iraqi government was involved in the brutal aggression against the Kurdish community. Curtis asserts that these documents further indict the British government in their role played in the Vietnam War, the coup d'État against Idi Amin in 1971, the coup d'État against Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973, and coups in Indonesia and Guyana.

Mark Curtis estimates that approximately ten million deaths throughout the world since 1945 have been caused by the United Kingdom's foreign policy.

Alliance of transnational elites

From Amazon review of Blowback The Costs and Consequences of American Empire Chalmers Johnson

But Johnson is relying on the idea that "America" is a unitary entity, so that the hollowing out of industry hurts "America", not specific social groups within the country. In reality, US foreign policymakers work to advance the interests not of "America", but of those same business elites that have benefited from turning Asia into the world's sweatshop and undermining the unions that built their strength on American industry. American economic imperialism is not a failed conspiracy against the people of Asia, but an alliance between American elites and their Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, and Chinese counterparts - against the potential power of the working majority in all those countries.

But it's more complex than that, too, since the US seeks to prevent the emergence of an independent military challenge (especially China, but also Japan) to its Asia hegemony while seeking to expand the power of American commercial interests in the region, even as it tries to keep Asian elites happy enough with the status quo to prevent their rebellion against it.

In other words, the US system in Asia is more complicated than Johnson conveys, and defending America's mythical "national interests" will never address its fundamental injustices.

While Johnson seems to have abundant sympathy for the people of Asia, his nationalist framework prevents his from proposing the only real challenge to American hegemony: a popular anti-imperialist movement that crosses the barriers of nation-states.

Imperialism 101 by Micjael Parenti

Imperialism 101 By Michael Parenti

By Michael Parenti

24 June, 2011
Michaelparenti.org

Imperialism has been the most powerful force in world history over the last four or five centuries, carving up whole continents while oppressing indigenous peoples and obliterating entire civilizations. Yet, it is seldom accorded any serious attention by our academics, media commentators, and political leaders. When not ignored outright, the subject of imperialism has been sanitized, so that empires become "commonwealths," and colonies become "territories" or "dominions" (or, as in the case of Puerto Rico, "commonwealths" too). Imperialist military interventions become matters of "national defense," "national security," and maintaining "stability" in one or another region. In this book I want to look at imperialism for what it really is.

Across the Entire Globe

By "imperialism" I mean the process whereby the dominant politico-economic interests of one nation expropriate for their own enrichment the land, labor, raw materials, and markets of another people.The earliest victims of Western European imperialism were other Europeans. Some 800 years ago, Ireland became the first colony of what later became known as the British empire. A part of Ireland still remains under British occupation. Other early Caucasian victims included the Eastern Europeans. The people Charlemagne worked to death in his mines in the early part of the ninth century were Slavs. So frequent and prolonged was the enslavement of Eastern Europeans that "Slav" became synonymous with servitude. Indeed, the word "slave" derives from "Slav." Eastern Europe was an early source of capital accumulation, having become wholly dependent upon Western manufactures by the seventeenth century.

A particularly pernicious example of intra-European imperialism was the Nazi aggression during World War II, which gave the German business cartels and the Nazi state an opportunity to plunder the resources and exploit the labor of occupied Europe, including the slave labor of concentration camps.

The preponderant thrust of the European, North American, and Japanese imperial powers has been directed against Africa, Asia, and Latin America. By the nineteenth century, they saw the Third World as not only a source of raw materials and slaves but a market for manufactured goods. By the twentieth century, the industrial nations were exporting not only goods but capital, in the form of machinery, technology, investments, and loans. To say that we have entered the stage of capital export and investment is not to imply that the plunder of natural resources has ceased. If anything, the despoliation has accelerated.

Of the various notions about imperialism circulating today in the United States, the dominant view is that it does not exist. Imperialism is not recognized as a legitimate concept, certainly not in regard to the United States. One may speak of "Soviet imperialism" or "nineteenth-century British imperialism" but not of U.S. imperialism. A graduate student in political science at most universities in this country would not be granted the opportunity to research U.S. imperialism, on the grounds that such an undertaking would not be scholarly. While many people throughout the world charge the United States with being an imperialist power, in this country persons who talk of U.S. imperialism are usually judged to be mouthing ideological blather.

The Dynamic of Capital Expansion

Imperialism is older than capitalism. The Persian, Macedonian, Roman, and Mongol empires all existed centuries before the Rothschilds and Rockefellers. Emperors and conquistadors were interested mostly in plunder and tribute, gold and glory. Capitalist imperialism differs from these earlier forms in the way it systematically accumulates capital through the organized exploitation of labor and the penetration of overseas markets. Capitalist imperialism invests in other countries, transforming and dominating their economies, cultures, and political life, integrating their financial and productive structures into an international system of capital accumulation.A central imperative of capitalism is expansion. Investors will not put their money into business ventures unless they can extract more than they invest. Increased earnings come only with a growth in the enterprise. The capitalist ceaselessly searches for ways of making more money in order to make still more money. One must always invest to realize profits, gathering as much strength as possible in the face of competing forces and unpredictable markets.

Given its expansionist nature, capitalism has little inclination to stay home. Almost 150 years ago, Marx and Engels described a bourgeoisie that "chases over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere. . . . It creates a world after its own image." The expansionists destroy whole societies. Self-sufficient peoples are forcibly transformed into disfranchised wage workers. Indigenous communities and folk cultures are replaced by mass-market, mass-media, consumer societies. Cooperative lands are supplanted by agribusiness factory farms, villages by desolate shanty towns, autonomous regions by centralized autocracies.

Consider one of a thousand such instances. A few years ago the Los Angeles Times carried a special report on the rainforests of Borneo in the South Pacific. By their own testimony, the people there lived contented lives. They hunted, fished, and raised food in their jungle orchards and groves. But their entire way of life was ruthlessly wiped out by a few giant companies that destroyed the rainforest in order to harvest the hardwood for quick profits. Their lands were turned into ecological disaster areas and they themselves were transformed into disfranchised shantytown dwellers, forced to work for subsistence wages-when fortunate enough to find employment.

North American and European corporations have acquired control of more than three-fourths of the known mineral resources of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. But the pursuit of natural resources is not the only reason for capitalist overseas expansion. There is the additional need to cut production costs and maximize profits by investing in countries with cheaper labor markets. U.S. corporate foreign investment grew 84 percent from 1985 to 1990, the most dramatic increase being in cheap-labor countries like South Korea, Taiwan, Spain, and Singapore.

Because of low wages, low taxes, nonexistent work benefits, weak labor unions, and nonexistent occupational and environmental protections, U.S. corporate profit rates in the Third World are 50 percent greater than in developed countries. Citibank, one of the largest U.S. firms, earns about 75 percent of its profits from overseas operations. While profit margins at home sometimes have had a sluggish growth, earnings abroad have continued to rise dramatically, fostering the development of what has become known as the multinational or transnational corporation. Today some four hundred transnational companies control about 80 percent of the capital assets of the global free market and are extending their grasp into the ex-communist countries of Eastern Europe.

Transnationals have developed a global production line. General Motors has factories that produce cars, trucks and a wide range of auto components in Canada, Brazil, Venezuela, Spain, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Nigeria, Singapore, Philippines, South Africa, South Korea and a dozen other countries. Such "multiple sourcing" enables GM to ride out strikes in one country by stepping up production in another, playing workers of various nations against each other in order to discourage wage and benefit demands and undermine labor union strategies.

Not Necessary, Just Compelling

Some writers question whether imperialism is a necessary condition for capitalism, pointing out that most Western capital is invested in Western nations, not in the Third World. If corporations lost all their Third World investments, they argue, many of them could still survive on their European and North American markets. In response, one should note that capitalism might be able to survive without imperialism-but it shows no inclination to do so. It manifests no desire to discard its enormously profitable Third World enterprises. Imperialism may not be a necessary condition for investor survival but it seems to be an inherent tendency and a natural outgrowth of advanced capitalism. Imperial relations may not be the only way to pursue profits, but they are the most lucrative way.Whether imperialism is necessary for capitalism is really not the question. Many things that are not absolutely necessary are still highly desirable, therefore strongly preferred and vigorously pursued. Overseas investors find the Third World's cheap labor, vital natural resources, and various other highly profitable conditions to be compellingly attractive. Superprofits may not be necessary for capitalism's survival but survival is not all that capitalists are interested in. Superprofits are strongly preferred to more modest earnings. That there may be no necessity between capitalism and imperialism does not mean there is no compelling linkage.

The same is true of other social dynamics. For instance, wealth does not necessarily have to lead to luxurious living. A higher portion of an owning class's riches could be used for investment rather personal consumption. The very wealthy could survive on more modest sums but that is not how most of them prefer to live. Throughout history, wealthy classes generally have shown a preference for getting the best of everything. After all, the whole purpose of getting rich off other people's labor is to live well, avoiding all forms of thankless toil and drudgery, enjoying superior opportunities for lavish life-styles, medical care, education, travel, recreation, security, leisure, and opportunities for power and prestige. While none of these things are really "necessary," they are fervently clung to by those who possess them-as witnessed by the violent measures endorsed by advantaged classes whenever they feel the threat of an equalizing or leveling democratic force.

Myths of Underdevelopment

The impoverished lands of Asia, Africa, and Latin America are known to us as the "Third World," to distinguish them from the "First World" of industrialized Europe and North America and the now largely defunct "Second World" of communist states. Third World poverty, called "underdevelopment," is treated by most Western observers as an original historic condition. We are asked to believe that it always existed, that poor countries are poor because their lands have always been infertile or their people unproductive. In fact, the lands of Asia, Africa, and Latin America have long produced great treasures of foods, minerals and other natural resources. That is why the Europeans went through all the trouble to steal and plunder them. One does not go to poor places for self-enrichment. The Third World is rich. Only its people are poor-and it is because of the pillage they have endured.

The process of expropriating the natural resources of the Third World began centuries ago and continues to this day. First, the colonizers extracted gold, silver, furs, silks, and spices, then flax, hemp, timber, molasses, sugar, rum, rubber, tobacco, calico, cocoa, coffee, cotton, copper, coal, palm oil, tin, iron, ivory, ebony, and later on, oil, zinc, manganese, mercury, platinum, cobalt, bauxite, aluminum, and uranium. Not to be overlooked is that most hellish of all expropriations: the abduction of millions of human beings into slave labor.

Through the centuries of colonization, many self-serving imperialist theories have been spun. I was taught in school that people in tropical lands are slothful and do not work as hard as we denizens of the temperate zone. In fact, the inhabitants of warm climates have performed remarkably productive feats, building magnificent civilizations well before Europe emerged from the Dark Ages. And today they often work long, hard hours for meager sums. Yet the early stereotype of the "lazy native" is still with us. In every capitalist society, the poor-both domestic and overseas-regularly are blamed for their own condition.

We hear that Third World peoples are culturally retarded in their attitudes, customs, and technical abilities. It is a convenient notion embraced by those who want to depict Western investments as a rescue operation designed to help backward peoples help themselves. This myth of "cultural backwardness" goes back to ancient times, when conquerors used it to justify enslaving indigenous peoples. It was used by European colonizers over the last five centuries for the same purpose.

What cultural supremacy could by claimed by the Europeans of yore? From the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries Europe was "ahead" in a variety of things, such as the number of hangings, murders, and other violent crimes; instances of venereal disease, smallpox, typhoid, tuberculosis, plagues, and other bodily afflictions; social inequality and poverty (both urban and rural); mistreatment of women and children; and frequency of famines, slavery, prostitution, piracy, religious massacres, and inquisitional torture. Those who claim the West has been the most advanced civilization should keep such "achievements" in mind.

More seriously, we might note that Europe enjoyed a telling advantage in navigation and armaments. Muskets and cannon, Gatling guns and gunboats, and today missiles, helicopter gunships, and fighter bombers have been the deciding factors when West meets East and North meets South. Superior firepower, not superior culture, has brought the Europeans and Euro-North Americans to positions of supremacy that today are still maintained by force, though not by force alone.

It was said that colonized peoples were biologically backward and less evolved than their colonizers. Their "savagery" and "lower" level of cultural evolution were emblematic of their inferior genetic evolution. But were they culturally inferior? In many parts of what is now considered the Third World, people developed impressive skills in architecture, horticulture, crafts, hunting, fishing, midwifery, medicine, and other such things. Their social customs were often far more gracious and humane and less autocratic and repressive than anything found in Europe at that time. Of course we must not romanticize these indigenous societies, some of which had a number of cruel and unusual practices of their own. But generally, their peoples enjoyed healthier, happier lives, with more leisure time, than did most of Europe's inhabitants.

Other theories enjoy wide currency. We hear that Third World poverty is due to overpopulation, too many people having too many children to feed. Actually, over the last several centuries, many Third World lands have been less densely populated than certain parts of Europe. India has fewer people per acre-but more poverty-than Holland, Wales, England, Japan, Italy, and a few other industrial countries. Furthermore, it is the industrialized nations of the First World, not the poor ones of the Third, that devour some 80 percent of the world's resources and pose the greatest threat to the planet's ecology.

This is not to deny that overpopulation is a real problem for the planet's ecosphere. Limiting population growth in all nations would help the global environment but it would not solve the problems of the poor-because overpopulation in itself is not the cause of poverty but one of its effects. The poor tend to have large families because children are a source of family labor and income and a support during old age.

Frances Moore Lappe and Rachel Schurman found that of seventy Third World countries, there were six-China, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Chile, Burma, and Cuba-and the state of Kerala in India that had managed to lower their birth rates by one third. They enjoyed neither dramatic industrial expansion nor high per capita incomes nor extensive family planning programs. The factors they had in common were public education and health care, a reduction of economic inequality, improvements in women's rights, food subsidies, and in some cases land reform. In other words, fertility rates were lowered not by capitalist investments and economic growth as such but by socio-economic betterment, even of a modest scale, accompanied by the emergence of women's rights.

Artificially Converted to Poverty

What is called "underdevelopment" is a set of social relations that has been forcefully imposed on countries. With the advent of the Western colonizers, the peoples of the Third World were actually set back in their development sometimes for centuries. British imperialism in India provides an instructive example. In 1810, India was exporting more textiles to England than England was exporting to India. By 1830, the trade flow was reversed. The British had put up prohibitive tariff barriers to shut out Indian finished goods and were dumping their commodities in India, a practice backed by British gunboats and military force. Within a matter of years, the great textile centers of Dacca and Madras were turned into ghost towns. The Indians were sent back to the land to raise the cotton used in British textile factories. In effect, India was reduced to being a cow milked by British financiers. By 1850, India's debt had grown to 53 million pounds. From 1850 to 1900, its per capita income dropped by almost two-thirds. The value of the raw materials and commodities the Indians were obliged to send to Britain during most of the nineteenth century amounted yearly to more than the total income of the sixty million Indian agricultural and industrial workers. The massive poverty we associate with India was not that country's original historical condition. British imperialism did two things: first, it ended India's development, then it forcibly underdeveloped that country.

Similar bleeding processes occurred throughout the Third World. The enormous wealth extracted should remind us that there originally were few really poor nations. Countries like Brazil, Indonesia, Chile, Bolivia, Zaire, Mexico, Malaysia, and the Philippines were and sometimes still are rich in resources. Some lands have been so thoroughly plundered as to be desolate in all respects. However, most of the Third World is not "underdeveloped" but overexploited. Western colonization and investments have created a lower rather than a higher living standard.

Referring to what the English colonizers did to the Irish, Frederick Engels wrote in 1856: "How often have the Irish started out to achieve something, and every time they have been crushed politically and industrially. By consistent oppression they have been artificially converted into an utterly impoverished nation." So with most of the Third World. The Mayan Indians in Guatemala had a more nutritious and varied diet and better conditions of health in the early 16th century before the Europeans arrived than they have today. They had more craftspeople, architects, artisans, and horticulturists than today. What is called underdevelopment is not an original historical condition but a product of imperialism's superexploitation. Underdevelopment is itself a development.

Imperialism has created what I have termed "maldevelopment": modern office buildings and luxury hotels in the capital city instead of housing for the poor, cosmetic surgery clinics for the affluent instead of hospitals for workers, cash export crops for agribusiness instead of food for local markets, highways that go from the mines and latifundios to the refineries and ports instead of roads in the back country for those who might hope to see a doctor or a teacher.

Wealth is transferred from Third World peoples to the economic elites of Europe and North America (and more recently Japan) by direct plunder, by the expropriation of natural resources, the imposition of ruinous taxes and land rents, the payment of poverty wages, and the forced importation of finished goods at highly inflated prices. The colonized country is denied the freedom of trade and the opportunity to develop its own natural resources, markets, and industrial capacity. Self-sustenance and self-employment gives way to wage labor. From 1970 to 1980, the number of wage workers in the Third World grew from 72 million to 120 million, and the rate is accelerating.

Hundreds of millions of Third World peoples now live in destitution in remote villages and congested urban slums, suffering hunger, disease, and illiteracy, often because the land they once tilled is now controlled by agribusiness firms who use it for mining or for commercial export crops such as coffee, sugar, and beef, instead of growing beans, rice, and corn for home consumption. A study of twenty of the poorest countries, compiled from official statistics, found that the number of people living in what is called "absolute poverty" or rockbottom destitution, the poorest of the poor, is rising 70,000 a day and should reach 1.5 billion by the year 2000 (San Francisco Examiner, June 8, 1994).

Imperialism forces millions of children around the world to live nightmarish lives, their mental and physical health severely damaged by endless exploitation. A documentary film on the Discovery Channel (April 24, 1994) reported that in countries like Russia, Thailand, and the Philippines, large numbers of minors are sold into prostitution to help their desperate families survive. In countries like Mexico, India, Colombia, and Egypt, children are dragooned into health-shattering, dawn-to-dusk labor on farms and in factories and mines for pennies an hour, with no opportunity for play, schooling, or medical care.

In India, 55 million children are pressed into the work force. Tens of thousands labor in glass factories in temperatures as high as 100 degrees. In one plant, four-year-olds toil from 5 o'clock in the morning until the dead of night, inhaling fumes and contracting emphysema, tuberculosis, and other respiratory diseases. In the Philippines and Malaysia corporations have lobbied to drop age restrictions for labor recruitment. The pursuit of profit becomes a pursuit of evil.

Development Theory

When we say a country is "underdeveloped," we are implying that it is backward and retarded in some way, that its people have shown little capacity to achieve and evolve. The negative connotations of "underdeveloped" has caused the United Nations, the Wall Street Journal, and parties of various political persuasion to refer to Third World countries as "developing" nations, a term somewhat less insulting than "underdeveloped" but equally misleading. I prefer to use "Third World" because "developing" seems to be just a euphemistic way of saying "underdeveloped but belatedly starting to do something about it." It still implies that poverty was an original historic condition and not something imposed by the imperialists. It also falsely suggests that these countries are developing when actually their economic conditions are usually worsening.The dominant theory of the last half century, enunciated repeatedly by writers like Barbara Ward and W. W. Rostow and afforded wide currency in the United States and other parts of the Western world, maintains that it is up to the rich nations of the North to help uplift the "backward" nations of the South, bringing them technology and teaching them proper work habits. This is an updated version of "the White man's burden," a favorite imperialist fantasy.

According to the development scenario, with the introduction of Western investments, the backward economic sectors of the poor nations will release their workers, who then will find more productive employment in the modern sector at higher wages. As capital accumulates, business will reinvest its profits, thus creating still more products, jobs, buying power, and markets. Eventually a more prosperous economy evolves.

This "development theory" or "modernization theory," as it is sometimes called, bears little relation to reality. What has emerged in the Third World is an intensely exploitive form of dependent capitalism. Economic conditions have worsened drastically with the growth of transnational corporate investment. The problem is not poor lands or unproductive populations but foreign exploitation and class inequality. Investors go into a country not to uplift it but to enrich themselves.

People in these countries do not need to be taught how to farm. They need the land and the implements to farm. They do not need to be taught how to fish. They need the boats and the nets and access to shore frontage, bays, and oceans. They need industrial plants to cease dumping toxic effusions into the waters. They do not need to be convinced that they should use hygienic standards. They do not need a Peace Corps Volunteer to tell them to boil their water, especially when they cannot afford fuel or have no access to firewood. They need the conditions that will allow them to have clean drinking water and clean clothes and homes. They do not need advice about balanced diets from North Americans. They usually know what foods best serve their nutritional requirements. They need to be given back their land and labor so that they might work for themselves and grow food for their own consumption.

The legacy of imperial domination is not only misery and strife, but an economic structure dominated by a network of international corporations which themselves are beholden to parent companies based in North America, Europe and Japan. If there is any harmonization or integration, it occurs among the global investor classes, not among the indigenous economies of these countries. Third World economies remain fragmented and unintegrated both between each other and within themselves, both in the flow of capital and goods and in technology and organization. In sum, what we have is a world economy that has little to do with the economic needs of the world's people.

Neoimperialism: Skimming the Cream

Sometimes imperial domination is explained as arising from an innate desire for domination and expansion, a "territorial imperative." In fact, territorial imperialism is no longer the prevailing mode. Compared to the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when the European powers carved up the world among themselves, today there is almost no colonial dominion left. Colonel Blimp is dead and buried, replaced by men in business suits. Rather than being directly colonized by the imperial power, the weaker countries have been granted the trappings of sovereignty-while Western finance capital retains control of the lion's share of their profitable resources. This relationship has gone under various names: "informal empire," "colonialism without colonies," "neocolonialism," and "neoimperialism. "U.S. political and business leaders were among the earliest practitioners of this new kind of empire, most notably in Cuba at the beginning of the twentieth century. Having forcibly wrested the island from Spain in the war of 1898, they eventually gave Cuba its formal independence. The Cubans now had their own government, constitution, flag, currency, and security force. But major foreign policy decisions remained in U.S. hands as did the island's wealth, including its sugar, tobacco, and tourist industries, and major imports and exports.

Historically U.S. capitalist interests have been less interested in acquiring more colonies than in acquiring more wealth, preferring to make off with the treasure of other nations without bothering to own and administer the nations themselves. Under neoimperialism, the flag stays home, while the dollar goes everywhere - frequently assisted by the sword.

After World War II, European powers like Britain and France adopted a strategy of neoimperialism. Left financially depleted by years of warfare, and facing intensified popular resistance from within the Third World itself, they reluctantly decided that indirect economic hegemony was less costly and politically more expedient than outright colonial rule. They discovered that the removal of a conspicuously intrusive colonial rule made it more difficult for nationalist elements within the previously colonized countries to mobilize anti-imperialist sentiments.

Though the newly established government might be far from completely independent, it usually enjoyed more legitimacy in the eyes of its populace than a colonial administration controlled by the imperial power. Furthermore, under neoimperialism the native government takes up the costs of administering the country while the imperialist interests are free to concentrate on accumulating capital-which is all they really want to do.

After years of colonialism, the Third World country finds it extremely difficult to extricate itself from the unequal relationship with its former colonizer and impossible to depart from the global capitalist sphere. Those countries that try to make a break are subjected to punishing economic and military treatment by one or another major power, nowadays usually the United States.

The leaders of the new nations may voice revolutionary slogans, yet they find themselves locked into the global capitalist orbit, cooperating perforce with the First World nations for investment, trade, and aid. So we witnessed the curious phenomenon of leaders of newly independent Third World nations denouncing imperialism as the source of their countries' ills, while dissidents in these countries denounced these same leaders as collaborators of imperialism.

In many instances a comprador class emerged or was installed as a first condition for independence. A comprador class is one that cooperates in turning its own country into a client state for foreign interests. A client state is one that is open to investments on terms that are decidedly favorable to the foreign investors. In a client state, corporate investors enjoy direct subsidies and land grants, access to raw materials and cheap labor, light or nonexistent taxes, few effective labor unions, no minimum wage or child labor or occupational safety laws, and no consumer or environmental protections to speak of. The protective laws that do exist go largely unenforced.

In all, the Third World is something of a capitalist paradise, offering life as it was in Europe and the United States during the nineteenth century, with a rate of profit vastly higher than what might be earned today in a country with strong economic regulations. The comprador class is well recompensed for its cooperation. Its leaders enjoy opportunities to line their pockets with the foreign aid sent by the U.S. government. Stability is assured with the establishment of security forces, armed and trained by the United States in the latest technologies of terror and repression. Still, neoimperialism carries risks. The achievement of de jure independence eventually fosters expectations of de facto independence. The forms of self rule incite a desire for the fruits of self rule. Sometimes a national leader emerges who is a patriot and reformer rather than a comprador collaborator. Therefore, the changeover from colonialism to neocolonialism is not without risks for the imperialists and represents a net gain for popular forces in the world.

Chapter 1 of Against Empire by Michael Parenti

Michael Parenti is an internationally known award-winning author and lecturer. He is one of the nation's leading progressive political analysts. His highly informative and entertaining books and talks have reached a wide range of audiences in North America and abroad. http://www.michaelparenti.org/


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[Dec 14, 2018] Whataboutism proclaim that each asserted truth stands on its own, and has no essential relation to any other past, present, or future asserted truth

Like the term "conspiracy theory "whataboutism" is a nasty and dirty propaganda trick. Truth can be understood only in historical context.
Notable quotes:
"... The detail of b's analysis that stands out to me as especially significant and brilliant is his demolition of the Guardian's reuse of the Merkel "quote." ..."
"... Related to the above, consider the nature of the recently christened thought-crime, "whataboutism." The crime may be defined as follows: ..."
"... "Whataboutism" is the attempt to understand a truth asserted by propaganda by way of relation to other truths it has asserted contemporaneous with or prior to this one. It is to ask, "What about this *other* truth? Does this *other* truth affect our understanding of *this* truth? And if so, how does it?" ..."
"... Whataboutism seems to proclaim that each asserted truth stands on its own, and has no essential relation to any other past, present, or future asserted truth. ..."
May 04, 2018 | moonofalabama.org
XXX | 12

The detail of b's analysis that stands out to me as especially significant and brilliant is his demolition of the Guardian's reuse of the Merkel "quote."

This one detail tells us so much about how propaganda works, and about how it can be defeated. Successful propaganda both depends upon and seeks to accelerate the erasure of historical memory. This is because its truths are always changing to suit the immediate needs of the state. None of its truths can be understood historically. b makes the connection between the documented but forgotten past "truth" of Merkel's quote and its present reincarnation in the Guardian, and this is really all he *needs* to do.

What b points out is something quite simple; yet the ability to do this very simple thing is becoming increasingly rare and its exercise increasingly difficult to achieve. It is for me the virtue that makes b's analysis uniquely indispensable.

Related to the above, consider the nature of the recently christened thought-crime, "whataboutism." The crime may be defined as follows:

"Whataboutism" is the attempt to understand a truth asserted by propaganda by way of relation to other truths it has asserted contemporaneous with or prior to this one. It is to ask, "What about this *other* truth? Does this *other* truth affect our understanding of *this* truth? And if so, how does it?"

Whataboutism seems to proclaim that each asserted truth stands on its own, and has no essential relation to any other past, present, or future asserted truth.

[Dec 14, 2018] What percentage of CIA budget goes to the support of free press

Notable quotes:
"... Because once we go from "corruption is getting more and more common; something must be done" to "meh," we are crossing from a flawed democratic republic to outright tyranny and oligarchy with little way back. ..."
"... Why would anyone expect anything different from the Times, or any major U.S. Newspaper or media outlet? They are organs of the intelligence community and have been for many years. ..."
"... I think the ridiculous and pathetic explanations by NYT in this case are, in part, due to the fact that they simply don't care enough to produce better answers. In their view, these CIA connections and those with other Govt. agencies are paramount, and must be maintained at all costs. ..."
"... It is likely that the relationship is a little more formal than mere collusion ..."
"... "Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few" [George Bernard Shaw" ..."
"... Has been since Judith Miller told us there were WMD in Iraq in 2003. They don't plan anticipations of crises, but the actual crises themselves. In a moral world, the NYT is as guilty of genocide as Bush and Blair. ..."
Dec 01, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

capatriot , 29 Aug 2012 15:49

Good article. I especially like this:

The more important objection is that the fact that a certain behavior is common does not negate its being corrupt. Indeed, as is true for government abuses generally, those in power rely on the willingness of citizens to be trained to view corrupt acts as so common that they become inured, numb, to its wrongfulness. Once a corrupt practice is sufficiently perceived as commonplace, then it is transformed in people's minds from something objectionable into something acceptable.

Because once we go from "corruption is getting more and more common; something must be done" to "meh," we are crossing from a flawed democratic republic to outright tyranny and oligarchy with little way back.

Besides, they don't all do it ... there are honorable reporters out there, some few of whom work for the Times and the Post.

BradBenson , 29 Aug 2012 15:48
Another great article Glenn. The Guardian will spread your words further and wider. Salon's loss is the world's gain.

Why would anyone expect anything different from the Times, or any major U.S. Newspaper or media outlet? They are organs of the intelligence community and have been for many years. That these email were allowed to get out under FOIA is indicative of the fact that there are some people on the inside who would like to get the truth out. Either that, or the head of some ES-2's Assistant Deputy for Secret Shenanigans and Heinous Drone Murders will roll.

CautiousOptimist , 29 Aug 2012 15:40
Glenn - Any comments on the recently disclosed emails between the CIA and Kathryn Bigelow?
CasualObs , 29 Aug 2012 15:32
Scott Horton quote on closely related Mazzetti reporting (in this case regarding misleading reporting on how important CIA/Bush torture was in tracking down and getting bin Laden, the focus of this movie):

"I'm quite sure that this is precisely the way the folks who provided this info from the agency [to Mazzetti] wanted them to be understood, but there is certainly more than a measure of ambiguity in them, planted with care by the NYT writers or their editors. This episode shows again how easily the Times can be spun by unnamed government sources, the factual premises of whose statements invariably escape any examination."

http://www.hillmanfoundation.org/blog/winners-sinners-mary-murphy-mark-mazzetti

I think the ridiculous and pathetic explanations by NYT in this case are, in part, due to the fact that they simply don't care enough to produce better answers. In their view, these CIA connections and those with other Govt. agencies are paramount, and must be maintained at all costs.

If you don't like their paper-thin answers, tough. In their view (imo) this will blow over and business will resume, with the all-important friends and connections intact. Thus leaving the machinery intact for future uncritical, biased and manipulative "spin" of NYT by any number of unnamed govt. sources/agencies...

Montecarlo2 , 29 Aug 2012 15:29

In what conceivable way is Mazzetti's collusion with the CIA an "intelligence matter" that prevents the NYT's managing editor from explaining what happened here?

That one is easy, as we learned in the Valerie Plame affair. It is likely that the relationship is a little more formal than mere collusion.

hominoid , 29 Aug 2012 15:27
Just another step down the ladder towards despotism. "Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few" [George Bernard Shaw"
LakerFan , 29 Aug 2012 15:13

The relationship between the New York Times and the US government is, as usual, anything but adversarial. Indeed, these emails read like the interactions between a PR representative and his client as they plan in anticipation of a possible crisis.

Has been since Judith Miller told us there were WMD in Iraq in 2003. They don't plan anticipations of crises, but the actual crises themselves. In a moral world, the NYT is as guilty of genocide as Bush and Blair.

The humor seems to go completely out of the issue when 100,000 people are dead and their families and futures changed forever.

Like I said, in a moral world....

[Dec 14, 2018] New York Times aka The Langley Newsletter

"We pledge subservience to the Owners of the United Corporations of America, and to the Oligarchy for which it stands, one Greed under God, indivisible, with power and wealth for few."
Notable quotes:
"... bin laden gave terror a face. how conveeeenient for warmongers everywhere! ..."
"... CIA in collusion with mainstream newspaper NYT. And you call this news ? ..."
"... collusion between the us media and the us government goes back much, much further. Chomsky has plenty of stuff about this... ..."
"... The NYTimes has its own agenda and bends the news that's fit to print. Journalistic integrity? LOL. No one beat the war drums louder for Bush's Neocons before the Iraq war. Draining our nation's resources, getting young Americans killed (they didn't come from the 1%, you see). The cradle of civilization that's the Iraqi landscape wiped out. Worst, 655,000 Iraqis lost their lives, said British medical journal Lancet, creating 2.5mn each internal & external refugees. ..."
"... The NYT never dwelled on the numbers of Iraqis killed. Up to a few weeks ago, its emphasis on the current Syrian tragedy is to inform us on the hundreds or thousands who've lost their lives. ..."
"... World financial meltdown? When Sanford Weill of Citi pushed for the repeal of Glass-Steagall late 1990's, the FDR era 17-page law separating commercial from investment banks, a measure that's preserved the nation's banking integrity for over half a century, the Nyt added its megaphone to the task, urging Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin to comply, editorializing In 1988: "Few economic historians now find the logic behind Glass-Steagall persuasive" . In 1990, that "banks and stocks were a dangerous mixture" "makes little sense now." ..."
"... just off the top of my head I recall the editor of one of a British major was an MI5 agent; this is in the public domain. ..."
"... We pledge subservience to the Owners of the United Corporations of America, and to the Oligarchy for which it stands, one Greed under God, indivisible, with power and wealth for few. ..."
"... The NYT has been infiltrated for decades by CIA agents. Just notice their dogged reporting on the completely debunked "lone-gunman" JFK theory---they will always report that Oswald acted alone---this is the standard CIA story, pushed and maintained by the NYT despite overwhelming evidence that there was a conspiracy (likely involving the CIA). ..."
Aug 30, 2012 | www.theguardian.com

samesamesame , 1 Sep 2012 13:02

bin laden gave terror a face. how conveeeenient for warmongers everywhere!
loftytom , 1 Sep 2012 10:40

I assume we're going to see a NYT expose on the large scale dodgy dealings of the Guardian Unlimited group then?

They could start with the tax dodging hypocrisy first. http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2012/05/16/has-the-guardian-exploited-tax-loopholes-to-save-millions/

kantarakamara , 1 Sep 2012 10:04
"@smartypants54

29 August 2012 9:44PM
Glenn,

I've often wondered what you think of the journalism of someone like Seymour Hirsch. (sic) He broke some very important stories by cozying up to moles in the MIC.

You'e confusing apples with oranges. Hersh seeks information on issues that outrage him. These do not usually include propaganda for the intelligence agencies, but information they would like to suppress. He's given secret information because he appears to his informers as someone who has a long record of integrity.

Therealguyfaux -> Montecarlo2 , 1 Sep 2012 07:48
It's straight outta that old joke about the husband being caught by his wife in flagrante delicto with the pretty young lady neighbour, who then tells his wife that he and his bit on the side weren't doing anything: "And who do you believe-- me, or your lying eyes?"
Haigin88 , 1 Sep 2012 06:58
New York Times a.k.a. The Langley Newsletter
globalsage , 1 Sep 2012 06:32
CIA in collusion with mainstream newspaper NYT. And you call this news ?
snookie -> LakerFan , 1 Sep 2012 05:46
collusion between the us media and the us government goes back much, much further. Chomsky has plenty of stuff about this...
hlkcna , 1 Sep 2012 02:28
The NYTimes has its own agenda and bends the news that's fit to print. Journalistic integrity? LOL. No one beat the war drums louder for Bush's Neocons before the Iraq war. Draining our nation's resources, getting young Americans killed (they didn't come from the 1%, you see). The cradle of civilization that's the Iraqi landscape wiped out. Worst, 655,000 Iraqis lost their lives, said British medical journal Lancet, creating 2.5mn each internal & external refugees.

Following the pre-Iraq embellishment, NYT covered up its deeds by sacrificing Journalist Judith Miller. As Miller answered a post-war court case, none other than Chairman & CEO Arthur Sulzberger jr. locked arms with her as they entered the courtroom.

The NYT never dwelled on the numbers of Iraqis killed. Up to a few weeks ago, its emphasis on the current Syrian tragedy is to inform us on the hundreds or thousands who've lost their lives.

World financial meltdown? When Sanford Weill of Citi pushed for the repeal of Glass-Steagall late 1990's, the FDR era 17-page law separating commercial from investment banks, a measure that's preserved the nation's banking integrity for over half a century, the Nyt added its megaphone to the task, urging Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin to comply, editorializing In 1988: "Few economic historians now find the logic behind Glass-Steagall persuasive" . In 1990, that "banks and stocks were a dangerous mixture" "makes little sense now."

NYT, a liberal icon? In year 2000, when I lived in NYC, New York Daily News columnist A.M. Rosenthal used to regularly demonize China in language surpassing even Rush Limbaugh. I told myself nah, that's not the Rosenthal-former-editor of the NYT. Only when I read his obituary a few years later did I learn that it was indeed the same one.

Grandfield , 1 Sep 2012 00:56
Well of course. And just off the top of my head I recall the editor of one of a British major was an MI5 agent; this is in the public domain.
weallshineon , 1 Sep 2012 00:42
We pledge subservience to the Owners of the United Corporations of America, and to the Oligarchy for which it stands, one Greed under God, indivisible, with power and wealth for few.

NOAM CHOMSKY _MANUFACTURING CONSENT haven't read it? read it. read it? read it again.

thought totalitarianism and the ruling class died in 1945? think again. thought you wouldn't have to fight like grandpa's generation to live in a democratic and just society? think again.

You are not the 1 percent.

JET2023 -> MonaHol , 31 Aug 2012 21:53
Would that we could hold these discussions without reference to personal defamations -- "darkened ignorance" and "educate yourself" which sounds like "f___ yourself". Why can't we just say "I respectfully disagree"? Alas, when discussing political issues with leftists, that seems impossible. Why the vitriol?

Greenwald's more lengthy posts make it clear that he believes that people who differ with him are "lying" and basing their viewpoint upon "a single right wing blogger". He chooses this explanation over the obvious and accurate one -- legal rationales developed by the Office of Legal Counsel during the Bush administration. The date of Greenwald's archive is February 19, 2006. Oddly, he bases all of his contentions upon whatever he could glean up to that date. But the legal rationale for warrantless wiretaps was based upon memos written by John Yoo at the OLC that Greenwald did not have access to in 2006. The memos were not released until after Obama took office in 2009.

Obama released them in a highly publicized press conference staged for maximum political impact. Greenwald could not possibly have understood the legal rationale for the program since he had not been privy to them until March 2009 if, indeed, he has bothered to acquaint himself with them since then. Either way, nobody was "lying" except those who could have understood the full dimension and willfully chose to hide or ignore the truth. It's not exactly like I am new to this subject as you seem to imply. I wrote a 700 page book about Obama administration duplicity in this same vein. An entire chapter is devoted to this very topic.

Warrantless wiretaps were undertaken after a legal ruling from OLC. And after Obama took office, warrantless wiretaps were continued. Obviously since they were based upon OLC rulings, since no prosecutions have ever been suggested and since they have continued uninterrupted after Obama took office, the Justice Department under both administrations agrees with me and disagrees with Greenwald. We arrive at this disagreement respectfully. Despite Obama's voluminous denunciations of the Bush anti-terror approach on the campaign trail, he resurrected nearly every plank of it once he took office.

But this is a subsidiary point to a far larger point that some observers on this discussion to their credit were able to understand. Despite all of these pointless considerations, the larger point of my original post was that Greenwald missed the "real" story here, which was that the collusion between NYT and CIA was not due to institutional considerations as Greenwald seems to allege, but due to purely partisan considerations. That, to me, is the story he missed.

I find that people who are losing debates try to shift the focus to subsidiary points hoping that, like a courtroom lawyer, if they can refute a small and inconsequential detail raised in testimony, they will undercut the larger truth offered by the witness. It won't work. Too much is on the record. And neither point, the ankle-biting non-issue about legality of warrantless wiretaps or the larger, salient point about the overt partisan political dimension of NYT's collusion with a political appointee at CIA who serves on the Obama reelection committee, has been refuted.

Joseph Toomey
Author, "Change You Can REALLY Believe In: The Obama Legacy of Broken Promises and Failed Policies"

JoshuaFlynn , 31 Aug 2012 20:15
Conspiracy theorists, have been, of course, telling you this for years (given media's motive is profit and not honesty). I suppose the exact same conspiracy theorists other guardian authors have been too eager to denounce previously?
MonaHol -> JET2023 , 31 Aug 2012 18:50

The NSA wiretap program revealed by Risen was not illegal as Greenwald wrongly asserts. As long as one end of the intercepted conservation originated on foreign soil as it did, it was perfectly legal and required no FISA court authorization.

Mr. Toomey, in 2006 Greenwald published a compendium of legal arguments defending the Bush Admin's warrantless wiretapping and the (sound) rebuttals of them. It is exhaustive, and covers your easily dispensed with argument. By way of introduction to his many links to his aggregated, rigorous analyses of the legal issues, he wrote this:

I didn't just wake up one day and leap to the conclusion that the Administration broke the law deliberately and that there are no reasonable arguments to defend that law-breaking (as many Bush followers leaped to the conclusion that he did nothing wrong and then began their hunt to find rationale or advocates to support this conclusion). I arrived at the conclusion that Bush clearly broke the law only by spending enormous amounts of time researching these issues and reading and responding to the defenses from the Administration's apologists.

He did spend enormous time dealing with people such as yourself, and all of his work remains available for you to educate yourself with, at the link provided above.

JET2023 -> Franklymydear0 , 31 Aug 2012 18:43
Maybe you'd like to explain that to Samuel Loring Morison who was convicted and spent years in the federal system for passing classified information to Janes Defence Weekly. I'm sure he'd be entertained. Larry Franklin would also like to hear it. He's in prison today for violating the Espionage Act.

Courts have recognized no press privilege exists when publishing classified data. In 1971, the Supreme Court vacated a prior restraint against NYT and The Washington Post allowing them to publish the Pentagon Papers. But the court also observed that prosecutions after-the-fact would be permissible and not involve an abridgement of the free speech clause. It was only the prior restraint that gave the justices heartburn. They had no issue with throwing them in the slammer after the deed was done.

Thomas Drake, a former NSA official, was indicted and convicted after revealing information to reporters in 2010. The statute covers mere possession which even NYT recognized could cover reporters as well. There have been numerous other instances of arrests, indictments and prosecutions for disclosure to reporters. It's only been due to political calculations and not constitutional limitations that have kept Risen and others out of prison.

utkarsh356 , 31 Aug 2012 12:39
Manufacturing Consent: The political economy of mass media by Noam Chomsky can perhaps explain most of the media behaviour.
HiggsBoson1984 , 31 Aug 2012 12:26
The NYT has been infiltrated for decades by CIA agents. Just notice their dogged reporting on the completely debunked "lone-gunman" JFK theory---they will always report that Oswald acted alone---this is the standard CIA story, pushed and maintained by the NYT despite overwhelming evidence that there was a conspiracy (likely involving the CIA).
Leviathan212 , 31 Aug 2012 10:54
What outrages me the most is the NYT's condescending attitude towards its readers when caught in this obvious breach of journalistic ethics.

Both Baquet and Abramson, rather than showing some humility or contrition, are acting as if nothing bad has happened, and that we are stupid to even talk about this.

Leviathan212 -> AnnaMc , 31 Aug 2012 10:28

This article misses the elephant in the room. Namely, that the NYT only plays footsies with Democrats in positions of power. With the 'Pubs, it's open season.

Not true. There are many examples of the NYT colluding with the Bush administration, some of which Glenn has mentioned in this article. Take, for example, the fact that the NYT concealed Bush's wire-tapping program for almost a year, at the request of the White House, and didn't release details until after Bush's re-election.

ranroddeb , 31 Aug 2012 10:10
" The optics aren't what they look like " This phrase brings to mind the old Dem catch phrase " Who you gonna believe me or your lying eyes? " .

[Dec 14, 2018] Operation Mockingbird has never stopped

Notable quotes:
"... The Government leaks classified material at will for propaganda advantage, but hunts Assange and tortures Private Manning for the same. ..."
"... these emails reflect the standard full-scale cooperation – a virtual merger – between our the government and the establishment media outlets that claim to act as "watchdogs" over them. ..."
"... The issue under discussion here, however, is the extent to which the media is an eager partner in the message-sending, rather than an unwitiing tool. ..."
Aug 30, 2012 | www.theguardian.com
Chris Harlos , 29 Aug 2012 19:01
The New York Crimes. The seamless web of media, government, business: a totalitarian system. Darkly amusing, perhaps, unless one begins to tally the damage.

USA Inc. Viva Death,

Did you hear the one about the investment banker whose very expensive hooker bite off his crank?

rrheard , 29 Aug 2012 18:36
I'm not sure what's scarier--that the CIA is spending taxpayer dollars spending even a split second worrying about what a two bit hack like Maureen Dowd writes, or that the NY Times principals are so institutionally "captured" that they parrot "CIA speak".

Well what's actually scarier is that Operation Mockingbird has never stopped.

Or maybe that our purported public servants in the legislature are bipartisanly and openly attempting to repeal portions of the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and Foreign Relations Authorization Act in 1987 banning domestic propaganda.

America is becoming a real sick joke. And the last to know will be about 65% of the populace I like to call Sheeple.

024601 -> SanFranDouglas , 29 Aug 2012 18:32
Very depressing. I thought we would get a smart bunch over here. The major trend I've noticed instead? Blind support for the empire and the apparatus that keeps it thriving. Unable to be good little authoritarians and cheer for the now collapsing British Empire, they have to cheer for it's natural predecessor, the American Empire. This includes attacking all those who might question the absolute infallible of The Empire. Folks like.. Glenn. It is fascinating to watch, if not disheartening.
SanFranDouglas -> smartypants54 , 29 Aug 2012 18:29

So all cozying up to spooks is not always a bad thing, huh?

Just my point.

I see. I thought your point was that there was some sort of equivalence between Hersh's development of sources to reveal truths that their agencies fervently wished to keep secret and Mazzetti's active assistance in protecting an agency's image from sullying by fellow journalists.

I guess I stand corrected. . .

shenebraskan -> Jpolicoff , 29 Aug 2012 18:12
And that ended his career in government service, as it should have...or not:

From Wikipedia: John O. Brennan is chief counterterrorism advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama; officially his title is Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, and Assistant to the President.

Jpolicoff , 29 Aug 2012 18:01
Unfortunately this is nothing new for Mazetti or the New York Times, nor is it the first time Glenn Greenwald has called Mazetti out on his cozy relationship with the CIA:

The CIA and its reporter friends: Anatomy of a backlash
The coordinated, successful effort to implant false story lines about John Brennan illustrates the power the intelligence community wields over political debates.
Glenn Greenwald Dec. 08, 2008 |

...Just marvel at how coordinated (and patently inaccurate) their messaging is, and -- more significantly -- how easily they can implant their message into establishment media outlets far and wide, which uncritically publish what they're told from their cherished "intelligence sources" and without even the pretense of verifying whether any of it is true and/or hearing any divergent views:

Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane, New York Times, 12/2/2008:

Last week, John O. Brennan, a C.I.A. veteran who was widely seen as Mr. Obama's likeliest choice to head the intelligence agency, withdrew his name from consideration after liberal critics attacked his alleged role in the agency's detention and interrogation program. Mr. Brennan protested that he had been a "strong opponent" within the agency of harsh interrogation tactics, yet Mr. Obama evidently decided that nominating Mr. Brennan was not worth a battle with some of his most ardent supporters on the left.

Mr. Obama's search for someone else and his future relationship with the agency are complicated by the tension between his apparent desire to make a clean break with Bush administration policies he has condemned and concern about alienating an agency with a central role in the campaign against Al Qaeda.

Mark M. Lowenthal, an intelligence veteran who left a senior post at the C.I.A. in 2005, said Mr. Obama's decision to exclude Mr. Brennan from contention for the top job had sent a message that "if you worked in the C.I.A. during the war on terror, you are now tainted," and had created anxiety in the ranks of the agency's clandestine service.

...The story, by Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane, noted that John O. Brennan had withdrawn his name from consideration for CIA director after liberal critics attacked his role in the agency's interrogation program, even though Brennan characterized himself as a "strong opponent" within the agency of harsh interrogation techniques. Brennan's characterization was not disputed by anyone else in the story, even though most experts on this subject agree that Brennan acquiesced in everything that the CIA did in this area while he served there.

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/12/08/cia/print.html

CitizenTM , 29 Aug 2012 17:52
The Government leaks classified material at will for propaganda advantage, but hunts Assange and tortures Private Manning for the same.
tballou , 29 Aug 2012 17:51
"these emails reflect the standard full-scale cooperation – a virtual merger – between our the government and the establishment media outlets that claim to act as "watchdogs" over them."

Glenn - the only objection I have to your column and all your previous columns on this matter is that I am not sure the establishment media actually claim to be watchdogs, at least not any more, and certainly not since Sept 11. They really are more like PR reps.

SanFranDouglas -> OneWorldGovernment , 29 Aug 2012 17:51

The media is another tool in the [government, in this case] arsenal to help send a message, as are speeches before think tanks and etc.

Yes. The issue under discussion here, however, is the extent to which the media is an eager partner in the message-sending, rather than an unwitiing tool.

OneWorldGovernment , 29 Aug 2012 17:44
Did everyone forget the Judith Miller article? The usage of Twitter and other social media during the Iranian election of 2009? The leaks about the Iranian nuclear program in the Telegraph? ARDA?

The U.S. government, along with every other government in the world, uses the media to influence public opinion and send geopolitical messages to others that understand the message (normally not the masses). The media is another tool in the arsenal to help send a message, as are speeches before think tanks and etc.

We use social media to create social unrest if it aligns with our interests. We use the media to send political messages and influence public opinion. The vast majority of reporting in the N.Y. Times, WSJ, Guardian, Telegraph, and etc. do not reflect this, but every now and then "unnamed sources" help further a geopolitical message.

In this country, it has been that way since before the founding fathers and the Republic. Remember the Federalist, Anti-Federalist, Sam Adams as Vtndex, and etc.? Newspapers used for "propaganda" purposes.

SanFranDouglas -> smartypants54 , 29 Aug 2012 17:42

Upthread I asked him for his comments on the reporting of Seymour Hirsh. He is someone who cozied up to all kinds of people - and wound up busting some extremely important stories in the process.

I think a modest amount of review of Sy Hersh's work will demonstrate that his "cozying up" hasn't included running interference for the spooks' official PR flacks.

DuErJournalist , 29 Aug 2012 17:42
The New York Times: Burn after reading!

[Dec 14, 2018] The whole austerity crisis thing appears to have been engineered so that a few blinkered and unpatriotic, vulture mafia privateers can make a killing, selling off vital state assets, such as infrastructure and ports, to the Chinese. This is a very suspicious and widespread trend.

Notable quotes:
"... Bob Marley got it right.... the human race is becoming a rat race, and it's a disgrace. ..."
"... The biggest problem is the financialisation of the economy... what is the actual value of things? The market is so manipulated that real price discovery is not possible. ..."
"... We have an over-cooked service-sector economy unsustainably reliant on cheap debt, cheap energy, and cheap manufactured goods to fuel our 'high-end levels of consumption, and mobility or living standards, and an over-heated housing market that is unsustainably run according to the needs of investors and landlords rather than residents or tenants. ..."
"... What we need is a coordinated approach between our nations. Undercutting each other on corporate taxes, writing tax avoidance into law, and continuing to allow multinationals to influence our politicians and play our governments against each other is exactly the game we must end. ..."
"... Instead, it places the financially powerful beyond any state, in an international elite that makes its own rules, and holds governments to ransom. That's what the financial crisis was all about. The ransom was paid, and as a result, governments have been obliged to limit their activities yet further.... ..."
"... "Ransom". There is no better word to describe it. This (the ransom mentality) is exactly the reactionary, vindictive, doctrinaire psychology that must be extracted like a cancer from our institutional lives and the human species. A monolithic task. But identifying the cause is the first step to cure. ..."
"... these are the new medieval transnational barons ..."
Jun 09, 2013 | theguardian.com
MysticFish -> Crackerpot , 8 Jun 2013 14:43
@Crackerpot - The whole austerity crisis thing appears to have been engineered so that a few blinkered and unpatriotic, vulture mafia privateers can make a killing, selling off vital state assets, such as infrastructure and ports, to the Chinese. This is a very suspicious and widespread trend.
artheart , 8 Jun 2013 14:38

Bob Marley got it right.... the human race is becoming a rat race, and it's a disgrace.

I see it every day from the window of my flat, on a main road, in Bethnal Green. There's a 'mentally unstable' Rastafarian who stands by the overground station, and shouts things out to people like "You're living in babylon".

I do sometimes think he's not the mental one.

artheart -> HolyInsurgent , 8 Jun 2013 14:32
@HolyInsurgent

The biggest problem is the financialisation of the economy... what is the actual value of things? The market is so manipulated that real price discovery is not possible.

We have an over-cooked service-sector economy unsustainably reliant on cheap debt, cheap energy, and cheap manufactured goods to fuel our 'high-end levels of consumption, and mobility or living standards, and an over-heated housing market that is unsustainably run according to the needs of investors and landlords rather than residents or tenants.

The whole thing is going to blow apart. Our 'aspirations' are slowly killing us - they're destroying the social fabric.

MikeInCanada , 8 Jun 2013 14:28
What we need is a coordinated approach between our nations. Undercutting each other on corporate taxes, writing tax avoidance into law, and continuing to allow multinationals to influence our politicians and play our governments against each other is exactly the game we must end.
HolyInsurgent , 8 Jun 2013 14:08

Deborah Orr: Instead, it places the financially powerful beyond any state, in an international elite that makes its own rules, and holds governments to ransom. That's what the financial crisis was all about. The ransom was paid, and as a result, governments have been obliged to limit their activities yet further....

I never thought I would live long enough to see this level of honesty ATL. It should have been published long ago, but at least the discussion now begins.

"Ransom". There is no better word to describe it. This (the ransom mentality) is exactly the reactionary, vindictive, doctrinaire psychology that must be extracted like a cancer from our institutional lives and the human species. A monolithic task. But identifying the cause is the first step to cure.

peterpuffin -> PointOfYou , 8 Jun 2013 14:03
@PointOfYou - these are the new medieval transnational barons

[Dec 14, 2018] Here's the funny thing about those who cheer the broken neoliberal model. They promise we will get to those "sunny uplands" with exactly the same fervor as old Marxists.

Notable quotes:
"... Neoliberalism? This is not just a financial agenda. This a highly organized multi armed counterculture operation to force us, including Ms Orr [unless she has...connections] into what Terence McKenna [who was in on it] termed the `Archaic Revival'. That is - you and me [and Ms Orr] - our - return to the medieval dark ages, if we indeed survive that far. ..."
"... The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are moulded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. ..."
"... the UK government did intervene in the economy when it bailed out the banks to the tune of many billions of pounds underwritten by the taxpayer. The markets should always be regulated sufficiently (light touch is absolutely useless) to prevent the problems currently being experienced from ever happening again. ..."
"... Traditional liberalism had died decades before WWII and was replaced by finance capitalism. What happened after WW II was that capitalism had to make various concessions to avoid a socialist revolution: social and political freedoms indeed darted ahead. ..."
"... No chance mate, at least not all the time greasy spiv and shyster outfits like hedge funds are funding Puffin face and the Vermin Party. They are never going to bite the hand that feeds them ..."
"... And in case we get uppity and endeavour to challenge the economic paradigm and the rule of these neoliberal elites, there's the surveillance state panopticon to track our movements and keep us in check. ..."
"... There is not a shred of logical sense in neoliberalism. You're doing what the fundamentalists do... they talk about what neoliberalism is in theory whilst completely ignoring what it is in practice. In theory the banks should have been allowed to go bust, but the consequences where deemed too high (as they inevitable are). The result is socialism for the rich using the poor as the excuse, which is the reality of neoliberalism. ..."
"... She, knowingly, let neo-liberal economic philosophy come trumpeting through the door of No10 and it's been there ever since; it has guided our politicians for the past 30 odd years. Hence, it is Thatcher's fault. She did this and another bad thing: the woman who glorified household economics pissed away billions of pounds of North Sea Oil. ..."
"... Bailouts have been a constant feature of neoliberalism. In fact the role of the state is simply reduced to a merely commissioning agent to private parasitical corporations. History has shown the state playing this role since neoliberalism became embedded in policy since the 1970s - Long Term Capital Management, Savings and Loans, The Brady Plan, numerous PFI bailouts and those of the Western banking system during the 1982 South American, 1997 Asian and 2010 European debt crises. ..."
Jun 08, 2013 | discussion.theguardian.com

Jenny340 -> EllisWyatt, 8 Jun 2013 13:37

@EllisWyatt - Here's the funny thing about those who cheer the broken neoliberal model. They promise we will get to those "sunny uplands" with exactly the same fervor as old Marxists.
PointOfYou , 8 Jun 2013 13:37

Neoliberalism has spawned a financial elite who hold governments to ransom

Neoliberalism? This is not just a financial agenda. This a highly organized multi armed counterculture operation to force us, including Ms Orr [unless she has...connections] into what Terence McKenna [who was in on it] termed the `Archaic Revival'. That is - you and me [and Ms Orr] - our - return to the medieval dark ages, if we indeed survive that far.

The same names come up time and time again. One of them being, father of propaganda, Edward Bernays.

Bernays wrote what can be seen as a virtual Mission Statement for anyone wishing to bring about a "counterculture." In the opening paragraph of his book Propaganda he wrote:

"..The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are moulded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.

This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organised. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses.

It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind..."[28]

Bernays' family background made him well suited to "control the public mind." He was the double nephew of psychoanalysis pioneer Sigmund Freud. His mother was Freud's sister Anna, and his father was Ely Bernays, brother of Freud's wife Martha Bernays.

Snookerboy -> OneCommentator , 8 Jun 2013 13:17
@OneCommentator - the UK government did intervene in the economy when it bailed out the banks to the tune of many billions of pounds underwritten by the taxpayer. The markets should always be regulated sufficiently (light touch is absolutely useless) to prevent the problems currently being experienced from ever happening again.

Those at the bottom of society and those in the public sector are the ones paying the price for this intervention in the UK. If you truly believe in the 'free' market then all of these failing organisations (banks, etc) should have been allowed to fail. The problem is that the wealth created under the current system is virtually all going to those at the top of the income scale and this needs to change and is one of the main reasons that neo liberalism should be binned!

ATrueFinn -> OneCommentator , 8 Jun 2013 13:09
@ OneCommentator 08 June 2013 5:21pm

No, it was as recently as ww2 more or less

Traditional liberalism had died decades before WWII and was replaced by finance capitalism. What happened after WW II was that capitalism had to make various concessions to avoid a socialist revolution: social and political freedoms indeed darted ahead.

Do read a book about history!

clairesdad -> brighton2 , 8 Jun 2013 13:06
@brighton2 - No chance mate, at least not all the time greasy spiv and shyster outfits like hedge funds are funding Puffin face and the Vermin Party. They are never going to bite the hand that feeds them.
NotWithoutMyMonkey , 8 Jun 2013 13:01
And in case we get uppity and endeavour to challenge the economic paradigm and the rule of these neoliberal elites, there's the surveillance state panopticon to track our movements and keep us in check.
TedStewart , 8 Jun 2013 12:51
Neoliberalism has spawned a financial elite who hold governments to ransom

Are you saying neoliberalism is a great big useless pile of shit? Then you are absolutely right!

kingcreosote -> MickGJ , 8 Jun 2013 12:47
@ MickGJ 08 June 2013 1:08pm . Get cifFix for Firefox .

I know what you are saying it's just sooner or later as those at the bottom continue to be squeezed the wealthy will sow their own seeds of destruction. I think we are witnessing the end game which is reflected in the desperation of the coalition to flog everything regardless of the efficacy of such behavior, they feel time is running out and they would be right.

taxhaven , 8 Jun 2013 12:44
Call it what you will - "neoliberalism", "neoconservatism", "socialism" or whatever it is...

This debate is not even really solely about money: this is about liberty , about free choice, about being permitted to engage in voluntary exchange of goods and services with others, unmolested. About the users of services becoming the ones paying for those services.

Ultimately the real effect will be to remove power from governments and hand it back to where it belongs - the free market.

dmckm -> OneCommentator , 8 Jun 2013 12:43
@ OneCommentator 08 June 2013 5:04pm . Get cifFix for Firefox .

voluntary transactions among free agents. That's called a free market and it is by far the most efficient way to produce wealth humanity has ever known.

Could you explain how someone bound by a contract of employment, with the alternative, destitution, is a 'free agent'?

jazzdrum -> SpinningHugo , 8 Jun 2013 12:25
@SpinningHugo - Nothing comes out of nothing and i well remember black Monday in the City. That was the start of the spivs running the economy as if it were a casino. If you think its only on CiF that Thatcher gets the blame, think on this, Scotland, a whole nation blames her too.
TedSmithAndSon -> theguardianisrubbish , 8 Jun 2013 12:24
@theguardianisrubbish -

Unless you are completely confused by what neoliberalism is there is not a shred of logical sense in this.

There is not a shred of logical sense in neoliberalism. You're doing what the fundamentalists do... they talk about what neoliberalism is in theory whilst completely ignoring what it is in practice. In theory the banks should have been allowed to go bust, but the consequences where deemed too high (as they inevitable are). The result is socialism for the rich using the poor as the excuse, which is the reality of neoliberalism.

Savers in a neoliberal society are lambs to the slaughter. Thatcher "revitalised" banking, while everything else withered and died.

Neoliberalism is based on the thought of personal freedom, communism is definitely not. Neoliberalist policies have lifted millions of people out of poverty in Asia and South America.

Neoliberalism is based on the thought that you get as much freedom as you can pay for, otherwise you can just pay... like everyone else. In Asia and South America it has been the economic preference of dictators that pushes profit upwards and responsibility down, just like it does here.

I find it ironic that it now has 5 year plans that absolutely must not be deviated from, massive state intervention in markets (QE, housing policy, tax credits... insert where applicable), and advocates large scale central planning even as it denies reality, and makes the announcement from a tractor factory.

Neoliberalism is a blight... a cancer on humanity... a massive lie told by rich people and believed only by peasants happy to be thrown a turnip. In theory it's one thing, the reality is entirely different. Until we're rid of it, we're all it's slaves. It's an abhorrent cult that comes up with purest bilge like expansionary fiscal contraction to keep all the money in the hands of the rich.

outragedofacton -> MickGJ , 8 Jun 2013 12:02
@MickGJ - You are wrong about the first 2 of course. Banksters get others to do their shit.

But unfortunately the poor sods who went down on D Day were in their way fighting for Wall Street as much as anything else. It's just that they weren't told about it by the Allies massive propaganda machine. So partly right

5/10

LetsGetCynical , 8 Jun 2013 11:57

The response should be a wholesale reevaluation of the way in which wealth is created and distributed around the globe

Which would be what? State planning? Communism? Totally free market capitalism? Oh wait, we already have the best of a bad bunch, a mixed capitalist economy with democracy. That really is the crux of it, our system isn't perfect, never will be, but nobody has come up with a better solution.

outragedofacton -> artheart , 8 Jun 2013 11:55
@artheart - Thank goodness for RT.

Learn also about the West's nefarious activities in the Middle East.

ATrueFinn -> fr0mn0where , 8 Jun 2013 11:51
@ fr0mn0where 08 June 2013 4:29pm

Barclays bank "only" paid out £660m in dividends to the bearers of risk capital, while its bonus pot for a very select number of its staff was £1.5bn.

Fascinating! Now, one could infer that Barclays represent "beneficial capitalism", rewarding its hard-working employees, but maybe we won't.

This is not the traditional capitalist style

The Traditional capitalist is not an extinct species but under threat. For the time being the population is stagnant in some countries and even increasing in some others. However, due to the foraging capacity of Neoliberal creature , competing in the same economical niche, the size and life expectation of it are diminishing.

dmckm -> SpinningHugo , 8 Jun 2013 11:50
@ SpinningHugo 08 June 2013 10:59am . Get cifFix for Firefox .

She, knowingly, let neo-liberal economic philosophy come trumpeting through the door of No10 and it's been there ever since; it has guided our politicians for the past 30 odd years. Hence, it is Thatcher's fault. She did this and another bad thing: the woman who glorified household economics pissed away billions of pounds of North Sea Oil.

szwalby -> MickGJ , 8 Jun 2013 11:30
@MickGJ - No, you're right. Why let yesterdays experience feed into what you expect of the future? Lets go forwards goldfish like, every minute a brand new one, with no baggage!
And by the way, who saved the hide of the very much private sector banks and financial institutions? The hated STATE, us tax payers!
fr0mn0where -> ATrueFinn , 8 Jun 2013 11:29
@ATrueFinn -

I think I agree with everything that you say here? The people at the top these days aren't really of much use for anything, including capitalism. The only thing that they do excel at is lining their own pockets and securing their privileged position in society.

They have become quite up front about it. There was a bit of a fuss last year when Barclays bank "only" paid out £660m in dividends to the bearers of risk capital, while its bonus pot for a very select number of its staff was £1.5bn. Barclays released a statement before their AGM explaining:

"Barclays is fully committed to ensuring that a greater proportion of income and profits flow to shareholders notwithstanding that it operates within the constraints of a competitive market."

This is not the traditional capitalist style competition that they are talking about where companies competed as to who can return the biggest profit for their shareholders this now comes secondary to the real competition which is for which company can return the biggest bonuses for a small group of employees.

theonionmurders -> theguardianisrubbish , 8 Jun 2013 11:05
@theguardianisrubbish

Bailouts have been a constant feature of neoliberalism. In fact the role of the state is simply reduced to a merely commissioning agent to private parasitical corporations. History has shown the state playing this role since neoliberalism became embedded in policy since the 1970s - Long Term Capital Management, Savings and Loans, The Brady Plan, numerous PFI bailouts and those of the Western banking system during the 1982 South American, 1997 Asian and 2010 European debt crises.

No wonder you're so ignorant of the basics of economic policy if you won't flick through a book - fear of accepting that you're simply wrong is a sure sign of either pig ignorance or denial, and is as I said embarrassing so its not really much point in wasting anymore time engaging with you.

petercs , 8 Jun 2013 10:44

The neoliberal idea is that the cultivation itself should be conducted privately as well. They see "austerity" as a way of forcing that agenda.

..."neoliberal", concept behind the word, has nothing to do with liberal or liberty or freedom...it is a PR spin concept that names slavery with a a word that sounds like the opposite...if "they" called it neoslavery it just wouldn't sell in the market for political concepts.

..."austerity" is the financial sectors' solution to its survival after it sucked most the value out of the economy and broke it. To mend it was a case of preservation of the elite and the devil take the hindmost, that's most of us.

...and even Labour, the party of trade unionism, has adopted austerity to drive its policy.

...we need a Peoples' Party to stand for the revaluation of labour so we get paid for our effort rather than the distortion, the rich xxx poor divide, of neoslavery austerity.

Crackerpot , 8 Jun 2013 10:43
When the IMF 'admitted' that the first bail out of Greece was 'bungled' are they trying to imply that the subsequent bail outs have been a success....
artheart , 8 Jun 2013 10:34
People need to start watching The Keiser Report to hear the truth, if they can handle the truth. Link here: http://rt.com/shows/keiser-report/

I simply cannot recommend it enough.

MickGJ -> bluebirds , 8 Jun 2013 10:30

@bluebirds - deregulated capitalism has failed

Of course it has. And it will continue to "fail", while provide us with all sorts of goodies, for the foreseeable future. Capitalism's endless "failure" is of no more concern than human mortality. Ever tried, ever failed, try again, fail better.
epinoa -> CaptainGrey , 8 Jun 2013 10:25
@CaptainGrey -

Except it's not. It is still very much alive and growing.

In as much as a zombie is.

The "alternatives" have crashed and burned save Cuba and North Korea.

I'd say the current oligarchical form of capitalism has crashed quite spectacularly. I say this as a free market capitalist too.

[Dec 14, 2018] Noam Chomsky pointed this out aeons ago though-that the American model is to use tax money to benefit private interests through technological infrastructure

Notable quotes:
"... Now we see moneyed entities with vested interests, carpet bagging and flogging off the NHS and an unelected fossil fuel mandarin, at the heart of government decision making, appointing corporate yea-sayers, to the key government departments, with environmental responsibilities. Corporations capturing the state apparatus for their own ends, is 'corporatism.' ..."
"... "Neoliberalism in practice is every bit as bad as Communism in practice, with none of the benefits." ..."
"... The bailout is simply actual neoliberalism as opposed to the theory inside tiny right wing minds. The system depends on the wealthy not being allowed to suffer the consequences of their own greed, or it would represent revolution and still not work. ..."
"... Neoliberalism in practice is every bit as bad as Communism in practice, with none of the benefits. It always amusing to see neoliberal morons shout about the red menace when they're two sides of the same coin. ..."
"... Neoliberalism is nothing if not the opposite extreme of the communist planned economy. Like the communist planned economy, neoliberalism is doomed to failure. I think we've all been sold a lie. ..."
Jun 08, 2013 | discussion.theguardian.com

epinoa -> Fachan , 8 Jun 2013 10:19

@Fachan -

Just as democracy is the worst system of government except for all other, so capitalism is the worst economic model except for all other.

Shame we only have bastardized forms of them.
bridkid5 -> NotAgainAgain , 8 Jun 2013 10:18
@NotAgainAgain - this is very true, it reminds me of an engineering company I worked for in Nottingham (since gone under). The production manger was a corrupt thief. He gradually sub-contracted the production work out to other companies in the area, taking backhanders for his troubles.

Once all the production was farmed out, he somehow got himself promoted to director level, where he and a sycophant subbed all the design work out. So all the production and design was done out of house, standards dropped and the company closed, leaving him with a nice payoff, just prior to retirement.

Some would say he played a blinder, my interpretation is he ruined a perfectly viable company, making a very good product, and over the course of about 5 years put over 30 people out of work.

In a just world he would be spending his retirement in prison.

ATrueFinn -> MickGJ , 8 Jun 2013 10:13
@ MickGJ 08 June 2013 2:16pm

ext year's harvest (possibly of GM food which makes better use of scarce resources)

Indeed. Wheat will grow as flour and fly to our cupboards.

ATrueFinn -> fr0mn0where , 8 Jun 2013 10:10
@ fr0mn0where 08 June 2013 1:53pm

Income distribution and a happy workforce is actually very good for business as well as society!

Of course it is, but the capitalists do not know it. In many countries, including Finland, the "condition of the working classes", ie. working conditions, have been in rapid decline for the last 20 years.

Permanent salaried jobs have been replaced with temps from agencies, unpaid overtime is becoming the norm, burnouts are commonplace and so on.

If in your country things are different, no mass lay-outs and outsourcing to China, count yourself lucky!

crinklyoldgit , 8 Jun 2013 10:04
On form, Debs. Here is something I like.

But even though an illiterate market wouldn't be so great for them, they avoid their taxes, because they can, because they are more powerful than governments

Noam Chomsky pointed this out aeons ago though-that the American model is to use tax money to benefit private interests through technological infrastructure.

It was ever thus, if in slightly different forms. Still it is surprising that they have gone so quickly from their stated position at the start of the republic of a rejection of kings and emperors to their position now of corruption so ingrained it is impossible to make distinctions. Proxy emperors are emperors all the same, no matter the rhetoric that promotes them.

One senses that there is very little 'going back' possible. Besides, the great Neoliberal scam is predicated upon the qualities of the 'governments' we have and the capacity of those 'rhetoricians' with the capacity to say anything or play any role, to lick any arse, to get elected. Such apparent strength is weakness. In this world that now exists here, we have now entered the same world as the USSR in the eighties, where the announcement of bumper harvests of wheat, made everyone with a brain cell groan and think 'Oh fuck! no bread this winter-quick, run to the shops now, and buy up all the flour there'.

But there is now no way to declare that without being seen as beyond the pale-a bug eyed conspiracist.

Still, I am a believer in the connectedness of this world. The economic system and its mythologies are just weird and distorted canaries in the coalmine of the wider environment. It is indicating that there is a misalignment between the way we think and what is possible in this world. Austerity promoters and 'Keynsian' Ballsites are one and the same thing-both pretenders that the key to the problems is within their narrow gifts

Hubris is followed by nemesis. In a wider sense what we seen now is a complete failure of the capacity to educate and to learn,and moderate behaviour, and find some way of caring for our 'others', beyond the core of 'self'. nationalism is essentially an extension of 'self'. We now shall see the failure of a retraction of thought into nationalism and scapegoating.

I predict that the population of the world will decline over the next century-quite markedly.
The only solace is that at the end of the process, the pain will be forgotten. It always is.

MysticFish -> MickGJ , 8 Jun 2013 09:57
@MickGJ - Cameron said 'We will cut the deficit, not the NHS,' and promised to be the 'greenest government ever,' saying that you could 'go green,' if you voted 'blue.'

Now we see moneyed entities with vested interests, carpet bagging and flogging off the NHS and an unelected fossil fuel mandarin, at the heart of government decision making, appointing corporate yea-sayers, to the key government departments, with environmental responsibilities. Corporations capturing the state apparatus for their own ends, is 'corporatism.'

Spoutwell , 8 Jun 2013 09:53

Much of the healthy economic growth – as opposed to the smoke and mirrors of many aspects of financial services – that Britain enjoyed during the second half of the 20th century was due to women swelling the educated workforce.

There was very little 'healthy economic growth' in Britain in the second half of the 20th century. Britain was bankrupt after WW2 with its people dependent on Marshall Aid and food contributions from its former 'colonies'.

Whatever 'growth' occured after Marshall Aid arrived was scuppered by a class system where company managers were more concerned with walking on the workers than with keeping their businesses afloat while such discrimination provoked hard left trade union policies which left british industry uncompetitive and ultimately non-existent.

If that wasn't enough, Thatcherism arrived to re-inforce class discrimination, sell off national services and assets and replace social policy with neo-liberal consumerism. Whether the workforce was swollen by women or anyone else is immaterial.

The anti-democratic incestuous class conflict latent in British society continues to ensure that the UK will remain a mere vassal state of foot-soldiers and consumers for international neo-liberal capitalism.

MurchuantEacnamai -> DasInternaut , 8 Jun 2013 09:49
@DasInternaut - Completely agree. The performance has been poor to absymal. But this is a failure of democratic governance because the collective interests of citizens as consumers and service users are not being represented and enforced by the elected politicians since they have been suborned by the capitalists elites and their fellow-travellers.

The people, indeed, have been sold a lie, but, unfortunately, it is only UKIP which is making the political waves by revealing selected aspects of this lie. The three established parties have been 'bought' to varying extents. But more and more citizens are beginning to realise the extent to which they have been bought.

Itsrainingtin , 8 Jun 2013 09:44
There is an upside to all of this, maybe I wont get modded so much from now on for being so angry at the ideological criminals . Hopefully the middle classes will cotton on to the fact that all this is not a mad hatters tinfoil hobby, we need more of them to be grumpy.
szwalby -> MickGJ , 8 Jun 2013 09:43
@MickGJ - We've already seen it. Not great so far. GS4, Winterbourne view, southern cross, trains...............Welfare to work companies, delivering no better results than people left to their own devices. Energy companies.

We'll see if the new wave of free schools, academy schools, and all the service outsourced by the council perform any better.

Doubtful, as to make a profit, they have to employ poorer paid people, less well qualified, and once they've got a contract, they've got very little competition, as when the second round of bidding comes around, as the firms having got the first contract are the only one with relevant experience, they are assured of renewal, the money machine will keep going!

MurchuantEacnamai -> TedSmithAndSon , 8 Jun 2013 09:39
@TedSmithAndSon - There's a huge difference between meddling and ensuring effective governance. But I expect in your omniscence you know that.
theguardianisrubbish -> theonionmurders , 8 Jun 2013 09:38
@theonionmurders - I am not going to read a book.

Neoliberalism are policies that are influenced by neo classical economics. If you are suggesting that the neoliberal school of thought would advocate any kind of a bailout then you are mistaken. Where else have I "apparently" embarrassed myself?

theguardianisrubbish -> TedSmithAndSon , 8 Jun 2013 09:28
@TedSmithAndSon - This is just an inaccurate rant not a reply.

"The system depends on the wealthy not being allowed to suffer the consequences.."

Unless you are completely confused by what neolibralism is there is not a shred of logical sense in this.

"The debt industry are the lenders who take advantage of a financial system..."

Which is what savers are. They come in the form of individuals businesses and governments. This encompasses everyone.

"whilst paying the lowest possible rate. Wonga, for instance."

If you are a lender you do not pay anything, you receive.

"Thatchers revolution was to take our citizenship and give it a value, whilst making everyone else a consumer, all for a handful of magic beans in the shape of British Gas shares."

...not forgetting that she revitalised the economy and got everyone back to work again.

"Neoliberalism in practice is every bit as bad as Communism in practice, with none of the benefits."

Neoliberalism is based on the thought of personal freedom, communism is definitely not. Neoliberalist policies have lifted millions of people out of poverty in Asia and South America. Communism has no benefits for society open your eyes!

theonionmurders -> theguardianisrubbish , 8 Jun 2013 09:24

@theguardianisrubbish - Does this author not realise that a government bailout goes against the whole neoliberal school of thought?

No it isn't. You're confusing neoliberalism with neo classical economics. The level of knowledge on economic theory here is sometimes embarrassing.

http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/sociology/rsw/research_centres/theory/conf/rg/harvey_a_brief_history_of_neoliberalism.pdf

MickGJ -> ATrueFinn , 8 Jun 2013 09:16

@ATrueFinn - After they are finished, what do Singaporeans eat?

Next year's harvest (possibly of GM food which makes better use of scarce resources). I imagine the sun will eventually stop bombarding us with the energy that powers photosynthesis but I'm not losing any sleep over it.
richmanchester -> MurchuantEacnamai , 8 Jun 2013 09:13
@MurchuantEacnamai - I think the point is this, Amazon make money by selling books, they avoid paying taxes, yet expect an educated, literate population to be provided for them, on the grounds that illiterate people don't buy books, and expect roads to move the books around on.

So who will pay for this?

TedSmithAndSon -> theguardianisrubbish , 8 Jun 2013 09:12
@theguardianisrubbish - No! The bailout is simply actual neoliberalism as opposed to the theory inside tiny right wing minds. The system depends on the wealthy not being allowed to suffer the consequences of their own greed, or it would represent revolution and still not work.

The debt industry are the lenders who take advantage of a financial system designed to push profits upwards (neoliberalism in practice), whilst paying the lowest possible rate. Wonga, for instance.

Thatchers revolution was to take our citizenship and give it a value, whilst making everyone else a consumer, all for a handful of magic beans in the shape of British Gas shares.

Neoliberalism in practice is every bit as bad as Communism in practice, with none of the benefits. It always amusing to see neoliberal morons shout about the red menace when they're two sides of the same coin.

szwalby -> MickGJ , 8 Jun 2013 09:04
@MickGJ -

.and provides them at a massively inflated cost accompanied by unforgivable waste and inefficiency, appalling service and life-threatening incompetence.

as opposed to the private sector, who always does what it says it will do, at reasonable cost, for the benefit of their customers, and with due regards to ethics? Like the Banks, the financial sector, who will never sell you a product that isn't the best for you, regardless of their interest? the private companies like Southern Cross, GS4?

The private insurance who refuse to take you on the minute you've got some illness or disability? Get off it! The state isn't perfect, the services it provides are not perfect, but replacing them with private provision isn't the answer!

DasInternaut -> MurchuantEacnamai , 8 Jun 2013 08:59
@MurchuantEacnamai - How would you rate how well British government has done in ensuring markets are genuinely competitive. How well has British government done in ensuring our energy market is competitive, for example. Does the competitiveness we observe in the energy market give customers better or worse value than they had before deregulation? How do you rate the British government's performance in rail and public transport, with respect to competitiveness?

Personally, and notwithstanding the notable exception of telecoms, I rate the British (and US) government's performance in deregulating state entities, creating new markets and ensuring competition, as poor.

Neoliberalism is nothing if not the opposite extreme of the communist planned economy. Like the communist planned economy, neoliberalism is doomed to failure. I think we've all been sold a lie.

[Dec 14, 2018] Neoliberal ideology acted as a smokescreen that enabled the financially powerful to rewrite the rules and place themselves beyond the law

Notable quotes:
"... Neoliberalism has spawned a financial elite who hold governments to ransom ..."
"... Neoliberal ideology acted as a smokescreen that enabled the financially powerful to rewrite the rules and place themselves beyond the law. ..."
"... So it seems that your suggestion is for a return to western capitalism post-war style - would that be right? (b.t.w. if I bring up the whole Soviet Union thing, it is partly because quite a few commentators in this debate come across as if they wish for something much more leftist than that). ..."
"... What you have missed, is that the lions share of the proceeds of that growth are not going to ordinary people but to a tiny minority of super rich. It is not working for the majority. ..."
"... The taxpayers are left to pick up the tab, nations are divided against immigrants and scroungers and then unfettered evangelists like you can spout as pompously as you like about how much big business would like to remove the state from corporate affairs. ..."
"... Without the state there wouldn't be neo-Liberalism, it took state regulated capitalism to build what unfettered purists insist on tearing apart for short term greed. ..."
"... The trouble is Neo-Liberals do not want to remove the state at all, they want to BE the state and in the process rendering democracy pretty much meaningless. And they've succeeded. ..."
"... The biggest swindle ever pulled was turning the most glaring and crushing failure of unfettered corporatism into the biggest and most crushing power grab implemented in order to suppress the will of the people ..."
"... Nobody hates a market more than a monopoly and capitalism must inevitably end in monopoly as it has. For the profiteering monopolies investment especially via taxation is insane as it can only undermine their monopoly. ..."
"... The bankers have always known that the austerity caused by having to pay off un-payable loans, that increase every year, will eventually produce countries very similar to the "Weimar Days" in pre-Hitler Germany. ..."
"... They also know that drastic conditions such as these often lead to a collapse of democracy and a resurgence of Fascism. ..."
"... Neoliberalism could not exist without massive state support. So the term is meaningless. There is nothing "liberal" about having a huge state funded military industrial complex that acts a Trojan horse for global corporations, invading other countries for resources. ..."
"... Neoliberalism is a branch of economic ideology which espouses the value of the free-market, and removing all protective legislation, so that large companies are free to do what they want, where-ever they want, with no impediments from social or environmental considerations, or a nation's democratic preferences. ..."
"... Business-friendly to who exactly: the nation or hostile overseas speculators? ..."
"... The golden age of 1945 - 1975 or so witnessed huge rises in standards of living so your point linking neo-liberalism to rising standards of living is literally meaningless. There was an explosive growth in economic activity during the three or four post war decades ..."
"... The assumption shared by many round here that the young are some untapped resource of revolutionary energy is deeply mistaken ..."
Jun 10, 2013 | www.theguardian.com

WyldeWolfe , 10 Jun 2013 19:42

Neoliberalism has spawned a financial elite who hold governments to ransom

So it's been a success then.

disorderedworld , 10 Jun 2013 17:21
A wonderful article that names the central issue. Neoliberal ideology acted as a smokescreen that enabled the financially powerful to rewrite the rules and place themselves beyond the law. The resultant rise of financial capitalism, which now eclipses the productive manufacturing-based capitalism that was the engine of world growth since the industrial revolution, has propelled a dangerous self-serving elite to the centre of world power. It's not just inequality that matters, but the character of the global elite.
MatthewBall -> murielbelcher , 10 Jun 2013 16:23
@murielbelcher -

The neo-liberal order commenced only in the late 1970s - there was a very different order prior to this which was not "soviet socialism" as you term it.

So it seems that your suggestion is for a return to western capitalism post-war style - would that be right? (b.t.w. if I bring up the whole Soviet Union thing, it is partly because quite a few commentators in this debate come across as if they wish for something much more leftist than that).

Anyway, my worry with this idea is that I am just not convinced that life in "The West 1945-80" was better on the whole than in "The West 1980-present". It's true that unemployment is higher these days, but a lot of work in the post-war years was boring and physically exhausting; in factories and mines where conditions were degrading and bad for health; and where industrial relations were simply terrible. I think as well that the higher unemployment is a localized phenomenon that many developing countries are not experiencing (this is relevant because Deborah Orr proposes change for the whole world, not merely the West).

There were also frequent recessions and booms - in fact, more frequent (albeit shorter) than now. What seems to have changed in this respect is that, whereas we used to alternate regularly between 2-3 years of boom and 1-2 years of bust, we now have 15 years of continuous boom followed by a (maybe?) 10 year bust (this pattern began around 1980). If you asked me which of these two patterns I preferred, then I think I'd go for the pre-1980 pattern, but its not clear to me that the post-1980 pattern is so much worse as to underwrite a savage indictment of the whole system.

As for Casino banking: they should reform that. Britain's Coalition Government has done something in that respect, although its not very radical - I am hoping Labour can do more. There is certainly a lot to be said for banks going back to a pre-"Big Bang" sense of tradition and prudence.

Buts let's not also forget the plus sides in the ledger for post-1980 capitalism: hundreds of millions in the former third world lifted out of poverty; unprecedented technological innovation (e.g. the internet, which makes access to knowledge more equal even as income inequality grows); and the accomodation (at least in the West) of progressive social change, such as the empowerment of ethnic minorities, LGBT people and women.

Change, yes - but lets be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

MatthewBall -> Grich , 10 Jun 2013 15:40
@Grich -

What you have missed, is that the lions share of the proceeds of that growth are not going to ordinary people but to a tiny minority of super rich. It is not working for the majority. http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2010/07/58-of-real-income-growth-since-1976-went-to-top-1-and-why-that-matters.html

OK, but both the claim and the link cited in support talk only about a problem in the US. This can't really answer my point, which was that the rest of the world should not be expected to support a change to the economic system of the whole world just because of problems that are mostly localised to North America and Europe. People in developing countries might like the fact that they are, at last, catching "the West" up, and might well not care much about widening inequality of incomes in Western societies.

If you are going to propose changes that you want the whole world to adopt, as Deborah Orr does, then you should be careful to avoid casually assuming that Africa, India, China, et al, feel the same way about the world's recent history as we do. It seems to me that not enough care has been demonstrated in this regard.

MarkHH -> MickGJ , 10 Jun 2013 13:34

@MickGJ - Left to their own devices the most extreme neo-liberals would remove the state almost completely from corporate life.

Except when the State has to step in to prop up an unsustainable ideology. Then it's all meek murmurings and pleas for forgiveness and a timid "we'll be better from now" concessions and the Government obliges the public with the farce that they actually intend to do anything at all but make the public pay for the financial sector's state subsidized profligacy.

Once the begging bowl is re-filled of course then the pretense of "business as usual" profligacy rises to the fore.

The taxpayers are left to pick up the tab, nations are divided against immigrants and scroungers and then unfettered evangelists like you can spout as pompously as you like about how much big business would like to remove the state from corporate affairs.

When you well know that is the last thing big business would like to do. More of the state owned pie is always the most urgent of priorities. Poorer services at inflated costs equates as 'efficiency' until the taxpayer is again left to step in and pick up the bill.

Without the state there wouldn't be neo-Liberalism, it took state regulated capitalism to build what unfettered purists insist on tearing apart for short term greed.

The trouble is Neo-Liberals do not want to remove the state at all, they want to BE the state and in the process rendering democracy pretty much meaningless. And they've succeeded.

The biggest swindle ever pulled was turning the most glaring and crushing failure of unfettered corporatism into the biggest and most crushing power grab implemented in order to suppress the will of the people.

Just as IMF loans come with 'obligations' the principle of democracy itself was sold as part of 'the solution'.

The unsustainable, sustained. By slavery to debt, removal of society's safety net and an economy barely maintained by industries that serve the rich, vultures that prey on the weak and rising living costs and the drudgery of a life compounded by a relentless bombardment of everything in life that is unattainable.

Toeparty , 10 Jun 2013 05:28
Nobody hates a market more than a monopoly and capitalism must inevitably end in monopoly as it has. For the profiteering monopolies investment especially via taxation is insane as it can only undermine their monopoly. With the economy now globalised not even a world war could sweep away the current ossified political economy and give capitalism a new lease on life. It's socialism or monopoly capitalist barbarism. Make your choice.
DracoTBastard , 10 Jun 2013 05:26

The IMF exists to lend money to governments,

Money that the governments don't actually need as they can print their own money and spend it to use their countries own resources and then raise taxes to offset the extra spending and thus maintaining monetary value. The reality is that a government should never, ever borrow money.
Malakia123 , 10 Jun 2013 03:35
The beginning period between the two world wars (1919-33) in Germany called the Weimar Republic shows us exactly what severe austerity imposed by the Treaty of Versailles caused. Because the German economy contracted severely due to reparations payments, steady inflation and severe unemployment ensued. Of course the FED having started the Great Depression in America had not helped matters much anywhere in the world. The bankers have always known that the austerity caused by having to pay off un-payable loans, that increase every year, will eventually produce countries very similar to the "Weimar Days" in pre-Hitler Germany.

They also know that drastic conditions such as these often lead to a collapse of democracy and a resurgence of Fascism.

What causes inflation is uncontrolled speculation of the kind we have seen fed by private banking at various crucial points in history, such as the Weimar Republic. When speculation is coupled with debt (owed to private banking cartels) such as we are seeing in America and Europe now, the result is disaster. On the other hand, when a government issues its own "good faith" commerce-related currency in carefully measured ways as we saw in Roman times or Colonial America, it causes supply and demand to increase together, leaving prices unaffected. Hence there is no inflation, no debt, no unemployment, and no need for income taxes.

In reality, the Weimar financial crisis began with the impossible reparations payments imposed at the Treaty of Versailles. It is very similar to the austerity being imposed on European Nations and America as we speak – regardless of the fact that the IMF is trying to pose as "the Good Cop" at the moment! The damage has been done to nations like Greece, and others are soon to follow. The uncontrollable greed of banks and corporations is leading to an implosion of severe magnitude! It's time to open their books and put a stop to these private banks right now!

brucefiiona -> MysticFish , 9 Jun 2013 20:36
@MysticFish - So the US who has a greater spend on the military than communist China is neoliberal?

Neoliberalism could not exist without massive state support. So the term is meaningless. There is nothing "liberal" about having a huge state funded military industrial complex that acts a Trojan horse for global corporations, invading other countries for resources.

The term neoliberal is not only meaningless but misleading as it implies a connection with true liberalism, of which it has no meaningful connection.

brucefiiona , 9 Jun 2013 20:28
Do away with deceptive terms like neoliberalism, capitalism, socialism, left wing and right wing and things become clearer.

At root a lot of the people who get involved in all of the above have very similar character traits - love of power, greed, deceitful, ruthlessness. Most start out with these character traits, and others gain them as a result of power.

Anyone high up in politics or business is unhinged. You have to be. The organizational structures in these things are so synthetic, the beliefs so artificial, rigid, dogmatic and inhuman that only a unhinged person could prosper in this climate.

Most reasonable people admit doubt, are willing to accept compromise, are willing to make the occasional sacrifice for the greater good. All these things are what make us human, however all these things are seen as weaknesses in the inverted world of business and politics.

Business and politics creates an environment where the must inhuman traits prosper.

fr0mn0where -> murielbelcher , 9 Jun 2013 14:42
@murielbelcher -

"no but the highly placed banking and financial class are along with their venal political mates"

For sure but are they capitalists? Although they may well own capital does their power derive from the ownership of capital? You may, or may not be interested in this lecture on the future of capitalism by John Kay.

MysticFish -> AssistantCook , 9 Jun 2013 14:28
@AssistantCook - Neoliberalism is a branch of economic ideology which espouses the value of the free-market, and removing all protective legislation, so that large companies are free to do what they want, where-ever they want, with no impediments from social or environmental considerations, or a nation's democratic preferences. Von Hayek was a major influence and Thatcher was a loyal disciple, as was the notorious dictator, Pinochet. It is economic theory, designed for vulture capitalists, and unpopular industries like fossil fuel or tobacco, and usually the 'freedom' is all one-sided.
MysticFish -> DavidPavett , 9 Jun 2013 14:12
@DavidPavett - If states are too big, then what about multinational banks and corporations? I wonder why Neoliberal ideology does not try to limit the size of these. They are cumbersome and destructive, predatory dinosaurs and yet our politicians seem mesmerised to the point of allowing them special favours, tax incentives and the ability to determine our nation's policies in matters such as energy and health. Why not 'Small is Beautiful,' when it comes to companies? It doesn't make sense to shrink the state but then let non-transparent and unaccountable, multinational companies become too powerful. One gets the feeling the country is being invaded by the interests of hostile nations, using all-too-convenient Neoliberal ideology and hidden behind a corporate mask.
Jesús Rodriguez , 9 Jun 2013 12:46
Is the IMF ever stop evading its responsibility and blaming others for the worldwide financial tragedy it has provoked? Is it ever stop hurting the working class?
theguardianisrubbish -> murielbelcher , 9 Jun 2013 07:28
@murielbelcher -

"Neo-liberalism is based on the thought of personal freedom for the rich and powerful elites is all."

No it is not that is what you want to believe. There is nothing in this statement other than an opinion based on nothing.

"Many people across the globe were lifted out of poverty between 1945-1980 so what does your statement about neo-liberalism prove"

Which countries during this period saw massive sustainable reductions in poverty without some free market model in place?

"It is you who should open your eyes and stop expecting people on here to accept your ideological beliefs and statements as facts."

I don't expect people to accept my beliefs I am just pointing out why I think their beliefs are wrong. This is a comment section the whole idea of it is to comment on different views and articles. How can you ever benefit or make an accurate decision or belief if you do not try to understand what the opposite belief is? I think nearly everything I have said has been somewhat backed up by logic or a fact, I have not said wishy washy statements like:

"Neo-liberalism is based on the thought of personal freedom for the rich and powerful elites is all."

Unless you can expand on this and give evidence or some form of an example why you think its true then it makes no sense. You are not the only commentor on this article to make a similar statement and the way people have attempted to justify it is due to bailouts but as I have said a bailout is not part of the neoliberal school of thought so if you have a problem with bailouts you don't have a problem with neoliberalism.

theguardianisrubbish -> murielbelcher , 9 Jun 2013 07:10
@murielbelcher - I don't want to go to far into Thatcherism because it is slightly off topic. The early 80s recession was a global recession and yes during the first few years unemployment soared. Why was that because the trade unions were running amok the UK was losing millions of days of work per month.

Inflation was getting out of control and the only way to solve it was a self induced recession. You cannot seriously believe that without the reforms that she implemented we would not have recovered as quick as we did nor can you argue that it was possible for her or anyone else to turn around such an inefficient industry. Don't forget the problems of the manufacturing industry go back way before Thatcher's time.

theguardianisrubbish -> someoneionceknew , 9 Jun 2013 06:34
@someoneionceknew -

"Here's your problem. You believe that banks lend savings. They don't. Loans create deposits create reserves."

I am not claiming to be an expert on this if you are then let me know and please do correct me. I agree banks do not lend deposits but they do lend savings. There is a difference putting money on deposit is different to say putting money into an ISA. I don't agree though that deposits create reserves I believe that they come from the central bank otherwise banks would be constrained by the amount of deposits in the system which is not true and something you have said is not true.

Nevertheless, the majority of liquidity in the bond markets (like most other markets) comes from institutional investors, i.e pension funds, unit trusts, insurance companies, etc. They get their money from savings by consumers as well as sometimes companies. Ok we don't always give our money to insurance companies when we save but via premiums is another way the ordinary consumer contributes to this so called "debt industry". I also said that foreign and local governments buy debt and companies invest directly into the debt market.

MysticFish -> MickGJ , 9 Jun 2013 06:17
@MickGJ - Business-friendly to who exactly: the nation or hostile overseas speculators?
theguardianisrubbish -> TedSmithAndSon , 9 Jun 2013 06:14
"In theory the banks should have been allowed to go bust, but the consequences where deemed too high (as they inevitable are). "

Iceland would disagree.

"The result is socialism for the rich using the poor as the excuse, which is the reality of neoliberalism."

Why have only the rich benefited from the bailout? You are not making any sense.

"The result is socialism for the rich using the poor as the excuse, which is the reality of neoliberalism."

Why? You cannot just say a statement like that and not expand, it makes no sense.

"Thatcher "revitalised" banking, while everything else withered and died."

...but also revitalised the economy and got everyone back to work.

"Neoliberalism is based on the thought that you get as much freedom as you can pay for, otherwise you can just pay... like everyone else."

Again you have to expand on this because it makes no sense.

"In Asia and South America it has been the economic preference of dictators that pushes profit upwards and responsibility down, just like it does here."

Don't think that is true in most cases nor would it make sense. Why would a dictator who wants as much power as possible operate a laissez-faire economy? You cannot have personal freedom without having economic freedom, it is a necessary not sufficient condition. Tell me a case where these is a large degree of political freedom but little to no economic freedom. Moreover look at the countries in Asia and South America that have adopted a neoliberal agenda and notice their how poverty as reduced significantly.

"I find it ironic that it now has 5 year plans that absolutely must not be deviated from, massive state intervention in markets (QE, housing policy, tax credits... insert where applicable), and advocates large scale central planning even as it denies reality, and makes the announcement from a tractor factory."

Who has 5 year plans?

"In theory it's one thing, the reality is entirely different."

If the reality is different to the theory then it is not neoliberalism that is being implemented therefore it makes no sense to dispute the theory. Look at where it has been implemented, the best case in the world at the moment is Hong Kong look at how well that country has performed.

"a massive lie told by rich people "

I can assure you I am not rich.

"Until we're rid of it, we're all it's slaves."

Neoliberalism is based on personal freedom. If you believe this about neoliberalism in your opinion give me one economic school of thought where this does not apply.

theguardianisrubbish -> theonionmurders , 9 Jun 2013 05:35
@theonionmurders -

"Bailouts have been a constant feature of neoliberalism."

What you are saying does not make sense. Whatever you say about that there was no where else to turn the government had to bailout out the banks a neolibralist would disagree.

"In fact the role of the state is simply reduced to a merely commissioning agent to private parasitical corporations. "

That's corporatism which so far you have described pretty well.

"History has shown the state playing this role since neoliberalism became embedded in policy since the 1970s - Long Term Capital Management, Savings and Loans, The Brady Plan, numerous PFI bailouts and those of the Western banking system during the 1982 South American, 1997 Asian and 2010 European debt crises."

What?! Bailouts have been occurring before the industrial revolution. Deregulation in the UK occurred mainly during the 80s not 70's. Furthermore financial deregulation occurred in the UK in 1986. In the USA the major piece of financial deregulation was the Gramm Leach Bliley Act which was passed in 1999. So you have just undercut your own point with the examples you gave above. You could argue Argentina and we could argue all day about the causes of that, but I would say that any government that pursues an expansionary monetary policy under a fixed ER is never going to end well.

"...policy if you won't flick through a book."

My point was that when people quote a source they tend to either quote the page that the point comes from. To be honest if this book is telling you that neoliberalism and neoclassical are significantly different (which you seemed to suggest in you earlier post) then I would suggest put the book down.

ATrueFinn -> fireman36 , 9 Jun 2013 04:17
@ fireman36 09 June 2013 1:32am

Don't like it? Change the rules.

Exactly! However:

"Google, Amazon and Apple... avoid their taxes, because they can, because they are more powerful than governments."

Yes to the first, no to the second. Corporations with revenues exceeding the GDP of a small nation have quite a lot of power: Exxon's revenue is between the GDP of Norway and Austria. In Finland Nokia generated 3 4 % of the GDP for a decade and the government bent backwards to accommodate its polite requests, including a specific law reducing the privacy of employees' emails.

Grich -> MatthewBall , 8 Jun 2013 22:29
@MatthewBall -

I am not sure if this is true. We have the same economic system (broadly speaking, capitalism) as nearly every country in the world, and the world economy is growing at a reasonable rate, at around 3-4% for 2013-14 (see http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2013/01/pdf/c1.pdf for more details).

We percieve a problem in (most of) Europe and North America because our economies are growing more slowly than this, and in some cases not at all. The global growth figure comes out healthy because of strong growth in the emerging countries, like China, Brazil and India, who are narrowing the gap between their living standards and ours. So, the world as a whole isn't broken, even if our bit of it is going through a rough patch.

What you have missed, is that the lions share of the proceeds of that growth are not going to ordinary people but to a tiny minority of super rich. It is not working for the majority. http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2010/07/58-of-real-income-growth-since-1976-went-to-top-1-and-why-that-matters.html

oriel46 -> Fachan , 8 Jun 2013 22:08
@Fachan - Except that it isn't capitalism that was being criticized here, but neoliberalism: a distinction that's often lost on neoliberals themselves, ironically.
TomorrowsWorld , 8 Jun 2013 19:58
I'm sure that Denis Healy and any number of African economists would confirm that the IMF is quite simply a refuge of absolutely last resort, when investor confidence in your economy is so shattered that the only way ahead is to open the shark gates and allow big money to plunder whatever value remains there, without the benefit of any noticeable return for your people. Greece is but one more victim of a syndrome that encompasses all the science and forensic analysis of ritual sacrifice.
murielbelcher -> OneCommentator , 8 Jun 2013 19:10
@OneCommentator - don't confuse economic deregulation which acted as handmaiden to global finance and multinationals as economic freedoms for population

China's govt was doing what china's govt had decided to do from 1978 BEFORE the election of Thatcher in 1979 or Reagan in 1980 (office from Jan 1981), so very little correlation there I think

The GATT rounds whether you agree with their aims or not were the products of the post war decades, again before Thatcher and Reagan came to power

The golden age of 1945 - 1975 or so witnessed huge rises in standards of living so your point linking neo-liberalism to rising standards of living is literally meaningless. There was an explosive growth in economic activity during the three or four post war decades

murielbelcher -> theguardianisrubbish , 8 Jun 2013 19:04
@theguardianisrubbish - you can't get away with this

She DID not get everyone back to work again. There were two recessions at either end of the 1980s. She TRIPLED unemployment during the first half of the 1980s and introduced the phenomenon of high structural unemployment and placing people on invalidity benefits to massage the headline unemployment count. Give us the figures to back up your assertion that she "got everyone back to work again." I suspect that you cannot and your statement stands for the utter nonsense that it is in any kind of reality.

A few months after she was forced out Tory Chancellor Norman Lamont in 1991 during yet another recession declared that "unemployment was a price worth paying"!!!

Neo-liberalism is based on the thought of personal freedom for the rich and powerful elites is all. Many people across the globe were lifted out of poverty between 1945-1980 so what does your statement about neo-liberalism prove

It is you who should open your eyes and stop expecting people on here to accept your ideological beliefs and statements as facts.

Because they are not: in no shape, way or form

fireman36 , 8 Jun 2013 19:03
Not very impressed to be honest. For starters:

"The IMF exists to lend money to governments, so it's comic that it wags its finger at governments that run up debt. And, of course, its loans famously come with strings attached: adopt a free-market economy, or strengthen the one you have, kissing goodbye to the Big State."

That's glib and inaccurate. A better read about the IMF from an insider: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/05/the-quiet-coup/307364/ Digest: the biggest problem the IMF have to deal with in bailouts is always the politics of cronyism; free-market oligarchs and government in cahoots.

"Many IMF programs "go off track" (a euphemism) precisely because the government can't stay tough on erstwhile cronies, and the consequences are massive inflation or other disasters. A program "goes back on track" once the government prevails or powerful oligarchs sort out among themselves who will govern -- and thus win or lose -- under the IMF-supported plan. The real fight in Thailand and Indonesia in 1997 was about which powerful families would lose their banks. In Thailand, it was handled relatively smoothly. In Indonesia, it led to the fall of President Suharto and economic chaos."

MickGJ -> JohnBroggio , 8 Jun 2013 18:42

@JohnBroggio - who caters for the idealist vote?

Generally whoever happens to be in opposition at the time. This made the LibDems the ideal (sorry) choice for a long time but then they broke a long-standing if unspoken promise that they would never actually be in government.

Last weekś Economist has some very interesting stuff from the British Social Attitudes survey which shows the increasing drift away from collectivist ideals towards liberalism over each succeeding generation.

The assumption shared by many round here that the young are some untapped resource of revolutionary energy is deeply mistaken

[Dec 14, 2018] Neoliberalism has spawned a financial elite who hold governments to ransom by Deborah Orr

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The crash was a write-off, not a repair job. The response should be a wholesale reevaluation of the way in which wealth is created and distributed around the globe ..."
"... The IMF also admits that it "underestimated" the effect austerity would have on Greece. Obviously, the rest of the Troika takes no issue with that. Even those who substitute "kick up the arse to all the lazy scroungers" whenever they encounter the word "austerity", have cottoned on to the fact that the word can only be intoned with facial features locked into a suitably tragic mask. ..."
"... Yet, mealy-mouthed and hotly contested as this minor mea culpa is, it's still a sign that financial institutions may slowly be coming round to the idea that they are the problem. ..."
"... Markets cannot be free. Markets have to be nurtured. They have to be invested in. Markets have to be grown. Google, Amazon and Apple haven't taught anyone in this country to read. But even though an illiterate market wouldn't be so great for them, they avoid their taxes, because they can, because they are more powerful than governments. ..."
"... The neoliberalism that the IMF still preaches pays no account to any of this. It insists that the provision of work alone is enough of an invisible hand to sustain a market. Yet even Adam Smith, the economist who came up with that theory , did not agree that economic activity alone was enough to keep humans decent and civilised. ..."
"... Governments are left with the bill when neoliberals demand access to markets that they refuse to invest in making. Their refusal allows them to rail against the Big State while producing the conditions that make it necessary. ..."
Jun 08, 2013 | www.theguardian.com

The crash was a write-off, not a repair job. The response should be a wholesale reevaluation of the way in which wealth is created and distributed around the globe

Sat 8 Jun 2013 02.59 EDT First published on Sat 8 Jun 2013 02.59 EDT

The IMF's limited admission of guilt over the Greek bailout is a start, but they still can't see the global financial system's fundamental flaws, writes Deborah Orr. Photograph: Boris Roessler/DPA FILE T he International Monetary Fund has admitted that some of the decisions it made in the wake of the 2007-2008 financial crisis were wrong, and that the €130bn first bailout of Greece was "bungled". Well, yes. If it hadn't been a mistake, then it would have been the only bailout and everyone in Greece would have lived happily ever after.

Actually, the IMF hasn't quite admitted that it messed things up. It has said instead that it went along with its partners in "the Troika" – the European Commission and the European Central Bank – when it shouldn't have. The EC and the ECB, says the IMF, put the interests of the eurozone before the interests of Greece. The EC and the ECB, in turn, clutch their pearls and splutter with horror that they could be accused of something so petty as self-preservation.

The IMF also admits that it "underestimated" the effect austerity would have on Greece. Obviously, the rest of the Troika takes no issue with that. Even those who substitute "kick up the arse to all the lazy scroungers" whenever they encounter the word "austerity", have cottoned on to the fact that the word can only be intoned with facial features locked into a suitably tragic mask.

Yet, mealy-mouthed and hotly contested as this minor mea culpa is, it's still a sign that financial institutions may slowly be coming round to the idea that they are the problem. They know the crash was a debt-bubble that burst. What they don't seem to acknowledge is that the merry days of reckless lending are never going to return; even if they do, the same thing will happen again, but more quickly and more savagely. The thing is this: the crash was a write-off, not a repair job. The response from the start should have been a wholesale reevaluation of the way in which wealth is created and distributed around the globe, a "structural adjustment", as the philosopher John Gray has said all along.

The IMF exists to lend money to governments, so it's comic that it wags its finger at governments that run up debt. And, of course, its loans famously come with strings attached: adopt a free-market economy, or strengthen the one you have, kissing goodbye to the Big State. Yet, the irony is painful. Neoliberal ideology insists that states are too big and cumbersome, too centralised and faceless, to be efficient and responsive. I agree. The problem is that the ruthless sentimentalists of neoliberalism like to tell themselves – and anyone else who will listen – that removing the dead hand of state control frees the individual citizen to be entrepreneurial and productive. Instead, it places the financially powerful beyond any state, in an international elite that makes its own rules, and holds governments to ransom. That's what the financial crisis was all about. The ransom was paid, and as a result, governments have been obliged to limit their activities yet further – some setting about the task with greater relish than others. Now the task, supposedly, is to get the free market up and running again.

But the basic problem is this: it costs a lot of money to cultivate a market – a group of consumers – and the more sophisticated the market is, the more expensive it is to cultivate them. A developed market needs to be populated with educated, healthy, cultured, law-abiding and financially secure people – people who expect to be well paid themselves, having been brought up believing in material aspiration, as consumers need to be.

So why, exactly, given the huge amount of investment needed to create such a market, should access to it then be "free"? The neoliberal idea is that the cultivation itself should be conducted privately as well. They see "austerity" as a way of forcing that agenda. But how can the privatisation of societal welfare possibly happen when unemployment is already high, working people are turning to food banks to survive and the debt industry, far from being sorry that it brought the global economy to its knees, is snapping up bargains in the form of busted high-street businesses to establish shops with nothing to sell but high-interest debt? Why, you have to ask yourself, is this vast implausibility, this sheer unsustainability, not blindingly obvious to all?

Markets cannot be free. Markets have to be nurtured. They have to be invested in. Markets have to be grown. Google, Amazon and Apple haven't taught anyone in this country to read. But even though an illiterate market wouldn't be so great for them, they avoid their taxes, because they can, because they are more powerful than governments.

And further, those who invest in these companies, and insist that taxes should be low to encourage private profit and shareholder value, then lend governments the money they need to create these populations of sophisticated producers and consumers, berating them for their profligacy as they do so. It's all utterly, completely, crazy.

The other day a health minister, Anna Soubry , suggested that female GPs who worked part-time so that they could bring up families were putting the NHS under strain. The compartmentalised thinking is quite breathtaking. What on earth does she imagine? That it would be better for the economy if they all left school at 16? On the contrary, the more people who are earning good money while working part-time – thus having the leisure to consume – the better. No doubt these female GPs are sustaining both the pharmaceutical industry and the arts and media, both sectors that Britain does well in.

As for their prioritising of family life over career – that's just another of the myriad ways in which Conservative neoliberalism is entirely without logic. Its prophets and its disciples will happily – ecstatically – tell you that there's nothing more important than family, unless you're a family doctor spending some of your time caring for your own. You couldn't make these characters up. It is certainly true that women with children find it more easy to find part-time employment in the public sector. But that's a prima facie example of how unresponsive the private sector is to human and societal need, not – as it is so often presented – evidence that the public sector is congenitally disabled.

Much of the healthy economic growth – as opposed to the smoke and mirrors of many aspects of financial services – that Britain enjoyed during the second half of the 20th century was due to women swelling the educated workforce. Soubry and her ilk, above all else, forget that people have multiple roles, as consumers, as producers, as citizens and as family members. All of those things have to be nurtured and invested in to make a market.

The neoliberalism that the IMF still preaches pays no account to any of this. It insists that the provision of work alone is enough of an invisible hand to sustain a market. Yet even Adam Smith, the economist who came up with that theory , did not agree that economic activity alone was enough to keep humans decent and civilised.

Governments are left with the bill when neoliberals demand access to markets that they refuse to invest in making. Their refusal allows them to rail against the Big State while producing the conditions that make it necessary. And even as the results of their folly become ever more plain to see, they are grudging in their admittance of the slightest blame, bickering with their allies instead of waking up, smelling the coffee and realizing that far too much of it is sold through Starbucks.

[Dec 14, 2018] The era of neoliberalism has seen a massive increase in government, not a shrinkage. The biggest change is the role of governments - to protect markets rather than to protect the rights and dignities of its citizens

Notable quotes:
"... The era of neoliberalism has seen a massive increase in government, not a shrinkage. The biggest change is the role of governments - to protect markets rather than to protect the rights and dignities of its citizens. When viewed by outcome rather than ideological rhetoric, it becomes increasingly clear that neoliberalism has nothing to do with shrinking the state, freeing markets, or freeing the individual, and everything to do with a massive power grab by a global elite. ..."
"... What was the billions of pounds in bank bailout welfare and recession on costs all about? You tell me. All the result of the application of your extremist free market ideology? Let the banks run wild, they mess up and the taxpayer has to step in with bailout welfare and pay to clear up the recession debris ..."
"... Market participants and their venal political friends have during the past 30 years of extremist neo-liberal ideology rigged, abused, distorted and subverted their market and elite power to tilt the economic and social balance massively in their favour ..."
"... Neo liberalism = the favoured ideology of the very rich and powerful elite ..."
"... at last somebody is looking at globalisation and asking whose interests is it designed to serve? It certainly ain't for the people. ..."
"... the highly placed banking and financial class are along with their venal political mates ..."
"... We've had three decades of asset stripping in favor of the rich elites and look at the mess we're in now. ..."
"... I strongly believe that people are not being told the full story. Like the NSA surveillance revelation, the effects will not be pretty when the facts are known. No country needs the IMF. ..."
"... The mythology surrounding deficits and national debt is a religion that the world is in desperate need of debunking. Like religion, the mythology is used as a means of power and entrenchment of privilege for the Ruling Caste, not the plebs (lesser mortals). ..."
Dec 03, 2018 | www.theguardian.com
justamug , 8 Jun 2013 18:09
This article is a testament to our ignorance. Orr is no intellectual slouch, but somehow, like many in the mainstream, she still fails to address some fundamental assumptions and thus ends up with a muddled argument.

"What they don't seem to acknowledge is that the merry days of reckless lending are never going to return;"

Lending has not stopped - it's just moved out of one market into another. Banks are making profits, and banks profit are made by expanding credit.

Neoliberal ideology insists that states are too big and cumbersome, too centralised and faceless, to be efficient and responsive.

Yes and no. There is a difference between what is preached and what happens in practice. The era of neoliberalism has seen a massive increase in government, not a shrinkage. The biggest change is the role of governments - to protect markets rather than to protect the rights and dignities of its citizens. When viewed by outcome rather than ideological rhetoric, it becomes increasingly clear that neoliberalism has nothing to do with shrinking the state, freeing markets, or freeing the individual, and everything to do with a massive power grab by a global elite.
murielbelcher -> MurchuantEacnamai , 8 Jun 2013 18:06
@MurchuantEacnamai - well righty ideologues such as yourself and your venal political acolytes have utterly failed to support the case or institute measures that: "apply effective democratic governance to ensure market

What was the billions of pounds in bank bailout welfare and recession on costs all about? You tell me. All the result of the application of your extremist free market ideology? Let the banks run wild, they mess up and the taxpayer has to step in with bailout welfare and pay to clear up the recession debris

Market participants and their venal political friends have during the past 30 years of extremist neo-liberal ideology rigged, abused, distorted and subverted their market and elite power to tilt the economic and social balance massively in their favour

You the taxpayer are good enough to bail us out when we mess up but then we demand that your services are cut in return and that your employment is ever more precarious and wages depressed (at the lower end of the scale - never ever the higher of course!! That's the neo-liberal deal isn't it

Neo liberalism = the favoured ideology of the very rich and powerful elite and boy don't they know how to work its levers

freedomrespect , 8 Jun 2013 18:00
Very insightful commentary and at last somebody is looking at globalisation and asking whose interests is it designed to serve? It certainly ain't for the people. Amazing it's been approved on a UK liberal newspaper as well!
Boguille -> Fachan , 8 Jun 2013 17:57
@Fachan - There was nothing in the article about envy. It was an exposition of the failure of our present system which allows the rich to get ever richer. That would be fine if it weren't for the fact that the increasing disparity in wealth is bringing down the economy and making it less productive while leaving a large part of the population in, or on the verge of, poverty.
murielbelcher -> CaptainGrey , 8 Jun 2013 17:41
@CaptainGrey - but we're not talking about that form of capitalism are we?

Surely you must realise that there are very very different forms of capitalism. The capitalism that reigns now would not have permitted the creation of the NHS had it not been devised in the1940s when a very different type of capitalism reigned. Its political acolytes and its cheerleader press would have denounced the NHS as an extremist commie idea!!

murielbelcher -> fr0mn0where , 8 Jun 2013 17:39
@fr0mn0where - it was crumbling in the 1980s

The Chicago boys swarmed into eastern Europe after 1989 to introduce a form of gangster unbridled capitalism. The very Chicago boys led by Milton Friedman who used the dictator Pinochet's Chile as test bed for their ideology from September 1973 after the coup that overthrew Allende

murielbelcher -> fr0mn0where , 8 Jun 2013 17:35
@fr0mn0where - no but the highly placed banking and financial class are along with their venal political mates

We've had three decades of asset stripping in favor of the rich elites and look at the mess we're in now.

murielbelcher -> MatthewBall , 8 Jun 2013 17:33
@MatthewBall - social democracy

The neo-liberal order commenced only in the late 1970s - there was a very different order prior to this which was not "Soviet Socialism" as you term it.

As such this extremist rich man's ideological experiment has had a long innings and has failed as the events of 2008 laid bare for all to see - it has been tried out disastrously on live human beings for 34 years and has now been thoroughly discredited with the huge bank bailouts and financial crash and ensuing and enduring recession It was scarcely succeeding prior to this with high entrenched rates of unemployment, frequent recessions/booms and busts and unsustainable property bubbles and deregulated unstable speculative aka casino banking activity

Time for a change

RidiculousPseudonym , 8 Jun 2013 17:26
This is basically right, but a few comments.

1. Neoliberalism cannot be pinned on one party alone. It was accepted by the Thatcher government, but no Prime Minister since has seriously challenged it.

2. Neoliberalism is logically contrary to conservative values. Either there are certain moral imperatives so important that it is worth wasting money over them, or there are not. No wonder that Tories are torn in two, not to mention Labour politicians who also try to combine neoliberalism and moral principle.

3. Saying "even Adam Smith" is understandable but unfair. His work was rather enlightened in the context of mercantilism, and of course the Wealth of Nations was not his only book. Others will know his work better than me, but I think he dwells rather strongly on problems of persistent poverty.

4. The political and redistributive functions of nations are indeed damaged by neolib, but I don't think there is any realistic way of getting that power back without applying capital controls. If we apply capital controls, all hell breaks loose.

5. Ergo, we are stuck with a situation where neolib is killing democracy, distributive justice and conservative moral values, but there is nothing we can do about it without pulling the plug altogether and unleashing a sharp drop in wealth and 1930s nationalistic havoc. A bit of a tragedy, indeed.

HolyInsurgent , 8 Jun 2013 17:22

Deborah Orr: The IMF exists to lend money to governments, so it's comic that it wags its finger at governments that run up debt.

I strongly believe that people are not being told the full story. Like the NSA surveillance revelation, the effects will not be pretty when the facts are known. No country needs the IMF. Any national government with its own national currency sovereignty can pay its own debts within its own country with its own currency. International borrowing in foreign markets is the biggest myth since religion. But since neoliberalism and its inherent myths have been swallowed whole for so long, we are still at the stage where the child points and laughs at the nude emperor. The fallout from the revelation and remedy is to follow.

The problem with the Eurozone is not that the Euro is the "national" currency. Control of the Euro resides with the European Central Bank, not the Troika (European Commission, European Central Bank, IMF). The European Central Bank, as sole controller of the Euro (the "national" currency), can issue funds to constituent Eurozone states to the extent necessary. I challenge anyone to demonstrate how any central bank does not have power over its own currency!

The mythology surrounding deficits and national debt is a religion that the world is in desperate need of debunking. Like religion, the mythology is used as a means of power and entrenchment of privilege for the Ruling Caste, not the plebs (lesser mortals).

someoneionceknew -> colonelraeburn , 8 Jun 2013 17:18
@colonelraeburn - Excuse me? Private bank credit caused the housing price inflation.

Politicians were complicit in deregulating and appointing non-regulators but they didn't make the loans.

MickGJ -> DavidPavett , 8 Jun 2013 17:16

@DavidPavett - Does anyone have any idea what this is supposed to mean? There are certainly no leads on this in the link given to "the philosopher" John Gray

Gray wrote this in the Guardian in 2007:

Whether in Africa, Asia, Latin America or post-communist Europe, policies of wholesale privatisation and structural adjustment have led to declining economic activity and social dislocation on a massive scale

This doesn't seem to support Orrś assertion that he is calling for a structural adjustment, rather the opposite. I'ḿ not really familiar with Grayś work but he seems to be rather against the universal imposition of any system, new or old.
katiewm -> CaptainGrey , 8 Jun 2013 16:46
@CaptainGrey - Capitalism is not an undifferentiated mass. Late-stage neoliberal hypercapitalism as practiced in the US and increasingly in the UK is a very different beast than the traditional European capitalist social democracy or the Nordic model, which have been shown to work relatively well over time. In fact, neoliberal capitalism - the sort Orr is talking about here - is marked by increasing decline both in the state and in the economy, as inequality in wealth distribution creates a society of beggars and kings instead of spenders and savers. The gains achieved through carefully regulated capitalism won't stick around in the free-for-all conditions preferred by those whose ideology demands the sell-off of the state.
jazzdrum -> PeterWoking , 8 Jun 2013 16:16
@PeterWoking - For some parts of the world , yes they are more affluent now , but a huge part of the globe is still without food and water .

I think de regulation of the financial sector has caused a huge amount of damage to the world all round and to be honest, i expect more of the same as the Bankers are still in control.

[Dec 14, 2018] Hidden neoliberal inner party : US chamber of commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and The Business Roundtable

Notable quotes:
"... The American Chamber of Commerce subsequently expanded its base from around 60,000 firms in 1972 to over a quarter of a million ten years later. Jointly with the National Association of Manufacturers (which moved to Washington in 1972) it amassed an immense campaign chest to lobby Congress and engage in research. The Business Roundtable, an organization of CEOs 'committed to the aggressive pursuit of political power for the corporation', was founded in 1972 and thereafter became the centrepiece of collective pro-business action. ..."
"... Nearly half the financing for the highly respected NBER came from the leading companies in the Fortune 500 list. Closely integrated with the academic community, the NBER was to have a very significant impact on thinking in the economics departments and business schools of the major research universities. ..."
"... In order to realize this goal, businesses needed a political class instrument and a popular base. They therefore actively sought to capture the Republican Party as their own instrument. The formation of powerful political action committees to procure, as the old adage had it, 'the best government that money could buy' was an important step. ..."
"... The Republican Party needed, however, a solid electoral base if it was to colonize power effectively. It was around this time that Republicans sought an alliance with the Christian right. The latter had not been politically active in the past, but the foundation of Jerry Falwell's 'moral majority' as a political movement in 1978 changed all of that. The Republican Party now had its Christian base. ..."
"... It also appealed to the cultural nationalism of the white working classes and their besieged sense of moral righteousness. This political base could be mobilized through the positives of religion and cultural nationalism and negatively through coded, if not blatant, racism, homophobia, and anti feminism. ..."
"... The alliance between big business and conservative Christians backed by the neoconservatives consolidated, not for the first time has a social group been persuaded to vote against its material, economic, and class interests ..."
"... Any political movement that holds individual freedoms to be sacrosanct is vulnerable to incorporation into the neoliberal fold. ..."
"... Neoliberal rhetoric, with its foundational emphasis upon individual freedoms, has the power to split off libertarianism, identity politics, multiculturalism, and eventually narcissistic consumerism from the social forces ranged in pursuit of social justice through the conquest of state power. ..."
"... By capturing ideals of individual freedom and turning them against the interventionist and regulatory practices of the state, capitalist class interests could hope to protect and even restore their position. Neoliberalism was well suited to this ideological task. ..."
"... Neoliberalization required both politically and economically the construction of a neoliberal market-based populist culture of differentiated consumerism and individual libertarianism. As such it proved more than a little compatible with that cultural impulse called 'postmodernism' which had long been lurking in the wings but could now emerge full-blown as both a cultural and an intellectual dominant. This was the challenge that corporations and class elites set out to finesse in the 1980s. ..."
"... Powell argued that individual action was insufficient. 'Strength', he wrote, 'lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations'. The National Chamber of Commerce, he argued, should lead an assault upon the major institutions––universities, schools, the media, publishing, the courts––in order to change how individuals think 'about the corporation, the law, culture, and the individual'. US businesses did not lack resources for such an effort, particularly when they pooled their resources together. ..."
Nov 27, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Themiddlegound -> Themiddlegound , 11 Jun 2013 05:42

The American Chamber of Commerce subsequently expanded its base from around 60,000 firms in 1972 to over a quarter of a million ten years later. Jointly with the National Association of Manufacturers (which moved to Washington in 1972) it amassed an immense campaign chest to lobby Congress and engage in research. The Business Roundtable, an organization of CEOs 'committed to the aggressive pursuit of political power for the corporation', was founded in 1972 and thereafter became the centrepiece of collective pro-business action.

The corporations involved accounted for 'about one half of the GNP of the United States' during the 1970s, and they spent close to $900 million annually (a huge amount at that time) on political matters. Think-tanks, such as the Heritage Foundation, the Hoover Institute, the Center for the Study of American Business, and the American Enterprise Institute, were formed with corporate backing both to polemicize and, when necessary, as in the case of the National Bureau of Economic Research, to construct serious technical and empirical studies and political-philosophical arguments broadly in support of neoliberal policies.

Nearly half the financing for the highly respected NBER came from the leading companies in the Fortune 500 list. Closely integrated with the academic community, the NBER was to have a very significant impact on thinking in the economics departments and business schools of the major research universities. With abundant finance furnished by wealthy individuals (such as the brewer Joseph Coors, who later became a member of Reagan's 'kitchen cabinet') and their foundations (for example Olin, Scaife, Smith Richardson, Pew Charitable Trust), a flood of tracts and books, with Nozick's Anarchy State and Utopia perhaps the most widely read and appreciated, emerged espousing neoliberal values. A TV version of Milton Friedman's Free to Choose was funded with a grant from Scaife in 1977. 'Business was', Blyth concludes, 'learning to spend as a class.

In singling out the universities for particular attention, Powell pointed up an opportunity as well as an issue, for these were indeed centers of anti-corporate and anti-state sentiment (the students at Santa Barbara had burned down the Bank of America building there and ceremonially buried a car in the sands). But many students were (and still are) affluent and privileged, or at least middle class, and in the US the values of individual freedom have long been celebrated (in music and popular culture) as primary. Neoliberal themes could here find fertile ground for propagation. Powell did not argue for extending state power. But business should 'assiduously cultivate' the state and when necessary use it 'aggressively and with determination'

In order to realize this goal, businesses needed a political class instrument and a popular base. They therefore actively sought to capture the Republican Party as their own instrument. The formation of powerful political action committees to procure, as the old adage had it, 'the best government that money could buy' was an important step. The supposedly 'progressive' campaign finance laws of 1971 in effect legalized the financial corruption of politics.

A crucial set of Supreme Court decisions began in 1976 when it was first established that the right of a corporation to make unlimited money contributions to political parties and political action committees was protected under the First Amendment guaranteeing the rights of individuals (in this instance corporations) to freedom of speech.15 Political action committees could thereafter ensure the financial domination of both political parties by corporate, moneyed, and professional association interests. Corporate PACs, which numbered eighty-nine in 1974, had burgeoned to 1,467 by 1982.

The Republican Party needed, however, a solid electoral base if it was to colonize power effectively. It was around this time that Republicans sought an alliance with the Christian right. The latter had not been politically active in the past, but the foundation of Jerry Falwell's 'moral majority' as a political movement in 1978 changed all of that. The Republican Party now had its Christian base.

It also appealed to the cultural nationalism of the white working classes and their besieged sense of moral righteousness. This political base could be mobilized through the positives of religion and cultural nationalism and negatively through coded, if not blatant, racism, homophobia, and anti feminism.

The alliance between big business and conservative Christians backed by the neoconservatives consolidated, not for the first time has a social group been persuaded to vote against its material, economic, and class interests the evangelical Christians eagerly embraced the alliance with big business and the Republican Party as a means to further promote their evangelical and moral agenda.

Themiddlegound -> Themiddlegound , 11 Jun 2013 05:23

Any political movement that holds individual freedoms to be sacrosanct is vulnerable to incorporation into the neoliberal fold.

The worldwide political upheavals of 1968, for example, were strongly inflected with the desire for greater personal freedoms. This was certainly true for students, such as those animated by the Berkeley 'free speech' movement of the 1960s or who took to the streets in Paris, Berlin, and Bangkok and were so mercilessly shot down in Mexico City shortly before the 1968 Olympic Games. They demanded freedom from parental, educational, corporate, bureaucratic, and state constraints. But the '68 movement also had social justice as a primary political objective.

Neoliberal rhetoric, with its foundational emphasis upon individual freedoms, has the power to split off libertarianism, identity politics, multiculturalism, and eventually narcissistic consumerism from the social forces ranged in pursuit of social justice through the conquest of state power. It has long proved extremely difficult within the US left, for example, to forge the collective discipline required for political action to achieve social justice without offending the the Construction of Consent desire of political actors for individual freedom and for full recognition and expression of particular identities. Neoliberalism did not create these distinctions, but it could easily exploit, if not foment, them.

In the early 1970s those seeking individual freedoms and social justice could make common cause in the face of what many saw as a common enemy. Powerful corporations in alliance with an interventionist state were seen to be running the world in individually oppressive and socially unjust ways. The Vietnam War was the most obvious catalyst for discontent, but the destructive activities of corporations and the state in relation to the environment, the push towards mindless consumerism, the failure to address social issues and respond adequately to diversity, as well as intense restrictions on individual possibilities and personal behaviors by state-mandated and 'traditional' controls were also widely resented. Civil rights were an issue, and questions of sexuality and of reproductive rights were very much in play.

For almost everyone involved in the movement of '68, the intrusive state was the enemy and it had to be reformed. And on that, the neoliberals could easily agree. But capitalist corporations, business, and the market system were also seen as primary enemies requiring redress if not revolutionary transformation: hence the threat to capitalist class power.

By capturing ideals of individual freedom and turning them against the interventionist and regulatory practices of the state, capitalist class interests could hope to protect and even restore their position. Neoliberalism was well suited to this ideological task. But it had to be backed up by a practical strategy that emphasized the liberty of consumer choice, not only with respect to particular products but also with respect to lifestyles, modes of expression, and a wide range of cultural practices. Neoliberalization required both politically and economically the construction of a neoliberal market-based populist culture of differentiated consumerism and individual libertarianism. As such it proved more than a little compatible with that cultural impulse called 'postmodernism' which had long been lurking in the wings but could now emerge full-blown as both a cultural and an intellectual dominant. This was the challenge that corporations and class elites set out to finesse in the 1980s.

In the US case a confidential memo sent by Lewis Powell to the US Chamber of Commerce in August 1971. Powell, about to be elevated to the Supreme Court by Richard Nixon, argued that criticism of and opposition to the US free enterprise system had gone too far and that 'the time had come––indeed it is long overdue––for the wisdom, ingenuity and resources of American business to be marshaled against those who would destroy it'.

Powell argued that individual action was insufficient. 'Strength', he wrote, 'lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations'. The National Chamber of Commerce, he argued, should lead an assault upon the major institutions––universities, schools, the media, publishing, the courts––in order to change how individuals think 'about the corporation, the law, culture, and the individual'. US businesses did not lack resources for such an effort, particularly when they pooled their resources together.

[Dec 12, 2018] US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gives speech in Brussels

This is a typical neocon speech. Could be delivered by Hillary Clinton (if we removed some Tea Party frosting). Attacked both Russia and China. Such a freashly minted US diplomat ;-)
The fact that he is mentioned Skripal poisoning suggests that his IQ is overrated... Or many be that's his CIA past...
Trump want to pursue "might makes right" policy but times changed and it remains to be seen how successful he will be.
Dec 12, 2018 | www.youtube.com

Jessica Wylde , 6 days ago

Could you imagine if someone stood up and called out all the US crimes... 3 million prisoners, war crimes in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan ect. Poverty disproportionate to the wealth of the nation. On and on

landlogger , 1 day ago

It doesn't get any clearer than this. A group of people, with no conscience and therefore no shame, no empathy, no emotion, no love, hold the reins of power on planet earth. They do not distinguish between Afghani, Iraqi, European, African or American. We are all fodder for their demented psychopathic agenda. It's time to wake up, because it's coming to your doorstep.

ThePositiveKRP , 13 hours ago (edited)

Suddenly Mike Pompeo seems like a calm and reasonable man, when not long ago he was threatening North Korea with military action.

[Dec 12, 2018] Save the INF Treaty

Notable quotes:
"... The treaty is one of the most advantageous agreements to the U.S. that our government has ever negotiated, so it is extremely difficult to see how leaving the treaty benefits the U.S. ..."
Dec 12, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

about:blank

calls on the Trump administration not to kill the INF Treaty:

Losing patience with Russia's refusal to address legitimate concerns over its violation of the treaty is understandable, but the way Pompeo framed the problem says a great deal about how poorly the Trump administration is managing this sensitive issue. Pompeo told NATO, "the burden falls on Russia to make the necessary changes. Only they can save this treaty." Having built a rare instance of NATO unity, which for the first time has unanimously stated that it believes Russia is in violation of the INF Treaty, U.S. President Donald Trump's team seems more intent on using it as an opportunity to berate Russia than to save a valuable treaty that benefits European and global security. While Russia is to blame for its own violations, the United States will suffer just as much as Russia does if the treaty fails, and even more so if the collapse produces more discord than unity within the NATO alliance. By going the extra mile to save the treaty, instead of issuing ultimatums, the Trump administration might even pull out a win for once. Excuse me if I don't hold my breath.

The INF Treaty is very much worth saving, and quitting it over a Russian violation is as short-sighted and self-defeating as can be. If the U.S. withdraws, there will be no chance of negotiating a replacement. Not only will the U.S. be held as the one most responsible for killing the treaty, but by ending it the Trump administration will be opening the door to an arms race that no one should want.

The treaty is one of the most advantageous agreements to the U.S. that our government has ever negotiated, so it is extremely difficult to see how leaving the treaty benefits the U.S.

Quitting the INF Treaty unfortunately fits the administration's pattern of reneging on and abandoning agreements without giving any thought to the consequences of withdrawal. It makes no sense to give up on a treaty that has proven its worth to the U.S. and our European allies for more than thirty years.

The Trump administration has made the absolute minimum effort to resolve the dispute with Russia before quitting the treaty, and that makes it clear that they are just looking for an excuse to abandon it. If the U.S. gave up so easily on every agreement whenever there was a violation, it would not keep any of its agreements for very long. The bigger problem is that the administration's determination to leave the treaty is driven more by Bolton's ideological hostility to all arms control agreements than it is by any concern about any violations. The administration is seizing on Russian violations to withdraw from this treaty, but it also has no desire to keep New START alive, either. Letting New START die would be even more dangerous, but the administration isn't interested in extending a treaty that Russia has complied with for almost eight years.

[Dec 10, 2018] It's time to recognize the term "anti-Semitism" as a misnomer Countercurrents

Notable quotes:
"... Rima Najjar is a former professor (now retired) at Al-Quds University, Palestine ..."
Dec 10, 2018 | countercurrents.org

This morning I woke up to two news reports in my mailbox that indicated two things to me:

  1. Bigotry against Jews can no more nor less be distinguished from bigotry against any other group of people or religion. Sectarianism by any other name is sectarianism.
  2. The insistence on making bigotry against Jews (in its sense of sectarianism) a separate or unique class of discrimination or hatred altogether, one that is given a special term and that involves controversial and false definitions, is designed to play into the hands of Zionists and neo-Nazis.

Zionist desperation to criminalize anti-Zionist criticism of Israel by legalizing false definitions of anti-Semitism is a measure of how far the term "anti-Semitism" has traveled as a misnomer.

The first news item is from The New York Times – an opinion piece( Opinion | Anti-Zionism Isn't the Same as Anti-Semitism ) by Michelle Goldberg, in which she says,

The conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism is a bit of rhetorical sleight-of-hand that depends on treating Israel as the embodiment of the Jewish people everywhere. Certainly, some criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, but it's entirely possible to oppose Jewish ethno-nationalism without being a bigot. Indeed, it's increasingly absurd to treat the Israeli state as a stand-in for Jews writ large, given the way the current Israeli government has aligned itself with far-right European movements that have anti-Semitic roots.

The second news item comes from the Lobby Watch of the Electronic Intifada, in which Asa Winstanley, an investigative reporter, writes :

A new European Union declaration could make it harder to criticize Israel as a racist state without being dubbed an anti-Semite.

Politicians in Brussels on Thursday rubber-stamped the document .

The declaration asks all EU governments to "endorse the non-legally binding working definition of anti-Semitism employed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance."

The move, passed by EU member states' home affairs ministers, has already been condemned by a number of Israeli and French academics .

The declaration was spearheaded by Austria, whose coalition government includes ministers who are members of a neo-Nazi party .

The term "anti-Semitism" to refer to animus against all Jews is a misnomer. By all accounts, it was coined or popularized by Friedrich Wilhelm Adolph Marr in 1879, a radical writer and politician, described in the title of his first biography as "The Patriarch of Anti-Semitism" and founder of the first "Anti-Semitic League", which he formed in order to agitate against Jewish emancipation in Germany. "Anti-Semitism", as Marr coined it, referred specifically to the anti-Jewish campaigns in central Europe at that time, and not to bigotry or hatred against all Jews, as the term today connotes.

As I write in Anti-Semitism Is Not the Issue; Palestine Is ,

As is well known by now, the building of Palestine in the form of Israel did, in fact, depend, and continues to depend in large part, on the good will of the Jews "outside," many as Norman H. Finkelstein writes in American Jewish History, deriving renewed pride in their religion and their connections to Israel with each Israeli military victory.

The irony/tragedy is that Israeli governments throughout history, including now with the Trump /Bannon merger, work with anti-Semites to promote Jewish immigration to Israel. Zionist collaboration with Nazis is also documented. Nevertheless, anti-Semitism should not be taking center stage either in arguments against Palestinians or in pro-Palestine arguments.

Israel is using a misnomer (the term "anti-Semitism" as animus against all Jews) in order to further its cause among Jews worldwide and among Western governments guilty of past bigotry against Jews in their midst.

Does animus toward Jews because they are Jews exist? Yes. Is this animus special or unique in what FiratHacıahmetoğlu calls "the darker side of western modernity (colonisation, domination, poverty, misery, inequities, injustices, commodification, and dispensability of human life)" or in Western Dark Ages?

Of course, not.

Zionism is a political movement, not "a belief", as expressed in the following definition :

Zionism is the belief that the Jewish nation, the exiles of the Kingdom of Judea that was conquered by Rome in the year 70 CE, have a right to reclaim their homeland.

Jewish suffering, like the suffering of those subjected to bigotry anywhere, is the result of conditions of society and ought to be addressed by fixing society through an increase in political power for disenfranchised groups of people, wherever bigotry exists, thus aiding all the oppressed  --  as, in fact, many Jews in the U.S. have done.

In the early days of Zionism, the Jews who believed that Jewish suffering in Europe is impossible to remedy within their societies (through socialism, for example) because of their lack of political rights and the economic structure imposed on Jews at the time and those who opted for a struggle to separate as a tribe through the acquisition of territory, any territory, outside their countries, represent what Zionism really is as a political movement, which is now oppressing a fourth generation of indigenous Palestinians in their own homeland.

The way I see it, it is time to recognize "anti-Semitism" as the misnomer it is, in order for us to be able to envision Palestinian emancipation and, indeed, all human emancipation, as universal and just.


Note: The above content was first published (7 Dec 2018) as my answer on Quora to the question "Is anti-Semitism a special kind of bigotry? What is the history of the term?".

Rima Najjar is a former professor (now retired) at Al-Quds University, Palestine

[Dec 09, 2018] NYT and CIA have had relationship with, and was caught having planted CIA workers as NYT writers

Notable quotes:
"... Non-elite members of the Party -- functionaries -- mistake their "secret" knowledge as professional courtesy rather than as perquisite and status marker. (I don't suppose it's a secret to anyone that the US CIA regularly plants stories in the NYTimes and elsewhere... unless you weren't paying attention in the strident disinfo campaign prior to the Iraq invasion.) ..."
Aug 30, 2012 | www.theguardian.com
sanda1scuptorNYC , 30 Aug 2012 07:36
Howard Zinn said, in a speech given shortly after the 2008 Presidential election, "If you don't know history, it's like you were born yesterday. The government can tell you anything." (Speech was played on DemocracyNow www.democracynow.org about Jan. 4, 2009 and is archived, free on the website.)

Being older (18 on my last Leap Year birthday - 72), I recall the NYTimes and CIA have had relationship with, and was caught having "planted CIA workers" as NYTimes writers. Within my adult lifetime, in fact.

sigil , 30 Aug 2012 05:49

This is what the CIA reflexively does: insists that [...] it is an "intelligence matter".

In a sense the CIA is always going to be right on this one - "Central Intelligence Agency" - but only as a matter of nomenclature, rather than of any other dictionary definition of the word "intelligence".

Brusselsexpats , 30 Aug 2012 05:49
Actually the collusion between the CIA and big business is far more damaging. The first US company I worked for in Brussels (it was my first job) was constantly being targeted by the US media for having connections to corrupt South American and Third World regimes. On what seemed like an almost monthly basis our personnel department would send round memos saying that we were strictly forbidden to talk to journalists about the latest exposé.

It was great fun - even the telex operators knew who the spies were.

kcameron , 30 Aug 2012 05:26
The line "'The optics aren't what they look like,' is truly an instant classic. It reminds me of one of my favorite Yogi Berra quotes (which, unlike many attributed to him, is real, I think). Yogi once said about a restaurant in New York "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded." Perhaps Yogi should become an editor for the Times.
AmityAmity , 30 Aug 2012 04:55
British readers will no doubt be shocked -- shocked! -- to learn of cozy relations between a major news organization and a national intelligence agency.

... ... ...

MiltonWiltmellow , 30 Aug 2012 02:40

"'I know the circumstances, and if you knew everything that's going on, you'd know it's much ado about nothing,' Baquet said. 'I can't go into in detail. But I'm confident after talking to Mark that it's much ado about nothing.'

"'The optics aren't what they look like,' he went on. 'I've talked to Mark, I know the circumstance, and given what I know, it's much ado about nothing.'"

How can you have a Party if you don't have Party elites?

And how can a self-respecting member of the Party claim their individual status within the Party without secret knowledge designed to identify one another as members of the Party elite?

[Proles are] natural inferiors who must be kept in subjection, like animals ... Life, if you looked about you, bore no resemblance not only to the lies that streamed out of the telescreens, but even to the ideals the Party was trying to achieve. ... The ideal set up by the Party was something huge, terrible, and glittering -- a world of of steel and concrete, of monstrous machines and terrifying weapons -- a nation of warriors and fanatics, marching forward in perfect unity, all thinking the same thoughts and shouting the same slogans, perpetually working, fighting, triumphing, persecuting -- 300 million people all with the same face. The reality was decaying, dingy cities, where underfed people shuffled to and fro in leaky shoes... [ 1984 ,pp 73-74]

It makes no difference if an imagined socialist England, a collapsing Roman city-state empire, an actual Soviet Union, or a modern American oligarchy.

Party members thrive while those wretched proles flail in confused and hungry desperation for something authentic (like a George Bush) or even simply reassuring (like a Barack Obama.)

Non-elite members of the Party -- functionaries -- mistake their "secret" knowledge as professional courtesy rather than as perquisite and status marker. (I don't suppose it's a secret to anyone that the US CIA regularly plants stories in the NYTimes and elsewhere... unless you weren't paying attention in the strident disinfo campaign prior to the Iraq invasion.)

Manzetti has "no bad intent" because he is loyal to the Party.

Like all loyal (and very well compensated) Party members, he would never do anything as subversive as reveal Party secrets.

People can be detained for almost any reason these days!

After all, what's the future of a Party that lacks effective enforcement?

[Dec 09, 2018] The fatal flaw of neoliberalism: it s bad economics: Neoliberalism and its usual prescriptions – always more markets, always less government – are in fact a perversion of mainstream economics by Dani Rodrik

Notable quotes:
"... The term is used as a catchall for anything that smacks of deregulation, liberalisation, privatisation or fiscal austerity. Today it is routinely reviled as a shorthand for the ideas and practices that have produced growing economic insecurity and inequality, led to the loss of our political values and ideals, and even precipitated our current populist backlash ..."
"... The use of the term "neoliberal" exploded in the 1990s, when it became closely associated with two developments, neither of which Peters's article had mentioned. One of these was financial deregulation, which would culminate in the 2008 financial crash and in the still-lingering euro debacle . The second was economic globalisation, which accelerated thanks to free flows of finance and to a new, more ambitious type of trade agreement. Financialisation and globalisation have become the most overt manifestations of neoliberalism in today's world. ..."
"... That neoliberalism is a slippery, shifting concept, with no explicit lobby of defenders, does not mean that it is irrelevant or unreal. ..."
"... homo economicus ..."
"... A version of this article first appeared in Boston Review ..."
"... Main illustration by Eleanor Shakespeare ..."
Nov 14, 2017 | www.theguardian.com
As even its harshest critics concede, neoliberalism is hard to pin down. In broad terms, it denotes a preference for markets over government, economic incentives over cultural norms, and private entrepreneurship over collective action. It has been used to describe a wide range of phenomena – from Augusto Pinochet to Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, from the Clinton Democrats and the UK's New Labour to the economic opening in China and the reform of the welfare state in Sweden.

The term is used as a catchall for anything that smacks of deregulation, liberalisation, privatisation or fiscal austerity. Today it is routinely reviled as a shorthand for the ideas and practices that have produced growing economic insecurity and inequality, led to the loss of our political values and ideals, and even precipitated our current populist backlash .

We live in the age of neoliberalism, apparently. But who are neoliberalism's adherents and disseminators – the neoliberals themselves? Oddly, you have to go back a long time to find anyone explicitly embracing neoliberalism. In 1982, Charles Peters, the longtime editor of the political magazine Washington Monthly, published an essay titled A Neo-Liberal's Manifesto . It makes for interesting reading 35 years later, since the neoliberalism it describes bears little resemblance to today's target of derision. The politicians Peters names as exemplifying the movement are not the likes of Thatcher and Reagan, but rather liberals – in the US sense of the word – who have become disillusioned with unions and big government and dropped their prejudices against markets and the military.

The use of the term "neoliberal" exploded in the 1990s, when it became closely associated with two developments, neither of which Peters's article had mentioned. One of these was financial deregulation, which would culminate in the 2008 financial crash and in the still-lingering euro debacle . The second was economic globalisation, which accelerated thanks to free flows of finance and to a new, more ambitious type of trade agreement. Financialisation and globalisation have become the most overt manifestations of neoliberalism in today's world.

That neoliberalism is a slippery, shifting concept, with no explicit lobby of defenders, does not mean that it is irrelevant or unreal. Who can deny that the world has experienced a decisive shift toward markets from the 1980s on? Or that centre-left politicians – Democrats in the US, socialists and social democrats in Europe – enthusiastically adopted some of the central creeds of Thatcherism and Reaganism, such as deregulation, privatisation, financial liberalisation and individual enterprise? Much of our contemporary policy discussion remains infused with principles supposedly grounded in the concept of homo economicus , the perfectly rational human being, found in many economic theories, who always pursues his own self-interest.

But the looseness of the term neoliberalism also means that criticism of it often misses the mark. There is nothing wrong with markets, private entrepreneurship or incentives – when deployed appropriately. Their creative use lies behind the most significant economic achievements of our time. As we heap scorn on neoliberalism, we risk throwing out some of neoliberalism's useful ideas.

The real trouble is that mainstream economics shades too easily into ideology, constraining the choices that we appear to have and providing cookie-cutter solutions. A proper understanding of the economics that lie behind neoliberalism would allow us to identify – and to reject – ideology when it masquerades as economic science. Most importantly, it would help us to develop the institutional imagination we badly need to redesign capitalism for the 21st century.


N eoliberalism is typically understood as being based on key tenets of mainstream economic science. To see those tenets without the ideology, consider this thought experiment. A well-known and highly regarded economist lands in a country he has never visited and knows nothing about. He is brought to a meeting with the country's leading policymakers. "Our country is in trouble," they tell him. "The economy is stagnant, investment is low, and there is no growth in sight." They turn to him expectantly: "Please tell us what we should do to make our economy grow."

The economist pleads ignorance and explains that he knows too little about the country to make any recommendations. He would need to study the history of the economy, to analyse the statistics, and to travel around the country before he could say anything.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Tony Blair and Bill Clinton: centre-left politicians who enthusiastically adopted some of the central creeds of Thatcherism and Reaganism. Photograph: Reuters

But his hosts are insistent. "We understand your reticence, and we wish you had the time for all that," they tell him. "But isn't economics a science, and aren't you one of its most distinguished practitioners? Even though you do not know much about our economy, surely there are some general theories and prescriptions you can share with us to guide our economic policies and reforms."

The economist is now in a bind. He does not want to emulate those economic gurus he has long criticised for peddling their favourite policy advice. But he feels challenged by the question. Are there universal truths in economics? Can he say anything valid or useful?

So he begins. The efficiency with which an economy's resources are allocated is a critical determinant of the economy's performance, he says. Efficiency, in turn, requires aligning the incentives of households and businesses with social costs and benefits. The incentives faced by entrepreneurs, investors and producers are particularly important when it comes to economic growth. Growth needs a system of property rights and contract enforcement that will ensure those who invest can retain the returns on their investments. And the economy must be open to ideas and innovations from the rest of the world.

But economies can be derailed by macroeconomic instability, he goes on. Governments must therefore pursue a sound monetary policy , which means restricting the growth of liquidity to the increase in nominal money demand at reasonable inflation. They must ensure fiscal sustainability, so that the increase in public debt does not outpace national income. And they must carry out prudential regulation of banks and other financial institutions to prevent the financial system from taking excessive risk.

Now he is warming to his task. Economics is not just about efficiency and growth, he adds. Economic principles also carry over to equity and social policy. Economics has little to say about how much redistribution a society should seek. But it does tell us that the tax base should be as broad as possible, and that social programmes should be designed in a way that does not encourage workers to drop out of the labour market.

By the time the economist stops, it appears as if he has laid out a fully fledged neoliberal agenda. A critic in the audience will have heard all the code words: efficiency, incentives, property rights, sound money, fiscal prudence. And yet the universal principles that the economist describes are in fact quite open-ended. They presume a capitalist economy – one in which investment decisions are made by private individuals and firms – but not much beyond that. They allow for – indeed, they require – a surprising variety of institutional arrangements.

So has the economist just delivered a neoliberal screed? We would be mistaken to think so, and our mistake would consist of associating each abstract term – incentives, property rights, sound money – with a particular institutional counterpart. And therein lies the central conceit, and the fatal flaw, of neoliberalism: the belief that first-order economic principles map on to a unique set of policies, approximated by a Thatcher/Reagan-style agenda.

Consider property rights. They matter insofar as they allocate returns on investments. An optimal system would distribute property rights to those who would make the best use of an asset, and afford protection against those most likely to expropriate the returns. Property rights are good when they protect innovators from free riders, but they are bad when they protect them from competition. Depending on the context, a legal regime that provides the appropriate incentives can look quite different from the standard US-style regime of private property rights.

This may seem like a semantic point with little practical import; but China's phenomenal economic success is largely due to its orthodoxy-defying institutional tinkering. China turned to markets, but did not copy western practices in property rights. Its reforms produced market-based incentives through a series of unusual institutional arrangements that were better adapted to the local context. Rather than move directly from state to private ownership, for example, which would have been stymied by the weakness of the prevailing legal structures, the country relied on mixed forms of ownership that provided more effective property rights for entrepreneurs in practice. Township and Village Enterprises (TVEs), which spearheaded Chinese economic growth during the 1980s, were collectives owned and controlled by local governments. Even though TVEs were publicly owned, entrepreneurs received the protection they needed against expropriation. Local governments had a direct stake in the profits of the firms, and hence did not want to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

China relied on a range of such innovations, each delivering the economist's higher-order economic principles in unfamiliar institutional arrangements. For instance, it shielded its large state sector from global competition, establishing special economic zones where foreign firms could operate with different rules than in the rest of the economy. In view of such departures from orthodox blueprints, describing China's economic reforms as neoliberal – as critics are inclined to do – distorts more than it reveals. If we are to call this neoliberalism, we must surely look more kindly on the ideas behind the most dramatic poverty reduction in history.

One might protest that China's institutional innovations were purely transitional. Perhaps it will have to converge on western-style institutions to sustain its economic progress. But this common line of thinking overlooks the diversity of capitalist arrangements that still prevails among advanced economies, despite the considerable homogenisation of our policy discourse.

What, after all, are western institutions? The size of the public sector in OECD countries varies, from a third of the economy in Korea to nearly 60% in Finland. In Iceland, 86% of workers are members of a trade union; the comparable number in Switzerland is just 16%. In the US, firms can fire workers almost at will; French labour laws have historically required employers to jump through many hoops first. Stock markets have grown to a total value of nearly one-and-a-half times GDP in the US; in Germany, they are only a third as large, equivalent to just 50% of GDP.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'China turned to markets, but did not copy western practices ... ' Photograph: AFP/Getty

The idea that any one of these models of taxation, labour relations or financial organisation is inherently superior to the others is belied by the varying economic fortunes that each of these economies have experienced over recent decades. The US has gone through successive periods of angst in which its economic institutions were judged inferior to those in Germany, Japan, China, and now possibly Germany again. Certainly, comparable levels of wealth and productivity can be produced under very different models of capitalism. We might even go a step further: today's prevailing models probably come nowhere near exhausting the range of what might be possible, and desirable, in the future.

The visiting economist in our thought experiment knows all this, and recognises that the principles he has enunciated need to be filled in with institutional detail before they become operational. Property rights? Yes, but how? Sound money? Of course, but how? It would perhaps be easier to criticise his list of principles for being vacuous than to denounce it as a neoliberal screed.

Still, these principles are not entirely content-free. China, and indeed all countries that managed to develop rapidly, demonstrate the utility of those principles once they are properly adapted to local context. Conversely, too many economies have been driven to ruin courtesy of political leaders who chose to violate them. We need look no further than Latin American populists or eastern European communist regimes to appreciate the practical significance of sound money, fiscal sustainability and private incentives.


O f course, economics goes beyond a list of abstract, largely common-sense principles. Much of the work of economists consists of developing stylised models of how economies work and then confronting those models with evidence. Economists tend to think of what they do as progressively refining their understanding of the world: their models are supposed to get better and better as they are tested and revised over time. But progress in economics happens differently.

Economists study a social reality that is unlike the physical universe. It is completely manmade, highly malleable and operates according to different rules across time and space. Economics advances not by settling on the right model or theory to answer such questions, but by improving our understanding of the diversity of causal relationships. Neoliberalism and its customary remedies – always more markets, always less government – are in fact a perversion of mainstream economics. Good economists know that the correct answer to any question in economics is: it depends.

Does an increase in the minimum wage depress employment? Yes, if the labour market is really competitive and employers have no control over the wage they must pay to attract workers; but not necessarily otherwise. Does trade liberalisation increase economic growth? Yes, if it increases the profitability of industries where the bulk of investment and innovation takes place; but not otherwise. Does more government spending increase employment? Yes, if there is slack in the economy and wages do not rise; but not otherwise. Does monopoly harm innovation? Yes and no, depending on a whole host of market circumstances.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'Today [neoliberalism] is routinely reviled as a shorthand for the ideas that have produced growing economic inequality and precipitated our current populist backlash' Trump signing an order to take the US out of the TPP trade pact. Photograph: AFP/Getty

In economics, new models rarely supplant older models. The basic competitive-markets model dating back to Adam Smith has been modified over time by the inclusion, in rough historical order, of monopoly, externalities, scale economies, incomplete and asymmetric information, irrational behaviour and many other real-world features. But the older models remain as useful as ever. Understanding how real markets operate necessitates using different lenses at different times.

Perhaps maps offer the best analogy. Just like economic models, maps are highly stylised representations of reality . They are useful precisely because they abstract from many real-world details that would get in the way. But abstraction also implies that we need a different map depending on the nature of our journey. If we are travelling by bike, we need a map of bike trails. If we are to go on foot, we need a map of footpaths. If a new subway is constructed, we will need a subway map – but we wouldn't throw out the older maps.

Economists tend to be very good at making maps, but not good enough at choosing the one most suited to the task at hand. When confronted with policy questions of the type our visiting economist faces, too many of them resort to "benchmark" models that favour the laissez-faire approach. Kneejerk solutions and hubris replace the richness and humility of the discussion in the seminar room. John Maynard Keynes once defined economics as the "science of thinking in terms of models, joined to the art of choosing models which are relevant". Economists typically have trouble with the "art" part.

This, too, can be illustrated with a parable. A journalist calls an economics professor for his view on whether free trade is a good idea. The professor responds enthusiastically in the affirmative. The journalist then goes undercover as a student in the professor's advanced graduate seminar on international trade. He poses the same question: is free trade good? This time the professor is stymied. "What do you mean by 'good'?" he responds. "And good for whom?" The professor then launches into an extensive exegesis that will ultimately culminate in a heavily hedged statement: "So if the long list of conditions I have just described are satisfied, and assuming we can tax the beneficiaries to compensate the losers, freer trade has the potential to increase everyone's wellbeing." If he is in an expansive mood, the professor might add that the effect of free trade on an economy's longterm growth rate is not clear either, and would depend on an altogether different set of requirements.

This professor is rather different from the one the journalist encountered previously. On the record, he exudes self-confidence, not reticence, about the appropriate policy. There is one and only one model, at least as far as the public conversation is concerned, and there is a single correct answer, regardless of context. Strangely, the professor deems the knowledge that he imparts to his advanced students to be inappropriate (or dangerous) for the general public. Why?

The roots of such behaviour lie deep in the culture of the economics profession. But one important motive is the zeal to display the profession's crown jewels – market efficiency, the invisible hand, comparative advantage – in untarnished form, and to shield them from attack by self-interested barbarians, namely the protectionists . Unfortunately, these economists typically ignore the barbarians on the other side of the issue – financiers and multinational corporations whose motives are no purer and who are all too ready to hijack these ideas for their own benefit.

As a result, economists' contributions to public debate are often biased in one direction, in favour of more trade, more finance and less government. That is why economists have developed a reputation as cheerleaders for neoliberalism, even if mainstream economics is very far from a paean to laissez-faire. The economists who let their enthusiasm for free markets run wild are in fact not being true to their own discipline.


H ow then should we think about globalisation in order to liberate it from the grip of neoliberal practices? We must begin by understanding the positive potential of global markets. Access to world markets in goods, technologies and capital has played an important role in virtually all of the economic miracles of our time. China is the most recent and powerful reminder of this historical truth, but it is not the only case. Before China, similar miracles were performed by South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and a few non-Asian countries such as Mauritius . All of these countries embraced globalisation rather than turn their backs on it, and they benefited handsomely.

Defenders of the existing economic order will quickly point to these examples when globalisation comes into question. What they will fail to say is that almost all of these countries joined the world economy by violating neoliberal strictures. South Korea and Taiwan, for instance, heavily subsidised their exporters, the former through the financial system and the latter through tax incentives. All of them eventually removed most of their import restrictions, long after economic growth had taken off.

But none, with the sole exception of Chile in the 1980s under Pinochet, followed the neoliberal recommendation of a rapid opening-up to imports. Chile's neoliberal experiment eventually produced the worst economic crisis in all of Latin America. While the details differ across countries, in all cases governments played an active role in restructuring the economy and buffering it against a volatile external environment. Industrial policies, restrictions on capital flows and currency controls – all prohibited in the neoliberal playbook – were rampant.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Protest against Nafta in Mexico City in 2008: since the reforms of the mid-90s, the country's economy has underperformed. Photograph: EPA

By contrast, countries that stuck closest to the neoliberal model of globalisation were sorely disappointed. Mexico provides a particularly sad example. Following a series of macroeconomic crises in the mid-1990s, Mexico embraced macroeconomic orthodoxy, extensively liberalised its economy, freed up the financial system, sharply reduced import restrictions and signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta). These policies did produce macroeconomic stability and a significant rise in foreign trade and internal investment. But where it counts – in overall productivity and economic growth – the experiment failed . Since undertaking the reforms, overall productivity in Mexico has stagnated, and the economy has underperformed even by the undemanding standards of Latin America.

These outcomes are not a surprise from the perspective of sound economics. They are yet another manifestation of the need for economic policies to be attuned to the failures to which markets are prone, and to be tailored to the specific circumstances of each country. No single blueprint fits all.


A s Peters's 1982 manifesto attests, the meaning of neoliberalism has changed considerably over time as the label has acquired harder-line connotations with respect to deregulation, financialisation and globalisation. But there is one thread that connects all versions of neoliberalism, and that is the emphasis on economic growth . Peters wrote in 1982 that the emphasis was warranted because growth is essential to all our social and political ends – community, democracy, prosperity. Entrepreneurship, private investment and removing obstacles that stand in the way (such as excessive regulation) were all instruments for achieving economic growth. If a similar neoliberal manifesto were penned today, it would no doubt make the same point.

ss="rich-link"> Globalisation: the rise and fall of an idea that swept the world Read more

Critics often point out that this emphasis on economics debases and sacrifices other important values such as equality, social inclusion, democratic deliberation and justice. Those political and social objectives obviously matter enormously, and in some contexts they matter the most. They cannot always, or even often, be achieved by means of technocratic economic policies; politics must play a central role.

Still, neoliberals are not wrong when they argue that our most cherished ideals are more likely to be attained when our economy is vibrant, strong and growing. Where they are wrong is in believing that there is a unique and universal recipe for improving economic performance, to which they have access. The fatal flaw of neoliberalism is that it does not even get the economics right. It must be rejected on its own terms for the simple reason that it is bad economics.

A version of this article first appeared in Boston Review

Main illustration by Eleanor Shakespeare

[Dec 09, 2018] Pompeo is a Deep State Israel-firster with a nasty neocon agenda

Trump lost control of foreign policy, when he appointed Pompeo. US voters might elect Hillary with the same effect on foreign policy as Pompeo.
Notable quotes:
"... It is to Trump's disgrace that he chose Pompeo and the abominable Bolton. At least Trump admits the ME invasions are really about Israel. ..."
"... Energy dominance, lebensraum for Israel and destroying the current Iran are all objectives that fit into one neat package. Those plans look to be coming apart at the moment so it remains to be seen how fanatical Trump is on Israel and MAGA. MAGA as US was at the collapse of the Soviet Union. ..."
"... As for pulling out of the Middle East Bibi must have had a good laugh. Remember when he said he wanted out of Syria. My money is on the US to be in Yemen before too long to protect them from the Saudis (humanitarian) and Iranian backed Houthis, while in reality it will be to secure the enormous oil fields in the North. ..."
"... The importance of oil is not to supply US markets its to deny it to enemies and control oil prices in order to feed international finance/IMF. ..."
Nov 30, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

jim slim | Nov 29, 2018 4:04:44 AM | 24

Pompeo is a Deep State Israel-firster with a nasty neocon agenda. It is to Trump's disgrace that he chose Pompeo and the abominable Bolton. At least Trump admits the ME invasions are really about Israel.

Peter AU 1 , Nov 28, 2018 9:44:50 PM | link

Pompeo is a Deep State Israel-firster with a nasty neocon agenda. It is to Trump's disgrace that he chose Pompeo and the abominable Bolton. At least Trump admits the ME invasions are really about Israel.

Trump, Israel and the Sawdi's. US no longer needs middle east oil for strategic supply. Trump is doing away with the petro-dollar as that scam has run its course and maintenance is higher than returns. Saudi and other middle east oil is required for global energy dominance.

Energy dominance, lebensraum for Israel and destroying the current Iran are all objectives that fit into one neat package. Those plans look to be coming apart at the moment so it remains to be seen how fanatical Trump is on Israel and MAGA. MAGA as US was at the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Pft , Nov 29, 2018 1:15:05 AM | link

As for pulling out of the Middle East Bibi must have had a good laugh. Remember when he said he wanted out of Syria. My money is on the US to be in Yemen before too long to protect them from the Saudis (humanitarian) and Iranian backed Houthis, while in reality it will be to secure the enormous oil fields in the North.

Perhaps this was what the Khashoggi trap was all about. The importance of oil is not to supply US markets its to deny it to enemies and control oil prices in order to feed international finance/IMF.

[Dec 09, 2018] Britain on the Leash with the United States but at Which End by James George Jatras

Oct 13, 2018 | off-guardian.org

The "special relationship" between the United States and the United Kingdom is often assumed to be one where the once-great, sophisticated Brits are subordinate to the upstart, uncouth Yanks.

Iconic of this assumption is the mocking of former prime minister Tony Blair as George W. Bush's "poodle" for his riding shotgun on the ill-advised American stagecoach blundering into Iraq in 2003. Blair was in good practice, having served as Bill Clinton's dogsbody in the no less criminal NATO aggression against Serbia over Kosovo in 1999.

On the surface, the UK may seem just one more vassal state on par with Germany, Japan, South Korea, and so many other useless so-called allies . We control their intelligence services, their military commands, their think tanks, and much of their media. We can sink their financial systems and economies at will. Emblematic is German Chancellor Angela Merkel's impotent ire at discovering the Obama administration had listened in on her cell phone, about which she – did precisely nothing. Global hegemony means never having to say you're sorry.

These countries know on which end of the leash they are: the one attached to the collar around their necks. The hand unmistakably is in Washington. These semi-sovereign countries answer to the US with the same servility as member states of the Warsaw Pact once heeded the USSR's Politburo. (Sometimes more. Communist Romania, though then a member of the Warsaw Pact refused to participate in the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia or even allow Soviet or other Pact forces to cross its territory.

By contrast, during NATO's 1999 assault on Serbia, Bucharest allowed NATO military aircraft access to its airspace, even though not yet a member of that alliance and despite most Romanians' opposition to the campaign.)

But the widespread perception of Britain as just another satellite may be misleading.

To start with, there are some relationships where it seems the US is the vassal dancing to the tune of the foreign capital, not the other way around. Israel is the unchallenged champion in this weight class, with Saudi Arabia a runner up. The alliance between Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) – the ultimate Washington "power couple" – to get the Trump administration to destroy Iran for them has American politicos listening for instructions with all the rapt attention of the terrier Nipper on the RCA Victor logo . (Or did, until the recent disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Whether this portends a real shift in American attitudes toward Riyadh remains questionable . Saudi cash still speaks loudly and will continue to do so whether or not MbS stays in charge.)

Specifics of the peculiar US-UK relationship stem from the period of flux at the end of World War II. The United States emerged from the war in a commanding position economically and financially, eclipsing Britannia's declining empire that simply no longer had the resources to play the leading role. That didn't mean, however, that London trusted the Americans' ability to manage things without their astute guidance. As Tony Judt describes in Postwar , the British attitude of " superiority towards the country that had displaced them at the imperial apex " was "nicely captured" in a scribble during negotiations regarding the UK's postwar loan:

In Washington Lord Halifax
Once whispered to Lord Keynes:
"It's true they have the moneybags
But we have all the brains."

Even in its diminished condition London found it could punch well above its weight by exerting its influence on its stronger but (it was confident) dumber cousins across the Pond. It helped that as the Cold War unfolded following former Prime Minister Winston Churchill's 1946 Iron Curtain speech there were very close ties between sister agencies like MI6 (founded 1909) and the newer wartime OSS (1942), then the CIA (1947); likewise the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ, 1919) and the National Security Administration (NSA, 1952). Comparable sister agencies – perhaps more properly termed daughters of their UK mothers – were set up in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. This became the so-called "Five Eyes" of the tight Anglosphere spook community, infamous for spying on each others' citizens to avoid pesky legal prohibitions on domestic surveillance .

Despite not having two farthings to rub together, impoverished Britain – where wartime rationing wasn't fully ended until 1954 – had a prime seat at the table fashioning the world's postwar financial structure. The 1944 Bretton Woods conference was largely an Anglo-American affair , of which the aforementioned Lord John Maynard Keynes was a prominent architect along with Harry Dexter White, Special Assistant to the US Secretary of the Treasury and Soviet agent.

American and British agendas also dovetailed in the Middle East. While the US didn't have much of a presence in the region before the 1945 meeting between US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Saudi King ibn Saud, founder of the third and current ( and hopefully last ) Saudi state – and didn't assume a dominant role until the humiliation inflicted on Britain, France, and Israel by President Dwight Eisenhower during the 1956 Suez Crisis – London has long considered much of the region within its sphere of influence. After World War I under the Sykes-Picot agreement with France , the UK had expanded her holdings on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, including taking a decisive role in consolidating Saudi Arabia under ibn Saud. While in the 1950s the US largely stepped into Britain's role managing the "East of Suez," the former suzerain was by no means dealt out. The UK was a founding member with the US of the now-defunct Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) in 1955.

CENTO – like NATO and their one-time eastern counterpart, the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) – was designed as a counter to the USSR. But in the case of Britain, the history of hostility to Russia under tsar or commissar alike has much deeper and longer roots, going back at least to the Crimean War in the 1850s . The reasons for the longstanding British vendetta against Russia are not entirely clear and seem to have disparate roots: the desire to ensure that no one power is dominant on the European mainland (directed first against France, then Russia, then Germany, then the USSR and again Russia); maintaining supremacy on the seas by denying Russia warm-waters ports, above all the Dardanelles; and making sure territories of a dissolving Ottoman empire would be taken under the wing of London, not Saint Petersburg. As described by Andrew Lambert , professor of naval history at King's College London, the Crimean War still echoes today :

"In the 1840s, 1850s, Britain and America are not the chief rivals; it's Britain and Russia. Britain and Russia are rivals for world power, and Turkey, the Ottoman Empire, which is much larger than modern Turkey -- it includes modern Romania, Bulgaria, parts of Serbia, and also Egypt and Arabia -- is a declining empire. But it's the bulwark between Russia, which is advancing south and west, and Britain, which is advancing east and is looking to open its connections up through the Mediterranean into its empire in India and the Pacific. And it's really about who is running Turkey. Is it going to be a Russian satellite, a bit like the Eastern Bloc was in the Cold War, or is it going to be a British satellite, really run by British capital, a market for British goods? And the Crimean War is going to be the fulcrum for this cold war to actually go hot for a couple of years, and Sevastopol is going to be the fulcrum for that fighting."

Control of the Middle East – and opposing the Russians – became a British obsession, first to sustain the lifeline to India, the Jewel in the Crown of the empire, then for control of petroleum, the life's blood of modern economies. In the context of the 19th and early 20th century Great Game of empire, that was understandable. Much later, similar considerations might even support Jimmy Carter's taking up much the same position, declaring in 1980 that "outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force." The USSR was then a superpower and we were dependent on energy from the Gulf region.

But what's our reason for maintaining that posture almost four decades later when the Soviet Union is gone and the US doesn't need Middle Eastern oil? There are no reasonable national interests, only corporate interests and those of the Arab monarchies we laughably claim as allies. Add to that the bureaucracies and habits of mind that link the US and UK establishments, including their intelligence and financial components.

In view of all the foregoing, what then would policymakers in the United Kingdom think about an aspirant to the American presidency who not only disparages the value of existing alliances – without which Britain is a bit player – but openly pledges to improve relations with Moscow ? To what lengths would they go to stop him?

Say 'hello' to Russiagate!

One can argue whether or not the phony claim of the Trump campaign's "collusion" with Moscow was hatched in London or whether the British just lent some " hands across the water " to an effort concocted by the Democratic National Committee, the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, the Clinton Foundation, and their collaborators at Fusion GPS and inside the Obama administration. Either way, it's clear that while evidence of Russian connection is nonexistent that of British agencies is unmistakable, as is the UK's hand in a sustained campaign of demonization and isolation to sink any possible rapprochement between the US and Russia .

As for Russiagate itself, just try to find anyone involved who's actually Russian. The only basis for the widespread assumption that any material in the Dirty Dossier that underlies the whole operation originated with Russia is the claim of Christopher Steele , the British "ex" spy who wrote it, evidently in collaboration with people at the US State Department and Fusion GPS. (The notion that Steele, who hadn't been in Russia for years, would have Kremlin personal contacts is absurd. How chummy are the heads of the American section of Chinese or Russian intelligence with White House staff?)

While there are no obvious Russians in Russiagate, there's no shortage of Brits. These include (details at the link) :

Andrew Wood , a former British ambassador to Russia Stefan Halper , a dual US-UK citizen. Ex-MI6 Director Richard Dearlove . Robert Hannigan , former director of GCHQ; there is reason to think surveillance of Trump was conducted by GCHQ as well as by US agencies under FISA warrants. Hannigan abruptly resigned from GCHQ soon after the British government denied the agency had engaged in such spying. Alexander Downer , Australian diplomat (well, not British but remember the Five Eyes!). Joseph Mifsud , Maltese academic and suspected British agent.

At present, the full role played by those listed above is not known. Release of unredacted FISA warrant requests by the Justice Department, which President Trump ordered weeks ago, would shed light on a number of details. Implementation of that order was derailed after a request by – no surprise – British Prime Minister Theresa May . Was she seeking to conceal Russian perfidy, or her own underlings'?

It would be bad enough if Russiagate were the sum of British meddling in American affairs with the aim of torpedoing relations with Moscow. (And to be fair, it wasn't just the UK and Australia. Also implicated are Estonia, Israel, and Ukraine .) But there is also reason to suspect the same motive in false accusations against Russia with respect to the supposed Novichok poisonings in England has a connection to Russiagate via a business associate of Steele's, one Pablo Miller , Sergei Skripal's MI6 recruiter . (So if it turns out there is any Russian connection to the dossier, it could be from Skripal or another dubious expat source, not from the Russian government.) Skripal and his daughter Yulia have disappeared in British custody. Moscow flatly accuses MI6 of poisoning them as a false flag to blame it on Russia.

A similar pattern can be seen with claims of chemical weapons use in Syria : "We have irrefutable evidence that the special services of a state which is in the forefront of the Russophobic campaign had a hand in the staging" of a faked chemical weapons attack in Douma in April 2018. Ambassador Aleksandr Yakovenko pointed to the so-called White Helmets, which is closely associated with al-Qaeda elements and considered by some their PR arm: "I am naming them because they have done things like this before. They are famous for staging attacks in Syria and they receive UK money." Moscow warned for weeks before the now-postponed Syrian government offensive in Idlib that the same ruse was being prepared again with direct British intelligence involvement, even having prepared in advance a video showing victims of an attack that had not yet occurred.

The campaign to demonize Russia shifted into high gear recently with the UK, together with the US and the Netherlands, accusing Russian military intelligence of a smorgasbord of cyberattacks against the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) and other sports organizations, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the Dutch investigation into the downing of MH-17 over Ukraine, and a Swiss lab involved with the Skripal case, plus assorted election interference. In case anyone didn't get the point, British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson declared : "This is not the actions of a great power. This is the actions of a pariah state, and we will continue working with allies to isolate them."

To the extent that the goal of Williamson and his ilk is to ensure isolation and further threats against Russia, it's been a smashing success. More sanctions are on the way . The UK is sending additional troops to the Arctic to counter Russian "aggression." The US threatens to use naval power to block Russian energy exports and to strike Russian weapons disputed under a treaty governing intermediate range nuclear forces. What could possibly go wrong?

In sum, we are seeing a massive, coordinated hybrid campaign of psy-ops and political warfare conducted not by Russia but against Russia, concocted by the UK and its Deep State collaborators in the United States. But it's not only aimed at Russia, it's an attack on the United States by the government of a foreign country that's supposed to be one of our closest allies, a country with which we share many venerable traditions of language, law, and culture.

But for far too long, largely for reasons of historical inertia and elite corruption, we've allowed that government to exercise undue influence on our global policies in a manner not conducive to our own national interests. Now that government, employing every foul deception that earned it the moniker Perfidious Albion , seeks to embroil us in a quarrel with the only country on the planet that can destroy us if things get out of control.

This must stop. A thorough reappraisal of our "special relationship" with the United Kingdom and exposure of its activities to the detriment of the US is imperative.

James George Jatras is an analyst, former U.S. diplomat and foreign policy adviser to the Senate GOP leadership.

[Dec 09, 2018] Proportional representation is definitely the way to go. I am sick to death of the born-to-rule mentality of the major parties, and how they change the rules to benefit themselves and to exclude others

Notable quotes:
"... Yes, its far better than the "first past the post" systems of the UK and the US where the number of votes split between two almost identical candidates can lead to a far different candidate winning with only a little over a third of the total vote. ..."
Dec 09, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

MikeSw , 30 Oct 2018 22:36

Proportional representation is definitely the way to go. I am sick to death of the born-to-rule mentality of the major parties, and how they change the rules to benefit themselves and to exclude others.

Minority government? There is no such thing - there is only 'government', and it is supposed to involve all members of parliament in the decision-making process. 'Majority' governments are an anathema to good governance. Every time I hear the likes of Tony Abbott claim they have a mandate to implement ALL their policies, even though they only receive around 35% of the primary vote, I want to throw something at the TV.

Bugger them! Make them work for a living - and make them consider ALL views, not just the ones from their own party.

Bradtheunveiler -> BrianLC , 30 Oct 2018 22:36
Win the ALP will next election. By a huge majority too. Looking forward to neg gearing and CGT discount reform in particular.
Onesimus_Tim -> StuartJJ , 30 Oct 2018 22:35

Preferences are an extremely good feature of our voting system

Yes, its far better than the "first past the post" systems of the UK and the US where the number of votes split between two almost identical candidates can lead to a far different candidate winning with only a little over a third of the total vote.

Preferential voting also makes it more possible for the major party duopoly being overturned, allowing people to vote for a good independent without taking the risk of helping a despised major party candidate from winning by default.

[Dec 09, 2018] The problem with representative democracy is that it represents the special interest groups far more than it represents the citizenry

Dec 09, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Territorian -> Hoskins50 , 30 Oct 2018 23:49

"The problem with representative democracy is that it represents the special interest groups far more than it represents the citizenry." You are spot on.

Nigel Scullion: Minister for Handing out buckets of money to NT Country Liberal Party supporters. Scullion just happened to be a professional fisher before entering parliament.
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/oct/31/indigenous-advancement-funding-redirected-to-cattlemen-and-fishing-groups

Barnaby Joyce: Minister for Agriculture while his Department was too scared to report disgusting conditions in the live sheep export trade.
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/oct/31/agriculture-minister-promises-to-fix-live-export-regulation-after-damning-report

DukeofWoyWoy , 30 Oct 2018 23:48
What a logical and stirring argument you put forward Richard Denniss, and a large majority of the electorate would have to agree.
However there is also a large number of people in the electorate that cannot appear to rise from their nightly slumber without wearing their Blue, Red, Green or Orange tinted glasses before facing the new day.
And because of this, and preferential voting, sneaking in the background is a plethora of the wild mindless sub creatures called politicians who demand their rights to sit in the big white building on Canberra;s Capital Hill, just waiting to spoil not only the electorate's party but also known to prostitute the country's governance to their own advantage.
Richard, we desperately need a follow up stirring article on how to overcome this black menace to our country, for the sake of our country.
Hoskins50 , 30 Oct 2018 23:38
If you think the public has an appetite for more bureaucrats, more rules and regulations to micromanage people's lives and even more political wheeling and dealing in Canberra, you should get out more.

That the coalition government is on the slide is of no long term consequence. We'll get a Labor government next year and in a few years another coalition government and so on.

What is of long term significance is the loss of public trust in pretty much all of the institutions - including goverment and the various government agencies that would be more powerful under your scenario.

The problem with representative democracy is that it represents the special interest groups far more than it represents the citizenry. Perhaps the solution lies in more direct democracy.

The same sex marriage plebiscite demonstrated that we commoners can deliberate on a sensitive issue, and in doing so behave far better than our elected representatives in Parliament. And can make a sensible and progressive decision that our elected representatives could not - both coalition and Labor MPs had opposed same sex marriage when it was raised in th e Parliament.

The internet provides a platform for direct decision making by the citizenry. Perhaps we should try that instead of what you are suggesting.

diggerdigger , 30 Oct 2018 22:12
It's been clear for years that proportional representation has progressively meant death to effective government, and that it forces major parties policy development further to the political fringes to appeal to the fruit loops on the periphery of their respective demographics. Time for a return to simple preferential voting (a-la-house of Reps) in the senate, and an overhaul of what's considered a valid ballot - if you want to only rank 1, 2, 3 or all candidates it should be entirely your choice.

Hung parliaments, with diametrically opposed clumps of "independents" jointly holding the balance of power can only ever deliver legislative stasis and constant political turmoil (as we have experienced since 2010 and Europe and the US have suffered for the last decade).

Oh for the good old days when one or the other of the major parties held a working majority in both houses, and policy was targeted at the 'sensible centre" of the Australian electorate. At worst, they only had to deal with a couple of sensible Democrats, and the odd lunatic fringe-ist like Harradine.

[Dec 09, 2018] People who vote but really don't get represented. All those votes just get mopped up by two major parties who represent thatsame neooliberal sharks who want to devour the voters

Notable quotes:
"... I find the Australian electoral system very mediocre. All those people who vote but really don't get represented. All those votes that just get mopped up by the major parties. I really can't understand why Australians have put up with such a poor system for so long. ..."
Dec 09, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

RonGlaeston , 31 Oct 2018 04:56

Yes, yes! MMP!!

Having spent many years in a New Zealand under a First Past the Post system and then Mixed Member Proportional, I am an enthusiastic supporter of proportional systems.

I find the Australian electoral system very mediocre. All those people who vote but really don't get represented. All those votes that just get mopped up by the major parties. I really can't understand why Australians have put up with such a poor system for so long.

Hettie7-> melbournesam 31 Oct 2018 00:45

Proportional representation makes the most sense. Each party gets the same percentage of seats in the parliament as it received votes in the election. That really is fair.

[Dec 09, 2018] Nationalisation of essential services is required to put this country back on an even keel. It was a stupid idea by governments (of all persuasions) to sell off monopoly essential service assets. The neoliberal experiment has failed.

Dec 09, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

RonRabbit99 , 31 Oct 2018 01:17

Nationalisation of essential services is required to put this country back on an even keel. It was a stupid idea by governments (of all persuasions) to sell off monopoly essential service assets. The neoliberal experiment has failed.
Carlosthepossum , 31 Oct 2018 01:15
'Neoliberalism is dead.'
However, we cannot rest until it is buried and cremated.
economicalternative -> Bewareofnazihippies , 31 Oct 2018 01:03
Beware: Just build a HUGE worker owned, democratically run (by workers) sector to compete against privately owned concerns. If workers are (democratically) involved in running and managing their own workplaces that will give plenty of competition for private concerns. Workers will be involved in the 'politics' and economics of their local area as part of work. They'll have more control over the technologies they want to use, how much profit they want to make or not, wages, investment, working conditions and all aspects of their concern. Workers would 'participate' more and be more involved in thinking about larger concerns. This would make a nation/region more democratic on the 'ground'. Not just reliant on 'representative' democracy/voting. You'd still need over-arching government(s) but people would have more direct control over their livelihoods and work conditions. Such a BIG sector would give (I'm talking about Health, Education, manufacturing etc - not 'bread shop', basket-weaving coops/social enterprises) private enterprise some REAL competition on prices and services. It would deliver democracy to masses of people, some control over wealth generation/economy and on a large enough scale CHANGE society in terms of social justice and politics.

You don't need to go to State control or Private control of 'the economy'. Just the right kinds of structures.

Nintiblue , 31 Oct 2018 01:03
Its not dead yet.

Neoliberalism is like a cancer on a health democracy. If we'd treated it in its early magnifications (when the Librerals and far right old version of Labor), first started selling off public assets (that are then charged back to citizens to use at increasing price rates etc), we would have been fine.

But now the cancer is deep in democracy's lymph glads ( in many of our public services) and so needs radical prolonged treatment and some surgery to assure the country's thriving democracy survives.

First surgically remove the source: cease (vote out always) all right wing conservative nutters from ever gaining power, or media mogul influence of government. Most but not all hide in the Coalition.

Then, begin the reconstruction surgery to re-assert public assets and services. This is a temporary but life saving cost.

Then, monitor and manage, (educate) the citizens about this scourge on democracy.

Dunkey2830 , 31 Oct 2018 01:00

The death of neoliberalism means we can finally have a national debate about the size and role of government, and the shape of the economy and society we want to build.

Neoliberalism is far from dead Richard - neoliberalism is deeply entrenched in mainstream thinking its corporate enriching magic works insidiously - mostly subliminally under cover of 'sensible' free market self clearing 'orthodox' economics.
You and many others from 'progressive' TAI almost daily, unwittingly play a role in reinforcing and entrenching neoliberal ideology in the community by framing macroeconomic analysis/commentary in neoliberal terms.
Your oft repeated call for 'budget balance' over the business cycle is such an example. Only fiscal deficits can build a prosperous productive nation in the absence of consistent external surpluses - no government can ever build and expand a nation without permanently injecting more funds into the non government sector than (through taxation etc) it withdraws.

Both our major parties of government espouse neoliberal economic orthodoxy as if there is no alternative - and no one calls them out - not even the quasi progressive TAI.

DSGE based 'orthodox' economics provides the lifeblood to neoliberalism - the myth of tax collections funding expenditure provides plausible cover to constrain spending on citizen/social services - but when it comes to war/corporate subsidy spending, such constraints are immediately abandoned.
Hetereodox MMT exposes the lie of such DSGE myths - but faithful Ptolemaic 'progressives' refuse to investigate or debate such Copernican macroeconomic sacrilege.

The recent TAI 'outlook' economic conference (proudly sponsored by 'The Australian'!! ) was a classic progressive 'fail'; loaded with orthodox 'experts' like Bowen and Keating spouting austerity inducing neoliberal orthodoxy - not one heterodox economist was invited to present the unwelcome, uncomfortable truth of sovereign nation macroeconomic reality.
Prof Bill Mitchell is Australia's most widely & internationally respected REAL progressive heterodox academic - yet the TAI ignores him.

Neoliberalism won't die until it extracts the last breath of available wealth from Australia's citizenry. It will die a savage death with the onset of the impending depression 'to end all depressions' when the collapsing housing bubble leaves citizens with a 'decades long' bubble of unpayable private debt.

Only then will people realise they have been elaborately 'conned' - too late.

P.S. For all TRUE progressives:
Some brilliant short videos here and here by Parody Project.

CaligulaMcNutt -> CaptnGster , 31 Oct 2018 00:54
That's really the point, much as you might expect government like the Howard and Abbott ones to have stuck to their claimed neo-liberal principles, neither substantially altered the compulsory nature of the scheme, despite the fact that it ran more or less completely contrary to Chicago School principles. Howard might have been fond of shouting "socialism" or "nanny state" when he felt the need to criticise something, but deeds speak stronger than words, and for all his p!ssing and moaning he was never going to do anything that stopped all those truckloads of money finding their way to his friends in the banking industry.
Alltherage -> elliot2511 , 31 Oct 2018 00:51
Yes historically high mass immigration in Australia has been used as a trojan horse by the adherents of neo-liberalism - to break down the pay and conditions of Australian workers and their rights and entitlements.
By importing "ready made" skilled workers, neither the Government or the private sector have had to go to the trouble of training their workforce nor bear any of the costs of educating and training them.
As to the lower skilled imported workers, in the main, this is a crude device to cut out the locals so that accepted or legislated pay and conditions can be lowered. Most of those imported workers don't know their rights and are ripe for exploitation.
The shonks, rip off and quick buck merchants love neo-liberalism for the what it has done to the Australian labour market.
And the Labor party has been complicit in all this - when it should have been protecting Australians and Australian workers present and future from the ravaging impacts of neo-liberalism.
Ozperson , 31 Oct 2018 00:48
For something that's supposedly dead, it still looks like neoliberalism is in charge to me. The relentless commodification of every aspect of life continues apace. Money is still the measure of everything and takes precedence over the environment, ethics, community, creativity, discovery, and virtually everything else you care to name. When water thiefs, big bankers, corrupt politicians, environmental despoilers, and those that start pointless wars are IN GAOL, then I'll start to believe things are changing.
Saint-Just -> FelixKruell , 31 Oct 2018 00:47
Neoliberalism is not simply an economic agenda. From the beginning it was conceived as and then constructed to be much more than that - it was in fact as much a pedagogical cum psychological operation to change minds across generations with regard to free-market capitalism and thus to orient all thinking to that, than it was a matter of simple monetary or trade policy. Of course, this had to be done with a good deal of repression and oppression backing it up, here and there - Chile e.g. Thus electing neoliberalism is an effect of this pedagogy over time - we are all schooled in its 'normality - and not a reflection of either some natural desire for it or an educated choice.
Nicholas Haines , 31 Oct 2018 00:40
I agree that we should be discussing fiscal policy but I suspect that Richard Denniss is using a false frame for this topic. He probably adheres to the claim made by the macroeconomic equivalent of pre-Copernican physics that a government that issues its own currency, enforces taxes in that currency, and allows the currency to float in foreign exchange markets can run out of its currency.

The fiscal policy of the federal government should be to employ all available labour in socially useful and environmental sustainable productive activity, maintain price stability, minimize inequality of income and wealth, and fund public services and infrastructure to the maximum extent permitted by the resources that are available for sale in the government's currency.

If you think that the government's fiscal policy should be to reduce a fiscal deficit or deliver a fiscal surplus, you are a dill.

It makes no sense to target a particular fiscal balance because the outcome is driven largely by the aggregated spending and saving decisions of the domestic non-government sector and the external sector. The federal government does not control those variables.

The federal government needs to target economically, socially, and environmentally desirable goals and allow the fiscal balance to reach whatever level is needed at any given time to achieve those goals.

economicalternative -> BlueThird , 31 Oct 2018 00:39
'Democracy' needs to be structural as well as a moral idea. Workers have been disempowered and impoverished and disenfranchished by neoliberalism. An answer to structurally improve the wealth AND democratic power of the workers is to build a HUGE co operative sector in each economy: worker owned workplaces/businesses/concerns AND democratically run. THAT will improve the situation for workers/punters: democracy where they live and work. Democracy rooted not in fine ideas only about rights but bedded down in economic livelihoods. People will take an interest in their local 'politics' and also understand more of the politics of the nation. You don't have to get rid of 'capitalism' just give it a 'good run' for it's money - some real COMPETITION. Cooperatively run Hospitals, owned by doctors and nurses and other stakeholders - not for profit - that'll soon see the 'private' for profit' health providers/rorters wind their prices and necks in. Socially owned, worker-owned, government/taxpayer supported enterprise, work places, democratically run will boot up the level of 'democracy' in our societies. We can still have voter style over-arching national government of course. If you don't root democracy where people actually can participate and which gives them a lot of control over their workplaces/livelihood, then it can all be hijacked by the greedy and cunning (see neoliberalism). OH, a large cooperative sector in the economy democratically run by workers won't deliver 'heaven on earth' - it'll still be run by people!
slorter -> HauptmannGurski , 31 Oct 2018 00:37
It is also a tool of the neoliberals along with the whole neoliberal trend in macroeconomic policy. The essential thing underlying this, is to try to reduce the power of government and social forces that might exercise some power within the political economy -- workers and others -- and put the power primarily in the hands of those dominating in the markets. That's often the financial system, the banks, but also other elites. The idea of neoliberal economists and policymakers being that you don't want the government getting too involved in macroeconomic policy. You don't want them promoting too much employment because that might lead to a raise in wages and, in turn, to a reduction in the profit share of the national income.

Austerity fits into the mix very well Keeping wages low, or debt pressure high, means workers will be less likely to complain or make demands. As workers struggle to provide their families with all the temptations that a capitalist society offers, they become far less likely to risk their employment, and less able to improve their situation.

At bottom, conservatives believe in a social hierarchy of "haves" and "have nots". They have taken this corrosive social vision and dressed it up with a "respectable" sounding ideology which all boils down to the cheap labour they depend on to make their fortunes.

Alltherage -> misterwildcard , 31 Oct 2018 00:29
It shows a great sense of inferiority and knowing our "proper"place, that the populace apparently accepted the colloquial term for neo-liberalism or economic rationalism, as being "trickle down economics" and that all that the populace deserved and was going to get was a trickle of the alleged wealth and benefits created.
Why were most people so compliant and accepting of something that as a concept, from the outset, was clearly signalling it would economically completely discriminate against the 99% and was intended to provide such a meager share of the wealth and economic benefits generated?
eerstehondopdemaan -> MikeSw , 31 Oct 2018 00:23
Excellent statement Mike.

A quick look around the world provides clear evidence that there really are a lot of alternatives.

That's the crux: many (western, developed) countries before us have proven over and over again that the best type of democratic government is one in which consensus is the basis for long-term decisions to the benefit of all. Is it tedious? Yes. Frustrating at times? You bet. Slow? Indeed, quite often so. But the point is, consensus-based decision making works and eventually is in everyone's interest (left, right and centre), resulting in better long-term outcomes. With the added benefit that new "majority" Governments won't throw out the children with the bathwater all the time.

I'd add one aspect to the article though, and that is to combine a form of proportional representation with longer terms of Government. You won't get much meaningful done in 3 years, whatever form of representation you choose. 4 years, 5 years... whatever strikes the best balance between governments getting some runs on the board and voters feeling empowered to change government coalitions in the ballot box when they stuff up.

[Dec 09, 2018] Neoliberalism clearly works for the interests of the minority and against the interests of the majority. Households are now worse off than they were 6 years ago and large businesses are enjoying record profits.

But what economic system worked in the interests of majority of population. There was only one such system -- USA in 1935-1970th and it was the result of WWII and record profits of the US corporation after the war, when both Europe and Japan were devastated.
In no way the USSR was social system that worked for the majority of population. It worked for the Nomenklatura -- a pretty narrow caste, similar to current top 1% under neoliberalism.
Dec 09, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

regoblivion , 31 Oct 2018 00:08

I like Prof.Bill Mitchell's saying that most Progressives are Neo liberals in disguise. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOMo3xuSyWM&t=66s

Until we ditch the Neo Liberal garbage about Deficits, Debt and their confusion about Monetary and Fiscal Policy, nothing can change.

meanwhile Tick Tock goes the Carbon Clock.

ianwford , 31 Oct 2018 00:02
Neoliberalism clearly works for the interests of the minority and against the interests of the majority. Households are now worse off than they were 6 years ago and large businesses are enjoying record profits. It feels as if the australian economy is being run for the benefit of a small percentage of wealthy shareholders.

[Dec 09, 2018] Neoliberalism contains policies that the right have embraced with open arms, like compulsory retirement savings (which have enriched the private sector, especially banks and their shareholders), would have caused sharp intakes of breath from the steely-eyed theorists who came up with the concept

While a purported devotion to the principles and precepts of neo-liberalism has been claimed by decades of right-wing politicians, businesses and bankers, drilling down deeper often reveals that what is really happening in favoring the economic interests of the few at the expense of the many, and very often involving compulsorily actions like switch to 401K accounts. Which was stoke of genius for neoliberals to fleeces common people. acquired
Dec 09, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

CaligulaMcNutt , 30 Oct 2018 23:45

Speaking as no fan of neo-liberalism, but there is a risk that the term gets overused. Things that the right have embraced with open arms, like compulsory retirement savings (which have enriched the private sector, especially banks and their shareholders), would have caused sharp intakes of breath from the steely-eyed theorists who came up with the concept. While a purported devotion to the principles and precepts of neo-liberalism has been claimed by decades of right-wing politicians, businesses and bankers, drilling down deeper often reveals that what is really happening in favouring the economic interests of the few at the expense of the many, and very often involving compulsorily acquired public resources being re-directed to business, with barely even the thinnest veneer of genuine theoretical observance to the neo-liberal model. Both neo-liberalism itself, and bogus claims of its practical use and benefits, need to be dead and buried.
LovelyDaffodils -> misterwildcard , 30 Oct 2018 23:45
I really would love the rich and powerful who basically prey on the average person/worker/mums and dads, to be held accountable and penalised properly in relation to their deeds. These bastards destroy families in their grab for greed, and almost every time they are excused by their cohorts, and even go on to bigger and better opportunities to keep feeding their voracious greedy appetites. Basically they steal, so why isn't their proceeds of crime taken back by government; and why do they not do any jail time?
GreyBags , 30 Oct 2018 23:36
Natural monopolies like water and power, roads and public transport should be in public hands. All call centres dealing with government issues should be done by public servants, not outsourced to foreign corporations.

I'd start with a bank. Give people a non-greed infested alternative.

Under neo-liberalism we have gone from 1 person, 1 vote to $1, one vote. The con job that is 'small government and little or no regulations' is bad for society and the environment. Greed over need.

slorter -> MachiavellisCat , 30 Oct 2018 23:20
https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/10/30/why-a-neoliberal-society-cant-survive /

Dr. T. J. Coles is director of the Plymouth Institute for Peace Research and the author of several books, including Voices for Peace (with Noam Chomsky and others) and the forthcoming Fire and Fury: How the US Isolates North Korea, Encircles China and Risks Nuclear War in Asia (both Clairview Books).

Jakartaboy , 30 Oct 2018 22:42
The current economic model being used by capitalist countries across the world is failing most of the people in these countries while enriching tiny elites. Unfortunately, politicians in these countries are often in the pockets of the elite or are themselves members of the elite.

We need a new economic narrative which better reconciles the needs of the population with the directives of the market.

[Dec 09, 2018] China version of neoliberalism is not without huge problems

Dec 09, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

diggerdigger -> everywhereman , 30 Oct 2018 23:41

Why not? Profits to the nation, not greedy corporates and their shareholders.

I think you will find there were no profits made that could be put "to the nation." When the wall came down, the USSR and the entire eastern bloc were completely bankrupt.

As was Mao's China prior to the emergence of Deng and his "to get rich is glorious" mantra, that set China on its current path. Of course his generally market-oriented approach has since been bastardised to one of One Party State-capitalism dominated by cronyism, corruption, and a perverted justice system.

Yes it has generated vast wealth, but it is an empire built on sand. As any analysis of its shadow banking system will show.

And while the legions of newly minted millionaires of party benevolence celebrate, the hundreds of millions stuck in poverty are left to fend for themselves.

[Dec 09, 2018] The death of neoliberalism means we can finally have a national debate about the size and role of government, and the shape of the economy and society we want to build

Neoliberalism is a secular religion, so it doe need to be rational, to remains influential or even dominant, much like Bolshevism or Trotskyism (actually neoliberalism should be viewed as a perverted mutation of Trotskyism -- Trotskyism for irch) . It took 70 years for Bolshevism to became discredited and collapse (under the attack from neoliberalism).
In the absence of alternatives neoliberalism might continues to exist in zombie state for a very long time.
Notable quotes:
"... Poverty rate in the USA has been increasing since about the year 2000. ..."
"... Why do you think that all around the world voters are going hard against Neoliberalism and why do you think that Neoliberals are desperately trying to save their bankrupt philosophy by hiding behind Nationalism and Racism? ..."
"... While I would very much like to agree with the notion that neo-liberalism is dead, there's rather too much evidence that its pernicious influence lingers ghost-like and ghastly, having suffused far too many politicians of an ultra-conservative ilk ..."
"... The true believers in the neo-liberal faith, as it was never other than a creed espoused by Thatcher and Pinochet among others, are like those in the catholic church who continued to advocate an earth centric universe long after science proved them wrong. ..."
"... It will be a long wait until these myopic adherents to the gospel of Hayek, Friedman and Buchanan, are consigned to the waste bin of history where they belong. Until then, it will remain a struggle to right the many wrongs of this mis-guided and shallow populism. ..."
"... The neocons have had their day, though it'll no doubt take one hell of an effort to drag them out of their crony-capitalist, snouts-in-the-trough ways. The profit motive in the provision of essential services should be confined to covering costs, maintenance and associated investment. ..."
Dec 09, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

GreenExerciseAddict , 30 Oct 2018 23:29

The death of neoliberalism means we can finally have a national debate about the size and role of government, and the shape of the economy and society we want to build.

Unfortunately, I see lots of deaths but none of them is neoliberalism. I can see death of a decent safety net in Australia. Death of biodiversity. Death of ecosystems. Death of intelligent debate. Death of science.

Alpo88 -> Fred1 , 30 Oct 2018 23:26
You are completely delusional Freddie.

Poverty rate in the USA has been increasing since about the year 2000. The international poverty trend has been decreasing over time only because the definition of poverty is to earn less than $1.25 per day..... So, if you earn $10/day you are well above the poverty line: Good luck living on that income in any OECD country!

Standards of living are decreasing in Australia... ever heard of the housing crisis? The household debt crisis?.... Paying for hospital and medicines, education, electricity and other services.... should I go on?.... ACOSS found that "there are just over 3 million people (13.2%) living below the poverty line of 50% of median income – including 739,000 children (17.3%)".

"The evil neo-liberalism" has delivered poverty, massive inequality, dissatisfaction, unemployment/sub-employment and casualization, collapse of public services, high costs of living.... and deterioration of the environment...

Why do you think that all around the world voters are going hard against Neoliberalism and why do you think that Neoliberals are desperately trying to save their bankrupt philosophy by hiding behind Nationalism and Racism?

Revenant13 , 30 Oct 2018 23:24
While I would very much like to agree with the notion that neo-liberalism is dead, there's rather too much evidence that its pernicious influence lingers ghost-like and ghastly, having suffused far too many politicians of an ultra-conservative ilk.

The true believers in the neo-liberal faith, as it was never other than a creed espoused by Thatcher and Pinochet among others, are like those in the catholic church who continued to advocate an earth centric universe long after science proved them wrong.

It will be a long wait until these myopic adherents to the gospel of Hayek, Friedman and Buchanan, are consigned to the waste bin of history where they belong. Until then, it will remain a struggle to right the many wrongs of this mis-guided and shallow populism.

David Smith -> adamhumph , 30 Oct 2018 23:21
Abso-bloody-lutely! The neocons have had their day, though it'll no doubt take one hell of an effort to drag them out of their crony-capitalist, snouts-in-the-trough ways. The profit motive in the provision of essential services should be confined to covering costs, maintenance and associated investment. It's so painfully obvious that the market has not met the needs of the average citizen without absurd cost. Bring on the revolution!

[Dec 09, 2018] What made anyone think neo-liberalism was going to work? Why was this even tried or got past a focus group?

Dec 09, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

misterwildcard , 30 Oct 2018 22:12

What made anyone think neo-liberalism was going to work? Why was this even tried or got past a focus group?
Only the Murdoch press ever dreamed this could have any merit and a few totally selfish and controlling wealthy people. 2008 and the GFC should have killed this idea instead it gained traction as the perpetrators not only were not prosecuted but were subsidised to create more havoc. Find the culprits and jail them ... it is not too late.

[Dec 09, 2018] All essential infrastructure should be Nationalised. Water electricity supply and generation, ports and railways, educational facilities, one major bank, one country wide telco and mail delivery.

Notable quotes:
"... What about "competition", the God of Neoliberals?.... Competition can have some positive role in society only in an environment of Regulation. That's why the future is neither Neoliberal nor Socialist, but a Mixed Economy Social Democracy. ..."
"... Bring back a Commonwealth Bank! In fact bring back State run Electricity, Gas and Water utilities... ..."
"... The Coalition these days proudly subsidise their friends and regulate their enemies in order to reshape Australia in their preferred form. ..."
Dec 09, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

adamhumph , 30 Oct 2018 22:14

All essential infrastructure should be Nationalised. Water electricity supply and generation, ports and railways, educational facilities, one major bank, one country wide telco and mail delivery. Remove the for profit aspect, and they become assets. In at least a few of these they also provide training opportunities across a wide spectrum of careers
Joshua Tree , 30 Oct 2018 22:13
Nationalise the banks and the Mining Industry . Take back control of outrageous wages in both these sectors and return profits to the taxpayer .

Nationalise the State Governments in other words get rid of them and appoint federal controlled administrators same with local councils, sack the lot of them and appoint administrators.

Alpo88 , 30 Oct 2018 22:08
Just like the AFP is "nationalised", or education is also to a big extent "nationalised", alongside a big chunk of the health system.... so we can nationalise other things, such as the modes of production and distribution of energy, major mineral resources, etc.

What about "competition", the God of Neoliberals?.... Competition can have some positive role in society only in an environment of Regulation. That's why the future is neither Neoliberal nor Socialist, but a Mixed Economy Social Democracy.

Which party is for a Mixed Economy Social Democracy?.... Labor and to some extent the Greens. A bunch of independents are also happy with the concept.... Together they are currently a majority, only waiting for a Federal election.

JAKLAUGHING , 30 Oct 2018 22:08
Bring back a Commonwealth Bank! In fact bring back State run Electricity, Gas and Water utilities...
Joey Rocca , 30 Oct 2018 22:01

The Coalition these days proudly subsidise their friends and regulate their enemies in order to reshape Australia in their preferred form.

Spot on Richard, excellent article. A Federal ICAC is a must.

[Dec 09, 2018] Neoliberalism is more like modern feudalism - an authoritarian system where the lords (bankers, energy companies and their large and inefficient attendant bureaucracies), keep us peasants in thrall through life long debt-slavery simply to buy a house or exploit us as a captured market in the case of the energy sector.

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... I don't like using the term "neo-liberalism" that much because there is nothing "new" or "liberal" about it, the term itself just helps hide the fact that it's a political project more about power than profit and the end result is more like modern feudalism - an authoritarian system where the lords (bankers, energy companies and their large and inefficient attendant bureaucracies), keep us peasants in thrall through life long debt-slavery simply to buy a house or exploit us as a captured market in the case of the energy sector. ..."
"... Since the word "privatisation" is clearly no longer popular, the latest buzzword from this project is "outsourcing". ..."
"... As far as I can see "neo-liberalism", or what I prefer to call managerial and financialised feudalism is not dead, it's still out and about looking around for the next rent-seeking opportunity. ..."
"... In the political arena, is enabling porkies facilitate each other in every lunatic pronouncement about "Budget repair" and "on track for a surplus". And its spotty, textbook-spouting clones ("all debt is debt! Shriek, gasp, hyperventilate!") fall off the conveyor belts of tertiary education Australia-wide, then turn up on The Drum as IPA 'Research Fellows' to spout their evidence-free assertions. ..."
"... And don't forget the handmaiden of neoliberalism is their macroeconomic mythology about government "debt and borrowing" which will condemn our grandchildren to poverty - inter-generational theft! It also allows them to continue dismantling government social programs by giving tax-cuts to reduce "revenue" and then claiming there is no money to fund those programs. ..."
"... "Competition" as the cornerstone of neoliberal economics was always a lie. Corporations do their best to get rid of competitors by unfair pricing tactics or by takeovers. And even where some competitors hang in there by some means (banks, petrol companies) the competition that occurs is not for price but for profit. ..."
"... We find a shift away from democratic processes and the rise of the "all new adulation of the so-called tough leader" factor, aka Nazism/Fascism. From Trump to Turkey, Netanyahu to Putin, Brazil to China, the rise of the "right" in Europe, the South Americas, where the leader is "our great and "good" Teacher", knows best, and thus infantalises the knowledge and awareness of the rest of the population. Who needs scientists, when the "leader" knows everything? ..."
"... There are indeed alternatives to neoliberalism, most of which have been shown to lead back to neoliberalism. Appeals for fiscal and monetary relief/stimulus can only ever paper over the worst aspects of it's relentless 'progress', between wars, it seems. ..."
"... Neoliberalism seems vastly, catastrophically misunderstood. Widely perceived as the latest abomination to spring from the eternal battle 'twixt Labour and Capital, it's actual origins are somewhat more recent. Neoliberalism really, really is not just "Capitalism gone wrong". It goes much deeper, to a fundamental flaw buried( more accurately 'planted') deep in the heart of economics. ..."
"... In 1879 an obscure journalist from then-remote San Francisco, Henry George, took the world by storm with his extraordinary bestseller Progress and Poverty . Still the only published work to outsell the Bible in a single year, it did so for over twenty years, yet few social justice advocates have heard of it. ..."
"... George gravely threatened privileged global power-elites , so they erased him from academic history. A mind compared, in his time with Plato, Copernicus and Adam Smith wiped from living memory, by the modern aristocracy. ..."
"... In the process of doing so, they emasculated the discipline of economics, stripped dignity from labour, and set in motion a world-destroying doctrine. Neo-Classical Economics(aka neoliberalism) was born , to the detriment of the working-citizen and the living world on which s/he depends. ..."
Dec 09, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

ElectricJolt , 31 Oct 2018 04:38

I don't like using the term "neo-liberalism" that much because there is nothing "new" or "liberal" about it, the term itself just helps hide the fact that it's a political project more about power than profit and the end result is more like modern feudalism - an authoritarian system where the lords (bankers, energy companies and their large and inefficient attendant bureaucracies), keep us peasants in thrall through life long debt-slavery simply to buy a house or exploit us as a captured market in the case of the energy sector.

Since the word "privatisation" is clearly no longer popular, the latest buzzword from this project is "outsourcing". If you've had a look at The Canberra Times over the last couple of weeks there have been quite a few articles about outsourcing parts of Medicare and Centrelink, using labour hire companies and so on – is this part of a current LNP plan to "sell off" parts of the government before Labour takes the reins in May?

As far as I can see "neo-liberalism", or what I prefer to call managerial and financialised feudalism is not dead, it's still out and about looking around for the next rent-seeking opportunity.

Friarbird , 31 Oct 2018 04:02
Neoliberalism "dead"? I think not. It is riveted on the country like a straitjacket.

Which is exactly what it was always intended to be, a system gamed and rigged to ensure the wage-earning scum obtain progressively less and less of the country's productive wealth, however much they contributed to it. The wage theft and exploitation Neoliberalism fosters has become the new norm. Neoliberal idealogues thickly infest Federal and State Treasuries.

In the political arena, is enabling porkies facilitate each other in every lunatic pronouncement about "Budget repair" and "on track for a surplus". And its spotty, textbook-spouting clones ("all debt is debt! Shriek, gasp, hyperventilate!") fall off the conveyor belts of tertiary education Australia-wide, then turn up on The Drum as IPA 'Research Fellows' to spout their evidence-free assertions.

The IPA itself has moles in govt at every level--even in your local Council. Certainly in ours.

Neoliberalism is "dead"? Correction. Neoliberalism is alive, thriving---and quick to ensure its glaring deficiencies and inequities are solely attributable to its opponents. Now THERE'S a surprise.....

totaram -> JohnArmour , 31 Oct 2018 03:01
Agree! And don't forget the handmaiden of neoliberalism is their macroeconomic mythology about government "debt and borrowing" which will condemn our grandchildren to poverty - inter-generational theft! It also allows them to continue dismantling government social programs by giving tax-cuts to reduce "revenue" and then claiming there is no money to fund those programs.
exTen , 31 Oct 2018 02:30
Neoliberalism will not be dead until the underpinning of neoliberalism is abandoned by ALP and Greens. That underpinning is their mindless attachment to "budget repair" and "return to surplus". The federal government's "budget" is nothing like a currency user's budget. Currency users collect in order to spend whereas every dollar spent by the federal government is a new dollar and every dollar taxed by the federal government is an ex-dollar. A currency cannot sensibly have "debt" in the currency that it issues and no amount of surplus or deficit now will enhance or impair its capacity to spend in future. A currency issuer does not need an electronic piggybank, or a Future Fund, or a Drought Relief Fund. It can't max out an imaginary credit card. It's "borrowing" is just an exchange of its termless no-coupon liabilities (currency) for term-limited coupon-bearing liabilities (bonds). The federal budget balance is no rational indicator of any need for austerity or for stimulus. The rational indicators are unemployment (too small a "deficit"/too large a surplus) and inflation (too large a "deficit"/too small a "surplus"). Federal taxation is where dollars go to die. It doesn't "fund" a currency issuer's spending - it is there to stop the dollars it issues from piling up and causing inflation and to make room for spending by democratically elected federal parliament. The name of the game is to balance the economy, not the entirely notional and fundamentally irrelevant "budget".
Copperfield , 31 Oct 2018 01:51
"Competition" as the cornerstone of neoliberal economics was always a lie. Corporations do their best to get rid of competitors by unfair pricing tactics or by takeovers. And even where some competitors hang in there by some means (banks, petrol companies) the competition that occurs is not for price but for profit.

And changing the electoral system? Yes indeed. After years of observation it seems to me that the problem with our politics is not individual politicians (although there are notable exceptions) but political parties. Rigid control of policies and voting on party instruction (even by the Greens) makes the proceedings of parliament a complete waste of time. If every policy had to run the gauntlet of 150 people all voting by their conscience we would have better policy. The executive functions could be carried out by a cabinet also elected from those members. But not going to happen - too many vested interests in the parties and their corporate sponsors.

gidrys , 31 Oct 2018 01:34
With the election of Bolsonaro in Brazil (even though nearly 30% of electors refused to vote) it may be a little presumptuous to dissect the dead corpse of neoliberalism, as Richard Denniss' hopes that we can.

What is absolutely gob-smacking is that Brazilians voted for him; a man that Glenn Greenwald describes as "far more dangerous than Trump" , that Bolsonaro envisages military dictatorships as "being a far more superior form of government" advocating a civil war in order to dispose of the left.

Furthermore, the election of this far-right neoliberal extremist also threatens the Amazon forest and its indigenous people; with a global impact that will render combatting climate change even more difficult.

Locally, recent Liberal Party battles over leadership have included the neolib factor, as the lunatic right in that party - who I suspect would all love to be a Bolsonaro themselves - aggressively activate their grumblings and dissension.

Oh, Richard how I wish you were right; but in the Victorian election campaign - currently underway - I have seen Socialist candidates behaving in a manner that doesn't garner hope in a different way of doing politics.

The fact that 'our' democracy is based on an adversarial, partisan system leaves me with little hope. Alain Badiou wrote that "ours is not a world of democracy but a world of imperial conservatism using democratic phraseology" ; and until that imposition is discarded 'our' democracy will remain whatever we are told it is, and neolibs will continue to shove their bullshit down our throats as much as they can.

beeden , 31 Oct 2018 01:33
There is no abatement to the wealthiest in the global communities seeking greater wealth and thus increasing inequality.

Taking a local example,

We find a shift away from democratic processes and the rise of the "all new adulation of the so-called tough leader" factor, aka Nazism/Fascism. From Trump to Turkey, Netanyahu to Putin, Brazil to China, the rise of the "right" in Europe, the South Americas, where the leader is "our great and "good" Teacher", knows best, and thus infantalises the knowledge and awareness of the rest of the population. Who needs scientists, when the "leader" knows everything?

Have the people of the world abrogated their democratic responsibility?

Or is it the gerrymandering chicanery of US Republican backers/politicians( so long as you control the voting machines ) that have sent the ugly message to the world, Power is yours for the making and taking by any means that ignores the public's rights in the decision making process. Has the "neo-liberal" world delivered a corrupted system of democracy that has deliberately alienated the world's population from actively participating fully in the full awareness that their vote counts and will be counted?

Do we need to take back the controls of democracy to ensure that it is the will of the people and not a manipulation by vested interest groups/individuals? You're darn tootin'!!!

Matt Quinn , 31 Oct 2018 01:32
A thoughtful piece. Thanks. There are indeed alternatives to neoliberalism, most of which have been shown to lead back to neoliberalism. Appeals for fiscal and monetary relief/stimulus can only ever paper over the worst aspects of it's relentless 'progress', between wars, it seems.

Neoliberalism seems vastly, catastrophically misunderstood. Widely perceived as the latest abomination to spring from the eternal battle 'twixt Labour and Capital, it's actual origins are somewhat more recent. Neoliberalism really, really is not just "Capitalism gone wrong". It goes much deeper, to a fundamental flaw buried( more accurately 'planted') deep in the heart of economics.

Instead of trying to understand Neo-Classical Economics it is perhaps more instructive to understand what it was built, layer by layer, to obscure. First the Land system, then the Wealth system, and finally the Money system (hived off into a compartment - 'macroeconomics'). Importantly, three entirely different categories of "thing" .

In 1879 an obscure journalist from then-remote San Francisco, Henry George, took the world by storm with his extraordinary bestseller Progress and Poverty . Still the only published work to outsell the Bible in a single year, it did so for over twenty years, yet few social justice advocates have heard of it.

George set out to discover why the worst poverty always seemed to accompany the most progress. By chasing down the production process to its ends, and tracing where the proceeds were going, he succeeded spectacularly. From Progress and Poverty , Chapter 17 - "The Problem Explained" :

Three things unite in production: land, labor, and capital. Three parties divide the output: landowner, laborer, and capitalist. If the laborer and capitalist get no more as production increases, it is a necessary inference that the landowner takes the gain.

George gravely threatened privileged global power-elites , so they erased him from academic history. A mind compared, in his time with Plato, Copernicus and Adam Smith wiped from living memory, by the modern aristocracy.

In the process of doing so, they emasculated the discipline of economics, stripped dignity from labour, and set in motion a world-destroying doctrine. Neo-Classical Economics(aka neoliberalism) was born , to the detriment of the working-citizen and the living world on which s/he depends.

Einstein was a fan of George, and used his methods of thought-experiment and powerful inductive reasoning to discover Relativity, twenty years later. Henry Georges brilliant insights into Land (aka nature), Wealth (what you want, need), and Money (sharing mechanism) are as relevant as ever, and until they are rediscovered, we are likely to re-run the 1900's over and over, with fewer and fewer resources.

~ How Land Barons, Industrialists and Bankers Corrupted Economics .

[Dec 09, 2018] Neoliberalism is dead. Now let's repair our democratic institutions by Richard Denniss

Notable quotes:
"... Should we create a national anti-corruption watchdog, replace the productivity commission with a national interest commission, or abolish the failed network of finance sector regulators and build a new one from scratch? ..."
"... Proportional representation is neither radical nor a silver bullet. ..."
"... Ironically, one of the major objections to proportional representation in Australia has been that it tends to deliver minority government, a situation that the major parties prefer to avoid. But now that we are back in our second minority federal government in five years, the idea that avoiding proportional representation is an effective way to avoid minority government seems a bit optimistic. ..."
"... class warfare (by the rich against the 99%, though I should not need to say that) is still very much alive. ..."
"... The rise of nationalism is indeed worrying situation.. but its clear that mass discontent is driving a 'shift' away from the status quo and that opportunists of every creed are all trying to get in on the action.. ..."
"... the elephant in the room that no one wants to discuss is population growth and lack of natural resources and meaningful 'employment' .. which self serving politicians are exploiting via playing the fear card and creating further division in society in order to embrace and increase their own power. Further more, no one, it seems, has any valid answers as regards resolving the division and creating a path forward.. thereby making more conflict an inevitability. ..."
"... Like Octopus, the globalists have every one of their eight legs in a different pot of gold. On their arms, suction cups maintain an iron grip. Trying to pull those suckers out, leaves us raw and bleeding. To release their grip, without hurting ourselves, we must aim for the brain. ..."
"... Murdoch's media empire has arms in every Democracy on earth. As his poisonous ink spread across our lands, we wallowed in the dark. ..."
"... The Oil and Coal Tycoons have arms in every black hole on earth. As their suckers pull black gold from the land beneath our feet, we choke on the air we breathe. ..."
"... The Financial Tyrants have arms in our buildings, factories, farms and homes. Their suckers stripped our pockets bare and we ran out of money. ..."
"... The False Prophets spread their arms into our private lives. Their suckers turned our modest, humble faiths into global empires filled with mega-churches, televangelists, jet-setting preachers and evangelical armies Hell bent on disruption and destruction. ..."
"... Neoliberalism may be dead but the former Trotskyites who invented it are still alive and they still have an agenda. ..."
"... Neo Liberalism was a project cooked up back in the late 1970s by the Capital owning classes & enacted by successive govts of "right" or "left" ever since. They feared the growing power of the working & middle classes which they felt threatened their own power & wealth. So they set out to destroy any ability of the working class to organise & to gut the middle class. ..."
"... Key to this was decoupling wages from productivity & forcing us all into debt peonage. Deregulation of the financial markets & the globalization of capital markets, disastorous multilateral trade deals & off shoring jobs, slashing state social programmes, Union busting laws all part of the plan. All covered with a lie that we live in meritocracies & the "best & brightest" are in charge. The result has been evermore riches funneled to the wealthiest few percent & a wealth gap bigger than that of the gilded age ..."
"... The majority press are so organised around the idea that neoliberalism in the sense captured economically and to some extent socially as construed in the article above; ..."
Oct 31, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

he opposite of a neoliberal economic agenda isn't a progressive economic agenda, but democratic re-engagement. Neoliberalism taught us that "there is no alternative" to cutting taxes, cutting services and letting the banks treat us as they see fit. But of course not even the Coalition believes that any more. These days they proudly subsidise their friends and regulate their enemies in order to reshape Australia in their preferred form.

While the hypocrisy is staggering, at least voters can now see that politics, and elections, matter. Having been told for decades that it was "global markets" that shaped our society, it's now clear that it is actually the likes of Barnaby Joyce and Tony Abbott who decide whether we get new coal mines or power stations. Luckily, millions of voters now realise that if it's OK to subsidise new coal mines, there's no reason we can't subsidise renewables instead.

Neoliberalism: the idea that swallowed the world Read more

The parliament is filling with people of all political persuasions who, if nothing else, decry the neoliberal agenda to shrink our government and our national vision. While there's obviously quite a distance between MPs who want to build the nation, one new coal mine at a time, and those who want to fill our cities with renewable energy, the whole purpose of democracy is to settle such disputes at the ballot box.

The Liberals want to nationalise coal-fired power stations and pour public money into Snowy 2.0 . The ALP want much bigger renewable energy targets and to collect more revenue by closing billions of dollars in tax-loopholes . The Greens want a publicly owned bank and some unions are pushing to nationalise aged care. It's never been a more exciting time to support a bigger role for government.

So, what to nationalise? What new machinery of state should we build first? Should we create a national anti-corruption watchdog, replace the productivity commission with a national interest commission, or abolish the failed network of finance sector regulators and build a new one from scratch?

Or should we think bigger? Is it time to rethink not just the agenda of our parliament but the way that we choose our parliamentarians? Is it time to replace our system of electing one representative from each of our 150 electorates with a more proportional system of representation where each region elects multiple members of parliament?

We can finally have a national debate about the size and role of government, and the shape of the economy and society we want to build

At the last federal election the major parties attracted 76.5% of the primary votes for members of the House of Representatives but won 96% of the seats. While our system of preferential voting allowed Kerryn Phelps to win Wentworth from the Liberals with a primary vote of 29% of the vote, our "winner takes all" system means the 43% of electors who voted for Dave Sharma have no voice in the House of Representatives. But while such voicelessness might feel uncomfortably unfamiliar for the Liberal voters of Australia's wealthiest electorate, such an outcome is the norm for the quarter of the Australian population who cast a first preference vote for independents and minor parties each election.

Proportional representation is neither radical nor a silver bullet. The reason the Senate is more diverse in its representation of women and minor parties is that each state elects six members of the Senate at a half Senate election. This means that candidates only need to gain 14% of the vote to win a seat in the Senate, compared to the 50% needed to win a lower house seat. Tasmania and the ACT have systems of proportional representation, and internationally around 80 countries rely on some version of proportional representation to settle the question of who gets to sit in Parliament.

Ironically, one of the major objections to proportional representation in Australia has been that it tends to deliver minority government, a situation that the major parties prefer to avoid. But now that we are back in our second minority federal government in five years, the idea that avoiding proportional representation is an effective way to avoid minority government seems a bit optimistic.

The Liberal party and the conservative media are no longer afraid of minority government. While the government warned the voters of Wentworth that

minority government would lead to "chaos", it turns out, like most of the Coalitions forecasts, this was errant nonsense. The ACT has been in minority government for 10 years and there have been minority governments in NSW, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia.

The big con: how neoliberals convinced us there wasn't enough to go around | Richard Denniss Read more

The more independents and minor party MPs winning seats in the lower house the greater the probability that a general election will deliver a "hung parliament". There are now six independent and minor party MPs in the House of Representatives and the result in Wentworth has inspired talk of Jane Caro taking on Tony Abbott , Farmers Federation chair Fiona Simson challenging Barnaby Joyce and backbench Liberal MP Julia Banks running as an independent. There is little doubt that there will be a bigger crossbench in the coming year and little doubt that it will have a larger share of women than the current Coalition party room.

The death of neoliberalism means we can finally have a national debate about the size and role of government, and the shape of the economy and society we want to build. But we need to do more than talk about tax and regulation. Australia is one of the oldest parliamentary democracies in the world, and we once helped lead the world in the design of democratic institutions and the creation of an open democratic culture. Let's not allow the legacy of neoliberalism to be a cynical belief that there is no point repairing and rebuilding the democratic institutions that ensure not just our economy thrives, but our society as well. A quick look around the world provides clear evidence that there really are a lot of alternatives.

Richard Denniss is chief economist for the Australia Institute


R_Ambrose_Raven , 1 Nov 2018 16:38

Mmmm, well, class warfare (by the rich against the 99%, though I should not need to say that) is still very much alive.

Globalisation-driven financial deregulation was commenced here by Hawke Labor from 1983 as a Laberal facade for the Australian chapter of the transnational ruling class policy of self-enrichment. It was sold to the aspirationals as the ever-popular This Will Make You Rich - as ever-rising house prices did, for home-owners then (paid for now through housing unaffordability for their descendants). Then, transnational capital was able to loot both aspirationals' productivity gains (easily 10% of GDP) plus usurious interest from the borrowings made by the said aspirationals (easily 6% of GDP) to keep up with the Joneses. Now, it loots 90% of all increases in GDP, leaving just 10% in crumbs from the filthy rich man's table for 15 million workers to share.

We don't notice as much as we should, because the mainstream (mainly but not only Murdoch) media is very good at persuading us - then and now - that there is nothing to see. It is a tool of that transnational class, its role being to manufacture our consent to our own exploitation. Thus they play the man because it is politically easier than open demands that the public be robbed. In the case of penalty rates, thus adopting the obvious hypocrisy of which "The Australian" accuses Shorten. Or they play the woman, in the case of the ferocious, relentless media vilification of Julia Gillard and Gillard Labor – five years after the demonization of Gillard Labor's Great Big New (Carbon) Tax, the need for one is now almost universally accepted. Or they play the players, hence a focus on Dutton's challenge that pretends that he has meaningful policies.

Labor's class traitors clearly intended to aggressively apply the standard neoliberal model – look at how it helps their careers after politics (ask Anna Blight)! Shorten is not working to promote some progressive agenda, he is doing as little as possible, and expects to simply be voted into The Lodge as a committed servant of transnational capitalism.

Colinn -> bushranga , 1 Nov 2018 16:14
Wait till the revolution comes and we get the bastards up against the wall.
Colinn -> WABogan , 1 Nov 2018 16:11
join the far queue
The aged are the community elders with a lifetime of experience.
The youth are the people who marched against the Vietnam War in our day.
And the boring people in the middle bringing up their families.
I want all those people having strong influence.
Colinn , 1 Nov 2018 15:53
I stopped voting 40 years ago because the voting system is mathematically rigged to favour the duopoly. Until a large number of minor parties can share their preferences and beat the majors, which is now starting to happen. This is not just voting for a good representative, but voting against the corrupt parties. A minority government should lead to proper debate in parliament. More women will lead to lower levels of testosterone fuelled sledging and better communication. A "Coalition of Representative Independents" could form government in the future, leading by consensus and constantly listening to the community.
tjt77 -> BlueThird , 1 Nov 2018 11:35
The rise of nationalism is indeed worrying situation.. but its clear that mass discontent is driving a 'shift' away from the status quo and that opportunists of every creed are all trying to get in on the action..

The big nut to crack is HOW do we collectively find sane and honest leadership ? A huge part of the problem is the ongoing trend of disdain for government in favor of embracing private monopolies as the be all and end all for solving the ongoing societal rift. .. which has created a centralization of wealth and the power that that wealth yields.. allied to the fact that huge swaths of the population in EVERY nation were hiding when the brains were allocated.. and hence are very easy to dupe..

the elephant in the room that no one wants to discuss is population growth and lack of natural resources and meaningful 'employment' .. which self serving politicians are exploiting via playing the fear card and creating further division in society in order to embrace and increase their own power. Further more, no one, it seems, has any valid answers as regards resolving the division and creating a path forward.. thereby making more conflict an inevitability.

MeRaffey , 1 Nov 2018 08:05
Like Octopus, the globalists have every one of their eight legs in a different pot of gold. On their arms, suction cups maintain an iron grip. Trying to pull those suckers out, leaves us raw and bleeding. To release their grip, without hurting ourselves, we must aim for the brain.

Murdoch's media empire has arms in every Democracy on earth. As his poisonous ink spread across our lands, we wallowed in the dark.

The Oil and Coal Tycoons have arms in every black hole on earth. As their suckers pull black gold from the land beneath our feet, we choke on the air we breathe.

The Financial Tyrants have arms in our buildings, factories, farms and homes. Their suckers stripped our pockets bare and we ran out of money.

The False Prophets spread their arms into our private lives. Their suckers turned our modest, humble faiths into global empires filled with mega-churches, televangelists, jet-setting preachers and evangelical armies Hell bent on disruption and destruction.

Denniss offers us the cure! Start thinking fresh and new and starve the globalists to death. They fed us BS, we ate BS and now we are mal-nourished. We need good, healthy ideas.

Land. Infrastructure. Time.

Time - "WE" increased productivity and the globalists stole the rewards. Time to increase our FREE time. 32 hours is the NEW full time. Pay us full time wages, give us full time benefits, and reduce our work days by 20% and suddenly we have 20% more jobs. As the incomes of billionaires drop, the money in circulation will increase. We are the job creators - not globalists.

21st Century Infrastructure is about healthy human beings - not the effing economy. Think healthcare, education, senior care and child care. If we find out you have sent your money off-shore, your local taxes will increase by ten. So please, do, send your money off-shore - our cities and towns would love to increase taxes on your stores, offices and real estate by ten.

No more caps on taxes. If you are a citizen, you pay social taxes on every dime you get. In America you will be paying 15.3% of every dollar to social security. That's $153,000.00 a year for every million dollars you take out of our economy.

Land is not something you put in a museum, lock away in a vault, or wear on your neck. Think fresh and new. If you own land, you are responsible for meeting community rules.

No more empty, weed filled lots allowed. If you have empty land, you better put in a nice garden, pretty trees and walkways or we will do it for you and employ "eminent-domain" on your bank accounts to pay for it.

No more empty buildings. If you own an empty building you will put it to good use, or we will do it for you - and keep the profits to fund our local governments, schools, hospitals, and senior/child care centers.

No more slumlords allowed. We have basic standards, for everyone. If we catch you renting a slum to anyone, we will make repairs for you, and if you do not pay the bill, we will put a lien on your building and wait until you sell it to pay ourselves back.

We do not trust you big-box types anymore. If you want to build your mega-store in our cities, towns or communities, you must, first, deposit the entire cost of tearing it down, and landscaping a park, or playground when you leave. While you stay, we will invest your deposit in index funds and assure ourselves enough money down the road.

Sorry you BIG guys and gals, but you will find our countries are very expensive places for you to invest. We put our families, our neighborhoods and our lives first.

Proselytiser -> FarmerDave , 1 Nov 2018 07:30
That would be fantastic.

However - and it's a big however - there is a very real danger that at the next election the libs will again win by default due to the fact that many traditional labour voters are defecting to the greens instead. Sadly, LNP supporters are a lot less likely to vote green. Our best hope is to wipe the LNP out at the next election by voting labour, and then at the election after that establishing the greens in opposition. It is unfortunatly unlikely to happen at the next election....and I just hope that voters in certain seats understand that by voting for the greens they might be in fact unwittingly handing the reins back to the least green party of all: the LNP.

childofmine , 1 Nov 2018 04:04
Neoliberalism may be dead but the former Trotskyites who invented it are still alive and they still have an agenda.
Idiotgods , 1 Nov 2018 03:25
Neo Liberalism was a project cooked up back in the late 1970s by the Capital owning classes & enacted by successive govts of "right" or "left" ever since. They feared the growing power of the working & middle classes which they felt threatened their own power & wealth. So they set out to destroy any ability of the working class to organise & to gut the middle class.

Key to this was decoupling wages from productivity & forcing us all into debt peonage. Deregulation of the financial markets & the globalization of capital markets, disastorous multilateral trade deals & off shoring jobs, slashing state social programmes, Union busting laws all part of the plan. All covered with a lie that we live in meritocracies & the "best & brightest" are in charge. The result has been evermore riches funneled to the wealthiest few percent & a wealth gap bigger than that of the gilded age

Phalaris -> fabfreddy , 1 Nov 2018 03:18
The essential infrastructure to ensure a base level quality of life for all. Really it's not difficult. What are you afraid of?
Phalaris , 1 Nov 2018 03:15
The majority press are so organised around the idea that neoliberalism in the sense captured economically and to some extent socially as construed in the article above; as normal and natural that nothing can be done. As the system folds we see in its place Brexit, neoconservatism, Trump.

This is not new found freedom or Liberatarianism but a post liberal world where decency and open mindedness and open nuanced debate take a a back seat to populism and demagoguery.

Citizen0 , 1 Nov 2018 00:52
The whole purpose of Anglophone liberal democracy has been twofold: 1. to establish and protect private property rights and 2. TO guarantee some individual liberties. Guess who benefits from the enshrinement of private property rights as absolute? Big owners, and you know who they are. ... Individual tights are just not that sacred, summon the latest bogeyman, and they can be shrunken or tossed.
Alan Ritchie , 31 Oct 2018 22:24
Neoliberalism, the economic stablemate of big religion's Prosperity Evangelism cult. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosperity_theology . Dual streams of bull shit to confuse the citizens while the Country's immense wealth is stolen.
PaulC_Fitzroy -> Bearmuchly , 31 Oct 2018 22:19
I certainly agree with you.

It seems there's been a turning point recently though in the ideas of neoliberalism, as pointed out by Denniss that suddenly it's okay for all and sundry to talk about nationalising industries and infrastructure. It will probably take a couple of decades to turn things around in practical ways. And there are surely plenty of powerful supporters of the ideas of neoliberalism still around.

HonestQuestion , 31 Oct 2018 19:00
Is neo-liberalism really dead or is it wishful thinking?
If neo-liberalism really is on the decline in Australia, all i can say is bravo to Australia, use this opportunity to build a stronger government and regain the terrain that was lost during the TINA (there is no alternative) years.
Here in Canada neo-liberalism is stronger than ever, maybe because of the proximity to the cancerous tumor at the south, so when i read this article, i did it with a bit of skepticism but also with a bit of envy and a bit of hope for the future.
MrTallangatta , 31 Oct 2018 18:58
Neoliberalism is *not* dead, and it is counter-productive to claim that it is. It is clearly the driver of what passes for policy by the LNP government. Just as trickle-down economics remains as the basis of the government's economic actions.
sangela -> mikedow , 31 Oct 2018 18:50
I love it!!
Nintiblue , 31 Oct 2018 18:48
It will look like it's dead when back bone services and infrastructure utilities are returned to public ownership.

Those things are not fit for market style private ownership for a few big reasons:

They are by their nature natural monopolies (so a market private ownership won't work and will rapidly creep up prices of reduced service precisely because they not in a natural market context.

These core services and utilities are mega scale operations beyond a natural market ROI value.

These core sovereign services and utilities, are nation critical to the national economy and political stability. The last thing we want to do is hand that sovereign power over to private control.

PaulMan , 31 Oct 2018 18:47
Australia is a very fortunate country. It enjoys national sovereignty, unshackled by crippling bonds to anything like the neoliberal EU. It is thus able to concentrate on solving its own issues.
StephenO -> ildfluer , 31 Oct 2018 18:47
When The Guardian's editorial staff goes down to Guatamala City, they can stand on a soap box in front of Subway sandwich or McDonalds or Radio Shack.

Europe doesn't do socialism. It's a capitalist system with a high rate of taxes to support a generous social welfare.

sangela -> Matt4720 , 31 Oct 2018 18:46
Jane is too radical and progressive for Warringah...maybe they don't know that?
sangela , 31 Oct 2018 18:45
Great article. Must say that we do have more than one vote per electorate. They're called preference votes. Kerryn Phelps get 23% of the primary PLUS a heap of preferences! But a proportional system would change a whole lot of results
ildfluer -> Matt4720 , 31 Oct 2018 18:41
Yes. But only if she relinquishes her British citizenship in time.
Fred1 -> Alpo88 , 31 Oct 2018 18:38
Firstly we are not in America. America is a basket case and has been since, well, forever.

Secondly the so called "housing crisis" is a simple consequence of a growing population. In the 1950s there were just 8m people in Australia, there 10m in the 1960s and 12m in the 1970s. And, no, neo-liebralism didn't cause the growing population. People having sex and living longer caused the growing population. It is therefore all the more remarkable that we have actually built enough houses to house a population which has doubled in size.

Thirdly, in the last 30 years 1 billion people have been lifted out of poverty. When you talk about huge, unprecedented, un-fucking-believable levels of poverty, super-massive inequality, dissatisfaction (Really? This is now a measure?), unemployment/sub-employment and casualization, collapse (collapse?) of public services, high(er) costs of living.....do you think you're being a little overly dramatic?

Do you really think it all comes to back to one silly economic theory?

Nothing to do with the reality of automation, globalisation, growing populations and the realities of living in 2018 rather than 1978?

Are voters around the world going hard against Neoliberalism? (I note it's now a capitalised term).

In the US they voted for a billionaire who blamed immigrants for people's problems while promising tax and spending cuts.....sounds like an even more extreme version of neo-liberlaism to me.

In Britain they voted for Brexit to....oh that's right....kick out immigrants and burn "red tape".

In Brazil, yep, more neo-liberalism on steroids.

In fact, looking around the world it's actually the far right which are seizing power.

And this is the issue with the obsessive preoccupation with community decline. It feeds directly into the hands of fascism and the far right.

I'm not saying things are perfect. I would prefer to see much more government investment. The only way we'll get that is to educate ourselves about how government finances work so that we're not frightened off by talk of deficits.

However, by laying this all on the door of one rather silly economic theory is to ignore that economics is nothing without human beings. It is human beings who are responsible for all of the good and bad in the world. No theory is going change that. If the world is the way it is it's because humans made it like this.

The "deterioration of the environment"? We did that not neo-liberalism .....

JustInterest , 31 Oct 2018 18:37
In answer to the headline article question, yes WE citizens should collectively strive to think radically, bigger and better than the existing status quo.

PAY CITIZENS TO VOTE!

We must bypass the vested interests and create a new system which encourages active, regular participation in democracy.... lest we wake up one day and realise too late that, by stealth and citizen apathy, the plutocrats and their corporate fascist servants have usurped our nation state, corrupted our law and weakened our institutions, to such a point that our individual rights are permanently crushed.

Change is coming, like it or not. This century - there is great risk to society that advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and lifespan enhancing genetic engineering will be used by ultra-rich plutocrats to make the vast majority of humanity redundant (within a couple of generations).

Citizens should advocate for DIRECT DEMOCRACY in which citizens are PAID on a per vote per issue basis (subject to verification checks that support the rewarding of effort- citizens should be asked to first demonstrate that they have made effort to obtain sufficient knowledge on a particular topic, prior to being rewarded for their service of voting. Such a process can be opt-in, those who want to be paid, work to do so by learning about the governance issue which is to be voted upon. In this way, a minimum wage can be obtained by direct citizen participation in the governance of communities and our nation). We have the technologies TODAY to undertake open-ledger, smart-phone enabled, digital/postal voting on a per issue basis... which can be funded by EFFECTIVE taxation on large multinational corporations and ultra-wealthy (foreign) shareholders. Citizen will is needed to influence change - the major political parties did not want a Federal ICAC and they certainly will not support paid direct citizen democracy unless voters overwhelming demand it.

Citizens already accept that politicians are paid to vote (and frequently "rewarded" for their "service" to large corporations and wealthy (foreign) shareholders by unethical, corrupt means). Thus, in principle, why can society not collectively accept direct payment to citizens for their individual vote upon an issue? Why do citizens continue to accept archaic systems of democracy which have clearly FAILED to meet the needs of our population in the 21st century?

Citizens are not sufficiently politically engaged in democracy and their civic responsibilities BECAUSE they are not incentivised to do so and because they are economic slaves without the luxury of time to sort through deliberate overload of disinformation, distortion, distraction and deception. Citizens are struggling to obtain objective understanding and to think critically because these crucial functions of democracy are innately discouraged by our existing 20th century economy (that is, slaves are busy support the systems of plutocrats in order that they may live, ants to a queen).

We must advocate for change in the systems of democracy which are failing our communities, our nation, our planet. For too long, plutocrats and their servants have maintained control over economic slaves and the vast majority of the population because citizens have accepted the status quo of being governed by the powerful.

Technology has permanently changed our species. We must all collectively act before innate human greed, lust for power and fear of loss of control (by the wealthy few) lead the majority on an irrational path toward destruction - using the very technologies which helped set us free from the natural world!

JustInterest -> NoSoupforNanna , 31 Oct 2018 18:35
In answer to the headline article question, yes WE citizens should collectively strive to think radically, bigger and better than the existing status quo.
PAY CITIZENS TO VOTE!

We must bypass the vested interests and create a new system which encourages active, regular participation in democracy.... lest we wake up one day and realise too late that, by stealth and citizen apathy, the plutocrats and their corporate fascist servants have usurped our nation state, corrupted our law and weakened our institutions, to such a point that our individual rights are permanently crushed.

Change is coming, like it or not. This century - there is great risk to society that advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and lifespan enhancing genetic engineering will be used by ultra-rich plutocrats to make the vast majority of humanity redundant (within a couple of generations).

Citizens should advocate for DIRECT DEMOCRACY in which citizens are PAID on a per vote per issue basis (subject to verification checks that support the rewarding of effort- citizens should be asked to first demonstrate that they have made effort to obtain sufficient knowledge on a particular topic, prior to being rewarded for their service of voting. Such a process can be opt-in, those who want to be paid, work to do so by learning about the governance issue which is to be voted upon. In this way, a minimum wage can be obtained by direct citizen participation in the governance of communities and our nation). We have the technologies TODAY to undertake open-ledger, smart-phone enabled, digital/postal voting on a per issue basis... which can be funded by EFFECTIVE taxation on large multinational corporations and ultra-wealthy (foreign) shareholders. Citizen will is needed to influence change - the major political parties did not want a Federal ICAC and they certainly will not support paid direct citizen democracy unless voters overwhelming demand it.

Citizens already accept that politicians are paid to vote (and frequently "rewarded" for their "service" to large corporations and wealthy (foreign) shareholders by unethical, corrupt means). Thus, in principle, why can society not collectively accept direct payment to citizens for their individual vote upon an issue? Why do citizens continue to accept archaic systems of democracy which have clearly FAILED to meet the needs of our population in the 21st century?

Citizens are not sufficiently politically engaged in democracy and their civic responsibilities BECAUSE they are not incentivised to do so and because they are economic slaves without the luxury of time to sort through deliberate overload of disinformation, distortion, distraction and deception. Citizens are struggling to obtain objective understanding and to think critically because these crucial functions of democracy are innately discouraged by our existing 20th century economy (that is, slaves are busy support the systems of plutocrats in order that they may live, ants to a queen).

We must advocate for change in the systems of democracy which are failing our communities, our nation, our planet. For too long, plutocrats and their servants have maintained control over economic slaves and the vast majority of the population because citizens have accepted the status quo of being governed by the powerful.

Technology has permanently changed our species. We must all collectively act before innate human greed, lust for power and fear of loss of control (by the wealthy few) lead the majority on an irrational path toward destruction - using the very technologies which helped set us free from the natural world!

exTen , 31 Oct 2018 17:13
Richard went off the rails in his opening sentence: "The opposite of a neoliberal economic agenda isn't a progressive economic agenda, but democratic re-engagement."

I say this because economically misinformed democratic engagement is a shackle around democracy, at best, if not fatal to democracy. And the biggest and most fundamental misinformation, spouted every bit as much by ALP and Greens as the Libs, is that we must strive for a "sustainable surplus".

As Richard rightly observes, "Neoliberalism taught us that "there is no alternative" to cutting taxes, cutting services and letting the banks treat us as they see fit. But of course not even the Coalition believes that any more." But that doesn't stop them, or Labor, or the Greens from guaranteeing the continuance of the neoliberal cut & privatise mania by insisting that they believe in "budget repair" and "return to surplus" - an insistence which their economically illiterate or misled supporters accept. If you believe in the obviously ridiculous necessity for a currency issuer to run balanced budgets, you are forced into invalid neoliberal thinking, into accepting a false "necessity" for cuts and privatisations, or economy-sedating taxation increases.

Thorlar1 , 31 Oct 2018 08:13
Rumours of neoliberalism's death have been somewhat exaggerated. Its been on life support provided by the LNP since John Howard and there are still a few market fundamentalists lurking in the ranks of the ALP, just waiting for their chance to do New Labor MkII in memory of Paul Keating.

Neoliberalism's lasting legacy will not be the ludicrous economic programs, privatisations and deregulation, those can all be rolled back if some party would grow a spine. The real damage was caused by the aping of the US and UK's cult of individual responsibility, the atomising effects of neoliberal anti-social policy and demonisation of collective action including unionism.

All of which have hastened the atrophy of our democracy.

First things first lets get rid of the neo-liberal national dinosaurs still wallowing in parliament unaware of the mass extinction awaiting them in March next year. At the same time vote in a minority Labor government with enough independent cross benchers, including a preponderance of Greens to keep the bastards honest.

Then just maybe we can start looking at the wider project of repairing Australian society and democracy while we try and reverse the near-decade of damage the LNP have done with their dangerous pro-fossil fuel stance, their insane climate change denial and hypocritical big business friendly economic policies.

Should be a snap!

exTen -> Loco Jack , 31 Oct 2018 08:05
The irony is that it's simple. It's the Heath Robinson contraptions that the economic priesthood for the plutocracy snow us with that are complicated, that turn us off economic thinking because they are impenetrable and make no sense. The simplicity comes from acccepting the blinding obvious truth, once you think about it. The federal government is the monopoly issuer of the AUD. The rest of the world are users, not issuers. Its "budgets" are not our budgets. Nothing like them. Kind of the opposite. Its surpluses are the economy's deficits. Its deficits are the economy's surpluses.

[Dec 09, 2018] Neoliberalism us the economic stablemate of big religion's Prosperity Evangelism cult

Dec 09, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Alan Ritchie , 31 Oct 2018 22:24

Neoliberalism, the economic stablemate of big religion's Prosperity Evangelism cult. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosperity_theology . Dual streams of bull shit to confuse the citizens while the Country's immense wealth is stolen.

[Dec 09, 2018] The TPP is the penultimate wet dream of all neoliberal multinational vulture corporations

Notable quotes:
"... Apologies, but Neoliberalism is far from 'dead'. But of course it should never have given 'life'. However, if it were 'dead' why did Labor vote with the Coalition to ratify the ultra-Neoliberal TPP??? The TPP is the penultimate wet dream of all neoliberal multinational vulture corporations. Why???? Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) Under these rules, foreign investors can legally challenge host state regulations outside that country's courts. A wide range of policies can be challenged. ..."
Dec 09, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

MobyAhab , 31 Oct 2018 00:09

Apologies, but Neoliberalism is far from 'dead'. But of course it should never have given 'life'. However, if it were 'dead' why did Labor vote with the Coalition to ratify the ultra-Neoliberal TPP??? The TPP is the penultimate wet dream of all neoliberal multinational vulture corporations. Why???? Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) Under these rules, foreign investors can legally challenge host state regulations outside that country's courts. A wide range of policies can be challenged.

Yeah! Philip Morris comes to mind. "The cost to taxpayers of the Australian government's six-year legal battle with the tobacco giant Philip Morris over plain packaging laws can finally be revealed, despite the government's efforts to keep the cost secret.

The commonwealth government spent nearly $40m defending its world-first plain packaging laws against Philip Morris Asia, a tobacco multinational, according to freedom of information documents.

Documents say the total figure is $38,984,942.97."

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jul/02/revealed-39m-cost-of-defending-australias-tobacco-plain-packaging-laws

[Dec 09, 2018] Neo- liberalism is not dead its only just started. We are not in an era of democracy and freedom but of Oligarchy and governmental servitude. In the era of legalised privateering.

Dec 09, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Moron_Strictos_freed , 31 Oct 2018 00:00

Neo- liberalism is not dead its only just started. We are not in an era of democracy and freedom but of Oligarchy and governmental servitude.
Less restrictions doesn't mean freedom it mean free booters, privateers , and plunderers are given government support and handouts the only thing free is their right to take.

The pirates who plunder the most are given Hero status and those plundered are laughed at as losers.

Looks around you governments are becoming agents of theft find ways to channel money to those who don't need it . They say its right wing fascism but its not for all their evil the fascists were determined to improve the lot of the people, however perversely they went about it.

What we have today is legalised privateering.

None of the political parties today have the least intention to change a system that works for them.

Bewareofnazihippies -> Fred1 , 30 Oct 2018 23:58
Fred, I can't remember who said it, but an observer of human systems and institutions made the observation that unless the prevalent social, economic or political structures of the day was not either changed or renewed, then those within the system would 'game' it; corrupting it from within for personal benefit to the detriment of society as a whole.
This perfectly sums up neo-liberalism.
Whatever positive virtues were extolled when this ideology was adopted wholesale by so many governments and societies (and please spare me the '-we delivered billions out of poverty!' line, that was a positive byproduct, never the objective of neo-liberalism), it has since become thoroughly corrupted, serving an ever shrinking percentage of society - entrenching a super-wealthy 'ruling class' that makes a mockery of the idea of democracy.
It's time to ditch this 21st Century feudalistic construct, and replace it with something that serves the whole of society with more justice than this current gravy train for the one percenters.
Bluetwo , 30 Oct 2018 23:54
Fully agree with the things being said here. The privatisation of essential services has been a bloody disaster. Telecommunications, health, education energy production/distribution. Look at what the NSW conservatives are doing the the public transport or the feds have done to our communications, including Telstra the ABC and SBS.

But the issue is that this will just turn into an ongoing political football with each successive conservative government trying to sell off the farm again.

These critical public services and infrastructure must be protected in law needing a referendum to make major changes. Also their funding must be guaranteed and they must be run at arms length from the government to reduce political interference and ensure they are delivering the best possible service and are competitive with the huge private sector operators.

There charter of operation and obligation to the public must be extremely robust and clearly outline their duties of care to operate in a transparent and open fashion putting the public interest as a priority.

FelixKruell , 30 Oct 2018 23:50

The opposite of a neoliberal economic agenda isn't a progressive economic agenda, but democratic re-engagement.

You can have democratic engagement voting for a 'neo-liberal economic agenda'. In fact we've had it for decades.

But of course not even the Coalition believes that any more. These days they proudly subsidise their friends and regulate their enemies in order to reshape Australia in their preferred form.

They're politicians - they've never applied their ideological views in a pure way. This is nothing new.

Ironically, one of the major objections to proportional representation in Australia has been that it tends to deliver minority government, a situation that the major parties prefer to avoid.

There's a big difference between minority government by a major party + a handful of votes, versus a minority government by a handful of minority parties, or a major party + a minor party. They tend to lead to the kind of instability we'd prefer to avoid.

The death of neoliberalism means

I think you've called it a bit prematurely. Both major parties here are still peddling neo-liberalism, with policies which only differ on the margins.

[Dec 09, 2018] Never forget that fascism is the natural defence mechanism of capital. After it is accrued, it must be defended

Notable quotes:
"... Neoliberal doctrine leads to skyrocketing inequality, a swelling in the desperate and forgotten poor who are vulnerable to populist messaging and the idea of a strongman peddling easy answers to keep people safe as civil unrest increases. Fascism seeks power for power's sake and total control over the populace, and always cruelty to the marginalised, the 'others'. How all the right wingers hand-wringing over the idea of 'socialist communisms!!1!' can't see that, I don't know. ..."
"... All over the world, failed neoliberalism is being replaced by right-wing populist nationalism & I don't think "repairing democratic institutions" is at the top of their to-do list. ..."
"... I'm certainly in favour of greater nationalisation, especially of essential services. But around the world, neo-liberalism has morphed into neo-fascism and this is where the next fight must be. ..."
"... In social systems, natural selection favours cooperation. In addition, we are biased toward ethical behaviours, so cooperation and sharing are valued in human societies. ..."
"... The consequences of four decades of financialized neoliberal trade policies were by no means equally shared. Internal and external class relations were made evident through narrowly distributed booms followed by widely distributed busts. ..."
"... No wonder you get fascist right wing insurgence in this climate! ..."
Dec 09, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

CatPerson420 , 30 Oct 2018 23:18

Never forget that fascism is the natural defence mechanism of capital. After it is accrued, it must be defended. The current trend in global politics is not an anomaly but an entirely predictable outcome.

Neoliberal doctrine leads to skyrocketing inequality, a swelling in the desperate and forgotten poor who are vulnerable to populist messaging and the idea of a strongman peddling easy answers to keep people safe as civil unrest increases. Fascism seeks power for power's sake and total control over the populace, and always cruelty to the marginalised, the 'others'. How all the right wingers hand-wringing over the idea of 'socialist communisms!!1!' can't see that, I don't know.

It's too late for the US I fear, and time is rapidly running out for the UK if they don't pull their finger out and have another referendum before the self immolation of Brexit.

Rikyboy , 30 Oct 2018 23:07
All over the world, failed neoliberalism is being replaced by right-wing populist nationalism & I don't think "repairing democratic institutions" is at the top of their to-do list.

If Australia does swing the pendulum to the left, it, along with NZ, will be one of the few countries to do so. De-privatising will not be easy & will be met with a huge reactionary backlash. They'll need to tread very carefully if they want to stay in government.

jclucas , 30 Oct 2018 23:02
Neoliberalism may be dead but the neoliberals in the government will never admit it as they seamlessly transition to authoritarian nationalism with populist promises - and failure to deliver on them.

The neoliberal project was always a philosophical cover for crony capitalism that betrayed the public interest by rewarding vested interests for their patronage, perverted democracy, and served as a mechanism for perverting the natural function of an economy - to fairly distribute goods, resources, and services throughout society - to favor the welfare of the few over the many.

The self-interested culture of neoliberalism - the cult of the individual that denies the common good - pervades every aspect of Australia's life as a nation - business, politics, sport, education, and health - denying and crowding out public spirit, selfless service, and societal wellbeing.

For meaningful change to occur there must be a rebirth of the conception of the public good, and the virtue and necessity of acting to realise it.

However at this stage there is not a communal recognition of what the problem is let alone how to go about repairing it. For that to happen there must be a widely accepted narrative that naturally leads to the obvious actions that must be take to redress the damage done by the neoliberal con job: decreasing economic inequality, restoring democracy, and rebuilding a sense of common cause.

Piecemeal change will not be sufficient to enact the the sweeping transformation that has to occur in every department of life. It is not enough to tax multinationals, to have a federal integrity commission, to build a renewable future, or to move to proportional representation.

Someone, some party, some coherent philosophical perspective has to explain why it must be done.

BlueThird , 30 Oct 2018 22:57
It's certainly the case that the Liberal party, in particular, are now using ideas that fall outside and to the right of neo-liberalism, but it's also obviously the case that neo-liberalism and current Liberal thinking share the same underlying goal. Namely, the transfer of wealth and power towards a narrower and narrower group of people and corporations.

That suggests the death of neo-liberalism is coming about because – having done so much damage already – it's no longer capable of delivering the required results, and that we're moving into a new phase of the death spiral. I think that can also be seen in both the US (where Trump is using the identified problems of neo-liberalism to further the same basic agenda, but with less decorum and a larger cadre of useful idiots) and the UK (where there's still a very strong possibility that Brexit will be used as an excuse to roll back great swathes of social and democratic safeguards).

Perhaps even more worrying – given the latest reports on how we're destroying habitat as well as the climate, and how much of our biodiversity is in South America, particularly the Amazon – is that Brazil is how on a similar path.

The likelihood is that the Liberal party won't get away with what they have planned, but they – and the forces behind them – certainly won't stop trying. And unfortunately it's far from obvious that the Labor party will repudiate neo-liberalism anytime soon. That they signed up for the latest iteration of TPP is hardly a good omen.

Democratic re-engagement is the better way forward from neo-liberalism, but unfortunately I think it's unlikely to be the one that we end up taking.

All of that said, the deepest problem of all is the way in which democracy and government have been corrupted, often via the media, but typically at the behest of corporations, and if there is a way forward it has to be found in addressing those interactions

tolpuddler , 30 Oct 2018 22:28
I'm certainly in favour of greater nationalisation, especially of essential services. But around the world, neo-liberalism has morphed into neo-fascism and this is where the next fight must be.
slorter , 30 Oct 2018 22:19
Well we have had 3+ decades of the dogma!

In social systems, natural selection favours cooperation. In addition, we are biased toward ethical behaviours, so cooperation and sharing are valued in human societies.

But what happens when we are forced into an economic system that makes us compete at every level? The logical outcome is societal decline or collapse.

Perhaps the worst aspect of neoliberalism was its infection of the Labor party. This has left our social infrastructure alarmingly exposed.

The consequences of four decades of financialized neoliberal trade policies were by no means equally shared. Internal and external class relations were made evident through narrowly distributed booms followed by widely distributed busts.

Globally, debt has forced policy convergence between political parties of differing ideologies. European center-left parties have pushed austerity even when ideology would suggest the opposite.

No wonder you get fascist right wing insurgence in this climate!

Thank you Richard Denniss we need to highlight this more and more and start educating the dumbed down population saturated with neoliberal snake oil!

[Dec 09, 2018] Pax Americana: Pompeo tells UN, WTO, ICC to bow and comply with US-led world order

Notable quotes:
"... The senior member of the Donald Trump administration said a multilateral approach is failing to produce a world of unrestricted capitalism, so the US should rule supreme – sorry, assume a leadership role – to ensure that countries like China didn't try to offer an alternative way. ..."
"... The UN is a vehicle for regional powers to "collude" and vote in bad actors into the Human Rights Council. "Bad actors" are of course not Saudi Arabia. The World Bank and the International Monetary fund are in the way of private lenders. The EU is good, but Brexit should be a wake-up call for its bureaucracy, which doesn't know how good nationalism actually is. The International Criminal Court is "rogue" because it attempts to hold Americans accountable for crimes in Afghanistan. ..."
"... But what organization was a good boy and doesn't deserve a piece of coal from Uncle Sam? SWIFT was. The banking communications organization caved in to Washington and cut off Iranians from its system, so it has a place in the bright new world of US leadership. ..."
"... "new liberal order" ..."
Dec 09, 2018 | www.rt.com

The US will lead a new liberal world order, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared. Organizations and treaties not fitting this picture must be scrapped or reformed, so that non-compliers could not use them against America. The vision of the bold new and prosperous (for the US and its supporters) world was delivered by Pompeo in a keynote speech to the German Marshall Fund on Tuesday.

The senior member of the Donald Trump administration said a multilateral approach is failing to produce a world of unrestricted capitalism, so the US should rule supreme – sorry, assume a leadership role – to ensure that countries like China didn't try to offer an alternative way.

China, as well as Russia, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela and other nations on the US grudge list got their share of bashing in the speech, but its focus was more on international institutions, which Pompeo claimed to be incompatible with his grand vision.

The UN is a vehicle for regional powers to "collude" and vote in bad actors into the Human Rights Council. "Bad actors" are of course not Saudi Arabia. The World Bank and the International Monetary fund are in the way of private lenders. The EU is good, but Brexit should be a wake-up call for its bureaucracy, which doesn't know how good nationalism actually is. The International Criminal Court is "rogue" because it attempts to hold Americans accountable for crimes in Afghanistan.

Also on rt.com 'Surrealism': Iran blasts US claim its missile test violated UN resolution on nuclear deal

The Paris Agreement on climate change was bad for America, so it left. NAFTA was bad for America, so it forced a renegotiation. The nuclear deal with Iran didn't make Tehran complacent, so it had to go.

But what organization was a good boy and doesn't deserve a piece of coal from Uncle Sam? SWIFT was. The banking communications organization caved in to Washington and cut off Iranians from its system, so it has a place in the bright new world of US leadership.

Watch Murad Gazdiev's report about Pompeo's "new liberal order" to find out more.

[Dec 08, 2018] How False Testimony and a Massive U.S. Propaganda Machine Bolstered George H.W. Bush's War on Iraq - YouTube

Dec 05, 2018 | www.youtube.com

https://democracynow.org - As the media memorializes George H.W. Bush, we look at the lasting impact of his 1991 invasion of Iraq and the propaganda campaign that encouraged it. Although the Gulf War technically ended in February of 1991, the U.S. war on Iraq would continue for decades, first in the form of devastating sanctions and then in the 2003 invasion launched by George W. Bush. Thousands of U.S. troops and contractors remain in Iraq. A largely forgotten aspect of Bush Sr.'s war on Iraq is the vast domestic propaganda effort before the invasion began. We look at the way U.S. media facilitated the war on Iraq with journalist John "Rick" MacArthur, president and publisher of Harper's Magazine and the author of the book "Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the 1991 Gulf War."

Democracy Now! is an independent global news hour that airs weekdays on nearly 1,400 TV and radio stations Monday through Friday. Watch our livestream 8-9AM ET: https://democracynow.org

Please consider supporting independent media by making a donation to Democracy Now! today: https://democracynow.org/donate

[Dec 08, 2018] Anyone who knows anything about history is that the rich were always better off than the poor, in fact the very definition of rich and poor. In this respect it never mattered if a society was capitalistic, communistic, or a theocracy,

Notable quotes:
"... Capitalism never was benign, Chrustjow worked as a miner in a commercially exploited mine, where there was little regard for safety, he abhorred capitalism. ..."
Dec 08, 2018 | www.unz.com

jilles dykstra , says: December 4, 2018 at 12:30 pm GMT

@Bill Jones Interesting to read how these idealists agree with Christian Gerondeau, 'Le CO2 est bon pour la planete, Climat, la grande manipulation', Paris 2017

Gerondeau explains how many deaths reducing CO2 emissions will cause in poor countries, simply as an example how electricity for cooking will remain too expensive for them, so cooking is done on smoky fires in confined spaces.

" to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history." " To intentionally impoverish the world. To what end, I wonder ?

Anyone who knows anything about history is that the rich were always better off than the poor, in fact the very definition of rich and poor.
In this respect it never mattered if a society was capitalistic, communistic, or a theocracy, as Tibet was.

These idealistic idiots do not understand how they created the problem they now intend to solve with creating an even bigger problem, their example is the EU, the EU is following this policy for more than twelve years now, since 2005, when the EU grabbed power through the rejected EU 'consitution'.

Capitalism is no more than deciding between consumption and investment, Robinson Crusoë invested in a fishing net by temporarily reducing consumption, he did not go fishing, but made a fishing net, expecting that his investment would make it possible to eat more fish.

Capitalism never was benign, Chrustjow worked as a miner in a commercially exploited mine, where there was little regard for safety, he abhorred capitalism.

Dutch 17th century capitalistic commerce to the far Indies, east and west, was not benign. Typically a ship left Amsterdam, near the Schreierstoren, trans 'the tower for the crying', wives, mothers and girl friends, with 300 men aboard, and returned with 100. Most of those who died were common sailors, captain and officers had a far lower mortality, mainly better food.

Our East Indies commerce also was not much fun for the people in the East, in the Banda Sea Islands massacre some 30.000 people were killed, for a monopoly on pepper, if I remember correctly.

But, as the earth developed economically, there came room for also poor people getting lives beginning to look as worth living. Engels in 1844, hope the year is right, described the conditions of working people in GB, this resulted in Das Kapital.

This room for a better life for also the poor was not given by the capitalistic system

In their struggle for a better world for anyone the idealists wanted globalisation, level playing field, anyone should be welcome anywhere, slogans like this.
Globaliation, however, is the end of the nation state, the very institution in which it was possible to provide a better life. Anyone following me until here now can see the dilemma, the end of the nation state was also the end of protection by that state against unbridled capitalism.

As the idealists cannot give up their globalisation religion they must, as those who cannot give up the biblical creation story, find an ideological way out of their dilemma. My conclusion now is 'in order to save our globalisation religion we try to destroy economic growth, by making energy very expensive, in the hope of destroying capitalism'.

Alas, better, luckily, capitalism cannot be destroyed, those who invented the first furnaces for more or less mass producing iron, they were capitalists. They saw clearly how cheap iron would bring economic growth, the plow.

In the country where the CO2 madness has struck most, my country, the Netherlands, the realisation of the poverty that drastically reducing CO2 emissions will cause, has begun. If there really is madness, I wonder.

I indeed see madness, green leftists unable to make a simple multipiclation calculations about costs, but maybe mainly political opportunism. Our dictator, Rutte, is now so hated that he needs a job outside the Netherlands, in order to qualify, either at Brussels or in New York, with the UN, has to howl with the wolves.

At the same time, we have a gas production problem,, earthquakes in the NE, houses damaged, never any decision made to solve the problem, either stop gas production, or strenghten the houses, both expensive solutions.

So, in my suspicious ideas, Rutte now tries to improve himself, at the same time solving a problem: within, say ten years, the Netherlands functions without gas, and remains prosperous; the idea he tries to sell to us. In a few years time it will emerge that we cannot have both, prosperous, and zero emission, but the time horizon for a politician is said to be five years.

[Dec 08, 2018] Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games

Highly recommended!
You can read online at epdf.tips
Dec 08, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Richard , Dec 7, 2018 2:50:07 PM | link

Came across this book which gives some excellent background to where we're at today:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Postmodern-Imperialism-Geopolitics-Great-Games/dp/098335393X

There may be a pdf available if you search.

"The game motif is useful as a metaphor for the broader rivalry between nations and economic systems with the rise of imperialism and the pursuit of world power. This game has gone through two major transformations since the days of Russian-British rivalry, with the rise first of Communism and then of Islam as world forces opposing imperialism. The main themes of Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games include:

This work brings these elements together in historical perspective with an understanding from the Arab/ Muslim world's point of view, as it is the main focus of all the "Great Games"."

Jay Dyer discusses the book here, its strengths and weaknesses:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcmrBD4Ez2c

[Dec 07, 2018] Brexit Theresa May Goes Greek! by Brett Redmayne

Highly recommended!
" The Fleeting Illusion of Election Night Victory." that phrase sums up the situation very succinctly
Notable quotes:
"... " A Brexit Lesson In Greek: Hopes and Votes Dashed on Parliamentary Floors," ..."
"... "Brexit means Brexit!" ..."
Dec 07, 2018 | www.unz.com

It has become all too easy for democracy to be turned on its head and popular nationalist mandates, referenda and elections negated via instant political hypocrisy by leaders who show their true colours only after the public vote. So it has been within the two-and-a-half year unraveling of the UK Brexit referendum of 2016 that saw the subsequent negotiations now provide the Brexit voter with only three possibilities. All are a loss for Britain.

One possibility, Brexit, is the result of Prime Minister, Theresa May's negotiations- the "deal"- and currently exists in name only. Like the PM herself, the original concept of Brexit may soon lie in the dust of an upcoming UK Parliament floor vote in exactly the same manner as the failed attempt by the Greeks barely three years ago. One must remember that Greece on June 27, 2015 once voted to leave the EU as well and to renegotiate its EU existence as well in their own "Grexit" referendum. Thanks to their own set of underhanded and treasonous politicians, this did not go well for Greece. Looking at the Greek result, and understanding divisive UK Conservative Party control that exists in the hearts of PMs on both sides of the House of Commons, this new parliamentary vote is not looking good for Britain. Brexit: Theresa May Goes Greek! "deal" -- would thus reveal the life-long scars of their true national allegiance gnawed into their backs by the lust of their masters in Brussels. Brexit: Theresa May Goes Greek!, by Brett Redmayne-Titley - The Unz Review

Ironically, like a cluster bomb of white phosphorous over a Syrian village, Cameron's Brexit vote blew up spectacularly in his face. Two decades of ongoing political submission to the EU by the Cons and "new" labour had them arrogantly misreading the minds of the UK voter.

So on that incredible night, it happened. Prime Minister David Cameron the Cons New Labour The Lib- Dems and even the UK Labour Party itself, were shocked to their core when the unthinkable nightmare that could never happen, did happen . Brexit had passed by popular vote!

David Cameron has been in hiding ever since.

After Brexit passed the same set of naïve UK voters assumed, strangely, that Brexit would be finalized in their national interest as advertised. This belief had failed to read Article 50 - the provisos for leaving the EU- since, as much as it was mentioned, it was very rarely linked or referenced by a quotation in any of the media punditry. However, an article published four days after the night Brexit passed, " A Brexit Lesson In Greek: Hopes and Votes Dashed on Parliamentary Floors," provided anyone thus reading Article 50, which is only eight pages long and double-spaced, the info to see clearly that this never before used EU by-law would be the only route to a UK exit. Further, Article 50 showed that Brussels would control the outcome of exit negotiations along with the other twenty-seven member nations and that effectively Ms May and her Tories would be playing this game using the EU's ball and rules, while going one-on-twenty-seven during the negotiations.

In the aftermath of Brexit, the real game began in earnest. The stakes: bigger than ever.

Forgotten are the hypocritical defections of political expediency that saw Boris Johnson and then Home Secretary Theresa May who were, until that very moment, both vociferously and very publicly against the intent of Brexit. Suddenly they claimed to be pro- Brexit in their quest to sleep in Cameron's now vacant bed at No. 10 Downing Street. Boris strategically dropped out to hopefully see, Ms May, fall on her sword- a bit sooner. Brexit: Theresa May Goes Greek!, by Brett Redmayne-Titley - The Unz Review

So, the plucky PM was left to convince the UK public, daily, as the negotiations moved on, that "Brexit means Brexit!" A UK media that is as pro-EU as their PM chimed in to help her sell distortions of proffered success at the negotiating table, while the rise of "old" Labour, directed by Jeremy Corbyn, exposed her "soft" Brexit negotiations for the litany of failures that ultimately equaled the "deal" that was strangely still called "Brexit."

Too few, however, examined this reality once these political Chameleons changed their colours just as soon as the very first results shockingly came in from Manchester in the wee hours of the morning on that seemingly hopeful night so long ago: June 23, 2016. For thus would begin a quiet, years-long defection of many more MPs than merely these two opportunists.

What the British people also failed to realize was that they and their Brexit victory would also be faced with additional adversaries beyond the EU members: those from within their own government. From newly appointed PM May to Boris Johnson, from the Conservative Party to the New Labour sellouts within the Labour Party and the Friends of Israel , the quiet internal political movement against Brexit began. As the House of Lords picked up their phones, too, for very quiet private chats within House of Commons, their minions in the British press began their work as well.

Brexit: Theresa May Goes Greek!, by Brett Redmayne-Titley - The Unz Review

jim jones , says: December 5, 2018 at 4:55 am GMT

Government found guilty of Contempt of Parliament:

https://www.breitbart.com/europe/2018/12/04/uk-govt-forced-to-publish-full-brexit-legal-documents-after-losing-key-vote/

Brabantian , says: December 5, 2018 at 7:17 am GMT
This article by Brett Redmayne is certainly right re the horrific sell-out by the Greek government of Tsipras the other year, that has left the Greek citizenry in enduring political despair the betrayal of Greek voters indeed a model for UK betrayal of Brexit voters

But Redmayne is likely very mistaken in the adulation of Jeremy Corbyn as the 'genuine real deal' for British people

Ample evidence points to Corbyn as Trojan horse sell-out, as covered by UK researcher Aangirfan on her blogs, the most recent of which was just vapourised by Google in their censorship insanity

Jeremy Corbyn was a childhood neighbour of the Rothschilds in Wiltshire; with Jeremy's father David Corbyn working for ultra-powerful Victor Rothschild on secret UK gov scientific projects during World War 2

Jeremy Corbyn is tied to child violation scandals & child-crime convicted individuals including Corbyn's Constituency Agent; Corbyn tragically ignoring multiple earnest complaints from child abuse victims & whistleblowers over years, whilst "child abuse rings were operating within all 12 of the borough's children's homes" in Corbyn's district not very decent of him

And of course Corbyn significantly cucked to the Israel lobby in their demands for purge of the Labour party alleged 'anti-semites'

The Trojan Horse 'fake opposition', or fake 'advocate for the people', is a very classic game of the Powers That Be, and sadly Corbyn is likely yet one more fake 'hero'

niceland , says: December 6, 2018 at 9:13 am GMT
My theory is, give "capitalism" and financial interests enough time, they will consume any democracy. Meaning: the wealth flows upwards, giving the top class opportunity to influence politics and the media, further improving their situation v.s. the rest, resulting in ever stronger position – until they hold all the power. Controlling the media and therefore the narrative, capable to destroy any and all opposition. Ministers and members of parliaments, most bought and paid for one way or the other. Thankfully, the 1% or rather the 0.1% don't always agree so the picture can be a bit blurred.

You can guess what country inspired this "theory" of mine. The second on the list is actually the U.K. If a real socialist becomes the prime minister of the U.K. I will be very surprised. But Brexit is a black swan like they say in the financial sector, and they tend to disrupt even the best of theories. Perhaps Corbin is genuine and will become prime minister! I am not holding my breath.

However, if he is a real socialist like the article claims. And he becomes prime minister of the U.K the situation will get really interesting. Not only from the EU side but more importantly from U.K. best friend – the U.S. Uncle Sam will not be happy about this development and doesn't hesitate to crush "bad ideas" he doesn't like.

Case in point – Ireland's financial crisis in 2009;

After massive expansion and spectacular housing bubble the Irish banks were in deep trouble early into the crisis. The EU, ECB and the IMF (troika?) met with the Irish government to discuss solutions. From memory – the question was how to save the Irish banks? They were close to agreement that bondholders and even lenders to the Irish banks should take a "haircut" and the debt load should be cut down to manageable levels so the banks could survive (perhaps Michael Hudson style if you will). One short phone call from the U.S Secretary of the treasury then – Timothy Geithner – to the troika-Irish meeting ended these plans. He said: there will be no haircut! That was the end of it. Ireland survived but it's reasonable to assume this "guideline" paved the road for the Greece debacle.

I believe Mr. Geithner spoke on behalf of the financial power controlling – more or less-our hemisphere. So if the good old socialist Corbin comes to power in the U.K. and intends to really change something and thereby set examples for other nations – he is taking this power head on. I think in case of "no deal" the U.K. will have it's back against the wall and it's bargaining position against the EU will depend a LOT on U.S. response. With socialist in power there will be no meaningful support from the U.S. the powers that be will to their best to destroy Corbin as soon as possible.

I hope I am wrong.

niceland , says: December 6, 2018 at 10:07 am GMT
My right wing friends can't understand the biggest issue of our times is class war. This article mentions the "Panama papers" where great many corporations and wealthy individuals (even politicians) in my country were exposed. They run their profits through offshore tax havens while using public infrastructure (paid for by taxpayers) to make their money. It's estimated that wealth amounting to 1,5 times our GDP is stored in these accounts!

There is absolutely no way to get it through my right wing friends thick skull that off-shore accounts are tax frauds. Resulting in they paying higher taxes off their wages because the big corporations and the rich don't pay anything. Nope. They simply hate taxes (even if they get plenty back in services) and therefore all taxes are bad. Ergo tax evasions by the 1% are fine – socialism or immigrants must be the root of our problems. MIGA!

Come to think of it – few of them would survive the "law of the jungle" they so much desire. And none of them would survive the "law of the jungle" if the rules are stacked against them. Still, all their political energy is aimed against the ideas and people that struggle against such reality.

I give up – I will never understand the right. No more than the pure bread communist. Hopeless ideas!

jilles dykstra , says: December 6, 2018 at 11:27 am GMT
" This is because the deal has a provision that would still keep the UK in the EU Customs Union (the system setting common trade rules for all EU members) indefinitely. This is an outrageous inclusion and betrayal of a real Brexit by Ms May since this one topic was the most contentious in the debate during the ongoing negotiations because the Customs Union is the tie to the EU that the original Brexit vote specifically sought to terminate. "

Here I stopped reading, maybe later more.
Nonsense.

What USA MSM told in the USA about what ordinary British people said, those who wanted to leave the EU, I do not know, one of the most often heard reasons was immigration, especially from E European countries, the EU 'free movement of people'.
"Real' Britons refusing to live in Poland.
EP member Verhofstadt so desperate that he asked on CNN help by Trump to keep this 'one of the four EU freedoms'.
This free movement of course was meant to destroy the nation states

What Boris Johnson said, many things he said were true, stupid EU interference for example with products made in Britain, for the home market, (he mentioned forty labels in one piece of clothing), no opportunity to seek trade without EU interference.