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Definitions of neoliberalism

Neoliberalism as secular religion with several major parts: philosophical (Nietzschean in interpretation of Ann Rand), economic (neo-classical economics)  and ethical (Social Darwinism; neoliberal rationality)

No single definition of neoliberalism can exists exactly due to this structure

News Who Rules America Recommended books Recommended Links Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism Ordoliberalism - Wikipedia Globalization of Financial Flows
Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism Globalization of Corporatism Casino Capitalism  Neoliberal Brainwashing Neoclassical Pseudo Theories Ayn Rand and Objectivism Cult
Media-Military-Industrial Complex Neo-fascism New American Militarism Neocons as USA neo-fascists Gangster Capitalism Psychological Warfare and the New World Order: The Secret War Against the American People Anatol Leiven on American Messianism
Financial Crisis of 2008 as the Crisis of Neoliberalism and shift to neo-fascism Two Party System as polyarchy Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" Corruption of Regulators The Deep State Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime Deconstructing neoliberalism's definition of 'freedom'
Elite Theory The Iron Law of Oligarchy Compradors Fifth column Color revolutions Anti-globalization movement Inverted Totalitarism
Super Capitalism as Imperialism Alternatives to neoliberalism If Corporations Are People, They Are Psychopaths Jeremy Grantham On The Fall Of Civilizations Psychological Warfare and the New World Order Neoliberalism as a Cause of Structural Unemployment in the USA Neoliberalism and inequality
Neoliberal corruption "Fight with Corruption" as a smoke screen for neoliberal penetration into host countries IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement Blaming poor and neoliberalism laziness dogma Predator state Disaster capitalism Media domination strategy
The Great Transformation Harvard Mafia Friedman --founder of Chicago school of deification of market Republican Economic Policy Monetarism fiasco Small government smoke screen Over-consumption of Luxury Goods as Market Failure
Libertarian Philosophy Media domination strategy Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few In Foreign Events Coverage Guardian Presstitutes Slip Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment History of neoliberalism Humor Etc

Introduction

Neoliberalism is difficult to define. First of all neoliberal governments usually are afraid to identify themselves as such and claim that they are "democratic". Similarly neoliberal press treat this term almost as a dirty word. In other words it is censored. You will not find any mention of the term of neoliberalism in CNN and rarely in Guardian. It might be easier to understand neoliberalism in terms of a sect, a "secular religion" instead (Wikipedia)

"Religion is any cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, world views, texts, sanctified places, ethics, or organizations..."
And the concept of "civil religion" is not  new (Wikipedia):

Civil religion is a concept that originated in French political thought and became a major topic for American sociologists since its use by Robert Bellah in the 1960s. It means the implicit religious values of a nation, as expressed through public rituals, symbols (such as the national flag) and ceremonies on sacred days and at sacred places (such as monuments, battlefields or national cemeteries). It stands outside the churches, although church officials and ceremonies are sometimes incorporated into the practice of civil religion.[1]

It lacks the concept of anthropomorphic deity. Instead market is the deity and the competition is the Holy spirit. This is how Pope Francis views neoliberalism -- he called it "idolatry of money". Like any religion neoliberalism includes mythology ( "Invisible Hand Hypothesis", "Rational expectations" "Shareholder value", etc), as well as saints (Reagan, Thatcher, Hayek, Friedman), the system of recruiting, indoctrinating, and training of high priests, etc. It is important to understand that "neoliberal religion" is eclectic and consists of three major parts:

  1. Philosophical justification: Neoliberalism is a flavor of corporatism and has standard tenets of corporatism at the core of the  philosophical part of the ideology.  Mostly this is a rehash of Friedrich Nietzsche, especially the Nietzschean concept of Ubermensch in a form adopted by Ann Rand: as "Creative/Entrepreneurial class". This "cult of creative class" coexists with a very fuzzy definition of creative class which for some reason includes Wall Street speculators ( this creative folk would be hanged in Victorian Great Britain) Also provides "the mantle of inevitability" borrowed from Marxism (Thatcher famous "there is no alternative" aka TINA). Like any religious zealots, neoliberals are inherently hostile to competing non-liberal societies -- which they see not simply as different, but as wrong. Neoliberals see the market and competition as sacred elements of human civilization.
  2. Political economy (which pretends to be depoliticized, as a smokescreen to hide its class nature and attempt to restore the power of financial oligarchy). Uses mathiness as a smoke screen and total quantification as the major tool. Promotes "Cult of GDP": neoliberalism on one hand reduces individuals to statistics contained within aggregate economic performance, on the other professes that GDP growth is the ultimate goal of any society.
  3. Neoliberal ethics (aka neoliberal rationality). Like Marxism before, neoliberalism provides its own ethics and its own rationality. It enforces a new encompassing "economic rationalism" (aka economism) , which should displace old, "outdated" and more humane rationality of New Deal capitalism. In this area neoliberalism is in direct opposition to Christianity. It advocates Social Darwinism, "greed is good" mentality, "homo homini lupus est." ethics. Including "the goal justifies the means" and "Weak should vanish" mentality. Justifies privileged position of the "Masters of the universe" and the redistribution of wealth up. It rejects the idea of social solidarity (emphasizing instead "individual responsibility" for Undermensch, along the lines "who does not work, should not eat" -- BTW this was the official slogan of the Communist Party of the USSR ;-)

That means that neoliberalism should be viewed as one-dimensional phenomena and as such escape strict definition. For anything that have several cultural dimensions it is difficult to create a single definition without "Throwing the Baby out with the Bath Water". It is as difficult as  like trying to present a three-dimensional object on the paper.

To the extent that neoliberalism is "yet another secular religion", neoliberals can be viewed as kind of   "latter day Trotskyites" ("Permanent neoliberal revolution" mantra -- continuous wars for enlargement of the US led global neoliberal empire are at the core of neoliberalism).  The elements of reverse-engineered Marxism in which financial oligarchy (disguised as Creative class) replaces proletariat with  as the ruling class of the future are very strong.  Similarly the slogan of "proletarians of all nations unite" was replaced with "Entrepreneurs of all countries unite".

Like Marxism it was hatched by a small tightly knit group of intellectuals of Mont Perelin society.  Mirovski provides an excellent summary of the creation and development of Mont Perelin  society the core of "professional revolutionaries" similar to the core of the Russian Social Democratic party before WWI. With many living in exile before WWII.  

The idea of "permanent revolution" until global victory of neoliberalism is now implemented by neoliberals with a series of wars and color revolution. The goal is  creation of the global neoliberal empire led by the USA. They really want to bring neoliberalism everywhere even if this mean to bring it on the tips of bayonets. Like Bolsheviks they do not care about legitimacy -- they rely on the power of the state (and for third world countries this is a group of foreign state -- G7)  to enforce market from above. In this  sense they are opposite to libertarians.

Like with Marxism there are several different flavors of neoliberalism and different factions like "soft neoliberalism" (Clinton "Third Way") which is the modern Democratic Party doctrine, and hard neoliberalism (The USA Republican Party version), often hostile to each other.  Also European neoliberalism is somewhat different from the USA version.  This is standard way how religions evolve.

For example , during elections Trump (after election Trump was quickly folded and  was brought into neocon camp) introduced yet another flavor which can be called "bastard neoliberalism" or the "neoliberalism without globalization and without "Permanent wars for permanent peace" -- efforts for enlargement of the US led global neoliberal empire. Somewhat similar to Eduard Bernstein "revisionism" in Marxism, or even to Stalinism (neoliberalism in one single country).

Putinism can be viewed as yet another flavor of neoliberalism with added "strong state" part and "resource nationalism" bent, which upset so much the US neoliberal establishment, as it complicates looting of the country by transnational corporations.  But Putinism it is not explicitly oriented on dismantling the welfare state like classic neoliberalism, which makes this analogy somewhat stretched. Still Russia under  Putin is a definitely a neoliberal country, and  Russian Prime minister Medvedev (and in the past Kudrin) is as close to classic neoliberal as one  can  get.

Neoliberalism also can be viewed as a modern mutation of corporatism, favoring multinationals (under disguise of "free trade"), privatization of state assets, minimal government intervention in business (with financial oligarchy being like Soviet nomenklatura above the law), reduced public expenditures on social services, and decimation of New Deal, strong anti trade unionism stance and attempt to atomize work force (perma temps as preferred mode of employment giving employers "maximum flexibility") , neocolonialism and militarism in foreign relations (might makes right).  Like for any corporatism flavor the real goals are hidden under thick smoke screen of propaganda. For example "might makes right" agenda financial rip off of weaker countries )converting them into debt slaves) is hidden under the 'democratization" smokescreen.

The word "elite" in the context of neoliberalism has the same meaning as the Russian word nomenklatura (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nomenklatura ) -- the political establishment holding or controlling both public and private power centers such as media, finance, academia, culture, trade, industry, state and international institutions.  The criteria to belonging to nomenklatura was the employment position of the person (or head of the family) and  that's by-and-large true about neoliberal elite too.  This way the myth of "creative class" is partially supported.

See also

Origins

The economic model that the word "neoliberalism" was coined to describe was developed by Mont Perelin  "think collective" (Philip Mirowski gives an excelling overview of their activities in his book Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown, 2013; see the review of his book in Jacobin ). It was further enhanced by the Chicago school economists in the 1960s and 1970s and led by them to the first neoliberal experiment in Chile in 1973, which started when army deposed elected President and installed Pinochet as the leader of neoliberally oriented military junta.  It was following by election of Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain in 1979  and Ronald Reagan in 1980. The triumphal march of neoliberal over the globe started with the dissolution of the USSR (where nomenklatura simply changed camps)  and ended in 2008 with the USA financial crash which burred neoliberal ideology similar to how WWII buried Communist  Ideology.  Still neoliberal, like Bolshevism before it, survived this blow.

It is partially based upon Austrian neoclassical economic theories, but heavily influenced by Ayn Rand's barmy pseudo-philosophy of Übermenschen and greed-worship. Like Corporatism it includes the idea of strong state imposing neoliberalism from above after the successful political coup d'état.  It is essentially cult of the rich and implies the redistribution of wealth up.  

The first experiment in applied neoliberal theory began on September 11th 1973 in Chile, when a US backed military coup resulted in the death of social-democratic leader Salvador Allende and his replacement with the brutal military dictator General Pinochet (Margaret Thatcher's friend and idol). Thousands of people were murdered by the Pinochet regime for political reasons and tens of thousands more were tortured as Pinochet and the "Chicago boys" set about implementing neoliberal economic reforms and brutally repressing anyone that stood in their way. The US financially doped the Chilean economy in order to create the impression that these rabid-right wing reforms were successful. After the "success" of the Chilean neoliberal experiment, the instillation and economic support of right-wing military dictatorships to impose neoliberal economic reforms became unofficial US foreign policy.

The first of the democratically elected neoliberals were Margaret Thatcher in the UK and Ronald Reagan in the US. They both set about introducing ideologically driven neoliberal reforms, such as the complete withdrawal of capital controls by Tory Chancellor Geoffrey Howe and the deregulation of the US financial markets which first created Savings and loan crisis, then led to dot-com bubble and vast corruption scandals like Enron and culminated in the global financial sector insolvency crisis of 2007-08.  In other words neoliberalism destabilized capitalism.

By 1989 the ideology of neoliberalism was enshrined as the economic orthodoxy of the world as undemocratic Washington based institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the US Treasury Department signed up to a ten point economic plan which was riddled with neoliberal ideology such as trade liberalization, privatization, financial sector deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy. This agreement between anti-democratic organizations is misleadingly referred to as "The Washington Consensus". The idea was to open their economies to transnationals and to enforce debt slavery as a substitute for previous colonial regimes to keep counties under the influence of few "privileged" (say G7) players and it was tremendously successful.

These days, the IMF is one of the most high profile pushers of neoliberal economic policies. Their strategy involves applying strict "structural adjustment" conditions on their loans. These conditions are invariably neoliberal reforms such as privatization of utilities, services and government owned industries, tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, the abandonment of capital controls, the removal of democratic controls over central banks and monetary policy and the deregulation of financial industries. 

Three more formal approaches to definition of neoliberalism as a social system

Neoliberalism can be defined as an ideology of market fundamentalism  which is somewhat similar to Islamic fundamentalism. In this ideology market is deity that is always right, and  the cult of this deity needs to be enforced with the power of the state.  In other words this is a secular religion as such it can not be deposed by rational arguments. Like in Islam there is considerable messianic zeal (and much more financial and military resources to enforce this regime on other countries). Non-believers should be forcefully converted, if necessary using military force or color revolutions.

Like most types of fundamentalism it  is based on deception that promotes "markets" as a universal solution for all human problems in order  to hide establishment of neo-fascist regime (pioneered by Pinochet in Chile), where militarized government functions are limited to external aggression and suppression of population within the country (often via establishing National Security State using "terrorists" threat) and corporations are the only "first class" political players.  Like in classic corporatism, corporations are  above the law and can rule the country as they see fit, using political parties for the legitimatization of the regime.   The main difference with classic corporatism that instead of national corporation the main players are transnational corporations.

This also differentiate with classic fascism (which also is some form of merger of the state and large corporations but with political control in hands of a nationalistic party) is that instead of political dominance of the corporations of particular nation, those corporations are now transnational and states, including the USA are just enforcers of the will of transnational corporations on the population.   Still the level of militarism and the level of influence of the  "military-industrial complex" on the foreign policy make it very similar (under neoliberal it mutated into "media-military-industrial complex").

In domestic policy economic or "soft" methods of enforcement such as debt slavery and control of employment are preferred to brute force enforcement (Sheldon Wolin used the term "inverted totalitarism"). At the same time police is militarized and due to technological achievements the level of surveillance surpasses the level achieved in Eastern Germany or any other country of Eastern block.

Another strong commonality of Bolshevism and Neoliberalism  is the role of propaganda  and the level of brainwashing of the population. Like with bolshevism in the USSR before, high, almost always hysterical, level of neoliberal propaganda and scapegoating of "enemies" as well as the concept of "permanent war for permanent peace" are used to suppress the protest against the wealth redistribution up (which is the key principle of neoliberalism) and to decimate organized labor.  The MSM are tightly controlled by neoliberals and is necessary can represent a formidable force staging internal "color revolution (see Russiagate -- a color revolution against Trump by neocons and DemoRats)

Multiple definitions of neoliberalism were proposed. Three major attempts to define this social system were made:

  1. Definitions stemming from the concept of  "casino capitalism"
  2. Definitions stemming from the concept of Washington consensus
  3. Definitions stemming from the idea that Neoliberalism is Trotskyism for the rich. This idea has two major variations:

The first two are the most popular.

Definitions stemming from the concept of "casino capitalism"

Definitions stemming from the concept of "casino capitalism".  The term itself was coined by Susan Strange who used it as a title of her book Casino Capitalism published in 1986. She was one of the first who realized that

  1.  "The roots of the world's economic disorder are monetary and financial";
  2.  "The disorder has not come about by accident, but has in fact been nurtured and encouraged by a series of government decisions." (p. 60). In other words its was a counter-revolution  of  the part of ruling elite that lost its influence in 30th (dismantling New Deal from above in the USA (Reaganomics) or Thatcherism in the GB).

According to Susan Strange transformation of industrial capitalism into neoliberal capitalism ("casino capitalism")  involved  five trends. All of them increased the systemic instability of the system and the level of political corruption:

  1. Innovations in the way in which financial markets work due to introduction of computers;
  2. The sheer size of markets;
  3. Commercial banks turned into investment banks;
  4. The emergence of Asian nations as large players;
  5. The shift to self-regulation by banks (pp.9-10).

Definitions stemming from the concept of Washington consensus

Definitions stemming from the concept of Washington consensus, the  term which was coined in 1989 by English economist John Williamson. Three years after Susan Strange's book. The often sited are two:

  1. Elizabeth Martinez and Arnoldo Garcia  definition (CorpWatch  What is Neoliberalism)

    Economic liberalism prevailed in the United States through the 1800s and early 1900s. Then the Great Depression of the 1930s led an economist named John Maynard Keynes to a theory that challenged liberalism as the best policy for capitalists. He said, in essence, that full employment is necessary for capitalism to grow and it can be achieved only if governments and central banks intervene to increase employment. These ideas had much influence on President Roosevelt's New Deal -- which did improve life for many people. The belief that government should advance the common good became widely accepted.

    But the capitalist crisis over the last 25 years, with its shrinking profit rates, inspired the corporate elite to revive economic liberalism. That's what makes it "neo" or new. Now, with the rapid globalization of the capitalist economy, we are seeing neo-liberalism on a global scale.

    A memorable definition of this process came from Subcomandante Marcos at the Zapatista-sponsored Encuentro Intercontinental por la Humanidad y contra el Neo-liberalismo (Inter-continental Encounter for Humanity and Against Neo-liberalism) of August 1996 in Chiapas when he said: "what the Right offers is to turn the world into one big mall where they can buy Indians here, women there ...." and he might have added, children, immigrants, workers or even a whole country like Mexico."

    The main points of neo-liberalism include:

    1. THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating "free" enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no matter how much social damage this causes. Greater openness to international trade and investment, as in NAFTA. Reduce wages by de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers' rights that had been won over many years of struggle. No more price controls. All in all, total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services. To convince us this is good for us, they say "an unregulated market is the best way to increase economic growth, which will ultimately benefit everyone." It's like Reagan's "supply-side" and "trickle-down" economics -- but somehow the wealth didn't trickle down very much.
    2. CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like education and health care. REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, and even maintenance of roads, bridges, water supply -- again in the name of reducing government's role. Of course, they don't oppose government subsidies and tax benefits for business.
    3. DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminsh profits, including protecting the environmentand safety on the job.
    4. PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads, toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water. Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.
    5. ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF "THE PUBLIC GOOD" or "COMMUNITY" and replacing it with "individual responsibility." Pressuring the poorest people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care, education and social security all by themselves -- then blaming them, if they fail, as "lazy."

    Around the world, neo-liberalism has been imposed by powerful financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. It is raging all over Latin America. The first clear example of neo-liberalism at work came in Chile (with thanks to University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman), after the CIA-supported coup against the popularly elected Allende regime in 1973. Other countries followed, with some of the worst effects in Mexico where wages declined 40 to 50% in the first year of NAFTA while the cost of living rose by 80%. Over 20,000 small and medium businesses have failed and more than 1,000 state-owned enterprises have been privatized in Mexico. As one scholar said, "Neoliberalism means the neo-colonization of Latin America."

    In the United States neo-liberalism is destroying welfare programs; attacking the rights of labor (including all immigrant workers); and cutbacking social programs. The Republican "Contract" on America is pure neo-liberalism. Its supporters are working hard to deny protection to children, youth, women, the planet itself -- and trying to trick us into acceptance by saying this will "get government off my back." The beneficiaries of neo-liberalism are a minority of the world's people. For the vast majority it brings even more suffering than before: suffering without the small, hard-won gains of the last 60 years, suffering without end.

  2. Wikipedia mentions Washington consensus only briefly and the article is quite apologetic (Neoliberalism - Wikipedia). It does not links neoliberalism and corporatism.
    Neoliberalism[1] is a term whose usage and definition have changed over time.[2]

    Since the 1980s, the term has been used by scholars in a wide variety of social sciences[3] and critics[4] primarily in reference to the resurgence of 19th century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism. Beginning in the 1970s and 1980s, its advocates supported extensive economic liberalization policies such as privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade, and reductions in government spending in order to enhance the role of the private sector in the [12] Neoliberalism is famously associated with the economic policies introduced by Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom and Ronald Reagan in the United States.[5] The transition of consensus towards neoliberal policies and the acceptance of neoliberal economic theories in the 1970s are seen by some academics as the root of financialization, with the financial crisis of 2007–08 one of the ultimate results.[17]

    Neoliberalism was originally an economic philosophy that emerged among European liberal scholars in the 1930s in an attempt to trace a so-called ‘Third’ or ‘Middle Way’ between the conflicting philosophies of classical liberalism and [18] The impetus for this development arose from a desire to avoid repeating the economic failures of the early 1930s, which were mostly blamed on the economic policy of classical liberalism. In the decades that followed, the use of the term neoliberal tended to refer to theories at variance with the more laissez-faire doctrine of classical liberalism, and promoted instead a market economy under the guidance and rules of a strong state, a model which came to be known as the social market economy.

    In the 1960s, usage of the term "neoliberal" heavily declined. When the term was reintroduced in the 1980s in connection with Augusto Pinochet’s economic reforms in Chile, the usage of the term had shifted. It had not only become a term with negative connotations employed principally by critics of market reform, but it also had shifted in meaning from a moderate form of liberalism to a more radical and laissez-faire capitalist set of ideas. Scholars now tended to associate it with the theories of economists Friedrich Hayek and [2] Once the new meaning of neoliberalism was established as a common usage among Spanish-speaking scholars, it diffused directly into the English-language study of [2] Scholarship on the phenomenon of neoliberalism has been growing.[19] The impact of the global 2008-09 crisis has also given rise to new scholarship that critiques neoliberalism and seeks developmental alternatives.[20]

    ...

    Neoliberalism seeks to transfer control of the economy from public to the private sector,[148] rationalized by the narative that it will produce a more efficient government and improve the economic health of the nation.[149] The definitive statement of the concrete policies advocated by neoliberalism is often taken to be John Williamson's "[150] The Washington Consensus is a list of policy proposals that appeared to have gained consensus approval among the Washington-based international economic organizations (like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and [151]. Williamson's list included ten points:

    • Fiscal policy Governments should not run large deficits that have to be paid back by future citizens, and such deficits can have only a short term effect on the level of employment in the economy. Constant deficits will lead to higher inflation and lower productivity, and should be avoided. Deficits should only be used for occasional stabilization purposes.
    • Redirection of public spending from subsidies (especially what neoliberals call "indiscriminate subsidies") and other spending neoliberals deem wasteful toward broad-based provision of key pro-growth, pro-poor services like primary education, primary health care and infrastructure investment
    • Tax reform – broadening the tax base and adopting moderate marginal tax rates to encourage innovation and efficiency;
    • Interest rates that are market determined and positive (but moderate) in real terms;
    • Floating exchange rates;
    • Trade liberalization – liberalization of imports, with particular emphasis on elimination of quantitative restrictions (licensing, etc.); any trade protection to be provided by low and relatively uniform tariffs; thus encouraging competition and long term growth
    • Liberalization of the "capital account" of the balance of payments, that is, allowing people the opportunity to invest funds overseas and allowing foreign funds to be invested in the home country
    • Privatization of state enterprises; Promoting market provision of goods and services which the government cannot provide as effectively or efficiently, such as telecommunications, where having many service providers promotes choice and competition.
    • Deregulation – abolition of regulations that impede market entry or restrict competition, except for those justified on safety, environmental and consumer protection grounds, and prudent oversight of financial institutions;
    • Legal security for property rights;

Definitions stemming from the idea that Neoliberalism is Trotskyism for the rich

One can view neoliberalism as Trotskyism refashioned for elite. Instead of "proletarians of all countries unite" we have slogan "neoliberal elites of all countries unite". Like Communism is supposed to be the result of revolt of proletariat against its oppressions, Neoliberalism can be considered to be the revolt of the elite (and first of all financial elite) against excessive level of equality that characterized the world after WWII

Instead of permanent revolution we have permanent democratization via color revolutions and military invasions.  With the same idea of creating a global neoliberal empire that will makes everybody happy and prosperous.

While this is never advertized (and actually the whole term "neoliberalism" is kind  of  hidden from the population and its discussion is a taboo in neoliberal MSM), implicitly Neoliberalism adopted a considerable part of Marxism doctrine and even bigger part of Bolsheviks practice.  From this point of view it is yet another stunning "economic-political" utopia with the level of economic determinism even more ambitious than that of Marx...

Marx famous quote "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce" is fully applicable here: instead of revolt of proletariat which Marxists expected we got the revolt of financial oligarchy. And this revolt led to forming powerful Transnational Elite International (with Congresses in Basel) instead of Communist International (with Congresses in Moscow). Marx probably is rolling in his grave seeing such turn of events and such a wicked mutation of his political theories.

Neoliberalism is also an example of emergence of ideologies, not from their persuasive power or inner logic, but from the private interests of the ruling elite. As such it can be called Trotskyism for rich (so much for valiant efforts of Senator McCartney to fight Trotskyism in the USA :-). Political pressure and money created the situation in which intellectually bankrupt ideas could prevail much like Catholicism prevailed during Dark Ages in Europe. In a way this is return to Dark Ages on a new level. Hopefully this period will not last as long. As  there is no countervailing force on the horizon, only the major change in economic conditions, such as end of cheap oil can lead to demise of neoliberalism.

There were two major variation of this definition:

See Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich


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[May 21, 2018] On neoliberalism

While it is stupid to argue that neoliberalism does not exist: it exits both as ideology, economic theory and politicl pratice (much like Marxism before it; yet another "man-made" ideology -- actually a variation of Trotskyism, this discussion does illuminate some interesting and subtle points.
Notable quotes:
"... Neoliberalism is a time-limited global system sustained by coercive imposition of competitive behaviour, parasitic finance & privatisation. ..."
"... But it's better to think of neoliberalism as a bunch of arrangements ("system" if you remove connotations of design) rather than as an ideology. Ed has a point when he says that almost nobody fully subscribes to "neoliberal ideology": free market supporters, for example, don't defend crony capitalism. ..."
"... Perhaps the texts of transnational trade treaties might be the best place to search for a de facto definition of neoliberalism. ..."
"... Whether or not the present neoliberal system is the result of a single coherent ideology, it emerged from the 70s on as a set of related (if not deliberately coordinated) responses to the structural crises of the older postwar Keynesian system. And there was definitely a cluster of policy-making elites in the early 70s making similar observations about the failure of consensus capitalism. ..."
"... It is possible to have 'hard' and 'soft' neoliberalism depending on whether the state employs 'carrots' or 'sticks', but essentially almost the entire UK political system agreed that 'There Is No Alternative' until Corbyn became Labour leader. ..."
"... I think Will Davies has hit the spot with his definition of neoliberalism as "the disenchantment of politics by economics". In other words, neoliberalism is first and foremost a political praxis, not an economic theory. It is about power, hence the continuing importance of the state. ..."
"... That is the Great Transformation and neoliberalism as its current phase are about turning institutions into businesses (including marriage), and part of this is "managerialism". This is not done because businesses are inherently better for every purpose than institutions, but because businesses are better vehicles than institutions for tunnelling (looting) by their managers. ..."
"... Neo-liberals are not opposed to all types of government intervention. But like neo-classical economists, they believe ultimately in the price mechanism to allocate resources - in the long run, if not the short. ..."
"... In terms of sincerity, Milton Friedman asserted in "Capitalism and Freedom" that the more a society was "free market," the more equal it was. Come the preface to 50th anniversary edition, he simply failed to mention that applying his own ideology had refuted his assertion (and it was an assertion). ..."
"... Neo-liberalism never been about reducing "the State" but rather strengthening it in terms of defending and supporting capital. Hence you see Tories proclaim they are "cutting back the state" while also increasing state regulation on trade unions -- and regulating strikes, and so the labour market. ..."
"... Somewhere along the line neo-liberalism got associated with austerity and small-government policies. The latter I think was because they are (correctly) associated with promoting privatisation and deregulation policy. ..."
"... But the market is the creation of man. It has no power, no judgement, other than that bestowed on it by us. My problem with neoliberalism is the belief that decisions can be made on the basis of a money metric whereas we know that money is not necessarily a good measure of value. ..."
"... Neoliberalism is real, but only describes background theoretical claims. It is wrong to apply the term to the broader political movement it supported. The political movement was dedicated to maximizing the power and freedom of action of large-scale capital accumulators. Lots of ideas from neoliberal intellectual argumentation were used to increase the power of capital accumulators, and neoliberal economists tended to ignore many aspects of the political movement they supported (strongr state power, crony capitalism, monopoly power) not strictly part of neoliberal theory ..."
"... usually the theory was just a weapon used in internal battles or as a PR tool to mask less savory political objectives. ..."
"... Repeating the message: "neoliberalism" has a pretty much official definition, the "Washington Consensus". And the core part of the "Washington Consensus" is "labour market reform", that is in practice whichever policies make labour more "competitive" and wages more "affordable". ..."
"... The "free markets" of neoliberalism are primarily "free" labour markets, that is free of unions. ..."
"... I would argue that, in terms of practical working definitions, Max Sawicky's definition of neo-liberalism seems to work well, at least in the U.S. context (second half of post): https://mikethemadbiologist.com/2017/04/28/remember-the-victims-of-the-nebraska-public-power-district/ ..."
May 16, 2018 | stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com

Is neoliberalism even a thing? This is the question posed by Ed Conway, who claims it is "not an ideology but an insult." I half agree.

I agree that the economic system we have is "hardly the result of a guiding ideology" and more the result of "happenstance".

I say this because neoliberalism is NOT the same as the sort of free market ideology proposed by Friedman and Hayek. If this were the case, it would have died on 13 October 2008 when the government bailed out RBS . In fact, though, as Will Davies and Adam Curtis have said, neoliberalism entails the use of an active state. A big part of neoliberalism is the use of the state to increase the power and profits of the 1% - capitalists and top managers. Increased managerialism, crony capitalism and tough benefit sanctions are all features of neoliberalism. In this respect, the EU's treatment of Greece was neoliberal – ensuring that banks got paid at the expense of ordinary people.

I suspect, though, that measures such as these were, as Ed says, not so much part of a single ideology as uncoordinated events. Tax cuts for the rich, public sector outsourcing and target culture, for example, were mostly justified by appeals to efficiency, and were not regarded even by their advocates as parts of a unified theory. To believe otherwise would be to subscribe to a conspiracy theory which gives too much credit to Thatcher and her epigones.

In this sense, I mostly agree with Paull Mason :

Neoliberalism is a time-limited global system sustained by coercive imposition of competitive behaviour, parasitic finance & privatisation.

I'm not sure about that word "system". Maybe it attributes too much systematization to neoliberals: perhaps unplanned order would be a better phrase. But it's better to think of neoliberalism as a bunch of arrangements ("system" if you remove connotations of design) rather than as an ideology. Ed has a point when he says that almost nobody fully subscribes to "neoliberal ideology": free market supporters, for example, don't defend crony capitalism.

And it's useful to have words for economic systems. Just as we speak of "post-war Keynesianism" to mean a bundle of policies and institutions of which Keynesian fiscal policy was only a small part, so we can speak of "neoliberalism" to describe our current arrangement. It's a better description than the horribly question-begging "late capitalism".

This isn't to say that "neoliberalism" has a precise meaning. There are varieties of it, just as there were of post-war Keynesianism. Think of the word as like "purple". There are shades of purple, we'll not agree when exactly purple turns into blue, and we'll struggle to define the word (especially to someone who is colour-blind). But "purple" is nevertheless a useful word, and we know it when we see it.

If neoliberalism is a system rather than an ideology, what role does ideology play?

I suspect it's that of post-fact justification.

Put it this way. In the mid-80s nobody argued that the share of GDP going to the top 1% should double. Of course, many advocated policies which, it turns out, had this effect. Some of them intended this. But those policies were justified on other grounds, often sincerely. Instead, the belief that the top 1% "deserve" 15% of total incomes rather than 7-8% has mostly followed them getting 15%, not led it. A host of cognitive biases – the just world illusion, anchoring effect and status quo bias underpin an ideology which defends inequality. John Jost calls this system justification (pdf) . You can gather all these biases under the umbrella term "neoliberal ideology" if you want. But it follows economic events rather than is the creator of them.

So, I half agree with Ed that neoliberalism isn't a guiding ideology. But I also agree with Paul, that it is a way of describing a particular economic system.

I don't, however, want to get hung up on words: I'd rather leave such pedantry to the worst sort of academic. What's more important than language is the brute fact that productivity and hence real incomes for most of us have stagnated for years. In this sense, our existing economic system has failed the majority of people. And this is true whatever name you give it.

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Comments

Scratch , May 16, 2018 at 04:13 PM

Perhaps the texts of transnational trade treaties might be the best place to search for a de facto definition of neoliberalism.

There's not much room to blur, obfuscate (beyond the natural impenetrability of legalese) or wreath around with dubious ethicism in these documents I'd imagine.

Luis Enrique , May 16, 2018 at 04:53 PM
if it's a way of describing the prevailing economic system, does it make sense to describe people as neoliberals? Does that imply that everyone who is not a radical revolutionary (i.e. anyone who if they got their way in government would still be within normal variation in policies from a USA Republican administration to the Danish Labour party?). So the Koch brothers are neoliberals and Brad De Long is a neoliberal despite them disagreeing vehemently about most things?

I know we have lots of other words that are used in wildly inconsistent ways (capitalism, socialism) but I can't help being irked by the sheer incoherence of the things that neoliberals are accused of. Most recent example to come to mind, somebody in conversation with Will Davies on Twitter claimed neoliberals oppose redistribution (and Will did not correct him). FFS.

Mike W , May 16, 2018 at 06:04 PM
Conway says:

'But, despite the fact that neoliberalism is frequently referred to as an ideology, it is oddly difficult to pin down. For one thing, it is a word that tends to be used almost exclusively by those who are criticising it - not by its advocates, such as they are (in stark contrast to almost every other ideology, nearly no-one self-describes as a neoliberal). In other words, it is not an ideology but an insult.'

Well political science and history uses models too. What is the problem of say David Harvey's definition in, A Brief History of ...that which doesn't exist (2007)?

Rather I think he means it upsets 'main stream' economics professors, to be called this term, and rather than opt for Wren Lewis gambit (there is such a thing as 'Media Macro' or 'Tory Macro', or 'Econ 101', which I found interesting as it happens) Conway has gone for pedantry and first year Politics student essentialism, ie what is Democracy? type stuff.

As it happens he is dated and plain wrong above.

https://www.adamsmith.org/blog/coming-out-as-neoliberals

Hope this helps Ed

Ralph Musgrave , May 16, 2018 at 06:32 PM
Neoliberalism, at least in the UK, was in part a reaction by Thatcher & Co to the excesses of previous Labour administrations: excesses in the form of "if an industry looks like going bust, let's pour whatever amount of taxpayer's money into it needed to save it". Thatcher & Co's reaction was: "s*d that for a lark – the rules of the free market are better than industrial subsidies (especially industrial subsidies in cabinet ministers' constituencies)"
Kevin Carson , May 16, 2018 at 06:39 PM
Whether or not the present neoliberal system is the result of a single coherent ideology, it emerged from the 70s on as a set of related (if not deliberately coordinated) responses to the structural crises of the older postwar Keynesian system. And there was definitely a cluster of policy-making elites in the early 70s making similar observations about the failure of consensus capitalism.
Ben Philliskirk , May 16, 2018 at 07:11 PM
"if it's a way of describing the prevailing economic system, does it make sense to describe people as neoliberals?"

Yes, these are largely people who reacted to the 'series of events' that occurred in the global economy in the 1970s by essentially accepting a certain set of policies and responses, many of which involved seeking to insulate the state against collective popular demands, intervening against organised labour, deregulating finance and targeting state intervention towards private business.

It is possible to have 'hard' and 'soft' neoliberalism depending on whether the state employs 'carrots' or 'sticks', but essentially almost the entire UK political system agreed that 'There Is No Alternative' until Corbyn became Labour leader. Many of these people were hardly hardcore ideologists but rather pragmatic or unimaginative types that were unwilling to challenge the 'status quo' or the prevailing economic system, just as there were very few classical liberals from WWI onwards.

From Arse To Elbow , May 16, 2018 at 07:40 PM
I think Will Davies has hit the spot with his definition of neoliberalism as "the disenchantment of politics by economics". In other words, neoliberalism is first and foremost a political praxis, not an economic theory. It is about power, hence the continuing importance of the state.

This instrumentality echoes Thatcher's insistence that "Economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul", which shows that there was more in play in the late-70s and early-80s than simply responding to the "structural crises of the older postwar Keynesian system".

Sarah Miron , May 16, 2018 at 09:06 PM
You should be reading Philip Mirowski instead. The economist and historian of science Philip Mirowski is considered the foremost expert on this subject, he has written many books on this the latest is:

"The Knowledge We Have Lost in Information: The History of Information in Modern Economics":

https://www.amazon.com/Knowledge-Have-Lost-Information-Economics/dp/0190270055/

*

Neoliberalism is a philosophy based on the metaphor/idea that the "market" is an information process ad it is quasi-omniscient, that "knows" more than any and all of us could ever know. It makes certain claims about what "information" is and what a "market" is. It's mostly started with the Mont Perelin Society think-tank.

Sarah Miron , May 16, 2018 at 09:11 PM
Here's an intro:

His papers:

Some lectures:

Blissex , May 16, 2018 at 10:02 PM
"productivity and hence real incomes for most of us have stagnated for years."

But for many, usually people who vote more often or more opportunistically, they have been years of booming living standards.

The core of the electoral appeal of thatcherism is that thatcherites whether Conservative or New Labour have worked hard to ensure that upper-middle (and many middle) class voters collectively cornered the southern property market, creating a massive short squeeze on people short housing.

So many champagne leftists of some age talk about policies and concepts, but for the many the number one problem for decades has been managing to pay rent.

Blissex , May 16, 2018 at 10:05 PM

"neoliberalism is first and foremost a political praxis, not an economic theory. It is about power, hence the continuing importance of the state."

That's a very good point, but I would rather say that's a good description of New Right/thatcherite (and "third way" clintonian/mandelsonian) politics, and neoliberalism is the economic policy aspect.

There is after all something called "The Washington consensus" that is a "standard" set of neoliberal economic policies.

Blissex , May 16, 2018 at 10:12 PM
"Neoliberalism is a philosophy based on the metaphor/idea that the "market" is an information process"

Written that wait it evokes Polanyi's "Great transformation" where markets mechanisms have displaced social mechanisms in many areas.

But Just yesterday I realized that Polanyi was subtly off-target: it is not markets-vs-society (two fairly abstract concepts) but instead institutions-vs-businesses.

That is the Great Transformation and neoliberalism as its current phase are about turning institutions into businesses (including marriage), and part of this is "managerialism". This is not done because businesses are inherently better for every purpose than institutions, but because businesses are better vehicles than institutions for tunnelling (looting) by their managers.

Blissex , May 16, 2018 at 10:17 PM
"the "market" is an information process ad it is quasi-omniscient, that "knows" more than any and all of us could ever know"

There have been a few books arguing that "the market", being omniscient, all powerful, and just in judging everybody and giving them exactly what they deserve, has replaced God, and today's sell-side neoliberal Economists are its preachers:

Nanikore , May 17, 2018 at 07:21 AM
Economists started using the term neo-liberalism a bit later, after it became a derogatory term - and after 2008 began to disassociate from it (a few, and very few, did after the Asian Financial Crisis).

It is important to realise I think that it is a term that closely linked to political science -- and in particular a branch of international relations. The person most associated with Neo-liberalism is Francis Fukuyama. What he did was link capitalism and democracy; both he said had triumphed and because they respect the freedom of individual liberty and they allowed markets, which are the most efficient way of allocating resources, to operate liberally. Its heyday was at the time of the collapse of the Berlin Wall - "the end of history" as FF famously said.

Political scientists see neo-classical economics and neo-liberalism as very compatible, because of the formers basic construct of individual optimisation, rational choice and market efficiency. Often they are grouped together and contrasted with radical and realist (realpolitik) approaches. For neo-liberals and neo-classicists, markets get prices right, whether they do so with a lag is a minor point.

NK.

Nanikore , May 17, 2018 at 07:46 AM
Neo-liberals are not opposed to all types of government intervention. But like neo-classical economists, they believe ultimately in the price mechanism to allocate resources - in the long run, if not the short.

They have no problem with welfare states. Like neo-classical economists they accept the second welfare theorem.

They are pro-globalisation: they don't like international trade, capital or immigration controls. Why? Because they impact on individual liberty and distort market prices.

International relations were often guiding reasons behind economic policy that were pro-globalisation. By encouraging globalisation, you were encouraging international capitalism and thereby the spread of democracy (a la Francis Fukuyama). International relations policy was close to the PM, and run from the Cabinet Office.

I would argue that Blair and Jonathan Portes are prime examples of neo-liberals. And indeed the Clinton/Blair years were quintessentially neo-liberal in the formerly correct use of the term. Thatcher, as a strong opponent of the welfare state, was not.

Nanikore , May 17, 2018 at 08:49 AM
One further point. Neo-liberals are progressively and socially liberal, as well as economically liberal. They believe in cosmopolitanism and diversity and put much emphasis on minority and women's rights.

NK.

Anarcho , May 17, 2018 at 09:31 AM
"In fact, though, as Will Davies and Adam Curtis have said, neoliberalism entails the use of an active state."

It has always been like that -- Kropotkin was attacking Marxists for suggesting otherwise over a hundred years ago.

"In the mid-80s nobody argued that the share of GDP going to the top 1% should double. Of course, many advocated policies which, it turns out, had this effect. Some of them intended this. But those policies were justified on other grounds, often sincerely."

Yes, different rhetoric was often used -- but the net effect was always obvious, and pointed out at the time. But you get better results with honey than vinegar...

In terms of sincerity, Milton Friedman asserted in "Capitalism and Freedom" that the more a society was "free market," the more equal it was. Come the preface to 50th anniversary edition, he simply failed to mention that applying his own ideology had refuted his assertion (and it was an assertion).

Neo-liberalism never been about reducing "the State" but rather strengthening it in terms of defending and supporting capital. Hence you see Tories proclaim they are "cutting back the state" while also increasing state regulation on trade unions -- and regulating strikes, and so the labour market.

Luis Enrique , May 17, 2018 at 12:12 PM
how coherent are the comments above?

fr'instance

"intervening against organised labour" China bans unions, doesn't it? Are they in this tent too?

"targeting state intervention towards private business" not quite sure what that means but pre-1970 import substitution industrial policy is what?

am I a neoliberal because I think markets do process dispersed information and that competition does some good things (I am worried about monopolies, I would be worried about non-competitive government procurement) or am I not a neoliberal because I am nowhere near thinking markets are omniscient and could write long essays on how markets fail?

am I a neoliberal because I think the Washington Consensus is broadly sensible (with some reservations) or not a neoliberal because I'd like to see far more social housing?

and so on

Nanikore , May 17, 2018 at 03:13 PM
Somewhere along the line neo-liberalism got associated with austerity and small-government policies. The latter I think was because they are (correctly) associated with promoting privatisation and deregulation policy.

But neo-liberals have never been against welfare states in principle or counter-cyclical policy in principle.

Key-neo-liberals, however, were pro-austerity policy after the Asian Financial Crisis - but this included most of the mainstream economics establishment (most crucially of all Stanley Fischer at the IMF). Their rational (naturally enough) related to consistency, credibility, incentives and moral hazard arguments. There were a few who protested (eg Stiglitz). But they were exceptions.

NK.

e , May 17, 2018 at 03:28 PM
@ Luis Enrique
I don't think you'd make the grade as a 'true' neo-liberal unless you'd be happy for your social housing to be less then optimal and only for the destitute. Do you see moral hazard if the housing market is once again sidestepped in favour of decent homes for average every-day heroes, or do you subscribe (explicitly) to the view that the state must sanction and hurt in order that individuals strive?
C Adams , May 17, 2018 at 06:48 PM
@Blissex

"There have been a few books arguing that "the market", being omniscient, all powerful, and just in judging everybody and giving them exactly what they deserve, has replaced God...."

But the market is the creation of man. It has no power, no judgement, other than that bestowed on it by us. My problem with neoliberalism is the belief that decisions can be made on the basis of a money metric whereas we know that money is not necessarily a good measure of value.

Ben Philliskirk , May 17, 2018 at 08:17 PM
@ Luis Enrique

'"intervening against organised labour" China bans unions, doesn't it? Are they in this tent too?'

Well yes. They have taken it further than most countries, stripping back their welfare system while increasing state promotion of capitalist development.

'"targeting state intervention towards private business" not quite sure what that means but pre-1970 import substitution industrial policy is what?'

Import substitution industrial policy is protectionism, not neoliberalism. I'm referring to governments' privatisation and outsourcing of public services and industries, taking them out of political responsibility and collective provision, while at the same time providing them with subsidies and guaranteed markets.

Luis Enrique , May 17, 2018 at 09:26 PM
Ben, ok protectionism is a different tactic than outsourcing but it's intervention towards private business so maybe that's not a defining characteristic of neoliberalism?

And if the Chinese Communist party is neoliberal and also the Koch brothers I am not convinced this is a useful nomenclature

Avraam Jack Dectis , May 17, 2018 at 10:31 PM
Is Productivity Growth like Evolution ? Is it possible that productivity growth is like evolution: It can be a fortitous accident or it can happen due to competitive pressure. The fortuitous accidents are the new technologies whose advantages are so obvious they are quickly adopted.

The competitive pressures can be constraints on profits or resources that force greater efficiency. Perhaps, now, in the UK, there is no shortage of reasonably priced personnel, infrastructure and goods. So, if productivity growth is low, you can be certain neither requirement has been met.

If neither requirement has been met, then, it may well be that there is excessive unused capacity and, if that is the case, GDP growth has been suboptimal.

Which leads to the best question: Is greater GDP growth the result of greater efficiency or is greater efficiency the result of greater GDP growth?

The conclusion is that it may be a mistake to guide policy under the assumption that GDP growth must he preceded by productivity growth. Failing to realize this may be a cause of unnoticed suboptimal GDP growth. .

Hubert Horan , May 18, 2018 at 04:53 PM
1. Neoliberalism is real, but only describes background theoretical claims. It is wrong to apply the term to the broader political movement it supported. The political movement was dedicated to maximizing the power and freedom of action of large-scale capital accumulators. Lots of ideas from neoliberal intellectual argumentation were used to increase the power of capital accumulators, and neoliberal economists tended to ignore many aspects of the political movement they supported (strongr state power, crony capitalism, monopoly power) not strictly part of neoliberal theory

2. The overlap and confusion between neoliberal theory and the political movement for unfettered freedom for capital accumulator is consistent with the broader history of movement conservatism. After WW2, conservatives (broadly defined) had a fixation with developing an intellectual foundatation/justification for their policy preferences. Partly as a reaction to the perception that FDR-LBJ era liberalism was based on theories published by Ivy League professors. The Mont Pelerin intellectual thread that Mirowski and others describe was part of this process. But (even for the liberals) it was always a mistake to claim that intellectual/ideological theorizing lead to political policy and action. It was sometimes the opposite; usually the theory was just a weapon used in internal battles or as a PR tool to mask less savory political objectives.

3. Democratic neoliberalism (Brad DeLong) was always a totally different animal. It was a reaction to the economic crises of the 70s/80s--New Deal policies written in 1934 didn't seem to be working; maybe would should incorporate market forces a bit more.

At the same time Republican neoliberalism had abandoned all pretense of detached analysis and was now strictly a tool supporting the pursuit of power.

Calgacus , May 18, 2018 at 07:38 PM
"Put it this way. In the mid-80s nobody argued that the share of GDP going to the top 1% should double. Of course, many advocated policies which, it turns out, had this effect. Some of them intended this. But those policies were justified on other grounds, often sincerely. Instead, the belief that the top 1% "deserve" 15% of total incomes rather than 7-8% has mostly followed them getting 15%, not led it. "

This is just not true. People did argue that, did announce the intent of these policies in public. Bill Mitchell's former student Victor Quirk is great on such declarations of war on the poor from the rich throughout history. Mitchell himself wrote that he was surprised how many and how blatant these declarations were.

Blissex , May 18, 2018 at 09:54 PM
"But the market is the creation of man. It has no power, no judgement, other than that bestowed on it by us."

But the neoliberal thesis is that it is all-knowing, all-powerful, all-judging. "vox populi vox dei" taken to an extreme.

"My problem with neoliberalism is the belief that decisions can be made on the basis of a money metric"

That to me seems a very poor argument, because then many will object that ignoring the money metric means that you want someone else to pay. Consider the statement "everybody has a right to healthcare free at the point of use": it is mere handwaving unless you explain who and how to pay for it.

The discussion in the money yes/no terms is for me fruitless, because there are two distinct issues in a project: the motivation for there being the project, and the business of doing the project.

Claiming that the *only* motivation for a project should be money seems to me as bad a claiming that given a good motivation how to pay for a project does not matter. Projects don't reduce to their motivation any more than they reduce to the business of doing them.

An extreme example I make is marriage: for me it is (also) a business, as it requires a careful look at money and organization issues, but hopefully the motivation to engage in that business is not economic, but personal feelings.

That's why I mentioned a better-than-Polanyi duality between businesses and institutions: institutions as a rule carry out businesses but for non-business motivations, while "pure" businesses have merely economic motivations.

For example a university setup as a charity versus one setup a a business: both carry out business activities, but the motivation of the former is not merely to do business.

Blissex , May 18, 2018 at 09:57 PM
Repeating the message: "neoliberalism" has a pretty much official definition, the "Washington Consensus". And the core part of the "Washington Consensus" is "labour market reform", that is in practice whichever policies make labour more "competitive" and wages more "affordable".

The "free markets" of neoliberalism are primarily "free" labour markets, that is free of unions.

Mike the Mad Biologist , May 19, 2018 at 01:06 AM
I would argue that, in terms of practical working definitions, Max Sawicky's definition of neo-liberalism seems to work well, at least in the U.S. context (second half of post): https://mikethemadbiologist.com/2017/04/28/remember-the-victims-of-the-nebraska-public-power-district/
C Adams , May 19, 2018 at 08:06 PM
@ Blissex "ignoring the money metric means that you want someone else to pay."

Not sure I follow. If payment is made via money then that is not ignoring the money metric, i.e. money as a measure of value. Do we want someone to do the project and is someone willing and able to do it? If, yes, then money is not (or at least does not need to be) the constraint. It is a mechanism to facilitate the project. If we want universal healthcare, money is not the constraint, the constraint is the ability of society to train and sustain (feed and house) the required expertise.

dilberto , May 19, 2018 at 08:11 PM
"What is neoliberalism?"

Neo-liberalism is an economic idea based on the conjecture that by reverting the level of state spending and regulation of an economy to that which existed at an earlier stage of its economic development will produce the same level of economic growth which the economy experienced then.

But the level of output of an economy is a reflection of the level of the efficiency of that economy, the level of economic growth therefore reflects the rate of increase in its efficiency in terms of increased economic output as the economy develops, a measure which inevitably reduces in its order as an economy approaches its maximum level of efficiency and output. So the rate of economic growth of an economy will inevitably be progressively reduced as an economy matures as the opportunities for efficiency improvements are exploited and the number that remain diminish.

The level of state spending and regulation typical of economically developed societies are responses to the social change which economic development itself has brought about. Abolishing those responses therefore is likely only to serve to reintroduce the social problems which led to their introduction and to make the social consequences of economic development more arduous for the lower social and economic groups disfavoured by that process of social change.

Neo-liberalism is, like other materialist ideology of the progressive left and right, a predominantly economic idea which is a product of the affluent and intellectual classes who themselves, being a product of their elevated economic condition, being dependent upon it and therefore having a vested interest in its continuance, are imbued with a bias which sees the improvement in the general economic condition as a natural unmitigated good and are therefore oblivious or apathetic to its non-material consequences as material progress causes a society and its population to diverge from its native and surviving character as it adapts to the historically exceptional conditions of modernity and undermines its cultural foundation and ultimately threatens its long term cultural future.

nicholas , May 19, 2018 at 10:16 PM
It seems clear from the above posts that there is no clear consensus about what neo-liberalism actually is.

I suggest the use of the term is little more than a cloak used to cover up an uncomfortable reality for those on the left. Traditional left wing policies, such as nationalisation, state intervention in the economy such as rent controls, high marginal tax rates, and strong trade unions systematically failed to deliver prosperity. States which moved to economic models involving more reliance on markets to shift labour and capital to new activities seemed to prosper far better. Rather than say that conservatives such as Friedman were proved right about the fundamental propositions about how an economy should be organised, the soft left adopted conservative policies, and have dressed it up as 'neo-liberalism' to save face.

Indeed, some on the left, such as 'filthy rich' Mandelson, embraced the market economy with the zeal of converts, and have ignored its faults and problems, and have failed to seek to mitigate or remedy these faults and problems.

Nanikore , May 20, 2018 at 07:26 AM
@nicholas

The best thing to do is consult a first or second year undergraduate political science or international relations text. Burchill "Theories of International Relations, Palgrave is a good one, and used in many UK universities. There will be a chapter on neo-liberalism in them. These texts give you the standard blurb on what neo-liberalism really is (as well as what the other major schools of thoughts are together with critiques of all of them).

Neo-liberalism is very much a coherent (but by no means flawless) theory.

Neo-liberalism comes from the subject of international relations. Fukuyama is the most representative neo-liberal. Important is the notion of 'soft power': the spread of capitalism and western culture and other forms of globalisation spreads western notions of democracy and human rights. It was important to integrate countries into the international capitalist (and engage them in the multilateral) system. At the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall this seemed to be a convincing theory. It was very much adopted as a key foreign policy strategy in the UK and the US. One of its biggest blows, however, is the lack of political reform we have seen in China. What this showed was that democratisation does not necessarily follow capitalism and globalisation.

NK.

Nanikore , May 20, 2018 at 07:42 AM
Just to qualify what I said above - the would not use the term "western notions". Ie they would not associate democracy or human rights with being western. They are very cosmopolitan, and believe in the notion of universal, (not relative), values.
Blissex , May 20, 2018 at 03:29 PM
""ignoring the money metric means that you want someone else to pay."
... then money is not (or at least does not need to be) the constraint. It is a mechanism to facilitate the project. If we want universal healthcare, money is not the constraint,"

Oh please, this is just two-bit nominalism: "money" then is just the mechanism by which "you want someone else to pay" and indeed:

"the constraint is the ability of society to train and sustain (feed and house) the required expertise."

That is the *physical* aggregate constraint, regardless of whoever pays, the practical constraint, given that physical stuff is purchased with money, creating or obtaining that money.

The question is then distributional, who is going to pay the money to "train and sustain (feed and house) the required expertise". Unless there are ample unused resources, someone will have to pay.

What right-wingers object to is the idea that "universal health care" is paid for as a percent of income, so that someone on £100,000 a year pays £8,000 a year for exactly the same level of service that someone on £10,000 a year pays £800 a year for.

Jo Park , May 20, 2018 at 07:08 PM
@Luis Enrique: Correct - you are not a neoliberal as you'd like to see far more social housing? A neoliberal believes in more economic freedom, so you achieve the aim of housing people who need state help for housing, food, energy etc by giving them the money to buy a basic level of those things. The State should not be in the business of saying this house here is not a social housing one, but this next that gets built is.
Calgacus , May 21, 2018 at 02:37 AM
Blissex: "Oh please, this is just two-bit nominalism: "money" then is just the mechanism by which "you want someone else to pay""

Umm, no. In real terms, the someone else who is paying in health care is mainly the health care professional treating you.

"Unless there are ample unused resources, someone will have to pay."

But in all modern capitalist countries there are ample unused resources as far as the eye can see. Medicine is one way to use them up, nearly cost-free, and all benefit. Most people value "not being dead" highly. As Paul Samuelson said responding to stupid worries about the cost of the US health care system, so it's 15% (or whatever). It's the best 15% of the economy.

The real problem is that "socialized medicine" is too efficient in real terms, and doesn't create corrupt and powerful satrapies to demand public money, as the US health system does. Since the UK has the most efficient health care system, it has the least real resource "someone has to pay" problem, but it causes the biggest demand gap, the true longterm, macro problem. The opposite for the USA. The real right wing concern is that the underpeople get health care at all, not some smokescreen triviality about nominal taxation.

Most written about health care, as about war, follows the backwards, mainstream way. C Adams is following the correct, MMT/Keynesian way. If that is two-bit nominalism, we need more of it.

Robert Mitchell , May 21, 2018 at 04:37 AM
Blissex: "Oh please, this is just two-bit nominalism: "money" then is just the mechanism by which "you want someone else to pay""

"Unless there are ample unused resources, someone will have to pay."

The Fed proved in 2008 it has ample resources, created with keystrokes, without limits.

In normal times banks and private money markets create dollar-denominated credit at will; in a panic, the Fed backstops the private credit.

Thus, print to pay for social spending. Index incomes to price rises. You can print faster than prices will rise ...

[Oct 29, 2017] Wendy Brown's definition of neoliberalism: It is not simply a commitment to capitalism or to markets, but an effort to transform all spheres of human life in ways that render them amendable to economic calculation.

Notable quotes:
"... I believe discussion of Neoliberalism is very much like discussion of Global Warming. "Weedy" or not, "academic" or not both discussions require transit through some difficult concepts and technical depth. In the case of Global Warming discussions you either come to grips with some complicated climate science or you end up discussing matters of faith drawn from popular "simplifications". In the case of Neoliberalism the discussion necessarily enters a region which requires attention to fine details which when followed to their end tend to have deep and broad implications. ..."
"... The concept of a Thought Collective greatly aids understanding the particularly slippery nature of Neoliberalism as a term for discussion. That slippery nature is no accident. The Market as a theory of knowledge -- an epistemology -- makes apparent the philosophical even "religious" extent of Neoliberal thinking. ..."
"... I prefer Wendy Brown's definition of neoliberalism. It is not simply a commitment to capitalism or to markets, she argues, but an effort to transform all spheres of human life in ways that render them amendable to economic calculation. ..."
"... But "economic calculation" still understates the post-modern condition and tends toward looking for an outside origin, like Hayek/Friedman. Neoliberalism is something we are doing to ourselves, and Foucault's biopolitics makes this clear. You just don't separate the economic from the social and political. ..."
"... Twitter and Facebooks "likes and dislikes" are a form of (social) capital accumulation. Financialization has become ascendant because labour productivity is no longer measurable, and they need "fictitious" numbers to maintain hierarchy. ..."
"... Marxists understand that Hayek-Friedman neoliberalism is just another stage in the real subsumption of labor and completion of globalized capitalism. It is just liberalism after capitalism has finally destroyed traditionalism, nationalism, religion etc. ..."
Oct 29, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Jeremy Grimm , October 28, 2017 at 6:09 pm

I believe discussion of Neoliberalism is very much like discussion of Global Warming. "Weedy" or not, "academic" or not both discussions require transit through some difficult concepts and technical depth. In the case of Global Warming discussions you either come to grips with some complicated climate science or you end up discussing matters of faith drawn from popular "simplifications". In the case of Neoliberalism the discussion necessarily enters a region which requires attention to fine details which when followed to their end tend to have deep and broad implications.

In the interview referenced by this post Phillip Mirowski asserts Neoliberals believe the Market is an information processor which "knows" more than you or I could ever know. He also introduces the concept of a Thought Collective -- which he states he adapted from writings of Ludwig Fleck related to describing a method for study and explanation of the history of Science. I believe both these "weedy" "academic" distinctions are key to understanding Neoliberalism and distinguishing it from Neoclassical economics and Libertarianism. The concept of a Thought Collective greatly aids understanding the particularly slippery nature of Neoliberalism as a term for discussion. That slippery nature is no accident. The Market as a theory of knowledge -- an epistemology -- makes apparent the philosophical even "religious" extent of Neoliberal thinking.

Two recent papers by Phillip Mirowski tackle the difficulties in defining and discussing Neoliberalism. They are both "weedy" and "academic" and unfortunately help little in addressing the issue RabidGhandhi raised at the root of the lengthy thread beginning the comments to this post.
"The Political Movement that Dared not Speak its own Name: The Neoliberal Thought
Collective Under Erasure" 2014
[https://www.ineteconomics.org/research/research-papers/the-political-movement-that-dared-not-speak-its-own-name-the-neoliberal-thought-collective-under-erasure]
"This is Water (or is it Neoliberalism?)" 2016 -- this is a response to critics of the previous paper.
[https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspectives/blog/this-is-water-or-is-it-neoliberalism]

There have been several oblique references to this story -- so I'll repeat it since I only recently ran across it.
There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish
swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, "Morning, boys, how's the water?" And
the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, "What the hell is water?"

I am afraid that little story says volumes about the problem RabidGhandhi raised. I believe remaining "weedy" and "academic" is the very least service we might do to discussing Neoliberalism and when arguing topics related to Neoliberalism -- and probably the least damage.

likbez , October 29, 2017 at 1:58 am

Phillip Mirowski approach is not the only approach and it has its flaws. IMHO he exaggerates differences between neoliberal doctrine and neo-classical economics.

Some view neoliberalism as Trotskyism for rich and analogies look convincing, at least for me. See http://www.softpanorama.org/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Neoliberalism/neoliberalism_as_trotskyism_for_the_rich.shtml

That might be a more fruitful research approach.

Wendy Brown book is also very interesting and illuminating: https://www.amazon.com/Undoing-Demos-Neoliberalisms-Stealth-Revolution/dp/1935408534

nonclassical , October 29, 2017 at 3:58 am

..what was actually historically perpetrated, Chile', September 11, 1973, is (Naomi Klein) instructive:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTN5_Efx1n4

Jeremy Grimm , October 29, 2017 at 11:19 am

I went to the site you recommended and read through the very lengthy discussion of Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich. I believe the title of that discussion makes a reasonable summary of the definition of Neoliberalism you prefer and propose: Neoliberalism is Trotskyism for the rich. While there may be some groups in which this definition might be a useful formula for continuing discussion I doubt it would be of much use in discussing Neoliberalism in general.

Neoliberalism is slippery enough without bringing in a can-O-worms like Trotskyism -- and as I am not a Soviet style Marxist nor a student of Marxism and only vaguely familiar with the Russian revolutions the metaphor is as meaningless to me as a metaphor based on the gang-of-four with references to Maoism.

I disagree with your view that Mirowski exaggerates the differences between Neoliberal doctrine and Neoclassical economics. I don't recall the source but I do recall one of Mirowski's writings or videos did identify how Neoclassical economics is drifting toward Neoliberalism. Although both disciplines might advocate similar policies they differ in how they arrive at those policies. And I believe it Neoclassical economists think of economics at a tool for conducting policy while Neoliberals view their doctrines as guides for policy.

Mirowski -- at least as I read his paper -- tends to avoid making a formulaic definition of Neoliberalism and instead emphasizes what he views as its key doctrines. Those doctrines are what distinguishes Neoliberalism.

Temporarily Sane , October 29, 2017 at 5:59 am

I prefer Wendy Brown's definition of neoliberalism. It is not simply a commitment to capitalism or to markets, she argues, but an effort to transform all spheres of human life in ways that render them amendable to economic calculation.

bob mcmanus , October 29, 2017 at 8:37 am

Wendy Brown is very good. Remember she is also a critic of identity politics. She gets it.

bob mcmanus , October 29, 2017 at 12:06 pm

But "economic calculation" still understates the post-modern condition and tends toward looking for an outside origin, like Hayek/Friedman. Neoliberalism is something we are doing to ourselves, and Foucault's biopolitics makes this clear. You just don't separate the economic from the social and political.

Twitter and Facebooks "likes and dislikes" are a form of (social) capital accumulation. Financialization has become ascendant because labour productivity is no longer measurable, and they need "fictitious" numbers to maintain hierarchy.

Jodi Dean calls this the era of "Communicative Capitalism" wherein value creation has been democratized and we are ruled by the "circulation of commodified affect."

This is brutal. We create value when we like something or someone. We commodify it when we attempt to justify our affections in social settings and produce discourse to do so. It circulates when other people agree and spread the episteme. Why is it "Capitalism?" Because Facebook extracts surplus from your affections and discourse. Sociality and sociability are now major profit centers.

That's like everything, folks. Everything. Late-capitalism or neoliberalism is at least fast becoming a global totality without an outside or margin.

bob mcmanus , October 29, 2017 at 8:29 am

I come at this from a Marxist perspective, and so am very skeptical of liberalism. Neo-liberalism is simply liberalism after the last vestiges of traditionalist communitarian have disappeared.

I usually like Gaius Publius, but I don't like this article. Recently the French union reaction to Macron's labor reforms has the slogan to the effect that "We don't want that liberalism."

To understand neo-liberalism, you have to a) use the European meaning of liberalism, especially since the founders were European, b) you also have to connect the word with the full spectrum of what is "liberalism" as developed in the Early modern period by Hume, Locke, Smith, the American founders, John Stuart Mills, etc. Remember, during their times, both Burke and John C Calhoun were considered exemplary liberals. (See Domenico Losurdo.)

Neo-liberalism is no more limited to economics and markets than liberalism was. Neo-liberalism/liberalism, besides the right to property or the fruits of your labor (Locke also Marx) also includes the full panoply of rights and privileges (at least in theory) included in the Bill of Rights and the extension of those over time, and the right to property and market competition are inextricably connected to the other rights (free press, freedom to associate, gun rights, national self-determination, freedom from searches, etc). Inextricably, they cannot be separated.

Including individualistic rights over your body, for instance. The right to an abortion, gay marriage, freedom of choice, even the popularization of tattoos developed at the same time as the ascension of economic neoliberalism, which is inextricably connected to the "liberalization" of the social spheres.

Which is why it is the ocean we swim in and why it is so hard to fight and why Democrats and centrists and the identitarian "Left" dislike the word so much. Neoliberalism is just liberalism on steroids. Those who dislike the word want to de-liberalize (some of ) the markets and limit (some) property rights while retaining most of the individualism that liberalism allows. They don't want to be socialists.

Marxists understand that Hayek-Friedman neoliberalism is just another stage in the real subsumption of labor and completion of globalized capitalism. It is just liberalism after capitalism has finally destroyed traditionalism, nationalism, religion etc.

nonclassical , October 29, 2017 at 10:51 am

hmmmnnn while this, from article can be so defined:

"With their help, he began to create what Daniel Stedman Jones describes in Masters of the Universe as "a kind of neoliberal international" [a term modeled on "the Communist International]: a transatlantic network of academics, businessmen, journalists and activists. The movement's rich backers funded a series of thinktanks which would refine and promote the ideology. Among them were the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the Institute of Economic Affairs, the Centre for Policy Studies and the Adam Smith Institute. They also financed academic positions and departments, particularly at the universities of Chicago and Virginia."

FDR regulated capitalism, entirety of western "social democracies", stand in contrast (some might say, thankfully)

Philipbn , October 29, 2017 at 1:25 pm

For one of the strongest early analyses of the development of neoliberalism, see Foucault's 1978-79 Collège de France lectures, "The Birth of Biopolitics" (English translation 2008). The entire year is an extended review of and commentary on the the development of liberalism, or in Foucault's terms "liberal governmentality," and in particular of neo-liberalism

[Oct 29, 2017] What is neoliberalism? A market-based ideology willing to employ fascism to impose the conditions necessary to establish the market state. (ie, throwing people out of helicopters.) The state is co-opted to ensure rule of the Market.

Notable quotes:
"... The experience of every modern democratic nation-state proves that libertarianism is incompatible with democracy ..."
"... Libertarianism is the version of neoliberalism used to get teenagers hooked on markets. ..."
"... The only ray of hope is that neoliberalism seems, by stripping the vast majority of people of income and assets, to be wildly successful at suppressing aggregate demand and so contains the seeds of its own demise. Maybe. ..."
"... Too bad Mises and Hayek didn't live in the UK or France or US or Canada or other long established democracy; ..."
"... nobody's marching in the streets or even making a fuss about it ..."
Oct 29, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Enrique Bermudez , October 28, 2017 at 5:50 am

"Just deserts for predators and prey" – yes, very much this. I remember talking with my father about a year ago in a quasi-philosophical sense about where I felt western society had gone wrong. I could not quite adequately express the essence of my thoughts beyond "a fundamental devaluation of people as individuals."

I think it applies to foreign policy as well – however you want to put things. The ghouls/neocons/neolibs decide to start some regime change war somewhere. Hundreds of thousands/millions of the wrong people die. But the pipeline (or whatever) gets built on the correct parts of the map. No harm no foul and it's on to the next part of the giant "Risk" board.

Come to think, I actually quite like "ghoul" as a catch-all term for all these evil bastards. Can't remember where I first saw that – might have been here – but it fits.

David May , October 28, 2017 at 5:50 am

A good article on the neoliberal links to fascism:
Why libertarians apologize for autocracy
The experience of every modern democratic nation-state proves that libertarianism is incompatible with democracy by Michael Lind.

Libertarianism is the version of neoliberalism used to get teenagers hooked on markets.

David May , October 28, 2017 at 6:11 am

What is neoliberalism? A market-based ideology willing to employ fascism to impose the conditions necessary to establish the market state. (ie, throwing people out of helicopters.) The state is co-opted to ensure rule of the Market.

The value of everything, human life-included, is to be decided by the Market. (Except when the outcome is not favorable to the elite. Hence the need to takeover the state.)

The market state will impose Freedom™. Freedom™ means the law of the jungle and consequently many rebellious serfs, er, citizens unhappy with Freedom™. (Another reason the state will be needed – to reimpose Freedom™. That is, prison or maybe helicopter trips.)

allan , October 28, 2017 at 8:56 am

Whatever neoliberalism is, this is a perfect example of it:

A Student Loan Nightmare: The Teacher in the Wrong Payment Plan [NYT]

In 2015, he discovered that he was enrolled in a particular type of ineligible payment plan and would need to start his decade of payments all over again, even though he had been paying more each month than he would have if he had been in an eligible plan. Because of his 8.25 percent interest rate, which he could not refinance due to loan rules, even those higher payments weren't putting a dent in his principal. So the $70,000 or so that he did pay over the period amounted to nothing, and he'll most likely pay at least that much going forward.

So this is who we are now. For all sorts of reasons that made perfect sense at the time, we built additional repayment programs onto existing complexity onto well-meaning forgiveness overseen by multiple layers of responsible parties. And once that was done, Mr. Shafer, teacher of shelter dwellers and street kids and others whom fellow educators failed to reach, wasted a small fortune and will now shovel another one into the federal coffers.

Which leaves just one more question: If this is who we are, is it who we actually want to be?

Apparently, yes.

The only ray of hope is that neoliberalism seems, by stripping the vast majority of people of income and assets,
to be wildly successful at suppressing aggregate demand and so contains the seeds of its own demise. Maybe.

kurtismayfield , October 28, 2017 at 11:23 am

The only ray of hope is that neoliberalism seems, by stripping the vast majority of people of income and assets, to be wildly successful at suppressing aggregate demand and so contains the seeds of its own demise. Maybe.

Exactly.. once the majority are stripped of their assets and have to commit most of their income to rent, there *should* be no growth. Unless the entire system is running around asset inflation, which it is now. But that cannot last forever.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 3:46 pm

The only ray of hope is that neoliberalism seems, by stripping the vast majority of people of income and assets,
to be wildly successful at suppressing aggregate demand and so contains the seeds of its own demise. Maybe.

I don't think that this is what They are thinking. The 'make it up on volume' is a retailer strategy, our MOTU are playing well above wholesale and actually are not in the goods-transferring biz at all. Finance, you know. Long before we are all gone, eaten alive or whatever, They will be turning their sights on where the real money is -- each other. Perhaps a few corners of life will survive, and I am curious as to what the new life forms, if any, that emerge out of this sea of pesticides, herbicides, garbage, and too much CO2 will be. Academic question, of course. Perhaps this is why there is no evidence of other intelligent life in the universe? That's too depressing, I'm gonna go make some cinnamon toast.

Altandmain , October 28, 2017 at 9:27 am

What is the real purpose of neoliberalism?

To create a feudal aristocracy using pseudoscientific propaganda. The government uses a combination of tax policy, deregulation, the destruction of legal protections (ex: labour laws), privatization, free trade, mass immigration, propaganda, and frankly, blunt force where needed to slowly dismantle the middle class.

The end result is a society that looks something like Russia in the 1990s or perhaps South Africa, with very high inequality along with high multiculturalism.

Enforcement is not consistent. For example, low and middle class workers are expected to compete in terms of lowest wages and poorest job security with the developing world. Meanwhile, the very rich can do whatever they want and not pay much taxes. Intellectual property is another example of this inconsistency, and allows corporations to rent seek on their IP, itself often a product of taxpayer funded R&D or bought from a small company (witness how big pharmaceutical companies are guilty of both of these).

It isn't pretty, but that is the real goal.

Always keep in mind the purpose of propaganda is to build a narrative.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/01/13/why-ridiculous-official-propaganda-still-works/

It is not meant to be easily repeated, no matter how easily disproven. Neoliberalism is perhaps the most visible example.

Thuto , October 28, 2017 at 11:05 am

Very true, speaking specifically of South Africa where I live, your analysis of the situation hits the mark. We have an openly neoliberal opposition party that fashions itself as a pro-poor party yet even a cursory glance at its policy stance reveals where the dictates it shouts regularly from its benches originate, and whose interests it represents (it's certainly not the poor). It campaigns heavily for the gutting of labour laws while advocating for the destruction of local industries by coddling up to foreign investors and free trade cheerleaders. Yet nobody seems to see the contradiction, because, as Altandmain says above, it's all about building a narrative through propaganda with the media as an echo chamber (if people think media ownership in the US is concentrated, they must try visiting SA). And the trickle down economics myth is very much the dominant narrative down here, with the rich being worshipped as demigods who hold the fate of the country in their hands, and as such, must have carte blanche to do as they please

Thuto , October 28, 2017 at 9:48 am

Intellectual capture of the general populace by co-opting (read buying) academia and the msm to extol the virtues of neoliberalism is what allows its pernicious effects to spread like wildfire. Credentialism and the pretentious grounding of neoliberal discourse in pseudoscientific rigor discourages critique from ordinary, "non-expert" people and co-opts even these lemmings (queitly being marched to their demise) to defend its ideological soundness. The question i've always had is this: how do countries get grassroots movements against neoliberalism going when the precursor to success against it seems to be eliminating basic and functional illiteracy among the general population about its inner workings and the instruments it uses to legitimize its evils (e.g. propaganda)? Outside of niche communities like here at NC, most people seem to care more about the Kardashians than equipping themselves with the chops (financial, technical etc) to call BS on all this. And this seems to be a war that will require numbers to win, but how to get those numbers when so many people appear to be so enchanted by the supposed virtues of neoliberalism ("getting ahead", ruthless competition etc).

PS: Some of us here at NC live in developing countries and the tentacles of this ideology have proven to be no respector of borders, as such, imho said grassroots movements would necessarily have to be transnational by spreading beyond the heartlands of global capitalism (Western Europe & US/North America).

Katz , October 28, 2017 at 11:03 am

One of the most illuminating lines I've heard in recent years comes from Matt Stoller: "neoliberalism is statecraft."

That's not an idea readily accommodated by the rhetoric/ideology of neoliberalism, but it's extremely useful for seeing beyond of them.

flora , October 28, 2017 at 11:03 am

Great article. Now when I hear TV/Journalist commentators suggest the nation-state is useless and democracy is obsolete I will know their point of reference and unspoken arguments. I will also listen for what they do not report on or talk about. 'The dog that did not bark in the night.' Thanks for posting. Two things:

1.
"Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Both exiles from Austria, "

Austria in 1938 had no deep-rooted democratic history. It was part of the aristocratic Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918, when that collapsed post WWI. Hayek and Mises grounded their philosophy in their post-empire/post-autocratic-rule chaotic national experiences – unstable newly imposed democratic societies which previously had a long history of autocratic rule and a bad or poorly done recent (post WWI) transition to democracy. E.g. Post WWI Weimar Germany was chaos, as reported by on-the-ground correspondent William Shirer.

Mises and Hayek also applied their ideas to well-established older democratic nations. In context, their philosophy did not apply to the well-established democracies. If anything, Mises and Hayek assumed a strong central govt inevitably meant a 'strong man' govt and not a democratic govt, it seems.

2.
" Through the IMF, the World Bank, the Maastricht treaty and the World Trade Organisation, neoliberal policies were imposed – often without democratic consent – on much of the world."

The IMF and WTO and neoliberalism itself have become a 'strong man' or 'strong committee' supra-govt rule, imo. Neoliberalism's economic application has lead to the very conditions of weakening democracy and subjecting people to 'strong man/committee rule' Mises and Hayek tried to prevent by weakening the power of the nation-state, without regard to differences in nation-state governments and polity.

flora , October 28, 2017 at 12:20 pm

shorter neolib args:
All* strong govts lead to despotism. (*All? nope. false premise)

Weakening the power of all govt's will guard against despotism. (Really? nope. some forms of govt are a strong guard against despotism. false premise)

Replacing govt functions with market functions has no risk. (nope. see astronomical price increases in privatized govt services and deregulated markets. epi-pen?)

Therefore, weakening central govts and replacing their functions with private market solutions will be both risk free and guard against depotism. (False conclusion from false premises. And there are plenty of financially despotic markets.)

Too bad Mises and Hayek didn't live in the UK or France or US or Canada or other long established democracy; not perfect, always struggling to increase the franchise, but more accountable to citizens than markets.

JTMcPhee , October 28, 2017 at 1:12 pm

I'd urge all to read, and maybe re-read, the series of 6 or so articles posted by NC under the heading "Journey Into A Libertarian Future." The first article is here: https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/11/journey-into-a-libertarian-future-part-i-%e2%80%93the-vision.html

Substitute "neoliberal" for "Libertarian" and note the operations of "government-like organizations" that already are systems of systems of predators and parasites that cooperate (while snarling and snapping and biting at each other) to kill and loot and drive the rest of us I guess "libertarians," whatever that term means any more, might be part of the Enabling Class that provides "policy cover" and arguments in support of the rapine that is in play

flora , October 28, 2017 at 11:06 pm

Thanks very much for this link. I just read the entire series.
Chilling.
Normally I'd dismiss this sort of fevered certainty as lost-cause deadender writing.
The series was written 6 years ago; before the Kansas Real Time Experiment; Obamacare ACA insurance-companies-will-sort-this-out; proposed TPP and TTIP and ISDS (arbitration and insurance companies will sort it all out). Now talk of sea-steading and "island" cities and organized voter suppression.
Chilling developments when placed against libertarian, anti-democratic, rise-of-the-supermen manifestos.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 3:53 pm

My dear Flora, you have the outline of a book here. One I would be glad to read. How can I help?

flora , October 28, 2017 at 4:34 pm

Thankyou.

I've just listened to the Mirowski interview* linked in the main article. According to Mirowski it is the neo-classicals who want a weakened national govt, not the neo-liberals. So I've confused the two and need a rethink.

Mirowski says (paraphrasing) the neo-liberals " changed the idea of what a market is " and believe that " the market is a super information processor that knows more than any human ever could ." (My aside: This is irrational, but that doesn't stop them.) Therefore
Mere humans should be subordinate to the market because the individual can never know as much as the market and cannot even know himself outside of his relation to the market. (This is also irrational and sounds despotic to me. Sounds like saying a person should be subordinate to computer programs.)
Neo-liberals, therefore, want a strong national govt that they control to promote and expand markets and the market ideology/idolatry everywhere. (Where have I heard that sort of quazi-political/philosophical argument used before?)

* starts at the 6 min mark. 18 min mark "super information processor"

https://majority.fm/2014/06/26/626-philip-mirowski-how-neoliberalism-survived-the-financial-meltdown/#

grebo , October 28, 2017 at 9:28 pm

Too bad Mises and Hayek didn't live in the UK or France or US or Canada or other long established democracy;

They did. von Hayek spent the 30s and 40s in the UK, the 50s in the US and retired to West Germany. von Mises went to Switzerland in 1934 then the US in 1940 and stayed there. They were, of course, esconced in academia (ie. in their own minds) the whole time.

flora , October 28, 2017 at 11:07 pm

ah. I gave them a benefit of doubt they may not have deserved. Thanks.

Rod , October 28, 2017 at 11:27 am

here is a bit of the antidote–discussed 10/24 in NC regarding the efforts to restore Puerto Rico–

Farmers' groups are now calling for the proliferation of community-controlled agricultural cooperatives that would grow food for local consumption. Like the renewable energy micro-grids, it's a model that is far less vulnerable to supply-chain shocks like hurricanes -- and it has the additional benefit of generating local wealth and increasing self-sufficiency.
As with the solar-powered generators, Puerto Rico's farmers aren't waiting for the emergency to subside before beginning this transition. On the contrary, groups like Boricuá Organization for Ecological Agriculture have "agroecology brigades" traveling from community to community to deliver seeds and soil so that residents can begin planting crops immediately. Katia Avilés-Vázquez, one of Boricuá's farmers, said of a recent brigade: "Today I saw the Puerto Rico that I dream being born. This week I worked with those who are giving it birth."

The CoOperative movement emerged in the USA at the end of the 19th century to provide funding and resources where there was plenty of need but not too much profit to be made.

concrete stuff, not ism , October 28, 2017 at 12:03 pm

Isn´t this one of the problems with -isms in general? Communism also has a thousand meanings depending on who you talk with. Could be everything between the theoretical Marx-Engels version and the practical realities of Soviet Union/China and other countries claiming to be "communists".

It seems to me that neoliberalism has been so efficient in establish itself thanks to:
1) being implemented by military forces = the rest of the world outside Europe/US, and now being maintained through the thorough militarization of western societies: police, censorship etc.
2) not focusing on being and -ism/ideology but on concrete advises/policies presented in numbers/graphs (the mathematification of economics)
3) useful idiots in the form of the identity politicians: if they would have been focused and using their vast amount of energy on countering the maths of economics (before Steve Keen´s Debunking Economics), instead of counting how many oppressed minority identities can dance on the head of white middle-aged man, it would have been much more difficult to implement the neoliberal policies. Or it would have at least accelerated the militarization of western societies so that the clash between class interests will start, as they always do.

Maybe better to focus on concrete stuff in arguments, like,
– public ownership of energy and infrastructure in order to guarantee all citizens access. E.g. Sweden privatized energy production and distribution in the 90s. During one winter there wasn´t electricity enough to heat houses because the private companies had done away with excess capacity. Privatization/neoliberalism = not serving the society with electricity when the society needs it the most.
– Public healthcare, education etc. Every % of profit a company requires for the owners, this means the same % less to the citizens
and so on.

All good for me, but not for you is a key part of neoliberalism
http://exiledonline.com/monster-koch-bust-charles-koch-used-social-security-to-lure-friedrich-von-hayek-to-america/

Modern example, free health care for senators and senate, but not for the people.

marym , October 28, 2017 at 1:03 pm

OK with most of this, but members of congress and staff don't get free healthcare. Though members have access to some free services, they and some staff purchase insurance on an ACA exchange called. Other staff remain on the pre-ACA FEHB program in place for other federal employees. Both programs are employer (taxpayer) subsidized so they only pay a portion of their premiums, plus whatever their deductible is. For the ACA policies, to get the premium subsidy they need to choose a gold plan, so will have about 10% in copays.

https://www.snopes.com/members-congress-health-care/

Eclair , October 28, 2017 at 12:36 pm

Nice exposition of the term, neoliberalism, Gaius. Thank you.

I think I first began seeing the term about eight years ago, right after the financial meltdown. About five years ago, I proposed writing a series of pieces for a group that had arisen out of the Denver Occupy movement, kind of an "Ask a Neo-Liberal," column, but most people had never even heard of the term and when I did a bit of research, I just could not pin down definitions or examples.

So, how do we begin to counter the main tenets of neoliberalism: glorification of 'the market' as the arbiter of lives, with the resulting dominance of competition over cooperation and the atomization and breakdown of social ties; we live in a 'dog eat dog' world, only the strong survive, self-reliance got me where I am?

Some days I think that this creed is the natural result of a Planet that has exceeded its carrying capacity of humans. When there were far fewer humans, cooperation and strong social bonds were the only means of survival. Really. The development of Neo-liberalism is Nature's way of getting rid of us.

But, Neo-liberalism decrees that the survivors will be, at best, rapacious, aggressive and materialistic. At worst, they will be socio-paths. It's like the Planet if only jaguars, vultures and leeches, out of all our animal relatives, survived. Do we want that to happen? OK, I realize that some of us have just given up and are sitting back to watch the slow motion disaster unfold.

First, admit that under the current system, the vast majority of us are Prey, and the .01% are Apex Predators, hunting us down, ripping, squeezing and sucking the life (and our livelihoods) out of us. How do our animal relatives who are not equipped with claws, sharp teeth and muscles built for speed, survive?

We run even faster, we develop camouflage and hide, we grow armor, we refine cooperative social skills and live in enormous colonies, (preferably underground!) where our vast numbers and ability to mobilize for work and protection provide security, we develop symbiotic relationships with larger and stronger organisms (although some might label this as 'vichy-ism,') we become almost invisible, yet with a deadly sting or poisonous coating, and we realize that sometimes we have die so that other members of the group can survive.

And, we realize that the area in which we live, our little eco-system, is crucial to our survival. We don't mess it up.

shinola , October 28, 2017 at 12:48 pm

"Under a neoliberal regime, everyone gets what they deserve. Big fish deserve their meal. Little fish deserve their death. And government sets the table for the feast."

Used to be called Social Darwinism.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 3:57 pm

Yup. The new part is the govt setting the table, though.

DJG , October 28, 2017 at 1:04 pm

How to talk about neoliberalism, which is indeed a mouthful? I was at a dinner last night of two generations of UofChicago products (as am I). We all agreed that the "Law & Economics" movement there should be dismissed out of hand as plain stupidity. I think that we spend too much time imagining that there is some Ideal Marketplace of Ideas in which the good ideas drive out the bad. And then we come up against Facebook and Twitter. So one way of talking about it is that the law has to govern markets: Neoliberalism is lawlessness. You can have law or you can have looting.

And we've certainly seen plenty of lawlessness.

Another way is to call it unconstitutional, if your interlocutor knows the U.S. Constitution. The U.S Constitution doesn't have much to say about economics, and it doesn't assume that laissez-faire is a-okay.

Further on it being unconstitutional: The U.S. Constitution brilliantly foresaw the need for some kind of bureacracy to maintain the government, rather than a claque of courtiers. So it set up the Post Office–that bureaucratic agent of oppression, Uncle Mises! It called for a census and a Census Bureau–woe betide us Uncle Milton!

You can either have the U.S. Constitution with its flaws, or you can have people eating bagels with gold foil and telling you that markets rule our lives? So which is it?

Maybe we should just call neoliberalism Gold-Bagel-ism. The antidote, as mentioned above in the thread by commentes like marym, is to return to some discussion of our Commonwealth and what to do to maintain it.

BillC , October 28, 2017 at 1:55 pm

Like water to the fish.

For me, the most effective opener (both in the sense of opening discussion as well as the listener's mind) is to state that neoliberalism is to nearly everyone in the "developed" world (and beyond) like water for fish: it's the environment in which we live, and thus becomes invisible to us. Excellent elaboration from above: it's as if citizens of the USSR had never heard of the word "communism;" instead it's just how life works.

If we can get this opening across, then the definitions and explanations discussed above in this thread may be much more effective.

ex-PFC Chuck , October 28, 2017 at 8:25 pm

Thank you Gaius for a great post – and a thanks as well are due to the authors of the good comments. As I've been reading these it occurred to me that perhaps a good conversation starter would be to ask the person what they thought of Margaret Thatcher's remark, "There's no such thing as society. There are only individuals and families." You'll have to wing it from there depending on the responses you get.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 4:03 pm

I also wonder aloud to them, "Why it is that when individuals do whatever they want it is called lawlessnes or anarchy, Bad Things, but when corporations do whatever they want it is considered a Good Thing?"

WobblyTelomeres , October 28, 2017 at 9:03 pm

Something like this?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6mpHW3SMcc

[famous North Dallas 40 scene]

Barry , October 28, 2017 at 1:23 pm

The roots of neoliberalism in the Mont Pelerin Society is also well covered in MacLean's Democracy in Chains.

While I like this article, I disagree with the relationship of neoliberals to markets and to competition. Markets are held up to displace blame for decisions and policies made by men. The powerful use competition to explain why you deserve less and they deserve more, even when actual competition is not happening, and they actively work to prevent it.

Predators and prey do not compete for resources. A system that enshrines predation among humans is not based on a buyer and a seller making a transaction at the efficient price that maximizes each's utility and produces the best use of society's resources.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 4:13 pm

Agree, but for most of the people I talk to, that argument comes second. First I try to demonstrate that NeoLiberalism doing what it *says* it does is bad for us. Once they have that then I can proceed to 'NeoLiberalism doesn't even do what it says it does'. Although, I think that your point is a good first argument with small business people, "You mean that you think that your 5-employee cabinet shop makes you buddies with Elon Musk? (sub whatever rich guy your would aspire to be)" If the time seems right I might add, "He would have you on *toast*." If they think about that, they usually get it.

Barry , October 28, 2017 at 4:36 pm

I seldom even get to the point of being able to argue about these issues at all, much less take people thru the layers of consideration I've gone through over the years to reach my current model of how the world works.

I have been told that all of the books and weird websites that I read as I study a subject in depth are evidence that I lack objectivity about it and that people who know what they know from reading ordinary news have a clearer understanding than I.

TG , October 28, 2017 at 1:23 pm

"I suppose the neo-liberal philosophy could best be summed up by their rallying cry: the freedom to choose to own slaves."

"But that doesn't make sense. Freedom to choose is logically incompatible with slavery. And they never said that."

"Indeed. They would claim to be all for freedom, and against slavery. But if someone was profiting from owning slaves, they would fight tooth and nail to protect them, because any attempt at restricting the profits of slavery was seen as an intolerable corruption of the sacred free market. It was how they operated. Depending on what their rich patrons wanted at the time, sometimes they were all for free trade between the old nation states, and sometimes they demanded that the wealthy have the 'freedom' to restrict trade. It did not matter that what they said made no sense, or was logically incoherent, or at variance with reality. They never apologized, never explained, but only acted with total arrogance and self-confidence."

From "Space Battleship Scharnhorst and the Library of Doom."

Barry , October 28, 2017 at 3:59 pm

It makes sense if you believe in freedom to choose how to spend your money. How much choice you have, and how much choice you deserve to have, is measured fine-grain in dollars and cents. Other forms of power are deemed illegitimate.

it's sliding-scale individualism, where everyone is on their own, and wealth determines how much of an individual one is. The more of an individual you are, the more liberty you have, and liberty should be protected by the state.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 4:16 pm

Yes. I argue that one as "one dollar, one vote". People without a lot of dollars understand that on a gut level.

Barry , October 28, 2017 at 4:28 pm

I tend to think of "one dollar, one vote" when considering elections and politics; while at the same time neoliberalism is about interpersonal power without direct regard to the functioning of the state.

By this I mean that if, for example, Peter Thiel decides to spend his money to destroy you, and you don't have enough money to prevent it, then you deserve destruction. That's liberty. You're free to choose to spend your money defending yourself. Or not.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 4:46 pm

Exactly. People in a democracy have been raised to think that they count as much as the next person, no matter how rich or poor -- at least I hope that is till happening. Well, unless they are rich, who think they rightfully account for more. So when I say "one dollar, one vote" to poor/middle people (in an ironic sense, just so that is clear), they *feel* that it is not fair. If that catches, I point out that it goes against what they have been taught about how democracy works. I often bring this up in the context of campaign $$$ and Citizens United. It opposes the 'if they have the money then it's theirs' argument, aka 'the aristocratic' and 'it's his bat and ball'.

Scott , October 28, 2017 at 1:24 pm

For a long time now I have tried to reconstruct what it was in 1978 that convinced me it had become impossible to reform the United States.
Gaius has gotten me closer to a reconstruction of why I determined the only real solution was to create another nation, and kicked off what I recognize now as my own modeling.
My sense of what difference the goal is makes is a government that is just and fair for all citizens.
This is not the case in the neoliberal world is it. The goal of the neo-liberal world is to advance a milder form of scientific socialism, meaning the good people, well spoken well dressed no matter either in business or academia get the money for lives depicted on TV shows.
Working class people must become super humans to become educated and properly dressed to be accepted into a world of plenty and safety.
One thing I appreciate about Russians is a unique love of beauty. It is depressing that American's whole aesthetic sense revolves around cars and art is of no interest until it is ultra expensive.
Len Deighton's description of liberalism as developed in the 1840s which went on to mean the children of the newly enriched engineers who made hand built the Industrial Revolution making cotton underwear were given the money to for the schools of the old school rich people of Britain and all the rich people were in finance whether they came from old money or new money.
So I don't think of neoliberalism as about markets as much as I do think of it as the complete ascendancy of the parasites of Finance.
Creditors do not write down or write off debts of the working classes. Finance now has been given the US Treasury. Listening to Minuchin saying on the TV, in fact even seeing a face saying, "We must let the States Go and they have to make it on their own." Means there is simply no reason then to put any money by anyone into the US Treasury. The United States is just a huge military engaged in little and large wars all over the world anyway. Why ought anyone pay taxes to further the new owner of the Empire, Rome?
Deighton writes that since all the sewing machines and looms were moved to India, by the time the 19th Century ended Finance had gambled away all of the wealth of the UK.
"I like to play with debt, but it is tricky." Says Trump.
As long as you are the "Loss Payee" bankruptcy is as fine as any sort of success aye? "I don't pay taxes, I'm smart."
The aim is to lose all the money, then have it all given to you by the Treasury.
There is no citizenship of the World Citizen, or Jet Setter. They don't need any real citizenship.
For the majority, the nation matters. It may be the only thing they have of any value. The nation we are in love with it the nation that would go to defeat the Barbary Pirates over the capture of one US citizen, a stand in for you.
The one we have makes heroes and a President of the parasitical pirates come from neofeudalism.
In Texas even swords are coming back.

Ep3 , October 28, 2017 at 1:26 pm

Yves, great article, and loved the interview with Mirowski.

Here's the thing I see Neo-liberalism has done for society as a whole. If I asked you to "I present 2 humans before you and ask which one has more value to the world, which one, if there was only one hamburger left to eat, deserves to eat that sandwich, deserves to survive in a world with limited resources (which is what earth is), how would you go about choosing which one"? I am saying Neo-liberalism says "look at their wealth". It judges people by how much money/wealth they have. The only way to judge whether one human should survive over another is by the amount of money they make.
Jimmy Carter said in 1980 how we are moving as a society to how we rate a man is by the amount of money he has. If he was the proto-Neo-liberal, then it makes sense.

Barry , October 28, 2017 at 4:43 pm

One of the conceits of neo-liberalism (and I guess capitalism in general) is that how much wealth one has indicates how much one is owed for one's contribution to society (because markets allocate resources optimally). Thus the biggest takers are transformed into the biggest givers.

Wukchumni , October 28, 2017 at 4:46 pm

So if a UFO landed and little green men came out, they'd say:

"Lead me to your takers."

Wukchumni , October 28, 2017 at 1:39 pm

Neo-liberalism doesn't care or think all that much about it's actions, as long as they are profitable.

We have this ridiculous never ending series of wars and nobody's marching in the streets or even making a fuss about it, as we've accepted the premise as business as usual.

It has the feel of the Vietnam War still going in 1982, and nobody cared.

Other countries look at prisons as a necessary evil, whereas we can't have enough of them, so much so that we allow private companies the right to incarcerate our own citizens.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 4:56 pm

nobody's marching in the streets or even making a fuss about it

Lessee, last time I recall Big Street Protests was Occupy. They got shut down , brutally. NoDAPL, similar, even the Trump inauguration protests. Marches not reported -- they might as well not have happened. But I believe they really, really did happen.

Wukchumni , October 28, 2017 at 5:00 pm

An older friend was going to Cal State L.A. around 1970, when a good number of the student body decided to walk onto the nearby 10 freeway and shut it down, as a protest against the Vietnam War.

you seeing anything like that out there?

JBird , October 28, 2017 at 5:15 pm

We incarcerate so many because it is profitable as jobs program for voters in poor counties, slave labor for manufacturing, and profitable for corporations/donors.

Jeremy Grimm , October 28, 2017 at 6:09 pm

I believe discussion of Neoliberalism is very much like discussion of Global Warming. "Weedy" or not, "academic" or not both discussions require transit through some difficult concepts and technical depth. In the case of Global Warming discussions you either come to grips with some complicated climate science or you end up discussing matters of faith drawn from popular "simplifications". In the case of Neoliberalism the discussion necessarily enters a region which requires attention to fine details which when followed to their end tend to have deep and broad implications.

In the interview referenced by this post Phillip Mirowski asserts Neoliberals believe the Market is an information processor which "knows" more than you or I could ever know. He also introduces the concept of a Thought Collective -- which he states he adapted from writings of Ludwig Fleck related to describing a method for study and explanation of the history of Science. I believe both these "weedy" "academic" distinctions are key to understanding Neoliberalism and distinguishing it from Neoclassical economics and Libertarianism. The concept of a Thought Collective greatly aids understanding the particularly slippery nature of Neoliberalism as a term for discussion. That slippery nature is no accident. The Market as a theory of knowledge -- an epistemology -- makes apparent the philosophical even "religious" extent of Neoliberal thinking.

Two recent papers by Phillip Mirowski tackle the difficulties in defining and discussing Neoliberalism. They are both "weedy" and "academic" and unfortunately help little in addressing the issue RabidGhandhi raised at the root of the lengthy thread beginning the comments to this post.
"The Political Movement that Dared not Speak its own Name: The Neoliberal Thought
Collective Under Erasure" 2014
[https://www.ineteconomics.org/research/research-papers/the-political-movement-that-dared-not-speak-its-own-name-the-neoliberal-thought-collective-under-erasure]
"This is Water (or is it Neoliberalism?)" 2016 -- this is a response to critics of the previous paper.
[https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspectives/blog/this-is-water-or-is-it-neoliberalism]

There have been several oblique references to this story -- so I'll repeat it since I only recently ran across it.
There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish
swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, "Morning, boys, how's the water?" And
the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, "What the hell is water?"

I am afraid that little story says volumes about the problem RabidGhandhi raised. I believe remaining "weedy" and "academic" is the very least service we might do to discussing Neoliberalism and when arguing topics related to Neoliberalism -- and probably the least damage.

[Oct 28, 2017] Gaius Publius Defining Neoliberalism naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... Rabid, have you tried the term "market fundamentalists" or "market ideologues" with your three target audiences? Amongst both think tankers and regular folkz, (and possibly in Argentina too!) it is not usual to be happy to be considered a fundamentalist and ideologue, or to be associated too closely with such people. ..."
"... "Market Utopians", what sets NeoLiberalism apart is the faith that markets solve all problems. For markets to exist there must first be "money", a social institution, and "property ", another social institution and an enforcement mechanism mediating between the two. At this point the lack of primacy of markets, their necessary dependence on the prior existence of government leads to the question, "what is good government." This leads to the question of who's freedom good government should be concerned with. ..."
"... This has been my experience, as well. Often the Democrat is a Clinton apologist who can only perceive the term as somehow a slur against their Dear Leader, though they don't understand why. These people are hopeless. They will simply follow any politician with a (D) after their name who can win an election. Win over the rest of the people and such useless tools will just follow, regardless of ideology. ..."
"... "Just deserts for predators and prey" – yes, very much this. I remember talking with my father about a year ago in a quasi-philosophical sense about where I felt western society had gone wrong. I could not quite adequately express the essence of my thoughts beyond "a fundamental devaluation of people as individuals." ..."
"... The experience of every modern democratic nation-state proves that libertarianism is incompatible with democracy ..."
"... What is neoliberalism? A market-based ideology willing to employ fascism to impose the conditions necessary to establish the market state. (ie, throwing people out of helicopters.) The state is co-opted to ensure rule of the Market. The value of everything, human life-included, is to be decided by the Market. (Except when the outcome is not favorable to the elite. Hence the need to takeover the state.) ..."
"... The only ray of hope is that neoliberalism seems, by stripping the vast majority of people of income and assets, to be wildly successful at suppressing aggregate demand and so contains the seeds of its own demise. Maybe. ..."
"... Too bad Mises and Hayek didn't live in the UK or France or US or Canada or other long established democracy; ..."
"... nobody's marching in the streets or even making a fuss about it ..."
Oct 28, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Gaius Publius: Defining Neoliberalism Posted on October 28, 2017 by Yves Smith By Gaius Publius , a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius , Tumblr and Facebook . GP article archive here . Originally published at DownWithTyranny

For years I've been using the term "neoliberalism" (or sometimes neo-liberalism*) and I'm always uncomfortable, since it sounds so academic. So I usually add one-phrase definitions and move on. For example, this from a recent piece on Puerto Rico :

If neoliberalism is the belief that the proper role of government is to enrich the rich -- in Democratic circles they call it "wealth creation" to hide the recipients; Republicans are much more blatant -- then the "shock doctrine" is its action plan.

That's sounds pretty blunt, but it's a true statement, even among academics. See this great interview (start at about 6:15) with Professor Philip Miroski of the University of Notre Dame on how modern neoliberals have come to see the role of government in society. It's weedy but excellent.

I want to offer our readers a better description of neoliberalism though, yet not get into too many weeds. So consider these exceprts from a longer Guardian essay by the British writer George Monbiot . (My thanks to Naked Capitalism commenter nonclassical for the link and the idea for this piece.)

Neoliberalism -- The Invisible Water the West Is Swimming In

We'll start with Monbiot's brief intro, just to set the scope of the problem:

Imagine if the people of the Soviet Union had never heard of communism. The ideology that dominates our lives has, for most of us, no name. Mention it in conversation and you'll be rewarded with a shrug. Even if your listeners have heard the term before, they will struggle to define it. Neoliberalism: do you know what it is?

Ask people to define "neoliberalism," even if they've heard of it, and almost no one can. Yet the comparison of our governing ideology to that of the Soviet Union's is a good one -- like "communism," or the Soviet Union's version of it, neoliberalism defines and controls almost everything our government does, no matter which party is in office.

The Birth of Neoliberalism

What is neoliberalism and where did it come from? Monbiot writes:

The term neoliberalism was coined at a meeting in Paris in 1938. Among the delegates were two men who came to define the ideology, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Both exiles from Austria, they saw social democracy, exemplified by Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and the gradual development of Britain's welfare state, as manifestations of a collectivism that occupied the same spectrum as nazism and communism.

Neoliberalism is an explicit reaction to Franklin Roosevelt and the welfare state, which by a quirk of history was called "liberalism" at the time, even though, in the nineteenth century, "liberalism" had roughly the same meaning that "neoliberalism" has today. In other words, "FDR liberalism" is in many ways the opposite of classical "liberalism," which meant "liberty (freedom) from government," and a quirk of history has confused these terms.

Back to Monbiot and Hayek:

In The Road to Serfdom , published in 1944, Hayek argued that government planning, by crushing individualism, would lead inexorably to totalitarian control. Like Mises's book Bureaucracy , The Road to Serfdom was widely read. It came to the attention of some very wealthy people, who saw in the philosophy an opportunity to free themselves from regulation and tax. When, in 1947, Hayek founded the first organisation that would spread the doctrine of neoliberalism – the Mont Pelerin Society – it was supported financially by millionaires and their foundations.

With their help, he began to create what Daniel Stedman Jones describes in Masters of the Universe as "a kind of neoliberal international" [a term modeled on "the Communist International ]: a transatlantic network of academics, businessmen, journalists and activists. The movement's rich backers funded a series of thinktanks which would refine and promote the ideology. Among them were the American Enterprise Institute , the Heritage Foundation , the Cato Institute , the Institute of Economic Affairs , the Centre for Policy Studies and the Adam Smith Institute . They also financed academic positions and departments, particularly at the universities of Chicago and Virginia.

As it evolved, neoliberalism became more strident. Hayek's view that governments should regulate competition to prevent monopolies from forming gave way – among American apostles such as Milton Friedman – to the belief that monopoly power could be seen as a reward for efficiency.

Note the mention of Milton Friedman above. Neoliberalism is a bipartisan ideology, not just a Clintonist-Obamist one.

Democrats, Republicans and Neoliberalism

As Monbiot explains, for a while neoliberalism "lost its name" and was more or less a fringe ideology in a world still dominated by the ideas of John Maynard Keynes and Keynesian economics. When neoliberalism later came back strong in the Republican Party, it wasn't called "neoliberalism" but "Milton Friedman free market conservativism," or something similar.

Only when Bill Clinton and his Democratic Party allies adopted it in the 1980s did the term "neoliberal" re-emerge in public discourse.

[I]n the 1970s, when Keynesian policies began to fall apart and economic crises struck on both sides of the Atlantic, neoliberal ideas began to enter the mainstream. As Friedman remarked, "when the time came that you had to change there was an alternative ready there to be picked up". With the help of sympathetic journalists and political advisers, elements of neoliberalism, especially its prescriptions for monetary policy, were adopted by Jimmy Carter's administration in the US and Jim Callaghan's government in Britain.

After Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan took power, the rest of the package soon followed: massive tax cuts for the rich, the crushing of trade unions, deregulation, privatisation, outsourcing and competition in public services . Through the IMF, the World Bank, the Maastricht treaty and the World Trade Organisation, neoliberal policies were imposed – often without democratic consent – on much of the world. Most remarkable was its adoption among parties that once belonged to the left: Labour and the Democrats, for example. [emphasis added]

Note the role of Jimmy Carter and start of deregulation in the late 1970s. For that reason, many consider Jimmy Carter to be the "proto-neoliberal," both for the nation and the Democratic Party.

Neoliberalism -- "Just Deserts" for Predators and Prey

What makes "neoliberalism" or "free market conservatism" such a radical -- and destructive -- ideology? It reduces all human activity to economic competition. It creates and glorifies, in other words, a world of predators and prey, a world like the one we live in as today:

Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that "the market" delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.

In a world where competition is right and good, a world in which the "market" is the defining metaphor for human activity, all social ties are broken, the individual is an atom left to survive as an individual only, the strongest relentlessly consume the weakest -- and that's as it should be. (It's easy to imagine how the apex predators of our social order would be attracted to this, and insist on it with force.

Thus the bipartisan world we live in today. Under a neoliberal regime, everyone gets what they deserve. Big fish deserve their meal. Little fish deserve their death. And government sets the table for the feast.

The Role of Government in a Neoliberal World

Since for neoliberals, the "market" is the source of all that is good in human interaction, non-interference in "the market" is rule one for government.

Over time that has changed, however, as winners have grown more successful and their control of government more absolute. The proper role of government in today's neoliberal regime is not merely to allow the market to operate for the benefit of wealth-holders; it's to make sure the market operates for the benefit of wealth-holders.

In other words, the role of government is to intervene in the market on behalf of wealth-holders, or, as I put it more colloquially, to proactively enrich the rich. The interview with Professor Mirowski, as I noted above, makes that same point, but from an academic standpoint.

From this it should be also clear that until we free ourselves of rule by neoliberals and the pain and misery they create, we'll always be victims to the predatory giants -- the very very wealthy and the corporations they use as power-extenders -- those, in other words, who want merely to own everything else in the world.

This means we need to free ourselves from neoliberals in both parties, not just the ones in current seats of power. But that idea seems to have been excised from most discussions these days. Fair warning though. If the Age of Trump ends with the Restoration of Mainstream Democrats, we'll have won almost nothing at all.
____________

* I sometimes spell "neo-liberalism" with the hyphen to suggest the following connection: Neo-liberalism is "new liberalism," and has the same relationship to FDR liberalism as New Labour has to Labour -- the two are exactly opposite.

RabidGandhi , October 28, 2017 at 5:00 am

The burning question I have is how to deploy the terminology in discussion/debate. Here at NC and other similar sites, practically everyone knows what neoliberalism is and is solidly against it[1]. But outside of our own bubble, the term generally conveys no meaning whatsoever, for the following reasons:

(1) if I am speaking to policy-wonk types reared on "conventional wisdom", they tend to hear being anti-neoliberal as being anti-Copernican. The challenge to basic assumptions is outside of their window of acceptable ideas, so I am dismissed as a conspiracy wacko; all communication ends.

(2) If I am speaking to a Fox/Daily Mail/Clarín type, in my experience if they have even heard the term before, they generally draw no distinction between "Neoliberal" and "Liberal", so I can rail against the neoliberal capture of government regulatory powers, and I get nods of agreement "yes the hippies are taking over our public universities". Again, no real communication there.

(3) Lastly there is the case here in Argentina, where the word has not only been healthily peppered into the public discourse since at least 2000, but it was even a major rhetorical enemy of three successive governments. In this case, after so much experience and rhetoric, everyone knows that "neoliberalism" is bad and evil, but (since it is the assumed framework of interpretation, as GP notes) the consensus of what this neoliberalism we're fighting against really is becomes blurry. The evil any politician wants to inveigh against inevitably gets called "neoliberal", regardless of what the facts may actually be. All politicians here– even notably those most implicated in forcing neoliberalism on us in the 90s– now rail against evil "neoliberalism" and the evils of privatisation, even when nevertheless working to strengthen neoliberalism's actual tenets and re-entrench privatisation. In sum, the term has been co-opted beyond all meaning.

With all this mess in mind, I have to admit that I really only use the word amongst allies who I know share my understanding of the term. To do otherwise does not further the debate. Furthermore, in debates against stalwart neolibs, deploying the term and calling a privatised deregulated spade a neoliberal spade only has the effect of an ad-hominem; it may be technically spot-on, but it does nothing to convince the unswayed.

_______

[1] Except our token deficit hawk, PBUH.

UserFriendly , October 28, 2017 at 9:38 am

When in doubt I just define neoliberalism as putting markets first and trying to insert markets where they have no business being (e.g. obamacare). And of course send them here.

RabidGandhi , October 28, 2017 at 11:12 am

Yes I agree with you and with Strategist below: another (yet to be debased) term stressing an irrational religious fetish for markets would indeed be much more effective. Then again, as much as I love Lambert's post (and quote it here often myself), I do not see saying "go read this 2500 word article from some lefty site you've never heard of" as an argument that is going to win over most of my interlocutors.

Nell , October 28, 2017 at 11:54 am

If your desire is to persuade then you might want to try a different approach. Try giving a person the space to persuade themselves they have got it wrong. This is quite different from the academic approach – persuade by the logic of the presented argument. Instead be sympathetic and interested. Ask pertinent questions, don't preach, don't undermine with your superior knowledge. Still don't expect agreement at the time. People rarely change their minds at the drop of a hat. If they are genuine, then they will come around in their own time.

By the way, this is really hard to do and I am completely useless at it, but I have seen the effects of this approach first hand, and I have seen people change their mind.

SoCal Rhino , October 28, 2017 at 2:30 pm

I think you are right. And the parable of the sower comes to mind.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 3:20 pm

Well, ya know, you have to meet them where they are. Richard Wolff has a parable about a family dinner, after which the mother does not charge the family members, and the son does not offer to do the dishes for a fee. Some things we just give one another. Mostly people understand about social obligations at the family level.

I have used a similar argument with a libertarian friend. He is very generous with his family and friends and looks after their wellbeing in many ways. I tell him that I *totally* agree, it is just that, as a socialist, I have a broader definition of 'family and friends'. I think this helps us to understand one another.

I also describe the govt as a 'big buying club' (he is a Costco member, Sam's, etc. and clubs in with friends to buy bags of green coffee). As group buyers we can get really good deals on stuff we all need such as schools, roads, police, garbage removal and health care through group (I don't say 'collective') buying power *plus* we have input through our MP's and other elected representatives. Whereas, with private biz, we have to take whatever they want to give us, they skim as much off the top as they can, and if we don't like it we can call Customer Care in the Philippines. He hasn't come around totally to my viewpoint, but we are still on speaking terms.

Oh, he had refused to sign up for that socialized medicine OHIP card back when we had to pay premiums (all govt-pd now, no premiums anymore). He made good health choices, ate healthily, watched hi weight, exercised and proudly paid his doctor cash for checkups, by golly. Yeah, proud and free! Until he found an odd protrusion in his belly one day whilst showering, and found out how much a hernia repair cost. Went and got him that health card right away

I later bought him a Guinness and permitted myself to ask him how he was finding that socialized medicine.

Carla , October 28, 2017 at 8:55 pm

And what did he say???

Allegorio , October 28, 2017 at 3:49 pm

The term "market fundamentalism" comes to mind and conveys more meaning than neo-liberalism, since the term liberalism has come to be associated with "socially liberal" as opposed to "economically liberal". The phrase also implies dogmatic orthodoxy and cultism.

Strategist , October 28, 2017 at 10:45 am

Rabid, have you tried the term "market fundamentalists" or "market ideologues" with your three target audiences? Amongst both think tankers and regular folkz, (and possibly in Argentina too!) it is not usual to be happy to be considered a fundamentalist and ideologue, or to be associated too closely with such people.

Just a thought.

jsn , October 28, 2017 at 2:13 pm

"Market Utopians", what sets NeoLiberalism apart is the faith that markets solve all problems. For markets to exist there must first be "money", a social institution, and "property ", another social institution and an enforcement mechanism mediating between the two. At this point the lack of primacy of markets, their necessary dependence on the prior existence of government leads to the question, "what is good government." This leads to the question of who's freedom good government should be concerned with.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 3:27 pm

I widen my eyes and say, "Do you *really* want your life to be run by *ROGERS*?" Sub Comcast, PG&E, Bell, or whatever your local Big Biz that features arbitrary policies, high prices, poor service, pointless 'packages', surly customer service, long lines, circular voicemail and excellent shareholder value.

Katz , October 28, 2017 at 10:46 am

One type I seem to regularly encounter (on the internet, mostly) is the Democrat who's decided the term has no substantive meaning -- they perceive it to be a slur. Wrong as they are, the useful term is reduced to a shibboleth in their midst.

RabidGandhi , October 28, 2017 at 11:14 am

I totally agree. Bringing up the word "neoliberal" in such a conversation generally does more harm than good.

Big River Bandido , October 28, 2017 at 11:32 am

This has been my experience, as well. Often the Democrat is a Clinton apologist who can only perceive the term as somehow a slur against their Dear Leader, though they don't understand why. These people are hopeless. They will simply follow any politician with a (D) after their name who can win an election. Win over the rest of the people and such useless tools will just follow, regardless of ideology.

The people to actually use this as a line of argument with are those not yet assimilated by The Borg.

Working class people are especially amenable to this logic. This article has a lot of helpful rhetoric and metaphor for that purpose. I have actually had considerable luck explaining the ideology as "rule by the markets" or "public good sold off for private purposes"; by showing a few examples -- such as the constant attempts to destroy Social Security and Medicare; the cessation of Pell Grants and the commodification of education and health care; all the way down to the "privatization" (note the 5-syllable word) of Chicago's street parking and its deleterious effects on quality of life and the environment.

JBird , October 28, 2017 at 3:20 pm

So some posit that the word "neoliberal" is not a real word, but was invented just used to attack the Democratic Party, and often as a slur against its leadership in general, and the Clintons in particular; that reasoning reminds me of the extremist Republican partisans who argue that Nixon's Southern Strategy is a myth, and/or the modern Democratic Party is the same as the old Jim Crow Democratic Party, and that Lincoln's Republican Party was much the same as the current one.

Okay, but that is like not using the term "socialist" as in Socialism because some insist that the National Socialism in the National Socialist German Workers' Party. Words do have specific meanings, and the decision to discard neoliberal because some choose wilful ignorance is the same as discarding "liberal" because the Republican Party has used propaganda, more accurately said lies, to distort its meaning from the original American, or European, meanings. There has been a century long effort to smear, distort, change the meanings of words so that having an honest conversation becomes impossible and people's thoughts run along the approved mental paths.

Communism is Socialism is not Nazism. The Democratic Party is not synonymous with Neoliberalism, and certainly not Liberalism, or Leftist. Just as the Republican Party is not synonymous with Conservatism, or Libertarianism, or Rightist.

Working Class is not synonymous with the White Working Class. Being an American Nationalist is not the same as being a White Nationalist. The Alt-Right is not some new conservative movement. It's the old racist White Nationalists dressed up with a cutesy new label.

Conservative does not equal Racist. Liberal does not equal anti-racist, or equality. Just as the old Progressive Movement did not equal either.

The American Nation is not the same as the White Nation which is not the same as the Federal Government, let alone the American Government, which is not the same as the American Constitution, which is not the same as Human Rights.

Justice does not equal legal; legal does not equal fairness.

Free Market does not mean Capitalism, which does not mean Democracy. Those are three different things.

Words have meaning, and we either use them as they are meant in conversation, or we do not have a conversation. Maybe a shouting match, but not a conversation. If some Democrats want to deliberately be ignorant of the the etymology of neoliberalism, to heck with them.

Big River Bandido , October 28, 2017 at 11:44 am

I think we ought to be creative and devise our own new terms of debate. We ought to avoid overly-academic words. To avoid confusion, I think we should side-step the terms "liberal" and "neo-liberal" at least until the public imagination has been engaged.

The metaphor about "predator" and "prey" is excellent. So is the idea that when you idolize "markets", you are reducing human relations to a single dynamic: competition. We should incorporate these into our daily conversations with others. These two concepts can be powerful motivators for everyday Americans, and they are simple ideas that can be used to appeal to almost anyone regardless of literacy or prior political engagement/commitment.

marym , October 28, 2017 at 12:18 pm

We also need a language for the alternative: a concept of the commons. What should belong to (the public, the community, the workers ) and be administered for the common good? What do we want for ourselves that can best be provided if we provide it for everyone (healthcare by now being the most obvious)?

jrs , October 28, 2017 at 1:33 pm

honestly what does it even matter if people don't identify the water they are swimming in as neoliberalism and call it say capitalism instead? Most leftists do so, but so will many ordinary people (and so the young want socialism). Of course the term capitalism is broad enough to only add minimal clarity (except that it does add one real piece of clarity in identifying WHOM the system is run for the benefit of, although it excludes rentiers who of course play no small part). And so with ever evolving capitalism the Marxists may call it finance capitalism etc.

Market fundamentalism would indeed be a more useful term if that is what is being critiqued.

beth , October 28, 2017 at 9:46 pm

RabidGhandi: This is an important discussion. I agree that "neoliberal" is a stumbling block and not a word we can use to explain ourselves outside this community. I hope we revisit this problem regularly.

Maybe one way is to try a whole other direction outlined in Game of Mates written by two Australian economists, Cameron Murray and Paul Frijters.

Murray and Frijters explain how current Australian laws create a system that hurts Bruce while enriching James. AND IN THE SAME BOOK, they offer suggestions of how this could be changed. They use "James" to represent the few land developers who purchase the land and are granted rezoning permission or "grey gifts" while the "Bruces" do not benefit from the rezoning.

The authors do not present James as avaricious since the way the current rules and regulations are written anyone of us would do the same.

Since Australian regulatons parallel our own laws, I wish someone would "translate" the book for U.S. situations. Maybe NC geeks can do this but most people would not. Great book.

Sound of the Suburbs , October 28, 2017 at 5:11 am

What does Liberal mean?

It has two meanings and it is usually impossible to tell in which way it is being used.

1) Liberal as it was used in the 1950s – 1970s.
2) Liberal – neo-liberal / economically liberal

The early neo-liberals didn't like its 1950s -1970s connotations, later on they realised the benefits of obfuscating what they were up to.

A very right wing neo-liberalism is deliberately confused with a left wing liberalism to hide what they are up to.

Francis Fukuyama talked of liberal democracy, which sounded good. What he meant was neo-liberal democracy, which isn't.

How does identity politics work for neo-liberals? Imagine inequality plotted on two axes. Inequality between genders, races and cultures is what liberals have been concentrating on. This is the x-axis and the focus of identity politics and the liberal left. On the y-axis we have inequality from top to bottom.

2014 – "85 richest people as wealthy as poorest half of the world"
2016 – "Richest 62 people as wealthy as half of world's population"
2017 – Richest 8 people as wealthy as half of world's population

This is what the traditional left normally concentrate on, but as they have switched to identity politics this inequality has gone through the roof.

Labour (traditional left) – y-axis inequality
Liberal (liberal left) – x-axis inequality

George Soros is a [neo]liberal, can you work out why?

A liberal left leave neoliberals free to pursue an economically right wing agenda and push y-axis inequality to new extremes.

Enrique Bermudez , October 28, 2017 at 5:50 am

"Just deserts for predators and prey" – yes, very much this. I remember talking with my father about a year ago in a quasi-philosophical sense about where I felt western society had gone wrong. I could not quite adequately express the essence of my thoughts beyond "a fundamental devaluation of people as individuals."

I think it applies to foreign policy as well – however you want to put things. The ghouls/neocons/neolibs decide to start some regime change war somewhere. Hundreds of thousands/millions of the wrong people die. But the pipeline (or whatever) gets built on the correct parts of the map. No harm no foul and it's on to the next part of the giant "Risk" board.

Come to think, I actually quite like "ghoul" as a catch-all term for all these evil bastards. Can't remember where I first saw that – might have been here – but it fits.

David May , October 28, 2017 at 5:50 am

A good article on the neoliberal links to fascism: Why libertarians apologize for autocracy
The experience of every modern democratic nation-state proves that libertarianism is incompatible with democracy by Michael Lind.

Libertarianism is the version of neoliberalism used to get teenagers hooked on markets.

David May , October 28, 2017 at 6:11 am

What is neoliberalism? A market-based ideology willing to employ fascism to impose the conditions necessary to establish the market state. (ie, throwing people out of helicopters.) The state is co-opted to ensure rule of the Market. The value of everything, human life-included, is to be decided by the Market. (Except when the outcome is not favorable to the elite. Hence the need to takeover the state.)

The market state will impose Freedom™. Freedom™ means the law of the jungle and consequently many rebellious serfs, er, citizens unhappy with Freedom™. (Another reason the state will be needed – to reimpose Freedom™. That is, prison or maybe helicopter trips.)

allan , October 28, 2017 at 8:56 am

Whatever neoliberalism is, this is a perfect example of it:

A Student Loan Nightmare: The Teacher in the Wrong Payment Plan [NYT]

In 2015, he discovered that he was enrolled in a particular type of ineligible payment plan and would need to start his decade of payments all over again, even though he had been paying more each month than he would have if he had been in an eligible plan. Because of his 8.25 percent interest rate, which he could not refinance due to loan rules, even those higher payments weren't putting a dent in his principal. So the $70,000 or so that he did pay over the period amounted to nothing, and he'll most likely pay at least that much going forward.

So this is who we are now. For all sorts of reasons that made perfect sense at the time, we built additional repayment programs onto existing complexity onto well-meaning forgiveness overseen by multiple layers of responsible parties. And once that was done, Mr. Shafer, teacher of shelter dwellers and street kids and others whom fellow educators failed to reach, wasted a small fortune and will now shovel another one into the federal coffers.

Which leaves just one more question: If this is who we are, is it who we actually want to be?

Apparently, yes.

The only ray of hope is that neoliberalism seems, by stripping the vast majority of people of income and assets,
to be wildly successful at suppressing aggregate demand and so contains the seeds of its own demise. Maybe.

kurtismayfield , October 28, 2017 at 11:23 am

The only ray of hope is that neoliberalism seems, by stripping the vast majority of people of income and assets, to be wildly successful at suppressing aggregate demand and so contains the seeds of its own demise. Maybe.

Exactly.. once the majority are stripped of their assets and have to commit most of their income to rent, there *should* be no growth. Unless the entire system is running around asset inflation, which it is now. But that cannot last forever.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 3:46 pm

The only ray of hope is that neoliberalism seems, by stripping the vast majority of people of income and assets,
to be wildly successful at suppressing aggregate demand and so contains the seeds of its own demise. Maybe.

I don't think that this is what They are thinking. The 'make it up on volume' is a retailer strategy, our MOTU are playing well above wholesale and actually are not in the goods-transferring biz at all. Finance, you know. Long before we are all gone, eaten alive or whatever, They will be turning their sights on where the real money is -- each other. Perhaps a few corners of life will survive, and I am curious as to what the new life forms, if any, that emerge out of this sea of pesticides, herbicides, garbage, and too much CO2 will be. Academic question, of course. Perhaps this is why there is no evidence of other intelligent life in the universe? That's too depressing, I'm gonna go make some cinnamon toast.

Altandmain , October 28, 2017 at 9:27 am

What is the real purpose of neoliberalism?

To create a feudal aristocracy using pseudoscientific propaganda. The government uses a combination of tax policy, deregulation, the destruction of legal protections (ex: labour laws), privatization, free trade, mass immigration, propaganda, and frankly, blunt force where needed to slowly dismantle the middle class.

The end result is a society that looks something like Russia in the 1990s or perhaps South Africa, with very high inequality along with high multiculturalism.

Enforcement is not consistent. For example, low and middle class workers are expected to compete in terms of lowest wages and poorest job security with the developing world. Meanwhile, the very rich can do whatever they want and not pay much taxes. Intellectual property is another example of this inconsistency, and allows corporations to rent seek on their IP, itself often a product of taxpayer funded R&D or bought from a small company (witness how big pharmaceutical companies are guilty of both of these).

It isn't pretty, but that is the real goal.

Always keep in mind the purpose of propaganda is to build a narrative.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/01/13/why-ridiculous-official-propaganda-still-works/

It is not meant to be easily repeated, no matter how easily disproven. Neoliberalism is perhaps the most visible example.

Thuto , October 28, 2017 at 11:05 am

Very true, speaking specifically of South Africa where I live, your analysis of the situation hits the mark. We have an openly neoliberal opposition party that fashions itself as a pro-poor party yet even a cursory glance at its policy stance reveals where the dictates it shouts regularly from its benches originate, and whose interests it represents (it's certainly not the poor). It campaigns heavily for the gutting of labour laws while advocating for the destruction of local industries by coddling up to foreign investors and free trade cheerleaders. Yet nobody seems to see the contradiction, because, as Altandmain says above, it's all about building a narrative through propaganda with the media as an echo chamber (if people think media ownership in the US is concentrated, they must try visiting SA). And the trickle down economics myth is very much the dominant narrative down here, with the rich being worshipped as demigods who hold the fate of the country in their hands, and as such, must have carte blanche to do as they please

Thuto , October 28, 2017 at 9:48 am

Intellectual capture of the general populace by co-opting (read buying) academia and the msm to extol the virtues of neoliberalism is what allows its pernicious effects to spread like wildfire. Credentialism and the pretentious grounding of neoliberal discourse in pseudoscientific rigor discourages critique from ordinary, "non-expert" people and co-opts even these lemmings (queitly being marched to their demise) to defend its ideological soundness. The question i've always had is this: how do countries get grassroots movements against neoliberalism going when the precursor to success against it seems to be eliminating basic and functional illiteracy among the general population about its inner workings and the instruments it uses to legitimize its evils (e.g. propaganda)? Outside of niche communities like here at NC, most people seem to care more about the Kardashians than equipping themselves with the chops (financial, technical etc) to call BS on all this. And this seems to be a war that will require numbers to win, but how to get those numbers when so many people appear to be so enchanted by the supposed virtues of neoliberalism ("getting ahead", ruthless competition etc).

PS: Some of us here at NC live in developing countries and the tentacles of this ideology have proven to be no respector of borders, as such, imho said grassroots movements would necessarily have to be transnational by spreading beyond the heartlands of global capitalism (Western Europe & US/North America).

Katz , October 28, 2017 at 11:03 am

One of the most illuminating lines I've heard in recent years comes from Matt Stoller: "neoliberalism is statecraft."

That's not an idea readily accommodated by the rhetoric/ideology of neoliberalism, but it's extremely useful for seeing beyond of them.

flora , October 28, 2017 at 11:03 am

Great article. Now when I hear TV/Journalist commentators suggest the nation-state is useless and democracy is obsolete I will know their point of reference and unspoken arguments. I will also listen for what they do not report on or talk about. 'The dog that did not bark in the night.' Thanks for posting. Two things:

1.
"Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Both exiles from Austria, "

Austria in 1938 had no deep-rooted democratic history. It was part of the aristocratic Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918, when that collapsed post WWI. Hayek and Mises grounded their philosophy in their post-empire/post-autocratic-rule chaotic national experiences – unstable newly imposed democratic societies which previously had a long history of autocratic rule and a bad or poorly done recent (post WWI) transition to democracy. E.g. Post WWI Weimar Germany was chaos, as reported by on-the-ground correspondent William Shirer.

Mises and Hayek also applied their ideas to well-established older democratic nations. In context, their philosophy did not apply to the well-established democracies. If anything, Mises and Hayek assumed a strong central govt inevitably meant a 'strong man' govt and not a democratic govt, it seems.

2.
" Through the IMF, the World Bank, the Maastricht treaty and the World Trade Organisation, neoliberal policies were imposed – often without democratic consent – on much of the world."

The IMF and WTO and neoliberalism itself have become a 'strong man' or 'strong committee' supra-govt rule, imo. Neoliberalism's economic application has lead to the very conditions of weakening democracy and subjecting people to 'strong man/committee rule' Mises and Hayek tried to prevent by weakening the power of the nation-state, without regard to differences in nation-state governments and polity.

flora , October 28, 2017 at 12:20 pm

shorter neolib args:
All* strong govts lead to despotism. (*All? nope. false premise)

Weakening the power of all govt's will guard against despotism. (Really? nope. some forms of govt are a strong guard against despotism. false premise)

Replacing govt functions with market functions has no risk. (nope. see astronomical price increases in privatized govt services and deregulated markets. epi-pen?)

Therefore, weakening central govts and replacing their functions with private market solutions will be both risk free and guard against depotism. (False conclusion from false premises. And there are plenty of financially despotic markets.)

Too bad Mises and Hayek didn't live in the UK or France or US or Canada or other long established democracy; not perfect, always struggling to increase the franchise, but more accountable to citizens than markets.

JTMcPhee , October 28, 2017 at 1:12 pm

I'd urge all to read, and maybe re-read, the series of 6 or so articles posted by NC under the heading "Journey Into A Libertarian Future." The first article is here: https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/11/journey-into-a-libertarian-future-part-i-%e2%80%93the-vision.html

Substitute "neoliberal" for "Libertarian" and note the operations of "government-like organizations" that already are systems of systems of predators and parasites that cooperate (while snarling and snapping and biting at each other) to kill and loot and drive the rest of us I guess "libertarians," whatever that term means any more, might be part of the Enabling Class that provides "policy cover" and arguments in support of the rapine that is in play

flora , October 28, 2017 at 11:06 pm

Thanks very much for this link. I just read the entire series.
Chilling.
Normally I'd dismiss this sort of fevered certainty as lost-cause deadender writing.
The series was written 6 years ago; before the Kansas Real Time Experiment; Obamacare ACA insurance-companies-will-sort-this-out; proposed TPP and TTIP and ISDS (arbitration and insurance companies will sort it all out). Now talk of sea-steading and "island" cities and organized voter suppression.
Chilling developments when placed against libertarian, anti-democratic, rise-of-the-supermen manifestos.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 3:53 pm

My dear Flora, you have the outline of a book here. One I would be glad to read. How can I help?

flora , October 28, 2017 at 4:34 pm

Thankyou.

I've just listened to the Mirowski interview* linked in the main article. According to Mirowski it is the neo-classicals who want a weakened national govt, not the neo-liberals. So I've confused the two and need a rethink.

Mirowski says (paraphrasing) the neo-liberals " changed the idea of what a market is " and believe that " the market is a super information processor that knows more than any human ever could ." (My aside: This is irrational, but that doesn't stop them.) Therefore
Mere humans should be subordinate to the market because the individual can never know as much as the market and cannot even know himself outside of his relation to the market. (This is also irrational and sounds despotic to me. Sounds like saying a person should be subordinate to computer programs.)
Neo-liberals, therefore, want a strong national govt that they control to promote and expand markets and the market ideology/idolatry everywhere. (Where have I heard that sort of quazi-political/philosophical argument used before?)

* starts at the 6 min mark. 18 min mark "super information processor"

https://majority.fm/2014/06/26/626-philip-mirowski-how-neoliberalism-survived-the-financial-meltdown/#

grebo , October 28, 2017 at 9:28 pm

Too bad Mises and Hayek didn't live in the UK or France or US or Canada or other long established democracy;

They did. von Hayek spent the 30s and 40s in the UK, the 50s in the US and retired to West Germany. von Mises went to Switzerland in 1934 then the US in 1940 and stayed there. They were, of course, esconced in academia (ie. in their own minds) the whole time.

flora , October 28, 2017 at 11:07 pm

ah. I gave them a benefit of doubt they may not have deserved. Thanks.

Rod , October 28, 2017 at 11:27 am

here is a bit of the antidote–discussed 10/24 in NC regarding the efforts to restore Puerto Rico–

Farmers' groups are now calling for the proliferation of community-controlled agricultural cooperatives that would grow food for local consumption. Like the renewable energy micro-grids, it's a model that is far less vulnerable to supply-chain shocks like hurricanes -- and it has the additional benefit of generating local wealth and increasing self-sufficiency.
As with the solar-powered generators, Puerto Rico's farmers aren't waiting for the emergency to subside before beginning this transition. On the contrary, groups like Boricuá Organization for Ecological Agriculture have "agroecology brigades" traveling from community to community to deliver seeds and soil so that residents can begin planting crops immediately. Katia Avilés-Vázquez, one of Boricuá's farmers, said of a recent brigade: "Today I saw the Puerto Rico that I dream being born. This week I worked with those who are giving it birth."

The CoOperative movement emerged in the USA at the end of the 19th century to provide funding and resources where there was plenty of need but not too much profit to be made.

concrete stuff, not ism , October 28, 2017 at 12:03 pm

Isn´t this one of the problems with -isms in general? Communism also has a thousand meanings depending on who you talk with. Could be everything between the theoretical Marx-Engels version and the practical realities of Soviet Union/China and other countries claiming to be "communists".

It seems to me that neoliberalism has been so efficient in establish itself thanks to:
1) being implemented by military forces = the rest of the world outside Europe/US, and now being maintained through the thorough militarization of western societies: police, censorship etc.
2) not focusing on being and -ism/ideology but on concrete advises/policies presented in numbers/graphs (the mathematification of economics)
3) useful idiots in the form of the identity politicians: if they would have been focused and using their vast amount of energy on countering the maths of economics (before Steve Keen´s Debunking Economics), instead of counting how many oppressed minority identities can dance on the head of white middle-aged man, it would have been much more difficult to implement the neoliberal policies. Or it would have at least accelerated the militarization of western societies so that the clash between class interests will start, as they always do.

Maybe better to focus on concrete stuff in arguments, like,
– public ownership of energy and infrastructure in order to guarantee all citizens access. E.g. Sweden privatized energy production and distribution in the 90s. During one winter there wasn´t electricity enough to heat houses because the private companies had done away with excess capacity. Privatization/neoliberalism = not serving the society with electricity when the society needs it the most.
– Public healthcare, education etc. Every % of profit a company requires for the owners, this means the same % less to the citizens
and so on.

All good for me, but not for you is a key part of neoliberalism
http://exiledonline.com/monster-koch-bust-charles-koch-used-social-security-to-lure-friedrich-von-hayek-to-america/

Modern example, free health care for senators and senate, but not for the people.

marym , October 28, 2017 at 1:03 pm

OK with most of this, but members of congress and staff don't get free healthcare. Though members have access to some free services, they and some staff purchase insurance on an ACA exchange called. Other staff remain on the pre-ACA FEHB program in place for other federal employees. Both programs are employer (taxpayer) subsidized so they only pay a portion of their premiums, plus whatever their deductible is. For the ACA policies, to get the premium subsidy they need to choose a gold plan, so will have about 10% in copays.

https://www.snopes.com/members-congress-health-care/

Eclair , October 28, 2017 at 12:36 pm

Nice exposition of the term, neoliberalism, Gaius. Thank you.

I think I first began seeing the term about eight years ago, right after the financial meltdown. About five years ago, I proposed writing a series of pieces for a group that had arisen out of the Denver Occupy movement, kind of an "Ask a Neo-Liberal," column, but most people had never even heard of the term and when I did a bit of research, I just could not pin down definitions or examples.

So, how do we begin to counter the main tenets of neoliberalism: glorification of 'the market' as the arbiter of lives, with the resulting dominance of competition over cooperation and the atomization and breakdown of social ties; we live in a 'dog eat dog' world, only the strong survive, self-reliance got me where I am?

Some days I think that this creed is the natural result of a Planet that has exceeded its carrying capacity of humans. When there were far fewer humans, cooperation and strong social bonds were the only means of survival. Really. The development of Neo-liberalism is Nature's way of getting rid of us.

But, Neo-liberalism decrees that the survivors will be, at best, rapacious, aggressive and materialistic. At worst, they will be socio-paths. It's like the Planet if only jaguars, vultures and leeches, out of all our animal relatives, survived. Do we want that to happen? OK, I realize that some of us have just given up and are sitting back to watch the slow motion disaster unfold.

First, admit that under the current system, the vast majority of us are Prey, and the .01% are Apex Predators, hunting us down, ripping, squeezing and sucking the life (and our livelihoods) out of us. How do our animal relatives who are not equipped with claws, sharp teeth and muscles built for speed, survive?

We run even faster, we develop camouflage and hide, we grow armor, we refine cooperative social skills and live in enormous colonies, (preferably underground!) where our vast numbers and ability to mobilize for work and protection provide security, we develop symbiotic relationships with larger and stronger organisms (although some might label this as 'vichy-ism,') we become almost invisible, yet with a deadly sting or poisonous coating, and we realize that sometimes we have die so that other members of the group can survive.

And, we realize that the area in which we live, our little eco-system, is crucial to our survival. We don't mess it up.

shinola , October 28, 2017 at 12:48 pm

"Under a neoliberal regime, everyone gets what they deserve. Big fish deserve their meal. Little fish deserve their death. And government sets the table for the feast."

Used to be called Social Darwinism.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 3:57 pm

Yup. The new part is the govt setting the table, though.

DJG , October 28, 2017 at 1:04 pm

How to talk about neoliberalism, which is indeed a mouthful? I was at a dinner last night of two generations of UofChicago products (as am I). We all agreed that the "Law & Economics" movement there should be dismissed out of hand as plain stupidity. I think that we spend too much time imagining that there is some Ideal Marketplace of Ideas in which the good ideas drive out the bad. And then we come up against Facebook and Twitter. So one way of talking about it is that the law has to govern markets: Neoliberalism is lawlessness. You can have law or you can have looting.

And we've certainly seen plenty of lawlessness.

Another way is to call it unconstitutional, if your interlocutor knows the U.S. Constitution. The U.S Constitution doesn't have much to say about economics, and it doesn't assume that laissez-faire is a-okay.

Further on it being unconstitutional: The U.S. Constitution brilliantly foresaw the need for some kind of bureacracy to maintain the government, rather than a claque of courtiers. So it set up the Post Office–that bureaucratic agent of oppression, Uncle Mises! It called for a census and a Census Bureau–woe betide us Uncle Milton!

You can either have the U.S. Constitution with its flaws, or you can have people eating bagels with gold foil and telling you that markets rule our lives? So which is it?

Maybe we should just call neoliberalism Gold-Bagel-ism. The antidote, as mentioned above in the thread by commentes like marym, is to return to some discussion of our Commonwealth and what to do to maintain it.

BillC , October 28, 2017 at 1:55 pm

Like water to the fish.

For me, the most effective opener (both in the sense of opening discussion as well as the listener's mind) is to state that neoliberalism is to nearly everyone in the "developed" world (and beyond) like water for fish: it's the environment in which we live, and thus becomes invisible to us. Excellent elaboration from above: it's as if citizens of the USSR had never heard of the word "communism;" instead it's just how life works.

If we can get this opening across, then the definitions and explanations discussed above in this thread may be much more effective.

ex-PFC Chuck , October 28, 2017 at 8:25 pm

Thank you Gaius for a great post – and a thanks as well are due to the authors of the good comments. As I've been reading these it occurred to me that perhaps a good conversation starter would be to ask the person what they thought of Margaret Thatcher's remark, "There's no such thing as society. There are only individuals and families." You'll have to wing it from there depending on the responses you get.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 4:03 pm

I also wonder aloud to them, "Why it is that when individuals do whatever they want it is called lawlessnes or anarchy, Bad Things, but when corporations do whatever they want it is considered a Good Thing?"

WobblyTelomeres , October 28, 2017 at 9:03 pm

Something like this?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6mpHW3SMcc

[famous North Dallas 40 scene]

Barry , October 28, 2017 at 1:23 pm

The roots of neoliberalism in the Mont Pelerin Society is also well covered in MacLean's Democracy in Chains.

While I like this article, I disagree with the relationship of neoliberals to markets and to competition. Markets are held up to displace blame for decisions and policies made by men. The powerful use competition to explain why you deserve less and they deserve more, even when actual competition is not happening, and they actively work to prevent it.

Predators and prey do not compete for resources. A system that enshrines predation among humans is not based on a buyer and a seller making a transaction at the efficient price that maximizes each's utility and produces the best use of society's resources.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 4:13 pm

Agree, but for most of the people I talk to, that argument comes second. First I try to demonstrate that NeoLiberalism doing what it *says* it does is bad for us. Once they have that then I can proceed to 'NeoLiberalism doesn't even do what it says it does'. Although, I think that your point is a good first argument with small business people, "You mean that you think that your 5-employee cabinet shop makes you buddies with Elon Musk? (sub whatever rich guy your would aspire to be)" If the time seems right I might add, "He would have you on *toast*." If they think about that, they usually get it.

Barry , October 28, 2017 at 4:36 pm

I seldom even get to the point of being able to argue about these issues at all, much less take people thru the layers of consideration I've gone through over the years to reach my current model of how the world works.

I have been told that all of the books and weird websites that I read as I study a subject in depth are evidence that I lack objectivity about it and that people who know what they know from reading ordinary news have a clearer understanding than I.

TG , October 28, 2017 at 1:23 pm

"I suppose the neo-liberal philosophy could best be summed up by their rallying cry: the freedom to choose to own slaves."

"But that doesn't make sense. Freedom to choose is logically incompatible with slavery. And they never said that."

"Indeed. They would claim to be all for freedom, and against slavery. But if someone was profiting from owning slaves, they would fight tooth and nail to protect them, because any attempt at restricting the profits of slavery was seen as an intolerable corruption of the sacred free market. It was how they operated. Depending on what their rich patrons wanted at the time, sometimes they were all for free trade between the old nation states, and sometimes they demanded that the wealthy have the 'freedom' to restrict trade. It did not matter that what they said made no sense, or was logically incoherent, or at variance with reality. They never apologized, never explained, but only acted with total arrogance and self-confidence."

From "Space Battleship Scharnhorst and the Library of Doom."

Barry , October 28, 2017 at 3:59 pm

It makes sense if you believe in freedom to choose how to spend your money. How much choice you have, and how much choice you deserve to have, is measured fine-grain in dollars and cents. Other forms of power are deemed illegitimate.

it's sliding-scale individualism, where everyone is on their own, and wealth determines how much of an individual one is. The more of an individual you are, the more liberty you have, and liberty should be protected by the state.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 4:16 pm

Yes. I argue that one as "one dollar, one vote". People without a lot of dollars understand that on a gut level.

Barry , October 28, 2017 at 4:28 pm

I tend to think of "one dollar, one vote" when considering elections and politics; while at the same time neoliberalism is about interpersonal power without direct regard to the functioning of the state.

By this I mean that if, for example, Peter Thiel decides to spend his money to destroy you, and you don't have enough money to prevent it, then you deserve destruction. That's liberty. You're free to choose to spend your money defending yourself. Or not.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 4:46 pm

Exactly. People in a democracy have been raised to think that they count as much as the next person, no matter how rich or poor -- at least I hope that is till happening. Well, unless they are rich, who think they rightfully account for more. So when I say "one dollar, one vote" to poor/middle people (in an ironic sense, just so that is clear), they *feel* that it is not fair. If that catches, I point out that it goes against what they have been taught about how democracy works. I often bring this up in the context of campaign $$$ and Citizens United. It opposes the 'if they have the money then it's theirs' argument, aka 'the aristocratic' and 'it's his bat and ball'.

Scott , October 28, 2017 at 1:24 pm

For a long time now I have tried to reconstruct what it was in 1978 that convinced me it had become impossible to reform the United States.
Gaius has gotten me closer to a reconstruction of why I determined the only real solution was to create another nation, and kicked off what I recognize now as my own modeling.
My sense of what difference the goal is makes is a government that is just and fair for all citizens.
This is not the case in the neoliberal world is it. The goal of the neo-liberal world is to advance a milder form of scientific socialism, meaning the good people, well spoken well dressed no matter either in business or academia get the money for lives depicted on TV shows.
Working class people must become super humans to become educated and properly dressed to be accepted into a world of plenty and safety.
One thing I appreciate about Russians is a unique love of beauty. It is depressing that American's whole aesthetic sense revolves around cars and art is of no interest until it is ultra expensive.
Len Deighton's description of liberalism as developed in the 1840s which went on to mean the children of the newly enriched engineers who made hand built the Industrial Revolution making cotton underwear were given the money to for the schools of the old school rich people of Britain and all the rich people were in finance whether they came from old money or new money.
So I don't think of neoliberalism as about markets as much as I do think of it as the complete ascendancy of the parasites of Finance.
Creditors do not write down or write off debts of the working classes. Finance now has been given the US Treasury. Listening to Minuchin saying on the TV, in fact even seeing a face saying, "We must let the States Go and they have to make it on their own." Means there is simply no reason then to put any money by anyone into the US Treasury. The United States is just a huge military engaged in little and large wars all over the world anyway. Why ought anyone pay taxes to further the new owner of the Empire, Rome?
Deighton writes that since all the sewing machines and looms were moved to India, by the time the 19th Century ended Finance had gambled away all of the wealth of the UK.
"I like to play with debt, but it is tricky." Says Trump.
As long as you are the "Loss Payee" bankruptcy is as fine as any sort of success aye? "I don't pay taxes, I'm smart."
The aim is to lose all the money, then have it all given to you by the Treasury.
There is no citizenship of the World Citizen, or Jet Setter. They don't need any real citizenship.
For the majority, the nation matters. It may be the only thing they have of any value. The nation we are in love with it the nation that would go to defeat the Barbary Pirates over the capture of one US citizen, a stand in for you.
The one we have makes heroes and a President of the parasitical pirates come from neofeudalism.
In Texas even swords are coming back.

Ep3 , October 28, 2017 at 1:26 pm

Yves, great article, and loved the interview with Mirowski.

Here's the thing I see Neo-liberalism has done for society as a whole. If I asked you to "I present 2 humans before you and ask which one has more value to the world, which one, if there was only one hamburger left to eat, deserves to eat that sandwich, deserves to survive in a world with limited resources (which is what earth is), how would you go about choosing which one"? I am saying Neo-liberalism says "look at their wealth". It judges people by how much money/wealth they have. The only way to judge whether one human should survive over another is by the amount of money they make.
Jimmy Carter said in 1980 how we are moving as a society to how we rate a man is by the amount of money he has. If he was the proto-Neo-liberal, then it makes sense.

Barry , October 28, 2017 at 4:43 pm

One of the conceits of neo-liberalism (and I guess capitalism in general) is that how much wealth one has indicates how much one is owed for one's contribution to society (because markets allocate resources optimally). Thus the biggest takers are transformed into the biggest givers.

Wukchumni , October 28, 2017 at 4:46 pm

So if a UFO landed and little green men came out, they'd say:

"Lead me to your takers."

Wukchumni , October 28, 2017 at 1:39 pm

Neo-liberalism doesn't care or think all that much about it's actions, as long as they are profitable.

We have this ridiculous never ending series of wars and nobody's marching in the streets or even making a fuss about it, as we've accepted the premise as business as usual.

It has the feel of the Vietnam War still going in 1982, and nobody cared.

Other countries look at prisons as a necessary evil, whereas we can't have enough of them, so much so that we allow private companies the right to incarcerate our own citizens.

HotFlash , October 28, 2017 at 4:56 pm

nobody's marching in the streets or even making a fuss about it

Lessee, last time I recall Big Street Protests was Occupy. They got shut down , brutally. NoDAPL, similar, even the Trump inauguration protests. Marches not reported -- they might as well not have happened. But I believe they really, really did happen.

Wukchumni , October 28, 2017 at 5:00 pm

An older friend was going to Cal State L.A. around 1970, when a good number of the student body decided to walk onto the nearby 10 freeway and shut it down, as a protest against the Vietnam War.

you seeing anything like that out there?

JBird , October 28, 2017 at 5:15 pm

We incarcerate so many because it is profitable as jobs program for voters in poor counties, slave labor for manufacturing, and profitable for corporations/donors.

Jeremy Grimm , October 28, 2017 at 6:09 pm

I believe discussion of Neoliberalism is very much like discussion of Global Warming. "Weedy" or not, "academic" or not both discussions require transit through some difficult concepts and technical depth. In the case of Global Warming discussions you either come to grips with some complicated climate science or you end up discussing matters of faith drawn from popular "simplifications". In the case of Neoliberalism the discussion necessarily enters a region which requires attention to fine details which when followed to their end tend to have deep and broad implications.

In the interview referenced by this post Phillip Mirowski asserts Neoliberals believe the Market is an information processor which "knows" more than you or I could ever know. He also introduces the concept of a Thought Collective -- which he states he adapted from writings of Ludwig Fleck related to describing a method for study and explanation of the history of Science. I believe both these "weedy" "academic" distinctions are key to understanding Neoliberalism and distinguishing it from Neoclassical economics and Libertarianism. The concept of a Thought Collective greatly aids understanding the particularly slippery nature of Neoliberalism as a term for discussion. That slippery nature is no accident. The Market as a theory of knowledge -- an epistemology -- makes apparent the philosophical even "religious" extent of Neoliberal thinking.

Two recent papers by Phillip Mirowski tackle the difficulties in defining and discussing Neoliberalism. They are both "weedy" and "academic" and unfortunately help little in addressing the issue RabidGhandhi raised at the root of the lengthy thread beginning the comments to this post.

"The Political Movement that Dared not Speak its own Name: The Neoliberal Thought
Collective Under Erasure" 2014
[https://www.ineteconomics.org/research/research-papers/the-political-movement-that-dared-not-speak-its-own-name-the-neoliberal-thought-collective-under-erasure]

"This is Water (or is it Neoliberalism?)" 2016 -- this is a response to critics of the previous paper.
[https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspectives/blog/this-is-water-or-is-it-neoliberalism]

There have been several oblique references to this story -- so I'll repeat it since I only recently ran across it.
There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish
swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, "Morning, boys, how's the water?" And
the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, "What the hell is water?"

I am afraid that little story says volumes about the problem RabidGhandhi raised. I believe remaining "weedy" and "academic" is the very least service we might do to discussing Neoliberalism and when arguing topics related to Neoliberalism -- and probably the least damage.

[Oct 16, 2017] The Limits of Neoliberalism Authority, Sovereignty and the Logic of Competition by William Davies

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Faced with this mess, the obituarists for neoliberalism are out again. Some I recognise from 2008 - the definition of a left-wing economist being one who has spotted ten out of the last two crises of capitalism. Others have joined them, perhaps spurred on by the Brexit vote, or the rise of Donald Trump or the nice-sounding promises made by Theresa May. ..."
"... This is where, I think, we need to pay close attention to a key dimension of neoliberalism, which I focus on at length in this book, namely competition. One of my central arguments here is that neoliberalism is not simply reducible to 'market fundamentalism', even if there are areas (such as financial markets) where markets have manifestly attained greater reach and power since the mid1970s. Instead, the neoliberal state takes the principle of competition and the ethos of competitiveness (which historically have been found in and around markets), and seeks to reorganise society around them. Quite how competition and competitiveness are defined and politically instituted is a matter for historical and theoretical exploration, which is partly what The Limits of Neoliberalism seeks to do. But at the bare minimum, organising social relations in terms of competition' means that individuals, organisations, cities, regions and nations are to be tested in terms of their capacity to out-do each other. Not only that, but the tests must be considered fair in some way, if the resulting inequalities are to be recognised as legitimate. When applied to individuals, this ideology is often known as 'meritocracy'. ..."
"... Under these neoliberal conditions, remorse becomes directed inwards, producing the depressive psychological effect (or what Freud termed 'melancholia') whereby people search inside themselves for the source of their own unhappiness and imperfect lives (Davies, 2015). Viewed from within the cultural logic of neoliberalism, uncompetitive regions, individuals or communities are not just 'left behind by globalisation', but are discovered to be inferior in comparison to their rivals, just like the contestants ejected from a talent show. Rising household indebtedness compounds this process for those living in financial precarity, by forcing individuals to pay for their own past errors, illness or sheer bad luck ..."
"... Hardship itself doesn't necessarily lead to the hopelessness and fury of which Donald Trump seemingly speaks. But when hardship feels both permanent and undeserved, the psychological appeal of demagogues promising to divert blame elsewhere, be it towards Muslims, 'experts', immigrants, the Chinese, Brussels or wherever, becomes irresistible. Seemingly irrational or even nihilistic popular upheavals make some sense, if understood in terms of the relief they offer for those who have felt trapped by their own impotence for too long, with nobody available to blame but themselves. ..."
"... Statistical studies have shown how societies such as Britain and the United States have become afflicted by often inexplicable rising mortality rates amongst the white working class, connected partly to rising suicide rates, alcohol and drug abuse (Dorling, 2016). The Washington Post identified close geographic correlations between this trend and support for Donald Trump (Guo, 2016). In sum, a moral-economic system aimed at identifying and empowering the most competitive people, institutions and places has become targeted, rationally or otherwise, by the vast number of people, institutions and places that have suffered not only the pain of defeat but the punishment of defeat for far too long. ..."
"... The re-emergence of national borders as obstacles to the flow r of goods, finance, services and above all people, represents at least an interruption in the vision of globalisation that accompanied the heyday of neoliberal policy making between 1989-2008. If events such as Brexit signal the first step towards greater national mercantilism and protectionism, then we may be witnessing far more profound transformations in our model of political economy, the consequences of which could become very ugly. ..."
"... Once governments (and publics) no longer view economics as the best test of optimal policies, then opportunities for post-liberal experimentation expand rapidly, with unpredictable and potentially frightening consequences. It was telling that, when the British Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, suggested in October 2016 that companies be compelled to publicly list their foreign workers, she defended this policy as a 'nudge'. ..."
"... The Limits of Neolibcralism is a piece of interpretive sociology. It starts from the recognition that neoliberalism rests on claims to legitimacy, which it is possible to imagine as valid, even for critics of this system. Inspired by Luc Boltanski, the book assumes that political-economic systems typically need to offer certain limited forms of hope, excitement and fairness in order to survive, and cannot operate via domination and exploitation alone. ..."
"... The attempt to reduce all of human life to economic calculation runs up against limits. A political rationality that fails to recognise politics as a distinctive sphere of human existence was always going to be dumbfounded, once that sphere took on its own extra-economic life. As Bob Dylan sang to Mr Jones, so one might now say to neoliberal intellectuals or technocrats: 'something is happening here, but you don't know what it is'. ..."
Oct 16, 2017 | www.amazon.com

Foreword

... ... ...

The crash has sharpened the central contradiction in neoliberal economics: it has become purely a system that rewards dead money even while it fails to create new money. No ideology can survive unless it has something to offer the young and the almost young. You cant keep winning elections if you cant promise reasonable jobs, wage rises, affordable groceries and housing. Put another way, you can have neoliberalism but you cant have democratic validity.

This is the contradiction over which mainstream politicians wedded to neoliberalism - both left and Right - keep stumbling. Where they can, they rely on the old tricks to get by: operating party machinery, access to big money funders, consulting the manual of TV presentability. But the formula isn't reliable, as the New Labour generation can tell you. And where it can deliver majorities it doesn't confer legitimacy, as David Cameron and Hilary Clinton now know.

Faced with this mess, the obituarists for neoliberalism are out again. Some I recognise from 2008 - the definition of a left-wing economist being one who has spotted ten out of the last two crises of capitalism. Others have joined them, perhaps spurred on by the Brexit vote, or the rise of Donald Trump or the nice-sounding promises made by Theresa May.

I understand the thinking and I certainly get the thinking. But to imagine that an ideology that has ruled Britain for longer than Yugoslavia was communist will now just fall apart is sheer fantasy. It is to mistake word for deed, symbolism for policy. In Brexit Britain, not much has changed yet except for rhetoric. The Treasury continues with its austerity programme; the government presses on with its privatisations of whatever is left in public hands, from social housing to the Green Investment Bank; the establishment still hankers after those grand free-trade deals such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). True, there is more talk now about those 'left behind' by globalization, but the very phrasing gives away how shallow the concern is - this is your fault for not keeping up.

Besides, politics is never a simple test of logic. Winning or exercising power is not a chess game. As Will Davies points out in this book, neoliberalism began as, and largely remains, an elite project. What four decades of neoliberalism in practice have achieved is the bulldozing of many sites of dissent. To see what I mean, visit any of the places in Britain that have done worst out of it - from the North East to South Wales. The regional business elites have nearly all died or fled to London. The trade unions are a shadow of their former selves, as are the fierce tenants' associations. The universities are now largely anodyne. The local newspapers are typically mere repositories of agency copy and local advertisements, while the regional BBC studios have either shrunk or consolidated elsewhere. Without such civic institutions there is no hope of building an alternative.

The answer to neoliberalism isn't another ideology. It certainly isn't a Mont Pelerin Society of the Left, which would surely be as ghastly as it sounds. No, the answer is democracy. Without that, we will continue with the same bankrupt ideology -- expecting failure, and not being surprised or even angry' any more when it comes.

Adilya Chakrabortty

Senior Economics Commentator, The Guardian

Introduction

When exploring paradigm shifts in political economy, maybe it makes more sense to identify how protracted crises were book-ended historically than to seek specific turning points. Consider the crisis of Keynesianism, which provided the opening for the neoliberal take-over and overhaul of economic policy, including those Thatcher and Reagan victories. 1968 was a critical year, not only for the civic unrest that swept the world, but also for the early signs that the US economy would be unable to sustain its role in the global financial system on which Keynesian domestic policies depended. A slow-down in US productivity growth that year, combined with the fiscal costs of an escalation of the Vietnam war, meant that the dollar started to come under increased strain. The 'Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates, with the dollar (convertible to gold) at its centre, struggled on for another five years, before being abandoned under Richard Nixon.

It was a further three years before the final death-knell of Keynesianism was sounded, most loudly in Britain. In 1976, Britain's Labour government had to turn to the IMF for a loan, and agreed to adopt a new monetarist, neoliberal strategy for restoring the public finances. That September, Jim Callaghan, the leader of the Labour Party, famously addressed his party conference with the words:

... ... ...

In one sense, the 'book-ends' of this recent crisis are the inverse of the ones that killed Keynesianism. 1968 was a year of political and civic uprisings, under circumstances of rising prosperity and a still relatively coherent paradigm for economic policy making, albeit one that was showing early signs of deterioration. It was a public and political crisis, which posed a threat to a society of rising prosperity and falling inequality. The technical failings of Keynesianism only really emerged subsequently, before snowballing to the point where the macroeconomic paradigm could simply not be sustained any longer.

The crisis of neoliberalism has reversed this ordering. 2008 was an implosion of technical capabilities on the part of banks and financial regulators, which was largely unaccompanied by any major political or civic eruption, at least until the consequences were felt in terms of public sector cuts that accelerated after 2010, especially in Southern Europe. The economic crisis was spookily isolated from any accompanying political crisis, at least in the beginning. The eruptions of 2016 therefore represented the long-awaited politicisation and publicisation of a crisis that, until then, had been largely dealt with by the same cadre of experts whose errors had caused it in the first place.

Faced with these largely unexpected events and the threat of more, politicians and media pundits have declared that we now need to listen to those people 'left behind by globalisation. Following the Brexit referendum, in her first speech as Prime Minister, Theresa May made a vow to the less prosperous members of society, 'we will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives. When we take the big calls, we'll think not of the powerful, but you.' This awakening to the demands and voices of marginalised demographics may represent a new recognition that economic policy cannot be wholly geared around the pursuit of 'national competitiveness' in the global race', a pursuit that in practice meant seeking to prioritise the interests of financial services and mobile capital. It signals mainstream political acceptance that inequality cannot keep rising forever. But it is still rooted in a somewhat economistic vision of politics, as if those people 'left behind by globalisation' simply want more material wealth and 'opportunity', plus fewer immigrants competing for jobs. What this doesn't do is engage with the distinctive political and cultural sociology of events such as Brexit and Trump, which are fuelled by a spirit of rage, punishment and self-punishment, and not simply by a desire to get a slightly larger slice of the pie.

This is where, I think, we need to pay close attention to a key dimension of neoliberalism, which I focus on at length in this book, namely competition. One of my central arguments here is that neoliberalism is not simply reducible to 'market fundamentalism', even if there are areas (such as financial markets) where markets have manifestly attained greater reach and power since the mid1970s. Instead, the neoliberal state takes the principle of competition and the ethos of competitiveness (which historically have been found in and around markets), and seeks to reorganise society around them. Quite how competition and competitiveness are defined and politically instituted is a matter for historical and theoretical exploration, which is partly what The Limits of Neoliberalism seeks to do. But at the bare minimum, organising social relations in terms of competition' means that individuals, organisations, cities, regions and nations are to be tested in terms of their capacity to out-do each other. Not only that, but the tests must be considered fair in some way, if the resulting inequalities are to be recognised as legitimate. When applied to individuals, this ideology is often known as 'meritocracy'.

The appeal of this as a political template for society is that, according to its advocates, it involves the discovery of brilliant ideas, more efficient business models, naturally talented individuals, new urban visions, successful national strategies, potent entrepreneurs and so on. Even if this is correct (and the work of Thomas Piketty on how wealth begets wealth is enough to cast considerable doubt on it) there is a major defect: it consigns the majority of people, places, businesses and institutions to the status of'losers'. The normative and existential conventions of a neoliberal society stipulate that success and prowess are things that are earned through desire, effort and innate ability, so long as social and economic institutions are designed in such a way as to facilitate this. But the corollary of this is that failure and weakness are also earned: when individuals and communities fail to succeed, this is a reflection of inadequate talent or energy on their part.

This has been critically noted in how 'dependency' and 'welfare' have become matters of shame since the conservative political ascendency of the 1980s. But this is just one example of how a culture of obligatory competitiveness exerts a damaging moral psychology, not only in how people look down on others, but in how they look down on themselves. A culture which valorises 'winning' and 'competitiveness' above all else provides few sources of security or comfort, even to those doing reasonably well. Everyone could be doing better, and if they're not, they have themselves to blame. The vision of society as a competitive game also suggests that anyone could very quickly be doing worse.

Under these neoliberal conditions, remorse becomes directed inwards, producing the depressive psychological effect (or what Freud termed 'melancholia') whereby people search inside themselves for the source of their own unhappiness and imperfect lives (Davies, 2015). Viewed from within the cultural logic of neoliberalism, uncompetitive regions, individuals or communities are not just 'left behind by globalisation', but are discovered to be inferior in comparison to their rivals, just like the contestants ejected from a talent show. Rising household indebtedness compounds this process for those living in financial precarity, by forcing individuals to pay for their own past errors, illness or sheer bad luck (Davies, Montgomerie 8t Wallin, 2015).

In order to understand political upheavals such as Brexit, we need to perform some sociological interpretation. We need to consider that our socio-economic pathologies do not simply consist in the fact that opportunity and wealth are hoarded by certain industries (such as finance) or locales (such as London) or individuals (such as the children of the wealthy), although all of these things are true. We need also to reflect on the cultural and psychological implications of how this hoarding has been represented and justified over the past four decades, namely that it reflects something about the underlying moral worth of different populations and individuals.

Hardship itself doesn't necessarily lead to the hopelessness and fury of which Donald Trump seemingly speaks. But when hardship feels both permanent and undeserved, the psychological appeal of demagogues promising to divert blame elsewhere, be it towards Muslims, 'experts', immigrants, the Chinese, Brussels or wherever, becomes irresistible. Seemingly irrational or even nihilistic popular upheavals make some sense, if understood in terms of the relief they offer for those who have felt trapped by their own impotence for too long, with nobody available to blame but themselves.

One psychological effect of this is authoritarian attitudes towards social deviance: Brexit and Trump supporters both have an above-average tendency to support the death penalty, combined with a belief that political authorities are too weak to enforce justice (Kaufman, 2016). However, it is also clear that psychological and physical pain have become far more widespread in neoliberal societies than has been noticed by most people. Statistical studies have shown how societies such as Britain and the United States have become afflicted by often inexplicable rising mortality rates amongst the white working class, connected partly to rising suicide rates, alcohol and drug abuse (Dorling, 2016). The Washington Post identified close geographic correlations between this trend and support for Donald Trump (Guo, 2016). In sum, a moral-economic system aimed at identifying and empowering the most competitive people, institutions and places has become targeted, rationally or otherwise, by the vast number of people, institutions and places that have suffered not only the pain of defeat but the punishment of defeat for far too long.

NEOLIBERALISM: DEAD OR ALIVE?

The question inevitably arises, is this thing called 'neoliberalism' now over? And if not, when might it be and how would w r e know? In the UK, the prospect of Brexit combined with the political priority of reducing immigration means that the efficient movement of capital (together with that of labour) is being consciously impeded in a w r ay that would have been unthinkable during the 1990s and early 2000s. The re-emergence of national borders as obstacles to the flow r of goods, finance, services and above all people, represents at least an interruption in the vision of globalisation that accompanied the heyday of neoliberal policy making between 1989-2008. If events such as Brexit signal the first step towards greater national mercantilism and protectionism, then we may be witnessing far more profound transformations in our model of political economy, the consequences of which could become very ugly.

Before we reach that point, it is already possible to identify a reorientation of national economic policy making away from some core tenets of neoliberal doctrine. One of the main case studies of this book is antitrust law and policy, which has been a preoccupation for neoliberal intellectuals, reformers and lawyers ever since the 1930s. The rise of the Chicago School view of competition (which effectively granted far greater legal rights to monopolists, while also being tougher on cartels) in the American legal establishment from the 1970s onwards, later repeated in the European Commission, meant that market regulation became a more expert, esoteric and ostensibly non-political means of power. One of the ideals of neoliberal scholars, both in the Austrian tradition of Friedrich Hayek and the Chicago School of Milton Friedman, was that the economic 'rules of the game' be established beyond the reach of democratic politics, where they might be manipulated to suit particular short-sighted intellectual, social or political agendas. Independent central banks are one of the more prominent examples of this, but the establishment of rational, apolitical and European-wide antitrust and state aid rules would be another.

As I explore in Chapter 5, the banking crisis caused some immediate damage to this vision of apolitical, permanent rules of competitive economic activity. The need to rescue the financial system at all costs saw EU state aid rules being overlooked, at least for a few months, suggesting that neoliberalism entered a state of'exception where the state took rapid executive decisions, wherever they were deemed necessary. Takeover rules were suspended to allow banks to buy failing competitors, again on the basis that this was necessary to secure the existential viability of the economy as such. But as is common in the state of 'exception, this was all done to preserve the status quo on the basis that an emergency had struck. It wasn't done with the aim of transforming the economic paradigm.

While anti-trust and state aid are only one small area of European Commission powers, they are symbolically very important. Competition regulations represent the normative ideal of the marketplace, which - in the case of post-war Europe - is imagined as an international, even post-national space of freedom, transcending cultural, linguistic and political differences. The liberal vision of cosmopolitan Europe becomes realised in economic institutions such as the single currency, but also the rules that govern market competitors. For these reasons, Britain's post-Brexit opportunity to withdraw from European anti-trust and state-aid regulations is symbolic of the new post-liberal or post-neoliberal era that is emerging. Already, Theresa May has used her first few speeches as UK Prime Minister to push for a more interventionist state, that seeks to shape economic outcomes around national, political and social priorities (a reduction of immigration above all else) no doubt mindful of the fact that the British state will soon have far more discretion to do this, once it is no longer bound by state aid rules.

At the time of writing, the odds are against Trump becoming President of the United States, though one lesson of 2016 is not to be too confident regarding political odds. This means that the prospect of the United States abandoning its

... ... ...

The rise of behavioural economics, for example, represents an attempt to preserve a form of market rationality in the face of crisis, by incorporating expertise provided by psychologists and neuroscientists. A form of 'neo-communitarianism' emerges, which takes seriously the role of relationships, environmental conditioning and empathy in the construction of independent, responsible subjects. This remains an economists logic, inasmuch as it prepares people to live efficient, productive, competitive lives. But by bringing culture, community and contingency within the bounds of neoliberal rationality, one might see things like behavioural economics or 'social neuroscience and so on as early symptoms of a genuinely post-liberal politics. Once governments (and publics) no longer view economics as the best test of optimal policies, then opportunities for post-liberal experimentation expand rapidly, with unpredictable and potentially frightening consequences. It was telling that, when the British Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, suggested in October 2016 that companies be compelled to publicly list their foreign workers, she defended this policy as a 'nudge'.

The Limits of Neolibcralism is a piece of interpretive sociology. It starts from the recognition that neoliberalism rests on claims to legitimacy, which it is possible to imagine as valid, even for critics of this system. Inspired by Luc Boltanski, the book assumes that political-economic systems typically need to offer certain limited forms of hope, excitement and fairness in order to survive, and cannot operate via domination and exploitation alone.

For similar reasons, we might soon find that we miss some of the normative and political dimensions of neoliberalism, for example the internationalism that the EU was founded to promote and the cosmopolitanism that competitive markets sometimes inculcate. There may be some elements of neoliberalism that critics and activists need to grasp, refashion and defend, rather than to simply denounce: this books Afterword offers some ideas of what this might mean. But if the book is to be read in a truly post-neoliberal world, I hope that in its interpretive aspirations, it helps to explain what was internally and normatively coherent about the political economy known as 'neoliberalism', but also why the system really had no account of its own preconditions or how to preserve them adequately.

The attempt to reduce all of human life to economic calculation runs up against limits. A political rationality that fails to recognise politics as a distinctive sphere of human existence was always going to be dumbfounded, once that sphere took on its own extra-economic life. As Bob Dylan sang to Mr Jones, so one might now say to neoliberal intellectuals or technocrats: 'something is happening here, but you don't know what it is'.

[Jun 27, 2017] Neoliberalism is a species of fascism by Manuela Cadelli, President of the Magistrates' Union of Belgium, via Defend Democracy

Jun 27, 2017 | off-guardian.org

The time for rhetorical reservations is over. Things have to be called by their name to make it possible for a co-ordinated democratic reaction to be initiated, above all in the public services.

Liberalism was a doctrine derived from the philosophy of Enlightenment, at once political and economic, which aimed at imposing on the state the necessary distance for ensuring respect for liberties and the coming of democratic emancipation. It was the motor for the arrival, and the continuing progress, of Western democracies.

Neoliberalism is a form of economism in our day that strikes at every moment at every sector of our community. It is a form of extremism.

Fascism may be defined as the subordination of every part of the State to a totalitarian and nihilistic ideology.

I argue that neoliberalism is a species of fascism because the economy has brought under subjection not only the government of democratic countries but also every aspect of our thought.

The state is now at the disposal of the economy and of finance, which treat it as a subordinate and lord over it to an extent that puts the common good in jeopardy.

The austerity that is demanded by the financial milieu has become a supreme value, replacing politics. Saving money precludes pursuing any other public objective. It is reaching the point where claims are being made that the principle of budgetary orthodoxy should be included in state constitutions. A mockery is being made of the notion of public service.

The nihilism that results from this makes possible the dismissal of universalism and the most evident humanistic values: solidarity, fraternity, integration and respect for all and for differences.

There is no place any more even for classical economic theory: work was formerly an element in demand, and to that extent there was respect for workers; international finance has made of it a mere adjustment variable.

Every totalitarianism starts as distortion of language, as in the novel by George Orwell. Neoliberalism has its Newspeak and strategies of communication that enable it to deform reality. In this spirit, every budgetary cut is represented as an instance of modernization of the sectors concerned. If some of the most deprived are no longer reimbursed for medical expenses and so stop visiting the dentist, this is modernization of social security in action!

Abstraction predominates in public discussion so as to occlude the implications for human beings.

Thus, in relation to migrants, it is imperative that the need for hosting them does not lead to public appeals that our finances could not accommodate. Is it In the same way that other individuals qualify for assistance out of considerations of national solidarity?

The cult of evaluation

Social Darwinism predominates, assigning the most stringent performance requirements to everyone and everything: to be weak is to fail. The foundations of our culture are overturned: every humanist premise is disqualified or demonetized because neoliberalism has the monopoly of rationality and realism. Margaret Thatcher said it in 1985:

There is no alternative."

Everything else is utopianism, unreason and regression. The virtue of debate and conflicting perspectives are discredited because history is ruled by necessity.

This subculture harbours an existential threat of its own: shortcomings of performance condemn one to disappearance while at the same time everyone is charged with inefficiency and obliged to justify everything. Trust is broken. Evaluation reigns, and with it the bureaucracy which imposes definition and research of a plethora of targets, and indicators with which one must comply. Creativity and the critical spirit are stifled by management. And everyone is beating his breast about the wastage and inertia of which he is guilty.

The neglect of justice

The neoliberal ideology generates a normativity that competes with the laws of parliament. The democratic power of law is compromised. Given that they represent a concrete embodiment of liberty and emancipation, and given the potential to prevent abuse that they impose, laws and procedures have begun to look like obstacles.

The power of the judiciary, which has the ability to oppose the will of the ruling circles, must also be checkmated. The Belgian judicial system is in any case underfunded. In 2015 it came last in a European ranking that included all states located between the Atlantic and the Urals. In two years the government has managed to take away the independence given to it under the Constitution so that it can play the counterbalancing role citizens expect of it. The aim of this undertaking is clearly that there should no longer be justice in Belgium.

A caste above the Many

But the dominant class doesn't prescribe for itself the same medicine it wants to see ordinary citizens taking: well-ordered austerity begins with others. The economist Thomas Piketty has perfectly described this in his study of inequality and capitalism in the twenty-first century (French edition, Seuil, 2013).

In spite of the crisis of 2008 and the hand-wringing that followed, nothing was done to police the financial community and submit them to the requirements of the common good. Who paid? Ordinary people, you and me.

And while the Belgian State consented to 7 billion-euro ten-year tax breaks for multinationals, ordinary litigants have seen surcharges imposed on access to justice (increased court fees, 21% taxation on legal fees). From now on, to obtain redress the victims of injustice are going to have to be rich.

All this in a state where the number of public representatives breaks all international records. In this particular area, no evaluation and no costs studies are reporting profit. One example: thirty years after the introduction of the federal system, the provincial institutions survive. Nobody can say what purpose they serve. Streamlining and the managerial ideology have conveniently stopped at the gates of the political world.

The security ideal

Terrorism, this other nihilism that exposes our weakness in affirming our values, is likely to aggravate the process by soon making it possible for all violations of our liberties, all violations of our rights, to circumvent the powerless qualified judges, further reducing social protection for the poor, who will be sacrificed to "the security ideal".

Salvation in commitment

These developments certainly threaten the foundations of our democracy, but do they condemn us to discouragement and despair?

Certainly not. 500 years ago, at the height of the defeats that brought down most Italian states with the imposition of foreign occupation for more than three centuries, Niccolo Machiavelli urged virtuous men to defy fate and stand up against the adversity of the times, to prefer action and daring to caution. The more tragic the situation, the more it necessitates action and the refusal to "give up" (The Prince, Chapters XXV and XXVI).

This is a teaching that is clearly required today. The determination of citizens attached to the radical of democratic values is an invaluable resource which has not yet revealed, at least in Belgium, its driving potential and power to change what is presented as inevitable. Through social networking and the power of the written word, everyone can now become involved, particularly when it comes to public services, universities, the student world, the judiciary and the Bar, in bringing the common good and social justice into the heart of public debate and the administration of the state and the community.

Neoliberalism is a species of fascism. It must be fought and humanism fully restored.

rogerglewis says May 9, 2017

It's a wonderful piece. Whats more Neo-Liberal voodoo economics does not work. http://letthemconfectsweeterlies.blogspot.se/2017/05/the-magic-money-tree-and-tories.html
Mark Webster says January 29, 2017
This supports my own research, in which I identified German WWII Nazi methodologies at the Ministry of Social Development. I published this on Medium
David Bauerly says December 13, 2016
AS an Amerikan the term neoliberal has a different impact I believe than it does in the context of European use of the word. Could someone give a succinct definition of what the term means in the context of European parlance.
I too have found this article and discussion incredibly interesting and enlightening, especially in light of the potential nightmare of our next four years here in the states.
Jez Tucker says December 17, 2016
Try this David.
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/15/neoliberalism-ideology-problem-george-monbiot
Emily Elizabeth Windsor-Cragg says August 4, 2016
These same neo-fascists work with the NEOCON Party on the side of so-called Conservatives to pursue Globalist repression, waste and population reduction genocide. In this way they keep both Conservative and Liberal parties COVERED and dominated by Globalist dogma. To hell with Equity, Justice or Fairness.
chrisb says July 28, 2016
Funny how many critics of neo-liberalism are fascists such as Le Pen. That's because to be a fascist is to be a nationalist and to believe in strong national governments. Neo-liberalism in contrast supports the transfer of power to supra-national entities. The fascist economy is a mixed economy with the national government able to exert immense power over the conduct of private business. Neo-liberalism in contrast expects national governments to have no influence over private business.

The word 'Fascism' comes from 'fascio' in Italian meaning bundle or sheaf. If 'Fascism' as a word is to have a meaning, it is to describe Italy under Mussolini. To use the same word to describe 21st century globalisation is to negate the word's meaning.

Jason Killbourn says August 2, 2016
A very good point, as, strictly speaking, by those terms, we should refer to neo-liberalism as a transnational plutocracy, or at least that appears to be where it's heading. However for many people, increasingly robbed of democracy and being bled dry, down at the sharp end of things, there is little difference between the two systems in practice. Furthermore, the term Fascism has long since passed into common parlance, to be widely viewed by many as simply anti-democratic and supportive of a totalitarian regime, sometimes with nationalistic, or even racist connotations. In this instance, you are very right to point out that neo-liberalism is neither racist, nor nationalistic in nature, though it does, if left unchecked, lead to an hegemony of international moneyed interests over the affairs and government of nation states, so we can at least say that it is anti-democratic and supportive of totalitarianism (in this case, a plutocracy). I guess most of us do tend to use the word out of context and quite offhand, and I am as guilty as the next man, but I do think it's always a good thing to be pulled up on such things.
Jason Killbourn says July 25, 2016
An excellent and most thought provoking article. I have long thought neoliberalism to be fascism, except I arrived at that conclusion from an economic perspective, whilst researching the foundation and rise of neoclassical economics. Also that quote from Orwell has haunted me for quite some time, as it was a corruption of the very language of economics that lies at the heart of that story, which is one that played out over 100 years ago. It's a story that involves the same moneyed interests, the same use of public relations, and the same erosion of democracy in both political and academic institutions, simply because it is the same story, and to fully understand neoliberalism, you have to rewind about 120 years to pinpoint the preconditions for its inception. Fortunately most of what happened did so in plain sight and is well documented. No laws were broken, as such, but nevertheless, arguably one of the greatest crimes against humanity was set in motion for the most banal reasons of economic protectionism. There is a way out of the problem, but it'll take years and an incredible effort to reform what is to all intents and purposes a predominant religion that has become ingrained into our society.
Arrby says July 15, 2016
Shadia Drury is the author of a number of books on neconservatism, including "Leo Strauss And The American Right." It's informative is somewhat confusing in places. A few authors and famous people (Howard Zinn, Tommy Douglas) dispense with the academic minutiae and talk about fascism in simple terms. It's good to know history, but the object of knowing is to be enabled. Learn not in order to know, but in order to know how to proceed.

As Douglas noted, You don't have to wear brown shirts in order to be fascist. Huey Long, a famous, corrupt American politician (who fought the capitalist class; It happens) was asked if America would ever see fascism. He said yes, but it won't be called fascism. Indeed. Obama et al call it democracy, just as Hitler called his Germany democratic.

If you reduce it to something useable (for purposes of mobilizing the working class), fascism is simply a situation where the political class and the capitalist class jointly rule, telling the people that because they have elections and can vote they therefore have democracy and a voice when in reality the police state robs them of that. Media complies with elites' wishes or are shut down in the name of national security. All opinions and protests get the same treatment. And to keep the people's attention diverted from the abusers in power, you whip up nationalism. Neoconservatism existed before it was formulated as such. Neocons 'believe' that a nation needs to have an enemy and be at war in order to stay strong. If there's no enemy, then one must be created. One can see how nationalisn (which isn't) patriotism, is useful to fascist leaders. And can see how neoconservatism is convenient to certain powerful, entrenched special interests like the military/intelligence industrial complex.

Strauss 'believed', as did Marx, that religion is the opiate of the people, but unlike Marx, who wasn't thinking in terms of how to manage and exploit the people, Strauss felt that the people should be given their fix. He saw it as another mechanism of control. (I see organized religion as being a racket, even though I am religious.)

Neoconservatism is a political philosophy and neoliberalism is one type of social economic system and they are both sides of the same evil coin. One needn't be a student of Strauss in order to called a neocon, which is why you often find writers referring to Hillary Clinton as one.

Vaska says July 15, 2016
I'd only point out that nationalism isn't a required ingredient at all. On the contrary. Nationalism is often what the current order fears the most. The globalists, all of them neoliberals to a man and a woman - use the language of internationalism. It's a fascist kind of internationalism, to be sure, but cleverly deployed and manipulated, it gives them moral credibility in the eyes of a large segment of the population.
Secret Agent says July 14, 2016
Well there is another angle to this; Cultural Marxism. It would take ages to explain but here is a good video that does the job.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/G8pPbrbJJQs?feature=oembed

Frank says July 14, 2016
Agreed in spades about neo-liberalism. But let us not forget the other side of the counter-revolutionary coin, to wit, neo-conservatism. For the western ruling elites neo-liberalism is an attack directed on its internal enemies, the 99% and neo-conservatism is an attack on its external enemies, principally the Russian Federation and China, but in fact anyone who doesn't toe the Pentagon, State department line. Austerity without end at home and a creeping dismantling of democracy, and everlasting war abroad, that is the future: a global slave empire controlled through the Washington, Brussels, London, Tel Aviv axis of evil. This is a fight to the death and the future of humanity depends on the outcome.
falcemartello says July 14, 2016
WOW such a lightbulb moment. This makes my blood go into thermal nuclear boil. I have been saying this for the last 30 years and now this quantum leap moment. I really hope we the sheeple can wake up and really start getting all the elite to be accountable for they conspiracy. Since 1979 the west has been walking like a zombie towards fascism. Reagon and Thatcher were their front persons . The Chicago school of economic theory.The Liberal interventionist. The helicopter money to bail out the biggest fraud in the western financial history. Then they turn around and get the PAYE public to bail them out. The sip[ their Champagne and eat their caviar and we live on austerity. Hitler in drag will be the next POTUS and the MSM call Trump a xenophobic fascist when we all know Hitlary and all her cohorts and all the western political establishment r fascist's. That has been my point for over a quarter of a century. The use of the term democracy and veil themselves in these hollow terms without any substance or facts is insulting at best. Putin,Xi and Rohani have been trying now and hopefully they will prevail and once Syria settles down in might c the dawn of a new pan -arabism which will start the century of humanism and human dynamism for the good of all and not 64000 people. Gramsci forewarned us all from his cell in the 30's and before him Engels as well. That is why i finish my spiel with this old journalistic quote.YESTERDAY'S NEWS GETS WRAPPED IN TODAYS FISH. If only more humans would study and analyse history more maybe we would not be in such a pickle.. Luv this website wish it had more pull and a following.
Schlüter says July 13, 2016
Very true! And in the Neocon Neoliberalism of the US Power Elite is clearly surfaces:
"US Power Elite Declared War on the Southern Hemisphere, East Asia and all Non-Western Countries in September 2000": https://wipokuli.wordpress.com/2016/03/13/us-power-elite-declared-war-on-the-southern-hemisphere-east-asia-and-all-non-western-countries-in-september-2000/
Andreas Schlüter
Sociologist
Berlin, Germany
Neil MacLeod says July 13, 2016
Yes, and Sheldon Wolin began this discussion about 15 years ago https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverted_totalitarianism
Seamus Padraig says July 15, 2016
Yes, at least some familiarity with Wolin's concept of 'inverted totalitarianism' is absolutely essential for understanding what is really happening in our world today. The fascism we have today differs from the classical model in one key respect: the original fascist regimes were all of the state-corporatist model, with an all-powerful government presiding over the banks and corporations; our modern fascism, however, is of a new corporate-statist (and thus, according to Wolin, inverted) variety, where the banks and the corporations completely control the state. Therefore, the age of the Hitlers and Mussolinis–at least in the West–is over. Our so-called 'rulers' are really nothing more than corporate executives or CEOs who serve at the leisure of a kind of hidden board of directors, composed of those banks corporations we all know, and probably a few powerful oligarchs, such as a the Rockefellers and the Rothschilds.

Liberal dupes, however, believe that we are still free, because they wrongly understand fascism as an ideology (Racism! Nationalism! Xenophobia!) or else confuse it with certain systems of symbology (swastikas, fasces, cool-looking uniforms, etc.). But in reality true fascism in neither an ideology (false consciousness, as the Marxists would say), nor is it a particular system of symbology. Fascism, properly understood is simply a state of affairs–namely, the total fusion of state and corporate power. That was the definition Mussolini gave it long ago, and since he was fascism's inventor, I'll take his word for it! The consequence of this is that fascism, in practice, can adopt virtually any ideology or symbology, even some that might, at first glance, seem rather 'lefty'. In the west today, for example, the true fascists have now adopted cultural (not economic!) Marxism as their ideology.

Ironically then, the new fascism has cleverly disguised itself as anti-fascism! Pretty slick, eh?

Vaska says July 15, 2016
Thanks for fleshing it out!
falcemartello says July 20, 2016
Spot on Mussolini is the father of modern fascism , historically speaking fuedalism was an older form of fascism. With the birth of industrial capitalism and nouveau bourgeoisie was the beginning of modern day fascism. Mussolini from returning from the WW1 and being shun by fellow socialist and the new founded Gramscian movement decided to form his own party. He was always into grandiosity and ancient empire mythology. Most of the socialist including Gramsci did not support the WW1 they all identified it as the bankers war . Many leftist of the time also recognised the con job in the USA with the rewritting the Federal reserve act of 1913 as the Private bankers taking over the money supply of the US .

[Jun 25, 2017] Toward the defition of neoliberalism as an ideology and practice

Jun 25, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
libezkova -> im1dc... , June 25, 2017 at 09:29 AM
> Define "neoliberal" as you mean it otherwise it is a meaningless word

Let my try.

Like a communist is the person who subscribed/is indoctrinated/brainwashed into Marxism as an ideology (which is actually different from Marxism as a political economy; Marx claimed that he is not a Marxist), neoliberal is the person who subscribed/is indoctrinated/brainwashed to neoliberalism as an ideology.

Neoliberalism as an ideology was formulated mainly by Mont Pelerin Society with academic criminals of Chicago School such as Milton Friedman playing outsize role.

Typically neoliberalism is imposed on the society via coup. One of the first experiments of imposing neoliberalism on the society was military coup in Chile. In the USA it took the form of "quiet coup" https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/05/the-quiet-coup/307364/

We can assume that neoliberals are in power, and neoliberalism is enforced as the dominant ideology in the USA since 1980. Since 9/11 it took a new form called "inverse totalitarism" (Sheldon Wolin) -- a flavor of national security state without mass repression of opponents. The suppression is performed mainly by exclusion and silencing of the opponents. But the level of surveillance of citizens probably exceeds the level typical for GDR with its STASI.

Neoclassic economics is the major tool for the indoctrination into neoliberalism in the US universities. Ann Rand objectivism is another pillar of neoliberalism ("creators myth").

The main points of neoliberal ideology include:

http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=376

1.THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating "free" enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no matter how much social damage this causes. Greater openness to international trade and investment, as in NAFTA. Reduce wages by de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers' rights that had been won over many years of struggle. No more price controls. All in all, total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services. To convince us this is good for us, they say "an unregulated market is the best way to increase economic growth, which will ultimately benefit everyone." It's like Reagan's "supply-side" and "trickle-down" economics -- but somehow the wealth didn't trickle down very much.

2.CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like education and health care. REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, and even maintenance of roads, bridges, water supply -- again in the name of reducing government's role. Of course, they don't oppose government subsidies and tax benefits for business.

3.DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminsh profits, including protecting the environmentand safety on the job.

4.PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads, toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water. Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.

5.ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF "THE PUBLIC GOOD" or "COMMUNITY" and replacing it with "individual responsibility." Pressuring the poorest people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care, education and social security all by themselves -- then blaming them, if they fail, as "lazy."

The unofficial manifest of neoliberalism is "Capitalism and Freedom" by Milton Friedman (1962, University of Chicago Press). In foreign policy neoliberalism is defined by so called Washington consensus (Wikipedia):

1.Fiscal policy discipline, with avoidance of large fiscal deficits relative to GDP;

2.Redirection of public spending from subsidies ("especially indiscriminate subsidies") toward broad-based provision of key pro-growth, pro-poor services like primary education, primary health care and infrastructure investment;

3.Tax reform, broadening the tax base and adopting moderate marginal tax rates;

4.Interest rates that are market determined and positive (but moderate) in real terms;

5.Competitive exchange rates;

6.Trade liberalization: liberalization of imports, with particular emphasis on elimination of quantitative restrictions (licensing, etc.); any trade protection to be provided by low and relatively uniform tariffs;

7.Liberalization of inward foreign direct investment;

8.Privatization of state enterprises;

9.Deregulation: abolition of regulations that impede market entry or restrict competition, except for those justified on safety, environmental and consumer protection grounds, and prudential oversight of financial institutions;

10.Legal security for property rights.

Neoliberalism is closely connected (but is not identical) with the Neoconservatism in the USA (Trotskyism for the rich). Simplifying, neocons are just neoliberals with the gun.

Like Trotskyism and Bolshevism before, neoliberalism creates its own form of perverted rationality called "neoliberal rationality" http://lchc.ucsd.edu/cogn_150/Readings/brown.pdf Here are some quotes from Wendy Brown interview "What Exactly Is Neoliberalism" to Dissent Magazine (Nov 03, 2015):

"... I treat neoliberalism as a governing rationality through which everything is "economized" and in a very specific way: human beings become market actors and nothing but, every field of activity is seen as a market, and every entity (whether public or private, whether person, business, or state) is governed as a firm. Importantly, this is not simply a matter of extending commodification and monetization everywhere-that's the old Marxist depiction of capital's transformation of everyday life. Neoliberalism construes even non-wealth generating spheres-such as learning, dating, or exercising -- in market terms, submits them to market metrics, and governs them with market techniques and practices. Above all, it casts people as human capital who must constantly tend to their own present and future value. ..."

"... The most common criticisms of neoliberalism, regarded solely as economic policy rather than as the broader phenomenon of a governing rationality, are that it generates and legitimates extreme inequalities of wealth and life conditions; that it leads to increasingly precarious and disposable populations; that it produces an unprecedented intimacy between capital (especially finance capital) and states, and thus permits domination of political life by capital; that it generates crass and even unethical commercialization of things rightly protected from markets, for example, babies, human organs, or endangered species or wilderness; that it privatizes public goods and thus eliminates shared and egalitarian access to them; and that it subjects states, societies, and individuals to the volatility and havoc of unregulated financial markets. ..."

"... with the neoliberal revolution that homo politicus is finally vanquished as a fundamental feature of being human and of democracy. Democracy requires that citizens be modestly oriented toward self-rule, not simply value enhancement, and that we understand our freedom as resting in such self-rule, not simply in market conduct. When this dimension of being human is extinguished, it takes with it the necessary energies, practices, and culture of democracy, as well as its very intelligibility. ..."

"... For most Marxists, neoliberalism emerges in the 1970s in response to capitalism's falling rate of profit; the shift of global economic gravity to OPEC, Asia, and other sites outside the West; and the dilution of class power generated by unions, redistributive welfare states, large and lazy corporations, and the expectations generated by educated democracies. From this perspective, neoliberalism is simply capitalism on steroids: a state and IMF-backed consolidation of class power aimed at releasing capital from regulatory and national constraints, and defanging all forms of popular solidarities, especially labor. ..."

"... The grains of truth in this analysis don't get at the fundamental transformation of social, cultural, and individual life brought about by neoliberal reason. They don't get at the ways that public institutions and services have not merely been outsourced but thoroughly recast as private goods for individual investment or consumption. And they don't get at the wholesale remaking of workplaces, schools, social life, and individuals. For that story, one has to track the dissemination of neoliberal economization through neoliberalism as a governing form of reason, not just a power grab by capital. There are many vehicles of this dissemination -- law, culture, and above all, the novel political-administrative form we have come to call governance. It is through governance practices that business models and metrics come to irrigate every crevice of society, circulating from investment banks to schools, from corporations to universities, from public agencies to the individual. It is through the replacement of democratic terms of law, participation, and justice with idioms of benchmarks, objectives, and buy-ins that governance dismantles democratic life while appearing only to instill it with "best practices." ..."

"... Progressives generally disparage Citizens United for having flooded the American electoral process with corporate money on the basis of tortured First Amendment reasoning that treats corporations as persons. However, a careful reading of the majority decision also reveals precisely the thoroughgoing economization of the terms and practices of democracy we have been talking about. In the majority opinion, electoral campaigns are cast as "political marketplaces," just as ideas are cast as freely circulating in a market where the only potential interference arises from restrictions on producers and consumers of ideas-who may speak and who may listen or judge. Thus, Justice Kennedy's insistence on the fundamental neoliberal principle that these marketplaces should be unregulated paves the way for overturning a century of campaign finance law aimed at modestly restricting the power of money in politics. Moreover, in the decision, political speech itself is rendered as a kind of capital right, functioning largely to advance the position of its bearer, whether that bearer is human capital, corporate capital, or finance capital. This understanding of political speech replaces the idea of democratic political speech as a vital (if potentially monopolizable and corruptible) medium for public deliberation and persuasion. ..."

"... My point was that democracy is really reduced to a whisper in the Euro-Atlantic nations today. Even Alan Greenspan says that elections don't much matter much because, "thanks to globalization . . . the world is governed by market forces," not elected representatives. ..."

anne -> im1dc... ,
Define "neoliberal":

Neoliberal means let there be markets everywhere and let governments leave markets alone. There is no other word of definition needed.

libezkova -> anne... , June 25, 2017 at 12:37 PM
This is wrong. You completely misunderstand the role of government under neoliberalism. Under neoliberalism it is the government that impose markets on people via deregulation. Impose "from above" like socialism in socialist states. So it is the government that is an instrument for "imposition of markets everywhere". And, if necessary, by brute force.

Unlike libertarian ideology, under neoliberalism the government is not passive, it is an active player which forcefully "opens markets" everywhere.

In foreign countries this takes the form of neocolonialism, and color revolutions or direct military intervention are typical tool for bending "not so democratic as we would like" countries, especially with oil or other valuable deposits. In this sense, it is very similar to Islamic fundamentalism and can be called "market fundamentalism."

In other words this more vicious ideology then just promotion of "markets" as in "socialism for the rich and feudalism or plantation slavery for the poor"

[Mar 11, 2017] The Power of Market Fundamentalism Karl Polanyi's Critique Fred Block, Margaret R. Somers 9780674970885 Amazon.com Books

Mar 11, 2017 | www.amazon.com
.0 out of 5 stars Excellent review of Polanyi and excellent critique of the modern economy By B. Brinker on May 10, 2014 Format: Kindle Edition | Verified Purchase This book deserves to be a part of the national discussion, as do Polanyi's thoughts. I read Polanyi some years ago and was looking for a refresher when I came across this book. This book not only reviews Polanyi's work and places it in the context of modern economic and sociological research, but also adapts many of his theories to the current times. Along the way the authors offer useful insights into Polanyi's life and how his experiences shaped his thoughts.

Pros- Well written, clear, and concise for an academic book. Does an excellent job of bringing Polanyi's thoughts up to date.

Cons- The authors (two highly regarded professors) appear to have a very leftist bent. This isn't a bad thing, in my opinion, but some readers may be turned off by that.

UPDATED: I wanted to write a longer review on this book once I had time to reflect on it. I intended to write the typical academic style "summarize and critique" review but realized I can add more value to potential readers by explaining why this book is an important read.

Have you been noticing how politics is becoming increasingly polarized? If you hop over to look at the reviews for Piketty's "Capital in the 21st Century" you'll notice that literally 100's of ideological zealots have been attacking the book. Not reading and critiquing, but posting bad reviews even though they've never read it.

Ever wonder why people act like this? Why Market Fundamentalism has become so strong? This book will help you think on and answer these questions.

Isn't it odd that we have been pursuing neo-liberal policies for 30 years, even though they have already proven to be a failure? Debt is rising, health care costs are spiraling out of control, college is unaffordable, the gap between rich and poor is widening. Despite the fact that we live in an age of failed neoliberalism, rolling back such policies isn't the answer, oh no what we need is more neoliberalism.

This book will help you understand the appeal of neoliberalism and its emergence as a utopian ideal that can never be achieved. The book also explains the historical context of market fundamentalism and the decline of Keynesian economics to show why the one serious challenge to neoliberalism was eventually marginalized. out of 5 stars The best analysis and summation of Polanyi's thought to date!!! By Claudio Dionigi on January 6, 2015 Format: Hardcover I have read most of Polanyi's work, as well as books and articles about his work (including Gareth Dale's text), and while doing so I have tried to keep in mind what the spirit of Polanyi's work is. I believe that Fred Block and Margaret Somers have captured that spirit in this text. This book is an excellent summation and update to Polanyi's critique of free-market fundamentalism, highlighting the reasons for the resurgence of his ideas in recent years. It is a must read for anyone who is interested in Polanyi's work or is at all concerned about the current state of affairs in political-economy. It draws on a wide variety of other texts to pull the threads of Polanyi's thoughts together and contextualise them within a broader discourse. It relates Polanyi's work nicely to the crises induced by neoliberalism in recent years (more to come, no doubt). It is well laid out, in accessible language and a pleasant style. Whether you are from the left or the right, do yourself a favour and read this book.

[Feb 01, 2017] A corollary of neoliberalism with it s hyper-economism was the corruption of the elites who engaged in enrichment by all means

Notable quotes:
"... In economics, liberalism espoused "neo-liberalism" which was the replacement economic ideology for social-democracy. It championed, especially under the Clinton-Blair duo, financial liberalization, much smaller welfare state, and so-called "meritocracy" which essentially meant the ability of the rich to place their kids into the best schools out of which 90% would graduate and thus "meritocratically" claim later in life huge wage premiums. Free trade agreement privileged, as Dean Baker has written, the interests of the rich in advanced economies through protection of patents and intellectual property rights and with scant or no attention to labor rights. In the international arena, through the World Bank and the IMF, Clintonite neo-liberalism was associated with Washington consensus policies. They are in many respects reasonable policies, but were applied dogmatically and mindlessly especially with respect to privatization and often with the principal objective of ensuring that the debts be collected regardless of the social effects on the population. Greece is the best known example of such policies because it sits in the middle of Europe and the results of "debt collections" are easiest to see. But the same principles were applied across the world. ..."
"... Underpinning such policies was an ideology that saw economic success as the only dimension (in addition to the acceptance of certain liberal tropes which I will mention below) in which worth of an individual is expressed or measured. ..."
"... Corruption. A corollary of this hyper-economicism in ordinary life was the corruption of the elites who espoused the same yardstick of success as everybody else: enrichment by all means. Avner Offer documents this shift in his analysis of where social-democracy went astray with "New Labour" and "New Democrats". The corruption of the political class, not only in the West but in the entire world, had a deeply corrosive and demoralizing effect on the electorates everywhere. Being politician became increasingly seen as a way to acquire personal riches, a career like any other, divorced from any real desire either to do "public service" or to try to promote own values and provide leadership. "Electoralism", that is doing anything to be elected, was liberalism's political credo. In that it presaged the populists. ..."
Feb 01, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Peter K. : January 30, 2017 at 12:37 PM , 2017 at 12:37 PM
Branko Milanovic had the best link in today's links. Of course PGL passed it over as unworthy of comment. kthomas called him a Russian.

Is there a rise in hate crime against Russian businesses and people with Eastern European sounding names? Wouldn't be surprised.

http://glineq.blogspot.com/2017/01/is-liberalism-to-blame.html

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Is liberalism to blame? by Branko Milanovic

By "liberalism" I mean what is considered under this term in the US. By "to blame" I mean "for the rise of Trump and similar nationalist-populists".

What are the arguments for seeing liberal triumphalism which began with the collapse of Communism in the 1990s as having produced the backlash we are witnessing today? I think they can be divided into three parts: economics, personal integrity, and ideology.

In economics, liberalism espoused "neo-liberalism" which was the replacement economic ideology for social-democracy. It championed, especially under the Clinton-Blair duo, financial liberalization, much smaller welfare state, and so-called "meritocracy" which essentially meant the ability of the rich to place their kids into the best schools out of which 90% would graduate and thus "meritocratically" claim later in life huge wage premiums. Free trade agreement privileged, as Dean Baker has written, the interests of the rich in advanced economies through protection of patents and intellectual property rights and with scant or no attention to labor rights. In the international arena, through the World Bank and the IMF, Clintonite neo-liberalism was associated with Washington consensus policies. They are in many respects reasonable policies, but were applied dogmatically and mindlessly especially with respect to privatization and often with the principal objective of ensuring that the debts be collected regardless of the social effects on the population. Greece is the best known example of such policies because it sits in the middle of Europe and the results of "debt collections" are easiest to see. But the same principles were applied across the world.

Underpinning such policies was an ideology that saw economic success as the only dimension (in addition to the acceptance of certain liberal tropes which I will mention below) in which worth of an individual is expressed or measured. That ideology found broad acceptance across the world, fanned by globalization and by what that ideology has pleasing to the human psyche which craves acquisition of more. It was thus consistent with human nature and probably helped increase world output several-fold and reduce world poverty. But it might have been pushed too hard to the exclusion of other human characteristics and helped create especially among those who were economically less successful resentment and estrangement from the values promoted by liberals.

Corruption. A corollary of this hyper-economicism in ordinary life was the corruption of the elites who espoused the same yardstick of success as everybody else: enrichment by all means. Avner Offer documents this shift in his analysis of where social-democracy went astray with "New Labour" and "New Democrats". The corruption of the political class, not only in the West but in the entire world, had a deeply corrosive and demoralizing effect on the electorates everywhere. Being politician became increasingly seen as a way to acquire personal riches, a career like any other, divorced from any real desire either to do "public service" or to try to promote own values and provide leadership. "Electoralism", that is doing anything to be elected, was liberalism's political credo. In that it presaged the populists.

It is, I think, important to see the link between the economic ideology of "commercialism" which informed economic policies since the early 1980s in the West and China, and since the 1990s in the formerly Communist countries, and systemic and all-pervasive corruption of the elites. Since being successful meant amassing most money, politicians could not operate in a different dimension (for example in "ideals") nor could they get elected without being corrupt because campaigns could not be fought without money. It is an illusion that the political space may operate according to different rules from the rest of society.

Pensée unique. Liberalism introduced a dogmatic set of principles, "the only politically correct way of thinking" characterized by identity politics and "horizontal equality" (no differences, on average, in wages between men and women, different races or religions) which left actual inequality go unchecked. A tacit hierarchy was introduced, where the acceptance of these watered-down principles of equality combined with economic success, was the requirement to be "non-deplorable". Others, those who did not do well economically or did not adhere to all the tenets of the mainstream thinking, were not only failures but morally inferior.

The high priests of liberalism, ruling the media, loved to hold, at the same time, logically contradictory beliefs which somehow were both "good". Thus they created terminological or behavioral contortions that were either direct attacks on common sense or examples of hypocrisy as "supporting the troops" while being "against the war" or giving enormous donations to private schools (in order to get their names emblazoned in classrooms) while "supporting public education". They were not embarrassed by contradictions, nor accepted trade-offs: you could support soldiers killing civilians "because soldiers protect us" and be against the war and killing of civilians at the same time; you could send kids to private schools and be in favor of public education; you could fret about climate change, berate others who do not, and emit more CO2 than 99% of the mankind. It was ideologically an extremely comfortable position. It required very little mental effort to accept five or six essential tenets (you could just read a couple of writers who repeated ad nauseum the same ideas in the main liberal publications), and it allowed you to do wherever you liked while claiming that every such action was ethically unimpeachable. Everybody was a paragon of virtue and indulged all their preferences.

Others who failed to appreciate the advantages of such a position were ignored until their dissatisfaction exploded. No one among liberals seemed to think it odd (much less to do something about it) that the best educated country in the world with one of the highest world per capita GDPs, could have a third of the population who believed in creationism or in aliens running our lives. It really did not matter to the elite so long as these people existed in the Netherworld.

Those who trusted in Fukuyama, and to whom the 1990s seemed like a triumph that would keep them at the pinnacle of human evolution forever, see today's events as a catastrophe not only because they could indeed lead to a catastrophe but because their carefully nurtured ersatz ideology and place in society have collapsed.

I am writing this in Vienna, in Prater, overlooking a giant Ferris Wheel which inevitably makes one think of Harry Lime. One can see liberalism as having set the Ferris Wheel in motion, with each car moving at first slowly and then faster and faster. The ride brought immense joy at first, but eventually, it seems, somebody turned on the switch to super-fast, locked the control room, and most of us are now in these cars that no one controls and no one can stop, running at break-neck speed, and wondering how and when the crash will come.

Peter K. -> Peter K.... , January 30, 2017 at 12:38 PM
"A corollary of this hyper-economicism in ordinary life was the corruption of the elites who espoused the same yardstick of success as everybody else: enrichment by all means. Avner Offer documents this shift in his analysis of where social-democracy went astray with "New Labour" and "New Democrats". The corruption of the political class, not only in the West but in the entire world, had a deeply corrosive and demoralizing effect on the electorates everywhere. Being politician became increasingly seen as a way to acquire personal riches, a career like any other, divorced from any real desire either to do "public service" or to try to promote own values and provide leadership. "Electoralism", that is doing anything to be elected, was liberalism's political credo. In that it presaged the populists."

Think of Hillary's speeches to Goldman Sachs, etc, and Obama's failure to throw bankers in jail.

[Jan 24, 2017] One way to sum up neoliberalism is to say that everything-everything-is to be made over in the image of the market, including the state, civil society, and of course human beings

Notable quotes:
"... People can perceive that her ideology is founded on a conception of human beings striving relentlessly to become human capital (as her opening campaign commercial so overtly depicted), which means that those who fail to come within the purview of neoliberalism should be rigorously ostracized, punished, and excluded. ..."
"... As the market becomes an abstraction, so does democracy, but the real playing field is somewhere else, in the realm of actual economic exchange-which is not, however, the market. We may say that all exchange takes place on the neoliberal surface. ..."
Jan 24, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
libezkova -> jonny bakho... January 23, 2017 at 04:55 PM , 2017 at 04:55 PM
You are wrong. Your definition of neoliberalism is formally right and we can argue along those lines that Hillary is a neoliberal too (Her track record as a senator suggests exactly that), it is way too narrow.

"One way to sum up neoliberalism is to say that everything-everything-is to be made over in the image of the market, including the state, civil society, and of course human beings." (see below)

"Another way to say it is that the state has become the market, the market has become the state, and therefore both have ceased to exist in the form we have classically understood them."

"In the current election campaign, Hillary Clinton has been the most perfect embodiment of neoliberalism among all the candidates, she is almost its all-time ideal avatar, and I believe this explains, even if not articulated this way, the widespread discomfort among the populace toward her ascendancy. People can perceive that her ideology is founded on a conception of human beings striving relentlessly to become human capital (as her opening campaign commercial so overtly depicted), which means that those who fail to come within the purview of neoliberalism should be rigorously ostracized, punished, and excluded.

This is the dark side of neoliberalism's ideological arm (a multiculturalism founded on human beings as capital), which is why this project has become increasingly associated with suppression of free speech and intolerance of those who refuse to go along with the kind of identity politics neoliberalism promotes.

And this explains why the 1990s saw the simultaneous and absolutely parallel rise, under the Clintons, of both neoliberal globalization and various regimes of neoliberal disciplining, such as the shaming and exclusion of former welfare recipients (every able-bodied person should be able to find work, therefore under TANF welfare was converted to a performance management system designed to enroll everyone in the workforce, even if it meant below-subsistence wages or the loss of parental responsibilities, all of it couched in the jargon of marketplace incentives)."

In this sense Hillary Clinton is 100% dyed-in-the-wool neoliberal and neocon ("neoliberal with the gun"). She promotes so called "neoliberal rationality" a perverted "market-based" rationality typical for neoliberalism:

See

http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2017/01/links-for-01-23-17.html#comment-6a00d83451b33869e201bb09706856970d

== quote ==
When Hillary Clinton frequently retorts-in response to demands for reregulation of finance, for instance-that we have to abide by "the rule of law," this reflects a particular understanding of the law, the law as embodying the sense of the market, the law after it has undergone a revolution of reinterpretation in purely economic terms.

In this revolution of the law persons have no status compared to corporations, nation-states are on their way out, and everything in turn dissolves before the abstraction called the market.

One way to sum up neoliberalism is to say that everything-everything-is to be made over in the image of the market, including the state, civil society, and of course human beings. Democracy becomes reinterpreted as the market, and politics succumbs to neoliberal economic theory, so we are speaking of the end of democratic politics as we have known it for two and a half centuries.

As the market becomes an abstraction, so does democracy, but the real playing field is somewhere else, in the realm of actual economic exchange-which is not, however, the market. We may say that all exchange takes place on the neoliberal surface.

Neoliberalism is often described-and this creates a lot of confusion-as "market fundamentalism," and while this may be true for neoliberal's self-promotion and self-presentation, i.e., the market as the ultimate and only myth, as were the gods of the past, I would argue that in neoliberalism there is no such thing as the market as we have understood it from previous ideologies.

The neoliberal state-actually, to utter the word state seems insufficient here, I would claim that a new entity is being created, which is not the state as we have known it, but an existence that incorporates potentially all the states in the world and is something that exceeds their sum-is all-powerful, it seeks to leave no space for individual self-conception in the way that classical liberalism, and even communism and fascism to some degree, were willing to allow.

There are competing understandings of neoliberal globalization, when it comes to the question of whether the state is strong or weak compared to the primary agent of globalization, i.e., the corporation, but I am taking this logic further, I am suggesting that the issue is not how strong the state is in the service of neoliberalism, but whether there is anything left over beyond the new definition of the state. Another way to say it is that the state has become the market, the market has become the state, and therefore both have ceased to exist in the form we have classically understood them.

Of course the word hasn't gotten around to the people yet, hence all the confusion about whether Hillary Clinton is more neoliberal than Barack Obama, or whether Donald Trump will be less neoliberal than Hillary Clinton.

The project of neoliberalism-i.e., the redefinition of the state, the institutions of society, and the self-has come so far along that neoliberalism is almost beyond the need of individual entities to make or break its case. Its penetration has gone too deep, and none of the democratic figureheads that come forward can fundamentally question its efficacy.

[Jan 23, 2017] When there is no viable alternative to neoliberalism, nationalism is the only game in town for the opposition forces

Notable quotes:
"... Trump may be a Nationalist, but he is also an anti-regulatory elite with no regard for business ethics or accountability to the community. He is also for "greedy take all" and against fair distribution of profits in the economy. ..."
"... The key point here is that as long as there is no viable alternative to neoliberalism, nationalism is the only game in town for the opposition forces. That's why trade union members now abandoned neoliberal (aka Clintonized ) Democratic Party. ..."
"... Traditionally, Neoliberalism espouses privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade and reduction in government spending. ..."
"... One way to sum up neoliberalism is to say that everything-everything-is to be made over in the image of the market, including the state, civil society, and of course human beings. Democracy becomes reinterpreted as the market, and politics succumbs to neoliberal economic theory, so we are speaking of the end of democratic politics as we have known it for two and a half centuries. ..."
"... As the market becomes an abstraction, so does democracy, but the real playing field is somewhere else, in the realm of actual economic exchange-which is not, however, the market. We may say that all exchange takes place on the neoliberal surface. ..."
"... Neoliberalism is often described-and this creates a lot of confusion-as "market fundamentalism," and while this may be true for neoliberal's self-promotion and self-presentation, i.e., the market as the ultimate and only myth, as were the gods of the past, I would argue that in neoliberalism there is no such thing as the market as we have understood it from previous ideologies. ..."
"... it seeks to leave no space for individual self-conception in the way that classical liberalism, and even communism and fascism to some degree, were willing to allow. ..."
"... I am suggesting that the issue is not how strong the state is in the service of neoliberalism, but whether there is anything left over beyond the new definition of the state. Another way to say it is that the state has become the market, the market has become the state, and therefore both have ceased to exist in the form we have classically understood them. ..."
Jan 23, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
reason , January 23, 2017 at 01:03 AM

Worth reading - perhaps controversial but unfortunately there is an element of truth in what he writes.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/22/trumps-nationalism-response-not-globalization

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> reason , January 23, 2017 at 04:05 AM

I will go with worth reading. I don't think that is controversial at all and there is way more than an element of truth in it. But knowing is one thing and organizing politically in a manner sufficient to bring about change is entirely another.
jonny bakho -> reason, January 23, 2017 at 05:30 AM
They are correct. We need an alternative to Nationalism and Trump.

They are not correct about mysterious elites controlling things.

The elites pursued anti-regulatory policies that allowed them to reap short term profits without regard for stability or sustainability. It is not government control but lack of regulation that allowed BIgF to run wild and unaccountable.

Trump may be a Nationalist, but he is also an anti-regulatory elite with no regard for business ethics or accountability to the community. He is also for "greedy take all" and against fair distribution of profits in the economy.

The plant closures are headlined and promote the mistaken belief that globalization is the prime cause of job loss. These large closures are only 1/10th of the job losses and dislocations due to automation and transformation from manufacturing to service economies. Wealthy elites are allowed to greedily hoard all the profits from automation and not enough is being invested in the service economy. Austerity is not a policy to control the masses, it is a policy to protect the wealth accumulated by elites from fair distribution.

Trump is not going to bring manufacturing plants back to American rural backwaters. Those left behind must build their own service economy or relocate to a sustainable region that is making the transition.

libezkova -> jonny bakho, January 23, 2017 at 09:40 AM
Jonny,

The key point here is that as long as there is no viable alternative to neoliberalism, nationalism is the only game in town for the opposition forces. That's why trade union members now abandoned neoliberal (aka Clintonized ) Democratic Party.

All Western societies now, not only the USA, experience nationalist movements Renaissance. And that's probably why Hillary lost as she represented "kick the can down the road" neoliberal globalization agenda.

An important point also is that nationalism itself is not monolithic. There are at least two different types of nationalism in the West now:

As for your statement

"Trump may be a Nationalist, but he is also an anti-regulatory elite with no regard for business ethics or accountability to the community. He is also for "greedy take all" and against fair distribution of profits in the economy."

This might be true, but might be not. It is not clear what Trump actually represents. Let's give him the benefit of doubt and wait 100 days before jumping to conclusions.

jonny bakho -> libezkova, January 23, 2017 at 11:38 AM
Stop spreading Fake News.

Traditionally, Neoliberalism espouses privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade and reduction in government spending.

What exactly did Clinton want to privatize? What budget did she propose slashing? Did she want to deregulate banks or environmental regulations?
She supported some trade liberalization, but also imposing sanctions. What government spending did she want to reduce?

Fact: She supported the opposite of most of these policies.

Donald Trump promised to pursue all of these Neoliberal policies. The GOP and their propaganda megaphone is very good at tarring the opposition as supporting the very policies they are enacting. They made Al Gore into a liar, John Kerry into a coward with a purple band aid and Hillary into a Wall Street shill. None of this is true. But Trump and his GOP are doing all the things you accuse Democrats of doing.

ilsm -> jonny bakho , January 23, 2017 at 04:24 PM
Neither Reagan nor Thatcher could meet your narrow ideal neolib

Clinton is more neocon, in thrall of Wall St and War Street. Follower of Kagan wife since Bill did Bosnia.

Of course Clintons have no convictions. Neocon neolib mix them and you get the Wall St progressives. Pick and choose labels and definitions.

libezkova -> jonny bakho January 23, 2017 at 04:55 PM
You are wrong. Your definition of neoliberalism is formally right and we can argue along those lines that Hillary is a neoliberal too (Her track record as a senator suggests exactly that), it is way too narrow. There is more to it:

"One way to sum up neoliberalism is to say that everything-everything-is to be made over in the image of the market, including the state, civil society, and of course human beings." (see below)

"Another way to say it is that the state has become the market, the market has become the state, and therefore both have ceased to exist in the form we have classically understood them."

"In the current election campaign, Hillary Clinton has been the most perfect embodiment of neoliberalism among all the candidates, she is almost its all-time ideal avatar, and I believe this explains, even if not articulated this way, the widespread discomfort among the populace toward her ascendancy. People can perceive that her ideology is founded on a conception of human beings striving relentlessly to become human capital (as her opening campaign commercial so overtly depicted), which means that those who fail to come within the purview of neoliberalism should be rigorously ostracized, punished, and excluded.

This is the dark side of neoliberalism's ideological arm (a multiculturalism founded on human beings as capital), which is why this project has become increasingly associated with suppression of free speech and intolerance of those who refuse to go along with the kind of identity politics neoliberalism promotes.

And this explains why the 1990s saw the simultaneous and absolutely parallel rise, under the Clintons, of both neoliberal globalization and various regimes of neoliberal disciplining, such as the shaming and exclusion of former welfare recipients (every able-bodied person should be able to find work, therefore under TANF welfare was converted to a performance management system designed to enroll everyone in the workforce, even if it meant below-subsistence wages or the loss of parental responsibilities, all of it couched in the jargon of marketplace incentives)."

In this sense Hillary Clinton is 100% dyed-in-the-wool neoliberal and neocon ("neoliberal with the gun"). She promotes so called "neoliberal rationality" a perverted "market-based" rationality typical for neoliberalism:

See http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2017/01/links-for-01-23-17.html#comment-6a00d83451b33869e201bb09706856970d

== quote ==
When Hillary Clinton frequently retorts-in response to demands for reregulation of finance, for instance-that we have to abide by "the rule of law," this reflects a particular understanding of the law, the law as embodying the sense of the market, the law after it has undergone a revolution of reinterpretation in purely economic terms.

In this revolution of the law persons have no status compared to corporations, nation-states are on their way out, and everything in turn dissolves before the abstraction called the market.

One way to sum up neoliberalism is to say that everything-everything-is to be made over in the image of the market, including the state, civil society, and of course human beings. Democracy becomes reinterpreted as the market, and politics succumbs to neoliberal economic theory, so we are speaking of the end of democratic politics as we have known it for two and a half centuries.

As the market becomes an abstraction, so does democracy, but the real playing field is somewhere else, in the realm of actual economic exchange-which is not, however, the market. We may say that all exchange takes place on the neoliberal surface.

Neoliberalism is often described-and this creates a lot of confusion-as "market fundamentalism," and while this may be true for neoliberal's self-promotion and self-presentation, i.e., the market as the ultimate and only myth, as were the gods of the past, I would argue that in neoliberalism there is no such thing as the market as we have understood it from previous ideologies.

The neoliberal state-actually, to utter the word state seems insufficient here, I would claim that a new entity is being created, which is not the state as we have known it, but an existence that incorporates potentially all the states in the world and is something that exceeds their sum-is all-powerful, it seeks to leave no space for individual self-conception in the way that classical liberalism, and even communism and fascism to some degree, were willing to allow.

There are competing understandings of neoliberal globalization, when it comes to the question of whether the state is strong or weak compared to the primary agent of globalization, i.e., the corporation, but I am taking this logic further, I am suggesting that the issue is not how strong the state is in the service of neoliberalism, but whether there is anything left over beyond the new definition of the state. Another way to say it is that the state has become the market, the market has become the state, and therefore both have ceased to exist in the form we have classically understood them.

Of course the word hasn't gotten around to the people yet, hence all the confusion about whether Hillary Clinton is more neoliberal than Barack Obama, or whether Donald Trump will be less neoliberal than Hillary Clinton.

The project of neoliberalism-i.e., the redefinition of the state, the institutions of society, and the self-has come so far along that neoliberalism is almost beyond the need of individual entities to make or break its case. Its penetration has gone too deep, and none of the democratic figureheads that come forward can fundamentally question its efficacy.

[Jan 15, 2017] The real question here is: what if a person does not subscribe to all postulates, but still views the market as the best thing since sliced bread . I think yes

Notable quotes:
"... "It seems the initial market euphoria over a Trump fiscal stimulus has started to fade as we watch the clowns that Trump is appointing as his key economic advisors." ..."
Jan 15, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Peter K. -> Peter K.... , January 14, 2017 at 11:36 AM
Some prog neolib:

"It seems the initial market euphoria over a Trump fiscal stimulus has started to fade as we watch the clowns that Trump is appointing as his key economic advisors."

Sanjait was saying there was no initial euphoria, just a small rise in financial equities. (which somehow translated also into higher bond prices and dollar appreciation.)

I agree with Krugman and the financial press that there was. No sign that it's fading yet though (Not that Krugman said there was.)

Of course nobody here in comments cares one way or the other.

pgl -> Peter K.... , January 14, 2017 at 11:57 AM
So "prog neolib" really means any one who actually checks the data. You'd never do that.
libezkova -> pgl... , January 14, 2017 at 11:05 PM
Nice polemics driven hit, but you are wrong. Neolib = "market fundamentalist."

http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=376

== quote ==

The main points of neo-liberalism include:

1.THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating "free" enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no matter how much social damage this causes. Greater openness to international trade and investment, as in NAFTA. Reduce wages by de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers' rights that had been won over many years of struggle. No more price controls. All in all, total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services. To convince us this is good for us, they say "an unregulated market is the best way to increase economic growth, which will ultimately benefit everyone." It's like Reagan's "supply-side" and "trickle-down" economics -- but somehow the wealth didn't trickle down very much.

2.CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like education and health care. REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, and even maintenance of roads, bridges, water supply -- again in the name of reducing government's role. Of course, they don't oppose government subsidies and tax benefits for business.

3.DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminish profits, including protecting the environment and safety on the job.

4.PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads, toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water. Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.

5.ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF "THE PUBLIC GOOD" or "COMMUNITY" and replacing it with "individual responsibility." Pressuring the poorest people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care, education and social security all by themselves -- then blaming them, if they fail, as "lazy."

== end of quote ==

The term can be abused (and is abused a s negative nickname) and here I agree with you (compare abuse of "neolib" with the abuse of the term "racist" :-)

But still it remains a term with a distinctive meaning, pretty much widely agreed upon and uncontroversial definition.

The real question here is: what if a person does not subscribe to all postulates, but still views the market as "the best thing since sliced bread". I think yes. Your mileage may vary.

[Jan 13, 2017] Neoliberalism and the End of Liberal Democracy by Wendy Brown

Notable quotes:
"... Correspondingly, a "mismanaged life," the neoliberal appellation for failure to navigate impediments to prosperity, becomes a new mode of depoliticizing social and economic powers and at the same time reduces political citizenship to an unprecedented degree of passivity and political complacency. ..."
"... as individual "entrepreneurs" in every aspect of life, subjects become wholly responsible for their well-being and citizenship is reduced to success in this entrepreneurship ..."
"... That is, the political rationality of neoliberalism might be read as issuing from a stage of capitalism that simply underscores Marx's argument that capital penetrates and transforms every aspect of life-remaking everything in its image and reducing every value and activity to its cold rationale. ..."
"... neoliberalism entails the erosion of oppositional political, moral, or subjective claims located outside capitalist rationality yet inside liberal democratic society, that is, the erosion of institutions, venues, and values organized by nonmarket rationalities in democracies. ..."
"... Market rationality knows no culture or country, and administrators are, as the economists say, fungible. ..."
"... Together these phenomena suggest a transformation of American liberal democracy into a political and social form for which we do not yet have a name, a form organized by a combination of neoliberal governmentality and imperial world politics, shaped in the short run by global economic and security crises. They indicate a form in which an imperial agenda is able to take hold precisely because the domestic soil has been loosened for it by neoliberal rationality. ..."
"... A potentially permanent "state of emergency" combined with an infinitely expandable rhetoric of patriotism overtly legitimates undercutting the Bill of Rights and legitimates as well abrogation of conventional democratic principles in setting foreign policy, principles that include respect for nation-state sovereignty and reasoned justifications for war. But behind these rhetorics there is another layer of discourse facilitating the dismantling of liberal democratic institutions and practices: a governmentality of neoliberalism that eviscerates nonmarket morality and thus erodes the root of democracy in principle at the same time that it raises the status of profit and expediency as the criteria for policy making. ..."
"... Still, if we are slipping from liberalism to fascism, and if radical democracy or socialism is nowhere on the political horizon, don't we have to defend liberal democratic institutions and values? ..."
lchc.ucsd.edu

It is commonplace to speak of the present regime in the United States as a neoconservative one, and to cast as a consolidated "neocon" project present efforts to intensify U.S. military capacity, increase U.S. global hegemony, dismantle the welfare state, retrench civil liberties, eliminate the right to abortion and affirmative action, re-Christianize the state, deregulate corporations, gut environmental protections, reverse progressive taxation, reduce education spending while increasing prison budgets, and feather the nests of the rich while criminalizing the poor. I do not contest the existence of a religious-political project known as neoconservatism or challenge the appropriateness of understanding many of the links between these objectives in terms of a neoconservative agenda. However, I want to think to one side of this agenda in order to consider our current predicament in terms of a neoliberal political rationality, a rationality that exceeds particular positions on particular issues and that undergirds important features of the Clinton decade as well as the Reagan-Bush years. Further, I want to consider the way that this rationality is emerging as governmentality-a mode of governance encompassing but not limited to the state, and one that produces subjects, forms of citizenship and behavior, and a new organization of the social.1

Economic Liberalism, Political Liberalism, and What Is the Neo in Neoliberalism

In ordinary parlance, neoliberalism refers to the repudiation of Keynesian welfare state economics and the ascendance of the Chicago School of political economy-von Hayek, Friedman, and others. In popular I usage, neoliberalism is equated with a radically free market: maximized competition and free trade achieved through economic deregulation, elimination of tariffs, and a range of monetary and social policies favorable to business and indifferent toward poverty, social deracination, cultural decimation, long-term resource depletion, and environmental destruction. Neoliberalism is most often invoked in relation to the Third World, referring either to NAFTA-like schemes that increase the vulnerability of poor nations to the vicissitudes of globalization or to International Monetary Fund and World Bank policies that, through financing packages attached to "restructuring" requirements, yank the chains of every aspect of Third World existence, including political institutions and social formations. For progressives, neoliberalism is thus a pejorative not only because it conjures economic policies that sustain or deepen local poverty and the subordination of peripheral to core nations, but also because it is compatible with, and sometimes even productive of, authoritarian, despotic, paramilitaristic, and corrupt state forms as well as agents within civil society.

While these referents capture important effects of neoliberalism, they also reduce neoliberalism to a bundle of economic policies with inadvertent political and social consequences: they fail to address the political rationality that both organizes these policies and reaches beyond the market. Moreover, these referents do not capture the neo in neoliberalism, tending instead to treat the contemporary phenomenon as little more than a revival of classical liberal political economy. Finally, they obscure the specifically political register of neoliberalism in the First World: that is, its powerful erosion of liberal democratic institutions and practices in places like the United States.

My concern in this essay is with these neglected dimensions of neoliberalism.

One of the more incisive accounts of neoliberal political rationality comes from a surprising quarter: Michel Foucault is not generally heralded as a theorist of liberalism or of political economy. Yet Foucault's 1978 and 1979 Collège de France lectures, long unpublished,2 consisted of his critical analysis of two groups of neoliberal economists: the Ordo-liberal school in postwar Germany (so named because its members, originally members of the Freiburg School, published mainly in the journal Ordo) and the Chicago School that arose midcentury in the United States. Thanks to the German sociologist Thomas Lemke, we have an excellent summary and interpretation of Foucault's lectures on neoliberalism; in what follows I will draw extensively from Lemke's work.3

It may be helpful, before beginning a consideration of neoliberalism as a political rationality, to mark the conventional difference between political and economic liberalism-a difference especially confusing for Americans for whom "liberal" tends to signify a progressive political viewpoint and, in particular, support for the welfare state and other New Deal institutions, along with relatively high levels of political and legal intervention in the social sphere.4 In addition, given the contemporary phenomena of both neoconservatism and neoliberalism, and the association of both with the political right, ours is a time of often bewildering political nomenclature.5

Briefly, then, in economic thought, liberalism contrasts with mercantilism on one side and Keynesianism or socialism on the other; its classical version refers to a maximization of free trade and competition achieved by minimum interference from political institutions. In the history of political thought, while individual liberty remains a touchstone, liberalism signifies an order in which the state exists to secure the freedom of individuals on a formally egalitarian basis.

A liberal political order may harbor either liberal or Keynesian economic policies-it may lean in the direction of maximizing liberty (its politically "conservative" tilt) or of maximizing equality (its politically "liberal" tilt), but in contemporary political parlance, it is no more or less a liberal democracy because of one leaning or the other. Indeed, the American convention of referring to advocates of the welfare state as political liberals is especially peculiar, given that American conservatives generally hew more closely to both the classical economic and the political doctrines of liberalism-it turns the meaning of liberalism in the direction of liberality rather than liberty. For our purposes, what is crucial is that the liberalism in what has come to be called neoliberalism refers to liberalism's economic variant, recuperating selected pre-Keynesian assumptions about the generation of wealth and its distribution, rather than to liberalism as a political doctrine, as a set of political institutions, or as political practices. The neo in neoliberalism, however, establishes these principles on a significantly different analytic basis from those set forth by Adam Smith, as will become clear below. Moreover, neoliberalism is not simply a set of economic policies; it is not only about facilitating free trade, maximizing corporate profits, and challenging welfarism. Rather, neoliberalism carries a social analysis that, when deployed as a form of governmentality, reaches from the soul of the citizen-subject to education policy to practices of empire. Neoliberal rationality, while foregrounding the market, is not only or even primarily focused on the economy; it involves extending and disseminating market values to all institutions and social action, even as the market itself remains a distinctive player. This essay explores the political implications of neoliberal rationality for liberal democracy-the implications of the political rationality corresponding to, legitimating, and legitimated by the neoliberal turn.

While Lemke, following Foucault, is careful to mark some of the differences between Ordo-liberal thought and its successor and radicalizer, the Chicago School, I will be treating contemporary neoliberal political rationality without attending to these differences in some of its source material. A rich genealogy of neoliberalism as it is currently practiced-one that mapped and contextualized the contributions of the two schools of political economy, traced the ways that rational choice theory differentially adhered and evolved in the various social sciences and their governmental applications, and described the interplay of all these currents with developments in capital over the past half century-would be quite useful. But this essay is not such a genealogy. Rather, my aim is to consider our current political predicament in terms of neoliberal political rationality, whose chief characteristics are enumerated below.

1. The political sphere, along with every other dimension of contemporary existence, is submitted to an economic rationality; or, put the other way around, not only is the human being configured exhaustively as homo oeconomicus, but all dimensions of human life are cast in terms of a market rationality. While this entails submitting every action and policy to considerations of profitability, equally important is the production of all human and institutional action as rational entrepreneurial action, conducted according to a calculus of utility, benefit, or satisfaction against a microeconomic grid of scarcity, supply and demand, and moral value-neutrality. Neoliberalism does not simply assume that all aspects of social, cultural, and political life can be reduced to such a calculus; rather, it develops institutional practices and rewards for enacting this vision. That is, through discourse and policy promulgating its criteria, neoliberalism produces rational actors and imposes a market rationale for decision making in all spheres. Importantly, then, neoliberalism involves a normative rather than ontological claim about the pervasiveness of economic rationality and it advocates the institution building, policies, and discourse development appropriate to such a claim. Neoliberalism is a constructivist project: it does not presume the ontological givenness of a thoroughgoing economic rationality for all domains of society but rather takes as its task the development, dissemination, and institutionalization of such a rationality. This point is further developed in (2) below.

2. In contrast with the notorious laissez-faire and human propensity to "truck and barter" stressed by classical economic liberalism, neoliberalism does not conceive of either the market itself or rational economic behavior as purely natural. Both are constructed-organized by law and political institutions, and requiring political intervention and orchestration. Far from flourishing when left alone, the economy must be directed, buttressed, and protected by law and policy as well as by the dissemination of social norms designed to facilitate competition, free trade, and rational economic action on the part of every member and institution of society. In Lemke's account, "In the Ordo-liberal scheme, the market does not amount to a natural economic reality, with intrinsic laws that the art of government must bear in mind and respect; instead, the market can be constituted and kept alive only by dint of political interventions. . . . [C]ompetition, too, is not a natural fact. . . . [T]his fundamental economic mechanism can function only if support is forthcoming to bolster a series of conditions, and adherence to the latter must consistently be guaranteed by legal measures" (193).

The neoliberal formulation of the state and especially of specific legal arrangements and decisions as the precondition and ongoing condition of the market does not mean that the market is controlled by the state but precisely the opposite. The market is the organizing and regulative principle of the state and society, along three different lines: a. The state openly responds to needs of the market, whether through monetary and fiscal policy, immigration policy, the treatment of criminals, or the structure of public education. In so doing, the state is no longer encumbered by the danger of incurring the legitimation deficits predicted by 1970s social theorists and political economists such as Nicos Poulantzas, Jürgen Habermas, and James O'Connor.6 Rather, neoliberal rationality extended to the state itself indexes the state's success according to its ability to sustain and foster the market and ties state legitimacy to such success. This is a new form of legitimation, one that "founds a state," according to Lemke, and contrasts with the Hegelian and French revolutionary notion of the constitutional state as the emergent universal representative of the people. As Lemke describes Foucault's account of Ordo-liberal thinking, "economic liberty produces the legitimacy for a form of sovereignty limited to guaranteeing economic activity . . . a state that was no longer defined in terms of an historical mission but legitimated itself with reference to economic growth" (196).

b. The state itself is enfolded and animated by market rationality: that is, not simply profitability but a generalized calculation of cost and benefit becomes the measure of all state practices. Political discourse on all matters is framed in entrepreneurial terms; the state must not simply concern itself with the market but think and behave like a market actor across all of its functions, including law. 7

c. Putting (a) and (b) together, the health and growth of the economy is the basis of state legitimacy, both because the state is forthrightly responsible for the health of the economy and because of the economic rationality to which state practices have been submitted. Thus, "It's the economy, stupid" becomes more than a campaign slogan; rather, it expresses the principle of the state's legitimacy and the basis for state action-from constitutional adjudication and campaign finance reform to welfare and education policy to foreign policy, including warfare and the organization of "homeland security."

3. The extension of economic rationality to formerly noneconomic domains and institutions reaches individual conduct, or, more precisely, prescribes the citizen-subject of a neoliberal order. Whereas classical liberalism articulated a distinction, and at times even a tension, among the criteria for individual moral, associational, and economic actions (hence the striking differences in tone, subject matter, and even prescriptions between Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations and his Theory of Moral Sentiments), neoliberalism normatively constructs and interpellates individuals as entrepreneurial actors in every sphere of life.

It figures individuals as rational, calculating creatures whose moral autonomy is measured by their capacity for "self-care"-the ability to provide for their own needs and service their own ambitions. In making the individual fully responsible for her- or himself, neoliberalism equates moral responsibility with rational action; it erases the discrepancy between economic and moral behavior by configuring morality entirely as a matter of rational deliberation about costs, benefits, and consequences.

But in so doing, it carries responsibility for the self to new heights: the rationally calculating individual bears full responsibility for the consequences of his or her action no matter how severe the constraints on this action-for example, lack of skills, education, and child care in a period of high unemployment and limited welfare benefits. Correspondingly, a "mismanaged life," the neoliberal appellation for failure to navigate impediments to prosperity, becomes a new mode of depoliticizing social and economic powers and at the same time reduces political citizenship to an unprecedented degree of passivity and political complacency.

The model neoliberal citizen is one who strategizes for her- or himself among various social, political, and economic options, not one who strives with others to alter or organize these options. Afully realized neoliberal citizenry would be the opposite of public-minded; indeed, it would barely exist as a public. The body politic ceases to be a body but is rather a group of individual entrepreneurs and consumers . . . which is, of course, exactly how voters are addressed in most American campaign discourse.8 Other evidence for progress in the development of such a citizenry is not far from hand: consider the market rationality permeating universities today, from admissions and recruiting to the relentless consumer mentality of students as they consider university brand names, courses, and services, from faculty raiding and pay scales to promotion criteria.9 Or consider the way in which consequential moral lapses (of a sexual or criminal nature) by politicians, business executives, or church and university administrators are so often apologized for as "mistakes in judgment," implying that it was the calculation that was wrong, not the act, actor, or rationale. The state is not without a project in the making of the neoliberal subject. It attempts to construct prudent subjects through policies that organize such prudence: this is the basis of a range of welfare reforms such as workfare and single-parent penalties, changes in the criminal code such as the "three strikes law," and educational voucher schemes. Because neoliberalism casts rational action as a norm rather than an ontology, social policy is the means by which the state produces subjects whose compass is set entirely by their rational assessment of the costs and benefits of certain acts, whether those acts pertain to teen pregnancy, tax fraud, or retirement planning. The neoliberal citizen is calculating rather than rule abiding, a Benthamite rather than a Hobbesian.

The state is one of many sites framing the calculations leading to social behaviors that keep costs low and productivity high. This mode of governmentality (techniques of governing that exceed express state action and orchestrate the subject's conduct toward himor herself) convenes a "free" subject who rationally deliberates about alternative courses of action, makes choices, and bears responsibility for the consequences of these choices. In this way, Lemke argues, "the state leads and controls subjects without being responsible for them"; as individual "entrepreneurs" in every aspect of life, subjects become wholly responsible for their well-being and citizenship is reduced to success in this entrepreneurship (201).

Neoliberal subjects are controlled through their freedom-not simply, as thinkers from the Frankfurt School through Foucault have argued, because freedom within an order of domination can be an instrument of that domination, but because of neoliberalism's moralization of the consequences of this freedom. Such control also means that the withdrawal of the state from certain domains, followed by the privatization of certain state functions, does not amount to a dismantling of government but rather constitutes a technique of governing; indeed, it is the signature technique of neoliberal governance, in which rational economic action suffused throughout society replaces express state rule or provision. Neoliberalism shifts "the regulatory competence of the state onto 'responsible,' 'rational' individuals [with the aim of] encourag[ing] individuals to give their lives a specific entrepreneurial form" (Lemke, 202).

4. Finally, the suffusion of both the state and the subject with economic rationality has the effect of radically transforming and narrowing the criteria for good social policy vis-à-vis classical liberal democracy. Not only must social policy meet profitability tests, incite and unblock competition, and produce rational subjects, it obeys the entrepreneurial principle of "equal inequality for all" as it "multiples and expands entrepreneurial forms with the body social" (Lemke, 195). This is the principle that links the neoliberal governmentalization of the state with that of the social and the subject.

Taken together, the extension of economic rationality to all aspects of thought and activity, the placement of the state in forthright and direct service to the economy, the rendering of the state tout court as an enterprise organized by market rationality, the production of the moral subject as an entrepreneurial subject, and the construction of social policy according to these criteria might appear as a more intensive rather than fundamentally new form of the saturation of social and political realms by capital. That is, the political rationality of neoliberalism might be read as issuing from a stage of capitalism that simply underscores Marx's argument that capital penetrates and transforms every aspect of life-remaking everything in its image and reducing every value and activity to its cold rationale.

All that would be new here is the flagrant and relentless submission of the state and the individual, the church and the university, morality, sex, marriage, and leisure practices to this rationale. Or better, the only novelty would be the recently achieved hegemony of rational choice theory in the human sciences, self-represented as an independent and objective branch of knowledge rather than an expression of the dominance of capital. Another reading that would figure neoliberalism as continuous with the past would theorize it through Weber's rationalization thesis rather than Marx's argument about capital. The extension of market rationality to every sphere, and especially the reduction of moral and political judgment to a cost-benefit calculus, would represent precisely the evisceration of substantive values by instrumental rationality that Weber predicted as the future of a disenchanted world. Thinking and judging are reduced to instrumental calculation in Weber's "polar night of icy darkness"-there is no morality, no faith, no heroism, indeed no meaning outside the market.

Yet invaluable as Marx's theory of capital and Weber's theory of rationalization are in understanding certain aspects of neoliberalism, neither brings into view the historical-institutional rupture it signifies, the form of governmentality it replaces and the form it inaugurates, and hence the modalities of resistance it renders outmoded and those that must be developed if it is to be effectively challenged.

Neoliberalism is not an inevitable historical development of capital and instrumental rationality; it is not the unfolding of laws of capital or of instrumental rationality suggested by a Marxist or Weberian analysis but represents instead a new and contingent organization and operation of both. Moreover, neither analysis articulates the shift neoliberalism heralds from relatively differentiated moral, economic, and political rationalities and venues in liberal democratic orders to their discursive and practical integration. Neoliberal governmentality undermines the relative autonomy of certain institutions-law, elections, the police, the public sphere-from one another and from the market, an independence that formerly sustained an interval and a tension between a capitalist political economy and a liberal democratic political system. The implications of this transformation are significant. Herbert Marcuse worried about the loss of a dialectical opposition within capitalism when it "delivers the goods"-that is, when, by the mid–twentieth century, a relatively complacent middle class had taken the place of the hardlaboring impoverished masses Marx depicted as the negating contradiction to the concentrated wealth of capital-but neoliberalism entails the erosion of oppositional political, moral, or subjective claims located outside capitalist rationality yet inside liberal democratic society, that is, the erosion of institutions, venues, and values organized by nonmarket rationalities in democracies.

When democratic principles of governance, civil codes, and even religious morality are submitted to economic calculation, when no value or good stands outside of this calculus, then sources of opposition to, and mere modulation of, capitalist rationality disappear. This reminds us that however much a left analysis has identified a liberal political order with legitimating, cloaking, and mystifying the stratifications of society achieved by capitalism (and achieved as well by racial, sexual, and gender superordinations), it is also the case that liberal democratic principles of governance- liberalism as a political doctrine-have functioned as something of an antagonist to these stratifications.

As Marx himself argued in "On the Jewish Question," formal political principles of equality and freedom (with their attendant promises of individual autonomy and dignity) figure an alternative vision of humanity and alternative social and moral referents to those of the capitalist order within which they are asserted. This is the Janus-face or at least Janus-potential of liberal democracy vis-à-vis a capitalist economy: while liberal democracy encodes, reflects, and legitimates capitalist social relations, it simultaneously resists, counters, and tempers them.

Put simply, what liberal democracy has provided over the past two centuries is a modest ethical gap between economy and polity. Even as liberal democracy converges with many capitalist values (property rights, individualism, Hobbesian assumptions underneath all contracts, etc.), the formal distinction it establishes between moral and political principles on the one hand and the economic order on the other has also served to insulate citizens against the ghastliness of life exhaustively ordered by the market and measured by market values. It is this gap that a neoliberal political rationality closes as it submits every aspect of political and social life to economic calculation: asking not, for example, what liberal constitutionalism stands for, what moral or political values it protects and preserves, but rather what efficacy or profitability constitutionalism promotes . . . or interdicts.

Liberal democracy cannot be submitted to neoliberal political governmentality and survive. There is nothing in liberal democracy's basic institutions or values-from free elections, representative democracy, and individual liberties equally distributed to modest power-sharing or even more substantive political participation-that inherently meets the test of serving economic competitiveness or inherently withstands a cost-benefit analysis. And it is liberal democracy that is going under in the present moment, even as the flag of American "democracy" is being planted everywhere it can find or create soft ground. (That "democracy" is the rubric under which so much antidemocratic imperial and domestic policy is enacted suggests that we are in an interregnum-or, more precisely, that neoliberalism borrows extensively from the old regime to legitimate itself even as it also develops and disseminates new codes of legitimacy. More about this below.) Nor is liberal democracy a temporary casualty of recent events or of a neoconservative agenda. As the foregoing account of neoliberal governmentality suggests, while post-9/11 international and domestic policy may have both hastened and highlighted the erosion of liberal democratic institutions and principles, this erosion is not simply the result of a national security strategy or even of the Bush administration's unprecedented indifference to the plight of the poor, civil liberties, law valued as principle rather than tactic, or conventional liberal democratic criteria for legitimate foreign policy.10 My argument here is twofold. First, neoliberal rationality has not caused but rather has facilitated the dismantling of democracy during the current national security crisis. Democratic values and institutions are trumped by a cost-benefit and efficiency rationale for practices ranging from government secrecy (even government lying) to the curtailment of civil liberties. Second, the post-9/11 period has brought the ramifications of neoliberal rationality into sharp focus, largely through practices and policies that progressives assail as hypocrisies, lies, or contradictions but that may be better understood as neoliberal policies and actions taking shape under the legitimating cloth of a liberal democratic discourse increasingly void of substance.

The Bush administration's imperial adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq clearly borrowed extensively from the legitimating rhetoric of democracy. Not only were both wars undertaken as battles for "our way of life" against regimes said to harbor enemies (terrorists) or dangers (weapons of mass destruction) to that way of life, but both violations of national sovereignty were justified by the argument that democracy could and ought to take shape in those places-each nation is said to need liberation from brutal and despotic rule. The standard left criticism of the first justification is that "our way of life" is more seriously threatened by a politics of imperialism and by certain policies of homeland security than by these small nations. But this criticism ignores the extent to which "our way of life" is being figured not in a classically liberal democratic but in a neoliberal idiom: that is, as the ability of the entrepreneurial subject and state to rationally plot means and ends and the ability of the state to secure the conditions, at home and abroad, for a market rationality and subjectivity by removing their impediments (whether Islamic fundamentalism or excessive and arbitrary state sovereignty in the figure of Saddam Hussein). Civil liberties are perfectly expendable within this conception of "our way of life"; unlike property rights, they are largely irrelevant to homo oeconomicus. Their attenuation or elimination does not falsify the project of protecting democracy in its neoliberal mode.

The Left criticized the second justification, that the United States could or ought to liberate Afghanistan from the Taliban and Iraq from Hussein, as both hypocritical (the United States had previously funded and otherwise propped up both regimes) and disingenuous (U.S. foreign policy has never rested on the principle of developing democracy and was not serious about the project in these settings). Again, however, translated into neoliberal terms, "democracy," here or there, does not signify a set of independent political institutions and civic practices comprising equality, freedom, autonomy and the principle of popular sovereignty but rather indicates only a state and subjects organized by market rationality. Indeed, democracy could even be understood as a code word for availability to this rationality; removal of the Taliban and Baath party pave the way to that availability, and democracy is simply the name of the regime, conforming to neoliberal requirements, that must replace them. When Paul Bremer, the U.S.-appointed interim governor of Iraq, declared on May 26, 2003 (just weeks after the sacking of Baghdad and four days after the UN lifted economic sanctions), that Iraq was "open for business," he made clear exactly how democracy would take shape in post- Saddam Iraq. Duty-free imported goods poured into the country, finishing off many local Iraqi businesses already damaged by the war. Multinationals tumbled over themselves to get a piece of the action, and foreign direct investment to replace and privatize state industry was described by the corporate executives advising the Bush administration as the "answer to all of Iraq's problems."11 The question of democratic institutions, as Bremer made clear by scrapping early plans to form an interim Iraqi government in favor of installing his own team of advisers, was at best secondary to the project of privatizing large portions of the economy and outsourcing the business of policing a society in rubble, chaos, and terror occasioned by the combination of ongoing military skirmishes and armed local gangs.12

It is not news that replacements for the Taliban and the Baath regimes need not be rights-based, formally egalitarian, representative, or otherwise substantively democratic in order to serve the purposes of global capitalism or the particular geopolitical interests of the United States. Nor is it news that the replacements of these regimes need not be administered by the Afghans or Iraqis themselves to satisfy American and global capitalist purposes and interests, though the residues of old-fashioned democracy inside the legitimation project of neoliberalism make even puppet or faux rule by an appointed governing council, or by officials elected in severely compromised election conditions, ideologically preferable to full-fledged directorship by the American occupation. What is striking, however, is the boldness of a raw market approach to political problem solving, the extent to which radical privatization schemes and a flourishing market economy built on foreign investment are offered not simply as the path to democracy but as the name and the measure of democracy in these nations, a naming and measuring first appearing in post-1989 Eastern Europe a decade earlier. Not only are democratic institutions largely irrelevant- and at times even impediments-to neoliberal governmentality, but the success of such governmentality does not depend on the question of whether it is locally administered or externally imposed.

Market rationality knows no culture or country, and administrators are, as the economists say, fungible. Indeed, at this juncture in the displacement of liberal democracy by neoliberal governmentality, the question is how much legitimacy neoliberal governance requires from a democratic vocabulary-how much does neoliberalism have to cloak itself in liberal democratic discourse and work with liberal democratic institutions? This is less a theoretical than a historical-empirical question about how deeply and extensively neoliberal rationality has taken hold as ideology, that is, how much and where neoliberal governance can legitimate itself in its own terms, without borrowing from other discourses. (Neoliberalism can become dominant as governmentality without being dominant as ideology-the former refers to governing practices and the latter to a popular order of belief that may or may not be fully in line with the former, and that may even be a site of resistance to it.)

Clearly, a rhetoric of democracy and the shell of liberal democratic institutions remain more important in the imperial heartland than in recently "liberated" or conquered societies with few if any democratic traditions of legitimacy. However, the fact that George W. Bush retains the support of the majority of the American people, despite his open flaunting of democratic principles amid a failing economy and despite, too, evidence that the public justification for invading Iraq relied on cooked intelligence, suggests that neoliberalism has taken deep hold in the homeland. Particularly striking is the number of pundits who have characterized this willful deceit of the people as necessary rather than criminal, as a means to a rational end, thereby reminding us that one of the more dangerous features of neoliberal evisceration of a non-market morality lies in undercutting the basis for judging government actions by any criteria other than expedience.13

Just as neoliberal governmentality reduces the tension historically borne by the state between democratic values and the needs of capital as it openly weds the state to capital and resignifies democracy as ubiquitous entrepreneurialism, so neoliberalism also smooths an old wrinkle in the fabric of liberal democratic foreign policy between domestic political values and international interests. During the cold war, political progressives could use American sanctimony about democracy to condemn international actions that propped up or installed authoritarian regimes and overthrew popularly elected leaders in the Third World. The divergence between strategic international interests and democratic ideology produced a potential legitimation problem for foreign policy, especially as applied to Southeast Asia and Central and Latin America. Neoliberalism, by redefining democracy as thoroughgoing market rationality in state and society, a redefinition abetted by the postcommunist "democratization" process in Eastern Europe, largely eliminates that problem.

Certainly human rights talk is ubiquitous in global democracy discourse, but not since Jimmy Carter's ill-fated efforts to make human rights a substantive dimension of foreign policy have they served as more than window dressing for neoliberal adventures in democracy. Mourning Liberal Democracy An assault on liberal democratic values and institutions has been plainly evident in recent events: civil liberties undermined by the USA Patriot Acts and the Total Information Awareness (later renamed Total Terror Awareness) scheme, Oakland police shooting wood and rubber bullets at peaceful antiwar protesters, a proposed Oregon law to punish all civil disobedience as terrorism (replete with twenty five-year jail terms), and McCarthyite deployments of patriotism to suppress ordinary dissent and its iconography. It is evident as well in the staging of aggressive imperial wars and ensuing occupations along with the continued dismantling of the welfare state and the progressive taxation schemes already diluted by the Reagan, G.H.W. Bush, and Clinton administrations. It has been more subtly apparent in "softer" events, such as the de-funding of public education that led eighty four Oregon school districts to sheer almost a month off the school year in spring 2003 and delivered provisional pink slips to thousands of California teachers at the end of the 2002–03 academic year.14 Or consider the debate about whether antiwar protests constituted unacceptable costs for a financially strapped cities-even many critics of current U.S. foreign policy expressed anger at peaceful civil disobedients over the expense and disruption they caused, implying that the value of public opinion and protest should be measured against its dollar cost.15

Together these phenomena suggest a transformation of American liberal democracy into a political and social form for which we do not yet have a name, a form organized by a combination of neoliberal governmentality and imperial world politics, shaped in the short run by global economic and security crises. They indicate a form in which an imperial agenda is able to take hold precisely because the domestic soil has been loosened for it by neoliberal rationality.

This form is not fascism or totalitarian as we have known them historically, nor are these labels likely to prove helpful in identifying or criticizing it.16 Rather, this is a political condition in which the substance of many of the significant features of constitutional and representative democracy have been gutted, jettisoned, or end-run, even as they continue to be promulgated ideologically, serving as a foil and shield for their undoing and for the doing of death elsewhere. These features include civil liberties equally distributed and protected; a press and other journalistic media minimally free from corporate ownership on one side and state control on the other; uncorrupted and unbought elections; quality public education oriented, inter alia, to producing the literacies relevant to informed and active citizenship; government openness, honesty, and accountability; a judiciary modestly insulated from political and commercial influence; separation of church and state; and a foreign policy guided at least in part by the rationale of protecting these domestic values. None of these constitutive elements of liberal democracy was ever fully realized in its short history-they have always been compromised by a variety of economic and social powers, from white supremacy to capitalism.

And liberal democracies in the First World have always required other peoples to pay-politically, socially, and economically-for what these societies have enjoyed; that is, there has always been a colonially and imperially inflected gap between what has been valued in the core and what has been required from the periphery. So it is important to be precise here. Ours is not the first time in which elections have been bought, manipulated, and even engineered by the courts, the first time the press has been slavish to state and corporate power, the first time the United States has launched an aggressive assault on a sovereign nation or threatened the entire world with its own weapons of mass destruction. What is unprecedented about this time is the extent to which basic principles and institutions of democracy are becoming nothing other than ideological shells concealing their opposite as well as the extent to which these principles and institutions even as values are being abandoned by large parts of the American population.

Elements in this transformation include the development of the most secretive government in fifty years (the gutting of the Freedom of Information Act was one of the quiet early accomplishments of the G. W. Bush administration, the "classified" status of its more than 1,000 contracts with Halliburton one of its more recent); the plumping of corporate wealth combined with the reduction of social spending for limiting the economic vulnerability of the poor and middle classes; a bought, consolidated, and muffled press that willingly cooperates in its servitude (emblematic in this regard is the Judith Miller (non)scandal, in which the star New York Times journalist wittingly reported Pentagon propaganda about Iraqi WMDs as journalistically discovered fact); and intensified policing in every corner of American life- airports, university admissions offices, mosques, libraries, workplaces- a policing undertaken both by official agents of the state and by an interpellated citizenry.

A potentially permanent "state of emergency" combined with an infinitely expandable rhetoric of patriotism overtly legitimates undercutting the Bill of Rights and legitimates as well abrogation of conventional democratic principles in setting foreign policy, principles that include respect for nation-state sovereignty and reasoned justifications for war. But behind these rhetorics there is another layer of discourse facilitating the dismantling of liberal democratic institutions and practices: a governmentality of neoliberalism that eviscerates nonmarket morality and thus erodes the root of democracy in principle at the same time that it raises the status of profit and expediency as the criteria for policy making.

There is much that is disturbing in the emergence of neoliberal governmentality and a great deal more work to do in theorizing its contribution to the organization and possibilities in current and future political life in the United States. In particular, as I suggested at the outset of this essay, filling in the contemporary political picture would require mapping the convergences and tensions between a (nonpartisan) neoliberal governmentality on the one hand and the specific agendas of Clintonian centrists and Reagan-Bush neoconservatives on the other. It would require exploring the continued efficacy of political rhetorics of morality and principle as neoliberalism voids the substance of and undercuts the need for extramarket morality. It would require discerning what distinguishes neoliberal governmentality from old-fashioned corporatism and old-fashioned political realism. It would require examining the contradictory political imperatives delivered by the market and set as well by the tensions between nationstate interests and globalized capitalism indifferent to states and sovereignty. And it would require examining the points at which U.S. imperial policies converge with and diverge from or even conflict with neoliberal governmentality.

By way of conclusion, however, I leave aside these questions to reflect briefly on the implications for the Left of neoliberalism's erosion of liberal democracy. While leftists of the past quarter century were rarely as antagonistic to liberal democracy as the Old Left, neither did we fully embrace it; at times we resented and railed against it, and certainly we harbored an aim to transform it into something else-social democracy or some form of radical democracy. So the Left is losing something it never loved, or at best was highly ambivalent about. We are also losing a site of criticism and political agitation-we criticized liberal democracy not only for its hypocrisy and ideological trickery but also for its institutional and rhetorical embedding of bourgeois, white, masculinist, and heterosexual superordination at the heart of humanism. Whatever loose identity we had as a Left took shape in terms of a differentiation from liberalism's willful obliviousness to social stratification and injury that were glossed and hence secured by its formal juridical categories of liberty and equality.

Still, liberalism, as Gayatri Spivak once wrote in a very different context, is also that which one "cannot not want" (given the other historical possibilities, given the current historical meaning of its deprivation). Even here, though, the desire is framed as roundabout and against itself, as Spivak's artful double negative indicates. It indicates a dependency we are not altogether happy about, an organization of desire we wish were otherwise. What might be the psychic/social/intellectual implications for leftists of losing this vexed object of attachment? What are the possible trajectories for a melancholic incorporation of that toward which one is openly ambivalent; or perhaps even hostile, resentful, rebellious?

Freud posits melancholy as occasioned by ambivalence, though the ambivalence may be more unconsciously sustained than I am suggesting is the case for the Left's relationship to liberal democracy. More precisely, Freud's focus in theorizing melancholy is love that does not know or want to avow its hostility, whereas the task before us is to consider hostility that does not know or want to avow its love or dependency. Still, Freud's thinking about melancholia remains useful here as a theory of loss amid ambivalent attachment and dependence and a theory of identity formation at the site of an ungrievable passion or attachment. It reminds us to consider how left melancholia about liberal democracy would not just be a problematic affect but would constitute a formation of the Left itself.

Incorporating the death of a loathed object to which one was nonetheless attached often takes the form of acting out the loathed qualities of the object. I once had an acquaintance whose muchdespised and abusive father died. While my friend overtly rejoiced at his passing, in the ensuing months she engaged in extraordinary outbursts of verbal and physical abuse toward friends and colleagues, even throwing things at them as she had described her father throwing household objects during her childhood. Another friend buried, after years of illness, a childish, hysterical, histrionic, and demanding mother, one who relentlessly produced herself as a victim amid her own aggressive demands. Relieved as my friend was to have done with this parent, what should emerge over the following year but exactly such tendencies in her own relationships? So this is one danger: that we would act out to keep alive those aspects of the political formation we are losing, that we would take up and perform liberal democracy's complacencies, cruelties, or duplicities, stage them in our own work and thinking. This behavior would issue in part from the need to preserve the left identity and project that took shape at the site of liberal democracy, and in part from ambivalence about liberal democracy itself. In response to the loss of an object both loved and loathed, in which only the loathing or contempt is avowed, melancholy sustains the loved object, and continues to provide a cover for the love-a continued means of disavowing it-by incorporating and performing the loathsomeness.

There are other ways ambivalently structured loss can take shape as melancholic, including the straightforward possibility of idealizing a lost object as it was never idealized when alive. Straightforward, perhaps, but not simple, for this affect also involves remorse for a past of not loving the object well enough and self-reproach for ever having wished for its death or replacement. As idealization fueled by guilt, this affect also entails heightened aggression toward challenges or challengers to the idealization. In this guilt, anxiety, and defensiveness over the loss of liberal democracy, we would feel compelled to defend basic principles of liberalism or simply defend liberalism as a whole in a liberal way, that is, we would give up being critical of liberalism and, in doing so, give up being left. Freud identifies this surrender of identity upon the death of an ambivalent object as the suicidal wish in melancholia,17 a wish abetted in our case by a more general disorientation about what the Left is or stands for today. Evidence for such a surrender in the present extends from our strikingly unnuanced defenses of free speech, privacy, and other civil liberties to the staging of antiwar protests as "patriotic" through the iconography of the American flag. Often explained as what the Left must do when public discourse moves rightward, such accounts presume a single political continuum, ranged from extreme left to extreme right, in which liberals and conservatives are nothing more than the moderate versions of the extremes (communists and fascists). Not only does the model of the continuum reduce the variety of political possibility in modernity to matters of degree rather than kind, it erases the distinctiveness of a left critique and vision. Just as today's neoliberals bear little in common with traditional conservatives, so the Left has traditionally stood for a set of values and possibilities qualitatively different from those of welfare state liberals. Times of alliance and spheres of overlap obviously exist, but a continuum does not capture the nature of these convergences and tactical linkages any better than it captures the differences between, for example, a liberal commitment to rights-based equality and a left commitment to emancipating the realm of production, or between a liberal enthusiasm for the welfare state and a left critique of its ideological and regulatory dimensions. So the idea that leftists must automatically defend liberal political values when they are on the ropes, while sensible from a liberal perspective, does not facilitate a left challenge to neoliberalism if the Left still wishes to advocate in the long run for something other than liberal democracy in a capitalist socioeconomic order.

Of course, there are aspects of liberal democracy that the Left has come to value and incorporate into its own vision of the good society-for example, an array of individual liberties that are largely unrelated to the freedom from domination promised by transforming the realm of production. But articulating this renewed left vision differs from defending civil liberties in liberal terms, a defense that itself erases a left project as it consigns it to something outside those terms. Similarly, patriotism and flag-waving are surely at odds with a left formulation of justice, even as love of America, represented through icons other than the flag or through narratives other than "supporting the troops," might well have a part in this formulation. Finally, not only does defending liberal democracy in liberal terms sacrifice a left vision, but this sacrifice discredits the Left by tacitly reducing it to nothing more than a permanent objection to the existing regime. It renders the Left a party of complaint rather than a party with an alternative political, social, and economic vision.

Still, if we are slipping from liberalism to fascism, and if radical democracy or socialism is nowhere on the political horizon, don't we have to defend liberal democratic institutions and values? Isn't this the lesson of Weimar? I have labored to suggest that this is not the right diagnosis of our predicament: it does not grasp what is at stake in neoliberal governmentality-which is not fascism-nor on what grounds it might be challenged. Indeed, the left defense of the welfare state in the 1980s, which seemed to stem from precisely such an analysis-"if we can't have socialism, at least we should preserve welfare state capitalism"-backfired from just such a misdiagnosis. On the one hand, rather than articulating an emancipatory vision that included the eradication rather than regulation of poverty, the Left appeared aligned with big government, big spending, and misplaced compassion for those construed as failing to give their lives proper entrepreneurial shape. On the other hand, the welfare state was dismantled on grounds that had almost nothing to do with the terms of liberal democracy and everything to do with neoliberal economic and political rationality. We are not simply in the throes of a right-wing or conservative positioning within liberal democracy but rather at the threshold of a different political formation, one that conducts and legitimates itself on different grounds from liberal democracy even as it does not immediately divest itself of the name. It is a formation that is developing a domestic imperium correlative with a global one, achieved through a secretive and remarkably agentic state; through corporatized media, schools, and prisons; and through a variety of technologies for intensified local administrative, regulatory, and police powers. It is a formation made possible by the production of citizens as individual entrepreneurial actors across all dimensions of their lives, by the reduction of civil society to a domain for exercising this entrepreneurship, and by the figuration of the state as a firm whose products are rational individual subjects, an expanding economy, national security, and global power.

This formation produces a twofold challenge for the Left. First, it compels us to consider the implications of losing liberal democracy and especially its implications for our own work by learning what the Left has depended on and demanded from liberal democracy, which aspects of it have formed the basis of our critiques of it, rebellions against it, and identity based on differentiation from it. We may also need to mourn liberal democracy, avowing our ambivalent attachment to it, our need for it, our mix of love and hostility toward it. The aim of this work is framed by the second challenge, that of devising intelligent left strategies for challenging the neoliberal political-economic formation now taking shape and an intelligent left countervision to this formation.

A half century ago, Marcuse argued that capitalism had eliminated a revolutionary subject (the proletariat) representing the negation of capitalism; consequently, he insisted, the Left had to derive and cultivate anticapitalist principles, possibilities, and agency from capitalism's constitutive outside. That is, the Left needed to tap the desires- not for wealth or goods but for beauty, love, mental and physical well-being, meaningful work, and peace-manifestly unmet within a capitalist order and to appeal to those desires as the basis for rejecting and replacing the order. No longer could economic contradictions of capitalism inherently fuel opposition to it; rather, opposition had to be founded in an alternative table of values. Today, the problem Marcuse diagnosed has expanded from capitalism to liberal democracy: oppositional consciousness cannot be generated from liberal democracy's false promises and hypocrisies. The space between liberal democratic ideals and lived realities has ceased to be exploitable, because liberal democracy itself is no longer the most salient discourse of political legitimacy and the good life. Put the other way around, the politically exploitable hollowness in formal promises of freedom and equality has largely vanished to the extent that both freedom and equality have been redefined by neoliberalism. Similarly, revealed connections between political and economic actors-not merely bought politicians but arrangements of mutual profiteering between corporate America and its political elite-do not incite outrage at malfeasance, corruption, or injustice but appear instead as a potentially rational set of linkages between state and economy.

Thus, from the "scandal" of Enron to the "scandal" of Vice President Cheney delivering Iraq to Halliburton to clean up and rebuild, there is no scandal. There is only market rationality, a rationality that can encompass even a modest amount of criminality but also treats close state-corporate ties as a potentially positive value-maximizing the aims of each-rather than as a conflict of interest. 18 Similarly, even as the Bush administration fails to come up with WMDs in Iraq and fails to be able to install order let alone democracy there, such deficiencies are irrelevant to the neoliberal criteria for success in that military episode. Indeed, even the scandal of Bush's installation as president by a politicized Supreme Court in 2000 was more or less ingested by the American people as business as usual, an ingestion that represents a shift from the expectation that the Supreme Court is independent of political influence to one that tacitly accepts its inclusion in the governmentality of neoliberalism. Similarly, John Poindexter, a key figure in the Iran-Contra affair and director of the proposed "Terrorism Information Awareness" program that would have put all Americans under surveillance, continued to have power and legitimacy at the Pentagon until the flap over the scheme to run a futures market on political violence in the Middle East. All three of these projects are instances of neoliberalism's indifference to democracy; only the last forced Poindexter into retirement.

These examples suggest that not only liberal democratic principles but democratic morality has been largely eviscerated-in neoliberal terms, each of these "scandals" is framed as a matter of miscalculation or political maneuvering rather than by right and wrong, truth or falsehood, institutional propriety or impropriety. Consequently, the Left cannot count on revealed deception, hypocrisies, interlocking directorates, featherbedding, or corruption to stir opposition to the existing regime. It cannot count on the expectation that moral principle undergirds political action or even on consistency as a value by which to judge state practices or aims. Much of the American public appeared indifferent to the fact that both the Afghan and Iraqi regimes targeted by Bush had previously been supported or even built by earlier U.S. foreign policy. It also appeared indifferent to the touting of the "liberation" of Afghan women as one of the great immediate achievements of the overthrow of the Taliban while the overthrow of the Baath regime set into motion an immediately more oppressive regime of gender in Iraq. The inconsistency does not matter much, because political reasons and reasoning that exceed or precede neoliberal criteria have ceased to matter much. This is serious political nihilism, which no mere defense of free speech and privacy, let alone securing the right to gay marriage or an increase in the minimum wage, will reverse. What remains for the Left, then, is to challenge emerging neoliberal governmentality in Euro-Atlantic states with an alternative vision of the good, one that rejects homo oeconomicus as the norm of the human and rejects this norm's correlative formations of economy, society, state, and (non)morality. In its barest form, this would be a vision in which justice would center not on maximizing individual wealth or rights but on developing and enhancing the capacity of citizens to share power and hence to collaboratively govern themselves. In such an order, rights and elections would be the background rather than token of democracy; or better, rights would function to safeguard the individual against radical democratic enthusiasms but would not themselves signal the presence or constitute the principle of democracy. Instead, a left vision of justice would focus on practices and institutions of popular power; a modestly egalitarian distribution of wealth and access to institutions; an incessant reckoning with all forms of power-social, economic, political, and even psychic; a long view of the fragility and finitude of nonhuman nature; and the importance of both meaningful activity and hospitable dwellings to human flourishing. However differently others might place the accent marks, none of these values can be derived from neoliberal rationality or meet neoliberal criteria for the good.

The drive to develop and promulgate such a counterrationality-a different figuration of human beings, citizenship, economic life, and the political-is critical both to the long labor of fashioning a more just future and to the immediate task of challenging the deadly policies of the imperial American state.

[Jan 08, 2017] Neoliberals are really Latter Date Trotskyites in most of their ideological postulates.

Jan 08, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Libezkova -> ilsm... January 07, 2017 at 12:43 PM , 2017 at 12:43 PM
ilsm,

"The MSM is building a case to do Putin like the one to do Assad."

I am not sure about that. I think this anti-Russian hysteria is mainly for internal consumption and designed to put a smoke screen of the problem of the US neoliberal society and increase the cohesion of population, which essentially rejected neoliberal elite during the recent elections.

The bout of McCarthyism that we observe now might also be an attempt to de-legitimize Trump presidency and to tie his hands. This Machiavellian trick with expulsion of diplomats that Nobel Peace Price winner played with Russians recently suggests the latter. Deep state that controls the US foreign policy feels the threat and reacts accordingly.

Too many people in Washington are "national security parasites" and are dependent of continuation of wars for the expansion of the US led global neoliberal empire.

Trump promised to drain the swamp, but he probably underestimated the level of resistance he will encounter. Just look at hissy fits that WaPo and NYT is still engaged it. They really behave like Putin agent is ascending into position of POTUS :-). The same is true of some commenters here.

They feel threatened by the rejection of their ideology and are ready to do purges in best Trotskyites tradition. As I mentioned before they are really "Latter Date Trotskyites" in most of their ideological postulates.

  1. Use of violence for the spread of the ideology. A totalitarian vision for a world-encompassing monolithic global state (US led neoliberal empire) governed by an ideologically charged "vanguard".
  2. Creation and maintenance of the illusion of "immanent threat" from powerful enemies for brainwashing the population (National Security State instead of "Dictatorship of proletariat").
  3. Purges of dissent via neo-McCarthyism tactics.
  4. The mantle of inevitability (famous TINA statement of Margaret Thatcher)
  5. The study of neoclassical economics as the key method of indoctrination of people with economists as a class of well paid priests of neoliberal ideology.
  6. War on, and brutal suppression of organized labor. While in Soviet Russia organized labor was emasculated and trade unions became part of government apparatus, under neoliberalism they are simply decimated. It "atomize" individual workers presenting them as goods on the "labor market" controlled by large corporations ( via the myth of human capital ). Neoliberals see the market as a semi-sacred element of human civilization. They want to create global labor market that favors transnational corporations. The idea of "employability" is characteristically neoliberal. It means that neoliberals see it as a moral duty of human beings, to arrange their lives to maximize their value on the labor market. Paying for plastic surgery to improve employability (almost entirely by women) is a typical neoliberal phenomenon -- one that would surprise Adam Smith.
  7. The pseudoscientific (or quasi-religious) myth of "free-market" (why not "fair"?). with neoclassical economy instead of "Marxist political economy" which provides a pseudo-scientific justification for the greed and poverty endemic to the system. Set of powerful myths, which like in Marxism create a "secular religion". Such as on "Free Trade", "Invisible Hand Hypothesis", "Rational expectations" scam, "Shareholder value" scam, etc. Fake promises of prosperity, which are not unlike the rhetoric of the Communist Party of the USSR about "proletariat" as the ruling class to which all benefits belongs.
  8. Scapegoating and victimization of poor as new Untermensch. This is a part of Randism and is closely related to glorification of the "creative class".
  9. Rejection of the normal interpretation of the rule of the law and the idea of "neoliberal justice" (tough justice for Untermensch only).
  10. Cult of GDP. Like Marxism, neoliberalism reduces individuals to statistics contained within aggregate economic performance. It professes that GDP growth is the ultimate goal of any society. This is very similar to the USSR cult of gross national product.
Libezkova -> Libezkova... January 07, 2017 at 01:01 PM , 2017 at 01:01 PM
As Pope noted it is distinctly anti-Christian ideology, much like Trotskyism:

== quote ===
... Such an [neoliberal] economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality.

Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless.

As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a "disposable" culture which is now spreading.

It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society's underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the "exploited" but the outcast, the "leftovers".

54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world.

This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.

Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed.

Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people's pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else's responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

ilsm -> Libezkova... , January 07, 2017 at 01:01 PM
Yes like Goring said at Nuremburg!

[Jan 07, 2017] Neoliberals are really Latter Date Trotskyites in most of their ideological postulates.

Jan 07, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Libezkova -> ilsm... January 07, 2017 at 12:43 PM , 2017 at 12:43 PM
ilsm,

"The MSM is building a case to do Putin like the one to do Assad."

I am not sure about that. I think this anti-Russian hysteria is mainly for internal consumption and designed to put a smoke screen of the problem of the US neoliberal society and increase the cohesion of population, which essentially rejected neoliberal elite during the recent elections.

The bout of McCarthyism that we observe now might also be an attempt to de-legitimize Trump presidency and to tie his hands. This Machiavellian trick with expulsion of diplomats that Nobel Peace Price winner played with Russians recently suggests the latter. Deep state that controls the US foreign policy feels the threat and reacts accordingly.

Too many people in Washington are "national security parasites" and are dependent of continuation of wars for the expansion of the US led global neoliberal empire.

Trump promised to drain the swamp, but he probably underestimated the level of resistance he will encounter.

Just look at hissy fits that WaPo and NYT is still engaged it. They really behave like Putin agent ascending into position of POTUS :-). The same is true of some commenters here.

They feel threatened by the rejection of their ideology and are ready to do purges in best Trotskyites tradition. As I mentioned before they are really "Latter Date Trotskyites" in most of their ideological postulates.

- Use of violence for the spread of the ideology. A totalitarian vision for a world-encompassing monolithic global state (US led neoliberal empire) governed by an ideologically charged "vanguard".

- Creation and maintenance of the illusion of "immanent threat" from powerful enemies for brainwashing the population (National Security State instead of "Dictatorship of proletariat").
- Purges of dissent via neo-McCarthyism tactics.

- The mantle of inevitability (famous TINA statement of Margaret Thatcher)

- The study of neoclassical economics as the key method of indoctrination of people with economists as a class of well paid priests of neoliberal ideology.

- War on, and brutal suppression of organized labor. While in Soviet Russia organized labor was emasculated and trade unions became part of government apparatus, under neoliberalism they are simply decimated. It "atomize" individual workers presenting them as goods on the "labor market" controlled by large corporations ( via the myth of human capital ). Economic fetishism. Neoliberals see the market as a semi-sacred element of human civilization. They want to create global labor market that favors transnational corporations. The idea of "employability" is characteristically neoliberal. It means that neoliberals see it as a moral duty of human beings, to arrange their lives to maximize their value on the labor market. Paying for plastic surgery to improve employability (almost entirely by women) is a typical neoliberal phenomenon -- one that would surprise Adam Smith.

- The pseudoscientific (or quasi-religious) myth of "free-market" (why not "fair"?). with neoclassical economy instead of "Marxist political economy" which provides a pseudo-scientific justification for the greed and poverty endemic to the system. Set of powerful myths, which like in Marxism create a "secular religion". Such as on "Free Trade", "Invisible Hand Hypothesis", "Rational expectations" scam, "Shareholder value" scam, etc. Fake promises of prosperity, which are not unlike the rhetoric of the Communist Party of the USSR about "proletariat" as the ruling class to which all benefits belongs.

- Scapegoating and victimization of poor as new Untermensch. This is a part of Randism and is closely related to glorification of the "creative class".

- Rejection of the normal interpretation of the rule of the law and the idea of "neoliberal justice" (tough justice for Untermensch only).

- Cult of GDP. Like Marxism, neoliberalism on the one hand this reduces individuals to statistics contained within aggregate economic performance. It professes that GDP growth is the ultimate goal of any society. This is very similar to the USSR cult of gross national product.

[Jan 07, 2017] Thatcherism represented a systematic, decisive rejection and reversal of the post-war consensus, whereby the major political parties largely agreed on the central themes of Keynesianism, the welfare state, nationalised industry, and close regulation of the economy

Notable quotes:
"... Not quite, they belong to different flavors of neoliberalism. As a politician Clinton was a "soft neoliberal", or "Third way" neoliberal. Not quite the same as Reagan who was closer to "hard neoliberalism", or Thatcherism -- "in your face" neoliberalism. They do not hide their principles and attitudes. ..."
"... Wikipedia: "Thatcherism represented a systematic, decisive rejection and reversal of the post-war consensus, whereby the major political parties largely agreed on the central themes of Keynesianism, the welfare state, nationalised industry, and close regulation of the economy" ..."
"... Clinton (like later Tony Blair) basically accepted the central postulates of neoliberalism such as globalization, deregulation, privatization, maintaining a flexible labor market by high unemployment, marginalizing the trade unions, but made his intentions hidden under the smoke screen ("I feel you pain"). Essentially he created the second major flavor of neoliberalism "soft neoliberalism", or neoliberal "wolf in sheep's clothing". ..."
Jan 07, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Libezkova -> kurt... , -1

"Krugman a neolib?"

that's true statement. He is. With penchant for mathiness and globalization. Although like any talented person sometimes he transcends this limitation and writes really good articles.

"Clinton a Reagan copy?"

Not quite, they belong to different flavors of neoliberalism. As a politician Clinton was a "soft neoliberal", or "Third way" neoliberal. Not quite the same as Reagan who was closer to "hard neoliberalism", or Thatcherism -- "in your face" neoliberalism. They do not hide their principles and attitudes.

Wikipedia: "Thatcherism represented a systematic, decisive rejection and reversal of the post-war consensus, whereby the major political parties largely agreed on the central themes of Keynesianism, the welfare state, nationalised industry, and close regulation of the economy"

Clinton (like later Tony Blair) basically accepted the central postulates of neoliberalism such as globalization, deregulation, privatization, maintaining a flexible labor market by high unemployment, marginalizing the trade unions, but made his intentions hidden under the smoke screen ("I feel you pain"). Essentially he created the second major flavor of neoliberalism "soft neoliberalism", or neoliberal "wolf in sheep's clothing".

That's the difference. Peter K. -> kurt... , -1

Krugman is center-left and doesn't like the left.

Haven't you been paying attention?

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/05/09/the-facts-have-a-well-known-center-left-bias/

The Facts Have A Well-Known Center-Left Bias
by Krugman
MAY 9, 2016 8:01 AM

Yesterday I tweeted a response to Donald Trump's claim that America is the highest-taxed nation in the world. Actually, he's been busted on that claim repeatedly, which makes it even more shameful that TV interviewers just let it slide. But I'm also interested in the responses I've been getting, which I think tell you something about the broader situation – maybe call it the politics of epistemology.

As you might guess, I'm getting a lot of denial, with quite a few people "explaining" that the international comparisons don't include state and local government. Um, guys, maybe you shouldn't make confident pronouncements about stuff you've never looked at.

And I do wonder about right-wingers weighing in here. After all, isn't it a (false) right-wing trope that the economic troubles of European nations are caused by their excessive welfare states? Doesn't that suggest that they have bigger government and higher taxes than we do? Oh, never mind.

But I'm also hearing from Berniebros, insisting that anything I say must be wrong, because I criticized their hero. And this suggests to me that we may need a clarification of the doctrine that facts have a well-known liberal bias. More specifically, they seem to have a center-left bias: conservatives are big on empirical denial, but so is some of the U.S. left.

This has become especially obvious in the waning days of the Democratic primary: you can watch data journalists like the two Nates (Cohn and Silver) growing increasingly exasperated with Sanders supporters who keep insisting that Hillary is stealing the nomination with superdelegates, when it's actually the Sanders campaign talking about getting supers to overturn the pledged delegate count and the popular vote.

Of course, campaigns can't be held responsible for everything their supporters say, although it's a bit worse when some of those supporters are actual campaign surrogates. Still, we can ask whether Sanders himself is inclined to dismiss inconvenient facts. Well, as you know, I think the answer is yes, on issues ranging from economic projections to the sources of Clinton primary victories.

I was therefore primed to notice when Sanders declared that Democrats need their own version of Fox News. What does he mean, exactly? Should the proposed network engage in similar factual distortions and outright falsehoods, except this time in the service of progressive goals?

By the way, it wouldn't work. Fox caters to an audience of angry old white men; the angry young white guys who would want a left-wing version of this message are fewer in number, have less purchasing power, and anyway don't get their news from TV. But that's a side point.

The main point, instead, is that what we're seeing is that the sort of people who really care about getting facts right – who see facing up to inconvenient truths as an important value – are largely on the center-left. Care with evidence appears to matter if you are, say, the 11th most liberal senator; this is in contrast not just with the right, but also with some of the left.

The good news is that this general election will be a contest between the center-left and the ignorant right, so political values and intellectual values will be in perfect accord.

[Jan 04, 2017] Privatization as defining feature of neoliberalism

Notable quotes:
"... "Neoliberalism is a policy model of social studies and economics that transfers control of economic factors to the private sector from the public sector .Neoliberal policies aim for a laissez-faire approach to economic development. ..."
"... neoliberal is a corporatist scam to make you think they are liberal because they do not want to defund planned parenthood. ..."
Jan 04, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
pgl :, January 03, 2017 at 12:47 PM
The term neoliberal is often to smear certain liberals who actually try to do economic analysis but what does this term mean? One definition is found here:

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/n/neoliberalism.asp

Two snippets:

"Neoliberalism is a policy model of social studies and economics that transfers control of economic factors to the private sector from the public sector .Neoliberal policies aim for a laissez-faire approach to economic development.

I'll not speak for others but both of these ideas are things I would oppose. So who are the neoliberals per this link? Thatcher and Reagan. Hayek and Milton Friedman. That does not sound like what I believe. As far as the financial deregulation we saw almost a generation ago. I said back then that this was a mistake.

No – if this is what a neoliberal is, I'm not in this camp at all. Of course some people around here toss out the term to avoid a real discussion of the issues.

sanjait -> pgl... , January 03, 2017 at 04:47 PM
I think some people use it, obtusely, as if it were a relative term without real meaning.

If you aren't as liberal as the True Liberals (tm), or ever expressed disagreement with Bernie Sanders specifically, then you are a "neoliberal." Because, just because.

ilsm -> pgl... , -1
Get on.

neoliberal is a corporatist scam to make you think they are liberal because they do not want to defund planned parenthood.

DNC is corrupt and lies a lot too.

[Jan 04, 2017] Neoliberals versus socialists

Notable quotes:
"... Sanders responded with an attack on what he called "casino capitalism," an economic system that largely rewards the very rich and leaves the poor and middle class behind. He said the United States should be more like Scandinavian countries, which provide larger safety nets for their populations. ..."
"... "When you look around the world, you see every other major country providing health care to all people as a right, except the United States," Sanders said. "You see every other major country saying to moms that, when you have a baby, we're not gonna separate you from your newborn baby, because we are going to have -- we are gonna have medical and family paid leave, like every other country on Earth. ..."
"... "Those are some of the principles that I believe in, and I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people." ..."
"... Clinton fired back with a defense of capitalism as a concept. First she redefined it - capitalism, she said, is about entrepreneurs being able to start small businesses - and then she said America must save it from itself. "We are not Denmark," she told Sanders. "I love Denmark." ..."
"... Scarred by the Great Recession and 25 years of middle-class wage stagnation, a majority of Americans now see the economy as stacked against people like them. They're still angry at Wall Street after the financial crisis, and, particularly on issues such as family leave, many of them look fondly upon policies like Denmark's. ..."
"... These trends have continued under the recovery overseen by a Democratic president, Barack Obama. As they have, Democratic politicians have elevated inequality and middle-class stagnation to the top of their economic agendas. There's a real debate on the role of the free market in addressing those issues. It comes down to the question of whether capitalism needs to be fixed up, or overhauled completely. The difference between fixing and overhauling is the main policy difference between Clinton and Sanders, as the debate showed. ..."
Jan 04, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Peter K. : January 04, 2017 at 01:43 PM , 2017 at 01:43 PM

Progressive neoliberals versus socialists.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/10/13/why-bernie-sanders-loves-denmark-but-hillary-clinton-doesnt/?utm_term=.94c6445f06fe

Why Bernie Sanders loves Denmark but Hillary Clinton doesn't

By Jim Tankersley October 13, 2015

Raise your hand if you had "Hillary Clinton defends capitalism, and/or criticizes Denmark" in your office pool for the first on-stage debate fight of the Democratic primaries. That's right - you didn't. But Clinton's extolling of the free-market economic system, and her critique of Democratic socialism, was her first open attack on the man closest to her in the polls, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. It showed an important fault line in this primary campaign.

The debate opened with the moderator, CNN's Anderson Cooper, smacking each of the five candidates on stage with her or his biggest perceived vulnerability in this race. For Sanders, it was his long and proud identification as a socialist, a term that, Cooper said, half of Americans find disqualifying in a candidate for president. "How can any kind of socialist win a general election in the United States?" Cooper asked.

Sanders responded with an attack on what he called "casino capitalism," an economic system that largely rewards the very rich and leaves the poor and middle class behind. He said the United States should be more like Scandinavian countries, which provide larger safety nets for their populations.

"When you look around the world, you see every other major country providing health care to all people as a right, except the United States," Sanders said. "You see every other major country saying to moms that, when you have a baby, we're not gonna separate you from your newborn baby, because we are going to have -- we are gonna have medical and family paid leave, like every other country on Earth.

"Those are some of the principles that I believe in, and I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people."

Clinton fired back with a defense of capitalism as a concept. First she redefined it - capitalism, she said, is about entrepreneurs being able to start small businesses - and then she said America must save it from itself. "We are not Denmark," she told Sanders. "I love Denmark."

"We would be making a grave mistake to turn our backs on what built the greatest middle class in the history of the world," she said.

That this is a real debate in a major political party in the United States reflects several changes in the economy, and one big shift among Democratic voters.

Scarred by the Great Recession and 25 years of middle-class wage stagnation, a majority of Americans now see the economy as stacked against people like them. They're still angry at Wall Street after the financial crisis, and, particularly on issues such as family leave, many of them look fondly upon policies like Denmark's.

These trends have continued under the recovery overseen by a Democratic president, Barack Obama. As they have, Democratic politicians have elevated inequality and middle-class stagnation to the top of their economic agendas. There's a real debate on the role of the free market in addressing those issues. It comes down to the question of whether capitalism needs to be fixed up, or overhauled completely. The difference between fixing and overhauling is the main policy difference between Clinton and Sanders, as the debate showed.

[Dec 28, 2016] Neoliberalism consists of several eclectic parts such as neoclassic economics, mixture of Nietzscheanism (often in the form of Ann Rand philosophy; with the replacement of concept of Ubermench with creative class concept)) with corporatism.

Notable quotes:
"... But there are other flavors too. For example Trump introduced another flavor which I called "bastard neoliberalism". Which is the neoliberalism without neoliberal globalization and without "Permanent revolution" mantra -- efforts for enlargement of the US led global neoliberal empire. Somewhat similar to Eduard Bernstein "revisionism" in Marxism. Or Putinism - which is also a flavor of neoliberalism with added "strong state" part and "resource nationalism" bent, which upset so much the US neoliberal establishment, as it complicates looting of the country by transnational corporations. ..."
"... Neoliberalism also can be viewed as a modern mutation of corporatism, favoring multinationals (under disguise of "free trade"), privatization of state assets, minimal government intervention in business (with financial oligarchy being like Soviet nomenklatura above the law), reduced public expenditures on social services, and decimation of New Deal, strong anti trade unionism stance and attempt to atomize work force (perma temps as preferred mode of employment giving employers "maximum flexibility") , neocolonialism and militarism in foreign relations (might makes right). ..."
"... The word "elite" in the context of neoliberalism has the same meaning as the Russian word nomenklatura. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nomenklatura, -- the political establishment holding or controlling both public and private power centers such as media, finance, academia, culture, trade, industry, state and international institutions. ..."
Dec 28, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com
sanjait -> Peter K.... December 28, 2016 at 05:02 PM , 2016 at 05:02 PM
At this point, when I hear people use the words "neoliberal," "elites" and "the media" in unspecified or highly generalized terms to make broad characterizations ... I know I'm dealing with an unserious person.

sanjait -> sanjait... , December 28, 2016 at 05:05 PM
It's a lot like when someone says "structural reform" without specification in an economic discussion: An almost perfect indicator of vacuity.
likbez -> sanjait... , -1
Let's define the terms.

Neoliberals are those who adhere to the doctrine of Neoliberalism (the "prohibited" word you should not ever see in the US MSM ;-)

In this sense the term is very similar to Marxists (with the replacement of the slogan of "proletarians of all nations unite" with the "financial oligarchy of all countries unite"). Or more correctly they are the "latter day Trotskyites".

Neoliberalism consists of several eclectic parts such as neoclassic economics, mixture of Nietzscheanism (often in the form of Ann Rand philosophy; with the replacement of concept of Ubermench with "creative class" concept)) with corporatism. Like with Marxism there are different flavors of neoliberalism and different factions like "soft neoliberalism" (Clinton third way) which is the modern Democratic Party doctrine, and hard neoliberalism (Republican party version), often hostile to each other.

But there are other flavors too. For example Trump introduced another flavor which I called "bastard neoliberalism". Which is the neoliberalism without neoliberal globalization and without "Permanent revolution" mantra -- efforts for enlargement of the US led global neoliberal empire. Somewhat similar to Eduard Bernstein "revisionism" in Marxism. Or Putinism - which is also a flavor of neoliberalism with added "strong state" part and "resource nationalism" bent, which upset so much the US neoliberal establishment, as it complicates looting of the country by transnational corporations.

Neoliberalism also can be viewed as a modern mutation of corporatism, favoring multinationals (under disguise of "free trade"), privatization of state assets, minimal government intervention in business (with financial oligarchy being like Soviet nomenklatura above the law), reduced public expenditures on social services, and decimation of New Deal, strong anti trade unionism stance and attempt to atomize work force (perma temps as preferred mode of employment giving employers "maximum flexibility") , neocolonialism and militarism in foreign relations (might makes right).

Like for any corporatist thinkers the real goals are often hidden under thick smoke screen of propaganda.

The word "elite" in the context of neoliberalism has the same meaning as the Russian word nomenklatura. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nomenklatura, -- the political establishment holding or controlling both public and private power centers such as media, finance, academia, culture, trade, industry, state and international institutions.

[Sep 13, 2015] What is Neoliberalism by Elizabeth Martinez and Arnoldo Garcia

CorpWatch

"Neo-liberalism" is a set of economic policies that have become widespread during the last 25 years or so. Although the word is rarely heard in the United States, you can clearly see the effects of neo-liberalism here as the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer.

"Liberalism" can refer to political, economic, or even religious ideas. In the U.S. political liberalism has been a strategy to prevent social conflict. It is presented to poor and working people as progressive compared to conservative or Rightwing. Economic liberalism is different. Conservative politicians who say they hate "liberals" -- meaning the political type -- have no real problem with economic liberalism, including neoliberalism.

"Neo" means we are talking about a new kind of liberalism. So what was the old kind? The liberal school of economics became famous in Europe when Adam Smith, an Scottish economist, published a book in 1776 called THE WEALTH OF NATIONS. He and others advocated the abolition of government intervention in economic matters. No restrictions on manufacturing, no barriers to commerce, no tariffs, he said; free trade was the best way for a nation's economy to develop. Such ideas were "liberal" in the sense of no controls. This application of individualism encouraged "free" enterprise," "free" competition -- which came to mean, free for the capitalists to make huge profits as they wished.

Economic liberalism prevailed in the United States through the 1800s and early 1900s. Then the Great Depression of the 1930s led an economist named John Maynard Keynes to a theory that challenged liberalism as the best policy for capitalists. He said, in essence, that full employment is necessary for capitalism to grow and it can be achieved only if governments and central banks intervene to increase employment. These ideas had much influence on President Roosevelt's New Deal -- which did improve life for many people. The belief that government should advance the common good became widely accepted.

But the capitalist crisis over the last 25 years, with its shrinking profit rates, inspired the corporate elite to revive economic liberalism. That's what makes it "neo" or new. Now, with the rapid globalization of the capitalist economy, we are seeing neo-liberalism on a global scale.

A memorable definition of this process came from Subcomandante Marcos at the Zapatista-sponsored Encuentro Intercontinental por la Humanidad y contra el Neo-liberalismo (Inter-continental Encounter for Humanity and Against Neo-liberalism) of August 1996 in Chiapas when he said: "what the Right offers is to turn the world into one big mall where they can buy Indians here, women there ...." and he might have added, children, immigrants, workers or even a whole country like Mexico."

The main points of neo-liberalism include:

  1. THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating "free" enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no matter how much social damage this causes. Greater openness to international trade and investment, as in NAFTA. Reduce wages by de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers' rights that had been won over many years of struggle. No more price controls. All in all, total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services. To convince us this is good for us, they say "an unregulated market is the best way to increase economic growth, which will ultimately benefit everyone." It's like Reagan's "supply-side" and "trickle-down" economics -- but somehow the wealth didn't trickle down very much.
  2. CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like education and health care. REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, and even maintenance of roads, bridges, water supply -- again in the name of reducing government's role. Of course, they don't oppose government subsidies and tax benefits for business.
  3. DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminsh profits, including protecting the environmentand safety on the job.
  4. PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads, toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water. Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.
  5. ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF "THE PUBLIC GOOD" or "COMMUNITY" and replacing it with "individual responsibility." Pressuring the poorest people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care, education and social security all by themselves -- then blaming them, if they fail, as "lazy."

Around the world, neo-liberalism has been imposed by powerful financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. It is raging all over Latin America. The first clear example of neo-liberalism at work came in Chile (with thanks to University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman), after the CIA-supported coup against the popularly elected Allende regime in 1973. Other countries followed, with some of the worst effects in Mexico where wages declined 40 to 50% in the first year of NAFTA while the cost of living rose by 80%. Over 20,000 small and medium businesses have failed and more than 1,000 state-owned enterprises have been privatized in Mexico. As one scholar said, "Neoliberalism means the neo-colonization of Latin America."

In the United States neo-liberalism is destroying welfare programs; attacking the rights of labor (including all immigrant workers); and cutbacking social programs. The Republican "Contract" on America is pure neo-liberalism. Its supporters are working hard to deny protection to children, youth, women, the planet itself -- and trying to trick us into acceptance by saying this will "get government off my back." The beneficiaries of neo-liberalism are a minority of the world's people. For the vast majority it brings even more suffering than before: suffering without the small, hard-won gains of the last 60 years, suffering without end.

Elizabeth Martinez is a longtime civil rights activist and author of several books, including "500 Years of Chicano History in Photographs."

13101310Arnoldo Garcia is a member of the Oakland-based Comite Emiliano Zapata, affiliated to the National Commission for Democracy in Mexico.

13101310Both writers attended the Intercontinental Encounter for Humanity and against Neoliberalism, held July 27 - August 3,1996, in La Realidad, Chiapas.

What is neoliberalism

Neoliberalism is a very important, yet often misunderstood concept. To give a short, oversimplified definition: Neoliberalism is a small-state economic ideology based on promoting "rational self-interest" through policies such as privatisation, deregulation, globalisation and tax cuts.

People often boggle at the use of the word "neoliberal" as if the utterer were some kind of crazed tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorist raving about insane lizard-man conspiracies, rather than someone attempting to concisely define the global economic orthodoxy of the last three decades or so.

One of the main problems we encounter when discussing neoliberalism is the haziness of the definition. Neoliberalism is certainly a form of free-market neoclassical economic theory, but it quite difficult to pin down further than that, especially since neoliberal governments and economists carefully avoid referring to themselves as neoliberals and the mainstream media seem to avoid using the word at all costs (think about the last time you saw a BBC or CNN news reporter use the word "neoliberal" to describe the IMF or a particularly right-wing government policy).

The economic model that the word "neoliberalism" was coined to describe was developed by Chicago school economists in the 1960s and 1970s based upon Austrian neoclassical economic theories, but heavily influenced by Ayn Rand's barmy pseudo-philosophy of Übermenschen and greed-worship.

The first experiment in applied neoliberal theory began on September 11th 1973 in Chile, when a US backed military coup resulted in the death of social-democratic leader Salvador Allende and his replacement with the brutal military dictator General Pinochet (Margaret Thatcher's friend and idol). Thousands of people were murdered by the Pinochet regime for political reasons and tens of thousands more were tortured as Pinochet and the "Chicago boys" set about implementing neoliberal economic reforms and brutally suppressing anyone that stood in their way. The US financially doped the Chilean economy in order to create the impression that these rabid-right wing reforms were successful. After the "success" of the Chilean neoliberal experiment, the instillation and economic support of right-wing military dictatorships to impose neoliberal economic reforms became unofficial US foreign policy.

The first of the democratically elected neoliberals were Margaret Thatcher in the UK and Ronald Reagan in the US. They both set about introducing ideologically driven neoliberal reforms, such as the complete withdrawal of capital controls by Tory Chancellor Geoffrey Howe and the deregulation of the US financial markets that led to vast corruption scandals like Enron and the global financial sector insolvency crisis of 2007-08.

By 1989 the ideology of neoliberalism was enshrined as the economic orthodoxy of the world as undemocratic Washington based institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the US Treasury Department signed up to a ten point economic plan which was riddled with neoliberal ideology such as trade liberalisation, privatisation, financial sector deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy. This agreement between anti-democratic organisations is misleadingly referred to as "The Washington Consensus".

These days, the IMF is the most high profile pusher of neoliberal economic policies. Their strategy involves applying strict "structural adjustment" conditions on their loans. These conditions are invariably neoliberal reforms such as privatisation of utilities, services and government owned industries, tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, the abandonment of capital controls, the removal of democratic controls over central banks and monetary policy and the deregulation of financial industries.

Neoliberal economic policies have created economic disaster after economic disaster, virtually wherever they have been tried out. Some of the most high profile examples include:


South Africa: When the racist Apartheid system was finally overthrown in 1994, the new ANC government embraced neoliberal economic theory and set about privatising virtually everything, cutting taxes for the wealthy, destroying capital controls and deregulating their financial sector. After 18 years of neoliberal government, more black South Africans are living in extreme poverty, more people are unemployed and South Africa is an even more unequal society than it was under the racist Apartheid regime. Between 1994 and 2006 the number of South Africans living on less than $1 a day doubled from 2 million to 4 million, by 2002, eight years after the end of Apartheid 2002 the unemployment rate for black South Africans had risen to 48%.*
Russia: After the fall of communism, neoliberal economists flooded into Russia to create their free-market utopia, however all they managed to do was massively increase levels of absolute poverty, reduce productivity and create a few dozen absurdly wealthy oligarchs who siphoned their $trillions out of Russia to "invest" in vanity projects such as Chelsea FC. Within less than a decade of being one of the world's two great super-powers, the neoliberal revolution resulted in Russia defaulting on their debts in 1998.

Argentina: Praised as the poster-boys of neoliberalism by the IMF in the 1990s for the speed and scale of their neoliberal reforms, the Argentine economy collapsed into chaos between 1999-2002, only recovering after Argentina defaulted on their debts and prioritised repayment of their IMF loans, which allowed them to tear up the IMF book of neoliberal dogma and begin implementing an investment based growth strategy which boosted the Argentine economy out of their prolonged recession. The late Argentine President Néstor Kirchner famously stated that the IMF had "transformed itself from being a lender for development to a creditor demanding privileges".

The Eurozone: The right-wing love to drivel on about how the EU is a "leftie" organisation, but the unelected technocrats that run the EU (the European commission and the European Central Bank) are fully signed up to the neoliberal economic orthodoxy, where economic interests are separated from democratic control. Take the economic crisis in Greece: The EC and the ECB lined up with the neoliberal pushing IMF to force hard line neoliberal reforms onto the Greek economy in return for vast multi-billion "bailouts" that flowed directly out of Greece to "bail out" their reckless creditors (mainly German and French banks). When the neoliberalisation reforms resulted in further economic contraction, rising unemployment and worsening economic conditions the ECB, EC, IMF troika simply removed the democratic Greek government and appointed their own stooge, an economic coup trick they also carried out in Italy. Spain and Ireland are other cracking examples of neoliberal failure in the Eurozone. These two nations were more fiscally responsible than Germany, France or the UK in terms of government borrowing before the neoliberal economic meltdown, however their deregulated financial sectors inflated absurd property bubbles, leaving the Irish and Spanish economies in ruins once the bubbles burst around 2007-08.

The United Kingdom: Here is a short article summarising how three decades of neoliberal policy have undone many of the gains made during the mixed-economy era.
Despite this litany of economic failures, neoliberalism remains the global economic orthodoxy. Just like any good pseudo-scientific or religious orthodoxy the supporters of neoliberal theory always manage to come up with a load of post-hoc rationalisations for the failure of their theories and the solutions they present for the crises their own theories induced are always based upon the implementation of even more fundamentalist neoliberal policies.

One of the most transparent of these neoliberal justification narratives is the one that I describe as the Great Neoliberal Lie: The fallacious and utterly misleading argument that the global economic crisis (credit crunch) was caused by excessive state spending, rather than by the reckless gambling of the deregulated, neoliberalised financial sector.

Just as with other pseudo-scientific theories and fundamentalist ideologies, the excuse that "we just weren't fundamentalist enough last time" is always there. The neoliberal pushers of the establishment know that pure free-market economies are as much of an absurd fairytale as 100% pure communist economies, however they keep pushing for further privatisations, tax cuts for the rich, wage repression for the ordinary, and reckless financial sector deregulations precicely because they are the direct beneficiaries of these policies. Take the constantly widening wealth gap in the UK throughout three decades of neoliberal policy. The minority of beneficiaries from this ever widening wealth gap are the business classes, financial sector workers, the mainstream media elite and the political classes. It is no wonder at all that these people think neoliberalism is a successful ideology. Within their bubbles of wealth and privilege it has been. To everyone else it has been an absolute disaster.

Returning to a point I raised earlier in the article; one of the main problems with the concept of "neoliberalism" is the nebulousness of the definition. It is like a form of libertarianism, however it completely neglects the fundamental libertarian idea of non-aggression. In fact, it is so closely related to that other (highly aggressive) US born political ideology of Neo-Conservatism that many people get the two concepts muddled up. A true libertarian would never approve of vast taxpayer funded military budgets, the waging of imperialist wars of aggression nor the wanton destruction of the environment in pursuit of profit.

Another concept that is closely related to neoliberalism is the ideology of minarchism (small stateism), however the neoliberal brigade seem perfectly happy to ignore the small-state ideology when it suits their personal interests. Take the vast banker bailouts (the biggest state subsidies in human history) that were needed to save the neoliberalised global financial sector from the consequences of their own reckless gambling, the exponential growth of the parasitic corporate outsourcing sector (corporations that make virtually 100% of their turnover from the state) and the ludicrous housing subsidies (such as "Help to Buy and Housing Benefits) that have fueled the reinflation of yet another property Ponzi bubble.

The Godfather of neoliberalism was Milton Friedman. He made the case that illegal drugs should be legalised in order to create a free-market drug trade, which is one of the very few things I agreed with him about. However this is politically inconvenient (because the illegal drug market is a vital source of financial sector liquidity) so unlike so many of his neoliberal ideas that have consistently failed, yet remain incredibly popular with the wealthy elite, Friedman's libertarian drug legalisation proposals have never even been tried out.

The fact that neoliberals are so often prepared to ignore the fundamental principles of libertarianism (the non-aggression principle, drug legalisation, individual freedoms, the right to peaceful protest ...) and abuse the fundamental principles of small state minarchism (vast taxpayer funded bailouts for their financial sector friends, £billions in taxpayer funded outsourcing contracts, alcohol price fixing schemes) demonstrate that neoliberalism is actually more like Ayn Rand's barmy (greed is the only virtue, all other "virtues" are aberrations) pseudo-philosophical ideology of objectivism than a set of formal economic theories.

The result of neoliberal economic theories has been proven time and again. Countries that embrace the neoliberal pseudo-economic ideology end up with "crony capitalism", where the poor and ordinary suffer "austerity", wage repression, revocation of labour rights and the right to protest, whilst a tiny cabal of corporate interests and establishment insiders enrich themselves via anti-competitive practices, outright criminality and corruption and vast socialism-for-the-rich schemes.

Neoliberal fanatics in powerful positions have demonstrated time and again that they will willingly ditch their right-wing libertarian and minarchist "principles" if those principles happen to conflict with their own personal self-interest. Neoliberalism is less of a formal set of economic theories than an error strewn obfuscation narrative to promote the economic interests, and justify the personal greed of the wealthy, self-serving establishment elite.

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De Neice Kenehan 2 years ago

The Democratic a Party has had a Neoliberal economic policy since Carter. The word liberal in Neoliberalism refers to the liberalization or easing of labour and trade laws meant to protect the population from the tyranny of unrestrained capitalism. Much of this deregulation ends up benefiting the parasitic elites and bureaucracy, rather than the poor. You can clearly see the effects as the rich grow richer and the poor poorer.

Neoliberalism attempted to do away with narrow interest politics that were seen to damage the Democratic Party by adopting a " centrist " vision which is internally consistent with the laissez-faire capitalist model that the Republican Party espouses.

To prevent social conflict, Democratic policy has been marketed to poor and working people as "progressive" and as "less evil " than conservative or Rightwing policy. But it is the same policy , and Conservatives who bluster that they hate "liberals" actually have no real problem whatsoever with neoliberalism.

Here's why---The main points of neo-liberalism include:

1. THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating "free" enterprise or private enterprise from bonds imposed by the government no matter how much social damage this causes, eg approval of large monopolistic mergers and acquisitions like Comcast; Clintonian Wall Street banking consolidations , crossownerships , schemes and scams.

With the rapid globalization of the capitalist free market economy, we are seeing neo-liberalism on a global scale, for example , greater openness to international trade and investment, as in NAFTA and TPP.

2. CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, eg recent cuts in food stamps and unemployment insurance (Of course, they don't oppose government subsidies and tax benefits for business.) See the Farm Bill passed by Conservative Republicans and Neoliberal Democrats and signed by a neoliberal president; also Obama's plan to chain Social Security benefits .

3. DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminsh profits, including protecting the environment and safety on the job, eg barely monitored fracking on public lands, opposition to labeling of GMOs, withholding information about toxic chemicals from public and not monitoring radiation in Japanese imports following the Fukushima meltdown.

4. PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads, toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water. Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs, eg intended shutdown of the US Postal Service, school choice/privatization, corporate prisons, defense contracts.

5. Replacing "THE PUBLIC GOOD" or "COMMUNITY" with "individual responsibility."

There are some criticisms of neoliberalism. One of the most common is that it is too concerned with raising incomes (eg focus on minimum wage ) and less with overall income equality, that is, that most of the increase in income reported as a result of neoliberalism around the world goes into the hands of a small elite. Many "traditional liberals" worry that the increasing gap between the lower class and the mega-rich is undermining democracy as we know it.

This reflects the prediction of James Madison, the 'Father of the Constitution', that "We are free today substantially but the day will come when our Republic will be an impossibility. It will be an impossibility because wealth will be concentrated in the hands of a few." He then goes on to say that we must then rely on the "best elements in society" to readjust the laws of the country to the changed conditions.

The other major criticism of domestic neoliberals is their support for free trade. Many people on all sides of the political spectrum (in every country) worry about the effects of free trade on everything from wages to sovereignty.

In Mexico wages declined 40 to 50% in the first year of President Clinton's NAFTA while the cost of living rose by 80%. Over 20,000 small and medium businesses have failed and more than 1,000 state-owned enterprises have been privatized in Mexico. As one scholar said, "Neoliberalism means the neo-colonization of Latin America."

(Various sources)

- DeNeice Kenehan

Neoliberalism origins, theory, definition.

The definition of neoliberalism presented here is more abstract than usual - but it also suggests that neoliberalism has been underestimated. A widely quoted example of those 'usual definitions' is What is "Neo-Liberalism"? by Elizabeth Martinez and Arnoldo García:
Neo-liberalism is a set of economic policies that have become widespread during the last 25 years or so. Although the word is rarely heard in the United States, you can clearly see the effects of neo-liberalism here as the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer....Around the world, neo-liberalism has been imposed by powerful financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Inter- American Development Bank....the capitalist crisis over the last 25 years, with its shrinking profit rates, inspired the corporate elite to revive economic liberalism. That's what makes it 'neo' or new.

This sense of the word 'neoliberalism' is widely used in Latin America. However, neoliberalism is more a phenomenon of the rich western market democracies, than of poor regions. That is why I emphasise the historical development of liberalism, in those western market democracies. The IMF and the World Bank are not the right places to look, to see the essence of neoliberalism. And the WTO ideology - free trade and 'competitive advantage' - is 200 years old. There is nothing 'neo' in their liberalism.

Seattle and Genoa?

The image of 'neoliberalism' has been heavily influenced by the protests against it: people think of the violent protests at Seattle and Genoa, and the associated social movements. If you only thought about that, then neoliberalism would be an ideology of the riot police, and that's not accurate.

It's true that the Genoa G8 summit was intended as a show of force. The organisers knew that violent demonstrations were probable in an Italian city, but chose to confront them. Democratically elected leaders "should not run from demonstrators", said Tony Blair. (However, when it was Britain's turn to organise the G8 summit, the hypocrite choose the isolated Gleneagles hotel in Scotland). 20 000 police and soldiers were deployed at the Genoa G8 summit - NATO used 42 500 troops to occupy Kosovo. This show of force was out of all proportion to the political strength of anti-market forces, but it emphasised the legitimacy of the market-democratic states.

It is possible for 'the state' to suppress 'the market', but also to promote it. In fact, the free market emerged in Europe under the protection of the state, and the market needs the state, more than the other way around. The market needs internal regulation, in order to function: the state, in the form of the legal system, ensures contracts are enforced. In the form of the police, it prevents theft and fraud. It establishes uniform systems of weights and measures, and a uniform currency. Without these things there would be no free market, no market forces, and no resulting market society. Bill Gates disputes the US Government's authority over his business - but if there was no government at all, the poor would soon steal his wealth. The attack on the World Trade Center provided some images of this dependency - the reopening of the New York Stock Exchange by police and firefighters, for instance. (In turn, at least in the United States, the market is integrated in the national identity: the NYSE reopening was seen as an act of national defiance).

The free market is itself a form of social organisation: it is neither spontaneous nor endemic to humans. If no-one ever promoted or enforced it, there would be no free market on this planet. For thousands of years, there was none. The modern free market came into existence primarily because liberalism demanded its existence. This demand was a a political demand, and it was enforced through the state.

The general functionalist starting premise is only modified to the extent that the "system" is comprehended as capitalist, in a specific way "form-determined". The state and the political system function as a form of an 'ideal all-around capitalist', who must uphold not just the society as such, but the 'capitalist element'. The different forms of state interventionism are explained both as an expression of functional needs of the accumulation and reproduction process of capital. The general requirements of capital accumulation such as basic infrastructure, functioning law systems and legitimization mechanisms are tasks that cannot be carried out by individual capitalists due to the competition relations, but instead systemically require a "fictive all-around-capitalist". This "capitalist referee" must guarantee the fulfilment of these tasks in the interest of maintaining the system of capitalist society..
Business and the State: Mapping the Theoretical Landscape
Volker Schneider and Marc Tenbuecken, 2002.

If everyone on this planet was a liberal, an enthusiastic supporter of the free market, then that would be the end of the matter. But of course some people oppose the market, and its effects - especially the resulting inequality. The market is a political and social regime, and like any other regime, it must be enforced against opposition. That is true even of democracies: democrats overthrow dictators, and dictators overthrow democracies. If either side wants to avoid their own overthrow, they must use force. Democrats do use democratic force, and do fight democratic wars, as they know in Iraq.

The relationship between supporters and opponents of the free market, is similar to that between democrats and anti-democrats. They are enemies, inherently. On the very existence of the market, no compromise is possible. The free market either exists, or it does not exist. It can disappear by consent - which is absurdly unlikely - or without consent. Any attempt to end the free market is, by definition, an attempt to overthrow a fundamental social structure. Certainly, in the long-established western market democracies, it would mean a collapse of the existing social structures. The effect would be dramatic - comparable to occupation by a foreign power.

So it is not surprising that force is used in the face of a threat, and it is not surprising that it is the force of the state. That is after all, a typical task of the state - the preservation of the regime itself, the preservation of the nature of the state. Anarchist propaganda speaks of "the State", as if all states were interchangeable, but they are not. A market democracy is not interchangeable with a Bolshevik regime, simply because they both have a government, an army, and a police force. A market democracy will use force, state force, against an attempt to overthrow either democracy or the market. That is what the riot police did: defend the state, and defend the market - without contradiction between them.

In historical perspective 'Genoa' was an absurd over-reaction. The western market democracies are the most stable and successful societies in history. The principle of the free market is accepted by well over 90% of their population, probably closer to 99% in western Europe. The tensions can be explained by the underlying sense of threat, but they are not specifically related to neoliberalism, and they certainly do not explain it. For that, a long-term and ideological perspective is necessary.

... ... ...

A general characteristic of neoliberalism is the desire to intensify and expand the market, by increasing the number, frequency, repeatability, and formalisation of transactions. The ultimate (unreachable) goal of neoliberalism is a universe where every action of every being is a market transaction, conducted in competition with every other being and influencing every other transaction, with transactions occurring in an infinitely short time, and repeated at an infinitely fast rate. It is no surprise that extreme forms of neoliberalism, and especially cyberliberalism, overlap with semi-religious beliefs in the interconnectedness of the cosmos.

Some specific aspects of neoliberalism are:

Neoliberalism is not simply an economic structure, it is a philosophy. This is most visible in attitudes to society, the individual and employment. Neo-liberals tend to see the world in term of market metaphors. Referring to nations as companies is typically neoliberal, rather than liberal. In such a view Deutschland GmbH competes with Great Britain Ltd, BV Nederland, and USA Inc. However, when this is a view of nation states, it is as much a form of neo-nationalism as neoliberalism. It also looks back to the pre-liberal economic theory - mercantilism - which saw the countries of Europe as competing units. The mercantilists treated those kingdoms as large-scale versions of a private household, rather than as firms. Nevertheless, their view of world trade as a competition between nation-sized units, would be acceptable to modern neoliberals.

Competition for inward investment, on the other hand, was generally unknown until the late 19th century. This competition is often seen by activists as the core doctrine of neoliberalism, especially since the neo-mercantilist policies are easy to understand and very unpopular: wage cuts, less money for public services, less tax on the rich. The neo-mercantilist nation, in other words, behaves like a caricaturally mean and nasty capitalist. It is not relevant either for these policies, or for opposition to them, whether they have any effect at all. Perhaps investment decisions are not made on this basis, perhaps there is no real mobility of capital, perhaps no investor is interested in Argentina, for instance. But so long as the Argentine government believes that it should pursue certain polices to attract investors, then it will do so. So long as it believes that the 'SA Argentina' is a business firm, then it will run Argentina accordingly.

The market metaphor is not only applied among nations, but among cities and regions as well. In neoliberal regional policy, cities are selling themselves in a national and global marketplace of cities. They are considered equivalent to an entrepreneur selling a product, but the product is the city (or region) as a location for entrepreneurs. The successful 'sale' of the product is the decision of an entrepreneur to locate there, not simply the sale of land or factories. This view of cities as sub-firms within the fictive 'national firm' parallels the creation of sub-markets within real firms. The difference is, that those sub-markets really exist - neoliberal city governments, on the other hand, act primarily on a belief in a metaphor. Again, there is no hard evidence that the global marketplace of cities exists: for most economic sectors complete mobility of plant and labour is an illusion. Most firms can not simply move from city to city, across continents and ignoring language and cultural barriers, in pursuit of locational advantage. Here too, the neoliberalism is a philosophy, an attitude - rather than an economic reality. It has influenced European politics - the fear of this neoliberalism dominated the French campaign against the European Constitution. There is certainly a neoliberal lobby within the EU, represented by the Lisbon Council, although it sees the world in terms of competing trade blocks rather than competing cities or regions. However, it is not clear how a continent could be run as a business firm - even its inhabitants wanted that. (More on neoliberal economic geography below).

A good example of the underlying attitudes is the basic policy document of the city of Düsseldorf - the Leitbild, equivalent to a 'mission statement' in English. It was adopted in 1997, and is no longer online at the city website, but parts are quoted at St@ttbuch Düsseldorf...

Düsseldorf bekennt sich zum Prinzip des Wettbewerbs. Der Erfolg von Städten entscheidet sich im Wettbewerb nach innen und aussen. Düsseldorf will besser sein.
Wettbewerb ist treibende Kraft unseres gesellschaftlichen Systems. Im zusammenwachsenden Europa gilt dies in hohem Masse auch für die Beziehungen zwischen den Regionen, die als Wirtschaftsstandort, als Lebensraum für die Bürgerinnen und Bürger und als Kulturstandort miteinander konkurrieren. Sich hierzu bekennen heisst, den Wettbewerb aufnehmen und aktiv gestalten zu wollen.
Im Wettbewerb besteht nur, wer gut ist. Düsseldorf will Wettbewerb. Im Interesse der vielen Millionen Menschen des Lebens- und Wirtschaftsraums: Düsseldorf will besser sein.
...
Düsseldorf is committed to the principle of competition. The success of cities is decided by competition, internal and external. Düsseldorf wants to be better. Competition is the driving force of our social system. In a Europe which is becoming more integrated, this applies increasingly to the relations between regions. They compete with each other as investment location, as residential choice for the citizens, and in cultural activity. Our commitment means that we will actively and structurally enter into this competition. In a competitive world, only the good can survive. Düsseldorf wants to compete! In the name of the millions of people in our economic and residential region: Düsseldorf wants to be the best!

The neoliberal urban vision was adopted, without debate, by many city governments in the 1990's. At some point, a belief in 'competition by population structure' was incorporated - the idea that a successful city is inhabited only by successful people. This belief, nonsensical or not, has had an effect in a negative sense: some cities now pursue active policies aimed at relocating low-income households outside the city. In the Netherlands, a new law allows large cities to legally ban poor people, from certain areas, or from the entire city..

As you would expect from a complete philosophy, neoliberalism has answers to stereotypical philosophical questions such as "Why are we here" and "What should I do?". We are here for the market, and you should compete. Neo-liberals tend to believe that humans exist for the market, and not the other way around: certainly in the sense that it is good to participate in the market, and that those who do not participate have failed in some way. In personal ethics, the general neoliberal vision is that every human being is an entrepreneur managing their own life, and should act as such. Moral philosophers call this is a virtue ethic, where human beings compare their actions to the way an ideal type would act - in this case the ideal entrepreneur. Individuals who choose their friends, hobbies, sports, and partners, to maximise their status with future employers, are ethically neoliberal. This attitude - not unusual among ambitious students - is unknown in any pre-existing moral philosophy, and is absent from early liberalism. Such social actions are not necessarily monetarised, but they represent an extension of the market principle into non-economic area of life - again typical for neoliberalism.

The idea of employability is characteristically neoliberal. It means that neoliberals see it as a moral duty of human beings, to arrange their lives to maximise their advantage on the labour market. Paying for plastic surgery to improve employability (almost entirely by women) is a typical neoliberal phenomenon - one of those which would surprise Adam Smith.

Eileen Bradbury, a psychologist who advises surgeons at the Alexandra Hospital in Cheadle, Cheshire, said she was particularly worried that Jenna wanted the operation so that she could be successful. "That is a very disturbing belief for a 15-year-old girl to have, and also a false one," she said. "I have seen women coming for surgery who work in television and they say they have to have it done or they won't get the work. I usually go along with that because it is probably true".
Guardian: Parents defend breast implants for girl, 15.

In practice many 'workfare neoliberals' also believe that there is a separate category of people, who can not participate fully in the market. Workfare ideologies condemn this underclass to a service function for those who are fully market-compatible. Note however, that by recognising a non-market underclass, neoliberals undermine their own claims about the universal applicability of market principles.

The general ethical precept of neoliberalism can be summarised approximately as:

If everyone lives by such entrepreneurial precepts, then a world will come into existence in which not just goods and services, but all human and social life, is the product of conformity to market forces. More than traditional market liberals, neoliberals therefore have a quasi-heroic attitude to the entrepreneur, and to engagement in the market. A 1998 speech by German entrepreneur Jost Stollmann is typical: his neoliberal ideas played a prominent role in the national elections in Germany in that year. Stollmann includes his personal moral philosophy, such as it is...

Ich möchte die Lust und Bewunderung unternehmerischen Erfolgs in den Augen der jungen Menschen sehen. Ich möchte den Stolz und den Zuspruch der Eltern spüren, wenn sich Sohn oder Tochter tatenvoll in das Abenteuer Selbständigkeit stürzen.
....so gut sein, wie wir nur können - getreu der bewährten Formel, die ich während meiner Zeit in Amerika verstehen gelernt habe: 'BE THE BEST YOU CAN BE'
Jost Stollmann

The idea that everyone should be an entrepreneur is distinctly neoliberal. Early liberals never expected the majority of the population to own property, let alone run a business. (The participation of the poor in the market was limited to accepting any work they were offered). The practices on the flexibilised labour market would seem strange to the early liberals. For instance, individuals set up a one-person employment agency with one person on the books, themselves - partly for tax reasons, but also to meet the ideal of the entrepreneur. Policy to increase the number of entrepreneurs is typically neoliberal, although ironically it must be implemented by the State. A classic market-liberal would not say that a free market is less of a free market, because only 10% of the population are entrepreneurs. For neoliberals it is not sufficient that there is a market: there must be nothing which is not market.

the neoliberalism joke
Marxist: "The workers have nothing to sell but their labour power"
Neoliberal: "I offer courses on How to Sell Your Labour Power Like A Shark"

There is therefore no distinction between a market economy and a market society in neoliberalism. With the attitudes and ethics set out above, there is only market: market society, market culture, market values, market persons marketing themselves to other market persons. In a sense neoliberalism has returned to the position of early liberalism - which also combined culture, values and ethics with economics. But neoliberalism brings a far more intensive 'market' - replacing not only traditional social forms, but also the concept of private life. At the same time this 'market' is increasingly remote from the necessity of production, which was so real for the early liberals - when there were still regular famines in Europe. In fact it is so remote from the existing cultural perception of a 'market', that it would perhaps be better to use some other word.

Finally, neoliberalism has become associated with specific cultures (especially US culture) and a specific language (English). This is not surprising: Anglo-American liberalism had the most influence on neoliberalism. Neoliberalism as ideology is not tied to any culture or language. It is true that a single global language would facilitate free trade - but that could be Esperanto, as well as English. In practice, the promotion of the English language, neoliberal policies, and pro-American foreign policy, usually go together: this was especially true in Central and Eastern Europe.

Globalisation and neoliberalism

Often the terms 'globalisation' and 'neoliberalism' are used as if they were interchangeable. That is only correct in a limited sense, for the neo-mercantilist aspects of the neoliberal ideology. I will try to clarify the perceived and actual relationship between the two - especially for the South American use of the term 'neoliberalism'.

The neoliberal ideology sees the nation primarily as a business firm, as explained above. The nation-firm is selling itself as an investment location, rather than simply selling export goods. If no-one in government believes in this ideology, it will have no consequences. If however, a neoliberal government is in power, it will pursue policies designed to make the nation more attractive as an investment location. These policies are generally pro-business, and are perceived as such by the opponents of the policies.

But remember that the ideology is neo-mercantilist: the policies are national policies, directed ultimately at the welfare of the nation and not of the market. Paradoxically, they are a form of protectionism: if there is a global market of investment locations, then it is 'unfair competition' for governments to artificially increase the attractiveness of their own country. Such governments are, strictly speaking, not good market liberals. Hard-line classic market liberals would shrug their shoulders at the election of an anti-business government. "Business will go elsewhere, the country will become poor, that's the way the global market works, leave the market alone", they would say. They would not waste their time trying to get a pro-business government elected there. In reality few liberals are so consistent, neoliberals certainly are not. But their rhetoric of 'national competitiveness' is a form of economic nationalism: it is a modern version of the old nationalist insistence, that the whole nation should work together. It revitalises jingoism, chauvinism, flag-waving and foreigner-bashing: Tony Blair is probably the best example.

Don't tell me that a country with our history and heritage, that today boasts six of the top ten businesses in the whole of Europe, with London the top business city in Europe, that is a world leader in technology and communication and the businesses of the future, that under us has overtaken France and Italy to become the fourth largest economy in the world, that has the language of the new economy, more brilliant artists, actors and directors than any comparable country in the world, some of the best scientists and inventors in the world, the best armed forces in the world, the best teachers and doctors and nurses, the best people any nation could wish for. Don't tell me with all that going for us that we do not have the spirit to meet all the challenges before us.
Blair conference speech, 26 September 2000

Now, a neoliberal government will almost certainly appeal to 'globalisation' as a justification and legitimisation of its policies - Tony Blair certainly does. By globalisation they mean, more or less, that the global market of investment locations now exists, and that it is an inevitable historical development. The opponents of the neoliberal government will, in turn, oppose this 'globalisation'. However, that does not mean that the global market of nations actually exists. The existence of neoliberal governments, pursuing neoliberal policies justified by an appeal to globalisation, does not mean that a new global order has superseded the order of nation states. The very fact, that it is still primarily the nation state which is being 'marketed' in this way, shows that the nation has not disappeared.

Before considering the reality of the global order, it is also necessary to consider the beliefs of the opponents of such a neoliberal government. Again paradoxically, many of them accept without question the neoliberal claim that there is a long-term historical process of 'globalisation', transforming the nation into a business firm on a global market of nation-firms. Worse, if the nation is a business then it is often clearly weak - everyone can see that Argentina is economically worse off than the United States. A neoliberal government will therefore try to convert a nation such as Argentina into a 'strong player', which means worsening the living conditions of much of the population. Now here is the next paradox: the response of the opponents is also an economic nationalism, this time with the emphasis on protectionism. The opposition perception of globalisation differs in one respect: for them it is a historical but not spontaneous development. For them it is a policy imposed by a non-national global elite, directed against the individual nations.

In their view, the international financial institutions are equivalent to an imperial power, which has de facto colonised countries such as Argentina. In caricatural form: they believe that a new and powerful empire has come into existence, the Empire of IMF-ia, at an indeterminate location. The neoliberal government, in this view, is a traitorous elite acting as a colonial Viceroy for the IMF-ian Empire. The opposition wants to replace it with a government which will 'liberate' the nation from the global market, from its colonial status. That 'liberation' is generally understood as: withdrawal of the nation-firm from the global market of nation-firms, protectionism, economic nationalism, and self-sufficiency instead of trade. Here too there is a paradox: the oppositional movements are not anti-business: they generally see national business as a victim of global business. (Local business in South America is in the comfortable position, that both neoliberals and anti-neoliberals want to help it, for different reasons).

The 'IMF-ia model' is partly correct: the global financial institutions are indeed a bastion of neoliberal ideology, and they can bully some poor countries into adopting neoliberal policies. But they can't do that to the rich western powers, in fact they would not exist without the support of these powers. They are not a force outside nations, they are not an imperial power. The global financial institutions are, in the simplest terms, an instrument of US policy - and if there is a quasi-imperial power, it is the United States.

The point is, once again, that the truth of beliefs about globalisation is itself irrelevant. If the government and people all believe that a country is being attacked by fire-breathing dragons, then the government might distribute asbestos suits to the population, and the opposition might complain that there were not enough of them. Ideologies and politics can operate on a completely fictive basis. Millions of Europeans died to 'resolve' theological issues such as the Virgin Birth of Mary, Mother of God.

So the perceptions have themselves generated a political reality: on the basis of a belief in 'globalisation' some governments pursue neoliberal policies, which are neo-mercantilist in their logic and aims. In such circumstances opposition to globalisation and neoliberalism coincides, rather than neoliberalism being identical or synonymous with globalisation. Both sides share a common fallacy: that trade and sovereignty are opposites, a zero-sum pair. The neoliberals believe that national success - "in today's global market" - requires the abandonment of national economic autonomy and sovereignty. Their opponents believe that national welfare requires minimisation of trade and external links: they believe that trade and invasion are equivalent, although no-one will say that outright. Once again, the equivalences and perceptions on both sides are false. Most of the Gross Global Product is tied to individual nation states for technical, climatic, logistical, and cultural reasons. For most investment decisions, there is no global market of locations. And sovereignty is not necessarily inverse to trade volume and trade regime. A powerful country such as the United States can have a high trade volume relative to GNP. Many colonies - by definition not sovereign - had a low trade volume relative to GNP, because the bulk of 'GNP' consisted of peasant agriculture. But even a fallacious belief can apparently support not just one, but two competing forms of economic nationalism.

So what is the reality behind the perceived globalisation? One reality is that nation states still dominate global social and economic structures. However these nation states themselves form a specific arrangement of a specific type of state. Globalisation claims appear logical if you see nation states as isolated islands, but that is not the historical reality. The very existence of a world of nation states, indicates some form of global order of nation states. What these nation states do - trade or no trade, capital flows or no capital flows - is irrelevant to that issue. What is already global can not logically be globalised: therefore there is no globalisation, in the widely used sense. There is no transition underway, or recently completed, to a fundamentally different global structure. Because the existing order of nation states is already global, intensification of global flows, or global trade, or global communication does not undermine it, or fundamentally alter it. If some part of the world were to break with this global order - for instance a future autarkic caliphate - that would be a radical change. When nations trade with each other, that simply indicates that the global order of nations is functioning as expected.

The false premise in the globalisation thesis is in fact the standard nationalist claim, that each nation is a separate and particular entity. In reality nations collectively are a global and universalist structure: the functional equivalent of a nationalist world state. The world functions as if a nationalist world government had seized power in the 19th century, led by Mazzini and Garibaldi and friends. Most existing states were indeed established by nationalist groups. Nationalists co-operate to maintain one (nationalist) world order and exclude others. The nation state is not a particularity, existing by itself in isolation, but part of a global design. Supporters of the globalisation thesis claim, that a world of isolated nation states existed in the recent past - before 1989, or more approximately before 1950. They claim that these isolated nation states are now being eroded in a global process: it includes the formation of the neoliberals claimed 'market of nations'.

Economic globalization represents a major transformation in the territorial organization of economic activity and politico-economic power....The sovereignty of the modern state was concentrated in mutually exclusive territories and the concentration of sovereignty in nations...economic globalization has contributed to a denationalizing of national territory...
Saskia Sassen. Losing Control: Sovereignty in an Age of globalization (1996).

But is the global order of nation states disappearing, anywhere? In reality, there is no collapse of the nation state to be seen. Nation states have not suffered anything comparable to the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian or Ottoman empires. All that remains of those empires are oversized palaces in Vienna and Istanbul. The rest of their institutions have completely disappeared: there is not a square metre of Habsburg or Ottoman territory left in Europe. There is no longer an Austro-Hungarian imperial army, or police, or courts, or parliament. The nation states succeeded the multi-ethnic empires, seized all their territory, and remodelled all society on that territory. The replacement was total. Where is the equivalent 'collapse' of the nation state? There are few places on earth without the institutions of a nation state - perhaps Somalia, but that is not the result of globalisation. If the world was truly 'globalised' then it would be full of disused national parliament buildings - and not a national army in sight. The world is not like that, and will not be like that in the immediate future.

In other words, 'globalisation' remains a belief rather than a reality. It is an instrumental belief with great political influence and effect. It is appealed to by both neo-mercantilist neoliberals and their economic-nationalist opponents. Nationalists have a tradition of appealing to external threats to enforce national unity. The nation must unite and work together, they said - to defeat the Hun, or the Bolshevik threat, or the Yellow Peril, or the enemy within the gates, or Osama bin Ladin. The instrumental use of 'globalisation' is in the same dishonourable category.

Summarising neoliberalism

To conclude, here are summaries of neoliberalism in two forms. First a list of key points in neoliberalism:

A final summary definition of neoliberalism as a philosophy is this:

Neoliberalism is a philosophy in which the existence and operation of a market are valued in themselves, separately from any previous relationship with the production of goods and services, and without any attempt to justify them in terms of their effect on the production of goods and services; and where the operation of a market or market-like structure is seen as an ethic in itself, capable of acting as a guide for all human action, and substituting for all previously existing ethical beliefs.

Neoliberalism political and social science

Britanica is definitely a higher class source then Wikipedia ;-)
Britannica.com
Neoliberalism, ideology and policy model that emphasizes the value of free market competition. Although there is considerable debate as to the defining features of neoliberal thought and practice, it is most commonly associated with laissez-faire economics. In particular, neoliberalism is often characterized in terms of its belief in sustained economic growth as the means to achieve human progress, its confidence in free markets as the most-efficient allocation of resources, its emphasis on minimal state intervention in economic and social affairs, and its commitment to the freedom of trade and capital.

Although the terms are similar, neoliberalism is distinct from modern liberalism. Both have their ideological roots in the classical liberalism of the 19th century, which championed economic laissez-faire and the freedom (or liberty) of individuals against the excessive power of government. That variant of liberalism is often associated with the economist Adam Smith, who argued in The Wealth of Nations (1776) that markets are governed by an "invisible hand" and thus should be subject to minimal government interference. But liberalism evolved over time into a number of different (and often competing) traditions. Modern liberalism developed from the social-liberal tradition, which focused on impediments to individual freedom-including poverty and inequality, disease, discrimination, and ignorance-that had been created or exacerbated by unfettered capitalism and could be ameliorated only through direct state intervention. Such measures began in the late 19th century with workers' compensation schemes, the public funding of schools and hospitals, and regulations on working hours and conditions and eventually, by the mid-20th century, encompassed the broad range of social services and benefits characteristic of the so-called welfare state.

By the 1970s, however, economic stagnation and increasing public debt prompted some economists to advocate a return to classical liberalism, which in its revived form came to be known as neoliberalism. The intellectual foundations of that revival were primarily the work of the Austrian-born British economist Friedrich von Hayek, who argued that interventionist measures aimed at the redistribution of wealth lead inevitably to totalitarianism, and of the American economist Milton Friedman, who rejected government fiscal policy as a means of influencing the business cycle (see also monetarism). Their views were enthusiastically embraced by the major conservative political parties in Britain and the United States, which achieved power with the lengthy administrations of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (1979–90) and U.S. Pres. Ronald Reagan (1981–89).

Neoliberal ideology and policies became increasingly influential, as illustrated by the British Labour Party's official abandonment of its commitment to the "common ownership of the means of production" in 1995 and by the cautiously pragmatic policies of the Labour Party and the U.S. Democratic Party from the 1990s. As national economies became more interdependent in the new era of economic globalization, neoliberals also promoted free-trade policies and the free movement of international capital. The clearest sign of the new importance of neoliberalism, however, was the emergence of libertarianism as a political force, as evidenced by the increasing prominence of the Libertarian Party in the United States and by the creation of assorted think tanks in various countries, which sought to promote the libertarian ideal of markets and sharply limited governments.

Beginning in 2007, the financial crisis and Great Recession in the United States. and western Europe led some economists and political leaders to reject the neoliberals' insistence on maximally free markets and to call instead for greater government regulation of the financial and banking industries.

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