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[Jan 19, 2020] The neoliberal hopes -- and that is the mark of him, that he can have his cake and eat it too

Jan 19, 2020 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

"In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! we are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory."

J.R.R. Tolkien

"We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, 'Blessed are they that mourn,' and I accept it. I've got nothing that I hadn't bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination."

C.S. Lewis

"If the devil tells you something is too fearful to look at, look at it. If he says something is too terrible to hear, hear it. If you think some truth unbearable, bear it."

G.K. Chesterton

"The barbarian hopes -- and that is the mark of him, that he can have his cake and eat it too. He will consume what civilization has slowly produced after generations of selection and effort, but he will not be at pains to replace such goods, nor indeed has he a comprehension of the virtue that has brought them into being.

We sit by and watch the barbarian. We tolerate him in the long stretches of peace, we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence; his comic inversion of our old certitudes; we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond, and on these faces there are no smiles."

Hilaire Belloc

"In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true. The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists."

Hannah Arendt

[Dec 28, 2019] Identity politics is, first and foremost, a dirty and shrewd political strategy developed by the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party ("soft neoliberals") to counter the defection of trade union members from the party

Highly recommended!
divide and conquer 1. To gain or maintain power by generating tension among others, especially those less powerful, so that they cannot unite in opposition.
Dec 28, 2019 | crookedtimber.org

likbez 12.27.19 at 10:21 pm

John,

I've been thinking about the various versions of and critiques of identity politics that are around at the moment. In its most general form, identity politics involves (i) a claim that a particular group is not being treated fairly and (ii) a claim that members of that group should place political priority on the demand for fairer treatment. But "fairer" can mean lots of different things. I'm trying to think about this using contrasts between the set of terms in the post title. A lot of this is unoriginal, but I'm hoping I can say something new.

You missed one important line of critique -- identity politics as a dirty political strategy of soft neoliberals.

See discussion of this issue by Professor Ganesh Sitaraman in his recent article (based on his excellent book The Great Democracy ) https://newrepublic.com/article/155970/collapse-neoliberalism

To be sure, race, gender, culture, and other aspects of social life have always been important to politics. But neoliberalism's radical individualism has increasingly raised two interlocking problems. First, when taken to an extreme, social fracturing into identity groups can be used to divide people and prevent the creation of a shared civic identity. Self-government requires uniting through our commonalities and aspiring to achieve a shared future.

When individuals fall back onto clans, tribes, and us-versus-them identities, the political community gets fragmented. It becomes harder for people to see each other as part of that same shared future.

Demagogues [more correctly neoliberals -- likbez] rely on this fracturing to inflame racial, nationalist, and religious antagonism, which only further fuels the divisions within society. Neoliberalism's war on "society," by pushing toward the privatization and marketization of everything, thus indirectly facilitates a retreat into tribalism that further undermines the preconditions for a free and democratic society.

The second problem is that neoliberals on right and left sometimes use identity as a shield to protect neoliberal policies. As one commentator has argued, "Without the bedrock of class politics, identity politics has become an agenda of inclusionary neoliberalism in which individuals can be accommodated but addressing structural inequalities cannot." What this means is that some neoliberals hold high the banner of inclusiveness on gender and race and thus claim to be progressive reformers, but they then turn a blind eye to systemic changes in politics and the economy.

Critics argue that this is "neoliberal identity politics," and it gives its proponents the space to perpetuate the policies of deregulation, privatization, liberalization, and austerity.

Of course, the result is to leave in place political and economic structures that harm the very groups that inclusionary neoliberals claim to support. The foreign policy adventures of the neoconservatives and liberal internationalists haven't fared much better than economic policy or cultural politics. The U.S. and its coalition partners have been bogged down in the war in Afghanistan for 18 years and counting. Neither Afghanistan nor Iraq is a liberal democracy, nor did the attempt to establish democracy in Iraq lead to a domino effect that swept the Middle East and reformed its governments for the better. Instead, power in Iraq has shifted from American occupiers to sectarian militias, to the Iraqi government, to Islamic State terrorists, and back to the Iraqi government -- and more than 100,000 Iraqis are dead.

Or take the liberal internationalist 2011 intervention in Libya. The result was not a peaceful transition to stable democracy but instead civil war and instability, with thousands dead as the country splintered and portions were overrun by terrorist groups. On the grounds of democracy promotion, it is hard to say these interventions were a success. And for those motivated to expand human rights around the world, it is hard to justify these wars as humanitarian victories -- on the civilian death count alone.

Indeed, the central anchoring assumptions of the American foreign policy establishment have been proven wrong. Foreign policymakers largely assumed that all good things would go together -- democracy, markets, and human rights -- and so they thought opening China to trade would inexorably lead to it becoming a liberal democracy. They were wrong. They thought Russia would become liberal through swift democratization and privatization. They were wrong.

They thought globalization was inevitable and that ever-expanding trade liberalization was desirable even if the political system never corrected for trade's winners and losers. They were wrong. These aren't minor mistakes. And to be clear, Donald Trump had nothing to do with them. All of these failures were evident prior to the 2016 election.

If we assume that identity politics is, first and foremost, a dirty and shrewd political strategy developed by the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party ("soft neoliberals") many things became much more clear.

Along with Neo-McCarthyism it represent a mechanism to compensate for the loss of their primary voting block: trade union members, who in 2016 "en mass" defected to Trump.

Initially Clinton calculation was that trade union voters has nowhere to go anyways, and it was correct for first decade or so of his betrayal. But gradually trade union members and lower middle class started to leave Dems in droves (Demexit, compare with Brexit) and that where identity politics was invented to compensate for this loss.

So in addition to issues that you mention we also need to view the role of identity politics as the political strategy of the "soft neoliberals " directed at discrediting and the suppression of nationalism.

The resurgence of nationalism is the inevitable byproduct of the dominance of neoliberalism, resurgence which I think is capable to bury neoliberalism as it lost popular support (which now is limited to financial oligarchy and high income professional groups, such as we can find in corporate and military brass, (shrinking) IT sector, upper strata of academy, upper strata of medical professionals, etc)

That means that the structure of the current system isn't just flawed which imply that most problems are relatively minor and can be fixed by making some tweaks. It is unfixable, because the "Identity wars" reflect a deep moral contradictions within neoliberal ideology. And they can't be solved within this framework.

[Dec 22, 2019] This Is Neoliberalism: An Introducing the Invisible Ideology (Part 1)

Mar 01, 2018 | www.youtube.com

If you've ever wanted to understand what neoliberalism is, this is the series for you.

Neoliberalism is an economic ideology that exists within the framework of capitalism. Over four decades ago, neoliberalism become the dominant economic paradigm of global society. In this video series, we'll trace the history of neoliberalism, starting with a survey of neoliberal philosophy and research, a historical reconstruction of the movement pushing for neoliberal policy solutions, witnessing the damage that neoliberalism did to its first victims in the developing world, and then charting neoliberalism's infiltration of the political systems of the United States and the United Kingdom. Learn how neoliberalism is generating crises for humanity at an unprecedented rate.


jonathan bacon , 10 months ago

Our "education" system has raised generations of useful idiots, unable to fight back or even recognize the threat of the establishments breakaway civilization.

Franz1987 , 2 months ago

It's socialism for the rich, 'markets' for everyone else...

Ganzorf , 5 months ago

Good video. Reminded me of this bit I saved from Twitter some time ago:

"Probably no man in history has had so little understanding of the workings of his own society – and hence so little power to effect change – as liberal democratic man. We talk about this with regard to capitalism – we're (supposedly) buffeted by impersonal and unaccountable 'market forces' – but not with liberal democratic politics, although it's fundamentally the same thing. Even if you could organize an angry mob, whose residence would you march on? The serf knew, the slave knew. You do not. You have no idea who your masters are or where they live. A 'liberal democracy' is a political system where you have no idea who's in charge, no idea what they're planning, no idea why they have the policies they have, and no idea of how to change any of it."

Carlos Marks , 2 months ago

Dictatorship of the bourgeoisie: Neo-liberalism in short.

Cisco Rodriguez , 8 months ago

When neoliberalism was implemented in Mexico in the early 1990s it destroyed the country in every aspect u can think of

eottoe2001 , 11 months ago

Neoliberalism is a religion.

lance ringquist , 2 months ago

"free traders mistake money for wealth, wealth is derived from making things, money is just a medium of exchange: any government that prints money with no regard to its material basis in commodity production risks disaster."

lance ringquist , 2 months ago

"Whenever you hear the words "a country has to be competitive," it's not more competition among businesses, it's that every country has to do whatever it can to make available the closest thing to slave labor as possible. Period. No wishy-washy jargon needed to cover the basic fact"

Snakewhisperer , 8 months ago (edited)

Excellent vid. Really puts it all together well. The Neoliberals are sucking as much money and work out of us folks as they can get away with before they kill us all off and use robots.

the annointed one , 6 months ago

If only the whole world knew about this. They want us only discussing petty social issues.

Chris Duane , 6 months ago

Neo-Liberalism is why they now call Earth the Prison Planet.

Bill Huston Podcast , 8 months ago

I love the content, just not the pacing. If you listen to most documentaries, you will notice the is a pacing or cadence in the spoken narrative. Speak a little, then give some time to absorb. This series would be a lot easier to listen to with some added space... thanks. Look forward to this series.

PecosoSenior , 2 months ago

I live in Argentina, and the concept of neoliberalism is pretty commonly known

Maveric , 2 months ago

You have a criminally low amount of subs for the quality of work that you're putting out. I'm about to watch part 2 right now!

lance ringquist , 2 months ago

"one of the main reasons why even sophisticated societies fall into this suicidal spiral is the conflict between the short-term interests of decision-making elites and the long-term interests of society as a whole, especially if the elites are able to insulate themselves from the consequences of their actions. the reason why even sophisticated societies fail is because the elites are never made to pay a price for their follies"

Marshall's Weather & Hiking , 2 months ago

What's not mentioned is this second phase of "liberalism" is the most dangerous because we are more dependent on capitalist production than ever before. People exist on a razors edge.

Paul Birtwell , 6 months ago

"All this is contrary to what classical economists urged. Their objective was for governments elected by the population at large to receive and allocate the economic surplus. Presumably this would have been to lower the cost of living and doing business, provide a widening range of public services at subsidized prices or freely, and sponsor a fair society in which nobody would receive special privileges or hereditary rights. Financial sector advocates have sought to control democracies by shifting tax policy and bank regulation out of the hands of elected representatives to nominees from world's financial centers.

The aim of this planning is not for the classical progressive objectives of mobilizing savings to increase productivity and raise populations out of poverty.

The objective of finance capitalism is not capital formation, but acquisition of rent-yielding privileges for real estate, natural resources and monopolies. These are precisely the forms of revenue that centuries of classical economists sought to tax away or minimize. By allying itself with the rentier sectors and lobbying on their behalf – so as to extract their rent as interest – banking and high finance have become part of the economic overhead from which classical economists sought to free society.

The result of moving into a symbiosis with real estate, mining, oil, other natural resources and monopolies has been to financialize these sectors. As this has occurred, bank lobbyists have urged that land be un-taxed so as to leave more rent (and other natural resource rent) "free" to be paid as interest – while forcing governments to tax labor and industry instead. To promote this tax shift and debt leveraging, financial lobbyists have created a smokescreen of deception that depicts financialization as helping economies grow. They accuse central bank monetizing of budget deficits as being inherently inflationary – despite no evidence of this, and despite the vast inflation of real estate prices and stock prices by predatory bank credit.

Money creation is now monopolized by banks, which use this power to finance the transfer of property – with the source of the quickest and largest fortunes being infrastructure and natural resources pried out of the public domain of debtor countries by a combination of political insider dealing and debt leverage – a merger of kleptocracy with the world's financial centers. The financial strategy is capped by creating international financial institutions (the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank) to bring pressure on debtor economies to take fiscal policy out of the hands of elected parliaments and into those of institutions ruling on behalf of bankers and bondholders. This global power has enabled finance to override potentially debtor-friendly governments." Excerpt From Killing the Host Michael Hudson

Sasha Da Masta , 2 months ago (edited)

16:23 "Chile experienced a peaceful democratic rule for 41 years, that now has violently come to an end. Pinochet and his followers described the coup as 'a war'. It definitely looked that way. It was a Chilean example of 'instilling shock and awe'. The days thereafter saw 13000 opposers arrested and locked up ." may be too much of a literal translation but Dutch isn't my first language. (edited the time stamp)

[Dec 13, 2019] Who Are The Globalists And What Do They Want

Dec 13, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.com,

I get the question often, though one would think it's obvious - Who are these "globalists" we refer to so much in the liberty movement? Sometimes the request comes from honest people who only want to learn more. Sometimes it comes from disinformation agents attempting to mire discussion on the issue with assertions that the globalists "don't exist". The answer to the question can be simple and complex at the same time. In order to understand who the globalists are, we first have to understand what they want.

We talk a lot about the "globalists" because frankly, their agenda has become more open than ever in the past ten years. There was a time not long ago when the idea of the existence of "globalists" was widely considered "conspiracy theory". There was a time when organizations like the Bilderberg Group did not officially exist and the mainstream media rarely ever reported on them. There was a time when the agenda for one world economy and a one world government was highly secretive and mentioned only in whispers in the mainstream. And, anyone who tried to expose this information to the public was called a "tinfoil hat wearing lunatic".

Today, the mainstream media writes puff-pieces about the Bilderberg Group and even jokes about their secrecy. When members of Donald Trump's cabinet, Mike Pompeo and Jared Kushner, attended Bilderberg in 2019, the mainstream media was wallpapered with the news .

When the World Government Summit meets each year in Dubai, attended by many of the same people that attend Bilderberg as well as shady mainstream icons and gatekeepers like Elon Musk and Neil deGrasse Tyson, they don't hide their discussions or their goals, they post them on YouTube .

I remember when talking about the US dollar being dethroned and replaced with a new one world currency system and a cashless society controlled by the IMF was treated as bizarre theory. Now it's openly called for by numerous leaders in the financial industry and in economic governance . The claim that these things are "conspiracy theory" no longer holds up anymore. In reality, the people who made such accusations a few years ago now look like idiots as the establishment floods the media with information and propaganda promoting everything the liberty movement has been warning about.

The argument on whether or not a globalist agenda "exists" is OVER. The liberty movement and the alternative media won that debate, and through our efforts we have even forced the establishment into admitting the existence of some of their plans for a completely centralized global system managed by them. Now, the argument has changed. The mainstream doesn't really deny anymore that the globalists exist; they talk about whether or not the globalist agenda is a good thing or a bad thing.

First , I would point out the sheer level of deception and disinformation used by the globalists over the past several decades. This deceptions is designed to maneuver the public towards accepting a one world economy and eventually one world governance . If you have to lie consistently to people about your ideology in order to get them to support it, then there must be something very wrong with your ideology.

Second , the establishment may be going public with their plans for globalization, but they aren't being honest about the consequences for the average person. And, there are many misconceptions out there, even in the liberty movement, about what exactly these people want.

So, we need to construct a list of globalist desires vs globalist lies in order to define who we are dealing with. These are the beliefs and arguments of your run-of-the-mill globalist:

Centralization

A globalist believes everything must be centralized, from finance to money to social access to production to government. They argue that centralization makes the system "more fair" for everyone, but in reality they desire a system in which they have total control over every aspect of life. Globalists, more than anything, want to dominate and micro-manage every detail of civilization and socially engineer humanity in the image they prefer.

One World Currency System And Cashless Society

As an extension of centralization, globalists want a single currency system for the world. Not only this, but they want it digitized and easy to track. Meaning, a cashless society in which every act of trade by every person can be watched and scrutinized. If trade is no longer private, preparation for rebellion becomes rather difficult. When all resources can be manged and restricted to a high degree at the local level, rebellion would become unthinkable because the system becomes the parent and provider and the source of life. A one world currency and cashless system would be the bedrock of one world governance. You cannot have one without the other.

One World Government

Globalists want to erase all national borders and sovereignty and create a single elite bureaucracy, a one world empire in which they are the "philosopher kings" as described in Plato's Republic.

As Richard N. Gardner, former deputy assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations under Kennedy and Johnson, and a member of the Trilateral Commission, wrote in the April, 1974 issue of the Council on Foreign Relation's (CFR) journal Foreign Affairs (pg. 558) in an article titled 'The Hard Road To World Order' :

" In short, the 'house of world order' will have to be built from the bottom up rather than from the top down. It will look like a great 'booming, buzzing confusion,' to use William James' famous description of reality, but an end run around national sovereignty, eroding it piece by piece, will accomplish much more than the old-fashioned frontal assault."

This system would be highly inbred, though they may continue to give the masses the illusion of public participation and "democracy" for a time. Ultimately, the globalists desire a faceless and unaccountable round table government, a seat of power which acts as an institution with limited liability, much like a corporation, and run in the same sociopathic manner without legitimate public oversight. In the globalist world, there will be no redress of grievances.

Sustainability As Religion

Globalists often use the word "sustainability" in their white papers and agendas, from Agenda 21 to Agenda 2030. Environmentalism is the facade they employ to guilt the population into supporting global governance, among other things. As I noted in my recent article 'Why Is The Elitist Establishment So Obsessed With Meat' , fake environmentalism and fraudulent global warming "science" is being exploited by globalists to demand control over everything from how much electricity you can use in your home, to how many children you can have, to how much our society is allowed to manufacture or produce, to what you are allowed to eat.

The so-called carbon pollution threat, perhaps the biggest scam in history, is a key component of the globalist agenda. As the globalist organization The Club Of Rome, a sub-institution attached to the United Nations, stated in their book 'The First Global Revolution' :

" In searching for a common enemy against whom we can unite, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like, would fit the bill. In their totality and their interactions these phenomena do constitute a common threat which must be confronted by everyone together. But in designating these dangers as the enemy, we fall into the trap, which we have already warned readers about, namely mistaking symptoms for causes. All these dangers are caused by human intervention in natural processes. and it is only through changed attitudes and behaviour that they can be overcome. The real enemy then is humanity itself."

In other words, by presenting human beings as a species as the great danger, the globalists hope to convince humanity to sublimate itself before the mother earth goddess and beg to be kept in line. And, as the self designated "guardians" of the Earth, the elites become the high priests of the new religion of sustainability. They and they alone would determine who is a loyal servant and who is a heretic. Carbon pollution becomes the new "original sin"; everyone is a sinner against the Earth, for everyone breaths and uses resources, and we must all do our part to appease the Earth by sacrificing as much as possible, even ourselves.

The elites don't believe in this farce, they created it. The sustainability cult is merely a weapon to be used to dominate mass psychology and make the populace more malleable.

Population Control

Globalists come from an ideological background which worships eugenics – the belief that genetics must be controlled and regulated, and those people they deem to be undesirables must be sterilized or exterminated.

The modern eugenics movement was launched by the Rockefeller Foundation in the early 1900's in America , and was treated a a legitimate scientific endeavor for decades. Eugenics was taught in schools and even celebrated at the World's Fair. States like California that adopted eugenics legislation forcefully sterilized tens of thousands of people and denied thousands of marriage certificates based on genetics. The system was transferred to Germany in the 1930's were it gained world renown for its inherent brutality.

This ideology holds that 4% or less of the population is genetically worthy of leadership, and the elites conveniently assert that they represent part of that genetic purity.

After WWII the public developed a distaste for the idea of eugenics and population control, but under the guise of environmentalism the agenda is making a comeback, as population reduction in the name of "saving the Earth" is in the mainstream media once again . The Question then arises - Who gets to decide who lives and who dies? Who gets to decide who is never born? And, how will they come to their decisions? No doubt a modern form of eugenics will be presented as the "science" used to "fairly" determine the content of the population if the elites get their way.

Narcissistic Sociopathy

It is interesting that the globalists used to present the 4% leadership argument in their eugenics publications, because 4% of the population is also consistent with the number of people who have inherent sociopathy or narcissistic sociopathy , either in latent or full-blown form, with 1% of people identified as full blown psychopaths and the rest as latent. Coincidence?

The behavior of the globalists is consistent with the common diagnosis of full-blown narcopaths, a condition which is believed to be inborn and incurable. Narcopaths (pyschopaths) are devoid of empathy and are often self obsessed. They suffer from delusions of grandeur and see themselves as "gods" among men. They believe other lowly people are tools to be used for their pleasure or to further their ascendance to godhood. They lie incessantly as a survival mechanism and are good at determining what people want to hear. Narcopaths feel no compassion towards those they harm or murder, yet crave attention and adoration from the same people they see as inferior. More than anything, they seek the power to micro-manage the lives of everyone around them and to feed off those people like a parasite feeds off a host victim.

Luciferianism

It is often argued by skeptics that psychopaths cannot organize cohesively, because such organizations would self destruct. These people simply don't know what they're talking about. Psychopaths throughout history organize ALL THE TIME, from tyrannical governments to organized crime and religious cults. The globalists have their own binding ideologies and methods for organization. One method is to ensure benefits to those who serve the group (as well as punishments for those who stray). Predators often work together as long as there is ample prey. Another method is the use of religious or ideological superiority; making adherents feel like they are part of an exclusive and chosen few destined for greatness.

This is a highly complicated issue which requires its own essay to examine in full. I believe I did this effectively in my article 'Luciferians: A Secular Look At A Destructive Globalist Belief System' . Needless to say, this agenda is NOT one that globalists are willing to admit to openly very often, but I have outlined extensive evidence that luciferianism is indeed the underlying globalist cult religion. It is essentially an ideology which promotes moral relativism, the worship of the self and the attainment of godhood by any means necessary – which fits perfectly with globalism and globalist behavior.

It is also the only ideological institution adopted by the UN , through the UN's relationship with Lucis Trust, also originally called Lucifer Publishing Company . Lucis Trust still has a private library within the UN building today .

So, now that we know the various agendas and identifiers of globalists, we can now ask "Who are the globalists?"

The answer is – ANYONE who promotes the above agendas, related arguments, or any corporate or political leader who works directly with them. This includes presidents that claim to be anti-globalist while also filling their cabinets with people from globalist organizations.

To make a list of names is simple; merely study the membership rosters of globalists organizations like the Bilderberg Group, the Council On Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, Tavistock Institute, the IMF, the BIS, World Bank, the UN, etc. You will find a broad range of people from every nation and every ethnicity ALL sharing one goal – A world in which the future for every other person is dictated by them for all time; a world in which freedom is a memory and individual choice is a commodity only they have the right to enjoy.

* * *

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[Dec 02, 2019] A bunch of neocons in key positions in Trump administration really represents a huge threat to world peace

Notable quotes:
"... No. My point was it's very misleading. Misleading to set the parameters of discussion on U.S. posture toward Russia in such a way as to assume that Putin's actions against a purported Russian "democracy" have anything at all to do with USian antagonism of Russia. I'm sure you'll note current U.S. military cooperation with that boisterous hotbed of democratic activity, Saudi Arabia, in Yemen. Our allies in the house of Saud require help in defending their democratic way of life against the totalitarianism of Yemeni tribes, you see. The U.S. opposes anti-democratic forces whenever and where ever it can, especially in the Middle East. I guess that explains USian antipathy to Russia. ..."
Oct 28, 2016 | crookedtimber.org
Howard Frank in this blog provides a good example of Vichy left thinking...

Howard Frant 10.26.16 at 6:19 am 73

Stephen @58

Howard Frant 10.26.16 at 6:19 am ( )

Stephen @58

Yes, it was late and I was tired, or I wouldn't have said something so foolish. Still, the point is that after centuries of constant war, Europe went 70 years without territorial conquest. That strikes me as a significant achievement, and one whose breach should not be taken lightly.

phenomenal cat @64

So democratic structures have to be robust and transparent before we care about them? I'd give a pretty high value to an independent press and contested elections. Those have been slowly crushed in Russia. The results for transparency have not been great. Personally, I don't believe that Ukraine is governed by fascists, or that Ukraine shot down that jetliner, but I'm sure a lot of Russians do.

Russian leaders have always complained about "encirclement," but we don't have to believe them. Do you really believe Russia's afraid of an attack from Estonia? Clearly what Putin wants is to restore as much of the old Soviet empire as possible. Do you think the independence of the Baltic states would be more secure or less secure if they weren't members of NATO? (Hint: compare to Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova.)

phenomenal cat 10.26.16 at 6:55 pm 84

"So democratic structures have to be robust and transparent before we care about them?"

No. My point was it's very misleading. Misleading to set the parameters of discussion on U.S. posture toward Russia in such a way as to assume that Putin's actions against a purported Russian "democracy" have anything at all to do with USian antagonism of Russia. I'm sure you'll note current U.S. military cooperation with that boisterous hotbed of democratic activity, Saudi Arabia, in Yemen. Our allies in the house of Saud require help in defending their democratic way of life against the totalitarianism of Yemeni tribes, you see. The U.S. opposes anti-democratic forces whenever and where ever it can, especially in the Middle East. I guess that explains USian antipathy to Russia.

"I'd give a pretty high value to an independent press and contested elections."

Yeah, it'd be interesting to see what the U.S. looked like with those dynamics in place.

"Those have been slowly crushed in Russia. The results for transparency have not been great."

If you say so. For now I'll leave any decisions or actions taken on these outcomes to Russian citizens. I would, however, kindly tell Victoria Nuland and her ilk to fuck off with their senile Cold War fantasies, morally bankrupt, third-rate Great Game machinations, and total spectrum dominance sociopathy.

"Personally, I don't believe that Ukraine is governed by fascists, or that Ukraine shot down that jetliner, but I'm sure a lot of Russians do."

There's definitely some of 'em hanging about, but yeah it mostly seems to be a motley assortment of oligarchs, gangsters, and grifters tied into international neoliberal capital and money flows. No doubt Russian believe a lot things. I find Americans tend to believe a lot things as well.

[Dec 02, 2019] The Vichy left – essentially people who are ready to sacrifice all principles to ensure their own prosperity

Notable quotes:
"... Pretty consistent, I agree. IMHO Sanjait might belong to the category that some people call the "Vichy left" – essentially people who are ready to sacrifice all principles to ensure their 'own' prosperity and support the candidate who intends to protect it, everybody else be damned. ..."
"... Very neoliberal approach if you ask me. Ann Rand would probably be proud for this representative of "creative class". ..."
"... Essentially the behavior that we've had for the last 8 years with the king of "bait and switch". ..."
Oct 24, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com

Sanjait -> Sandwichman ... October 24, 2016 at 10:35 AM

Some paranoid claptrap to go along with your usual anti intellectualism.

Interestingly, with your completely unrelated non sequitur, you've actually illustrated something that does relate to Krugmans post. Namely that there are wingnuts among us. They've taken over the Republican Party, but the left has some too. Fortunately though the Democratic Party hasn't been taken over by them yet, and is still mostly run by grown ups.

Sandwichman -> Sanjait... , October 24, 2016 at 10:42 AM

I am confident that what you say here is consistent with your methods and motivations.
likbez -> Sandwichman ...
"I am confident that what you say here is consistent with your methods and motivations."

Pretty consistent, I agree. IMHO Sanjait might belong to the category that some people call the "Vichy left" – essentially people who are ready to sacrifice all principles to ensure their 'own' prosperity and support the candidate who intends to protect it, everybody else be damned.

Very neoliberal approach if you ask me. Ann Rand would probably be proud for this representative of "creative class".

Essentially the behavior that we've had for the last 8 years with the king of "bait and switch".

[Dec 01, 2019] Neoliberalism Tells Us We're Selfish Souls How Can We Promote Other Identities by Christine Berry,

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... As the Gramscian theorists Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau observed, our political identities are not a 'given' – something that emerges directly from the objective facts of our situation. We all occupy a series of overlapping identities in our day-to-day lives – as workers or bosses, renters or home-owners, debtors or creditors. Which of these define our politics depends on political struggles for meaning and power. ..."
"... The architects of neoliberalism understood this process of identity creation. By treating people as selfish, rational utility maximisers, they actively encouraged them to become selfish, rational utility maximisers. As the opening article points out, this is not a side effect of neoliberal policy, but a central part of its intention. As Michael Sandel pointed out in his 2012 book 'What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets' , it squeezes out competing values that previously governed non-market spheres of life, such as ethics of public service in the public sector, or mutual care within local communities. But these values remain latent: neoliberalism does not have the power to erase them completely. This is where the hope for the left lies, the crack of light through the doorway that needs to be prised open. ..."
"... More generally, there is some evidence that neoliberalism didn't really succeed in making us see ourselves as selfish rational maximisers – just in making us believe that everybody else was . For example, a 2016 survey found that UK citizens are on average more oriented towards compassionate values than selfish values, but that they perceive others to be significantly more selfish (both than themselves and the actual UK average). Strikingly, those with a high 'self-society gap' were found to be less likely to vote and engage in civic activity, and highly likely to experience feelings of cultural estrangement. ..."
"... Perhaps a rational system is one that accepts selfishness but keeps it within limits. Movements like the Chicago school that pretend to reinvent the wheel with new thinking are by this view a scam. As J.K. Galbraith said: "the problem with their ideas is that they have been tried." ..."
"... They tried running an economy on debt in the 1920s. The 1920s roared with debt based consumption and speculation until it all tipped over into the debt deflation of the Great Depression. No one realised the problems that were building up in the economy as they used an economics that doesn't look at private debt, neoclassical economics. ..."
"... Keynes looked at the problems of the debt based economy and came up with redistribution through taxation to keep the system running in a sustainable way and he dealt with the inherent inequality capitalism produced. ..."
"... Neoliberalism, which has influenced so much of the conventional thinking about money, is adamant that the public sector must not create ('print') money, and so public expenditure must be limited to what the market can 'afford.' Money, in this view, is a limited resource that the market ensures will be used efficiently. Is public money, then, a pipe dream? No, for the financial crisis and the response to it undermined this neoliberal dogma. ..."
"... The financial sector mismanaged its role as a source of money so badly that the state had to step in and provide unlimited monetary backing to rescue it. The creation of money out of thin air by public authorities revealed the inherently political nature of money. But why, then, was the power to create money ceded to the private sector in the first place -- and with so little public accountability? ..."
Nov 01, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Lambert here: Not sure the soul is an identity, but authors don't write the headlines. Read on!

By Christine Berry, a freelance researcher and writer and was previously Director of Policy and Government for the New Economics Foundation. She has also worked at ShareAction and in the House of Commons. Originally published at Open Democracy .

"Economics is the method: the object is to change the soul." Understanding why Thatcher said this is central to understanding the neoliberal project, and how we might move beyond it. Carys Hughes and Jim Cranshaw's opening article poses a crucial challenge to the left in this respect. It is too easy to tell ourselves a story about the long reign of neoliberalism that is peopled solely with all-powerful elites imposing their will on the oppressed masses. It is much harder to confront seriously the ways in which neoliberalism has manufactured popular consent for its policies.

The left needs to acknowledge that aspects of the neoliberal agenda have been overwhelmingly popular: it has successfully tapped into people's instincts about the kind of life they want to lead, and wrapped these instincts up in a compelling narrative about how we should see ourselves and other people. We need a coherent strategy for replacing this narrative with one that actively reconstructs our collective self-image – turning us into empowered citizens participating in communities of mutual care, rather than selfish property-owning individuals competing in markets.

As the Gramscian theorists Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau observed, our political identities are not a 'given' – something that emerges directly from the objective facts of our situation. We all occupy a series of overlapping identities in our day-to-day lives – as workers or bosses, renters or home-owners, debtors or creditors. Which of these define our politics depends on political struggles for meaning and power.

Part of the job of politics – whether within political parties or social movements – is to show how our individual problems are rooted in systemic issues that can be confronted collectively if we organise around these identities. Thus, debt becomes not a source of shame but an injustice that debtors can organise against. Struggles with childcare are not a source of individual parental guilt but a shared societal problem that we have a shared responsibility to tackle. Podemos were deeply influenced by this thinking when they sought to redefine Spanish politics as 'La Casta' ('the elite') versus the people, cutting across many of the traditional boundaries between right and left.

The architects of neoliberalism understood this process of identity creation. By treating people as selfish, rational utility maximisers, they actively encouraged them to become selfish, rational utility maximisers. As the opening article points out, this is not a side effect of neoliberal policy, but a central part of its intention. As Michael Sandel pointed out in his 2012 book 'What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets' , it squeezes out competing values that previously governed non-market spheres of life, such as ethics of public service in the public sector, or mutual care within local communities. But these values remain latent: neoliberalism does not have the power to erase them completely. This is where the hope for the left lies, the crack of light through the doorway that needs to be prised open.

The Limits of Neoliberal Consciousness

In thinking about how we do this, it's instructive to look at the ways in which neoliberal attempts to reshape our identities have succeeded – and the ways they have failed. While Right to Buy might have been successful in identifying people as home-owners and stigmatising social housing, this has not bled through into wider support for private ownership. Although public ownership did become taboo among the political classes for a generation – far outside the political 'common sense' – polls consistently showed that this was not matched by a fall in public support for the idea. On some level – perhaps because of the poor performance of privatised entities – people continued to identify as citizens with a right to public services, rather than as consumers of privatised services. The continued overwhelming attachment to a public NHS is the epitome of this tendency. This is partly what made it possible for Corbyn's Labour to rehabilitate the concept of public ownership, as the 2017 Labour manifesto's proposals for public ownership of railways and water – dismissed as ludicrous by the political establishment – proved overwhelmingly popular.

More generally, there is some evidence that neoliberalism didn't really succeed in making us see ourselves as selfish rational maximisers – just in making us believe that everybody else was . For example, a 2016 survey found that UK citizens are on average more oriented towards compassionate values than selfish values, but that they perceive others to be significantly more selfish (both than themselves and the actual UK average). Strikingly, those with a high 'self-society gap' were found to be less likely to vote and engage in civic activity, and highly likely to experience feelings of cultural estrangement.

This finding points towards both the great conjuring trick of neoliberal subjectivity and its Achilles heel: it has successfully popularised an idea of what human beings are like that most of us don't actually identify with ourselves. This research suggests that our political crisis is caused not only by people's material conditions of disempowerment, but by four decades of being told that we can't trust our fellow citizens. But it also suggests that deep down, we know this pessimistic account of human nature just isn't who we really are – or who we aspire to be.

An example of how this plays out can be seen in academic studies showing that, in game scenarios presenting the opportunity to free-ride on the efforts of others, only economics students behaved as economic models predicted: all other groups were much more likely to pool their resources. Having been trained to believe that others are likely to be selfish, economists believe that their best course of action is to be selfish as well. The rest of us still have the instinct to cooperate. Perhaps this shouldn't be surprising: after all, as George Monbiot argues in 'Out of the Wreckage' , cooperation is our species' main survival strategy.

What's Our 'Right to Buy?'

The challenge for the left is to find policies and stories that tap into this latent sense of what makes us human – what Gramsci called 'good sense' – and use it to overturn the neoliberal 'common sense'. In doing so, we must be aware that we are competing not only with a neoliberal identity but also with a new far-right that seeks to promote a white British ethno-nationalist group identity, conflating 'elites' with outsiders. How we compete with this is the million dollar question, and it's one we have not yet answered.

Thatcher's use of flagship policies like the Right to Buy was a masterclass in this respect. Deceptively simple, tangible and easy to grasp, the Right to Buy also communicated a much deeper story about the kind of nation we wanted to be – one of private, property-owning individuals – cementing home-ownership as a cultural symbol of aspiration (the right to paint your own front door) whilst giving millions an immediate financial stake in her new order. So what might be the equivalent flagship policies for the left today?

Perhaps one of the strongest efforts to date has been the proposal for ' Inclusive Ownership Funds ', first developed by Mathew Lawrence in a report for the New Economics Foundation, and announced as Labour policy by John McDonnell in 2018. This would require companies to transfer shares into a fund giving their workers a collective stake that rises over time and pays out employee dividends. Like the Right to Buy, as well as shifting the material distribution of wealth and power, this aims to build our identity as part of a community of workers taking more collective control over our working lives.

But this idea only takes us so far. While it may tap into people's desire for more security and empowerment at work, more of a stake in what they do, it offers a fairly abstract benefit that only cashes out over time, as workers acquire enough of a stake to have a meaningful say over company strategy. It may not mean much to those at the sharpest end of our oppressive and precarious labour market, at least not unless we also tackle the more pressing concerns they face – such as the exploitative practices of behemoths like Amazon or the stress caused by zero-hours contracts. We have not yet hit on an idea that can compete with the transformative change to people's lives offered by the Right to Buy.

So what else is on the table? Perhaps, when it comes to the cutting edge of new left thinking on these issues, the workplace isn't really where the action is – at least not directly. Perhaps we need to be tapping into people's desire to escape the 'rat race' altogether and have more freedom to pursue the things that really make us happy – time with our families, access to nature, the space to look after ourselves, connection with our communities. The four day working week (crucially with no loss of pay) has real potential as a flagship policy in this respect. The Conservatives and the right-wing press may be laughing it down with jokes about Labour being lazy and feckless, but perhaps this is because they are rattled. Ultimately, they can't escape the fact that most people would like to spend less time at work.

Skilfully communicated, this has the potential to be a profoundly anti-neoliberal policy that conveys a new story about what we aspire to, individually and as a society. Where neoliberalism tapped into people's desire for more personal freedom and hooked this to the acquisition of wealth, property and consumer choice, we can refocus on the freedom to live the lives we truly want. Instead of offering freedom through the market, we can offer freedom from the market.

Proponents of Universal Basic Income often argue that it fulfils a similar function of liberating people from work and detaching our ability to provide for ourselves from the marketplace for labour. But in material terms, it's unlikely that a UBI could be set at a level that would genuinely offer people this freedom, at least in the short term. And in narrative terms, UBI is actually a highly malleable policy that is equally susceptible to being co-opted by a libertarian agenda. Even at its best, it is really a policy about redistribution of already existing wealth (albeit on a bigger scale than the welfare state as it stands). To truly overturn neoliberalism, we need to go beyond this and talk about collective ownership and creation of wealth.

Policies that focus on collective control of assets may do a better job of replacing a narrative about individual property ownership with one that highlights the actual concentration of property wealth in the hands of elites – and the need to reclaim these assets for the common good. As well as Inclusive Ownership Funds, another way of doing this is through Citizens' Wealth Funds, which socialise profitable assets (be it natural resources or intangible ones such as data) and use the proceeds to pay dividends to individuals or communities. Universal Basic Services – for instance, policies such as free publicly owned buses – may be another.

Finally, I'd like to make a plea for care work as a critical area that merits further attention to develop convincing flagship policies – be it on universal childcare, elderly care or support for unpaid carers. The instinctive attachment that many of us feel to a public NHS needs to be widened to promote a broader right to care and be cared for, whilst firmly resisting the marketisation of care. Although care is often marginalised in political debate, as a new mum, I'm acutely aware that it is fundamental to millions of people's ability to live the lives they want. In an ageing population, most people now have lived experience of the pressures of caring for someone – whether a parent or a child. By talking about these issues, we move the terrain of political contestation away from the work valued by the market and onto the work we all know really matters; away from the competition for scarce resources and onto our ability to look after each other. And surely, that's exactly where the left wants it to be.

This article forms part of the " Left governmentality" mini series for openDemocracy.

Carolinian , November 1, 2019 at 12:36 pm

The problem is that people are selfish–me included–and so what is needed is not better ideas about ourselves but better laws. And for that we will need a higher level of political engagement and a refusal to accept candidates who sell themselves as a "lesser evil." It's the decline of democracy that brought on the rise of Reagan and Thatcher and Neoliberalism and not some change in public consciousness (except insofar as the general public became wealthier and more complacent). In America incumbents are almost universally likely to be re-elected to Congress and so they have no reason to reject Neoliberal ideas.

So here's suggesting that a functioning political process is the key to reform and not some change in the PR.

Angie Neer , November 1, 2019 at 12:42 pm

Carolinian, like you, I try to include myself in statements about "the problem with people." I believe one of the things preventing progress is our tendency to believe it's only those people that are the problem.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , November 1, 2019 at 4:55 pm

Human nature people are selfish. It's like the Christian marriage vow – which I understand is a Medieval invention and not something from 2,000 years ago – for better or worse, meaning, we share (and are not to be selfish) the good and the bad.

"Not neoliberals, but all of us." "Not the right, but the left as well." "Not just Russia, but America," or "Not just America, but Russia too."

Carolinian , November 1, 2019 at 5:54 pm

Perhaps a rational system is one that accepts selfishness but keeps it within limits. Movements like the Chicago school that pretend to reinvent the wheel with new thinking are by this view a scam. As J.K. Galbraith said: "the problem with their ideas is that they have been tried."

The Rev Kev , November 1, 2019 at 8:06 pm

My small brain got stuck on your reference to a 'Christian marriage vow'. I was just sitting back and conceiving what a Neoliberal marriage vow would sound like. Probably a cross between a no-liabilities contract and an open-marriage agreement.

Carey , November 1, 2019 at 9:05 pm

"people are selfish"?; or "people can sometimes act selfishly"? I think the latter is the more accurate statement. Appeal to the better side, and more of it will be forthcoming.
Neolib propaganda appeals to trivial, bleak individualism..

Carolinian , November 2, 2019 at 9:14 am

I'm not sure historic left attempts to appeal to "the better angels of our nature" have really moved the ball much. It took the Great Depression to give us a New Deal and WW2 to give Britain the NHS and the India its freedom. I'd say events are in the saddle far more than ideas.

Mark Anderlik , November 2, 2019 at 10:58 am

I rather look at it as a "both and" rather than an "either or." If the political groundwork is not done beforehand and during, the opportunity events afford will more likely be squandered.

And borrowing from evolutionary science, this also holds with the "punctuated equilibrium" theory of social/political change. The strain of a changed environment (caused by both events and intentionally created political activity) for a long time creates no visible change to the system, and so appears to fail. But then some combination of events and conscious political work suddenly "punctuates the equilibrium" with the resulting significant if not radical changes.

Chile today can be seen as a great example of this: "Its not 30 Pesos, its 30 Years."

J4Zonian , November 2, 2019 at 4:40 pm

Carolinian, you provide a good illustration of the power of the dominant paradigm to make people believe exactly what the article said–something I've observed more than enough to confirm is true. People act in a wide variety of ways; but many people deny that altruism and compassion are equally "human nature". Both parts of the belief pointed out here–believing other people are selfish and that we're not–are explained by projection acting in concert with the other parts of this phenomenon. Even though it's flawed because it's only a political and not a psychological explanation, It's a good start toward understanding.

"You and I are so deeply acculturated to the idea of "self" and organization and species that it is hard to believe that man [sic] might view his [sic] relations with the environment in any other way than the way which I have rather unfairly blamed upon the nineteenth-century evolutionists."

Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind, p 483-4
This is part of a longer quote that's been important to me my whole life. Worth looking up. Bateson called this a mistake in epistemology–also, informally, his definition of evil.
http://anomalogue.com/blog/category/systems-thinking/

"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it."
― Frédéric Bastiat

Doesn't mean it's genetic. In fact, I'm pretty sure it means it's not.

Capital fn 4 , November 1, 2019 at 1:11 pm

The desire for justice is the constant.

The Iron Lady once proclaimed, slightly sinisterly: "Economics is the method. The object is to change the soul." She meant that British people had to rediscover the virtue of traditional values such as hard work and thrift. The "something for nothing" society was over.

But the idea that the Thatcher era re-established the link between virtuous effort and just reward has been effectively destroyed by the spectacle of bankers driving their institutions into bankruptcy while being rewarded with million-pound bonuses and munificent pensions.

The dual-truth approach of the Neoliberal Thought Collective (thanks, Mirowski) has been more adept at manipulating narratives so the masses are still outraged by individuals getting undeserved social benefits rather than elites vacuuming up common resources. Thanks to the Thatcher-Reagan revolution, we have ended up with socialism for the rich, and everyone else at the mercy of 'markets'.

Pretending that there are not problems with free riders is naive and it goes against people's concern with justice. Acknowledging free riders on all levels with institutions that can constantly pursue equity is the solution.

Anarcissie , November 2, 2019 at 10:09 am

At some points in life, everyone is a free rider. As for the hard workers, many of them are doing destructive things which the less hard-working people will have to suffer under and compensate for. (Neo)liberalism and capitalism are a coherent system of illusions of virtue which rest on domination, exploitation, extraction, and propaganda. Stoking of resentment (as of free riders, the poor, the losers, foreigners, and so on) is one of the ways those who enjoy it keep it going.

Capital fn. 4 , November 1, 2019 at 1:16 pm

The desire for justice is the constant.

The Iron Lady once proclaimed, slightly sinisterly: "Economics is the method. The object is to change the soul." She meant that British people had to rediscover the virtue of traditional values such as hard work and thrift. The "something for nothing" society was over.

But the idea that the Thatcher era re-established the link between virtuous effort and just reward has been effectively destroyed by the spectacle of bankers driving their institutions into bankruptcy while being rewarded with million-pound bonuses and munificent pensions.

The dual-truth approach of the Neoliberal Thought Collective (thanks, Mirowski) has been more adept at manipulating narratives so the masses are still outraged by individuals getting undeserved social benefits rather than elites vacuuming up common resources. Thanks to the Thatcher-Reagan revolution, we have ended up with socialism for the rich, and everyone else at the mercy of 'markets'.

Pretending that there are not problems with free riders is naive and it goes against people's concern with justice. Acknowledging free riders on all levels with institutions that can constantly pursue equity is the solution.

Synoia , November 2, 2019 at 12:58 pm

The Iron Lady had a agenda to break the labor movement in the UK.

What she did not understand is Management gets the Union (Behavior) it deserves. If there is strife in the workplace, as there was in abundance in the UK at that time, the problem is the Management, (and the UK class structure) not the workers.

As I found out when I left University.

Thatcher set out to break the solidarity of the Labor movement, and used the neo-liberal tool of selfishness to achieve success, unfortunately,

The UK's poor management practices, (The Working Class can kiss my arse) and complete inability to form teams of "Management and Workers" was, IMHO, is the foundation of today's Brexit nightmare, a foundation based on the British Class Structure.

And exploited, as it ever was, to achieve ends which do not benefit workers in any manner.

The Historian , November 1, 2019 at 1:43 pm

The left needs to acknowledge that aspects of the neoliberal agenda have been overwhelmingly popular: it has successfully tapped into people's instincts about the kind of life they want to lead, and wrapped these instincts up in a compelling narrative about how we should see ourselves and other people.

Sigh, no this is not true. This author is making the mistake that everyone is like the top 5% and that just is not so. Perhaps she should get out of her personal echo chamber and talk to common people.

In my travels I have been to every state and every major city, and I have worked with just about every class of people, except of course the ultra wealthy and ultra powerful – they have people to protect them from the great unwashed like me – and it didn't take me long to notice that the elite are different from the rest of us but I could never explain exactly why. After I retired, I started studying and I've examined everything from Adam Smith, to Hobbes, to Kant, to Durkheim, to Marx, to Ayn Rand, to tons of histories and anthropologies of various peoples, to you name it and I've come to the conclusion that most of us are not neoliberal and do not want what the top 5% want.

Most people are not overly competitive and most do not seek self-interest only. That is what allows us to live in cities, to drive on our roadways, to form groups that seek to improve conditions for the least of us. It is what allows soldiers to protect each other on the battlefield when it would be in their self interest to protect themselves. It is what allowed people in Europe to risk their own lives to save Jews. And it is also what allows people to live under the worst dictators without rebelling. Of course we all want more but we have limits on what we will do to get that more – the wealthy and powerful seem to have no limits. For instance, most of us won't screw over our co-workers to make ourselves look better, although some will. Most of us won't turn on our best friends even when it would be to our advantage to do so, although some will. Most of us won't abandon those we care about, even when it means severe financial damage to us, although some will.

For lack of a better description, I call what the 5% have the greed gene – a gene that allows them to give up empathy and compassion and basic morality – what some of us call fairness – in the search for personal gain. I don't think it is necessarily genetic but there is something in their makeup that cause them to have more than the average self interest. And because most humans are more cooperative than they are competitive, most humans just allow these people to go after what they want and don't stand in their way, even though by stopping them, they could make their own lives better.

Most history and economics are theories and stories told by the rich and powerful to justify their behavior. I think it is a big mistake to attribute that behavior to the mass of humanity. Archeology is beginning to look more at how average people lived instead of seeking out only the riches deposited by the elite, and historians are starting to look at the other side of history – average people – to see what life was really like for them, and I think we are seeing that what the rulers wanted was never what their people wanted. It is beginning to appear obvious that 95% of the people just wanted to live in their communities safely, to have about what everyone else around them had, and to enjoy the simple pleasures of shelter, enough food, and warm companionship.

I'm also wondering why the 5% think that all of us want exactly what they want. Do they really think that they are somehow being smarter or more competent got them there while 95% of the population – the rest of us – failed?

At this point, I know my theory is half-baked – I definitely need to do more research, but nothing I have found yet convinces me that there isn't some real basic difference between those who aspire to power and wealth and the rest of us.

Foy , November 1, 2019 at 5:09 pm

" ..and I've come to the conclusion that most of us are not neoliberal and do not want what the top 5% want. Most people are not overly competitive and most do not seek self-interest only. That is what allows us to live in cities, to drive on our roadways, to form groups that seek to improve conditions for the least of us. It is what allows soldiers to protect each other on the battlefield when it would be in their self interest to protect themselves. "

I really liked your comment Historian. Thanks for posting. That's what I've felt in my gut for a while, that the top 5% and the establishment are operating under a different mindset, that the majority of people don't want a competitive, dog eat dog, self interest world.

SKM , November 1, 2019 at 5:52 pm

me too, great observation and well put. Made me feel better too! Heartfelt thanks

Mo's Bike Shop , November 1, 2019 at 8:00 pm

I agree with Foy Johnson. I've been reading up on Ancient Greece and realizing all the time that 'teh Greeks' are maybe only about thirty percent of the people in Greece. Most of that history is how Greeks were taking advantage of each other with little mention of the majority of the population. Pelasgians? Yeah, they came from serpents teeth, the end.

I think this is a problem from the Bronze Age that we have not properly addressed.

Mystery Cycles are a nice reminder that people were having fun on their own.

Carey , November 1, 2019 at 5:15 pm

Thanks very much for this comment, Historian.

deplorado , November 1, 2019 at 5:22 pm

I have more or less the same view. I think the author's statement about neoliberalism tapping into what type of life people want to lead is untenable. Besides instinct (are we all 4-year olds?), what people want is also very much socially constructed. And what people do is also very much socially coerced.

One anecdote: years ago, during a volunteer drive at work, I worked side by side with the company's CEO (company was ~1200 headcount, ~.5bn revenue) sorting canned goods. The guy was doing it like he was in a competition. So much so that he often blocked me when I had to place something on the shelves, and took a lot of space in the lineup around himself while swinging his large-ish body and arms, and wouldn't stop talking. To me, this was very rude and inconsiderate, and showed a repulsive level of disregard to others. This kind of behavior at such an event, besides being unpleasant to be around, was likely also making work for the others in the lineup less efficient. Had I or anyone else behaved like him, we would have had a good amount of awkwardness or even a conflict.

What I don't get is, how does he and others get away with it? My guess is, people don't want a conflict. I didn't want a conflict and said nothing to that CEO. Not because I am not competitive, but because I didn't want an ugly social situation (we said 'excuse me' and 'sorry' enough, I just didn't think it would go over well to ask him to stop being obnoxious and dominant for no reason). He obviously didn't care or was unaware – or actually, I think he was behaving that way as a tactical habit. And I didn't feel I had the authority to impose a different order.

So, in the end, it's about power – power relations and knowing what to do about it.

Foy , November 1, 2019 at 7:43 pm

Yep, I think you've nailed it there deplorado, types like your CEO don't care at all and/or are socially unaware, and is a tactical habit that they have found has worked for them in the past and is now ingrained. It is a power relation and our current world unfortunately is now designed and made to suit people like that. And each day the world incrementally moves a little bit more in their direction with inertia like a glacier. Its going to take something big to turn it around

Jeremy Grimm , November 1, 2019 at 6:49 pm

I too believe "most of us are not neoliberal". But if so, how did we end up with the kind of Corporate Cartels, Government Agencies and Organizations that currently prey upon Humankind? This post greatly oversimplifies the mechanisms and dynamics of Neoliberalism, and other varieties of exploitation of the many by the few. This post risks a mocking tie to Identity Politics. What traits of Humankind give truth to Goebbels' claims?

There definitely is "some real basic difference between those who aspire to power and wealth and the rest of us" -- but the question you should ask next is why the rest of us Hobbits blindly follow and help the Saurons among us. Why do so many of us do exactly what we're told? How is it that constant repetition of the Neoliberal identity concepts over our media can so effectively ensnare the thinking of so many?

Foy , November 1, 2019 at 7:47 pm

Maybe it's something similar to Milgram's Experiment (the movie the Experimenter about Milgram was on last night – worth watching and good acting by Peter Sarsgaard, my kind of indie film), the outcome is just not what would normally be expected, people bow to authority, against their own beliefs and interests, and others interests, even though they have choice. The Hobbits followed blindly in that experiment, the exact opposite outcome as to what was predicted by the all the psychology experts beforehand.

Mo's Bike Shop , November 1, 2019 at 8:12 pm

people bow to authority , against their own beliefs and interests, and others interests, even though they have choice

'Don't Make Waves' is a fundamentally useful value that lets us all swim along. This can be manipulated. If everyone is worried about Reds Under the Beds or recycling, you go along to get along.

Some people somersault to Authority is how I'd put it.

Foy , November 1, 2019 at 11:17 pm

Yep, don't mind how you put that Mo, good word somersault.

One of the amusing tests Milgram did was to have people go into the lift but all face the back of the lift instead of the doors and see what happens when the next person got in. Sure enough, with the next person would get in, face the front, look around with some confusion at everyone else and then slowly turn and face the back. Don't Make Waves its instinctive to let us all swim along as you said.

And 'some people' is correct. It was actually the majority, 65%, who followed directions against their own will and preferred choice in his original experiment.

susan the Other , November 1, 2019 at 8:07 pm

thank you, historian

The Rev Kev , November 1, 2019 at 8:14 pm

That's a pretty damn good comment that, Historian. Lots to unpick. It reminded me too of something that John Wyndham once said. He wrote how about 95% of us wanted to live in peace and comfort but that the other 5% were always considering their chances if they started something. He went on to say that it was the introduction of nuclear weapons that made nobody's chances of looking good which explains why the lack of a new major war since WW2.

Mr grumpy , November 1, 2019 at 9:56 pm

Good comment. My view is that it all boils down to the sociopathic personality disorder. Sociopathy runs on a continuum, and we all exhibit some of its tendencies. At the highest end you get serial killers and titans of industry, like the guy sorting cans in another comment. I believe all religions and theories of ethical behavior began as attempts to reign in the sociopaths by those of us much lower on the continuum. Neoliberalism starts by saying the sociopaths are the norm, turning the usual moral and ethical universe upside down.

Janie , November 1, 2019 at 11:59 pm

Your theory is not half-baked; it's spot-on. If you're not the whatever it takes, end justifies the means type, you are not likely to rise to the top in the corporate world. The cream rises to the top happens only in the dairy.

Grebo , November 2, 2019 at 12:25 am

Your 5% would correspond to Altemeyer's "social dominators". Unfortunately only 75% want a simple, peaceful life. 20% are looking for a social dominator to follow. It's psychological.

Kristin Lee , November 2, 2019 at 5:21 am

Excellent comment. Take into consideration the probability that the majority of the top 5% have come from a privileged background, ensconced in a culture of entitlement. This "greed" gene is as natural to them as breathing. Consider also that many wealthy families have maintained their status through centuries of calculated loveless marriages, empathy and other human traits gene-pooled out of existence. The cruel paradox is that for the sake of riches, they have lost their richness in character.

Davenport , November 2, 2019 at 7:57 am

This really chimes with me. Thanks so much for putting it down in words.

I often encounter people insisting humans are selfish. It is quite frustrating that this more predominant side of our human nature seems to become invisible against the propaganda.

Henry Moon Pie , November 1, 2019 at 1:49 pm

I'm barely into Jeremy Lent's The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity's Search for Meaning , but he's already laid down his central thesis in fairly complete form. Humans are both competitive and cooperative, he says, which should surprise no one. What I found interesting is that the competitive side comes from primates who are more intensely competitive than humans. The cooperation developed after the human/primate split and was enabled by "mimetic culture," communication skills that importantly presuppose that the object(s) of communication are intentional creatures like oneself but with a somewhat different perspective. Example: Human #1 gestures to Human #2 to come take a closer look at whatever Human #1 is examining. This ability to cooperate even came with strategies to prevent a would-be dominant male from taking over a hunter-gatherer band:

[I]n virtually all hunter-gatherer societies, people join together to prevent powerful males from taking too much control, using collective behaviors such as ridicule, group disobedience, and, ultimately, extreme sanctions such as assassination [This kind of society is called] a "reverse dominant hierarchy because rather than being dominated, the rank and file manages to dominate.

SKM , November 1, 2019 at 6:02 pm

yes, this chimes in with what I`ve been thinking for years after puzzling about why society everywhere ends up as it does – ie the fact that in small groups as we evolved to live in, we would keep a check on extreme selfish behaviour of dominant individuals. In complex societies (modern) most of us become "the masses" visible in some way to the system but the top echelons are not visible to us and are able to amass power and wealth out of all control by the rest of us. And yes, you do have to have a very strange drive (relatively rare, ?pathological) to want power and wealth at everyone else`s expense – to live in a cruel world many of whose problems could be solved (or not arise in the first place) by redistributing some of your wealth to little palpable cost to you

Mo's Bike Shop , November 1, 2019 at 8:37 pm

Africa over a few million years of Ice Ages seems to have presented our ancestors with the possibility of reproducing only if you can get along in close proximity to other Hominids without killing each other. I find that a compelling explanation for our stupidly big brains; it's one thing to be a smart monkey, it's a whole different solution needed to model what is going on in the brain of another smart monkey.

And communications: How could spoken language have developed without levels of trust and interdependence that maybe we can not appreciate today? We have a word for 'Blue' nowadays, we take it for granted.

Anarcissie , November 2, 2019 at 10:18 am

There is a theory that language originated between mothers and their immediate progeny, between whom either trust and benevolence exist, or the weaker dies. The mother's chances for survival and reproduction are enhanced if she can get her progeny to, so to speak, help out around the house; how to do that is extended by symbolism and syntax as well as example.

chuck roast , November 1, 2019 at 2:00 pm

I recall the first day of Econ 102 when the Prof. (damned few adjuncts in those days) said, "Everything we discuss hereafter will be built on the concept of scarcity." Being a contrary buggah' I thought, "The air I'm breathing isn't scarce." I soon got with the program supply and demand upward sloping, downward sloping, horizontal, vertical and who could forget kinked. My personal favorite was the Giffen Good a high priced inferior product. Kind of like Micro Economics.

Maybe we could begin our new Neo-Economics 102 with the proviso, "Everything we discuss hereafter will be based on abundance." I'm gonna' like this class!

Off The Street , November 1, 2019 at 2:27 pm

Neo-lib Econ does a great job at framing issues so that people don't notice what is excluded. Think of them as proto-Dark Patternists.

If you are bored and slightly mischievous, ask an economist how theory addresses cooperation, then assume a can opener and crack open a twist-top beer.

jrs , November 1, 2019 at 3:11 pm

Isn't one of the problems that it's NOT really built on the concept of scarcity? Most natural resources run into scarcity eventually. I don't know about the air one breaths, certainly fish species are finding reduced oxygen in the oceans due to climate change.

shtove , November 2, 2019 at 3:45 am

Yes, I suppose people in cities in south-east Asia wearing soot-exclusion masks have a different take on the abundance of air.

Jeremy Grimm , November 1, 2019 at 6:57 pm

If you would like that class on abundance you would love the Church of Abundant Life which pushes Jesus as the way to Abundant Life and they mean that literally. Abundant as in Jesus wants you to have lots of stuff -- so believe.

I believe Neoliberalism is a much more complex animal than an economic theory. Mirowski builds a plausible argument that Neoliberalism is a theory of epistemology. The Market discovers Truth.

Mo's Bike Shop , November 1, 2019 at 8:53 pm

"The air I'm breathing isn't scarce."

Had a lovely Physics class where the first homework problem boiled down to "How often do you inhale a atom (O or N) from Julius Caesar's last breath". Great little introduction to the power and pratfalls of 'estimations by Physicists' that xkcd likes to poke at. Back then we used the CRC Handbook to figure it out.

Anyway, every second breath you can be sure you have shared an atom with Caesar.

Susan the Other , November 1, 2019 at 2:08 pm

I don't think Maggie T. or uncle Milty were thinking about the future at all. Neither one would have openly promoted turfing quadriplegic 70-year-olds out of the rest home. That's how short sighted they both were. And stupid. We really need to call a spade a spade here. Milty doesn't even qualify as an economist – unless economics is the study of the destruction of society. But neoliberalism had been in the wings already, by the 80s, for 40 years. Nobody took into account that utility-maximizing capitalism always kills the goose (except Lenin maybe) – because it's too expensive to feed her. The neoliberals were just plain dumb. The question really is why should we stand for another day of neoliberal nonsense? Albeit Macht Frei Light? No thanks. I think they've got the question backwards – it shouldn't be how should "we" reconstruct our image now – but what is the obligation of all the failed neoliberal extractors to right society now? I'd just as soon stand back and watch the dam burst as help the neolibs out with a little here and a little there. They'll just keep taking as long as we give. This isn't as annoying as Macron's "cake" comment, but it's close. I did like the last 2 paragraphs however.

Susan the Other , November 1, 2019 at 2:42 pm

Here's a sidebar. A universal one. There is an anomaly in the universe – there is not enough accumulated entropy. It screws up theoretical physics because the missing entropy needs to be accounted for for their theories to work to their satisfaction. It seems to be a phenomenon of evolution. Thus it was recently discovered by a physics grad student that entropy by heat dissipation is the "creator" of life. Life almost spontaneously erupts where it can take advantage of an energy source. And, we are assuming, life thereby slows entropy down. There has to be another similar process among the stars and the planets as well, an evolutionary conservation of energy. So evolution takes on more serious meaning. From the quantum to the infinite. And society – it's right in the middle. So it isn't too unreasonable to think that society is extremely adaptable, taking advantage of any energy input, and it seems true to think that. Which means that society can go long for its goal before it breaks down. But in the end it will be enervated by lack of "resources" unless it can self perpetuate in an evolving manner. That's one good reason to say goodbye to looney ideologies.

djrichard , November 1, 2019 at 3:05 pm

For a view of humanity that is not as selfish, recommend "The Gift" by Marcel Mauss. Basically an anthropological study of reciprocal gift giving in the oceanic potlatch societies. My take is that the idea was to re-visit relationships, as giving a gift basically forces a response in the receiver, "Am I going to respond in kind, perhaps even upping what is required? Or am I going to find that this relationship simply isn't worth it and walk away?"

Kind of like being in a marriage. The idea isn't to walk away, the idea is you constantly need to re-enforce it. Except with the potlatch it was like extending that concept to the clan at large, so that all the relationships within the clan were being re-enforced.

Amfortas the hippie , November 1, 2019 at 3:26 pm

"Kind of like being in a marriage. The idea isn't to walk away, the idea is you constantly need to re-enforce it. "
amen.
we, the people, abdicated.

as for humans being selfish by default i used to believe this, due to my own experiences as an outlaw and pariah.
until wife's cancer and the overwhelming response of this little town,in the "reddest" congressional district in texas.
locally, the most selfish people i know are the one's who own everything buying up their neighbor's businesses when things get tough.
they are also the most smug and pretentious(local dems, in their hillforts come a close second in this regard) and most likely to be gop true believers.
small town and all everybody literally knows everybody, and their extended family and those connections are intertwined beyond belief.
wife's related, in some way, to maybe half the town.
that matters and explains my experience as an outcast: i never belonged to anything like that and such fellowfeeling and support is hard for people to extend to a stranger.
That's what's gonna be the hard sell, here, in undoing the hyperindividualist, "there is no such thing as society" nonsense.

Mo's Bike Shop , November 1, 2019 at 9:23 pm

I grew up until Junior High in a fishing village on the Maine coast that had been around for well over a hundred years and had a population of under 1000. By the time I was 8 I realized there was no point in being extreme with anyone, because they were likely to be around for the rest of your life.

I fell in love with sun and warmth when we moved away and unfortunately it's all gentrified now, by the 90s even a tar paper shack could be sold for a few acres up in Lamoine.

djrichard , November 1, 2019 at 10:49 pm

Yep, small towns are about as close as we get to clans nowadays. And just like clans, you don't want to be on the outside. Still when you marry in, it would be nice if the town would make you feel more a member like a clan should / would. ;-)

But outside of the small town and extended families I think that's it. We've been atomized into our nuclear families. Except for the ruling class – I think they have this quid pro quo gift giving relationship building figured out quite nicely. Basically they've formed their own small town – at the top.

By the way, I understand Mauss was an influence on Baudrillard. I could almost imagine Baudrillard thinking how the reality of the potlatch societies was so different than the reality of western societies.

Anarcissie , November 2, 2019 at 10:29 am

That's the big problem I see in this discussion. We know, or at least think we know, what's wrong, and what would be better; but we can't get other people to want to do something about it, even those who nominally agree with us. And I sure don't have the answer.

David , November 1, 2019 at 3:07 pm

Neoliberalism, in its early guise at least, was popular because politicians like Thatcher effectively promised something for nothing. Low taxes but still decent public services. The right to buy your council house without putting your parents' council house house in jeopardy. Enjoying private medical care as a perk of your job whilst still finding the NHS there when you were old and sick. And so on. By the time the penny dropped it was too late.
If the Left is serious about challenging neoliberalism, it has to return to championing the virtues of community, which it abandoned decades ago in favour of extreme liberal individualism Unfortunately, community is an idea which has either been appropriated by various identity warriors (thus fracturing society further) or dismissed (as this author does) because it's been taken up by the Right. A Left which explained that when everybody cooperates everybody benefits, but that when everybody fights everybody loses, would sweep the board.

deplorado , November 1, 2019 at 8:30 pm

>>Neoliberalism, in its early guise at least, was popular because politicians like Thatcher effectively promised something for nothing.

This. That's it.

Thank you David, for always providing among the most grounded and illuminating comments here.

Mo's Bike Shop , November 1, 2019 at 9:54 pm

If the Left is serious about challenging neoliberalism, it has to return to championing the virtues of community

I agree. The tenuous suggestions offered by the article are top down. But top-down universal solutions can remove the impetus for local organization. Which enervates the power of communities. And then you can't do anything about austerity, because your Rep loves the PowerPoints and has so much money from the Real Estate community.

Before one experiences the virtue, or power, of a community, one has to go through the pain in the ass of contributing to a community. It has to be rewarding process or it won't happen.

No idea how to do that from the top.

Capital fn. 4 , November 1, 2019 at 3:12 pm

Jeez louise-
one more attempt to get past Skynet

PKMKII , November 1, 2019 at 4:05 pm

Anyone have a link to the studies mentioned about how Econ majors were the only ones to act selfishly in the game scenarios?

Rod , November 2, 2019 at 3:30 pm

this may not get the ECON majors specifically but this will raise your eyebrows

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/06/embark-essay-tragedy-of-the-commons-greed-common-good/

this is next gen coming up here

Summer , November 1, 2019 at 5:33 pm

"An example of how this plays out can be seen in academic studies showing that, in game scenarios presenting the opportunity to free-ride on the efforts of others, only economics students behaved as economic models predicted: all other groups were much more likely to pool their resources. Having been trained to believe that others are likely to be selfish, economists believe that their best course of action is to be selfish as well. The rest of us still have the instinct to cooperate. Perhaps this shouldn't be surprising: after all, as George Monbiot argues in 'Out of the Wreckage', cooperation is our species' main survival strategy."

Since so many people believe their job is their identity, would be interssting to know what the job training or jobs were of the "others."

Summer , November 1, 2019 at 5:35 pm

"Ultimately, they can't escape the fact that most people would like to spend less time at work."

And that is a key point!

Carey , November 1, 2019 at 7:39 pm

>so many people believe their job is their identity

Only because the social sphere, which in the medium and long term we *all depend on* to survive, has been debased by 24/7/365 neolib talking points, and their purposeful economic constrictions..

Jeremy Grimm , November 1, 2019 at 7:13 pm

How many people have spent their lives working for the "greater good"? How many work building some transcendental edifice from which the only satisfaction they could take away was knowing they performed a part of its construction? The idea that Humankind is selfish and greedy is a projection promoted by the small part of Humankind that really is selfish and greedy.

Sound of the Suburbs , November 2, 2019 at 4:59 am

Let's work out the basics, this will help.

Where does wealth creation actually occur in the capitalist system?

Nations can do well with the trade, as we have seen with China and Germany, but this comes at other nation's expense.
In a successful global economy, trade should be balanced over the long term.
Keynes was aware of this in the past, and realised surplus nations were just as much of a problem as deficit nations in a successful global economy with a long term future.

Zimababwe has lots of money and it's not doing them any favours. Too much money causes hyper-inflation.
You can just print money, the real wealth in the economy lies somewhere else.
Alan Greenspan tells Paul Ryan the Government can create all the money it wants and there is no need to save for pensions.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNCZHAQnfGU
What matters is whether the goods and services are there for them to buy with that money. That's where the real wealth in the economy lies.
Money has no intrinsic value; its value comes from what it can buy.
Zimbabwe has too much money in the economy relative to the goods and services available in that economy. You need wheelbarrows full of money to buy anything.
It's that GDP thing that measures real wealth creation.

GDP does not include the transfer of existing assets like stocks and real estate.
Inflated asset prices are just inflated asset prices and this can disappear all too easily as we keep seeing in real estate.
1990s – UK, US (S&L), Canada (Toronto), Scandinavia, Japan
2000s – Iceland, Dubai, US (2008)
2010s – Ireland, Spain, Greece
Get ready to put Australia, Canada, Norway, Sweden and Hong Kong on the list.
They invented the GDP measure in the 1930s, to track real wealth creation in the economy after they had seen all that apparent wealth in the US stock market disappear in 1929.
There was nothing really there.

Now, we can move on further.

The UK's national income accountants can't work out how finance adds any value (creates wealth).
Banks create money from bank loans, not wealth.
https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/quarterly-bulletin/2014/money-creation-in-the-modern-economy.pdf
We have mistaken inflating asset prices for creating wealth.

How can banks create wealth with bank credit?
The UK used to know before 1980.
https://www.housepricecrash.co.uk/forum/uploads/monthly_2018_02/Screen-Shot-2017-04-21-at-13_53_09.png.e32e8fee4ffd68b566ed5235dc1266c2.png
Before 1980 – banks lending into the right places that result in GDP growth (business and industry, creating new products and services in the economy)
After 1980 – banks lending into the wrong places that don't result in GDP growth (real estate and financial speculation)
What happened in 1979?
The UK eliminated corset controls on banking in 1979 and the banks invaded the mortgage market and this is where the problem starts.

Real estate does make the economy boom, but there is no real wealth creation in inflating asset prices.
What is really happening?
When you use bank credit to inflate asset prices, the debt rises much faster than GDP.
https://www.housepricecrash.co.uk/forum/uploads/monthly_2018_02/Screen-Shot-2017-04-21-at-13_53_09.png.e32e8fee4ffd68b566ed5235dc1266c2.png
The bank credit of mortgages is bringing future spending power into today.
Bank loans create money and the repayment of debt to banks destroys money.
https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/quarterly-bulletin/2014/money-creation-in-the-modern-economy.pdf
In the real estate boom, new money pours into the economy from mortgage lending, fuelling a boom in the real economy, which feeds back into the real estate boom.
The Japanese real estate boom of the 1980s was so excessive the people even commented on the "excess money", and everyone enjoyed spending that excess money in the economy.
In the real estate bust, debt repayments to banks destroy money and push the economy towards debt deflation (a shrinking money supply).
Japan has been like this for thirty years as they pay back the debts from their 1980s excesses, it's called a balance sheet recession.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YTyJzmiHGk
Bank loans effectively take future spending and bring it in today.
Jam today, penury tomorrow.
Using future spending power to inflate asset prices today is a mistake that comes from thinking inflating asset prices creates real wealth.
GDP measures real wealth creation.

Sound of the Suburbs , November 2, 2019 at 5:37 am

Did you know capitalism works best with low housing costs and a low cost of living? Probably not, you are in the parallel universe of neoliberalism.

William White (BIS, OECD) talks about how economics really changed over one hundred years ago as classical economics was replaced by neoclassical economics.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6iXBQ33pBo&t=2485s

He thinks we have been on the wrong path for one hundred years.

Some very important things got lost 100 years ago.

Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)

"Wait a minute, employees get their money from wages and businesses have to cover high housing costs in wages reducing profit" the CBI

It's all about the economy, and UK businesses will benefit from low housing costs. High housing costs push up wages and reduce profits. Off-shore to make more profit, you can pay lower wages where the cost of living is lower, e.g. China; the US and UK are rubbish.

Sound of the Suburbs , November 2, 2019 at 8:11 am

What was Keynes really doing? Creating a low cost, internationally competitive economy. Keynes's ideas were a solution to the problems of the Great Depression, but we forgot why he did, what he did.

They tried running an economy on debt in the 1920s. The 1920s roared with debt based consumption and speculation until it all tipped over into the debt deflation of the Great Depression. No one realised the problems that were building up in the economy as they used an economics that doesn't look at private debt, neoclassical economics.

Keynes looked at the problems of the debt based economy and came up with redistribution through taxation to keep the system running in a sustainable way and he dealt with the inherent inequality capitalism produced.

The cost of living = housing costs + healthcare costs + student loan costs + food + other costs of living

Disposable income = wages - (taxes + the cost of living)

High progressive taxation funded a low cost economy with subsidised housing, healthcare, education and other services to give more disposable income on lower wages.

Employers and employees both win with a low cost of living.

Keynesian ideas went wrong in the 1970s and everyone had forgotten the problems of neoclassical economics that he originally solved.

Sound of the Suburbs , November 2, 2019 at 8:44 am

Economics, the time line:

We thought small state, unregulated capitalism was something that it wasn't as our ideas came from neoclassical economics, which has little connection with classical economics.

On bringing it back again, we had lost everything that had been learned in the 1930s, by which time it had already demonstrated its flaws.

Kristin Lee , November 2, 2019 at 5:54 am

Ultimately, neoliberalism is about privatization and ownership of everything. This is why it's so important to preserve the Common Good, the vital resources and services that support earthly existence. The past 40 years has shown what happens when this falls out of balance. Our value system turns upside down – the sick become more valuable than the healthy, a violent society provides for the prisons-for-profit system and so on. The biggest upset has been the privatization of money creation.

This latest secret bank bailout (not really secret as Dodd-Frank has allowed banks to siphon newly created money from the Fed without Congressional approval. No more public embarrassment that Hank Paulson had to endure.) They are now up to $690 billion PER WEEK while the media snoozes. PPPs enjoy the benefits of public money to seed projects for private gain. The rest of us have to rely on predatory lenders, sinking us to the point of Peak Debt, where private debt can never be paid off and must be cancelled, as it should be because it never should've happened in the first place.

"Neoliberalism, which has influenced so much of the conventional thinking about money, is adamant that the public sector must not create ('print') money, and so public expenditure must be limited to what the market can 'afford.' Money, in this view, is a limited resource that the market ensures will be used efficiently. Is public money, then, a pipe dream? No, for the financial crisis and the response to it undermined this neoliberal dogma.

The financial sector mismanaged its role as a source of money so badly that the state had to step in and provide unlimited monetary backing to rescue it. The creation of money out of thin air by public authorities revealed the inherently political nature of money. But why, then, was the power to create money ceded to the private sector in the first place -- and with so little public accountability? And if money can be created to serve the banks, why not to benefit people and the environment? "

Paul Hirshman , November 2, 2019 at 3:33 pm

The Commons should have a shot at revival as the upcoming generation's desires are outstripped by their incomes and savings. The conflict between desires and reality may give a boost to alternate notions of what's desirable. Add to this the submersion of cities under the waves of our expanding oceans, and one gets yet another concrete reason to think that individual ownership isn't up to the job of inspiring young people.

A Commons of some sort will be needed to undo the cost of generations of unpaid negative externalities. Fossil fuels, constant warfare, income inequality, stupendous idiocy of kleptocratic government these baked in qualities of neo-liberalism are creating a very large, dissatisfied, and educated population just about anywhere one looks. Suburbia will be on fire, as well as underwater. Farmlands will be parched, drenched, and exhausted. Where will Larry Summers dump the garbage?

[Nov 24, 2019] Chris Hedges: Who Killed the American Dream On Civil Society

Aug 27, 2018 | www.youtube.com

Dan Harris , 1 year ago (edited)

Chris Hedges is our very own modern day Thomas Paine. Too bad most the sheep don't even know he exists let alone be fired by his deeply powerful words and ideas. He is so dangerous he is universally banned by any and all major media. He is so smart, so well read and so incredibly morally powerful, they make sure only those few who like myself, go looking can actually find him.

Supernautiloid , 1 year ago

I only recently discovered Hedges myself. Needless to say, his speeches have blown my mind. It only requires one to take a look at the world around us to see he speaks the truth. If only more would wake up to this truth.

Bergur Rasmussen , 3 months ago div class="comment-

renderer-text-content expanded"> There is this Frank Zappa quote, I keep thinking of when listening to Chris Hedges "The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it's profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater." The illusion is hastily crumbling ... thanks CH for wording the decay so clearly

Doug N , 11 months ago (edited)

Four cops were recently indicted for beating an under cover cop posing as a protester during the recent St Louis race riots. Chris is absolutely correct when he says antifa is half cops. The oligarchs want Marshall Law. And cops are playing their part in seeing that it comes to pass.

[Nov 24, 2019] Chris Hedges on Death of the Liberal Class - YouTube

Highly recommended!
Jan 04, 2011 | www.youtube.com

riccardo estavans , 4 months ago

Colin Shaw , 5 months ago Think Mackay , 5 months ago

Bill Clinton destroyed the USA economy and middle class like no president has ever done. Bush II and Obama exacerbated the destruction by the hundred folds.

Orion's Ghost , 5 months ago

I believe Hedges statement that "the true correctives to society were social movements that never achieved formal political power" is perhaps one of the most important things for each of us to understand.

Fred Slocombe , 3 months ago (edited)
Ali Naderzad , 3 months ago (edited)

16:50 GENIUS. WELL DONE. So true.go Chris !!!

cubismo85 , 4 weeks ago

hauntingly accurate in every aspect, im speehless

Eris123451 , 3 days ago

I watched this with interest and curiosity and growing skepticism although he makes some killer points and cites some extremely disturbing facts; above all he accepts and uncritically so the American narrative of history.

Brian Valero , 4 months ago

The message from democrats is "hey we're not bigots". Most people (repubs+dems) aren't. If they keep calling on that for energy the Dems will forever continue to lose. If they don't come back to the working class they might as well just call themselves conservatives.

jimmyolsenblues , 4 months ago

he did/wrote this in 2011, he really understood then how things are in 2019.

Andy Russ , 3 years ago (edited)

Prescient 'post-mortem' of the 2016 election

2009starlite , 5 months ago (edited)

Those of us who seek the truth can't stop looking under every stone. The truth will set you free but you must share it with those who are ready to hear it and hide it from those who can hurt you for exposing it. MT

Aubrey De Bliquy , 2 days ago (edited)

"A Society that looses the capacity for the sacred cannibalizes itself until it dies because it exploits the natural world as well as human beings to the point of collapse."

Clark WARS News , 1 day ago

I learned something from watching this thank you powerful teacher love you ⭐

Rebel Scum , 5 months ago

I think he meant Washington State University which is in Pullman. The University of Washington is in Seattle. 16:43

phuturephunk , 6 years ago

Damn, he's grim...but he makes a whole lot of sense.

davekiernan1 , 2 weeks ago

Like Mr bon ribentrof said in monty Python. He's right you know...

Rich Keal , 5 months ago

Search YouTube for Dr. Antony Sutton the funding of the Bolshevik Revolution. The Act of 1871 as well. Take the Red Pill and go deeper.

kevin joseph , 5 days ago

loony republicans? did they open the borders, legalize late abortions and outright infanticide?

Michael Maya , 5 months ago

I've listened to this twice both twice it played on accident bcuz I had you tube on autoplay, it woke me up while I was sleeping but I'm glad it did.

Bryce Hallam , 1 week ago

Set the Playback Speed to: 1.25 . Great lecture.

Buddy Aces , 5 months ago

It makes sense and we can smell it! Those varmints must be shown no mercy.

VC YT , 5 months ago

To get in the mood, I watched this lecture from behind some Hedges. :-)

Orion's Ghost , 5 months ago

I believe Hedges statement that "the true correctives to society were social movements that never achieved formal political power" is perhaps one of the most important things for each of us to understand.

Fred Slocombe , 3 months ago (edited)

15:05 The subjugation of Education 21:15 Theatrical Manipulation of Expectations 24:08 U.S. Debt and Borrowing

Ali Naderzad , 3 months ago (edited)

16:50 GENIUS. WELL DONE. So true.go Chris !!!

cubismo85 , 4 weeks ago

hauntingly accurate in every aspect, im speehless

Eris123451 , 3 days ago

I watched this with interest and curiosity and growing skepticism although he makes some killer points and cites some extremely disturbing facts; above all he accepts and uncritically so the American narrative of history. The Progressive movement, for example, (written into American history as being far more important that it ever really was,) unlike Socialism or Communism was primarily just a literary and a trendy intellectually movement that attempted, (unconvincingly,) to persuade poor, exploited and abused Americans that non of those other political movements, (reactive and grass-roots,) were needed here and that capitalism could and might of itself, cure itself; it conceded little, promised much and unlike either Communism or Socialism delivered fuck all. Personally I remain unconvinced also by, "climate science," (which he takes as given,) and which seems to to me to depend far too much on faith and self important repeatedly insisting that it's true backed by lurid and hysterical propaganda and not nearly enough on rational scientific argument, personally I can't make head nor tail of the science behind it ? (it may well be true, or not; I can't tell.) But above all and stripped of it his pretensions his argument is just typical theist, (of any flavor you like,) end of times claptrap all the other systems have failed, (China for example somewhat gives the lie to death of Communism by the way and so on,) the end is neigh and all that is left to do is for people to turn to character out of first century fairly story. I wish him luck with that.

penny kannon , 5 months ago

CHRIS HEDGES YOUR BOOK MUST BE HIGH SCHOOL STUDY!!! wtkjr.!!!

Brian Valero , 4 months ago

The message from democrats is "hey we're not bigots". Most people (repubs+dems) aren't. If they keep calling on that for energy the Dems will forever continue to lose. If they don't come back to the working class they might as well just call themselves conservatives.

jimmyolsenblues , 4 months ago

he did/wrote this in 2011, he really understood then how things are in 2019.

Andy Russ , 3 years ago (edited)

Prescient 'post-mortem' of the 2016 election

Jean Lloyd Bradberry , 5 months ago

Shared! Excellent presentation!

Mike van Wijngaarden , 4 months ago

What if, to fail is the objective? That would mean they planned everything that's happened and will happen.

Michael Hutz , 1 month ago (edited)

Loved Chris in this one. First time I've heard him talking naturally instead of reading verbatim from a text which makes him sound preachy.

Bill Mccloy , 4 months ago (edited)

Chris is our canary in a coal mine! Truly a national treasure and a champion for humanity. And he's more Christian than he thinks he is.

Herr Pooper , 4 months ago

I have always loved Chris Hedges, but ever since becoming fully awake it pains me to see how he will take gigantic detours of imagination to never mention Israel, AIPAC or Zionism, and their complete takeover of the US. What a shame.

ISIS McCain , 4 months ago

Hey Chris, please look up Dr. Wolfe and have a big debate with him!!! I believe you guys would mostly hit it off, but please look him up!

UtopiaMinor666 , 8 years ago

The reality of this is enough to make you want to cry.

Terri Pebsworth , 3 months ago

Excellent! And truer today (2019) than even in 2010.

Russell Olausen , 4 months ago

Notes From the Underground,my favourite book.

John Doe , 3 weeks ago

Gosh I thought it was being broadcasted today. Then I heard it and it was really for today.

George C. May , 2 months ago

Not once did I hear the word corruption which in this speech sums up the bureaucratic control of the country !

L N , 5 months ago

I think Chris Has saved my life! ✊🏼✌️ 👍🏼🌅

Laureano Luna , 4 months ago

43:53 Cicero did not even live the imperial period of Rome...

andrew domenitz , 4 months ago

The continued growth of unproductive debt against the low or nonexistent growth of GDP is the recipe for collapse, for the whole world economic system.

Thomas Simmons , 5 months ago

I agree with Chris about the tragedy of the Liberal Church. Making good through identity politics however, is every bit as heretical and tragic as Evangelical Republican corrupted church think, in my humble, Christian opinion.

Alexandros Aiakides , 2 weeks ago (edited)

The death of the present western hemisphere governments and "democratic" institutions must die right now for humanity to be saved from the zombies that rule it. 'Cannibalization" of oikonomia was my idea, as well as of William Engdahl. l am glad hearing Hedges to adopt the expression of truth. ( November 2019. from Phthia , Hellas ).

Heathcliff Earnshaw , 4 months ago div cl

ass="comment-renderer-text-content expanded"> Gosh , especially that last conclusion ,was terrific so I want to paste the whole of that Auden poem here:- September 1, 1939 W. H. Auden - 1907-1973

... ... ...

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

[Nov 21, 2019] How Neoliberal Thinkers Spawned Monsters They Never Imagined

Highly recommended!
Nov 21, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on November 20, 2019 by Yves Smith By Lynn Parramore, Senior Research Analyst at the Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

Political theorist Wendy Brown's latest book, In the Ruins of Neoliberalism: The Rise of Antidemocratic Politics in the West , traces the intellectual roots of neoliberalism and reveals how an anti-democratic project unleashed monsters – from plutocrats to neo-fascists – that its mid-20 th century visionaries failed to anticipate. She joins the Institute for New Economic Thinking to discuss how the flawed blueprint for markets and the less-discussed focus on morality gave rise to threats to democracy and society that are distinct from what has come before.

Lynn Parramore: To many people, neoliberalism is about economic agendas. But your book explores what you describe as the moral aspect of the neoliberal project. Why is this significant?

Wendy Brown: Most critical engagement with neoliberalism focuses on economic policy deregulation, privatization, regressive taxation, union busting and the extreme inequality and instability these generate. However, there is another aspect to neoliberalism, apparent both in its intellectual foundations and its actual roll-out, that mirrors these moves in the sphere of traditional morality. All the early schools of neoliberalism (Chicago, Austrian, Freiburg, Virginia) affirmed markets and the importance of states supporting without intervening in them.

But they also all affirmed the importance of traditional morality (centered in the patriarchal family and private property) and the importance of states supporting without intervening in it. They all supported expanding its reach from the private into the civic sphere and rolling back social justice previsions that conflict with it. Neoliberalism thus aims to de-regulate the social sphere in a way that parallels the de-regulation of markets.

Concretely this means challenging, in the name of freedom, not only regulatory and redistributive economic policy but policies aimed at gender, sexual and racial equality. It means legitimating assertions of personal freedom against equality mandates (and when corporations are identified as persons, they too are empowered to assert such freedom). Because neoliberalism has everywhere carried this moral project in addition to its economic one, and because it has everywhere opposed freedom to state imposed social justice or social protection of the vulnerable, the meaning of liberalism has been fundamentally altered in the past four decades.

That's how it is possible to be simultaneously libertarian, ethnonationalist and patriarchal today: The right's contemporary attack on "social justice warriors" is straight out of Hayek.

LP: You discuss economist and philosopher Friedrich von Hayek at length in your book. How would you distribute responsibility to him compared to other champions of conservative formulations for how neoliberalism has played out? What were his blind spots, which seem evidenced today in the rise of right-wing forces and angry populations around the world?

WB: Margaret Thatcher thumped Hayek's The Constitution of Liberty and declared it the bible of her project. She studied it, believed it, and sought to realize it. Reagan imbibed a lot of Thatcherism. Both aimed to implement the Hayekian view of markets, morals and undemocratic statism. Both accepted his demonization of society (Thatcher famously quotes him, "there's no such thing") and his view that state policies aimed at the good for society are already on the road to totalitarianism. Both affirmed traditional morality in combination with deregulated markets and attacks on organized labor.

I am not arguing that Hayek is the dominant influence for all times and places of neoliberalization over the past four decades -- obviously the Chicago Boys [Chilean economists of the '70s and '80s trained at the University of Chicago] were key in Latin America while Ordoliberalism [a German approach to liberalism] has been a major influence in the European Union's management of the post-2008 crises. "Progressive neoliberals" and neoliberalized institutions hauled the project in their own direction. But Hayek's influence is critical to governing rationality of neoliberalism in the North and he also happens to be a rich and complex thinker with a fairly comprehensive worldview, one comprising law, family, morality, state, economy, liberty, equality, democracy and more.

The limitations? Hayek really believed that markets and traditional morality were both spontaneous orders of action and cooperation, while political life would always overreach and thus required tight constraints to prevent its interventions in morality or markets. It also needed to be insulated from instrumentalism by concentrated economic interests, from aspiring plutocrats to the masses. The solution, for him, was de-democratizing the state itself. He was, more generally, opposed to robust democracy and indeed to a democratic state. A thriving order in his understanding would feature substantial hierarchy and inequality, and it could tolerate authoritarian uses of political power if they respected liberalism, free markets and individual freedom.

We face an ugly, bowdlerized version of this today on the right. It is not exactly what Hayek had in mind, and he would have loathed the plutocrats, demagogues and neo-fascist masses, but his fingerprints are on it.

LP: You argue that there is now arising something distinct from past forms of fascism, authoritarianism, plutocracy, and conservatism. We see things like images of Italian right groups giving Fascist salutes that have been widely published. Is that merely atavism? What is different?

WB: Of course, the hard right traffics in prior fascist and ultra-racist iconography, including Nazism and the Klan. However, the distinctiveness of the present is better read from the quotidian right than the alt-right.

We need to understand why reaction to the neoliberal economic sinking of the middle and working class has taken such a profoundly anti-democratic form. Why so much rage against democracy and in favor of authoritarian statism while continuing to demand individual freedom? What is the unique blend of ethno-nationalism and libertarianism afoot today? Why the resentment of social welfare policy but not the plutocrats? Why the uproar over [American football player and political activist] Colin Kaepernick but not the Panama Papers [a massive document leak pointing to fraud and tax evasion among the wealthy]? Why don't bankrupt workers want national healthcare or controls on the pharmaceutical industry? Why are those sickened from industrial effluent in their water and soil supporting a regime that wants to roll back environmental and health regulations?

Answers to these questions are mostly found within the frame of neoliberal reason, though they also pertain to racialized rancor (fanned by opportunistic demagogues and our mess of an unaccountable media), the dethronement of white masculinity from absolute rather than relative entitlement, and an intensification of nihilism itself amplified by neoliberal economization.

These contributing factors do not run along separate tracks. Rather, neoliberalism's aim to displace democracy with markets, morals and liberal authoritarian statism legitimates a white masculinist backlash against equality and inclusion mandates. Privatization of the nation legitimates "nativist" exclusions. Individual freedom in a world of winners and losers assaults the place of equality, access and inclusion in understandings of justice.

LP: Despite your view of democratized capitalism as an "oxymoron," you also observe that capitalism can be modulated in order to promote equality among citizens. How is this feasible given the influence of money in politics? What can we do to mitigate the corruption of wealth?

WB: Citizens United certainly set back the project of achieving the political equality required by and for democracy. I wrote about this in a previous book, Undoing the Demos , and Timothy Kuhner offers a superb account of the significance of wealth in politics in Capitalism V. Democracy: Money in Politics and the Free Market Constitution . Both of us argue that the Citizens United decision, and the several important campaign finance and campaign speech decisions that preceded it, are themselves the result of a neoliberalized jurisprudence. That is, corporate dominance of elections becomes possible when political life as a whole is cast as a marketplace rather than a distinctive sphere in which humans attempt to set the values and possibilities of common life. Identifying elections as political marketplaces is at the heart of Citizens United.

So does a future for democracy in the United States depend on overturning that decision?

Hardly. Democracy is a practice, an ideal, an imaginary, a struggle, not an achieved state. It is always incomplete, or better, always aspirational. There is plenty of that aspiration afoot these days -- in social movements and in statehouses big and small. This doesn't make the future of democracy rosy. It is challenged from a dozen directions divestment from public higher education, the trashing of truth and facticity, the unaccountability of media platforms, both corporate and social, external influence and trolling, active voter suppression and gerrymandering, and the neoliberal assault on the very value of democracy we've been discussing. So the winds are hardly at democracy's back.


Bruce Bartlett , November 20, 2019 at 10:05 am

I think Milton Friedman was vastly more important than Hayek is shaping the worldview of American conservatives on economic policy. Until Hayek won the Nobel he was virtually forgotten in the US. Don't know about the UK, but his leaving the London School of Economics undoubtedly reduced his influence there. Hayek was very isolated at the University of Chicago even from the libertarians at the Department of Economics, largely due to methodological issues. The Chicago economists thought was really more of as philosopher, not a real economist like them.

Grebo , November 20, 2019 at 3:39 pm

Friedman was working for Hayek, in the sense that Hayek instigated the program that Friedman fronted.

I was amused by a BBC radio piece a couple of years ago in which some City economist was trying to convince us that Hayek was a forgotten genius who we ought to dig up and worship, as if he doesn't already rule the World from his seat at God's right hand.

rd , November 20, 2019 at 10:34 am

A couple of thoughts:

Citizens United: The conservative originalists keep whining about activist judges making up rights, like the "right to privacy" in Roe v. Wade. Yet they were able to come up with Citizens United that gave a whole new class of rights to corporations to effectively give them the rights of individuals (the People that show up regularly in the Constitution, including the opening phrase). If you search the Constitution, "company", "corporation" etc. don't even show up as included in the Constitution. "Commerce" shows up a couple of times, specifically as something regulated by Congress. Citizens United effectively flips the script of the Constitution in giving the companies doing Commerce the ability to regulate Congress. I think Citizen's United is the least conservative ruling that the conservative court could have come up with, bordering on fascism instead of the principles clearly enunciated throughout the Constitution. It is likely to be the "Dred Scott" decision of the 21st century.

2. Neo-liberalism is like Marxism and a bunch of other isms, where the principles look fine on paper until you apply them to real-world people and societies. This is the difference between Thaler's "econs" vs "humans". It works in theory, but not in practice because people are not purely rational and the behavioral aspects of the people and societies throw things out of kilter very quickly. That is a primary purpose of regulation, to be a rational fly-wheel keeping things from spinning out of control to the right or left. Marxism quickly turned into Stalinism in Russia while Friedman quickly turned into massive inequality and Donald Trump in the US. The word "regulate" shows up more frequently in the Constitution than "commerce", or "freedom" (only shows up in First Amendment), or "liberty" (deprivation of liberty has to follow due process of law which is a form of regulation). So the Constitution never conceived of a self-regulating society in the way Hayek and Friedman think things should naturally work – writing court rulings on the neo-liberal approach is a radical activist departure from the Constitution.

voteforno6 , November 20, 2019 at 11:50 am

The foundation was laid for Citizens United long before, I think, when the Supreme Court decided that corporations were essentially people, and that money was essentially speech. It would be nice if some justice started hacking away at those erroneous decisions (along with what they did with the 2nd Amendment in D.C. v Heller .)

BlakeFelix , November 20, 2019 at 12:46 pm

I honestly think the corporations are people was good and the money is speech is terrible. If most of the big corporations were actually treated like people those people would be in jail. They are treated better than people are now. Poor people, anyway. When your corporation is too big not to commit crimes, it's too big and should go in time out at least.

LifelongLib , November 20, 2019 at 1:37 pm

My understanding is that corporate personhood arose as a convenience to allow a corporation to be named as a single entity in legal actions, rather than having to name every last stockholder, officer, employee etc. Unfortunately the concept was gradually expanded far past its usefulness for the rest of us.

Massinissa , November 20, 2019 at 2:36 pm

"If most of the big corporations were actually treated like people those people would be in jail."

Thats part of the problem: Corporations CANNOT be put in jail because they are organizations, not people, but they are given the same 'rights' as people. That is fundamentally part of the problem.

inode_buddha , November 20, 2019 at 4:16 pm

True, but corporations are directed by people who *can* be jailed. Often they are compensated as if they were taking full liability when in fact they face none. I think its long past time to revisit the concept of limited liability.

Allegorio , November 20, 2019 at 9:50 pm

"Limited Liability" is basic to the concept of the corporation. How about some "limited liability" for individuals? The whole point of neo-liberalism is "lawlessness" or the "Law of the Jungle" in unfettered markets. The idea is to rationalize raw power, both over society and the family, the last stand of male dominance, the patriarchy. The women who succeed in this eco-system, eschew the nurturing feminine and espouse the predatory masculine. "We came, we saw, he died." Psychopaths all!

Ford Prefect , November 20, 2019 at 8:11 pm

The executives need to go to jail. Until then, corporate fines are just a cost of doing business and white collar lawbreaking will continue. Blowing up the world's financial system has less legal consequence than doing 80 in a 65 mph zone. Even if they just did civil asset forfeiture on executives based on them having likely committed a crime while in their house and using their money would go along ways to cleaning things up.

The whittling away of white collar crime by need to demonstrate intent beyond reasonable doubt means the executives can just plead incompetence or inattention (while collecting their $20 million after acquittal). Meanwhile, a poor person with a baggie of marijuana in the trunk of their car goes to jail for "possession" where intent does not need to be shown, mere presence of the substance. If they used the same standard of the mere presence of a fraud to be sufficient to jail white collar criminals, there wouldn't be room in the prisons for poor people picked up for little baggies of weed.

Procopius , November 21, 2019 at 8:49 am

Actually, if you research the history, the court DID NOT decide that corporations are people. The decision was made by the secretary to the court, who included the ruling in the headnote to Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, 1886. The concept was not considered in the case itself nor in the ruling the judges made. However, it was so convenient for making money that judges and even at least one justice on the supreme court publicized the ruling as if it were an actual legal precedent and have followed it ever since. I am not a lawyer, but I think that ruling could be changed by a statute, whereas Citizens United is going to require an amendment to the constitution. On the other hand, who knows? Maybe the five old, rich, Republican, Catholic Men will rule that it is embedded in the constitution after all. I think it would be worth a try.

Patrick Thornton , November 21, 2019 at 9:11 am

Santa Clara Count v Southern Pacific RR 1886 – SCOTUS Court Reporter Bancroft Davis, a former RR executive, claimed in his headnote summary of the case that the Court had ruled that corporations are entitled to 14th Amendment protections (thus preventing their regulation by an individual state) thus establishing the legal precedent that corporations are "persons" with speech rights. In fact, the Court never made that determination. The result is a legal precedent established by a bit of legal trickery. Buckley v Valeo 1976: giving money to a political campaign=speech. Citizens 2010: no limit on "speech" (money). The 14 amendment was established to protect former slaves and was used by the court instead to protect corporations (property).

New Wafer Army , November 20, 2019 at 2:17 pm

"Neo-liberalism is like Marxism and a bunch of other isms, where the principles look fine on paper until you apply them to real-world people and societies."

Marx analysed 19th Century capitalism; he wrote very little on what type of system should succeed capitalism. This is in distinct contrast to neo-liberalism which had a well plotted path to follow (Mirowski covers this very well). Marxism did not turn into Stalinism; Tsarism turned into Leninism which turned into Stalinism. Marx had an awful lot less to do with it than Tsar Nicholas II.

GramSci , November 20, 2019 at 5:17 pm

+1000. I think it was Tsar Nicholas II who said, L'etat, c'est moi"./s; Lenin just appropriated this concept to implement his idea of "the dictatorship of the proletariat."

JBird4049 , November 20, 2019 at 11:10 pm

IIRC Lenin did warn about Stalin.

J7915 , November 20, 2019 at 11:25 pm

Louis 4 of France is the state, and the state was him.
Lenin is better known, IIRC for identifying capitalists as useful idiots.

Massinissa , November 20, 2019 at 2:33 pm

"Neo-liberalism is like Marxism and a bunch of other isms, where the principles look fine on paper until you apply them to real-world people and societies."

I'm sorry, but this is fundamentally intellectually lazy. Marxism isn't so much a way to structure the world, like Neoliberalism is, but a method of understanding Capitalism and class relations to capitalism.

Edit: I wrote this before I saw New Wafer Army's post since I hadnt refreshed the page since I opened it. They said pretty much what I wanted to say, so kudos to them.

salvo , November 20, 2019 at 2:51 pm

yep, Marx would never have called himself a Marxist :-)

"Marxism" is just a set of analytic tools to describe the capitalist society and power relations

those who consciously call themselves "Marxist" do it clarify their adherence to those tools not to express an ideological position

Anthony K Wikrent , November 20, 2019 at 10:41 am

These critiques of neoliberalism are always welcome, but they inevitably leave me with irritated and dissatisfied with their failure or unwillingness to mention the political philosophy of republicanism as an alternative, or even a contrast.

The key is found in Brown's statement " It also needed to be insulated from instrumentalism by concentrated economic interests, from aspiring plutocrats to the masses. The solution, for him [von Hayek], was de-democratizing the state itself. He was, more generally, opposed to robust democracy and indeed to a democratic state."

Contrast this to Federalist Paper No. 10, Madison's famous discourse on factions. Madison writes that 1) factions always arise from economic interests ["But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property."], and 2) therefore the most important function of government is to REGULATE the clash of these factions ["The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government."

In a very real sense, neoliberalism is an assault on the founding principles of the American republic.

Which should not really surprise anyone, since von Hayek was trained as a functionary of the Austro-Hungarian empire. And who was the first secretary of the Mont Pelerin Society that von Hayen founded to promote neoliberalist doctrine and propaganda? Non other than Max Thurn, of the reactionary Bavarian Thurn und Taxis royal family.

deplorado , November 20, 2019 at 4:02 pm

Thank you for illuminating a deeper viewpoint.

WJ , November 20, 2019 at 9:57 pm

Madison's Federalist 10 is much like Aristotle's Politics and the better Roman historians in correctly tracing back the fundamental tensions in any political community to questions of property and class.

And, much like Aristotle's "mixed regime," Madison proposes that the best way of overcoming these tensions is to institutionalize organs of government broadly representative of the two basic contesting political classes–democratic and oligarchic–and let them hash things out in a way that both are forced to deal with the other. This is a simplification but not a terribly inaccurate one.

The problem though so far as I can tell is that it almost always happens that the arrangement is set up in a way that structurally privileges existing property rights (oligarchy) over social freedoms (democracy) such that the oligarchic class quickly comes to dominate even those governmental organs designed to be "democratic". In other words, I have never seen a theorized republic that upon closer inspection was not an oligarchy in practice.

notabanktoadie , November 20, 2019 at 11:15 am

The Progressive Approach in a nutshell:

1) Support welfare for the banks (e.g. deposit guarantees) and the rich (e.g. non-negative yields and interest on the inherently risk-free debt of monetary sovereigns).
2) Seek to regulate the thievery inherent in 1).
3) Bemoan the inevitable rat-race to the bottom when 2) inevitably fails because of unenforceable laws, such as bans on insider trading, red-lining, etc.

Shorter: Progressives ENABLE the injustice they profess, no doubt sincerely at least in some cases, to oppose.

Rather stupid from an engineering perspective, I'd say. Or more kindly, blind.

LifelongLib , November 20, 2019 at 1:55 pm

"welfare banks deposit guarantees"

Don't know about you, but I like being protected from losing all my money if the bank goes under

Arizona Slim , November 20, 2019 at 2:01 pm

Yeah, me too!

notabanktoadie , November 20, 2019 at 2:17 pm

I lived in Tucson for a while. Met the love of my life there.

Show some loyalty, gal!

flora , November 20, 2019 at 3:33 pm

+1

notabanktoadie , November 20, 2019 at 2:11 pm

Accounts at the Central Bank are inherently risk-free.

So why may only depository institutions have those?

Hmmm? Violation of equal protection under the law much?

Or would the TRS-80 at the Fed be overloaded otherwise?

LifelongLib , November 20, 2019 at 2:36 pm

I'm fine with the federal government providing basic banking services (which would inherently protect depositors) but your initial post didn't say anything about that. If we continue with a private banking system I want deposit guarantees even if they somehow privilege the banks better than nothing

notabanktoadie , November 20, 2019 at 2:53 pm

My apologies for not detailing everything in every comment. :)

Welcome aboard or rather hello brother!

Lambert Strether , November 20, 2019 at 3:02 pm

> your initial post

No biggie, but this is not a board. It's a blog. Here, you are referring to a comment , not the original post authored by Lynn Parramore.

LifelongLib , November 20, 2019 at 3:11 pm

Point taken!

Procopius , November 21, 2019 at 8:59 am

I have read that originally conservatives (including many bankers) opposed deposit insurance because it would lead people to be less careful when they evaluated the banking institution they would entrust with their money. They did not seem to notice that however much diligence depositors used, they ended up losing their life's savings over and over. Just as they do not seem to notice that despite having employer-provided insurance tens of thousands of people every year go bankrupt because of medical bills. Funny how that works.

Massinissa , November 20, 2019 at 2:38 pm

I don't understand how this is linked to progressives when most of what you describe is the neoliberal approach to banks. Could you explain?

notabanktoadie , November 20, 2019 at 3:03 pm

See Warren Mosler's Proposals for the Banking System, Treasury, Fed, and FDIC (draft)

Also, government insurance of private liabilities, including privately created liabilities, was instituted under FDR in 1932, iirc.

And I've had innumerable debates with MMT advocates who have stubbornly defended deposit guarantees and other privileges for the banks.

notabanktoadie , November 20, 2019 at 3:25 pm

Adding that rather than deposit guarantees, the US government could have expanded the Postal Savings Service to provide the population with what private banks had so miserably failed to provide – the safe storage of their fiat.

JBirc4049 , November 20, 2019 at 11:28 pm

The banking system was failing in 1932, as was the financial system in 2008, not necessarily because of any lack of solvency of an individual business although some were, but because of the lack of faith in the whole system; bank panics meant that every depositor was trying to get their money out at the same time. People lost everything. It is only the faith in the system that enables the use of bits of paper and plastic to work. So having a guarantee in big, bold letters of people's savings is a good idea.

Synoia , November 20, 2019 at 11:37 am

Personally, I see little distance between the Neo Liberal treatment of Market and Naked Greed, coupled with a complete rejection of Rule of Law for the Common Good.

Carla , November 20, 2019 at 11:47 am

I'm disappointed (but not surprised) that

A. Wendy Brown focuses on big money in politics as the biggest threat to democracy without mentioning never-intended corporate constitutional rights.

B. Lynn Parramore does not call her on it.

What a huge missed opportunity. What a fatal blind spot.

https://movetoamend.org/sites/default/files/how_corporate_constitutional_rights_harm_you_your_family_your_community_your_environment_and_your_democracy.pdf

jsn , November 20, 2019 at 1:13 pm

" It means legitimating assertions of personal freedom against equality mandates (and when corporations are identified as persons, they too are empowered to assert such freedom)."

I'm not seeing the blind spot.

Carla , November 20, 2019 at 3:56 pm

The blind spot is her focus on "money as speech" to the exclusion of the constitutional nightmares created by "corporations are people."

To see why this is such an important (and common) error, please see the link I provided.

jsn , November 20, 2019 at 8:04 pm

She didn't write the article you wanted, but specifically addresses "corporations as people." That doesn't make her blind to your concern.

I share your concern, but don't criticize m I my allies for having marginally different priorities.

But that's just me.

David , November 20, 2019 at 12:22 pm

"We need to understand why reaction to the neoliberal economic sinking of the middle and working class has taken such a profoundly anti-democratic form." Really? Does anybody here believe that? This reads like another clumsy attempt to dismiss actual popular anger against neoliberalism in favour of pearl-clutching progressive angst, by associating this anger with the latest target for liberal hate, in this case blah blah patriarchy blah blah. The reality is that liberalism has always been about promoting the freedom of the rich and the strong to do whatever they feel like, whilst keeping the ordinary people divided and under control. That's why Liberals have always hated socialists, who think of the good of the community rather than of the "freedom" of the rich, powerful and well connected.
The "democracy" that is being defended here is traditional elite liberal democracy, full of abstract "rights" that only the powerful can exert, dominated by elite political parties with little to choose between them, and indifferent or hostile to actual freedoms that ordinary people want in their daily lives. Neoliberalism is simply a label for its economic views (that haven't changed much over the centuries) whereas social justice is the label for its social wing (ditto).
I think of this every time I wall home through the local high street, where within thirty metres I pass two elderly eastern European men aggressively begging. (It varies in France, but this is slightly closer than the average for a city). I reflect that twenty years of neoliberal policies in France have given these people freedom of movement, and the freedom to sit there in the rain with no home, no job and no prospects. Oh, and now of course they are free to marry each other.

Tangfwa , November 20, 2019 at 12:39 pm

Bingo

Jeremy Grimm , November 20, 2019 at 1:14 pm

I agree with your analysis and assessment of Wendy Brown, as she is portrayed in her statements in this post. However I quibble your assertion: "Neoliberalism is simply a label for its economic views (that haven't changed much over the centuries) whereas social justice is the label for its social wing (ditto)." The word "Neoliberalism" is indeed commonly used as a label as you assert but Neoliberalism as a philosophy is obscured in that common usage.

At its heart I believe Neoliberalism might best be characterized as an epistemology based on the Market operating as the all knowing arbiter of Truth. Hayek exercises notions of 'freedom' in his writing but I believe freedom is a secondary concern once it is defined in terms of its relation to the decisions of the Market. This notion of the Market as epistemology is completely absent from Wendy Brown's discussion of her work in this post.

Her assertion that "neoliberalism's aim [is] to displace democracy with markets, morals and liberal authoritarian statism legitimates a white masculinist backlash against equality and inclusion mandates" collapses once the Market is introduced as epistemology. Neoliberalism does not care one way or another about any of Wendy Brown's concerns. Once the Market decides -- Truth is known. As a political theorist I am surprised there is no analysis of Neoliberalism as a tool the Elite have used to work their will on society. I am surprised there is no analysis of how the Elites have allowed themselves to be controlled within and even displaced by the Corporate Entities they created and empowered using their tool. I am surprised there is no analysis of the way the Corporate Entities and their Elite have worked to use Neoliberalism to subordinate nation states under a hierarchy driven by the decisions of the World Market.

[I admit I lack the stomach to read Hayek -- so I am basing my opinions on what I understand of Phillip Mirowski's analysis of Neoliberalism.]

David , November 20, 2019 at 5:06 pm

I don't disagree with you: I suppose that having been involved in practical politics rather than being a political theorist (which I have no pretensions to being) I am more interested of the reality of some of these ideas than their theoretical underpinnings. I have managed to slog my way through Slobodian's book, and I think your presentation of Hayek's writing is quite fair: I simply wonder how far it is actually at the origin of the destruction we see around us. I would suggest in fact that, once you have a political philosophy based on the value-maximising individual, rather than traditional considerations of the good of society as a whole, you eventually wind up where we are now, once the constraints of religious belief, fear of popular uprisings , fear of Communism etc. have been progressively removed. It's for that reason that I argue that neoliberalism isn't really new: it represents the essential form of liberalism unconstrained by outside forces – almost a teleological phenomenon which, as its first critics feared, has wound up destroying community, family, industries, social bonds and even – as you suggest – entire nation states.

Jeremy Grimm , November 21, 2019 at 9:10 am

Your response to my comment, in particular your assertion "neoliberalism isn't really new" coupled with your assertion apparently equating Neoliberalism with just another general purpose label for a "political philosophy based on the value-maximizing individual, rather than traditional ", is troubling. When I put your assertions with Jerry B's assertion at 6:58 pm:
" many people over focus on a word or the use of a word and ascribe way to literal view of a word. I tend to view words more symbolically and contextually."
I am left wondering what is left to debate or discuss. If Neoliberalism has no particular meaning then perhaps we should discuss the properties of political philosophies based on the value-maximizing-individual, and even that construct only has meaning symbolically and contextually, which is somehow different than the usual notion of meaning as a denotation coupled with a connotation which is shared by those using a term in their discussion -- and there I become lost from the discussion. I suppose I am too pedantic to deviate from the common usages of words, especially technical words like Neoliberalism.

GramSci , November 20, 2019 at 5:37 pm

Yes, but what is "The Market" but yet another name for "God, Almighty"?
Plus ça change

Massinissa , November 20, 2019 at 5:46 pm

Considering how elites throughout history have used religion as a bulwark to guard their privileges, it should be of no surprise that they are building a new one, only this time they are building one that appeals to the religious and secular alike. Neoliberalism will be very difficult to dismantle.

Susan the Other , November 21, 2019 at 10:23 am

But what ironies we create. Citizens United effectively gave political control to the big corporations. In a time when society has already evolved lots of legislation to limit the power and control of any group and especially in commercial/monopoly cases. So that what CU created was a new kind of "means of production" because what gets "produced" these days is at least 75% imported. The means of production is coming to indicate the means of political control. And that is fitting because ordinary people have become the commodity. Like livestock. So in that sense Marx's view of power relationships is accurate although civilization has morphed. Politics is, more and more, the means of production. The means of finance. Just another reason why we would achieve nothing in this world trying to take over the factories. What society must have now is fiscal control. It will be the new means of production. I'm a dummy. I knew fiscal control was the most important thing, but I didn't quite see the twists and turns that keep the fundamental idea right where it started.

PlutoniumKun , November 20, 2019 at 1:31 pm

Exactly. The writer seems determined to tie in neoliberalism with a broader conservative opposition to modern social justice movements, when in reality neoliberalism (the 'neo' part anyway) was more than happy to co-opt feminism, anti-racism, etc., into its narrative. The more the merrier, as 'rights' became associated entirely with social issues, and not economic rights.

Chip Otle , November 20, 2019 at 4:27 pm

This is the best comment of this thread so far.

NancyBoyd , November 21, 2019 at 1:48 pm

The co-optation neoliberalism has exacted on rights movements has dovetailed nicely with postmodernism's social-constructivism, an anti-materialist stance that posits discourse as shaping the world and one that therefore privileges subjectivity over material reality.

What this means in practice is that "identity" is now a marketplace too, in which individuals are naming their identities as a form of personal corporate branding. That's why we have people labeling themselves like this: demisexual queer femme, on the spectrum, saying hell no to my tradcath roots, into light BDSM, pronouns they/them.

And to prove this identity, the person must purchase various consumer products to garb and decorate themselves accordingly.

So the idea of civil rights has now become utterly consumerist and about awarding those rights based on subjective feelings rather than anything to do with actual material exploitation.

The clue is in the way the words "oppression" and "privilege" are used. Under those words, exploitation, discrimination, disadvantage, and simple dislike are conflated, though they're very different and involve very different remedies.

In this way, politics is drained of politics.

Carey , November 20, 2019 at 1:38 pm

+100 Thank you.

Joe Well , November 20, 2019 at 1:48 pm

The law in its majestic equality forbids the rich as well as the poor from sleeping under bridges and stealing bread = classical Liberalism.

The bizarre thing is to meet younger neoliberal middle class people whom neoliberalism has priced out of major cities, who have hardly any real savings, and who still are on board with the project. The dream dies hard.

Jerry B , November 20, 2019 at 4:21 pm

David – I enjoy reading your comments on NC as they are well reasoned and develop an argument or counter argument. The above comment reads more like a rant. I do not disagree with most of your comment. From my experience with Wendy Brown's writing your statement below is not off base.:

This reads like another clumsy attempt to dismiss actual popular anger against neoliberalism in favour of pearl-clutching progressive angst, by associating this anger with the latest target for liberal hate, in this case blah blah patriarchy blah blah

However, in reading Wendy Brown's comments I did not have the same emotional reaction that comes across in your comment. I have read the post twice to make sure I understand the points Wendy Brown is trying to make and IMO she is "not wrong" either. . I would advise you to not "throw out the baby with the bathwater".

As KLG mentions below, WB is a very successful academic at Berkeley who worked with Sheldon Wolin as a graduate student IIRC (Sheldon Wolin wrote a terrific book entitled Democracy Incorporated), so she is not just some random journalist.

Much of WB's writing has gender themes in it and there are times I think she goes over the top, BUT, IMO there is also some truth to what she is saying. Much of the political power and economic power in the US and the world is held by men so that may be where WB's reference to patriarchy comes in.

How could there be patriarchy with men begging in the streets is a valid point. And that is where I divert with WB, in that the term patriarchy paints with too broad a brush. But speaking specifically to neo-liberalism and not liberalism as you refer to it, that is where WB's reference to patriarchy may have some merit. Yes, there are many exceptions to the neoliberalism and patriarchy connection such as Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, etc., so again maybe painting with too broad a brush, but it would be wise not to give some value.

The sociologist Raewyn Connell has written about the connection between neoliberalism and version of a certain type of masculinity embedded with neoliberalism. Like Wendy Brown, Connell seems to gloss over the examples of Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, and the class based elite bourgeois feminism as counterpoints to neoliberal patriarchy. There are exceptions to every rule.
Women have made enormous strides in politics and the boardroom. But in the halls of political and economic power the majority of the power is still held by men, and until women become close to 50% or more of the seats of power, to ignore the influence of patriarchy/oligarch version of masculinity(or whatever term a person is comfortable with) on neoliberalism would be foolish.

Neoliberalism is simply a label for its economic views (that haven't changed much over the centuries) whereas social justice is the label for its social wing (ditto).

I disagree. IMO, neoliberalism is a different animal than the "traditional elite liberal democracy", and neoliberalism is much darker and as WB mentions "Neoliberalism thus aims to de-regulate the social sphere in a way that parallels the de-regulation of markets".

If you have not I would highly recommend reading Sheldon Wolin's Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism It is an excellent book.

David , November 20, 2019 at 5:23 pm

I haven't read that book by Wolin, though his Politics and Vision is in the bookcase next to me. I'll try to get hold of it. I didn't know she was his student either.
I think the issues she raises about gender are a different question from neoliberalism itself, and that it's not helpful to believe that you can fight neoliberalism by "legitimating assertions of personal freedom against equality mandates" whatever that means. Likewise, it's misleading to suggest that "Privatization of the nation legitimates "nativist" exclusions", since the actual result is the opposite, as you will realise when you see that London buses have the same logo as the ones in Paris, and electricity in the UK is often supplied by a French company, EDF. Indeed, to the extent that there is a connection with "nativism" it is that privatisation has enabled an international network of distant and unaccountable private companies to take away management of national resources and assets from the people. Likewise, neoliberalism is entirely happy to trample over traditional gender roles in the name of efficiency and increasing the number of workers chasing the same job.
In other words, I was irritated (and sorry if I ranted a bit, I try not to) with what I saw as someone who already knows what the answer is, independent of what the question may be. I suspect her analysis of, say, Brexit, would be very similar. I think that kind of person is potentially dangerous.

Jerry B , November 20, 2019 at 6:58 pm

Thanks David.

==I think the issues she raises about gender are a different question from neoliberalism itself==

Again as I said in my comment I would agree in a theoretical sense that gender and neoliberalism are different issues but again I believe there is a thread of gender, i.e. oligarchic patriarchy, of the type of neoliberalism that WB talks about.

===not helpful to believe that you can fight neoliberalism by "legitimating assertions of personal freedom against equality mandates" whatever that means===

What I think that means is the more libertarian version of neoliberalism. That maybe where our differences lie, in that my sense is WB is talking about a specific form of neoliberalism and your view is broader.

===it's misleading to suggest that "Privatization of the nation legitimates "nativist" exclusions"===

On this I see your disagreement with WB and understand your reference to "that privatisation has enabled an international network of distant and unaccountable private companies to take away management of national resources and assets from the people".

Where I think WB is coming from is the more nationalistic, Anglosphere that the Trump administration is pushing with his border wall, etc. In this WB does expose her far left priors but again there is some value in her points. From her far left view my sense it Wendy Brown is reacting to the sense that Trump wants to turn the US into the US of the 1950's and 60's and on many fronts that ship has sailed.

=== Indeed, to the extent that there is a connection with "nativism" it is that privatisation has enabled an international network of distant and unaccountable private companies to take away management of national resources and assets from the people. Likewise, neoliberalism is entirely happy to trample over traditional gender roles in the name of efficiency and increasing the number of workers chasing the same job. ===

Excellent point and having read some of Wendy Brown's books and paper is a point she would agree with while still seeing some patriarchial themes running through neoliberalism. To your point above I would recommend reading some of Cynthia Enloe's work specifically Bananas, Beaches and Bases.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynthia_Enloe

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynthia_Enloe#Bananas,_Beaches,_and_Bases

====I think that kind of person is potentially dangerous====

Wow. Dangerous??? Clearly the post has hit a nerve. Many people in our current society are dangerous but IMO Wendy Brown is not one of them. A bit hyperbolic in her focus on gender? Maybe but not wrong. A bit too far left (of the bleeding heart kind)? Maybe. But to call someone who worked for Sheldon Wolin dangerous. C'mon man.

I have gotten into disputes on NC as IMO many people over focus on a word or the use of a word and ascribe way to literal view of a word. I tend to view words more symbolically and contextually. I do not overreact to the use a word and instead try to step back and glean a message or the word in context of what is the person trying to say? So for instance when WB uses the phrase "Privatization of the nation" I am not going to react because my own interpretation is WB is reacting to Trump's nationalism and not to the type of privatization that your example of London shows.

I am disappointed that most of the comments to this post seem to take a critical view of Wendy Brown's comments. Is she a bit too far left and gender focused (identity political) for my tastes? Yes and that somewhat hurts her overall message and the arguments she is trying to discuss which are not unlike her mentor Sheldon Wolin.

Thanks for the reply David. My sense is we have what I call a "positional" debate (i.e. Tastes Great! Less Filling!). And positional debates tend to go nowhere.

Nancy Boyd , November 21, 2019 at 2:22 pm

When WB speaks of gender, note that she then mentions sex, followed by race. By "gender" she is NOT talking about the rights and power of female people under neoliberalism.

She is speaking of the rights of people to claim, that they are the opposite sex and therefore entitled to the rights, set-asides and affirmative discrimination permitted that sex -- for instance, to compete athletically on that sex's sports teams, to be imprisoned if convicted in that sex's prisons, to be considered that sex in instances where sex matters in employment such as a job as a rape counselor or a health care position performing intimate exams where one is entitled to request a same-sex provider, and to apply for scholarships, awards, business loans etc. set aside for that sex.

WB, in addition to being a professor at Berkeley, is also the partner of Judith Butler, whose book "Gender Trouble" essentially launched the postmodern idea that subjective sense of one's sex and how one enacts that is more meaningful than the lived reality people experience in biologically sexed bodies.

By this reasoning, a male weightlifter can become a woman, can declare that he's in fact always been a woman -- and so we arrive at the farce of a male weightlifter (who, granted, must under IOC policy reduce his testosterone for one year to a low-normal male range that is 5 standard deviations away from the female mean) winning a gold medal in women's weightlifting in the Pan-Pacific games and likely to win gold again in the 2020 Olympics.

If that's not privileging individual freedom over collective rights, I don't know what is.

Vegetius , November 20, 2019 at 6:03 pm

>That's how it is possible to be simultaneously libertarian, ethnonationalist and patriarchal today: The right's contemporary attack on "social justice warriors" is straight out of Hayek.

Anyone who could write such a statement understands neither libertarianism nor ethnonationalism. The last half-decade has seen a constant intellectual attack by ethnonationalists against libertarianism. An hour's examination of the now-defunct Alt Right's would confirm this.

Similarly, the contemporary attack on SJW's comes not out of Hayek, but from Gamergate. If you do not know what Gamergate is, you do not understand where the current rightwing and not-so-rightwing thrust of contemporary white identity politics is coming from. My guess is Brown has never heard of it.

Far from trying to uphold patriarchy, Contemporary neoliberalism seeks a total atomization of society into nothing but individual consumers of product. Thus what passes for liberalization of a society today consists in little more than staging sham elections, opening McDonalds, and holding a gay pride parade.

This is why ethnonationalism and even simple nationalism poses a mortal threat to neoliberalism, in a way that so-called progressives never will: both are a threat to globalization, while the rainbow left has shown itself to be little more than the useful idiots of capital.

Brown strikes me as someone who has a worldview and will distort the world to fit that view, no matter how this jibes with facts or logic. The point is simply to array her bugbears into a coalition, regardless of how ridiculous it seems to anyone who knows anything about it.

KLG , November 20, 2019 at 1:43 pm

Actually, maybe not "Bingo," if by that you mean Wendy Brown is a typical representative of "pearl clutching progressive angst." Yes, WB is a very successful academic at Berkeley who worked with Sheldon Wolin as a graduate student IIRC (who was atypical in just about every important way), but this book along with its predecessor Undoing the Demos are much stronger than the normative "why are the natives so restless?" bullshit coming from my erstwhile tribe of "liberals," most of whom are incapacitated by a not unrelated case of Trump Derangement Syndrome.

Susan the Other , November 20, 2019 at 1:55 pm

Hayek was eloquent. Too bad he didn't establish some end goals. Think of all the misery that would have been avoided. I mean, how can you rationalize some economic ideology to "deregulate the social sphere" – that's just the snake eating its tail. That's what people do who don't have boundaries. Right now it looks like there's a strange bedfellowship, a threesome of neoliberal nazis, globalists, and old communists. Everybody and their dog wants the world to work – for everyone. But nobody knows how to do it. And we are experiencing multiple degrees of freedom to express our own personal version of Stockholm syndrome. Because identity politics. What a joke. Maybe we need to come together over something rational. Something fairly real. Instead of overturning Citizens United (which is absurd already), we should do Creatures United – rights for actual living things on this planet. And then we'd have a cause for the duration.

Sol , November 20, 2019 at 3:55 pm

Well stated. The -isms seem like distractions, almost red herrings leading us down the primrose path to a ceaseless is/ought problem. Rather than discuss the way the world is, we argue how it ought to be.

Not to say theory, study, and introspection aren't important. More that we appear paralyzed into inaction since everyone doesn't agree on the One True Way yet.

JBird4049 , November 21, 2019 at 12:26 am

Let us not get to simplistic here. It helps to understand the origins of political, economic, and even social ideals. The origin of modern capitalism, for there were different and more limited earlier forms, was in the Dutch Republic and was part of the efforts of removing and replacing feudalism; liberalism arose from the Enlightenment, which itself was partly the creation of the Wars of Religion, which devastated Europe. The Thirty Years War, which killed ½ of the male population of the Germanies, and is considered more devastating to the Germans than both world wars combined had much of its energy from religious disagreements.

The Age of Enlightenment, along with much of political thought in the Eighteenth Century, was a attempt to allow differences in belief, and the often violent passions that they can cause, to be fought by words instead of murder. The American Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the whole political worldview, that most Americans unconsciously have, comes from from those those times.

Democracy, Liberalism, even Adam Smith's work in the Wealth of Nations were attempts to escape the dictatorship of kings, feudalism, serfdom, violence. Unfortunately, they have all been usurped. Adam Smith's life's work has been perverted, liberalism has been used to weaken the social bonds by making work and money central to society. Their evil child Neoliberalism, a creation of people like Hayek, was supposed to reduce wars (most of the founders were survivors of the world wars) and was supposed to be be partly antidemocratic.

Modern Neoliberalism mutates and combines the partly inadvertent atomizing effects of the ideas of the Enlightenment, Liberalism, Dutch and British Capitalism, the Free Markets of Adam Smith, adds earlier mid twentieth century Neoliberalism as a fuel additive, and creates this twisted flaming Napalm of social atomizing; it also clears out any challenges to money is the worth of all things. Forget philosophy, religion, family, government, society. Money determines worth. Even speech is only worth the money spent on it and not any inherent worth. Or the vote.

Susan the Other , November 21, 2019 at 10:34 am

"the twisted flaming napalm of social atomizing" – that's a keeper.

Math is Your Friend , November 21, 2019 at 1:38 pm

"liberalism has been used to weaken the social bonds by making work and money central to society"

I think you may have swapped the cart and the horse.

Money evolved as a way of aiding and organizing useful interactions within groups larger than isolated villages of a hundred people.

It also enabled an overall increase in wealth through specialization.

Were it not for money, there would be a difficult mismatch between goods of vastly differing value. A farmer growing wheat and carrots has an almost completely divisible supply of goods with which to trade. Someone building a farm wagon a month, or making an iron plough every two weeks has a problem exchanging that for items orders of magnitude less valuable.

Specialization is a vital step in improving resources and capabilities within societies. I've hung out with enough friends who are blacksmiths to know that every farmer hammering out their own plough is a non-starter, for many reasons.

And I've followed enough history to know that iron ploughs mean a lot more food, which allows someone to specialize in making ploughs rather than growing food for personal consumption.

The obvious need is for a way of dividing the value of the plough into many smaller amounts that can be used to obtain grain, cloth, pottery, and so on.

While the exact form of money is not rigidly fixed, at lower technological levels one really needs something that is portable, doesn't spontaneously self destruct, and has a clearly definable value . and exists in different concentrations of worth, to allow flexibility in transport and use.

Various societies have come up with various tokens of value, from agricultural products to bank drafts, each with different advantages and disadvantages, but for most of history, precious metals, base metals, and coinage have been the most practical representation of exchangeable value.

Money is almost certainly an inevitable and necessary consequence of the invention of agriculture, and the corresponding increase in population density.

David , November 21, 2019 at 2:00 pm

Agreed, but as I've suggested elsewhere liberalism always had the capacity within it to destroy social bonds, societies and even nations, it's just that, at the time, this was hidden behind the belief that a just God would not allow it to happen. I see liberalism less as mutating or being usurped than finally being freed of controls. Paradoxically, of course, this "freedom" requires servitude for others, so that no outside forces (trades unions for example) can pollute the purity of the market. It's the same thing with social justice: freedom for identity group comes through legal controls over the behaviour of others, which is why the contemporary definition of a civil rights activist is someone who wants to introduce lots of new laws to prevent people from doing things.

shinola , November 20, 2019 at 2:07 pm

Neoliberalism is just a new label for an old (and, supposedly, discredited) social theory. It used to be called Social Darwinism.

salvo , November 20, 2019 at 2:43 pm

frankly, I don't believe the "monsters" neoliberalism has helped create are an unwanted side effect of their approach, on the contrary, neoliberalism needs those "monsters", like the authoritarian state, to impose itself on society (ask the mutilated gilets jaunes). Repression, inequality, poverty, abuse, dispossession, disfranchisement, enviromental degradation are certainly "monstrous" to those who have to endure them, but not to those who profit the most from the system and sit on the most powerful positions. Of course, the degree of exposure to those monstrosities is dependent on the relative position in the pyramid shaped neoliberal society, the bottom has to endure the most. On the other side, the middle classes tend to support the neoliberal model as long as it ensures them a power position relative to the under classes, and the moment those middle classes feel ttheir position relative to the under classes threatened, the switch to open fascism is not far, we can see this in Bolivia.

Carey , November 20, 2019 at 3:18 pm

Thanks for this comment.

eg , November 20, 2019 at 4:41 pm

"neoliberalism needs those "monsters", like the authoritarian state, to impose itself on society"

If I understood Quinn Slobodian's "Globalists" correctly it was precisely this -- that the neoliberal project while professing that markets were somehow "natural" spent an inordinate amount of time working to ensure that legal structures be created to insulate them from the dirty demos.

Their actions in this respect don't square with a serious belief that markets are natural at all -- if they were, they wouldn't need so damned much hothousing, right?

KLG , November 20, 2019 at 5:28 pm

Exactly!

David , November 20, 2019 at 5:30 pm

I think the argument was that markets were "natural", but vulnerable to interference, and so had to be protected by these legal structures. There's a metaphor there, but it's too late here for me to find it.

Jerry B , November 20, 2019 at 7:08 pm

Thanks eg!

===spent an inordinate amount of time working to ensure that legal structures be created to insulate them from the dirty demos===

I enjoyed Slobodian's book as well. Interestingly, there is a new book out called The Code of Capital: How the Law Creates Wealth and Inequality by Katharina Pistor that discusses those "legal structures".

https://www.amazon.com/Code-Capital-Creates-Wealth-Inequality/dp/0691178976

deplorado , November 20, 2019 at 8:36 pm

If you check out Katharina Pistor on Twitter, you can also find good commentaries and even videos of talks discussing the book and the matter – it is very edifying to open your eyes to the fundamental role of law in creating such natural phenomena as markets and, among other things, billionaires.

Jerry B , November 20, 2019 at 9:58 pm

Thanks deplorado. I do not frequent Pistor's twitter page as much as I would like.

In reading Pistor's book and some of the interviews with Pistor and some of her papers discussing the themes in the book, I had the same reaction as when I read some of Susan Strange's books such as The Retreat of the State: complete removal of any strand of naïveté I may have had as to how the world works. And how hard it will be to undo the destruction.

As you mention the "dirty demos" above, one of Wendy Brown's recent books was Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution.

JCC , November 21, 2019 at 9:47 am

Never having read any of Susan Strange's writings, I decided to find a book review of The Retreat of the State. I found this one and found it very interesting, enough so that I'll go to abebooks.com and get a copy to read.

https://www.academia.edu/6452889/The_Retreat_of_the_State_A_Book_Review

Thank You for the recommendation.

Paul O , November 21, 2019 at 4:57 am

Thank you for this recommendation. Anything that comes as an audiobook is a massive plus for me.

flora , November 20, 2019 at 6:11 pm

Academics promoting neoliberalim: so many false assumptions (or self-exculpating excuses), so little time.

The Rev Kev , November 20, 2019 at 7:13 pm

Hmm. Definitely Monsters from the Id at work here. I am going with the theory that the wealthier class pushed this whole project all along. In the US, Roosevelt had cracked down and imposed regulations that stopped, for example, the stock market from being turned into a casino using ordinary people's saving. He also pushed taxes on them that exceeded 90% which tended to help keep them defanged.
So lo and behold, after casting about, a bunch of isolated rat-bag economic radicals was found that support getting rid of regulations, reducing taxes on the wealthy and anything else that they wanted to do. So money was pumped into this project, think tanks were taken over or built up, universities were taken over to teach this new theories, lawyers and future judges were 'educated' to support their fight and that is what we have today.
If WW2 had not discredited fascism, the wealthy would have use this instead as both Mussolini and Hitler were very friendly to the wealthy industrialists. But they were so instead they turned to neoliberalism instead. Yes, definitely Monsters from the Id.

Sound of the Suburbs , November 21, 2019 at 3:23 am

William White (BIS, OECD) talks about how economics really changed over one hundred years ago as classical economics was replaced by neoclassical economics.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6iXBQ33pBo&t=2485s
He thinks we have been on the wrong path for one hundred years.
This is why we think small state, unregulated capitalism is something it never was when it existed before.

We don't understand the monetary system or how banks work because:
Our knowledge of privately created money has been going backwards since 1856.
Credit creation theory -> fractional reserve theory -> financial intermediation theory
"A lost century in economics: Three theories of banking and the conclusive evidence" Richard A. Werner
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1057521915001477
This is why we come up with crazy ideas like "financial liberalisation".

Steve Ruis , November 21, 2019 at 8:11 am

If corporations are to be people, then they, like the extremely wealthy, need to be reined in politically. One step we could take is to only allow money donations to political campaigns to take place when the person is subject or going to be subject to the politicians decisions. I live in Illinois, I should be able to donate money to the campaigns of those running for the U.S> Senate from Illinois, but Utah? If I donate money to a Utah candidate for the Senate, I am practicing influence peddling because that Senator does not represent me.

If corporations are to be people, they need a primary residence. The location of their corporate headquarters should suffice to "place" them, and donations to candidates outside of their set of districts would be forbidden.

Of course, we do have free speech, so people are completely free to speak over the Internet, TV, hire halls in the district involved and go speak in person. They just couldn't pay to have someone else do that for them.

To allow unfettered political donations violates the one ma, one vote principle and also encourages influence peddling. In fact, it seems as if our Congress and Executive operates only through influence peddling.

[Nov 14, 2019] Neoliberalism Paved the Way for Authoritarian Right-Wing Populism by Henry A. Giroux

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Neoliberalism became an incubator for a growing authoritarian populism fed largely by economic inequality. ..."
"... This apocalyptic populism was rooted in a profound discontent for the empty promises of a neoliberal ideology that made capitalism and democracy synonymous, and markets the model for all social relations. In addition, the Democratic proponents of neoliberalism, such as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, participated in the dismantling of the social contract, widening economic inequality, and burgeoning landscapes of joblessness, misery, anger and despair. ..."
"... Liberal democracies across the globe appeared out of touch with not only the misery and suffering caused by neoliberal policies, they also produced an insular and arrogant group of politicians who regarded themselves as an enlightened political formation that worked " on behalf of an ignorant public ." ..."
"... As a regime of affective management, neoliberalism created a culture in which everyone was trapped in his or her own feelings, emotions and orbits of privatization. One consequence was that legitimate political claims could only be pursued by individuals and families rather than social groups. ..."
Sep 26, 2019 | truthout.org

Part of the Series The Public Intellectual

Talk of a looming recession is heating up as the global economy slows and President Trump's tiff with China unsettles financial markets. As world trade contracts, stock markets drop, the manufacturing sector in the United States is in decline for the first time in a decade , and farmers and steel workers continue losing their income and jobs.

Rumors of a coming recession accentuate fears about the further deterioration of conditions faced by workers and the poor, who are already suffering from precarious employment, poverty, lack of meaningful work and dwindling pensions. A global economic slump would make living standards for the poor even worse. As Ashley Smith points out , levels of impoverishment in the United States are already shocking, with "four out of every ten families [struggling] to meet the costs of food, housing, health care, and utilities every month."

Just as the 2008 global economic crisis revealed the failures of liberal democracy and the scourge of neoliberalism, a new economic recession in 2019 could also reveal how institutions meant to serve the public interest and offer support for a progressive politics now serve authoritarian ideologies and a ruling elite that views democracy as the enemy of market-based freedoms and white nationalism.

What has not been learned from the 2008 crisis is that an economic crisis neither unites those most affected in favor of a progressive politics nor does it offer any political guarantees regarding the direction of social change. Instead, the emotions that fueled massive public anger toward elites and globalization gave rise to the celebration of populist demagogues and a right-wing tsunami of misdirected anger, hate and violence toward undocumented immigrants, refugees, Muslims and people of color.

The 2008 financial crisis wreaked havoc in multiple ways. Yet there was another crisis that received little attention: a crisis of agency. This crisis centered around matters of identity, self-determination and collective resistance, which were undermined in profound ways, giving rise to and legitimating the emergence of authoritarian populist movements in many parts of the world, such as United States, Hungary, Poland and Brazil.

At the heart of this shift was the declining belief in the legitimacy of both liberal democracy and its pledges about trickle-down wealth, economic security and broadening equal opportunities preached by the apostles of neoliberalism. In many ways, public faith in the welfare state, quality employment opportunities, institutional possibilities and a secure future for each generation collapsed. In part, this was a consequence of the post-war economic boom giving way to massive degrees of inequality, the off-shoring of wealth and power, the enactment of cruel austerity measures, an expanding regime of precarity, and a cut-throat economic and social environment in which individual interests and needs prevailed over any consideration of the common good. As liberalism aligned itself with corporate and political power, both the Democratic and Republican Parties embraced financial reforms that increased the wealth of the bankers and corporate elite while doing nothing to prevent people from losing their homes, being strapped with chronic debt, seeing their pensions disappear, and facing a future of uncertainty and no long-term prospects or guarantees.

Neoliberalism became an incubator for a growing authoritarian populism fed largely by economic inequality.

In an age of economic anxiety, existential insecurity and a growing culture of fear, liberalism's overheated emphasis on individual liberties "made human beings subordinate to the market, replacing social bonds with market relations and sanctifying greed," as noted by Pankaj Mishra. In this instance, neoliberalism became an incubator for a growing authoritarian populism fed largely by economic inequality. The latter was the outcome of a growing cultural and political polarization that made "it possible for haters to come out from the margins, form larger groups and make political trouble." This toxic polarization and surge of right-wing populism produced by casino capitalism was accentuated with the growth of fascist groups that shared a skepticism of international organizations, supported a militant right-wing nationalism, and championed a surge of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and anti-democratic values.

This apocalyptic populism was rooted in a profound discontent for the empty promises of a neoliberal ideology that made capitalism and democracy synonymous, and markets the model for all social relations. In addition, the Democratic proponents of neoliberalism, such as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, participated in the dismantling of the social contract, widening economic inequality, and burgeoning landscapes of joblessness, misery, anger and despair.

At the same time, they enacted policies that dismantled civic culture and undermined a wide range of democratic institutions that extended from the media to public goods such as public and higher education. Under such circumstances, democratic narratives, values and modes of solidarity, which traded in shared responsibilities and shared hopes, were replaced by a market-based focus on a regressive notion of hyper-individualism, ego-centered values and a view of individual responsibility that eviscerated any broader notion of social, systemic, and corporate problems and accountability.

Ways of imagining society through a collective ethos became fractured, and a comprehensive understanding of politics as inclusive and participatory morphed into an anti-politics marked by an investment in the language of individual rights, individual choice and the power of rights-bearing individuals.

Under the reign of neoliberalism, language became thinner and more individualistic, detached from history and more self-oriented, all the while undermining viable democratic social spheres as spaces where politics bring people together as collective agents and critically engaged citizens. Neoliberal language is written in the discourse of economics and market values, not ethics. Under such circumstances, shallowness becomes an asset rather than a liability. Increasingly, the watered-down language of liberal democracy, with its over-emphasis on individual rights and its neoliberal coddling of the financial elite, gave way to a regressive notion of the social marked by rising authoritarian tendencies, unchecked nativism, unapologetic expressions of bigotry, misdirected anger and the language of resentment-filled revolt. Liberal democracies across the globe appeared out of touch with not only the misery and suffering caused by neoliberal policies, they also produced an insular and arrogant group of politicians who regarded themselves as an enlightened political formation that worked " on behalf of an ignorant public ."

The ultimate consequence was to produce later what Wolfgang Merkel describes as "a rebellion of the disenfranchised." A series of political uprisings made it clear that neoliberalism was suffering from a crisis of legitimacy further accentuated by the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, the election of Donald Trump, support for the National Rally ( formerly known as the National Front ) in France, and the emergence of powerful right-wing populist movements across the globe.

What has been vastly underestimated in the rise of right-wing populism is the capture of the media by authoritarian populists.

As a regime of affective management, neoliberalism created a culture in which everyone was trapped in his or her own feelings, emotions and orbits of privatization. One consequence was that legitimate political claims could only be pursued by individuals and families rather than social groups. In this instance, power was removed from the social sphere and placed almost entirely in the hands of corporate and political demagogues who used it to enrich themselves for their own personal gain.

Power was now used to produce muscular authority in order "to secure order, boundaries, and to divert the growing anger of a declining middle and working-class," Wendy Brown observes . Both classes increasingly came to blame their economic and political conditions that produced their misery and ravaged ways of life on "'others': immigrants, minority races, 'external' predators and attackers ranging from terrorists to refugees." Liberal-individualistic views lost their legitimacy as they refused to indict the underlying structures of capitalism and its winner-take-all ethos.

Functioning largely as a ruthless form of social Darwinism, economic activity was removed from a concern with social costs, and replaced by a culture of cruelty and resentment that disdained any notion of compassion or ethical concern for those deemed as "other" because of their class, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion. This is a culture marked by gigantic hypocrisies, "the gloomy tabulation of unspeakable violent events," widespread viciousness, "great concentrations of wealth," "surveillance overkill," and the "unceasing despoliation of biospheres for profit."

George Monbiot sums up well some of the more toxic elements of neoliberalism, which remained largely hidden since it was in the mainstream press less as an ideology than as an economic policy. He writes :

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. Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimized, public services should be privatized. The organization of labor and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.

In the neoliberal worldview, those who are unemployed, poor consumers or outside of the reach of a market in search of insatiable profits are considered disposable. Increasingly more people were viewed as anti-human, unknowable, faceless and symbols of fear and pathology. This included undocumented immigrants in the United States and refugees in Europe, as well as those who were considered of no value to a market society, and thus eligible to be deprived of the most basic rights and subject to the terror of state violence.

Marking selected groups as disposable in both symbolic and material forms, the neoliberal politics of disposability became a machinery of political and social death -- producing spaces where undesirable members are abused, put in cages , separated from their children and subject to a massive violation of their human rights. Under a neoliberal politics of disposability, people live in spaces of ever-present danger and risk where nothing is certain; human beings considered excess are denied a social function and relegated to what Ιtienne Balibar calls the "death zones of humanity." These are the 21st century workstations designed for the creation and process of elimination; a death-haunted mode of production rooted in the "absolute triumph of irrationality."

Economic and cultural nationalism has become a rallying cry to create the conditions for merging a regressive neoliberalism and populism into a war machine.

Within this new political formation, older forms of exploitation are now matched, if not exceeded, by a politics of racial and social cleansing, as entire populations are removed from ethical assessments, producing zones of social abandonment. In this new world, there is a merging of finance capital and a war culture that speaks to a moral and political collapse in which the welfare state is replaced by forms of economic nationalism and a burgeoning carceral state .

Furthermore, elements of this crisis can be seen in the ongoing militarization of everyday life as more and more institutions take on the model of the prison. Additionally, there is also the increased arming of the police, the criminalization of a wide range of behaviors related to social problems, the rise of the surveillance state, and the ongoing war on youth, undocumented immigrants, Muslims and others deemed enemies of the state.

Under the aegis of a neoliberal war culture, we have witnessed increasing immiseration for the working and middle classes, massive tax cuts for the rich, the outsourcing of public services, a full-fledged attack on unions, the defunding of public goods, and the privatization of public services extending from health and education to roads and prisons. This ongoing transfer of public resources and services to the rich, hedge fund managers, and corporate elite was matched by the corporate takeover of the commanding institutions of culture, including the digital, print and broadcast media. What has been vastly underestimated in the rise of right-wing populism is the capture of the media by authoritarian populists and its flip side, which amounts to a full-fledged political attack on independent digital, online and oppositional journalists.

While it is generally acknowledged that neoliberalism was responsible for the worldwide economic crisis of 2008, what is less acknowledged is that structural crisis produced by a capitalism on steroids was not matched by subjective crisis and consequently gave rise to new reactionary political populist movements. As economic collapse became visceral, people's lives were upended and sometimes destroyed. Moreover, as the social contract was shredded along with the need for socially constructed roles, norms and public goods, the "social" no longer occupied a thick and important pedagogical space of solidarity, dialogue, political expression, dissent and politics.

As public spheres disappeared, communal bonds were weakened and social provisions withered. Under neoliberalism, the social sphere regresses into a privatized society of consumers in which individuals are atomized, alienated, and increasingly removed from the variety of social connections and communal bonds that give meaning to the degree to which societies are good and just.

Establishment politics lost its legitimacy, as voters rejected the conditions produced by financialized capitalism.

People became isolated, segregated and unable " to negotiate democratic dilemmas in a democratic way " as power became more abstract and removed from public participation and accountability. As the neoliberal net of privilege was cast wider without apology for the rich and exclusion of others, it became more obvious to growing elements of the public that appeals to liberal democracy had failed to keep its promise of a better life for all. It could no longer demand, without qualification, that working people should work harder for less, and that democratic participation is exclusively about elections. What could not be hidden from many disenfranchised groups was that ruling elites produced what Adam Tooze describes as "a disastrous slide from the hypocrisies and compromises of the previous status quo into something even [more dangerous]."

As the global crisis has intensified since 2008, elements of a political and moral collapse at the heart of an authoritarian society are more obvious and find their most transparent expression of ruthlessness, greed and unchecked power in the rule of Donald Trump. As Chris Hedges points out :

The ruling corporate elites no longer seek to build. They seek to destroy. They are agents of death. They crave the unimpeded power to cannibalize the country and pollute and degrade the ecosystem to feed an insatiable lust for wealth, power and hedonism. Wars and military "virtues" are celebrated. Intelligence, empathy and the common good are banished. Culture is degraded to patriotic kitsch . Those branded as unproductive or redundant are discarded and left to struggle in poverty or locked away in cages.

The slide into authoritarianism was made all the easier by the absence of a broad-based left mass movement in the United States, which failed to provide both a comprehensive vision of change and an alignment of single-issue groups and smaller movements into one mass movement. Nancy Fraser rightly observes that following Occupy, "potential links between labour and new social movements were left to languish. Split off from one another, those indispensable poles of a viable left were miles apart, waiting to be counterposed as antithetical."

Since the 1970s, there has been a profound backlash by economic, financial, political and religious fundamentalists and their allied media establishments against labor, an oppositional press, people of color and others who have attempted to extend the workings of democracy and equality.

As the narrative of class and class struggle disappeared along with the absence of a vibrant socialist movement, the call for democracy no longer provided a unifying narrative to bring different oppressed groups together. Instead, economic and cultural nationalism has become a rallying cry to create the conditions for merging a regressive neoliberalism and populism into a war machine. Under such circumstances, politics is imagined as a form of war, repelling immigrants and refugees who are described by President Trump as "invaders," "vermin" and "rapists." The emergence of neoliberalism as a war machine is evident in the current status of the Republican Party and the Trump administration, which wage assaults on anything that does not mimic the values of the market. Such assaults take the form of fixing whole categories of people as disposable, as enemies, and force them into conditions of extreme precarity -- and in increasingly more instances, conditions of danger. Neoliberal capitalism radiates violence, evident in its endless instances of mass shooting, such as those that took place most recently in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. This should not be surprising for a society that measures power by the speed that it removes itself from any sense of ethical and social responsibility. As Beatrix Campbell puts it ,

The richest society on the planet is armed. And it invests in one of the largest prison systems in the world. Violence circulates between state and citizen. Drilled to kill, doomed to die: mastery and martyrdom is the heartbreaking dialectic of the manufacture of militarized, violent masculinity . The making and maintaining of militarised masculinities is vital to these new modes of armed conflict that are proliferating across the flexible frontiers of globalized capitalism, between and within states.

What has become clear is that the neoliberal agenda has been a spectacular failure . Moreover, it has mobilized on a global level the violent political, social, racial and economic energies of a resurgent fascist politics. Across the globe, right-wing modes of governance are appearing in which the line collapses between "outside foreign enemies" such as refugees and undocumented immigrants, on the one hand, and on the other, inside "dangerous" or "treasonous" classes such as critical journalists, educators and dissidents.

As neoliberal economies increasingly resort to violence and repression, fear replaces any sense of shared responsibilities, as violence is not only elevated to an organizing principle of society, but also expands a network of extreme cruelty. Imagining politics as a war machine, more and more groups are treated as excess and inscribed in an order of power as disposable, enemies, and [forced] into conditions of extreme precarity. This is a particularly vicious form of state violence that undermines and constrains agency, and subjects individuals to zones of abandonment, as evident in the growth of immigrant jails and an expanding carceral complex in the United States and other countries, such as Hungary.

As neoliberalism's promise of social mobility and expanding economic progress collapsed, it gave way to an authoritarian right-wing populism looking for narratives on which to pin the hatred of governing elites who, as Paul Mason notes , "capped health and welfare spending, [imposed] punitive benefit withdraws [that] forced many families to rely on food banks [and] withdraw sickness and disability benefits from one million former workers below retirement age."

Across the globe, a series of uprisings have appeared that signal new political formations that rejected the notion that there was no alternative to neoliberal hegemony. This was evident not only with the election of Donald Trump and the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, but also with the election of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and support for popular movements such as the National Rally in France. Establishment politics lost its legitimacy, as voters rejected the conditions produced by financialized capitalism.

In the United States, both major political parties were more than willing to turn the economy over to the bankers and hedge fund managers while producing policies that shaped radical forms of industrial and social restructuring, all of which caused massive pain, suffering and rage among large segments of the working class and other disenfranchised groups. Right-wing populist leaders across the globe recognized that national economies were in the hands of foreign investors, a mobile financial elite and transnational capital. In a masterful act of political diversion, populist leaders attacked all vestiges of liberal capitalism while refusing to name neoliberal inequities in wealth and power as a basic threat to their societies. Instead of calling for an acceleration of the democratic ideals of popular sovereignty and equality, right-wing populist leaders, such as Trump, Bolsonaro and Hungary's Viktor Orbαn defined democracy as the enemy of those who wish for unaccountable power. They also diverted genuine popular anger into the abyss of cultural chauvinism, anti-immigrant hatred, a contempt of Muslims and a targeted attack on the environment, health care, education, public institutions, social provisions and other basic life resources. As Arjun Appadurai observes , such authoritarian leaders hate democracy, capture the political emotions of those treated as disposable, and do everything they can to hide the deep contradictions of neoliberal capitalism.

In this scenario, we have the resurgence of a fascist politics that capitalizes on the immiseration, fears and anxieties produced by neoliberalism without naming the underlying conditions that create and legitimate its policies and social costs. While such populists comment on certain elements of neoliberalism such as globalization, they largely embrace those ideological and economic elements that concentrate power and wealth in the hands of a political, corporate and financial elite, thus reinforcing in the end an extreme form of capitalism. Moreover, right-wing populists may condemn globalization, but they do so by blaming those considered outside the inclusive boundaries of a white homeland even though the same forces victimize them . At the same time, such leaders mobilize passions that deny critical understanding while simultaneously creating desires and affects that produce toxic and hypermasculine forms of identification.

Authoritarian leaders hate democracy and do everything they can to hide the deep contradictions of neoliberal capitalism.

In this instance, an oppressive form of education becomes central to politics and is used as a tool of power in the struggle over power, agency and politics. What is at stake here is not simply a struggle between authoritarian ideas and democratic ideals, but also a fierce battle on the part of demagogues to destroy the institutions and conditions that make critical thought and oppositional accounts of power possible. This is evident, for example, in Trump's constant attack on the critical media, often referring to them as "'the enemy of the people' pushing 'Radical Left Democrat views,'" even as journalists are subject to expulsion, mass jailing and assassination across the world by some of Trump's allies.

Waging war on democracy and the institutions that produce it, neoliberalism has tapped into a combination of fear and cathartic cruelty that has once again unleashed the mobilizing passions of fascism, especially the historically distinct registers of extreme nationalism, nativism, white supremacy, racial and ethnic cleansing, voter suppression, and an attack on a civic culture of critique and resistance. The result is a new political formation that I have called neoliberal fascism, in which the principles and practices of a fascist past and neoliberal present have merged, connecting the worst dimensions and excesses of gangster capitalism with the fascist ideals of white nationalism and racial supremacy associated with the horrors of a fascist past.

Neoliberal fascism hollows out democracy from within, breaks down the separation of power while increasing the power of the presidency, and saturates cultural and social life with its ideology of self-interest, a survival-of-the-fittest ethos, and regressive notions of freedom and individual responsibility.

What needs to be acknowledged is that neoliberalism as an extreme form of capitalism has produced the conditions for a fascist politics that is updated to serve the interest of a concentrated class of financial elite and a rising tide of political demagogues across the globe.

The mass anger fueling neoliberal fascism is a diversion of genuine resistance into what amounts to a pathology, which empties politics of any substance. This is evident also in its support of a right-wing populism and its focus on the immigrants and refugees as "dangerous outsiders," which serves to eliminate class politics and camouflage its own authoritarian ruling class interests and relentless attacks on social welfare.

A new economic slump would further fuel forces of repression and strengthen the forces of white supremacy.

In the face of a looming global recession, it is crucial to understand the connection between the rise of right-wing populism and neoliberalism, which emerged in the late 1970s as a commanding ideology fueling a punitive form of globalization. This historical moment is marked by unique ideological, economic and political formations produced by ever-increasing brutal forms of capitalism, however diverse.

Governing economic and political thinking everywhere, neoliberalism's unprecedented concentration of economic and political power has produced a toxic state modeled after the models of finance and unchecked market forces. It has also produced a profound shift in human consciousness, agency and modes of identification. The consequences have become familiar and include cruel austerity measures, adulation of self-regulating markets, the liberating of capital from any constraints, deregulation, privatization of public goods, the commodification of everyday life and the gutting of environmental, health and safety laws. It has also paved the way for a merging of extreme market principles and the sordid and mushrooming elements of white supremacy, racial cleansing and ultranationalism that have become specific to updated forms of fascist politics.

Such policies have produced massive inequities in wealth, power and income, while further accelerating mass misery, human suffering, the rise of state-sanctioned violence and ever-expanding sites of terminal exclusion in the forms of walls, detention centers and an expanding carceral state. An impending recession accentuates the antagonisms, instabilities and crisis produced by the long history and reach of neoliberal ideologies and policies.

A new economic slump would further fuel forces of repression and strengthen the forces of white supremacy, Islamophobia, nativism and misogyny. In the face of such reactionary forces, it is crucial to unite various progressive forces of opposition into a powerful anti-capitalist movement that speaks not only to the range of oppressions exacerbated by neoliberalism, but also to the need for new narratives that speak to overturning a system steeped in the machineries of war, militarization, repression and death.

Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and is the Paulo Freire Distinguished Scholar in Critical Pedagogy. His most recent books include: Neoliberalism's War on Higher Education (Haymarket 2014), The Violence of Organized Forgetting (City Lights 2014), Dangerous Thinking in the Age of the New Authoritarianism (Routledge, 2015), America's Addiction to Terrorism (Monthly Review Press, 2016), America at War with Itself (City Lights, 2017), The Public in Peril (Routledge, 2018) and American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism (City Lights, 2018) and The Terror of the Unforeseen (LARB Books, 2019). Giroux is also a member of Truthout 's Board of Directors.

[Nov 06, 2019] Neoliberalism was not conceived as a self-serving racket [of the financial oligarchy], but it rapidly became one

Highly recommended!
Nov 06, 2019 | crookedtimber.org

likbez 11.06.19 at 4:07 am 47

Z 11.05.19 at 9:23 am @45

It seems to me an important tenet of the neoliberal ideology is the arbiter (or auctioneer) role it gives the state and other political institutions with respect to markets. Markets are the locus of justice and efficiency, but political institutions have the essential task of organizing them and the competitions that takes place within them, supposedly at least.

In practice, this translated in a central role of political power not only in privatizing and breaking state monopolies, but also in the creation, sometimes ex nihilo, of markets supervised by state or quasi-state agencies (shielded of electoral choices by regulatory or ideally constitutional provisions) whose role was to organize concurrence in domains classical liberal economic theory would consider natural monopolies or natural public properties (education, health service, energy distribution, infrastructure of transportation, telecommunication, postal and banking service etc.)

What an excellent and deep observation ! Thank you ! This is the essence of the compromises with financial oligarchy made by failing social democratic parties. Neoliberalism is kind of Trotskyism for the rich in which the political power is used to shape the society "from above". As Hayek remarked on his visit to Pinochet's Chile – "my personal preference leans toward a liberal dictatorship rather than toward a democratic government devoid of liberalism".

George Monblot observed that "Neoliberalism was not conceived as a self-serving racket [of the financial oligarchy], but it rapidly became one." ( The Guardian, Apr 15, 2016):

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.

Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/15/neoliberalism-ideology-problem-george-monbiot

The free (as in absence of regulation for FIRE) market produces a tiny cadre of winners and an enormous army of losers (10% vs 90%) – and the losers, looking for revenge, have turned to Trump. Now entrenched centers of "resistance" (and first of all CIA, the Justice Department, The Department of State and a part of Pentagon) are trying to reverse the situation. Failing to understand that they created Trump and each time will reproduce it in more and more dangerous variant.

Trumpism is the inevitable result of the gap between the utopian ideal of the free (for the FIRE sector only ) market and the dystopian reality for the majority of the population ("without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape" Pope Francis, "Evangelii Gaudium")

The situation in which the financial sector generates just 4% of employment, but accounts for more than 25% of corporate profits is unsustainable. It should be reversed and it will be reversed.

[Nov 04, 2019] Mont Pelerin Society can be renamed into "The Committee for the adaptation of Trotskyism for the needs of financial oligarchy"

Nov 04, 2019 | crookedtimber.org

likbez 11.04.19 at 8:33 pm

Reverting to the first point, my main problem with your explanation of how you use the term 'neoliberal' is that your definition of 'neoliberal' depends on your definition of 'classical liberal', and you haven't explained how you use the term 'classical liberal'.

IMHO, neoliberalism has probably closer connection to Trotskyism then to the classic liberalism and Mont Pelerin Society can be renamed into "The Committee for the adaptation of Trotskyism for the needs of financial oligarchy"

Some commonalities (in no particular order, or importance):
-- The brutal suppression of organized labor
-- Rampant militarism as the method of controlling of the population; outsized role on intelligence agencies in the society; the regime of total surveillance; the conversion of the state into the national security state
-- Scapegoating and victimization of Untermensch
-- The mantle of inevitability (famous TINA statement of Margaret Thatcher )
-- The concept of the "new class" as the driving force in history which is destined to guide the humanity forward ( with the replacement of "proletariat" with the "creative class".) See also Rand positivism with its cult of entrepreneurs.
-- The implicit rejection of the normal interpretation of the rule of the law for "The Masters of the Universe" and the idea of "neoliberal justice" (tough justice for Untermensch only).
-- Messianic zeal and hate for the "old order"
-- Rejection of the ideas of universal truth, adoption of variation of "a class truth" via postmodernism; neoliberals reject the idea that there are any universal and/or religious (for example Christian) moral values and the concept of truth.
-- Implicit denial of the idea of "free press". The press is converted into neoliberal propaganda machine and journalists, writers, etc are viewed as "the solders of the ideology" who should advance neoliberalism
-- The use of university economics courses for the indoctrination
-- Pervasive use of academic science and "think tanks" for brainwashing of the population.
-- The idea of the Uniparty -- a single party system, with the ruling party serves as the vanguard of the hegemonic neoliberal class (top 1%) and represents only its interests. Which was adapted in the USA to a two Party system to preserve the illusion of democracy.
-- Economic fetishism, the deliberate conversion of the ideology into a secular religion, questioning postulates of which can lead to ostracism. Neoliberals see the market as a sacred element of human civilization. Like is the case with Marxism, "Neoliberal rationality" is heavily tilted toward viewing the people as "homo economicus". (See Professor Wendy Brown discussion on the subject)
-- Cult of GDP with GDP growth as the ultimate goal of any society. Measurement of GDP became "number racket" and is distorted for political gains. Like Marxism, neoliberalism reduces individuals to statistics contained within aggregate economic performance.
-- Justification of the use of violence as the political tool. The idea of Permanent [neoliberal] revolution to bring to power the new hegemonic class in all countries of the globe despite the resistance of the population. Like Trotskyism, neoliberalism consider wars to impose a neoliberal society on weaker countries (which in modern times are countries without nuclear weapons) which cannot give a fair fight to Western armies as inherently just
-- The idea of artificial creation of the "revolutionary situation" for overthrow of "unfriendly" regimes ( via color revolution methods); assigning similar roles to students and media in such a coup d'état.
-- Reliance on international organizations to bully countries into submission (remember Communist International (aka Comintern) and its network of spies and Communist Parties all over the world).

[Nov 01, 2019] Orwell on corruption of the language

Nov 01, 2019 | crookedtimber.org

Hidari 11.01.19 at 11:42 am

'It will be seen that, as used, the word 'Fascism' is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley's broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else .

In certain kinds of writing it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning .. When one critic writes, 'The outstanding feature of Mr. X's work is its living quality', while another writes, 'The immediately striking thing about Mr. X's work is its peculiar deadness', the reader accepts this as a simple difference of opinion.

If words like black and white were involved, instead of the jargon words dead and living, he would see at once that language was being used in an improper way. Many political words are similarly abused.

The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies 'something not desirable' .Other words used in variable meanings, in most cases more or less dishonestly, are: class, totalitarian, science, progressive, reactionary .' (Orwell).

[Sep 22, 2019] Society has been corrupted by the promotion of cost-benefit moral thinking to a point where nobody can be trusted to do their job if they think it might be better overall to act corruptly.

Sep 04, 2019 | www.unz.com

The Jeffrey Epstein case is notable for the ups and downs in media coverage it's gotten over the years. Everybody, it seems, in New York society knew by 2000 that Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell were corrupting teenage girls, but the press wouldn't cover it. Articles by New York in 2002 and Vanity Fair in 2003 alluded to it gently, while probing Epstein's finances more closely. In 2005, the Palm Beach police investigated. The county prosecutor, Democrat Barry Krischer, wouldn't prosecute for more than prostitution, so they went to the federal prosecutor, Republican Alexander Acosta, and got the FBI involved. Acosta's office prepared an indictment, but before it was filed, he made a deal: Epstein agreed to plead guilty to a state law felony and receive a prison term of 18 months. In exchange, the federal interstate sex trafficking charges would not be prosecuted by Acosta's office. Epstein was officially at the county jail for 13 months, where the county officials under Democratic Sheriff Ric Bradshaw gave him scandalously easy treatment , letting him spend his days outside, and letting him serve a year of probation in place of the last 5 months of his sentence. Acosta's office complained, but it was a county jail, not a federal jail, so he was powerless.

Epstein was released, and various lawsuits were filed against him and settled out of court, presumably in exchange for silence. The media was quiet or complimentary as Epstein worked his way back into high society. Two books were written about the affair, and fell flat.

The FBI became interested again around 2011 ( a little known fact ) and maybe things were happening behind the scenes, but the next big event was in 2018 when the Miami Herald published a series of investigative articles rehashing what had happened. In 2019 federal prosecutors indicted Epstein, he was put in jail, and he mysteriously died.

Now, after much complaining in the press about how awful jails are and how many people commit suicide, things are quiet again, at least until the Justice Department and the State of Florida finish their investigation a few years from now. (For details and more links, see " Investigation: Jeffrey Epstein "at Medium.com and " Jeffrey Epstein " at Wikipedia .)

jack daniels , says: September 2, 2019 at 1:52 pm GMT

I am shocked that nobody is asking Barr why Epstein's autopsy hasn't been made public.

Also, why is nobody asking Acosta who told him that Epstein should be treated gently because he "belongs to intelligence" and what they meant by that. Rumor is that Mueller told him. So, Mueller has been making the rounds, yet nobody asks him.

Also, Epstein's seized video collection shows various individuals committing serious crimes so why is nobody going through it and charging those individuals who can be identified? Is the DOJ now of the opinion that these crimes are not important enough to pursue? And if they should point to a blackmailing operation involving a major intelligence service, that might be worth exposing?

I feel like I am almost the only person in the world asking.

Society has been corrupted by the promotion of cost-benefit moral thinking to a point where nobody can be trusted to do their job if they think it might be 'better overall' to act corruptly.

I keep thinking of innocent Joe DiGenova assuring us that however frustrating it has been in the past, the appointment of Bob Barr will turn everything around. Nonsense. Barr is a fat man, and as James Watson reminds us, you never want to give a fat man a critical job. So far he is acting like a fat man. Firing a couple minor players is window dressing at best.

[Sep 22, 2019] Neoliberalism Political Success, Economic Failure Portside by Robert Kuttner

Highly recommended!
The key to the success of neoliberal was a bunch on bought intellectual prostitutes like Milton Friedman and the drive to occupy economic departments of the the universities using money from the financial elite. which along with think tank continued mercenary army of neoliberalism who fought and win the battle with weakened New Del capitalism supporters. After that neoliberalism was from those departments like the centers of infection via indoctrination of each new generation of students. Which is a classic mixture of Bolsheviks methods and Trotskyite theory adapted tot he need of financial oligarchy.
Essentially we see the tragedy of Lysenkoism replayed in the USA. When false theory supported by financial oligarchy and then state forcefully suppressed all other economic thought and became the only politically correct theory in the USA and Western Europe.
Notable quotes:
"... The neoliberal counterrevolution, in theory and policy, has reversed or undermined nearly every aspect of managed capitalism -- from progressive taxation, welfare transfers, and antitrust, to the empowerment of workers and the regulation of banks and other major industries. ..."
"... Neoliberalism's premise is that free markets can regulate themselves; that government is inherently incompetent, captive to special interests, and an intrusion on the efficiency of the market; that in distributive terms, market outcomes are basically deserved; and that redistribution creates perverse incentives by punishing the economy's winners and rewarding its losers. So government should get out of the market's way. ..."
"... Now, after nearly half a century, the verdict is in. Virtually every one of these policies has failed, even on their own terms. ..."
"... Economic power has resulted in feedback loops of political power, in which elites make rules that bolster further concentration. ..."
"... The culprit isn't just "markets" -- some impersonal force that somehow got loose again. This is a story of power using theory. The mixed economy was undone by economic elites, who revised rules for their own benefit. They invested heavily in friendly theorists to bless this shift as sound and necessary economics, and friendly politicians to put those theories into practice. ..."
"... The grand neoliberal experiment of the past 40 years has demonstrated that markets in fact do not regulate themselves. Managed markets turn out to be more equitable and more efficient. ..."
"... The British political economist Colin Crouch captured this anomaly in a book nicely titled The Strange Non-Death of Neoliberalism . Why did neoliberalism not die? As Crouch observed, neoliberalism failed both as theory and as policy, but succeeded superbly as power politics for economic elites. ..."
"... The neoliberal ascendance has had another calamitous cost -- to democratic legitimacy. As government ceased to buffer market forces, daily life has become more of a struggle for ordinary people. ..."
"... After the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, ours was widely billed as an era when triumphant liberal capitalism would march hand in hand with liberal democracy. But in a few brief decades, the ostensibly secure regime of liberal democracy has collapsed in nation after nation, with echoes of the 1930s. ..."
"... As the great political historian Karl Polanyi warned, when markets overwhelm society, ordinary people often turn to tyrants. In regimes that border on neofascist, klepto-capitalists get along just fine with dictators, undermining the neoliberal premise of capitalism and democracy as complements. ..."
"... Classically, the premise of a "free market" is that government simply gets out of the way. This is nonsensical, since all markets are creatures of rules, most fundamentally rules defining property, but also rules defining credit, debt, and bankruptcy; rules defining patents, trademarks, and copyrights; rules defining terms of labor; and so on. Even deregulation requires rules. In Polanyi's words, "laissez-faire was planned." ..."
"... Around the same time, the term neoconservative was used as a self-description by former liberals who embraced conservatism, on cultural, racial, economic, and foreign-policy grounds. Neoconservatives were neoliberals in economics. ..."
"... Lavishly funded centers and tenured chairs were underwritten by the Olin, Scaife, Bradley, and other far-right foundations to promote such variants of free-market theory as law and economics, public choice, rational choice, cost-benefit analysis, maximize-shareholder-value, and kindred schools of thought. These theories colonized several academic disciplines. All were variations on the claim that markets worked and that government should get out of the way. ..."
"... Market failure was dismissed as a rare special case; government failure was said to be ubiquitous. Theorists worked hand in glove with lobbyists and with public officials. But in every major case where neoliberal theory generated policy, the result was political success and economic failure. ..."
"... For example, supply-side economics became the justification for tax cuts, on the premise that taxes punished enterprise. ..."
"... Robert Bork's "antitrust paradox," holding that antitrust enforcement actually weakened competition, was used as the doctrine to sideline the Sherman and Clayton Acts. Supposedly, if government just got out of the way, market forces would remain more competitive because monopoly pricing would invite innovation and new entrants to the market. In practice, industry after industry became more heavily concentrated. ..."
"... Human capital theory, another variant of neoliberal application of markets to partly social questions, justified deregulating labor markets and crushing labor unions. Unions supposedly used their power to get workers paid more than their market worth. Likewise minimum wage laws. But the era of depressed wages has actually seen a decline in rates of productivity growth ..."
"... Financial deregulation is neoliberalism's most palpable deregulatory failure, but far from the only one ..."
"... Air travel has been a poster child for advocates of deregulation, but the actual record is mixed at best. Airline deregulation produced serial bankruptcies of every major U.S. airline, often at the cost of worker pay and pension funds. ..."
"... Ticket prices have declined on average over the past two decades, but the traveling public suffers from a crazy quilt of fares, declining service, shrinking seats and legroom, and exorbitant penalties for the perfectly normal sin of having to change plans. ..."
"... A similar example is the privatization of transportation services such as highways and even parking meters. In several Midwestern states, toll roads have been sold to private vendors. The governor who makes the deal gains a temporary fiscal windfall, while drivers end up paying higher tolls often for decades. Investment bankers who broker the deal also take their cut. Some of the money does go into highway improvements, but that could have been done more efficiently in the traditional way via direct public ownership and competitive bidding. ..."
"... The Affordable Care Act is a form of voucher. But the regulated private insurance markets in the ACA have not fully lived up to their promise, in part because of the extensive market power retained by private insurers and in part because the right has relentlessly sought to sabotage the program -- another political feedback loop. The sponsors assumed that competition would lower costs and increase consumer choice. But in too many counties, there are three or fewer competing plans, and in some cases just one. ..."
"... In practice, this degenerates into an infinite regress of regulator versus commercial profit-maximizer, reminiscent of Mad magazine's "Spy versus Spy," with the industry doing end runs to Congress to further rig the rules. Straight-ahead public insurance such as Medicare is generally far more efficient. ..."
"... Several forms of deregulation -- of airlines, trucking, and electric power -- began not under Reagan but under Carter. Financial deregulation took off under Bill Clinton. Democratic presidents, as much as Republicans, promoted trade deals that undermined social standards. Cost-benefit analysis by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) was more of a choke point under Barack Obama than under George W. Bush. ..."
"... Dozens of nations, from Latin America to East Asia, went through this cycle of boom, bust, and then IMF pile-on. Greece is still suffering the impact. ..."
"... In fact, Japan, South Korea, smaller Asian nations, and above all China had thrived by rejecting every major tenet of neoliberalism. Their capital markets were tightly regulated and insulated from foreign speculative capital. They developed world-class industries as state-led cartels that favored domestic production and supply. East Asia got into trouble only when it followed IMF dictates to throw open capital markets, and in the aftermath they recovered by closing those markets and assembling war chests of hard currency so that they'd never again have to go begging to the IMF ..."
"... The basic argument of neoliberalism can fit on a bumper sticker. Markets work; governments don't . If you want to embellish that story, there are two corollaries: Markets embody human freedom. And with markets, people basically get what they deserve; to alter market outcomes is to spoil the poor and punish the productive. That conclusion logically flows from the premise that markets are efficient. Milton Friedman became rich, famous, and influential by teasing out the several implications of these simple premises. ..."
"... The failed neoliberal experiment also makes the case not just for better-regulated capitalism but for direct public alternatives as well. Banking, done properly, especially the provision of mortgage finance, is close to a public utility. Much of it could be public. ..."
Aug 25, 2019 | portside.org
The invisible hand is more like a thumb on the scale for the world's elites. That's why market fundamentalism has been unmasked as bogus economics but keeps winning politically. This article appears in the Summer 2019 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here .

Since the late 1970s, we've had a grand experiment to test the claim that free markets really do work best. This resurrection occurred despite the practical failure of laissez-faire in the 1930s, the resulting humiliation of free-market theory, and the contrasting success of managed capitalism during the three-decade postwar boom.

Yet when growth faltered in the 1970s, libertarian economic theory got another turn at bat. This revival proved extremely convenient for the conservatives who came to power in the 1980s. The neoliberal counterrevolution, in theory and policy, has reversed or undermined nearly every aspect of managed capitalism -- from progressive taxation, welfare transfers, and antitrust, to the empowerment of workers and the regulation of banks and other major industries.

Neoliberalism's premise is that free markets can regulate themselves; that government is inherently incompetent, captive to special interests, and an intrusion on the efficiency of the market; that in distributive terms, market outcomes are basically deserved; and that redistribution creates perverse incentives by punishing the economy's winners and rewarding its losers. So government should get out of the market's way.

By the 1990s, even moderate liberals had been converted to the belief that social objectives can be achieved by harnessing the power of markets. Intermittent periods of governance by Democratic presidents slowed but did not reverse the slide to neoliberal policy and doctrine. The corporate wing of the Democratic Party approved.

Now, after nearly half a century, the verdict is in. Virtually every one of these policies has failed, even on their own terms. Enterprise has been richly rewarded, taxes have been cut, and regulation reduced or privatized. The economy is vastly more unequal, yet economic growth is slower and more chaotic than during the era of managed capitalism. Deregulation has produced not salutary competition, but market concentration. Economic power has resulted in feedback loops of political power, in which elites make rules that bolster further concentration.

The culprit isn't just "markets" -- some impersonal force that somehow got loose again. This is a story of power using theory. The mixed economy was undone by economic elites, who revised rules for their own benefit. They invested heavily in friendly theorists to bless this shift as sound and necessary economics, and friendly politicians to put those theories into practice.

Recent years have seen two spectacular cases of market mispricing with devastating consequences: the near-depression of 2008 and irreversible climate change. The economic collapse of 2008 was the result of the deregulation of finance. It cost the real U.S. economy upwards of $15 trillion (and vastly more globally), depending on how you count, far more than any conceivable efficiency gain that might be credited to financial innovation. Free-market theory presumes that innovation is necessarily benign. But much of the financial engineering of the deregulatory era was self-serving, opaque, and corrupt -- the opposite of an efficient and transparent market.

The existential threat of global climate change reflects the incompetence of markets to accurately price carbon and the escalating costs of pollution. The British economist Nicholas Stern has aptly termed the worsening climate catastrophe history's greatest case of market failure. Here again, this is not just the result of failed theory. The entrenched political power of extractive industries and their political allies influences the rules and the market price of carbon. This is less an invisible hand than a thumb on the scale. The premise of efficient markets provides useful cover.

The grand neoliberal experiment of the past 40 years has demonstrated that markets in fact do not regulate themselves. Managed markets turn out to be more equitable and more efficient. Yet the theory and practical influence of neoliberalism marches splendidly on, because it is so useful to society's most powerful people -- as a scholarly veneer to what would otherwise be a raw power grab. The British political economist Colin Crouch captured this anomaly in a book nicely titled The Strange Non-Death of Neoliberalism . Why did neoliberalism not die? As Crouch observed, neoliberalism failed both as theory and as policy, but succeeded superbly as power politics for economic elites.

The neoliberal ascendance has had another calamitous cost -- to democratic legitimacy. As government ceased to buffer market forces, daily life has become more of a struggle for ordinary people. The elements of a decent middle-class life are elusive -- reliable jobs and careers, adequate pensions, secure medical care, affordable housing, and college that doesn't require a lifetime of debt. Meanwhile, life has become ever sweeter for economic elites, whose income and wealth have pulled away and whose loyalty to place, neighbor, and nation has become more contingent and less reliable.

Large numbers of people, in turn, have given up on the promise of affirmative government, and on democracy itself. After the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, ours was widely billed as an era when triumphant liberal capitalism would march hand in hand with liberal democracy. But in a few brief decades, the ostensibly secure regime of liberal democracy has collapsed in nation after nation, with echoes of the 1930s.

As the great political historian Karl Polanyi warned, when markets overwhelm society, ordinary people often turn to tyrants. In regimes that border on neofascist, klepto-capitalists get along just fine with dictators, undermining the neoliberal premise of capitalism and democracy as complements. Several authoritarian thugs, playing on tribal nationalism as the antidote to capitalist cosmopolitanism, are surprisingly popular.

It's also important to appreciate that neoliberalism is not laissez-faire. Classically, the premise of a "free market" is that government simply gets out of the way. This is nonsensical, since all markets are creatures of rules, most fundamentally rules defining property, but also rules defining credit, debt, and bankruptcy; rules defining patents, trademarks, and copyrights; rules defining terms of labor; and so on. Even deregulation requires rules. In Polanyi's words, "laissez-faire was planned."

The political question is who gets to make the rules, and for whose benefit. The neoliberalism of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman invoked free markets, but in practice the neoliberal regime has promoted rules created by and for private owners of capital, to keep democratic government from asserting rules of fair competition or countervailing social interests. The regime has rules protecting pharmaceutical giants from the right of consumers to import prescription drugs or to benefit from generics. The rules of competition and intellectual property generally have been tilted to protect incumbents. Rules of bankruptcy have been tilted in favor of creditors. Deceptive mortgages require elaborate rules, written by the financial sector and then enforced by government. Patent rules have allowed agribusiness and giant chemical companies like Monsanto to take over much of agriculture -- the opposite of open markets. Industry has invented rules requiring employees and consumers to submit to binding arbitration and to relinquish a range of statutory and common-law rights.

Neoliberalism as Theory, Policy, and Power

It's worth taking a moment to unpack the term "neoliberalism." The coinage can be confusing to American ears because the "liberal" part refers not to the word's ordinary American usage, meaning moderately left-of-center, but to classical economic liberalism otherwise known as free-market economics. The "neo" part refers to the reassertion of the claim that the laissez-faire model of the economy was basically correct after all.

Few proponents of these views embraced the term neoliberal . Mostly, they called themselves free-market conservatives. "Neoliberal" was a coinage used mainly by their critics, sometimes as a neutral descriptive term, sometimes as an epithet. The use became widespread in the era of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.

To add to the confusion, a different and partly overlapping usage was advanced in the 1970s by the group around the Washington Monthly magazine. They used "neoliberal" to mean a new, less statist form of American liberalism. Around the same time, the term neoconservative was used as a self-description by former liberals who embraced conservatism, on cultural, racial, economic, and foreign-policy grounds. Neoconservatives were neoliberals in economics.

Beginning in the 1970s, resurrected free-market theory was interwoven with both conservative politics and significant investments in the production of theorists and policy intellectuals. This occurred not just in well-known conservative think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute, Heritage, Cato, and the Manhattan Institute, but through more insidious investments in academia. Lavishly funded centers and tenured chairs were underwritten by the Olin, Scaife, Bradley, and other far-right foundations to promote such variants of free-market theory as law and economics, public choice, rational choice, cost-benefit analysis, maximize-shareholder-value, and kindred schools of thought. These theories colonized several academic disciplines. All were variations on the claim that markets worked and that government should get out of the way.

Each of these bodies of sub-theory relied upon its own variant of neoliberal ideology. An intensified version of the theory of comparative advantage was used not just to cut tariffs but to use globalization as all-purpose deregulation. The theory of maximizing shareholder value was deployed to undermine the entire range of financial regulation and workers' rights. Cost-benefit analysis, emphasizing costs and discounting benefits, was used to discredit a good deal of health, safety, and environmental regulation. Public choice theory, associated with the economist James Buchanan and an entire ensuing school of economics and political science, was used to impeach democracy itself, on the premise that policies were hopelessly afflicted by "rent-seekers" and "free-riders."

Click here to read how Robert Kuttner has been unmasking the fallacies of neoliberalism for decades

Market failure was dismissed as a rare special case; government failure was said to be ubiquitous. Theorists worked hand in glove with lobbyists and with public officials. But in every major case where neoliberal theory generated policy, the result was political success and economic failure.

For example, supply-side economics became the justification for tax cuts, on the premise that taxes punished enterprise. Supposedly, if taxes were cut, especially taxes on capital and on income from capital, the resulting spur to economic activity would be so potent that deficits would be far less than predicted by "static" economic projections, and perhaps even pay for themselves. There have been six rounds of this experiment, from the tax cuts sponsored by Jimmy Carter in 1978 to the immense 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed by Donald Trump. In every case some economic stimulus did result, mainly from the Keynesian jolt to demand, but in every case deficits increased significantly. Conservatives simply stopped caring about deficits. The tax cuts were often inefficient as well as inequitable, since the loopholes steered investment to tax-favored uses rather than the most economically logical ones. Dozens of America's most profitable corporations paid no taxes.

Robert Bork's "antitrust paradox," holding that antitrust enforcement actually weakened competition, was used as the doctrine to sideline the Sherman and Clayton Acts. Supposedly, if government just got out of the way, market forces would remain more competitive because monopoly pricing would invite innovation and new entrants to the market. In practice, industry after industry became more heavily concentrated. Incumbents got in the habit of buying out innovators or using their market power to crush them. This pattern is especially insidious in the tech economy of platform monopolies, where giants that provide platforms, such as Google and Amazon, use their market power and superior access to customer data to out-compete rivals who use their platforms. Markets, once again, require rules beyond the benign competence of the market actors themselves. Only democratic government can set equitable rules. And when democracy falters, undemocratic governments in cahoots with corrupt private plutocrats will make the rules.

Human capital theory, another variant of neoliberal application of markets to partly social questions, justified deregulating labor markets and crushing labor unions. Unions supposedly used their power to get workers paid more than their market worth. Likewise minimum wage laws. But the era of depressed wages has actually seen a decline in rates of productivity growth. Conversely, does any serious person think that the inflated pay of the financial moguls who crashed the economy accurately reflects their contribution to economic activity? In the case of hedge funds and private equity, the high incomes of fund sponsors are the result of transfers of wealth and income from employees, other stakeholders, and operating companies to the fund managers, not the fruits of more efficient management.

There is a broad literature discrediting this body of pseudo-scholarly work in great detail. Much of neoliberalism represents the ever-reliable victory of assumption over evidence. Yet neoliberal theory lived on because it was so convenient for elites, and because of the inertial power of the intellectual capital that had been created. The well-funded neoliberal habitat has provided comfortable careers for two generations of scholars and pseudo-scholars who migrate between academia, think tanks, K Street, op-ed pages, government, Wall Street, and back again. So even if the theory has been demolished both by scholarly rebuttal and by events, it thrives in powerful institutions and among their political allies.

The Practical Failure of Neoliberal Policies

Financial deregulation is neoliberalism's most palpable deregulatory failure, but far from the only one. Electricity deregulation on balance has increased monopoly power and raised costs to consumers, but has failed to offer meaningful "shopping around" opportunities to bring down prices. We have gone from regulated monopolies with predictable earnings, costs, wages, and consumer protections to deregulated monopolies or oligopolies with substantial pricing power. Since the Bell breakup, the telephone system tells a similar story of re-concentration, dwindling competition, price-gouging, and union-bashing.

Air travel has been a poster child for advocates of deregulation, but the actual record is mixed at best. Airline deregulation produced serial bankruptcies of every major U.S. airline, often at the cost of worker pay and pension funds.

Ticket prices have declined on average over the past two decades, but the traveling public suffers from a crazy quilt of fares, declining service, shrinking seats and legroom, and exorbitant penalties for the perfectly normal sin of having to change plans. Studies have shown that fares actually declined at a faster rate in the 20 years before deregulation in 1978 than in the 20 years afterward, because the prime source of greater efficiency in airline travel is the introduction of more fuel-efficient planes.

The roller-coaster experience of airline profits and losses has reduced the capacity of airlines to purchase more fuel-efficient aircraft, and the average age of the fleet keeps increasing. The use of "fortress hubs" to defend market pricing power has reduced the percentage of nonstop flights, the most efficient way to fly from one point to another.

Robert Bork's spurious arguments that antitrust enforcement hurt competition became the basis for dismantling antitrust. Massive concentration resulted. Charles Tasnadi/AP Photo

In addition to deregulation, three prime areas of practical neoliberal policies are the use of vouchers as "market-like" means to social goals, the privatization of public services, and the use of tax subsides rather than direct outlays. In every case, government revenues are involved, so this is far from a free market to begin with. But the premise is that market disciplines can achieve public purposes more efficiently than direct public provision.

The evidence provides small comfort for these claims. One core problem is that the programs invariably give too much to the for-profit middlemen at the expense of the intended beneficiaries. A related problem is that the process of using vouchers and contracts invites corruption. It is a different form of "rent-seeking" -- pursuit of monopoly profits -- than that attributed to government by public choice theorists, but corruption nonetheless. Often, direct public provision is far more transparent and accountable than a web of contractors.

A further problem is that in practice there is often far less competition than imagined, because of oligopoly power, vendor lock-in, and vendor political influence. These experiments in marketization to serve social goals do not operate in some Platonic policy laboratory, where the only objective is true market efficiency yoked to the public good. They operate in the grubby world of practical politics, where the vendors are closely allied with conservative politicians whose purposes may be to discredit social transfers entirely, or to reward corporate allies, or to benefit from kickbacks either directly or as campaign contributions.

Privatized prisons are a case in point. A few large, scandal-ridden companies have gotten most of the contracts, often through political influence. Far from bringing better quality and management efficiency, they have profited by diverting operating funds and worsening conditions that were already deplorable, and finding new ways to charge inmates higher fees for necessary services such as phone calls. To the extent that money was actually saved, most of the savings came from reducing the pay and professionalism of guards, increasing overcrowding, and decreasing already inadequate budgets for food and medical care.

A similar example is the privatization of transportation services such as highways and even parking meters. In several Midwestern states, toll roads have been sold to private vendors. The governor who makes the deal gains a temporary fiscal windfall, while drivers end up paying higher tolls often for decades. Investment bankers who broker the deal also take their cut. Some of the money does go into highway improvements, but that could have been done more efficiently in the traditional way via direct public ownership and competitive bidding.

Housing vouchers substantially reward landlords who use the vouchers to fill empty houses with poor people until the neighborhood gentrifies, at which point the owner is free to quit the program and charge market rentals. Thus public funds are used to underwrite a privately owned, quasi-social housing sector -- whose social character is only temporary. No permanent social housing is produced despite the extensive public outlay. The companion use of tax incentives to attract passive investment in affordable housing promotes economically inefficient tax shelters, and shunts public funds into the pockets of the investors -- money that might otherwise have gone directly to the housing.

The Affordable Care Act is a form of voucher. But the regulated private insurance markets in the ACA have not fully lived up to their promise, in part because of the extensive market power retained by private insurers and in part because the right has relentlessly sought to sabotage the program -- another political feedback loop. The sponsors assumed that competition would lower costs and increase consumer choice. But in too many counties, there are three or fewer competing plans, and in some cases just one.

As more insurance plans and hospital systems become for-profit, massive investment goes into such wasteful activities as manipulation of billing, "risk selection," and other gaming of the rules. Our mixed-market system of health care requires massive regulation to work with tolerable efficiency. In practice, this degenerates into an infinite regress of regulator versus commercial profit-maximizer, reminiscent of Mad magazine's "Spy versus Spy," with the industry doing end runs to Congress to further rig the rules. Straight-ahead public insurance such as Medicare is generally far more efficient.

An extensive literature has demonstrated that for-profit voucher schools do no better and often do worse than comparable public schools, and are vulnerable to multiple forms of gaming and corruption. Proprietors of voucher schools are superb at finding ways of excluding costly special-needs students, so that those costs are imposed on what remains of public schools; they excel at gaming test results. While some voucher and charter schools, especially nonprofit ones, sometimes improve on average school performance, so do many public schools. The record is also muddied by the fact that many ostensibly nonprofit schools contract out management to for-profit companies.

Tax preferences have long been used ostensibly to serve social goals. The Earned Income Tax Credit is considered one of the more successful cases of using market-like measures -- in this case a refundable tax credit -- to achieve the social goal of increasing worker take-home pay. It has also been touted as the rare case of bipartisan collaboration. Liberals get more money for workers. Conservatives get to reward the deserving poor, since the EITC is conditioned on employment. Conservatives get a further ideological win, since the EITC is effectively a wage subsidy from the government, but is experienced as a tax refund rather than a benefit of government.

Recent research, however, shows that the EITC is primarily a subsidy of low-wage employers, who are able to pay their workers a lot less than a market-clearing wage. In industries such as nursing homes or warehouses, where many workers qualified for the EITC work side by side with ones not eligible, the non-EITC workers get substandard wages. The existence of the EITC depresses the level of the wages that have to come out of the employer's pocket.

Neoliberalism's Influence on Liberals

As free-market theory resurged, many moderate liberals embraced these policies. In the inflationary 1970s, regulation became a scapegoat that supposedly deterred salutary price competition. Some, such as economist Alfred Kahn, President Carter's adviser on deregulation, supported deregulation on what he saw as the merits. Other moderates supported neoliberal policies opportunistically, to curry favor with powerful industries and donors. Market-like policies were also embraced by liberals as a tactical way to find common ground with conservatives.

Several forms of deregulation -- of airlines, trucking, and electric power -- began not under Reagan but under Carter. Financial deregulation took off under Bill Clinton. Democratic presidents, as much as Republicans, promoted trade deals that undermined social standards. Cost-benefit analysis by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) was more of a choke point under Barack Obama than under George W. Bush.

"Command and control" became an all-purpose pejorative for disparaging perfectly sensible and efficient regulation. "Market-like" became a fashionable concept, not just on the free-market right but on the moderate left. Cass Sunstein, who served as Obama's anti-regulation czar,uses the example of "nudges" as a more market-like and hence superior alternative to direct regulation, though with rare exceptions their impact is trivial. Moreover, nudges only work in tandem with regulation.

There are indeed some interventionist policies that use market incentives to serve social goals. But contrary to free-market theory, the market-like incentives first require substantial regulation and are not a substitute for it. A good example is the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, which used tradable emission rights to cut the output of sulfur dioxide, the cause of acid rain. This was supported by both the George H.W. Bush administration and by leading Democrats. But before the trading regime could work, Congress first had to establish permissible ceilings on sulfur dioxide output -- pure command and control.

There are many other instances, such as nutrition labeling, truth-in-lending, and disclosure of EPA gas mileage results, where the market-like premise of a better-informed consumer complements command regulation but is no substitute for it. Nearly all of the increase in fuel efficiency, for example, is the result of command regulations that require auto fleets to hit a gas mileage target. The fact that EPA gas mileage figures are prominently disclosed on new car stickers may have modest influence, but motor fuels are so underpriced that car companies have success selling gas-guzzlers despite the consumer labeling.

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Bill Clinton and his Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin, were big promoters of financial deregulation.

Politically, whatever rationale there was for liberals to make common ground with libertarians is now largely gone. The authors of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made no attempt to meet Democrats partway; they excluded the opposition from the legislative process entirely. This was opportunistic tax cutting for elites, pure and simple. The right today also abandoned the quest for a middle ground on environmental policy, on anti-poverty policy, on health policy -- on virtually everything. Neoliberal ideology did its historic job of weakening intellectual and popular support for the proposition that affirmative government can better the lives of citizens and that the Democratic Party is a reliable steward of that social compact. Since Reagan, the right's embrace of the free market has evolved from partly principled idealism into pure opportunism and obstruction.

Neoliberalism and Hyper-Globalism

The post-1990 rules of globalization, supported by conservatives and moderate liberals alike, are the quintessence of neoliberalism. At Bretton Woods in 1944, the use of fixed exchange rates and controls on speculative private capital, plus the creation of the IMFand World Bank, were intended to allow member countries to practice national forms of managed capitalism, insulated from the destructive and deflationary influences of short-term speculative private capital flows. As doctrine and power shifted in the 1970s, the IMF, the World Bank, and later the WTO, which replaced the old GATT, mutated into their ideological opposite. Rather than instruments of support for mixed national economies, they became enforcers of neoliberal policies.

The standard package of the "Washington Consensus" of approved policies for developing nations included demands that they open their capital markets to speculative private finance, as well as cutting taxes on capital, weakening social transfers, and gutting labor regulation and public ownership. But private capital investment in poor countries proved to be fickle. The result was often excessive inflows during the boom part of the cycle and punitive withdrawals during the bust -- the opposite of the patient, long-term development capital that these countries needed and that was provided by the World Bank of an earlier era. During the bust phase, the IMF typically imposes even more stringent neoliberal demands as the price of financial bailouts, including perverse budgetary austerity, supposedly to restore the confidence of the very speculative capital markets responsible for the boom-bust cycle.

Dozens of nations, from Latin America to East Asia, went through this cycle of boom, bust, and then IMF pile-on. Greece is still suffering the impact. After 1990, hyper-globalism also included trade treaties whose terms favored multinational corporations. Traditionally, trade agreements had been mainly about reciprocal reductions of tariffs. Nations were free to have whatever brand of regulation, public investment, or social policies they chose. With the advent of the WTO, many policies other than tariffs were branded as trade distorting, even as takings without compensation. Trade deals were used to give foreign capital free access and to dismantle national regulation and public ownership. Special courts were created in which foreign corporations and investors could do end runs around national authorities to challenge regulation for impeding commerce.

At first, the sponsors of the new trade regime tried to claim the successful economies of East Asia as evidence of the success of the neoliberal recipe. Supposedly, these nations had succeeded by pursuing "export-led growth," exposing their domestic economies to salutary competition. But these claims were soon exposed as the opposite of what had actually occurred. In fact, Japan, South Korea, smaller Asian nations, and above all China had thrived by rejecting every major tenet of neoliberalism. Their capital markets were tightly regulated and insulated from foreign speculative capital. They developed world-class industries as state-led cartels that favored domestic production and supply. East Asia got into trouble only when it followed IMF dictates to throw open capital markets, and in the aftermath they recovered by closing those markets and assembling war chests of hard currency so that they'd never again have to go begging to the IMF. Enthusiasts of hyper-globalization also claimed that it benefited poor countries by increasing export opportunities, but as the success of East Asia shows, there is more than one way to boost exports -- and many poorer countries suffered under the terms of the global neoliberal regime.

Nor was the damage confined to the developing world. As the work of Harvard economist Dani Rodrik has demonstrated, democracy requires a polity. For better or for worse, the polity and democratic citizenship are national. By enhancing the global market at the expense of the democratic state, the current brand of hyper-globalization deliberately weakens the capacity of states to regulate markets, and weakens democracy itself.

When Do Markets Work?

The failure of neoliberalism as economic and social policy does not mean that markets never work. A command economy is even more utopian and perverse than a neoliberal one. The practical quest is for an efficient and equitable middle ground.

The neoliberal story of how the economy operates assumes a largely frictionless marketplace, where prices are set by supply and demand, and the price mechanism allocates resources to their optimal use in the economy as a whole. For this discipline to work as advertised, however, there can be no market power, competition must be plentiful, sellers and buyers must have roughly equal information, and there can be no significant externalities. Much of the 20th century was practical proof that these conditions did not describe a good part of the actual economy. And if markets priced things wrong, the market system did not aggregate to an efficient equilibrium, and depressions could become self-deepening. As Keynes demonstrated, only a massive jolt of government spending could restart the engines, even if market pricing was partly violated in the process.

Nonetheless, in many sectors of the economy, the process of buying and selling is close enough to the textbook conditions of perfect competition that the price system works tolerably well. Supermarkets, for instance, deliver roughly accurate prices because of the consumer's freedom and knowledge to shop around. Likewise much of retailing. However, when we get into major realms of the economy with positive or negative externalities, such as education and health, markets are not sufficient. And in other major realms, such as pharmaceuticals, where corporations use their political power to rig the terms of patents, the market doesn't produce a cure.

The basic argument of neoliberalism can fit on a bumper sticker. Markets work; governments don't . If you want to embellish that story, there are two corollaries: Markets embody human freedom. And with markets, people basically get what they deserve; to alter market outcomes is to spoil the poor and punish the productive. That conclusion logically flows from the premise that markets are efficient. Milton Friedman became rich, famous, and influential by teasing out the several implications of these simple premises.

It is much harder to articulate the case for a mixed economy than the case for free markets, precisely because the mixed economy is mixed. The rebuttal takes several paragraphs. The more complex story holds that markets are substantially efficient in some realms but far from efficient in others, because of positive and negative externalities, the tendency of financial markets to create cycles of boom and bust, the intersection of self-interest and corruption, the asymmetry of information between company and consumer, the asymmetry of power between corporation and employee, the power of the powerful to rig the rules, and the fact that there are realms of human life (the right to vote, human liberty, security of one's person) that should not be marketized.

And if markets are not perfectly efficient, then distributive questions are partly political choices. Some societies pay pre-K teachers the minimum wage as glorified babysitters. Others educate and compensate them as professionals. There is no "correct" market-derived wage, because pre-kindergarten is a social good and the issue of how to train and compensate teachers is a social choice, not a market choice. The same is true of the other human services, including medicine. Nor is there a theoretically correct set of rules for patents, trademarks, and copyrights. These are politically derived, either balancing the interests of innovation with those of diffusion -- or being politically captured by incumbent industries.

Governments can in principle improve on market outcomes via regulation, but that fact is complicated by the risk of regulatory capture. So another issue that arises is market failure versus polity failure, which brings us back to the urgency of strong democracy and effective government.

After Neoliberalism

The political reversal of neoliberalism can only come through practical politics and policies that demonstrate how government often can serve citizens more equitably and efficiently than markets. Revision of theory will take care of itself. There is no shortage of dissenting theorists and empirical policy researchers whose scholarly work has been vindicated by events. What they need is not more theory but more influence, both in the academy and in the corridors of power. They are available to advise a new progressive administration, if that administration can get elected and if it refrains from hiring neoliberal advisers.

There are also some relatively new areas that invite policy innovation. These include regulation of privacy rights versus entrepreneurial liberties in the digital realm; how to think of the internet as a common carrier; how to update competition and antitrust policy as platform monopolies exert new forms of market power; how to modernize labor-market policy in the era of the gig economy; and the role of deeper income supplements as machines replace human workers.

The failed neoliberal experiment also makes the case not just for better-regulated capitalism but for direct public alternatives as well. Banking, done properly, especially the provision of mortgage finance, is close to a public utility. Much of it could be public. A great deal of research is done more honestly and more cost-effectively in public, peer-reviewed institutions such as the NIH than by a substantially corrupt private pharmaceutical industry.

Social housing often is more cost-effective than so-called public-private partnerships. Public power is more efficient to generate, less prone to monopolistic price-gouging, and friendlier to the needed green transition than private power. The public option in health care is far more efficient than the current crazy quilt in which each layer of complexity adds opacity and cost. Public provision does require public oversight, but that is more straightforward and transparent than the byzantine dance of regulation and counter-regulation.

The two other benefits of direct public provision are that the public gets direct evidence of government delivering something of value, and that the countervailing power of democracy to harness markets is enhanced. A mixed economy depends above all on a strong democracy -- one even stronger than the democracy that succumbed to the corrupting influence of economic elites and their neoliberal intellectual allies beginning half a century ago. The antidote to the resurrected neoliberal fable is the resurrection of democracy -- strong enough to tame the market in a way that tames it for keeps.


Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, and professor at Brandeis University's Heller School. His latest book is The Stakes: 2020 and the Survival of American Democracy . In addition to writing for the Prospect, he writes for HuffPost, The Boston Globe, and The New York Review of Books.

Read the original article at Prospect.org.

Used with the permission. © The American Prospect, Prospect.org, 2019. All rights reserved.

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[Sep 17, 2019] Now and again, both in professional political writings and here as I read, the term Trotskyism is used but though I have looked up the term a few times I have no real idea what it is supposed to mean.

Sep 17, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne -> anne... , September 15, 2019 at 02:32 PM

Correcting my punctuation:

Now and again, both in professional political writings and here as I read, the term Trotskyism is used but though I have looked up the term a few times I have no real idea what it is supposed to mean. Possibly a reader could explain. After all, the term tankie was explained by a prominent economist at the University of California only a few days ago and I realized the term was absurd, simply an empty personal insult. Possibly Trotskyism is as empty.

likbez -> anne... , September 16, 2019 at 09:32 PM
Hi Anne,

You are in a bad position. Generally this needs some acquaintance with Marxism as Trotskyism is one of the most influential "deviation" from Classic Marxism (Bolshevism was yet another).

Both used to believe in the special role of "proletariat" as the new class that will depose older ruling classes all over the globe. Both believed in "class struggle" as the main force of historical development of humanity. One of the key ideas of Trotskyism was the idea of Permanent revolution -- forceful introduction of socialist regimes using subversion, external financial injections, and armed struggle (kind of "regime change" strategy that the USA practices now for introduction of neoliberal regimes.)

The idea of class struggle transposed as the struggle within the elite and between states for supremacy was borrowed by the US turncoats from Trotskyism (see for example -- renegade Trotskyite James Burnham book THE MACHIAVELLIANS: THE DEFENDERS OF FREEDOM ) who later formed the core of the neocon movement.

Still you might try to read some sources on the WEB like:

http://www.softpanorama.org/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Neoliberalism/neoliberalism_as_trotskyism_for_the_rich.shtml

Or something from one of the few remaining Forth International (Trotskyite) sites like wsws.org:

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/09/13/lec6-s13.html

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/08/23/rowe-a23.html

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/05/10/mdbv-m10.html

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